It’s widely assumed that future self-driving vehicles will be purely electric. However, the CEO of Argo AI, the self-driving company primarily backed by Volkswagen and Ford, raised doubts today about the business case for robotaxis as absolutely all-electric from Day One. Bryan Salesky, Argo’s chief executive, conveyed his views while speaking with the Verge.
I’m aware that the headline is pretty much an oxymoron and it looks like the stupidest thing from the picture above, but please bear with me for a second because this project is actually interesting.
The moovel Group, a research group owned by Daimler, created an electric vehicle platform with autonomous driving sensors but instead of a control unit powered by software, a driver controls the vehicle based on information fed through a virtual reality headset. Expand Expanding Close
The controversy over how to approach Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) continues as the California DMV is moving forward with a new regulation to ban the use of certain words in the promotion and advertising of the systems.
One of the words is ‘Autopilot’, which is exactly what Tesla has been calling its own ADAS since its announcement in October 2014. Expand Expanding Close
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to release its federal guidelines for autonomous vehicles in July and the agency’s senior administrator, Dr. Mark Rosekind, said to expect something different from the regulators to reflect the disrupting aspect of self-driving technologies.
Rosekind made the comment during a panel at the TU-Automotive auto-tech conference in Novi (via readwrite):
“What is unusual is everybody expects regulation comes out and that’s what it is forever, and NHTSA’s job is react and enforce it. That will not work with this area. I think we’re going to have something different in July.”
In a not so surprising but disappointing report for EV enthusiasts today, we learn that BMW is putting its electric vehicle programs on the “back burner” in order to focus its ‘i’ brand, under which the German automaker has been releasing its electric vehicles, on self-driving cars instead.
The company reportedly will not release a new all-electric vehicle until 2021. Expand Expanding Close
The latest report from South Korean media suggests that Tesla has been developing ‘fail-safe’ systems for self-driving cars with Mando, the country’s biggest auto part supplier by revenue. Expand Expanding Close
As Electrek covers, the automobile landscape is clearly changing with electric vehicles replacing gas-powered cars, autonomous features potentially replacing drivers, and iPhone-maker Apple developing an EV of its own. But Porsche wants no part in that future says CEO Oliver Blume. Reuters reports that Blume told German media this week essentially that a Porsche is meant to be driven, and an iPhone is meant for your pocket, not the road:
“One wants to drive a Porsche by oneself,” Blume said in an interview with regional newspaper Westfalen-Blatt published on Monday.
“An iPhone belongs in your pocket, not on the road,” Blume added, saying that Porsche did not need to team up with any big technology companies.
While Blume was using the iPhone line largely to explain away the need for computerized vehicles and embrace the nature of high-performance cars like Porsches, it’s a curious one as the new 911 features Apple’s CarPlay …
Medium’s tech hub editor-in-chief Steven Levy provides an interesting behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a test-(non)driver of one of Google’s self-driving cars. Among the more surprising facts is that there’s a four-week full-time course to qualify to sit behind the wheel of one of the company’s testbed Lexus cars – with additional training needed for the cute prototype cars with only emergency controls.
There’s an abbreviated version for those who will only be sitting in the cars on the company’s private test facility. If you fancy the job, the most reliable way to apply, says Levy, is to be friends with an existing driver. If you can’t swing that, there’s always the option of applying to be a professional pedestrian …
Given Google’s apparent lead in driverless car technology, you might imagine that the tech giant has notched-up the greatest number of patents in the field, but Reuters says that this isn’t the case. A detailed analysis of patent filings for autonomous car technology shows that car manufacturers are way out ahead, with Google only taking 26th place.
Toyota is, far and away, the global leader in the number of self-driving car patents, the report found. Toyota is followed by Germany’s Robert Bosch GmbH, Japan’s Denso Corp, Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co and General Motors Co. The tech company with the most autonomous-driving patents, Alphabet Inc’s Google, ranks 26th on the list.
Toyota has more than 1,400 patents in the field, twice as many as second-placed Robert Bosch …
Google’s self-driving car initiative has been gaining momentum over the past year, but now it looks like the company has at least one more big piece of news up its sleeve. According to a report from Yahoo Autos, Google and Ford are planning to announce a joint venture to build self-driving cars.
While it seems near-certain that Google plans a full-scale commercial rollout of its self-driving cars, and that Apple has serious plans for a competing vehicle of its own, neither company is likely to manufacture the cars itself. As a recent opinion piece argued, actually manufacturing a car is massively complex undertaking.
Both Google and Apple will therefore be looking for partners to pull together different elements of the car, and Re/code has put together an interesting look at the most likely candidates. Though the piece is focused on the Apple Car, the analysis applies to Apple, Google and Tesla alike … Expand Expanding Close
More interestingly, The Guardian claims to have obtained documents that suggest the Apple Car is close to leaving the lab as the project deemed ‘Project Titan’ has now an official Engineering Program Manager. When a project gets an EPM, it typically means a product is entering the next stage of development and finishing testing stages.
Adam Jonas, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, published a note yesterday to update the firm’s price target on Tesla’s stock to $465 from $280. The updated price target includes a whole new business segment called “Tesla Mobility” which Jonas expects Tesla to announce within the next 12 to 18 months. Expand Expanding Close