Automakers better positioned to build self-driving cars than Silicon Valley, study claims

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
The existing giants of the auto industry are better equipped to produce self-driving cars, at least when considerng the amount of patents they control, a study said on Tuesday.

Tesla Roadster
Tesla Roadster


Toyota leads the field when it comes to self-driving patents, according to Thompson Reuters data. In second and third place are the parts suppliers Bosch and Denso, followed by Hyundai and GM. Google, often thought to have kickstarted the rush to self-driving cars, is the highest tech company on the list at 26th.

The report commented however that non-U.S. companies tend to be more aggressive about filing patents, and that quantity doesn't equal quality. There's also an 18-month lag between when patents are filed and when they're made public, and many companies -- including Apple -- are relatively new to the self-driving arena.

Unusually, Thompson Reuters argued that Apple and Tesla would make good partners on a self-driving vehicle since they have complementary but not duplicate patents. The latter is said to be better covered in propulsion, particularly batteries, while Apple's specialties are in communication and navigation.

Recently the two companies have been engaged in a job poaching war however, and known to be working on their own self-driving projects. Apple will likely need some sort of partner in the auto industry to actually ship a vehicle, since there's no sign the company is building out the massive infrastructure needed for manufacturing.

Apple is expected to ship its first electric car in 2019 or 2020. The initial model may actually lack self-driving features, but the company is thought to have R&D working on the technology regardless.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    Baloney!  Automakers have been making combustion engine cars.  They do not know how to make self-driving or electric cars any better than Silicon Valley.  

    The complexity of the combustion engine will be reduced to electric motors and power management which Silicon Valley have been doing for years.  Granted there are many components to a car and there are even more components to an AirPlane.  Electric self-driving cars are a whole new ball game.  A smart Silicon Valley company like Apple can revolutionize the car industry.  How cars are made, how they are driven, the navigation and entertainment systems etc...  Electric Self-Driving or assisted driving cars are a great opportunity to revolutionize the space.


    monstrosity
  • Reply 2 of 32
    jdwjdw Posts: 733member
    Baloney!...
    Nothing of the sort. The article clearly says, "when it comes to self-driving patents..." You are right about "technical know-how." But such could be stifled by stupid patents. As a result, self-driving cars could be a long wait.
  • Reply 3 of 32
    jdw said:
    Baloney!...
    Nothing of the sort. The article clearly says, "when it comes to self-driving patents..." You are right about "technical know-how." But such could be stifled by stupid patents. As a result, self-driving cars could be a long wait.
    Possibly but unlikely.  
    Remember that feature phones had a lot of patents filed as well,  especially by Nokia, BlackBerry, Samsung, Palm etc...
    Time will tell.
    monstrosity
  • Reply 4 of 32
    jdw said:
    Nothing of the sort. The article clearly says, "when it comes to self-driving patents..." You are right about "technical know-how." But such could be stifled by stupid patentapplesauce007 said:
    jdw said:
    Nothing of the sort. The article clearly says, "when it comes to self-driving patents..." You are right about "technical know-how." But such could be stifled by stupid patents. As a result, self-driving cars could be a long wait.
    Possibly but unlikely.  
    Remember that feature phones had a lot of patents filed as well,  especially by Nokia, BlackBerry, Samsung, Palm etc...
    Time will tell.
    More like incredibly likely. But patents are the least significant obstacle facing Silicon Valley in the automative space. The big auto makers have tens of billions of dollars in manufacturing infrastructure, tens of thousands of engineers, parts manufacturing and distribution -- it is VERY hard to build a good car, and then even harder to build enough of them to keep up with demand. Look at Tesla. They were only able to deliver a couple hundred of the new crossover over the course of a three month quarter. That's pitiful. GM makes and sells thousands of cars per day.

    I wish anyone, including Apple and Google, good luck in the automotive industry, but seriously, they'll need it. 
  • Reply 5 of 32
    Apple and Tesla make good partners?  Not a chance!

    I think Apple & Tesla would actually make terrible partners and I think it is too late for Apple to buy Tesla and put them under adult supervision.
    Apple is a secretive company that under promises and over delivers while Tesla is always bragging about what they are developing and often fail to deliver.  

