Now you can buy your own DIY self-driving car!

Now you can buy your own DIY self-driving car!

The recent GM acquisition, OSVehicle, today unveiled the EDIT DIY self-driving car significantly lowering the barriers to entry for start-ups to develop autonomous vehicles. GM acquired OSVehicle in March 2017 for $1.1 billion in a bid to develop a self-driving “Vehicle-as-a -Service” (VaaS). OSVehicle had its debut at Y-Combinator in Silicon Valley where it introduced the TABBY EVO exposing the OSVehicle team to many conversations which they incorporated in the development of the EDIT. 

Being 100% modular allows companies to repair, replace and adapt different components resulting a tenfold longer product lifetime, lower total cost of ownership and recyclability. Companies can also upgrade the connected car & self-driving modules as technology improves over time without discarding still viable components. EDITs modular technology allows you to easily embed several autonomous driving technologies from level 0 to 5 or add your own self-driving code and custom hardware stack of lidars, sensors, CPUs, etc.

EDITs friendly shape, which easily transformable according to the needs of the customer that could help the transition towards a different layout of the autonomous driving cars of the future. Being modular makes the EDIT easy to repair and upgrade, disrupting many sectors as we transition faster to a zero emission and zero fatality mobility. The body is divided into five primary parts, four molds (front, rear, roof and double symmetrical door), optimizing production and decreasing costs. The interior can provide different settings depending on the level of autonomous driving. In a level 5 version, there is a “vis a vis” seating layout with a comfortable table in the central area without steering wheel where you can work while commuting.

Barriers to entry as a result of cost and time to develop exclude many great start-ups and ideas from the self-driving sector. EDIT is a ready-to-use technology that saves years of R&D and millions of dollars. There is no need to reinvent the wheel for startups that are struggling with reverse engineering and to cost-effectively integrate the newest technology into the closed design of cars already in the market. EDIT allows start-ups to employ a “lean and distributed” manufacturing principle thereby avoiding huge investments in factories resulting in a reduction of more than 80% in initial costs. OSVehicle claims its IKEA like approach saves up to 70% of logistic costs and hacks import taxes by shipping ‘EDIT’ in components as opposed to complete vehicles. OSVehicle uses the example of Nepal where import duty on assembled vehicles is 238% compared to 3% for ‘EDIT  components. OSVehicle did not provide any other guidance on the cost of the EDIT.

The disruption caused by the first ever ready-to-use Self-Driving EV will be felt in various sectors, including:

  • Ride and Car Sharing fleets don’t last more than two years due to heavy use. Vehicles that are modular, customizable and upgradeable prevent obsolescence, extending the life of a vehicle up to 20 years;
  • EDIT can be efficiently customized with heating and cooling components, disrupting commercial applications such as the Food Delivery Services;
  • Self-Driving Vehicle start-ups struggle with reverse engineering and to cost-effectively integrate new technology into the closed design of the traditional car. By adding non-integratable hardware to existing production vehicles, the interior and exterior designs of these vehicles could seem compromised. ‘EDIT’ is a production vehicle, future-proofed and designed specifically to be modular and always upgradeable.

EDIT is a white label platform for branding purposes whereby a brand can customize the exterior body and interior, still keeping the road legal certification. By being a Vehicle-as-a-Service solution companies can use EDIT to quickly deliver models tailored for each service and country. OSVehicle states that with the rise of food delivery, ride and car sharing, vehicles should focus on the service brand and its needs, not the car brand.

‘EDIT’ is designed in Italy by the OSVehicle team in collaboration with the design company Camal. EDITs design is compliant with European, US, and Asian safety regulations.

If you are only a hobbyist or ultra lean start-up wanting to build a self-driving car and find that the cost of EDIT is still too high, follow our advice in the earlier post. Just buy the OSVehicle TABBY EVO from as little as $12,000 and add to that George Hotz’s self-driving car kit which he plans to market through his company comma.ai at a price of $1,000.

