10 Companies Making Self-Driving Cars a Reality [2022]

Companies like Tesla and Waymo are developing autonomous vehicles that may be the wave of the future. Learn where the technology stands and what might be coming soon.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in sustai...

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Written by Melanie Musson
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Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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UPDATED: Jun 16, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • Self-driving cars operate on public roads today, providing ride-hailing and commercial delivery services, but personal self-driving cars are unavailable
  • The 10 companies making autonomous vehicles a reality include a mix of automobile manufacturers and tech companies designing the hardware, software, and other self-driving programs and platforms
  • With billions of dollars invested in autonomous vehicle testing, research and development, manufacturing, and strategic partnerships, self-driving cars for the masses will likely be a reality soon

The autonomous vehicle (AV) industry has been working hard for more than a decade to make self-driving cars a reality. Thanks to the research, development, hours of safety testing, and investments of billions of dollars, self-driving taxis and commercial delivery vehicles are already a thing of the present in certain places in the U.S. and China. There are currently 38 states with autonomous driving laws on the books. From establishing exploratory commissions to permitting driverless road testing, legislatively the way is already being paved for self-driving cars.

We’re not at the point where you can go to a dealership and buy a car that can drive itself off the lot, but many visionary companies worldwide are determined to bring personal self-driving vehicles to regular car owners. There’s a lot of competition in the field, but these ten companies with self-driving cars are currently in the driver’s seat in advancing self-driving cars and dominating the AV market.


Waymo is the Old “G” of the autonomous vehicle industry. The company, which began as the Google Self-Driving Car Project, cut its teeth in an innovation incubator in 2009 and has been a leader in autonomous car technology ever since.

Alphabet Inc., an American multinational technology conglomerate holding company, owns Waymo and partners with Chinese automaker Geely.

In 2012, Waymo became the first company to road test a Level 3 autonomous vehicle. Today, its autonomous cars have driven over 20 million miles on public roads.

Waymo launched its robo-taxi service in 2019 and currently operates a 600-vehicle fleet in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Considering how long it’s been in the game and that it recently raised $2.5 billion in 2020, Waymo has earned major player status in the AV industry.

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For years, Tesla has reigned supreme in the electric vehicle market, and the company hopes to do the same with autonomous vehicles. 

Tesla’s recent focus has been on developing the Tesla Autopilot, a vehicle with one of the world’s most advanced semi-autonomous driving systems. It features adaptive cruise control, auto navigation, auto-steering, auto lane changing, auto valet from parking spaces and garages, lane departure warning, and traffic light/stop sign recognition.

Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, is an undeniable visionary, and for many, Tesla represents the future of carmaking. Based on its leading AV technology and car manufacturing systems, the company is more than capable of starting an autonomous vehicle takeover and bringing self-driving cars to the masses.


Aurora is a self-driving vehicle company founded by the former head of Google’s self-driving car project, Chris Urmson; former head of Tesla Autopilot, Sterling Anderson; and former head of Uber’s Advanced Technology Group, Drew Bagnell.

Aurora has its genesis with Uber, acquiring its self-driving unit, the Advanced Technologies Group, in 2020. Aurora acquired the group’s 1,200-person team, along with $400 million of investment from Uber. Aurora also has solid financial backing from Amazon.

Aurora’s mission is to deliver the benefits of self-driving — safely, quickly, and broadly. Their company culture is unique, with core values like “no jerks” and “set outrageous goals.”

Aurora occupies the same self-driving tech platform space in the AV industry as Argo AI and Baidu’s Apollo. Aurora remains a leader in developing driving systems for AVs used in long-haul trucking, ride-hailing, and commercial goods delivery.

Like most other companies in the industry, one of their goals is to adapt their auto-driver hardware and software to many automobile types, makes, and models, including for personal vehicle use.

GM’s Cruise

Cruise started in 2013 after successfully participating in a startup accelerator program. It only took three years before GM bought Cruise Automation for $1 billion to continue working on fully autonomous cars, meaning no steering wheels or pedals.

Cruise initially retrofitted autonomous vehicles onto the Chevy Bolt foundation. Still, in 2020, the company launched the Cruise Origin, built as a driverless vehicle without manual steering controls and 40% of the hardware dedicated to self-driving. That same year, the company began testing fully driverless vehicles in San Francisco, California.

Cruise’s success is due in large part to its partnership with GM, a longtime frontrunner in the AV industry. In fact, it was GM – not Ford, Uber, or Waymo – that was the first company to seek permission from the US DOT to operate fully autonomous cars for commercial ride-hailing service.

As for Cruise’s future, there’s nothing but open roads ahead. Cruise recently announced plans to mass-produce the Origin driverless shuttle vehicle in 2023.

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Ford’s Argo.ai

Argo.ai doesn’t make cars — it makes the self-driving technology that goes into them. They linked with Ford in February 2017, when the auto giant invested $1 billion in the then-new robotics and artificial intelligence company.

Argo.ai aims to design a fully integrated self-driving technology platform for automakers to incorporate into their AV manufacturing.