    I agree that Apple may have an edge with coherent navigation, Apple Maps layers, power management and communication protocols etc...  I think Apple is better off going it alone to better design and integrate the various parts.  Look what they did with the Apple Pencil for example?  They simply blew everyone else away with their 1.0 product.  You see, we still think of cars (electric or combustion) the same way that we have for many decades, I think after Apple designs one, that will change.  Remember, it's not just the appearance but also how it functions.  Apple needs to design the whole package; not glue available bits and pieces from various vendors.

    Personally, I am more interested in a connected electric vehicles with assisted driving becauseI don't foresee completely autonomous vehicles anytime soon.  Bosch does have many patents having to do with self-driving cars; BMW uses some of them.  I was not aware that Toyota was so far ahead in self-driving cars.

    Time will tell.
  • Reply 6 of 32
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,985member
    Anyone here aware of the people Toyota just announced they hired for a new division of their company...their artificial intelligence division..?

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5d629662-b3cf-11e5-b147-e5e5bba42e51.html#axzz3wR4qRgpW
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 7 of 32
    jdw said:
    Nothing of the sort. The article clearly says, "when it comes to self-driving patents..." You are right about "technical know-how." But such could be stifled by stupid patentapplesauce007 said:
    More like incredibly likely. But patents are the least significant obstacle facing Silicon Valley in the automative space. The big auto makers have tens of billions of dollars in manufacturing infrastructure, tens of thousands of engineers, parts manufacturing and distribution -- it is VERY hard to build a good car, and then even harder to build enough of them to keep up with demand. Look at Tesla. They were only able to deliver a couple hundred of the new crossover over the course of a three month quarter. That's pitiful. GM makes and sells thousands of cars per day.

    I wish anyone, including Apple and Google, good luck in the automotive industry, but seriously, they'll need it. 
    That's just it!  Most if not all of that legacy stuff has to go and brand new methods are needed in order to revolutionize the industry.
    It may prove difficult to get current automotive engineers to think differently when it comes to connected EVs.  Distribution can also be revolutionized as Tesla has tried to do.  

    Remember how Nokia and BlackBerry and Palm use to sell a lot of feature phones as well?
    Remember how difficult and expensive it was to effectively write, test and sell PC software before the AppStore and Cocoa were introduced?
  • Reply 8 of 32
    Anyone here aware of the people Toyota just announced they hired for a new division of their company...their artificial intelligence division..?

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5d629662-b3cf-11e5-b147-e5e5bba42e51.html#axzz3wR4qRgpW
    It looks like they poached James Kuffner from Google's failed Robotics project.  James replaced Andy Rubin after he left Google.  Here is a quote an link from the article:

    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/5d629662-b3cf-11e5-b147-e5e5bba42e51.html#axzz3wRDK3Zxc

    "Toyota has hired Google’s former head of robotics and a key executive in the search company’s driverless car efforts, as it predicted that robots could become as important to its future as cars have been to it since the 1930s.

    James Kuffner, a Google employee since 2009, was named head of the company’s robotics unit in 2014 when Andy Rubin, creator of the Android smartphone operating system, left the company. Mr Rubin had shaken up the robotics world with his acquisitions of well-regarded start-ups, giving Google a head start in the emerging field of autonomous machines."

  • Reply 9 of 32
    No kidding. I've been saying this for years and criticizing the media attention Tesla (electric cars) and Google (self driving cars) get by people who don't know a damn about the automotive industry.

    Because of this attention there's a belief among many people that Tesla and Google are somehow leaders in their fields. They aren't.

    All the systems needed to have a self-driving vehicle (drive by wire throttles, drive by wire braking, traction & stability control and electric steering were NOT developed by either Tesla or Google. They were developed by GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, BMW or their suppliers like Bosch, Delphi, Seimens or Denso.

    What people seem to forget is that an electric car and gasoline car share about 75% of their components with the other 25% being the actual power train. Luxury and high end cars it's going to be higher than 75% given all the components used to provide those luxury features. And existing manufacturers are way ahead of Tesla (for example) in those areas. And in terms of the electric powertrain there's nothing in a Tesla that isn't already common knowledge in the automotive industry.

