2016 – the year in autonomous driving

2016 was a big year for autonomous driving – the biggest until now. A lot of people got aware of the term autonomous driving in 2015. But in 2016 it really got mainstream. Not only the press got aware of the term, even traditional automobile manufacturer used the term within their vocabulary. And some of them have made plans or created a strategy to adopt autonomous driving within their products in the future.

A lot of things happened within the area of autonomous driving in 2016. And I want to mention some of them which I think were important milestones or are just worth it.


  • Faraday Future presented the FFZERO1 at CES. This was the first disappointment in 2016. It was expected that the much hyped startup will present their prototype of a electric car. But they showcased only a Batmobile look-a-like. FF itself said, they want to showcase what is possible with their electrical platform.
  • The DOT and NHTSA announced, that they will develop new rules and Tools for the new era of self driving vehicles.
  • GM announced the Chevy Bolt – the first all electric car for 30000$ and with a range of more then 200 miles. GM was faster than Tesla with it´s Model 3 with this announcement.


  • LeEco, the parent company of Faraday Future, and Aston Martin announced, that they will work together to build Aston Martins all Electric vehicle, the RapidE. That means, FF and Aston Martin are almost cousins.
  • On February 14th a Google-Self-Driving Lexus caused the first accident in Mountain View on El Camino Road when driving in autonomous mode.


  • Tesla announced the Model 3. After only a few days Tesla received more then 400.000 pre-orders. According to Elon Musk the Model 3 will ship at the end of 2017.
  • General Motors buys Cruise Automation for over 1 billion US$ as Re/code reports.
  • Baidu applied for a self-driving car license in California and will test their own self-driving car there.
  • In the swiss town of Sitten two driverless electric powered busses provided by Navya will start a regular shuttle service.


  • Faraday Future breaks ground for their 1billion US$ factory in Nevada.
  • Comma.ai , the startup of George Hotz, raised 3.1 million US$ from Andreesen Horowitz and other investors.
  • LeEco, the funding company of Faraday Future unveiled its own electric car at the Beijing auto show.
  • At a transportation conference in Norway, Elon Musk said, he will solve traffic congestion with self-driving busses. This might be the next product that Tesla will announce.
  • Baidu is building a 100-person autonomous car team in Silicon Valley.
  • Drive.ai applied for a license to test self-driving cars in California.


  • Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that they partner for building self-driving Minivans.
  • A Tesla Model S was involved in a crash where Autopilot was activated. The driver died.
  • Apple invests 1 billion US$ in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing.
  • Former employees of Google, Apple, Tesla, Cruise Automation and others have formed a new startup called Otto with the goal to work on self-driving trucks.
  • Uber shows it’s first self-driving car which will hit the streets of Pittsburgh.
  • Volkswagen Group invests 300 million US$ in Uber competitor Gett.
  • Tesla customers have driven 100 million miles with Autopilot active.
  • Volkswagen announced their „Strategy 2025″ to reshape the company.


  • Local Motors introduced their 3D-printed, autonomous, electric shuttle bus. It´s name is Olli.


  • Zoox, a new startup for self-driving cars raised 200 million US$ in Series A funding and is valued with more then 1 billion US$.
  • Atieva (now Lucid Motors) unveils ‘Edna’, an all-electric van with supercar-like performance.


  • Ford announced that they will have a fleet of thousands of fully autonomous vehicles in urban car-sharing and ride-hailing fleets by 2021.
  • Uber acquired the autonomous truck startup Otto for around 680 million US$.
  • NuTonomy starts it’s selfdriving taxi service in Singapore.


  • Apple is said to rethink it’s plans about selfdriving cars.
  • Volkswagen announced the ‘ID’ – the first selfdriving Volkswagen which will ship 2020.


  • Tesla sets a new record for vehicle deliveries in Q3: 24,500 delivered.
  • The city of New Jersey decides to pay Uber for servicing the last mile instead of building a new parking lot.
  • Tesla announced to equip all new Teslas with new hardware to enable that these cars will be fully autonomous vehicles when the software is ready.
  • George Hotz of comma.ai cancels its selfdriving after-market solution „Comma One“ after discussions with the DMV.


  • The White House announces a new plan to increase the number of EV charging stations.
  • Tesla opens it’s Gigafactory in Nevada. One key element for building the Model 3.
  • NuTonomy is bringing it’s fleet of autonomous cars to Boston.
  • George Hotz is giving away the code behind its selfdriving car project – for free and wants to be Android for selfdriving cars.
  • Tesla buys the german company Grohmann Engineering and plans to create 1000 new jobs in the next two years.


  • In 2016, EV startups raised almost 2 billion US$.
  • Volkswagen announced Moia – the new brand for mobility services.
  • Nvidia has been granted a permit to start testing selfdriving vehicle technology in California.
  • Google is spinning off its selfdriving car program into a new company called Waymo.
  • Uber started its selfdriving car ridehailing service in San Francisco – without a permission of the California DMV – and stopped it shortly after an event at a red traffic light.
  • Lucid Motors unveils its 400-mile range EV called the „Air“.

Thats´s it. And now let´s see what 2017 will bring. Happy new year.