In addition to Ford, Argo.ai has attracted investments totaling $2.6 billion dollars from Volkswagen in 2019.

In 2021, Argo.ai and Ford partnered with Walmart to launch a driverless delivery service. This year, Argo.ai started testing driverless operations in Miami and Austin. The service is limited to daytime hours and will only be operated by company employees using an internally developed app.

Baidu’s Apollo

Baidu is a Chinese multinational technology company specializing in internet-related services and artificial intelligence. Baidu’s started an autonomous driving unit in 2017 called Apollo. 

Baidu’s Apollo is an open-source autonomous vehicle platform providing cloud data, software, hardware services, testing tools, and other functions for driverless cars. Apollo’s autonomous system uses Baidu’s datasets and other real-world driving data to test their algorithms and improve their technology.

Baidu had a big year in 2019. It became one of three AV companies to secure a commercial license in China for self-driving buses. It also launched a robo-taxi service, Apollo Go, for the general public in Hunan, China. Now, Apollo Go is available in ten Chinese cities and has provided 196,000 rides just in Q1 of 2022. 

According to the company’s co-founder, Robin Li, Baidu’s goal is to expand Apollo Go’s self-driving taxi service to 65 cities by 2025 and 100 cities by 2030.


Pony.ai is a Chinese self-driving vehicle company that galloped on the AV scene in 2016. Pony.ai focuses on developing full self-driving ridesharing services. The California company was permitted to begin autonomous vehicle testing on public roads within three months of being founded.

Pony.ai is a company of many firsts. Out of all of the AV companies, Pony.ai was the first to launch a robo-taxi service in December 2018 in limited regions of California and Beijing.

In 2022, Pony.ai became the first AV company to obtain a robo-taxi license in China.

However, not all of Pony.ai’s firsts are good.

In 2021, Pony.ai had the unenviable distinction of being the first company to have its driverless testing permit suspended by the California DMV after one of its driverless vehicles hit a road center divider and a traffic sign after making a right turn. 

Five months after the accident, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration issued its first recall to Pony.ai about the automated driving system involved in the incident.

Finally, in May 2022, California’s DMV revoked Pony.ai’s testing permit for failing to monitor driving records properly.

However, don’t count Pony.ai out. The company has investor support from big venture capitalists and deep-pocket auto industry investors, like Toyota. The company was recently valued at over $5 billion.

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Aptiv and Hyundai’s Motional

Motional debuted in March 2020 as a joint venture formed by Hyundai Motor Group and Aptiv, a leading self-driving technology company claiming to be the only provider of autonomous cars’ brains (software and compute) and nervous system (power and data distribution).

Motional is a mashup of the word “motion,” which speaks to the movement of driverless vehicles in particular and the AV industry in general, and the word “emotional,” representing the feeling of safety and reliability the company wants to impart.

Since 2020, the company has been offering autonomous ride-hailing services in Las Vegas, with a 98% 5-out-of-5 passenger experience rating. In 2021, Motional became the first company to operate multiple driverless vehicles on public roads.

This year, Motional announced a pilot program with UberEats to deliver meals from select Santa Monica, California restaurants. Motional’s mission is to develop and commercialize high-performing self-driving vehicles for the masses, and it appears to be on its way to doing so.


AutoX was founded in 2016 by Dr. Jianxiong Xiao, a former assistant professor at Princeton University known as Professor X. Alibaba Group Holding owns AutoX, and its headquarters is in Shenzhen, China.

In 2019, AutoX received the second driverless robo-taxi permit from California after Pony.ai.

Today, AutoX has the notoriety of operating the largest robo-taxi fleet in China. It is also the only company in China using fully driverless robo-taxis on public roads. 

AutoX has the largest driverless auto engineering team in China. Its five research and development centers in China and the U.S. help keep the company’s AV innovation cutting-edge.

Having raised over $160 million to date, the company has plenty of funding in its coffers to continue to grow and achieve its objective of leading the AV revolution in the biggest market in the world: China.

Optimus Ride

Last but not least is Optimus Ride, a company offering a wholly automated shuttle service in limited geofenced communities. Optimus Ride is a Boston-based company owned by Magna International, a Canadian developer of car mobility technology.

In March 2021, Optimus Ride joined forces with Polaris, a company that manufactures the low-speed GEM electric car using Optimus Ride’s AV software and hardware technology.

There are approximately 30 Polaris GEM electric cars in New York, California, Virginia, and Massachusetts outfitted with Optimus Ride’s AV systems. There’s no sign of the Optimus Ride and Polaris duo slowing down. In fact, they have plans to start offering fully autonomous GEM vehicles to the public market by the second half of 2023.

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Bottom Line: Self-Driving Vehicles Are Here, and More Are Coming

More and more companies are competing to be the autonomous vehicle industry leader. Some competition has been around since the technology’s inception, while others are newer to the field. Still, they all have a similar mission: to revolutionize and commercialize driverless vehicles for mass consumption.

The ten companies listed above have done a lot to advance AVs in the ride-hailing and commercial delivery sectors. They plan to keep the pedal to the metal until self-driving cars are a reality for the mainstream public.

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