    Electric drive trains are actually easy to develop (easier and less complex than gasoline).  The reason car companies haven't done as many electric vehicles is purely a decision (based on the market) and has nothing to do wth them supposedly being behind Tesla in technology.

    While the number of patents isn't a good indicator of who has the best technology, it does show that all the major car companies have been thinking about advanced technologies (like self driving) for many years. Before Tesla even existed.
  • Reply 10 of 32
    Only multi billion dollar conglomerates can do the job and yet somehow there a literally hundreds of bespoke auto manufacturers already building their own cars and they don't have 1% of the resources Apple does. This report sounds like auto industry fud. 
    applesauce007khanzain
  • Reply 11 of 32
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,867member
    No kidding. I've been saying this for years and criticizing the media attention Tesla (electric cars) and Google (self driving cars) get by people who don't know a damn about the automotive industry.

    Because of this attention there's a belief among many people that Tesla and Google are somehow leaders in their fields. They aren't.

    All the systems needed to have a self-driving vehicle (drive by wire throttles, drive by wire braking, traction & stability control and electric steering were NOT developed by either Tesla or Google. They were developed by GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, BMW or their suppliers like Bosch, Delphi, Seimens or Denso.

    What people seem to forget is that an electric car and gasoline car share about 75% of their components with the other 25% being the actual power train. Luxury and high end cars it's going to be higher than 75% given all the components used to provide those luxury features. And existing manufacturers are way ahead of Tesla (for example) in those areas. And in terms of the electric powertrain there's nothing in a Tesla that isn't already common knowledge in the automotive industry.

    Electric drive trains are actually easy to develop (easier and less complex than gasoline).  The reason car companies haven't done as many electric vehicles is purely a decision (based on the market) and has nothing to do wth them supposedly being behind Tesla in technology.

    While the number of patents isn't a good indicator of who has the best technology, it does show that all the major car companies have been thinking about advanced technologies (like self driving) for many years. Before Tesla even existed.
    Considering Apple has hired a lot of of "high profile" automotive talent, what are your thoughts on Project Titan? You think Apple is building an actual car or something totally different but related to automotive?
  • Reply 12 of 32
    No kidding. ...

    What people seem to forget is that an electric car and gasoline car share about 75% of their components with the other 25% being the actual power train.

    ...  <snip>

    Electric drive trains are actually easy to develop (easier and less complex than gasoline).  The reason car companies haven't done as many electric vehicles is purely a decision (based on the market) and has nothing to do wth them supposedly being behind Tesla in technology.

    While the number of patents isn't a good indicator of who has the best technology, it does show that all the major car companies have been thinking about advanced technologies (like self driving) for many years. Before Tesla even existed.
    I disagree that a gasoline car needs to share 75% of components with EVs.  Not necessarily.
    Traditional car makers like to make hybrids because they don't want to start with a clean sheet.
    EVs & combustion vehicles may have wheels and a chassis in common.  The rest can be radically different.

    I think the reason traditional car makers have not made EVs is because EV are very different and a very big and expensive undertaking.
    I believe that feature phone makers also thought hard about making smart phones but...

    palomine
  • Reply 13 of 32
    Only multi billion dollar conglomerates can do the job and yet somehow there a literally hundreds of bespoke auto manufacturers already building their own cars and they don't have 1% of the resources Apple does. This report sounds like auto industry fud. 
    I agree.
    I think the part about Tesla being a good partner for Apple is a Wallstreet wet dream.
  • Reply 14 of 32
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 586member
    I think the reason traditional car makers have not made EVs is because EV are very different and a very big and expensive undertaking.
    I believe that feature phone makers also thought hard about making smart phones but...

    I don't think cars and phones are really comparable:

    1. phones were always all tech and consumer software; cars are mostly mechanical engineering (and will have to remain so: suspensions, stiffness of the chassis, build quality to withstand wear and tear, weight distribution, interiors, brand etc are all equally, if not more important). Indeed, many car manufacturers already share engines. These capabilities are difficult to acquire: see market share of Infinity and Lexus in Europe.

