• Level 0 – No Automation: The full-time performance by the human driver of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even when enhanced by warning or intervention systems;
  • Level 1 – Driver Assistance: The driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of either steering or acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task; 
  • Level 2 – Partial Automation: The driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver performs all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task;
  • Level 3 – Conditional Automation: The driving mode-specific performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task with the expectation that the human driver will respond appropriately to a request to intervene;
  • Level 4 – High Automation: The driving mode-specific performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene;
  • Level 5 – Full Automation: The full-time performance by an Automated Driving System of all aspects of the dynamic driving task under all roadway and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver.

Source – SAE



The first documented fatality associated with the autonomous driving program in the USA happened on the 19th of March 2018 . In an incident, a week short of a year after Uber had to suspend its self-driving program due a to a non-fatal crash in Tempe Arizona, the raid-hailing company became the first self-driving permit holder involved in a fatal crash. The crash itself is well documented now, and I wish to extend my condolences to the family of Elaine Herzberg. With the incident, self-driving cars are hyped up in the press, and the reality of the technology is sinking in for the general public. Questions related to the safety of the technology, how it will impact insurance companies and premiums, job security for people making a living out of transport services and the future of auto companies are becoming more frequent in social discussions, but let’s keep the focus on the safety aspect related to the UBER crash for the moment.


The arrival of autonomous cars came surprisingly fast for most people, and they don’t realize that there is already a huge fleet of self-driving cars on public roads all over the globe. Most people don’t even realize that companies such as GM plan to build the first commercially available self-driving cars as early as next year, while Waymo will roll out a fleet of self-driving taxis later this year. It si also not widely known that testing over millions of miles has already resulted in various crashes. One of the best-run self-driving programs must be the program run by the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV) where 52 companies have already received permits to test self-driving cars on public roads since 2014. The CA DMV requires permit holders to file disengagement reports showing the number of times humans had to take over control of the test vehicle. Based on reports filed autonomous vehicles of Waymo (Google) and GM has already been involved in 50 crashes since the start of reporting in 2014.

UBER though is not a permit holder in California, the company’s permit was suspended in February 2017 where its vehicle ran a red light, barely missing a pedestrian. The company was also cited for not and not following proper permitting procedures. Shortly after this incident, UBER temporarily halted its pilot project after a crash in Arizona. UBER found that the crash was caused by the other vehicle. UBER’s self-driving program is also held up in courts as Waymo claims the company stole some of its secrets.

Coming back to the facts surrounding the incident of March the 18th where UBER’s Volvo XC90 SUV struck Elaine Herzberg, 49, at about 10 p.m. local time in Tempe Arizona. The Tempe police department released the video of the crash, showing both the inside and outside view. Police Chief, Sylvia Moir told the San Francisco Chronicle that preliminarily it appears that UBER was not at fault largely because Mrs. Herxberg did not cross the road at the crosswalk. Chief Moir was quoted saying “It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode” — self-driving or human-driven — “based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway.” With this viewpoint, I agree, but the question is since its an autonomous car equipped with LiDar and Radar, its suppose to pick-up obstacles even in the dark. Looking at the inside view UBER’s self-driving program becomes even more questionable. The view shows the engineer, which is supposed to disengage the vehicle in case of the system failing, clearly not doing his work and most probably engaged with his cellphone. UBER took another fail-safe out of the testing by reducing the number of engineers overseeing the system in the car from two to one. A New York Times reporter got hold of internal UBER report showing that its program was not as successful as its competitors. The reports showed that drivers have to disengage the UBER system on the Volvo XC90 SUV more frequently than its peers. UBER set itself a goal of one disengagement per 13 miles on its path to offer commercial self-driving ride-hailing by the end of 2018 but failed to even reach this rather easy target. From the table below more than half of the participants were able to exceed 13 miles per disengagement.

WIthout the benefit of the technical report of the crash, it seems that UBER’s self-driving program is more at fault than self-driving technology. Already Waymo’s CEO said that he believes that the company’s vehicle would have detected Mrs. Herzberg and reacted to avoid an accident. The incident how unfortunate it might be will add to the improvement of the technology and regulations for testing and operating such programs around the world. It is expected that the implications for UBER will be felt for some time as its partner companies will re-evaluate its involvement in the self-driving pilot.

Although most companies continued undeterred with their pilot programs, Toyota announced that it would temporarily suspend its self-driving program in California and Michigan so its drivers could “emotionally process” the accident.



Week 38 2018 - NVIDIA unveiled its DRIVE AGX XAVIER devkit
NVIDIA unveiled its DRIVE AGX XAVIER opensource devkit for autonomu\ous vehicles consisting of A Xavier car computer, a vehicle harness to connect the platform to the car, international power supply, camera sensor and other accessories. The XAVIER devkit is a scalable software and hardware solution enabling companies to seamlessly develop and test customized autonomous driving technology and streamlining production.

