PSA has announced that an autonomous Citroën C4 has successfully passed a péage (toll) booth, thus beating rival French manufacturing group Renault in the race to find a solution for self-drive vehicles to navigate France's many toll highways.
Tollbooths are difficult environments to navigate for autonomous cars: the lack of regular road markings, the narrowness of the toll gates and the risk of unexpected maneuvers by other, human-driven vehicles all increase the risk that the autonomous car will simply stop, to avoid danger.
Renault announced last week that it would work with Sanef, the authority managing France's autoroutes, to tackle the problem – only to have PSA confirm its success in solving the same issue.
The intense rivalry between both manufacturers on this specific issue proves how competitive the autonomous technology space has become. According to a report by Alixpartners, perhaps a bit too competitive. The U.S. consultants say there currently are about 50 major players developing autonomous technology, but that only three or four systems will emerge victorious; hence, billions of dollars are currently being wasted on the development of systems that will prove obsolete.
The bitter irony is that the developers of those losing systems will then have to throw good money after bad, in order to buy the technology that has won the autonomous race.
Image: Quistnix, CC BY 3.0