Leaderboard Chart - The Road to Autonomy

April 21, 2024


This Week in The Autonomy Economy, The Road to Autonomy Index declined 5.31% and we are proud to introduce the AUTONOMY LEADERBOARD.

The Road to Autonomy® AUTONOMY LEADERBOARD reflects our opinion on who the leaders are in the development and commercialization of autonomous vehicles, autonomous trucks, middle-mile autonomy and autonomous ground vehicles for defense applications. Collectively these companies are working to usher in the autonomy economy™.

The AUTONOMY LEADERBOARD is based on The Road to Autonomy’s proprietary research and industry insight. The leaderboard updates quarterly with the next update occurring on July 20, 2024.

Let us know your thoughts on the leaderboard by sending us a note on X or LinkedIn

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The Road to Autonomy AUTONOMY LEADERBOARD - April 2024

Waymo parent Alphabet, Zoox parent Amazon, Cruise parent GM, Torc majority investor Daimler Truck AG are The Road to Autonomy Index component companies

Download a PDF version of the AUTONOMY LEADERBOARD here


Autonomous Vehicles

1. Waymo (Alphabet)

Waymo Autonomous Vehicle - The Road to Autonomy
Waymo Autonomous Vehicle | Source: Waymo

Anyway you slice it, Waymo is the clear undisputed leader in the development and commercialization of autonomous vehicles earning them the #1 spot on the autonomous vehicle leaderboard. With an ODD of 673 miles and fully autonomous commercial operations in multiple states, Waymo is well on their way to becoming a sustainable business. 

At this stage of their growth, it’s time for Alphabet to disclose metrics on Waymo’s business. We would like to know the cost structure, quarterly revenue, per-market revenue and how the company is planning to achieve long-term profitable growth. Along with what are Alphabet’s long-term plans for Waymo. Is a spin-out a possibility? Or licensing the Waymo driver?

While Waymo has the poll position today, that could change tomorrow if Waymo is not materially contributing to Alphabet’s bottom line in the future. 

2. Zoox (Amazon)

Zoox Autonomous Vehicle - The Road to Autonomy
Zoox Autonomous Vehicle | Source: Zoox

Zoox remains a mystery that is shrouded in an innovative design with great technology. In Las Vegas and Foster City, CA Zoox is operating (employees only) fully autonomous as they prepare to scale commercial operations. 

We have been in various versions of the Zoox vehicle over the years including the “sled” at SLAC and it has always performed at a high caliber. What Jesse Levinson and the team at Zoox have built is nothing short of extraordinary earning them the #2 spot on the autonomous vehicle leaderboard. 

While it’s an innovative product, we are calling on Amazon to shed some light on what the Zoox business model will ultimately be once Zoox is fully commercialized. 

We have belived over the years and continue to believe that Amazon will introduce a Prime Mobility tier powered by Zoox in select markets around the world. All you can ride for one flat monthly price, that is bundled into an Amazon Prime subscription. If this is the move Amazon ultimately makes with Zoox, Amazon shareholders will be rewarded. 

3. Cruise (GM)

Cruise Autonomous Vehicle - The Road to Autonomy
Cruise Autonomous Vehicle | Source: Cruise

If we published this list six months ago, Cruise would be ranked at number 2 on the autonomous vehicle leaderboard. A lot has changed since then, some for the worst and some for the better. While Cruise is in the middle of a major reboot, we give Ms. Mary Barra, Mr. Mark Reuss and Mr. Paul Jacobson a lot of credit. 

Starring defeat in the face, they could have folded up their autonomous vehicle ambitions, shutdown Cruise and walked away from autonomy. Instead they made the hard decisions and ultimately decided to double down on Cruise. 

With with a new culture in place including key hires Steve Kenner as Chief Safety Officer and bringing back Rob Grant as Chief Government Affairs Officer, GM is putting the pieces in place to build a long-term sustainable business that will ultimately reward GM shareholders. 

As part of the reboot, Cruise is currently conducting driver-in testing in Phoenix, Arizona. While Cruise is in the midst of a reboot, they still have the tech and that’s what earned them the #3 spot on the autonomous vehicle leaderboard. 

