OEM ADAS and Autonomous Driving Strategy Research: At least Billions of Dollars and Thousands of Software Engineers are Required.
The new trends “electrification, networking, intelligence and sharing” led by autonomous driving are disrupting the traditional automotive industry.
Yet, barriers to L4 and above autonomous driving are so high that no one can image. WAYMO that has spent over a decade and billions of dollars on the technology, has slowed its pace of commercialization even if being far ahead of its rivals, and has admitted that the fully automated driving will take time. As Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in late 2018, though driverless cars are “truly here”, they aren’t ubiquitous yet and autonomy always will have some constraints for decades to come.
This means that autonomous driving costs too much and those who shell out for it will face long-term loss. To cope with the challenges posed by Waymo, traditional OEMs are forming alliances. Examples include the partnership among Daimler, BMW and Intel (Mobileye) and the collaborations between GM and Honda, VW and Ford.
Typical leagues in China embrace Baidu + Weltmeister, Alibaba + Xpeng Motors and Didi + CHE Automotive. Traditional Chinese automakers prefer not to partner with only one or two of the four IT giants (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencnet and Huawei) but keep an open cooperative relationship with all of them. SAIC is striving to foster its own ecosystem by investing many start-ups.
Besides the way of cooperation for complementing with each other and apportioning research and development and operation expenses, OEMs are also racing to invest more in recruiting software engineers.
“Software will account for 90 percent of future innovations in the car. Today, our 20,000 developers are 90 percent hardware-oriented. That will change radically by 2030. Software will account for half of our development costs”, says Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen, which means VW’s software engineers will be 10,000 or so.
American tech firms make enormous investments in autonomous driving as well. Apple autonomous car team claims 5,000 people, and Uber possesses about 1,500.
Autonomous driving market has been an arena for big names, and other small and medium players have to take sides.