    2. a Smartphone was a totally different product from a feature phone, they only share the 3G chip and speakers. An EV / autonomous / connected car is only incrementally different from a current car, they will share all current parts except an engine (so an EV is EASIER to build than an CE). The success of the smartphone is due to it replacing many other devices, the car will still only take you from A to B, on the same roads, at the same speed. The smartphone/feature phone disruption happened in mobility when the car replaced the horse carriage.

    You will also find that car manufacturers are very sophisticated users of technology and firms such as Mercedes, Audi, Ford and Volvo already have advanced autonomous driving systems that they expect to launch in 2017, and communicated cars are being tested extensively on German motorways. I would not discount them just yet. They do have to be more careful about their promises due to their market cap, but the proof is in the pudding and what actually gets delivered, and that is quite advanced already (Tesla's Autopilot is a slightly more enhanced version of Audi's Lane Keep Assist that came out last year). 

    But you are right that EV's are expensive, and that's why they don't sell very well. I would LOVE to have an EV, but it just still does not make much sense: the cars are too expensive, the infrastructure too patchy, the technology not mature enough. And car manufacturers need to get savvier about expectations of consumers as relates to their tech, and offer better UI and more gimmicks.

    Lastly, Tesla is tiny, and they will remain small (even Musk's ambitious goal of 500,000 cars per year in 4 years is 1/100th of the combined annual production of VW, GM, Ford, and Toyota). We should all hope that existing car manufacturers will win this race otherwise none of us will live to experience the revolution
    edited January 2016
  • Reply 15 of 32
    No kidding. ...

    What people seem to forget is that an electric car and gasoline car share about 75% of their components with the other 25% being the actual power train.

    ...  <snip>

    Electric drive trains are actually easy to develop (easier and less complex than gasoline).  The reason car companies haven't done as many electric vehicles is purely a decision (based on the market) and has nothing to do wth them supposedly being behind Tesla in technology.

    While the number of patents isn't a good indicator of who has the best technology, it does show that all the major car companies have been thinking about advanced technologies (like self driving) for many years. Before Tesla even existed.
    I disagree that a gasoline car needs to share 75% of components with EVs.  Not necessarily.
    Traditional car makers like to make hybrids because they don't want to start with a clean sheet.
    EVs & combustion vehicles may have wheels and a chassis in common.  The rest can be radically different.

    I think the reason traditional car makers have not made EVs is because EV are very different and a very big and expensive undertaking.
    I believe that feature phone makers also thought hard about making smart phones but...


    Really? Let's take one common item in cars - the electric motor. Excluding a drive motor, how many do you think a modern sedan would have? Moving front to back of the vehicle...

    4 - Headlight aiming motors. All xenon lights require 2 minimum by law (vertical) and many have 4 (adaptive).
    1 - Radiator fan, a high powered motor with speed control.
    1 - Coolant water pump for the engine.
    1 - Auxiliary coolant pump for heating/AC system.
    1 - Windshield wiper motor.
    1 - Washer pump motor (or 3 if you have headlight washers and rear washers).
    4 - Power mirror motors (up/down and left/right, x 2).
    4 - Power window motors.
    4 - Door lock motors (done use solenoid instead).
    1 - AC/heater fan blower motor (or 2 fit you have rear climate control).
    3 - Climate control motors to operate the air flaps (simple system, many have 5-8 motors).
    2 - Steering wheel power tilt and telescope.
    8 - Power seat motors (basic seats x 2). Could be as high as 16 if you have seats with numerous adjustments including lumbar and bolsters).
    1 - Sunroof motor (2 if you have power sunshade as well).
    2 - Power trunk motors (one on each strut).
    1 - Trunk lock/release.

    That's 34-51 electric motors, all which require associated wiring and control circuitry (many which require speed control and monitoring).

    And that's only one example. You start going through the suspension, steering gear, braking system, body structure and all the other systems and you realize just how much of your car is NOT the engine.
    basjhj
  • Reply 16 of 32
    wimp35 said:
    You people are some sad twisted biitter people. What a revolting article. Glad I'm not an Apple user =]
    No kidding. I've been saying this for years and criticizing the media attention Tesla (electric cars) and Google (self driving cars) get by people who don't know a damn about the automotive industry.

    Because of this attention there's a belief among many people that Tesla and Google are somehow leaders in their fields. They aren't.

