Back in 1939 at the World’s Fair in New York City, General Motors unveiled a concept for what would become known as the world’s first self-driving car.
Albeit less frilly than the electric vehicles that grace our roadways today, this EV used radio-controlled electromagnetic fields and magnetized spikes in the roadway to steer. By 1958, GM had brought the prototype to the roads – though not in a commercial capacity.
For those who witnessed this development, the future ahead promised modes of transportation outside the wildest imagination.
Unfortunately, in the six-plus decades since, the self-driving car – or autonomous vehicle – has been slow to leave the starting gates.
As has been widely publicized through the efforts of companies like Tesla, autonomous vehicles have proven to be a better idea in theory than for the bottom line.
However, there are developments taking place on the other side of the world that, if successful, could alter the way we approach this problem – and make it more accessible for businesses.
Chinese startup Allride.ai is taking the “think outside the box” approach to autonomous vehicles – only the box is the vehicle itself.
Current methods of self-driving technology include expensive lidar sensors and cameras installed in the vehicles that are tasked with analyzing and interpreting its surroundings.
To solve this costly problem, Allride.ai proposes we outfit the roads with pillars that hold laser radar devices, HD cameras, and 5G transmitters that, when used in concert, provide a constantly updated map of the roads.
By connecting to this data via an antenna on top of the vehicle – the only visible difference between Allride.ai’s cars and a standard internal combustion vehicle – this technology has already proven more effective than other autonomous technologies.
And given the relative decrease in cost presented by this adaptation, it could be the rare innovation that is both cheaper and more effective.
For breakthroughs of this ilk, the brain trust – and investors – are often handsomely rewarded.
There is still work to be done for Allride.ai to commercialize this technology, and it surely won’t stop competitors from innovating in their own right.
Meanwhile, in public road tests that took place in California last year, U.S. companies boasted five of the top ten self-driving vehicles in terms of mileage – including all of the top 3.
The arms race between China and the U.S. figures to continue, and we’re keeping our eyes peeled for ideas like Allride.ai’s that have the potential to swing the balance of power.
While it may have taken longer than GM expected back in 1939, we finally appear on the cusp of a new frontier on our roadways.
There’s no reason our portfolios can’t attain new heights right alongside.