4. Wayve

Wayve Autonomous Vehicle - The Road to Autonomy
Wayve Autonomous Vehicle | Source: Wayve

Alex Kendall and the team at Wayve are going to surprise the market when they fully commercialize. Wayve is pioneering an AV 2.0 approach to autonomous driving that uses end-to-end neural networks that are economically scalable. 

This is a similar approach to Tesla with FSD 12. It’s an approach that Bank of America estimates can accelerate the development of autonomous driving technologies in a cost effective manner that is 5-7 times cheaper than the rules/map-based systems that have been developed by most autonomous vehicle companies to date.

Wayve is a sleeper in autonomy. When Wayve is fully commercialized, the company will introduce and scale a highly profitable licensing model that could usher in the era of autonomous driving licensing. 

The Wayve technical approach combined with their licensing commercial strategy earned the company the #4 spot on the autonomous vehicle leaderboard. 

5. Motional (Hyundai) 

Scaling Motional - The Road to Autonomy
Motional Autonomous Vehicle | Source: Motional

The company has big dreams and high hopes with an uncertain future. With Aptiv ceasing funding the Motional joint-venture with Hyundai, big decisions are going to have to be made. When Aptiv announced their decision to stop funding Motional, the company stated it was not related to the current state of Motional’s technology.

While Motional is behind the leaders from a technical perceptive, the company still has the ability to close the gap if certainty is brought to the culture. There is a lot of uncertainty inside of Motional these days leading to declining employee morale. The tech is there, but Hyundai first has to fix the culture and announce their formal plans for Motional.

One potential strategy that we have heard from multiple parties and one that we believe has the potential to become reality is Hyundai downsizing Motional and merging it into their Genesis division.

Instead of focusing on developing robotaxis, the company would shift gears and focus on developing personally owned autonomous vehicles, starting with an SAE Level 3 system. This would put Genesis in direct competition with Mercedes-Benz and their DRIVE PILOT system. 

Motional made the autonomous vehicle leaderboard at #5 because of their technology. Only time will tell if Motional stays on the list. 

What We Are Watching

May Mobility 

While we did not include May Mobility on the initial autonomous vehicle leaderboard, we remain optimistic about the company’s future. We believe an acquisition by a Japanese keiretsu company will occur at some point in the future. If and when this scenario happens, we envision May Mobility shutting down all U.S. commercial operations and focusing exclusively on the Japanese market. 

When you combine a growing driver shortage with an aging population, along with May’s business model and Toyota being one of their largest investors, all signs point to the land of the rising sun. 


FSD 12 could be the moment that changes everything for Tesla. On August 8th, Tesla will unveil their robotaxi to the world. While analysts are fretting over the Model 2 being shelved in favor of a robotaxi and Elon Musk “going balls to the wall for autonomy”, they are missing the big picture. A Tesla robotaxi could very well be the Model 2. 

We are expecting two versions of the robotaxi to be unveiled on August 8th, one with a steering wheel and pedals and one without. The robotaxi (Model 2) with a steering wheel and pedals would allow Tesla to begin testing the robotaxi on public roads without seeking a NHTSA exemption. 

While the world is focused on, will he or won’t he, we are focused on the autonomous driving stack. What will the Tesla robotaxi stack look like? Will they add radar to the system or even perhaps a low-cost LiDAR (that is not a crutch)? Pay attention to the robotaxi autonomous driving stack. It will be a major tell in terms of Tesla’s plans are for robotaxis.

Our take on Autonomous Vehicles: Waymo one day could be upended if the market shifts towards cost effective solutions such as the ones being pioneered by Tesla and Wayve. If these models pass muster and are proven to be more reliable then the traditional approach of using rules/map-based systems, everything changes. 

Add in the ability to license these systems and a new ecosystem will be born with a handful of autonomous driving operating systems. The company that becomes the Microsoft Windows of autonomous driving, wins.

