It is easy to believe that the leading self-driving cars are produced by Tesla, thanks to the media, but a research firm says it isn’t

These are the leading self-driving car makers

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It is easy to believe that the leading self-driving cars are produced by Tesla, thanks to the media, but a research firm says it isn’t what you think.

There has been a silent turf war between traditional auto makers and Silicon Valley’s darling boys championing autonomous systems. As artificial intelligence keeps developing to the point of commercial viability, the question is, Which companies are the leading self-driving car makers?

Navigant Research dug into things and scrutinized 18 companies currently developing self-driving systems. The verdict isn’t what tech enthusiasts are probably expecting. Here are the top 10 tech companies leading in developing automated driving systems in order of readiness:

The Top 10 Leading Self-Driving Cars

  1. Ford
  2. General Motors
  3. the Renault-Nissan Alliance
  4. Daimler
  5. Volkswagen Group
  6. BMW
  7. Waymo
  8. Volvo/Autoliv/Zenuity
  9. Delphi
  10. Hyundai Motor Group

The top 10 brands are all traditional auto makers. Shock. Horror. It is surprising that Honda isn’t on that list, considering the fact that they had a test car to show off early last year. That should come as a bit of a surprise to many. But then, it makes sense if one thinks about it again. Have a look at the chart of how all the competitors stand (according to Navigant):

leading self-driving cars

The new cool kids like Tesla, Uber and others may be able to play around with software. But the traditional auto makers have years of experience in actually making cars. What the traditional auto makers have done is acquire artificial intelligence software firms to develop and integrate AI into their vehicles.

Unless the new cool kids can acquire hardware makers to put their AI systems into, traditional auto makers have the edge. Or where unable to acquire auto makers, they need to do the next best thing: poach auto engineers from those hardware brands.

Of course, things may not turn out the way the Navigant report has painted it. Tesla already has the model S out there with self-driving capabilities in stealth mode. As a matter of fact, Tesla is targeting full autonomous mode by the end of this year.

Still, it has to be noted that Daimler had a test car ready as far back as 2014. BMW, Audi and Daimler eventually acquired HERE. Ford has been playing with QNX and others, while Nissan and Renault have been working with their own in-house Linux-based platform.

While you may not get to hear of it the way you have heard about autonomous cars from Tesla, Waymo and others (thanks to Silicon Valley hype), many major auto makers besides those already mentioned have developed prototype self-driving cars. Traditional auto makers are not playing catch-up in this race. They are determined not to give way to software companies.

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