The future is already here. Please feel free to share your thoughts on the EDIT DIY autonomous vehicle with the community in the comment section below or the OSVehicle forum on our app, that is if you have swiped right to “like” the EV.

vaas-EDIT_Self_Driving_Car_modular_exterior_OSVehicle
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vaas-EDIT_Self_Driving_Car_modular_exterior_OSVehicle

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The race for self-driving taxis in the USA is on

The race for self-driving taxis in the USA is on

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A slew of self-driving pilot programs has been announced recently, the latest being Delphi. The auto parts company previously owned by GM announced that it would roll out self-driving taxis in the USA this year. Delphi is already piloting a program in Singapore where it pilots an Audi SQ5, kitted with 26 sensors. The pilot would be extended to three vehicles in June and is done in conjunction with the Singapore government where the company hopes to have operating taxi service within three years. According to Automotive News it is anticipated that Delphi will host the US pilot in either Pittsburg or Boston and that services would commence in September 2017.

Delphi’s pilot program allows passengers to see what the cars “brain” sees on a tablet, which it calls its “comfort cam”, soothing first-time users of the service. Already speculation is rife that Intel, which just last month paid a staggering $15 billion for Isreali autonomous tech company, Mobileye, would acquire Delphi. The three companies are already integrating their technologies to provide autonomous systems for car manufacturers, as soon as 2019.

Delphi would extend the pilot to Europe in the 3rd quarter and will switch its test vehicles to an undefined electric vehicle by 2018. The regulatory environment for public testing eased last week as Germany passed a law allowing for the public testing of autonomous vehicles.

Competitors, Lyft and Waymo also signed a partnership agreement this week. Waymo, previously know as Google’s self-driving program is already piloting Chrysler Minivans and Lexuses in Phoenix. The company last month invited people living in South East Phoenix to apply for the program, allowing the participant to hail a ride via a mobile app for local trips. Already as much as 10,000 such rides have been completed by Google staff.  Waymo announced in April that it would increase its autonomous fleet from 100 to 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans. It is no surprise that Waymo did not partner with Uber since Waymo claims that Uber stole some of its technology in an ongoing court case between the two companies. Reuters reported that according to Lyft the transaction is not exclusive, leaving the door open for other partnerships such as Lyft’s shareholder GM.

GM paid $500 million last year for a stake in the USAs number two ride-sharing company; the automaker also acquired Cruise Automation to spearhead its autonomous vehicle strategy. GM is very aggressive in the autonomous space, trying to carve out a lead to make up for ground lost to newcomers such as Tesla. GM is spending vast amounts of money to this end, for instance paying $1.1 billion to acquire its second Y Incubator company, the Italian based OSVehicle, to develop a self-driving “Vehicle-as-a -Service” (VaaS) platform. GM’s efforts are seeming to pay off as the respected research firm, Navigant, recently ranked it and Ford at the top of the self-driving leaderboard.

Companies like Delphi, Intel, and Nvidia, are hoping to sell their driverless systems to automakers in what is expected to be a market of around $100 billion within the next couple of years. BMW last week unveiled 40 BMW 7-series equipped with Intel’s driverless technology. The test, using the specially converted autonomous 7-Series is part of the German company’s project that will see 155 million test miles driven. Nvidia, an early front-runner in the self-driving tech space lat week, announced that Toyota would use its autonomous microchip built on Nvidia’s artificial intelligence platform called Drive PX. Both Daimler and Audi have already partnered with Nvidia on its Drive PX system.

Precursors to larger ride sharing and hailing services would be regulation, computing infrastructure, and connectivity. Governments would have to enact regulation to allow driverless cars while processing power and data centers need to be increased many fold to accommodate driverless technology. So also is 5G connection a requirement, daily use of an average self-driving car would be four terabytes of data.

In February we provided a summary of the disengagement reports by companies doing public testing on Californias’ roads. Only 10 of the permitted 20 companies filed reports, this number would definitely increase in 2017 judging from all the pilots announced recently. The pilot programs currently in action are mostly for level three and four autonomy and are expected to be commercially available from 2020 onwards. Even though it is expected that the Tesla 2018 models would have level five compliant hardware installed full autonomy is only expected in the latter half of the next decade.

The video by BMW below provides a short overview of the different autonomous driving levels.

