Car makers during the last decade have been betting increasingly for autonomous technologies, aims to communicate vehicles fleets, assist drivers or allow a car to drive by itself without any human intervention. Personally I read news everyday about new tests or new teams trying to make themselves a place on this rising field of research and market.
When I started to dig in to the key players on this industry, I discovered a strong correlation between top car makers (by country), and countries making advances on autonomous technologies, such us US, Germany, UK, France, Japan and South Korea (map of the top 10 car makers in the world). Nevertheless, my research gave me clues that for different reasons, the distribution of projects related with autonomous technologies, it is more spread than pure car making efforts.
The result is that countries like Israel, Australia or Chile are also part of the world map of autonomous technology projects, as you can see in my map:
Of course, still there is a important relationship between car maker oriented countries, and autonomous technology projects in terms of countries, but the spatial pattern is becoming more world spread for autonomous tech projects due factors as:
- Open Source: to generate a autonomous tech project you does not need incredible resources that just a develop country can afford. Most of the software for autonomous cars for example, are open.
- Sensors: Lidar, the king of autonomous tech sensors, is becoming more and more cheaper. Almost ten times less in cost than five years ago.
- Marginal tech Industries: Israel, Australia and Chile are good examples. Those three examples have a world class tech industry in terms of agronomy and or mining, even with driverless experiences from 2008, such us the driverless trucks on Australian and Chilean mines. These advances are part now of autonomous projects (see the Chilean Driverless Car).
Universities are playing an important role spreading autonomous projects. Germany and UK are incredible examples of the innovative ecosystems to improve their car industry through alliances between companies and universities. Specially UK the last years have been made strong investments to test, create and collaborate for autonomous technology creation (see UK Smart Mobility Lab).
Talking about number of projects US is the leader but not in terms of patents for autonomous technologies (what is really matters at the end of the day). US have an special ecosystems composed by car makers, big tech companies, universities and Start Ups, which is unique in the world. UK is becoming more US similar.
So, finally the distribution of projects by country in terms of autonomous technology projects: