It’s not surprising, that private investments into autonomous vehicle startups fell somewhere in the $4 billion neighborhood in 2017 across more than 90 deals, according to data we compiled from Crunchbase.
While waiting on the rooftop of the Chrysler Building for our autonomous flying taxi to arrive, we realized a couple of things. First, there’s no rooftop on the Chrysler Building. Second, we’ll probably be waiting for a while. The arrival of autonomous vehicles—flying or otherwise—seems like it should be just around the corner. The reality is that self-driving cars still have a long road ahead. While there are certainly technological challenges, many of the speed bumps have more to do with social and legislative issues. Considering that about two-thirds of people are still freaked out about the idea of sharing the road with robotic cars, we wonder just how quickly the new technology will be adopted.
While the consumers of this new technology might remain skeptical, the automotive industry and others seem convinced that the future is in driverless technology. More than 40 corporations were working on autonomous vehicles last year, according to CB Insights. The list included traditional automakers like Ford, which took a $1 billion stake in AI startup Argo.ai last year. Many tech companies like Google and Apple are also joining the race to build self-driving cars. Chinese tech giant Baidu, for example, plans to mass produce driverless vehicles within five years. The company opened an AI research lab in Silicon Valley toward that goal, and recently announced a $1.5 billion fund focused on investing in autonomous driving tech startups. It’s not alone. Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi is launching a five-year $1 billion VC fund to invest in “next-generation mobility” with an eye toward autonomous driving technologies.
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