For autonomous vehicles to perceive their surroundings they must rely on numerous deep neural networks running simultaneously. NVIDIA’s XAVIER kit runs on its NVIDIA DRIVE Software 1.0 release to run various operations simultaneously including data collection, obstacle and path perception, advanced driver monitoring and in-vehicle visualization to enable autonomous driving.


Week 38 2018 - Beijing expands self driving network

The Beijing local government authority released 11 more public roads in the Fangshan District for autonomous vehicle testing bringing the total to 33 since the start of the program earlier the year. Approved self-driving cars get a temporary number plate to drive on public roads after successfully complete 5,000km (3125 miles) on “closed” test fields. Only drivers with 50-hours of training are allowed to operate self-driving test vehicles.

Week 31 2018 - Baidu's Apollo strategy pays off.

China’s Google, Baidu, announced that its Q2 revenues jumped 32% contributing a jump in net profits by 31%. Robin Li, Baidu’s CEO, highlighted its self-driving program Apollo’s contribution to the successful quarter. Apollo has signed 119 OEMs and parts suppliers including Daimler and BMW to its open source platform. We reported in Week 27 that Apollo started producing its first Level 4 autonomous vehicle the Apolong transporter.

In May Baidu, Lifan and EV rental company Pand-Auto started testing China’s first shared self-driving pilot program in the municipal area of Chongqing.


Week 31 2018 - The City of Hangzhou approves testing of Autonomous vehicles.

The Chinese capital of Zhejiang province, Hangzhou, this week approved the testing of Autonomous vehicles on its roads. Hangzhou is home to many of China’s auto companies and EV start-ups such as Dearcc, Karma, LeEco, WM Motors and Geely. The new regulations will come into effect on the 20th of August. The regulations include a panel to evaluate test applications, examine tested vehicles and issue the road testing number plates. The regulations also set strict requirements on drivers of the test vehicles such as requiring them to have at least 50-hours experience in operating of autonomous test vehicles. Hangzhou joins the cities of Beijing and Shanghai allowing testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads.

Week 31 2018 - WM Motor to build Smart Truck

Four Chinese companies this week entered into a JV to mass produce a clever truck by 2020. The companies forming the joint venture is JD Logistics, WM Motor, Global Logistic Properties (GLP), and  JUMA. The truck AI platform will improve safety and efficiency and is managed by JUMA’s logistics SaaS asset management platform operated. WM Motors will provide the EV development and manufacturing while JD Logistics will provide its R&D for the AI platform.

Week 22 2018 - GM Cruise valued at a staggering $11.5 billion

Investment by Japanese Softbank in GM Cruise values the company at a staggering $11.5 billion.

General Motors (NYSE: GM) announced today that the SoftBank Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings LLC (GM Cruise), further strengthening the company’s plans to commercialize AV technology at large scale. GM will also invest $1.1 billion in GM Cruise upon closing of the transaction.

“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”

“GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely automated driving to dramatically reduce fatalities, emissions and congestion,” said Michael Ronen, managing partner, SoftBank Investment Advisers. “The GM Cruise approach of a fully integrated hardware and software stack gives it a unique competitive advantage. We are very impressed by the advances made by the Cruise and GM teams, and are thrilled to help them lead a historic transformation of the automobile industry.”

Week 21 2018 - BMW gets to test self-driving cars in China

BMW received two licenses to test self-driving cars in China. The City of Shanghai issued the licenses to BMW making it the first international company to legally test autonomous cars in the country. A team of 60 engineers will support the project which is centered around a self-driving BMW 7 series.

Week 19 2018 - starts pilot in Frisco, Texas

The ride-hailing start-up from Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab announced that it would start the first on-demand self-driving transportation service in the city of Frisco, Texas, following in Waymo’s footsteps which rolled out its service in Arizona. The California-based and Frisco Transport Management Association (FTMA) will co-operate on a pilot project to offer rides to 10,000 people in a geofenced area of the city. The pilot will run for six months, commencing with two fixed drop-off and pick-up locations.

Top 5 autonomous news week 19 2018

The State of Ohio Autonomous vehicle testing program announced last year commenced this week.

Week 16 2018 - China warns that it is falling behind in A-EV race

Recently Chinese deputy minister of Industry, Xin Guobin, warned the country risks falling behind in the autonomous vehicle sector. Up to now, guidelines are fragmented with individual companies like Baidu gaining approval to test vehicles while cities such as Beijing and Shanghai embarked on issuing local guidelines for self-driving tests. In this light the Chinese authorities this week laid out national guidelines for the testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads. According to the guidelines the no vehicle is allowed to be tested on public roads without being tested in non-public tracks. Once authorized vehicles will only be allowed to be tested on designated roads, and a test driver must at all times be behind the wheel. The minister also indicated that technologies required for autonomous driving such as 5G communication and intelligent roads should also receive attention.