Autonomous Trucks

T-1. Aurora 

Aurora Autonomous Trucks - The Road to Autonomy
Aurora Autonomous Trucks | Source: Aurora

Aurora founded in 2017 by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson and Drew Bagnell is the only independent public-traded company ($4.34B market cap) focused on autonomous trucking. 

While Aurora has plans to scale the Aurora driver into delivery and autonomous vehicles, we view the company today as an autonomous trucking company. The company has a lot of strengths in autonomous trucking including their OEM partnerships with PACCAR and Volvo Autonomous Solutions.

Aurora and Volvo Autonomous Solutions are working together to jointly develop on-highway autonomous trucks. The Volvo Autonomous Solutions partnership is a major strength for Aurora. 

Factor in their partnership with Continental to develop automotive-grade autonomous systems at scale, Aurora has all the pieces they need to commercialize and scale earning them the #1 spot on the Autonomous Trucking leaderboard with Kodiak.

While they have all the pieces in place and are planning to operate fully autonomous commercial operations in Texas this year, we remain concerned about the capital markets. As Aurora will have to raise an additional $850 million by Q1 2025 to take them into 2028, where the company is projecting they can self-fund operations.

In a higher for longer rate environment (with a rate increase on the board now), securing capital at reasonable terms will be difficult, but not impossible. Aurora has the ability to raise capital and we fully expect them to raise the capital, but at what terms? As Aurora embarks on their next capital raise and driver-out operations in Texas, they have a bright future ahead of them.

T-1. Kodiak

Kodiak Autonomous Truck - The Road to Autonomy
Kodiak Autonomous Truck | Source: Kodiak

Kodiak founded in 2018 by Don Burnette is building three businesses in one — autonomous trucking, licensing and defense. All three businesses compliment each other without distracting from the development of the Kodiak driver. 

Kodiak’s patented SensorPods are scaleable, operational and licensable. The way the SensorPods were designed and developed, they can be strategically placed at depots around the country and can be swapped out in under 5 minutes, increasing operational uptime. 

The SensorPods are scaleable and adaptable. Kodiak adapted the pods for hostile environments and created DefensePods for their Defense applications. The ability to adapt the SensorPods creates a major opportunity for Kodiak to license the pods in the future, potentially opening a new revenue source. 

With millions of miles driven autonomously (with safety drivers) on public roads including a coast-to-coast journey and partners including Martin Brower, IKEA, Tyson Foods, C.R. England, Maersk and Werner, Kodiak has all the ingredients to build a world-class business. Factor in their growing defense business and the ability to license SensorPods, Kodiak earned the #1 spot on the Autonomous Trucking leaderboard with Aurora. 

Later this year in Texas, Kodiak will commence fully autonomous commercial operations in Texas, ushering in a new era in autonomous trucking.

2. Torc (Daimler Truck)

Torc Autonomous Truck - The Road to Autonomy
Torc Autonomous Truck | Source: Torc

Torc (Torc Robotics) was founded in 2005 by Michael Fleming and group of Virginia Tech graduate students. In 2007 Torc partnered with Virginia Tech to compete in the DARPA Urban Challenge, earning 3rd place behind the Carnegie Mellon and Stanford teams. 

It’s been a long autonomous road for Torc that almost ended in Cupertino, but instead turned into a long-haul relationship with Daimler Truck.

In 2019, Daimler Truck invested in Torc (their first outside capital raise) and secured majority control of the company. Today, Torc operates as an independent subsidiary of Daimler Truck led by Dr. Peter Vaughan Schmidt

Torc earned the #2 spot on the autonomous trucking leaderboard because of Daimler Truck. Daimler Truck currently has a 40% marketshare in the United States for Class 8 trucks giving Torc the unique ability to tap into the Daimler dealer network to commercialize the Torc driver. 

Factor in the the autonomous-ready redundant Freightliner Cascadia chassis and Torc could build something special together with Daimler. We will be keen to see what Torc and Daimler’s commercial operations look like in 2027.

3. Waabi

Waabi Autonomous Truck - The Road to Autonomy
Waabi Autonomous Truck | Source: Waabi

Waabi founded in 2021 by Raquel Urtasun is one of the newer companies developing an autonomous trucks. They are taking a generative AI approach to developing the Waabi driver.

