Party pic (via istock)

We celebrate our 5th birthday with a refresh and a look back at our self-driving journey to date.

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Driverless to self-driving: Happy 5th birthday Cars of the Future

Thanks to Linkedin for reminding us that we’ve been providing news and views about all things self-driving for five whole years now. Happy 5th birthday Cars of the Future!

To celebrate, the eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that we’ve treated ourselves to a bit of a refresh – technical upgrades, recategorised content and updated terminology.

We’ve also picked five of our favourite stories from the archives – one for each year – which can be seen as a journey from the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ towards the ‘Slope of Self-driving Enlightenment’.

Self-driving 2019-2024

The self-driving story that sparked Cars of the Future
The self-driving story that sparked Cars of the Future

2018/19 We have to begin with my Autonomous now: the shift to self-driving feature for the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI). My editor at the time, Tim Kiek, said: “I’ve featured articles on autonomous vehicles throughout my tenure but never one which explores the topic with such forensic rigour.”

Following passionate but often misinformed feedback from lovers, haters and inbetweeners, we saw an urgent need for a new UK-centric self-driving news source. Cars of the Future was born! The full 2,600-word version of Autonomous Now was our first post.

Cars of the Future joins the Zenzic self-driving revolution
Cars of the Future joins the Zenzic self-driving revolution

2020 While the Covid 19 pandemic was raging and we were all in lockdown getting our heads around Zoom, we were delighted to be recognised as a Zenzic CAM Creator. We decided it would be interesting to find out what other CAM Creators did… and that proved to be a very fortunate decision. It began a series of popular long-form interviews which continues to this day. Significantly, it really broadened our content, from ‘cars, cars, cars’ to CAM.

The very first of these CAM Creator interviews was with Clem Robertson of R4dar, now part of Angoka: “Fighter pilots use five different methods of identification before engaging a potential bogey, and the autonomous vehicle world is doing similar with lidar, radar, digital mapping etc. Each has its shortcomings but together they create a more resilient system.”

Millbrook test-bed
Millbrook test-bed

2021 As the pandemic continued to dominate, we signed multiple media partnership agreements, notably with Reuters Events. These saw me moderating high profile panel discussions on everything from ADAS to clean fuel and, of course, self-driving.

At a Small Cells Forum virtual event, we met Peter Stoker, Chief Engineer at Millbrook Proving Ground, leading to this deep dive into both real-world and virtual testing: “The key to the future of self-driving is education, education, education – for everyone, the public, vehicle manufacturers, the aftermarket, recovery operators…”

Oxa's groundbreaking zero occupancy self-driving vehicle
Oxa’s groundbreaking zero occupancy self-driving vehicle

2022 The welcome return of face-to-face meetings and live events -press launches, trade shows and industry conferences. We renewed our deal with Reuters for Auto Tech and signed further similar agreements, including with London EV Show and MOVE. In April, we published our first newsletter – the top story was on project CAVForth.

Meanwhile, Cruise began charging for self-driving rides in San Francisco. Here, Oxbotica (soon to be Oxa) conducted the first zero-occupancy, self-driving, electric vehicle test on public roads in Europe: “An historic moment for the UK, the transport and logistics sector, and autonomous vehicle technology”, said CTO (soon to be CBE) Professor Paul Newman.

Self-driving Industry Awards 2023

2023 saw Cars of the Future website visitors, newsletter subscribers and social numbers almost double. We renewed our partnership with MOVE (which saw me host the AV stage), were invited to the Self-Driving All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), and organised the inaugural Self-driving Industry Awards.

CAVForth won the headline Vehicle of the Year Award. Other big winners (nominated by their industry peers) included Alex Kendall of Wayve, Rebecca Posner of CCAV and Oxa’s Newman. It was the best day in the history of Cars of the Future to date.

As ever, our mission remains: To chart the development of, and encourage sensible debate about, all aspects of self-driving. We’ll soon be announcing details of the Self-driving Industry Awards 2024, and we’ve got other exciting new projects in the pipeline too. Watch this space!

Cars of the Future 2024
Cars of the Future 2024

A huge thank you for all your support and here’s to the next five years!

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Author: Neil Kennett

Neil is MD of Featurebank Ltd. He launched in 2019.