 

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Navigant ranking discounts Waymo & Tesla self-driving programs

Navigant ranking discounts Waymo & Tesla self-driving programs

Navigant Research ranks the autonomous vehicle sector on strategy and ability to execute

Navigant Research placed Ford and GM at the top of its autonomous driving leaderboard, surprisingly far above Waymo (7th), the pioneer of autonomous driving. Waymo was only listed as a contender, and Tesla who has already clocked over 300 million miles in Autopilot (Level 2 Autonomy) did not make the Top 10 list. Waymo, not aiming to develop a car, but rather focusing on autonomous technology has partnered with Chrysler and Ford on testing autonomous technology.Making Navigant’s findings even more surprising to us is that

Making Navigant’s findings even more surprising to us is that Waymo performed exceptionally well compared to other automakers on the list when comparing across all permit holders allowed to test autonomous tech on Californias public roads. According to CA DMV regulations, each permit holder must annually file a disengagement report, reflecting the number of events where a driver essentially has to take over from the vehicle’s autonomous mode to either prevent a traffic incident or where the system fails. Waymo posted a record 0.2 disengagements per 1,000 miles in its 2016. For a breakdown of each permit holders testing in California read our recent blog providing detailed analysis. The table below shows a summary of all the permit holders in the CA DMV program’s disengagements per 1,000 miles.

Navigant’s criteria are based on the following ten factors:

  • vision;
  • go-to-market strategy;
  • partners;
  • production strategy;
  • technology;
  • sales;
  • marketing and distribution;
  • product capability;
  • product quality and reliability;
  • product portfolio and staying power.

 

The Top Ten Self-driving companies on Navigant’s list is:

  1. Ford
  2. GM
  3. RenaultNissan Alliance
  4. Daimler
  5. Volkswagen Group
  6. BMW
  7. Waymo
  8. Volvo/Autoliv/Zenuity
  9. Delphi
  10. Hyundai Motor Group.

Despite Tesla aiming to have a market ready Level 5 autonomous product by the end of the year, it is only listed as a contender. Tesla is criticized by some, for being too aggressive, using its customers as guinea pigs for its AutoPilot software.

Not surprising though is that Uber features on the bottom end of the list, the controversial ride-hailing company has been in the news lately for losing its right to test in San Francisco, being sued by Waymo and a crash in Tempe, Arizona, temporarily halting its pilot program.

GM buys OSVehicle in rush for electric car technology

GM buys OSVehicle in rush for electric car technology

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GM buys OSVehicle in rush for electric car technology

Today GM acquired its second Y Incubator company, the Italian based OSVehicle, for $1.1 billion in a bid to develop a self-driving “Vehicle-as-a -Service” (VaaS).

OSVehicle provides an open-source platform to hobbyists and other start-ups. Customers can have a full EV platform, the Tabby EVO, shipped between $12,500 and $19,500. OSVehicle claim start-ups can save $2 million and 3-years in Research and Development by going the open-source route. The open-source platform enables for larger disruption in mobility options using electric vehicles. Imagine adding George Hotz’s self-driving car kit which he plans to market through his company comma.ai at a price of $1,000, and you can build your own “ai-chauffeur” driven zero emission vehicle.

GM aims to use OSVehicle to develop its EDIT modular self-driving car based on the Chevy Bolt M1 platform. The decision was influenced by the ability of modular platforms to extend the lifespan of heavy use vehicles, such as ride sharing and hailing applications. OSVehicle‘s Yuki and Tin Hang Liu claim that through the use of modular architecture, car fleets can last ten times longer by enabling seamless hardware upgrades of self-driving and connected car technologies.

The current rush for electric car technology, autonomous vehicle technology, and mobility solutions has created some billion dollar transactions as automakers try and gain an edge over competitors. GM’s other recent investments include a strategic move into “Mobility as a Service” by investing $500 million into Uber competitor Lyft and autonomous vehicle company, Cruise Automation. GM also launched its own car sharing service, Maven.

Below are a few of the projects already developed on OSVehicle DIY electric vehicle platform. Please comment on what applications you would include in your own electric vehicle.

GM buys OSVehicle in rush for electric car technology

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Uber self-driving car could be grounded by Google

Uber self-driving car could be grounded by Google

Uber’s self-driving pilot program may be halted in May due to a court order. According to a Reuters report, the Judge in the Waymo Uber court case warned the car-hailing company that should his director plead the 5th Amendment, and not testify for fear of incriminating himself; he might just grant the injunction sought by Google’s self-driving company, Waymo.

The case against Uber was brought before the San Francisco District Court in February. Waymo claims that its former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded 14,000 files related the Google autonomous vehicle program before leaving to join Otto, an autonomous vehicle company acquired by Uber in 2016. Otto, using Level 4 autonomy equipped semi, successfully delivered a load of 50,000 beers on a 2-hour journey to Colorado Springs in October 2016.

Judge William Alsup warned Uber’s legal team in a closed hearing this week that unless Uber can prove they have not used any of Waymo’s technology associated with the files, that he would like to hear Mr. Anthony Levandowski version. The Judge went further, saying “I’m sorry that Mr. Levandowski has got his — got himself in a fix. That’s what happens, I guess, when you download 14,000 documents and take them, if he did. But I don’t hear anybody denying that.”

Uber has yet not responded to Waymo’s claims and is trying to push for arbitration, where Mr. Levandowski can testify in a closed hearing without fear of being criminally charged.

Uber last week temporarily grounded its autonomous vehicle pilot project after a collision caused by another vehicle. The company lifted the grounding on Tuesday. The hearing, set for May 3, could lead to a longer injunction of Uber’s self-driving program, wich would not add to alleviate the company’s tarnished public image. Should Uber be handed an injunction, it does not stop them from testing in other countries.

In other Uber electric vehicle-related news, the ride-haling company had to withdraw from Denmark after the introduction of a new law making it difficult for the company to operate its business model. And in the UK the company announced that it would expand it’s existing electric vehicle fleet from 20 Nissan Leaf and 30 BYD e6‘s to 150 cars in the City of London. The company will adapt its app and install fast chargers to assist the drivers of the EV’s.

 

uber self-driving pilot

 

Why did Uber suspend autonomous vehicle program?

Why did Uber suspend autonomous vehicle program?

Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] this weekend suspended its testing of self-driving car technology after a non-fatal crash in Tempe, Arizona. The crash, caused by another vehicle when the driver “failed to yield” to Uber’s Volvo while making a turn. Two engineers were passengers in the front cockpit of the driverless vehicle. Uber decided to suspend the testing of its self-driving program in Arizona and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The company already lost its license to test its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco in February, where the regulators came in possession of footage showing an Uber pilot vehicle running a red light, barely missing a pedestrian. In the incident, the company claimed that it was a driver error. The Californian DMV offered Uber assistance and a clear road to permitting the company and State could not agree on workable rules around Uber’s demand for its technology to be classified as SAE Level 3 automation.

Uber is Piloting retrofitted Volvo XC90 SUV’s and Ford Focus vehicles and recently announced a cooperation agreement with Daimler, where the German automaker will introduce and operate self-driving cars on the Uber network. Uber abandoned efforts to build its own vehicle early on, rather focusing on partnering and acquiring technologies to achieve its goal of a self-driving fleet for its network. Uber acquired autonomous trucking company Otto in 2016 and made a successful delivery of a consignment of beer before being blocked by the California DMV. Otto’s success is unfortunately mired in controversy as Google’s Waymo is suing the company for stealing its technology. 

One should think that there was no real need for a drastic move such as suspending the pilot program? Tesla did not suspend its autopilot software when a driver was killed in May 2016. Accidents by driver neglect are the kind of accidents that few drivers can escape and will continue happening while humans are in control of vehicles. The answer rather lies in Uber trying to clean up its act and restore its image. The company has been suffering from a stream of negative publicity lately, with its Chairman, Jeff Jones, a marketing expert hired to improve the company’s image resigned after only 7-months, confirming the rot at the company.

We hope that Uber get its act together and quickly resume its testing, after taking the necessary safety precautions, so humanity can benefit from safer transport in the near future.

Uber suspend autonomous vehicle program

A self-driven Volvo SUV owned and operated by Uber Technologies Inc. is flipped on its side after a collision in Tempe, Arizona, U.S. on March 24, 2017. Courtesy FRESCO NEWS/Mark Beach/Handout via REUTERS

 

 

NextEV gets support for its autonomous car the NIO EVE

NextEV gets support for its autonomous car the NIO EVE

NextEV gets support for its autonomous car the NIO EVE in the same week in which a funding crisis ankle taped another aspirational EV startup from China, Faraday Future, backed by a Chinese internet company, LeEcoBaidu Inc, the Chinese search engine this week led an investment round estimated at $600 million into NextEV. NextEV, a global startup as it calls itself, with offices in China, Germany, UK and the USA launched it’s auto brand NIO, in December 2016 in London. NextEV is also one of the first participants of the Formula E franchise held in various cities around the world to promote electric vehicles. NextEV has its roots in racing, founded in 2004 by the Chinese Minister of Sports with the intent to be a Chinese contender in A1 Grand Prix. The NextEV TCR team eventually ended up being one of the first teams to compete in Formula E, winning the driver’s title in the first season but came last in the second season. The exposure nonetheless is a good testing ground for technologies, gaining experience and marketing. NextEV’s Formula E team lies at a respectable fourth position in the overall team standings after the third round in the third season, held in Buenos Aires Argentina during February 2017.

NIO unveiled its autonomous vision, to be released in the USA in 2020, the NIO EVE, at a world premiere event during the SXSW 2017 in Austin Texas. The NIO EVE is a Level 4 Automated electric vehicle for the US market, anticipated for release in 2020. NextEV partnered with MobilEye, recently acquired by Intel, NVIDIA and NXP Semiconductors to develop its autonomous vehicle. Along with the release of the NIO EVE, U.S. CEO Padmasree Warrior showed a video of the NIO EP9 completing the first historical feat of racing around the America‘s Track in Austin Texas without a driver, reaching a top speed of 160mph. The vehicle also broke a lap record with a driver.

Baidu, looking for new growth areas, created a $3 billion investment fund, Baidu Capital, found the fast-growing electric vehicle market attractive at a time when the vehicle and the internet are moving closer to each other. NextEV raised $500 million in 2016 from investors such as Tencent, who is also invested in Future Mobility, Hillhouse Capital, who also invested in UBER,  Sequoia Capital and Joy Capital.

Judging from the interest in NextEV‘s offering from investors consumers can certainly look forward to being wowed by NextEV while it pushes the boundaries, not being tied to the red tape associated with most Big Auto companies.

Read more on the Chinese internet billionaires investing in the fast-growing electric vehicle market at the following link.

 

 

Disruption draws world’s richest to the auto sector

Disruption draws world’s richest to the auto sector

The barriers to entry into auto manufacturing became ever higher over the last 100 years before the disruption caused by technological advances in electric vehicles and self-driving technology. Most of the auto brands that were around at the turn of the century have been around for 50 years or longer; the only newcomers was a spate of Chinese brands backed by the government. For an individual to reach the top 50 position on the Forbes list from vehicle manufacturing was only possible if your parents left you a trust fund with a bunch of 100-year-old stock in a big brand. In fact, the only Forbes Top 50 billionaire from the auto sector was the German’s, Herbert and Johanna Quandt who owned nearly 50% of BMW and Georg Schaeffler (Number 39 on Forbes 2016 list) who inherited the automotive parts company, Schaeffler Group. After their passing of Johanna Quandt, the children, Susanne Klatten (Number 38) and her brother Stefan Quandt (Number 48), became the beneficiaries. Mrs. Klatten invested her fortune in pharmaceuticals, helping her to gain over her brother.