Their approach has immense promise if it can be validated and scaled. While we commend their approach, we have concerns with respect to their Canadian domicile. 

Canada’s economy is on the brink of a recession with new capital gains taxes that are increasing from 50% to 66% for corporations, trusts and individuals on gains in excess of CA$250,000 ($181,166 USD).

Canada’s economy is going to stutter and economic growth is going to dry up, as individuals are disincentivized from joining a startup or any high paying job. 

If you make CA$250,000.01 a year, you will net CA$165,000.07 ($119,569.56 USD). Then if there is an exit, the bite will only get bigger. The competition for top AI and autonomous driving talent is fierce. The Canadian tax environment will serve as deterrent to attracting top talent to Canada. 

With this economic backdrop in mind, it might be prudent for Waabi to consider moving to the United States. Texas would be the ideal location to setup shop, as there is abundance of talent and Waabi already has a depot in Lancaster, Texas (Waymo Via’s old facility). 

Waabi has the potential and the talent to develop a leading autonomous trucking company, earning them the #3 spot on the autonomous trucking leaderboard. 

4. Stack AV (SoftBank)

Stack AV Truck - The Road to Autonomy
Stack Autonomous Truck | Source: Stack AV

Stack AV founded in 2023 by Bryan Salesky, Peter Rander and Brett Browning (the founding team behind Argo AI) has the talent to develop a world-class autonomous trucking company. 

In one year they have made tremendous progress in developing their technology. The future is bright for Stack, but there are concerns around their business structure. Stack is currently structured with no equity incentives for their employees. This could eventually lead to a shortage of talent and long-term talent retention issues if unchanged.

Then there is the speculation that Stack AV is currently negotiating an OEM deal. If they secure the deal with this particular OEM, they will run into the headwind that another autonomous trucking company is currently facing — no driver-out operations. 

While Stack AV is not as far along as other autonomous trucking companies, their potential OEM partnership is a concern, depending on how the contract is structured and what restrictions might or might not be in the development agreement.

Stack made the autonomous trucking leaderboard at #4 because of the founders track record in developing autonomous driving technologies. 


1. Gatik

Gatik Autonomous Truck - The Road to Autonomy
Gatik Autonomous Truck | Source: Gatik

Gatik founded in 2017 by Gautam Narang, Arjun Narang and Apeksha Kumavat owns the middle-mile category with a strong focus on operating as a business. With customers such as Walmart, Kroger, Loblaws, Georgia-Pacific and KBX, Gatik is developing their technology in tandem with building a business. 

We are amazed that no one has tried to compete with Gatik in the middle-mile category as it is an externally profitable niche in autonomy. In 2021, Gatik became the first autonomous logistics company to operate a Class 6 autonomous trucks on public roads with no safety driver. The deployment took place in Arkansas through a partnership with Walmart. 

In 2022, deployed Class 6 autonomous trucks on public roads in Canada through a partnership with Loblaw, another first. By the end of this year, Gatik will begin fully autonomous operations in Texas, as they begin to scale their current truck fleet of 50 by 500%.

Then there is the partnership with Isuzu, creating a pathway for Gatik to expand to Japan and capitalize on the growing driver shortage. The company has all the right ingredients in place to build a long-term profitable business, earning them the #1 spot on the middle-mile leaderboard. 

Our take on Autonomous Trucking: The autonomous trucking market continues to be a founder-led market which we view as healthy. As Aurora, Gatik and Kodiak prepare for fully autonomous commercial operations in Texas this year, all eyes turn to Texas. 2024 will be a milestone year for the autonomous trucking industry. 


1. Forterra

Forterra S-MET autonomous vehicle
Forterra S-MET autonomous vehicle | Source: Forterra

Forterra (formerly RRAI) founded by Alberto Lacaze in 2002 is one of the oldest companies developing autonomous driving technologies that is still in business. It is a testament to their strategy to focus mainly on defense (military) applications instead of traditional civilian on-road applications. 

