Should we count on this new wave of firms to chase down the front-runners? The state-of-the-art is not enough to get us to the stage where Cruise is.

One of the most advanced car firms is Cruise. In San Francisco, it has been running a live service. Anyone can now hail a car with the Cruise app and have it pull up to the curb with no one inside.

Hundreds of engineers are working on different parts of Cruise's software in a virtual factory. The mainstream modular approach is an advantage because it allows the company to swap in new tech as it comes along.

He doesn't believe that Cruise's approach won't be applicable to other cities. We have to build something that scales easily.

Wayve is yet to test its vehicles without a human in the driving seat, but Cruise's self-driving technology is more advanced.

Before Cruise can drive in a new city, he needs to map its streets in centimeter-level detail. These kinds of maps are used by most car companies. They give extra information to the vehicle on top of the raw sensor data it gets on the go, and typically include hints like the location of lane boundaries and traffic lights, or whether there are curbs on a particular stretch of street.

Road data collected by cameras and lidar is combined with satellite imagery to create HD maps. In the US, Europe, and Asia hundreds of millions of miles of roads have been mapped in this way. Map-making is an endless process because of the road layout.

Cruise makes its own HD maps and can recreate cities, all the driving conditions, street layout and everything.