Come to the turn of the century and along came Elon Musk, risking it all on a technology that has been shunned for 100 years by big auto. Being a start-up in a market controlled by a couple of dinosaurs was not easy at first, Mr. Musk had to back himself in the first couple of rounds of fundraising for the electric vehicle company, Tesla. The table below shows that Elon Musk pretty much up until late 2008 lead fundraising and loan rounds. The risk paid off as Elon Musk became by far the richest person in the US auto sector and at the time of going to press Elon Musk jumped to the 83rd position, up from 94 in the official 2016 Forbes list of the world’s richest people.

Source: Crunchbase
Date Amount $M Round Lead Investor Investors
May, 2016 1,460.0 Post Ipo Equity 5
Oct, 2012 10.0 Grant California Energy Commission 1
Nov, 2010 30.0 Post Ipo Equity Panasonic 1
May, 2010 50.0 Post Ipo Equity Toyota Motor Corporation 1
Sep, 2009 82.5 Series F Al Wahada Capital Investment 4
Jun, 2009 465.0 Debt Financing US Department of Energy 1
May, 2009 50.0 Series E Daimler 2
Nov, 2008 40.0 Debt Financing Elon Musk 5
May, 2008 40.2 Debt Financing Elon Musk 5
Feb, 2008 40.0 Series E Elon Musk 8
May, 2007 45.0 Series D Elon Musk, Technology Venture Partners US 10
May, 2006 40.0 Series C Elon Musk, VantagePoint Capital Partners 11
Feb, 2005 13.0 Series B Elon Musk, Valor Equity Partners 3
Apr, 2004 7.5 Series A Elon Musk 2

Other early billionaires in the technology include the savvy investor Warren Buffet and Vincent Bollore. Warren Buffet, the world’s 3rd richest individual through his Berkshire Hathaway, controlled company, Mid-American Energy Holdings in 2008 bought 10% in BYD, a Chinese battery company, now the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer. The Investment at the time was $230m. Berkshire Hathaway is also a significant minority shareholder in GM.

Vincent Bollore, France’s 10th-richest person with an estimated personal fortune of $6 billion dollars, started manufacturing batteries in his company Bollore Blue Solutions. The firm, situated in Brittany province, who’s batteries are cheaper than lithium-ion cells used in other electric cars, allows it to hold down the cost of his small vehicles.

Suddenly investing in electric vehicles became sexy. Chinese billionaires, mostly from the technology sector, were the first to climb into the auto sector, some more successful than others. The Chinese electric vehicle boom is fuelled by government incentives targeting that 8% of all new vehicles should be EV’s by 2018.

The tech billionaire and founder of BitAuto, an online vehicle sales platform, William Li started the Shanghai-based NextEV.  The company raised $500M of an expected $1Bln already, sporting shareholders such as Tencent, who is also invested in Future Mobility, Hillhouse Capital, who also invested in UBER,  Sequoia Capital and Joy Capital. The company invested C¥3Bln in Nanjing High-Performance Motor Plant to produce 280,000 electric vehicles per year. NextEv also signed a partnership with one of the largest Chinese auto companies, JAC Auto which will see them share technology, manufacturing, supply chain, marketing, and capital.

Tencent mentioned above is owned by the world’s 46th richest person, Ma Huateng of China, also know as Pony Ma. Tencent, which applications include the popular WeChat app, aims to leverage its tech experience in a world where connectivity and the Internet of Vehicles will drive the auto industry. The development of electric vehicle technology provides a perfect platform for tech and vehicles to meet. To this end, Tencent created a company Future Mobility and targeted an autonomous vehicle by 2020.

The Chinese billionaire, Jia Yueting, founder of LeEco which owns LeTV, the Netflix of China invested in two electric vehicle companies, LeEco, which developed the acclaimed LeSee concept vehicle and Faraday Future, developer of the disastrous FF91, unveiled at the 2017 CES. Both businesses are known for making bold statements and big ticket announcements just to be followed by press reports of cash flow and funding problems.

