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Ford, GM Top Autonomous Car Tech Leaders

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For those who believed that self-driving capabilities would break out first from disruptive technology startups, new data suggests otherwise.

A new report shows that automaker Ford leads the pack in developing self-driving technology, with GM close behind. The report, developed by Navigant Research, examines the strategy and execution of 18 leading automotive and tech companies developing automated driving systems.

The development of autonomous vehicle technology “has accelerated in the last decade, enabled by advancements in computational architectures and sensing technology, along with dramatic cost reductions,” wrote Navigant. “These advancements, combined with vehicle electrification and ubiquitous connectivity, are enabling automated driving to rapidly become viable.”

The other crowd leaders in the space include GM and Renault-Nissan. Daimler, Waymo, VW Group and BMW are all major contenders, though they lack either execution or strategy to make it to the top spots.

In Navigant’s report, Uber’s autonomous car initiative is considerably behind the pack in terms of overall execution, though it leads some in terms of overall strategy. It’s important to note that none of the 18 automotive and tech companies in the report were considered “followers.”

According to a company report, while Uber has made some progress in developing its self-driving cars, there is still significant work to be done.

Uber’s cars are steadily increasing the number of miles driven autonomously. In mid-March, the company’s 43 active cars drove 20,354 miles autonomously, marking the second time they have driven more than 20,000 miles in a week. In January, the cars drove only 5,000 miles.

The numbers on rider experience, a combination of how many times drivers took over and how smoothly the car drives, aren’t as strong. During the week ending March 8, the 43 active cars only drove an average of about 0.8 miles before the safety driver had to take over.

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