According to an Autonews report Nissan and DeNa, a Japanese gaming company, plans to join forces in the development of self-driving taxi early in the next decade. In a previous article, we reported on the two companies running a test program on a 4.5km public road in Tokoyo.

Alibaba confirmed to China Daily that it is working on a Level 4 autonomous driving capable system, joining its local internet giants Tencent and Baidu and internationally Google. According to a McKinsey report, self-driving cars in China has the potential to become a $500 billion market.

Week 15 2018 - Chinese tech giants enters into self-drive JVs

Tencent and Changan entered into an agreement to form a joint venture company to produce ICVs (intelligent-connected vehicles), and it plans to launch the first model this year already.

In related news another large Chinese tech company, Baidu (or China’s Google as its known in the west) signed an MOU with Great Wall Motors collaborate in four major areas, namely intelligent-connected vehicles (ICVs), autonomous drive, ride sharing and big data. The MOU will be the two companies second collaboration, following the 2016 agreement where they joined forces on the development of map positioning technology. The latest MOU will see GWM’s i-Pilot self-driving system connect with Baidu’s Apollo autonomous driving platform which will see GWM models with Level 3 autonomy on Chinese roads from 2020.

Week 14 2018 - Waymo and Honda to develop Delivery A-EV

Waymo CEO John Krafcik in an interview with Bloomberg said that the company is near completing a deal with Honda to develop autonomous delivery vehicles. The partnership will follow on that of Jaguar announced last week. Waymo has already started testing electric trucks in Atlanta last month.

Week 13 2018 - Tesla Auto Pilot in fatal crash

After the blowback experienced by the autonomous vehicle sector last week following the fatal crash caused by Uber’s self-driving program, the sector experienced another torrid week. This week Tesla confirmed that its autopilot system was active during a fatal crash in Mountain View California, sending the share price lower. (In fairness, the news came after investor jitters caused by the company’s cash position created a sell-off). Though not enough information is available yet to blame technology instead of human error the timing was unfortunate.

The Uber crash is still causing a ripple in the sector as Nvidia temporary halted its self-driving program in Japan, the USA, and Germany. Geely owner, Li Shufu, also cautioned against the speed at which companies try and bring the technology to market. Li Shufu said at a Volvo event in Beijing, “One accident can kill the whole industry… So we must move with caution.”


Week 11 2018 - Cruise AV production set for 2019

GM announced that it is moving into the production and commercialization phase of its autonomous version of the Chevrolet Bolt, the Cruise AV. GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Cruise, developed the world’s first production-ready vehicle built from the ground up to operate safely on its own with no driver, steering wheel, pedals or manual controls. I recently jokingly mentioned to friends that steering wheel manufacturers are going the way of the buggy whip, as evident from the picture of the GM Cruise AV on the cover of this weeks newsletter. GM will invest $100 million in its Orion and Brownstown facilities to bring the Cruise AV to market in 2019. The Orion Township assembly plant currently manufactures the Chevrolet Bolt EV while the Brownstown Battery assembly plant will be expanded to include the production of the Cruise AVs roof modules.


Week 11 2018 - In brief - WAYMO TRUCKS | AUDI A8 LEVEL 3
In brief:

  • Waymo is expanding its self-driving program by launching an autonomous truck plot in Atlanta this week.
  • The Korean authorities issued a temporary permit to AUDI to test Level 3 self-driving technology on board the Audi A8 on the country’s public roads.

Week 10 2018 - China issues first self-driving permit

The state-owned news agency Xinhua announced that the Chinese Government would join other countries and allow companies to test self-driving cars on public roads. According to the report SAIC Motor Corp received two licenses and NIO another. The permit allows license holders to test drive the vehicles on a 5.6-kilometer (3.5-mile) public road in Jiading District of Shanghai. According to Huang Ou, deputy director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology, Shanghai will open more roads for testing over time. Up till now, companies tested vehicles but illegally so, one high profile case involved Baidu (China’s Google) which was caught testing in Beijing.

Week 8 2018 - Waymo gets first ever commercial permit

Waymo is the first company in the USA to get a permit to operate a commercial driverless taxi service. The State of Arizona issued the permit to Waymo. Waymo is reading itself to start the service later the year.

Nissan to test self-drive system with DeNa in Tokyo on a 4.5km route between the Japanese company’s headquarters and the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. The two companies will also test the mobility mobile app Easy Ride’s service functions where passengers can instruct the car via text, voice or from a menu of recommended restaurants, or places of interest.

Week 8 2018 - Nissan to test self-driving in Tokyo

Nissan to test self-drive system with DeNa in Tokyo on a 4.5km route between the Japanese company’s headquarters and the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. The two companies will also test the mobility mobile app Easy Ride’s service functions where passengers can instruct the car via text, voice or from a menu of recommended restaurants, or places of interest.