The Chinese internet giant, Alibaba, owned and founded by Jack Ma who is 33rd on the 2016 Forbes list, invested $160M in a fund where it partnered with SAIC, one of the largest Auto manufacturers in the China to develop internet connected cars. The first car to come from the partnership is the Roewe OS RX5, where OS stand for Operating System and using SAIC’s luxury brand Roewe as a platform. The software runs on Alibaba’s YunOS operating system. Jack Ma unveiled the car in July 2016. The Alibaba Connected Car will have its own Internet ID, not needing WiFi or GPS services, enabling it to connect and identify drivers wattev2buy alibaba os rx5 internet carthrough their smartphones and wearables. The RX5 has four cameras providing it 360° vision and is voice controlled. The vehicle’s starting price is around $15,000 or C¥100,000.

Alibaba beat other carmakers and tech companies to the finish line with the 2016 release of the RX5. In 2015 Toyota invested $1 billion in artificial intelligence research, while Apple invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-hailing app, Didi Chixing. BMW went into partnership with technology firms Mobileye and Intel, providing the automaker with operating systems and driving assistance software while Kia and Google partnered around the search engine’s Android Auto operating system.

Robin Li, number 90 on Forbes List and owner of Chinese search engine Baidu, partnered with chipmaker Nvidia in September 2016 to develop a computing platform for self-driving cars. Baidu recently received approval from the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles, in Googles back yard. Baidu also partnered with BMW on creating an autonomous car.

Now that the floodgates are open, billionaires from around the world are looking to enter the electric vehicle and self-driving sectors. The world’s fourth richest man, Carlos Slim of Mexico, announced this early this year that he would back the development of a Mexican-produced electric vehicle through his company, Giant Motors in a joint venture with Grupo Bimbo, the world’s largest bread maker. The strategy plays off in an environment where many US based automakers are contemplating bringing production back to the USA amidst President Trumps America First policy environment. Mr. Slim said the electric vehicle would be designed specifically for Mexican conditions.

Bloomberg reported that the JSW Group’s owner and Chairman and India’s 19th richest man, Sajjan Jindal, announced in Davos, Switzerland his intention to enter the Indian Electric Vehicle market by 2020. The metals tycoon expects the Indian government, like many other governments, will promote EVs once it’s more affordable. 

It is clear that some of these businessmen are purely opportunistic, targeting to profit from regulation and subsidies for the promotion of electric vehicles.The majority, however, leverages their passions to bring better and more advanced options to the consumer at a much faster pace than what big auto ever moved in the last 50 years.

Although not mutually inclusive to electric vehicles, self-driving cars, deployable on combustion vehicles also, will drive the second phase of disruption in the auto sector over the next ten years. Self-driving car’s poster child is Google, owned by the 12th and 13th richest individuals in the world, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. The company started testing it’s quirky autonomous vehicle as far back as 2009. Google recently spun the project into a standalone brand, named Waymo, meaning “a new way forward.” The company aims to partner with vehicle manufacturers instead of developing its own car. The first of such efforts was the conversion of 100 Chrysler Pacifica’s Plug-in Hybrid vehicles. Google, in many’s eyes, has lost the lead to Tesla, who’s progression was much faster and already has active Level 2 autonomy available in its production vehicles.

It will be interesting to compare the Forbes list of wealthy individuals ten years from now to one at the start of the century; we expect much more fresh faces who made their money from disrupting the auto sector. As a footnote, the lesson learned time and time again by dinosaurs in an industry are that they become too big, arrogant and slow, creating opportunities for new hungry entrants.

Picture: Source www.technewstoday.com

A summary of autonomous vehicle testing in 2016 on California’s public roads

A summary of autonomous vehicle testing in 2016 on California’s public roads

The race for self-driving cars began in all earnest in 2015 with Tesla aggressively leading the pack at the end of 2016. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, is of the opinion that current hardware is already sufficient to allow Level 5 automation (full automation) as set by SAE International, an engineering association. KPMG in its 2017 Global Automotive Executive Outlook found that 37% of auto executives rated the self-driving trend as extremely important. The initial front-runner for the technology, Google Auto (now Waymo) has changed strategy from developing a car to developing systems and rather partnering with automakers than building its own car. Other than Tesla, who develop and test on the go with incremental software upgrades. Google and most other contenders are developing solutions in closed environments while being permitted to test on public roads in States such as California, Michigan, and Illinois. By late 2016 a total of 20 companies has received permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV).

