Ford ahead of Uber, Google, Tesla in self-driving car race, report says

In the battle to control the burgeoning self-driving car industry, Ford is in the lead, according to a study released Monday.

Automakers GM and the Renault-Nissan Alliance are close behind.

Uber doesn’t even rank among the top 10.

The study by clean tech market research firm Navigant Research ranks the top 18 contenders in the autonomous vehicle industry, giving companies points for factors including their vision, go-to market strategy, technology and staying power.

Michigan-based Ford ranked No. 1, scoring 85 points. Researchers touted the 113-year-old company’s strategy for taking on the autonomous vehicle market, recognizing Ford’s $1 billion investment in self-driving car startup Argo AI, as well as its investments in or acquisitions of Civil Maps, Saips, Velodyne and Chariot.

GM, which invested $500 million in Lyft and acquired self-driving car startup Cruise Automation last year, was a close second with 84.8 points.

Google’s Waymo, which has been testing self-driving cars since 2009 and now is working with Fiat Chrysler to roll out a fleet of self-driving minivans, was ranked seventh. The company scored low in production strategy and sales, marketing and distribution, but it has plenty working in its favor. Waymo vehicles have “by far” the lowest rate of instances of disengagements — or times when human drivers had to take back control of the car due to mistakes or dangers — of any company testing self-driving cars in California, according to the report.

Tesla and Uber, both of which have been vying publicly to lead the self-driving car market, came in outside of the top 10 — landing 12th and 16th, respectively. Tesla lost points because it doesn’t use LiDAR– a type of laser sensor that lets cars “see” the road, and is used by all the other companies in the Navigant report.

“The company has a limited distribution network and a history of losing money that may not improve as it moves down market,” the researchers wrote.

Uber, which is testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh; Tempe, Arizona and San Francisco, scored low in the report’s “staying power” category.

“Uber has a history of seeking to sidestep regulations covering taxi services,” the researchers wrote. “While this strategy has allowed it to expand its business rapidly, this desire to operate outside regulatory oversight could also put it in the crosshairs of regulators concerned about automated vehicles.”

Photo: The Ford logo is viewed on January 31, 2012 at the 2012 Washington Auto Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Chart: The Navigant Research Leaderboard Report: Automated Driving shows where companies stack up in the self-driving car market. (Navigant Research)


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  • Dennis Schmidt

    Show me one of these robots drive through a 28 inch blizzard at -25 ° and i’ll buy one!…..Until then I’ll drive!