    All the systems needed to have a self-driving vehicle (drive by wire throttles, drive by wire braking, traction & stability control and electric steering were NOT developed by either Tesla or Google. They were developed by GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, BMW or their suppliers like Bosch, Delphi, Seimens or Denso.

    What people seem to forget is that an electric car and gasoline car share about 75% of their components with the other 25% being the actual power train. Luxury and high end cars it's going to be higher than 75% given all the components used to provide those luxury features. And existing manufacturers are way ahead of Tesla (for example) in those areas. And in terms of the electric powertrain there's nothing in a Tesla that isn't already common knowledge in the automotive industry.

    Electric drive trains are actually easy to develop (easier and less complex than gasoline).  The reason car companies haven't done as many electric vehicles is purely a decision (based on the market) and has nothing to do wth them supposedly being behind Tesla in technology.

    While the number of patents isn't a good indicator of who has the best technology, it does show that all the major car companies have been thinking about advanced technologies (like self driving) for many years. Before Tesla even existed.
    Considering Apple has hired a lot of of "high profile" automotive talent, what are your thoughts on Project Titan? You think Apple is building an actual car or something totally different but related to automotive?

    I used to think it was infotainment or dashboard related. But they've hired too many people for it to be something that small. However, building their own car requires more than what they've done so far. Maybe they're in the initial phase and plan on ramping up to production capability later, or maybe they'll partner with someone (like BMW) to build the basic chassis for them to which they'll add all the "Apple bits" that will make it stand out. This seems the most likely to me. Especially BMW, with their lead in composite construction (as seen on the i3/i8 and also partially in the new 7).
    palomine
  • Reply 17 of 32
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 586member

    I disagree that a gasoline car needs to share 75% of components with EVs.  Not necessarily.
    Traditional car makers like to make hybrids because they don't want to start with a clean sheet.
    EVs & combustion vehicles may have wheels and a chassis in common.  The rest can be radically different.

    I think the reason traditional car makers have not made EVs is because EV are very different and a very big and expensive undertaking.
    I believe that feature phone makers also thought hard about making smart phones but...

    Tesla's Model X was delayed by months because of the *seats*. 
  • Reply 18 of 32
    Internal combustion engines are very complex, but swapping that out for simpler electric motor doesn't mean the rest of car is anything but "Simple". Driving dynamics, how to mange and control 1000+kg of metal at 100+mph (you know we do) is like voodoo, black magic. The dark art that established automobile manufacturers have decades of experiences, advantages and patent portfolio. Apple or Google... I personally think whichever finds a partnership with established automobile manufacturer will take the lead. Without their expertise (and patents) the best any IT company can manage is some glorified golf-cart at best. Then that machine must be mixing with human drivers with real emotions, that is no easy task...
  • Reply 19 of 32
    monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,202member
    Apple can get into pretty much any business it wants. Patents can be bought, ignored or licensed as we all know too well. There's nothing significantly hard about the Automobile industry. Nothing a few tens of billion dollars won't fix anyway.
    gatorguy
  • Reply 20 of 32
    basjhjbasjhj Posts: 66member
    No kidding. ...

    What people seem to forget is that an electric car and gasoline car share about 75% of their components with the other 25% being the actual power train.

    ...  <snip>

    Electric drive trains are actually easy to develop (easier and less complex than gasoline).  The reason car companies haven't done as many electric vehicles is purely a decision (based on the market) and has nothing to do wth them supposedly being behind Tesla in technology.

    While the number of patents isn't a good indicator of who has the best technology, it does show that all the major car companies have been thinking about advanced technologies (like self driving) for many years. Before Tesla even existed.
    I disagree that a gasoline car needs to share 75% of components with EVs.  Not necessarily.
    Traditional car makers like to make hybrids because they don't want to start with a clean sheet.
    EVs & combustion vehicles may have wheels and a chassis in common.  The rest can be radically different.

    I think the reason traditional car makers have not made EVs is because EV are very different and a very big and expensive undertaking.
    I believe that feature phone makers also thought hard about making smart phones but...

    Traditional car makers make hybrids because of ever tightening emission rules in the US and especially the EU. That's why they also have a vested interest in alternative sources of energy, be it hydrogen, biofuels or electricity.
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