The defense market for ground autonomy is estimated to be a $4 billion dollar market by 2026. With growing global conflicts and the military’s desire to automate, this market is only going to grow over the coming years. 

To prepare for the growth of both the defense and civilian markets, Forterra raised their first-ever round of outside capital in a $228 million dollar funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 in 2021.

Forterra earned the #1 spot on the Defense leaderboard because of their 22 year history of successfully developing and deploying ground autonomy solutions for military applications. 

2. Kodiak

Kodiak Autonomous Pickup Truck
Kodiak Autonomous Pickup Truck | Source: Kodiak

Kodiak first entered the defense sector in 2021 when they received a U.S. Air Force Small Business Innovation Research contract. As part of the contract Kodiak developed a software platform for simulated autonomous vehicles that could navigate the Dover Air Force Base flightline.

In 2022, Kodiak was selected by the United States Army and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) for a 24-month, $49.9 million contract to adapt their self-driving platform for the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) program. 

Defense is a new emerging business for Kodiak and one that will further strengthen the company as work on developing their autonomous trucking operations. Adding a defense unit to Kodiak’s underlying business only strengthens the overall business earning them the #2 spot on the Defense leaderboard. 

The Road to Autonomy Index® / Weekly Performance 

The Road to Autonomy Index® is a high-definition lens into the emerging world of autonomous vehicles. It is the world’s first and only pure-play index designed to measure the performance of the autonomous vehicle/truck market.

For the week of April 15, 2024, The Road to Autonomy Index declined 5.31%, the S&P 500 declined 3.05% and the NASDAQ 100 declined 5.5%. The Road to Autonomy Index underperformed the S&P 500 by 2.26% and outperformed the NASDAQ 100 by 0.19%. 

The Road to Autonomy Index Performance Week of April 15, 2024

S&P Dow Jones Indices is the custom calculation agent for The Road to Autonomy Index

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The Road to Autonomy Index Component Companies

Latest The Road to Autonomy & Autonomy Economy Podcasts 

The Road to Autonomy and Autonomy Economy podcasts are hosted by Grayson Brulte. The Road to Autonomy features unconventional conversations about the future of mobility.

Autonomy Economy features an insider’s perspective on the economics of autonomy.

From Boring to Billions: How Autonomy Could Transform Insurance Economics

From Boring to Billions: How Autonomy Could Transform Insurance Economics - The Road to Autonomy

Sergey Litvinenko, Co-Founder & CEO, Koop joined The Autonomy Economy podcast how autonomy could transform insurance economics.

Listen on The Road to Autonomy | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube Music

Watch on X | YouTube

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

AI-First Approach: Bringing Silicon Valley’s Leading Edge to Global Automakers

Applied Intuition - The Road to Autonomy
Digital Software | Source: Applied Intuition 

Qasar Younis, CEO & Co-Founder and Peter Ludwig, CTO & Co-Founder of Applied Intuition joined The Road to Autonomy podcast to their AI-first approach to the development of automotive software.

Listen on The Road to Autonomy | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube Music

Watch on X | YouTube

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Tesla’s Data Advantage in the Race to Develop Autonomous Driving

Tesla Model 3 - The Road to Autonomy
Tesla Model 3 | Source: Tesla

Pete Bigelow, Senior Reporter, Automotive News joined The Autonomy Economy podcast to discuss Tesla’s data advantage and what it means to the development and commercialization of autonomous driving.

Listen on The Road to Autonomy | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | YouTube Music

Watch on X | YouTube

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Subscribe to This Week in The Autonomy Economy™

A weekly newsletter featuring insight and commentary on the autonomy economy™ and how the financial markets are viewing its emergence. 

All price references and market forecasts are as of the date that this newsletter has been sent. The Road to Autonomy is not providing any financial, economic, legal, accounting, or tax advice or recommendations in this newsletter. The information contained in this newsletter does not constitute investment advice and should not be relied upon to evaluate any potential transaction. 

Inclusion of a security within The Road to Autonomy Index® is not a recommendation by The Road to Autonomy Indices LLC to buy, sell, or hold such security, nor is it considered to be investment advice.