According to the regulations, each permit holder must annually file a disengagement report, reflecting the number of events where a driver essentially has to take over from the vehicle’s autonomous mode to either prevent a traffic incident or where the system fails. These submissions allow the public who is interested what is happening in the automaker’s self-driving test some insights, outside from what the marketing departments feed the media. Although a total of 20 permits have been granted by the end of 2016, only ten companies have conducted public tests or filed reports for the period. Here follows a summary of the reports filed by the various companies for their testing on Califonia’s public roads for the period December 2015 to November 2016. For comparison purposes, we converted the result to indicate the amount of disengagements per 1,000 miles, a measurement used by Waymo in a recent post by its Head of Self-Driving Technology, Dmitri Dolgov.

Comparing disengagement results per 1,000 miles above shows, bar Tesla’s customers who have clocked over 300 million miles on Autopilot (Level 2 Automation) as at November 2016, it is clear that Waymo is aggressively accelerating its learning and showing the results for it compared to the other brands with projects on Californian roads. One must, however, take into consideration that comparing the different disengagement reports is not truly comparing apples to apples. Ford’s testing, for instance, was only on the stretch of Interstate 10 between Los Angeles and Arizona. The companies also have different strategies. Tesla aims to have level 5 automation as soon as possible while companies such as Ford aims to have autonomous vehicles for ride-hailing and sharing services only from 2021 onwards, influencing the difficulty grade of testing. To further try and unravel each company’s testing program we delve deeper into their submitted reports below.

 READ THE BLOG FOR A COMPLETE BREAKDOWN OF DISENGAMENTS REPORTS

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Ford updates its self-driving vehicles for first time in 3 years

Ford updates its self-driving vehicles for first time in 3 years

Ford debuted its next-generation Fusion Hybrid Autonomous development vehicle this week. The second generation of the vehicle sports more production ready controls and LiDar sensors on top of an improved computer hardware platform. Improved field of vision on the sensors allowed Ford to have only two sensors as opposed to four in the first generation. The second generation follows the first, introduced three years ago. The company aims to have an SAE Level 4-capable vehicle commercially available by 2021 for ride-hailing and sharing purposes. Ford will also expand its test fleet, currently operational only in California to its home state, Michigan. Watch the video of the assembly of Fords self-driving kit on the Ford Focus below.

 

Why did Uber suspend autonomous vehicle program?

Uber forced to stop self-driving pilot in San Francisco

This week Uber was forced to cancel its self-driving pilot in San Francisco, its hometown. Although regulators are in possession of footage showing an Uber pilot vehicle running a red light, barely missing a pedestrian, a claim the company contest that it was driver error and not the software, the ultimate decision was based on the company not following proper permitting procedures. The Californian DMV offered Uber assistance and a clear road to permitting the company and State could not agree on workable rules around Uber’s demand for its technology to be classified as SAE Level 3 automation. It is not the end of Uber’s efforts though as it is piloting retrofitted Volvo XC90 SUV’s and Ford Focus vehicles in Pittsburgh.

Waymo and Chrysler unveil self-driving car, the Pacifica Minivan, now Honda wants in.

Waymo and Chrysler unveil self-driving car, the Pacifica Minivan, now Honda wants in.

In May 2016 we reported on the Google (now Waymo) partnership to test self-driving car technology with 100 Chrysler Pacifica Minivans. The partnership completed the first vehicles within an impressive six-month period and revealed the vehicle this week. Waymo will start testing the vehicle on public roads within four cities coming 2017.

Following on the success of the Waymo (Google), Chrysler partnership automakers are flocking to the technology company to try and strike deals on self-driving technology. The latest company to announce that they are in talks with the IT giant is Honda. Honda announced that it approached Waymo to allow its vehicles to join testing in four US cities with Waymo’s self-driving technology. Honda targets commercial self-driving models by 2020. Other automaker’s that tried and failed to partner with Waymo includes Ford and GM.

For a list of other companies that are allowed to test the self-driving technology on Californian roads follow the link. The CEO of Waymo has also been invited as a member of the US Department of Transport Automation Committee. For a full list of all the members follow the link.

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