The advent of self-driving technology has inspired a host of different, creative business models. Waymo and Uber plan to use a ride-sharing model, with a self-owned fleet. Tesla offers private self-driving technology in their cars, soon with the additional option to “rent it out” for ride-sharing.
Although Tesla’s model puts self-driving technology in the hands of consumers themselves, it can also be quite expensive. The Model X costs around $100,000. The Model S costs around $90,000. And the Model 3 costs around $45,000. All three cars produced since April/May of this year have the software and hardware necessary for full self-driving.
Comma.ai, a San Diego-based startup, has different plans. Instead of these ride-sharing-based business plans, Comma wants to “democratize” self-driving technology — in other words, enable any car to self-drive. Currently, half of the top 10 owned cars are supported by Comma, and over 10 million miles have been driven on their self-driving platform, called Openpilot.
Currently, the technology is used for auto-steering, cruise control, and lead car following. It cannot, as of now, interpret signs, traffic lights, or pedestrian hand gestures — although that may be supported next.
Although just a couple of lego bricking-looking items and some wires, the hardware they sell (the panda, giraffe, EON, etc.) has enabled Level 2 autonomy on many cars across the United States. As they continue to expand and develop their technology, without the heavy financial burdens of ride-sharing models (like Uber), who knows what the future will bring?