While Tesla (TSLA 4.72%) has become one of the global leaders in electric vehicle production, it is still playing catch-up in the fully autonomous driving industry. In this clip from "Ask Us Anything" on Motley Fool Live, recorded on April 21, Fool.com contributors Nick Rossolillo and Travis Hoium examine some of the top autonomous vehicle companies that have jumped out ahead of Tesla.
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Nick Rossolillo: Some of those companies on there do not make their own technology. For example, Daimler (MBGY.Y 0.94%), just as an example. Qualcomm (QCOM 6.08%) also has a self-driving unit. Who really gets credit? Does the automaker get credit for the self-driving technology or should the company that enables the self-driving?
Travis Hoium: Okay. Let's just take these four, Cruise, Waymo [a subsidiary of Alphabet (GOOG 0.87%) (GOOGL 0.92%)], Ford (F 6.24%), and Zoox [a subsidiary of Amazon (AMZN 4.44%)]. They're all doing their own work. They have partners. I'm not of the illusion that I think BMW (BMWYY 1.30%) is going to be a leader in the space, that's not their jam. Those are the four companies that I am keeping an eye on, I think when it comes to this space.
Let's talk a little bit about what they're doing that's different because I think this is interesting to think about with what Musk talked about with their fully autonomous vehicle that they say is going to go into scale production in 2024. This is what Waymo is doing today. They're operating in Phoenix and in San Francisco. They've got a fully autonomous vehicle. There's no driver in it. They are licensed to take commercial rides in both of these places now so you can actually go, at least on a limited basis, get in a vehicle without a driver in it.
Cruise is doing the same. They do not have, as far as I know, a dedicated vehicle that they are making. Everything that they've done so far is retrofit. The only thing, if I can get this to pop up here, they are working on semis, which I think is interesting. They're building this whole tech stack. Like I said, I think that's probably the way that they go, is providing tech to other companies.
Cruise and Zoox have a very similar strategy. This is the vehicle that they have in operations today, fully autonomous driving around San Francisco. This is what they are building theoretically starting next year. General Motors (GM 2.71%) is going to be the manufacturer and it's providing financing. Then Cruise is going to be the company that you're going to get in. You get in, the door is open, it's like a minibus. This is something that's been in development for a few years.
Then Zoox is a similar model. You can go back almost a decade in this exact form factor is what they have been building. They've literally been building a fully autonomous ride-sharing vehicle for their entire life as a company. To me, when you start talking about level 4 or level 5 ride-sharing, this is the competition.
They are out there, they are on the road, they're putting millions and millions of miles into testing. Fundamentally, that's my question about Tesla's [laughs] autonomous driving technology, is if these companies are out there testing, working with regulators, how are they not out ahead and how is Tesla not playing catch-up when it comes to level 4 and level 5 autonomy?