The autonomous driving world continues to evolve at a rapid pace. As a result, we're seeing a wide range of autonomous vehicles hit auto shows and real-world driving scenarios.
Some look like regular cars, retrofitted with a few more sensors, cameras and Lidar systems than a usual car. Others look completely out of the ordinary. Let's look at some of the wildest ones we've seen this year.
Autonomous driving may seem like a cool concept for those who have intermediate to long commute times. However, don't rule out autonomous trucking solutions for logistic providers.
By cutting down personnel and fuel costs, these companies are in position to maximize efficiency and improve safety. The whole industry is paying attention to autonomous capabilities, but a few are getting starting.
Volvo recently introduced its Vera semi truck, while Einride is a company we met with at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. Sweden's Einride showed up with its much hyped T-Pod. The Optimus Prime looking electric vehicle is self-driving. It is capable of carrying 15 pallets of goods 124 miles while giving off zero emissions. Not too shabby. Einride believes that by 2035, 20% of Sweden's road transports are via T-Pods.
TheStreet recently covered what BMW's been up to in the autonomous driving and electric vehicle segments. Unlike most automakers, though, BMW is also responsible for producing motorcycles.
The motorcycle team hasn't been standing by idly; it found a way to put together an autonomous motorcycle! Without a driver, this two-wheeled vehicle has whizzed around the track at BMW's (BMWYY) testing facilities. While not coming to market, it's advances are impressive.
Not to be forgotten is Yamaha, another large motorcycle manufacturer. The company's MotoBot project actually built a humanoid robot that can pilot their motorcycle. The team can apply certain lessons and functionality to future bikes based on what they learn from this robo rider.
Making its U.S. debut @CES Jan. 9-12, 2018, in Las Vegas, the MOTOBOT Ver.2 is an autonomous motorcycle-riding robot, developed in collaboration with SRI International, that combines the latest in motorcycle and robotics technology. #ces2018 #yamaha #motobot pic.twitter.com/lwbmP6TLsw— YamahaMotorUSA (@YamahaMotorUSA) December 1, 2017
Given the leaps and bounds in this space, it's surprising that more people aren't talking about it. Perhaps that's because they're all too busy doubting autonomous driving systems in the first place.
Known as Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) vehicles, several companies are working on this development. Uber began working in this space, looking to provide on-demand air travel for its customers, particularly in congested areas.
It has been working with the U.S. military and NASA in its development and plans to test these VTOL units in Dallas and L.A. around 2020. Commercial plans are slated for 2023.
However, Uber isn't the only one. Earlier this year at the Farnborough Air Show in Paris, Aston Martin showed off its VTOL vehicle. Known for its luxurious high-end rides and exclusivity (and for being James Bond's preferred ride!), one would expect quite the experience riding in Aston Martin's VTOL, officially called the Volante Vision Concept.
The air isn't the only place Aston Martin is looking to apply autonomous systems. It's obviously looking to do so on land.
Its Loganda lineup will feature an all-electric coupe and SUV choices, which is expected to support level 4 autonomous driving capabilities. The company wants to make it so that the front seats can swivel 180 degrees to face the passengers in the back, making for an inviting interior rather than just a ride service.
Others aren't missing out either. Bentley's concept includes a plush sofa, refined coffee table and a virtual, holographic butler assistant. Given Mercedes-Benz's work with Nvidia (NVDA - Get Report) , a similar experience in its high-end Maybach lineup could eventually be in the cards. Its F 015 shows just what it could be like in one of these high-end rides.
The list for these solutions could be a mile long. But the more unique ones don't involve Alphabet (GOOG - Get Report) (GOOGL - Get Report) and its Waymo unit or General Motors (GM - Get Report) for its Cruise segment.
Instead, we have all sorts of developing options. There's the robot delivery system developed for Domino's Pizza (PZZA - Get Report) , while Kroger (KR - Get Report) is teaming up with Nuro to bring autonomous delivery solutions to its customers.
Zoox makes fully autonomous transportation for people, while Renault recently unveiled a new "robo pod" autonomous delivery system for last-mile deliveries. Heck, even Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) is working on autonomous delivery drones for Prime shipments.
We're still at the tip of the iceberg, but there's plenty to go in terms of what we're going to see in this soon-to-be autonomous vehicle world.