Week 6 2018 - Byton partners with Aurora

Aurora, the company which already partnered with VW and Hyundai to develop self-driving systems this week joined the list of suppliers for the Byton Concept EV unveiled at the 2018 CES. At the time Byton announced that the first models will be partially autonomous, providing advanced driver assistance systems, with full autonomy to be enabled from 2020 through a software upgrade. Aurora was co-founded by Chris Urmson and Sterlin Anderson, the former heads of Alphabet Inc’s Google’s self-driving program and Tesla’s autopilot program.

Week 6 2018 - Lyft expands self-driving program to Munich

Lyft, the American ride-hailing company, expanded its self-driving program by opening offices in Munich where it will develop advanced localization and geometric mapping technologies.

Week 5 2018 - Hyundai Showcases autonomous FCEV
Hyundai showcased the world’s first autonomous fuel cell EV which will be used during the Winter Olympics to be held in South Korea. A fleet of five vehicles equipped with Level 4 self-driving technology completed the 180km (113 miles) at the allowable speed of 110km/h from Seoul to the Olympic village at Pyeongchang. The fleet consisted of three NEXO FCEVs and two Genesis 80 autonomous cars. Hyundai is set to commercialize Level 4 self-driving cars in smart cities as early as 2021. Hyundai’s autonomous technology allowed the vehicles to navigate through toll gates by accurately calculating the toll gate’s width and position, and precisely pinpoint the vehicle’s position on a map by using external sensors fitted for situations when the GPS signal was interrupted, such as going through long underground tunnels.

Hyundai’s self-driving technology includes enhanced connectivity made possible by the 5G network provided by mobile service provider, KT Corp. The infotainment system allows passengers to use functions such as Home Connect, Assistant Chat and Wellness Care. Home Connect is a car-to-home technology which allows passengers to access and control IoT devices in a smart home. Hyundai will phase in home-to-car technology from this year and car-to-home from 2019 into other Hyundai models. Assisted Chat is a Chat Bot, and the Wellness Care monitors passengers health information and connects to a health consultant through video-call.

Hyundai-Autonomous Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 5 2018


Week 5 2018 - Waymo moves to operations and deployment
As Waymo moves from its R&D phase in the self-driving race to operations in the deployment of the world’s first self-driving ride-haling service the company this week entered into an agreement with FCA USA to supply it with thousands of Chrysler Pacifica PHEV minivans. Waymo has already acquired 600 plug-in Pacifica minivans in its self-driving program that now spans 25 cities after the companies entered into a partnership centered around the development of self-driving cars in May 2016. The Chrysler Pacifica plug-in minivans became the first vehicle to attain Level 4 autonomy. According to John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, “The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale.”

Week 5 2018 - GM to include Super Cruise in Chinese EVs
In a bid to strengthen its sales in China GM announced that the majority of the 20 EVs that the US carmaker intends to produce by 2023 will be available in the worlds largest EV market and that it will include its Super Cruise driver assistance technology.

Week 4 2018 - Apple and Waymo extends test projects

Apple expanded its self-driving fleet to 27 according to Bloomberg as it registered 24 more vehicles on the Californian autonomous vehicle testing program. Apple which trails its competitor Google by a mile will extend its test fleet which started with 3 Lexus RX450h SUV’s in California after gaining a permit from the State’s DMV in April 2017.

In the meantime, Reuters reported that Google’s Waymo is to extend its testing of autonomous vehicles to Atlanta. Waymo tweeted “Atlanta is a major hub for technology and innovation, and a natural fit for Waymo’s testing program.” as the State joins four other locations on the company’s testing program. Currently, Waymo tests its self-driving technology on public roads in Phoenix, Michigan, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Waymo predominantly uses Chrysler Pacifica minivans for its test fleet.

Week 2 2018 - NXP launches Automated Drive Kit

The world’s largest supplier of semiconductors to the auto industry, NXP, launched its Automated Drive Kit at the CES 2018. The NXP Automated Drive Kit allows for the open, fast and flexible development of Level 3 self-driving systems and will expand to higher levels of autonomy in time. The Drive Kit is a software-enabled platform that enables carmakers and suppliers to develop, test and deploy autonomous algorithms and applications quickly on an open and flexible platform with an expanding ecosystem of partners. According to a press release by the NXP:

“The first release of the Automated Drive Kit will include a front vision system based on NXP’s S32V234 processor, allowing customers to deploy their algorithms of choice. The Kit also includes front camera application software APIs and Object Detection Algorithms provided by Neusoft; a leading IT solutions and services provider in China and a strategic ADAS and AD partner to NXP. Additionally, the Kit includes sophisticated radar options and GPS positioning technology. Customers choose from various LiDAR options and can add LiDAR Object Processing (LOP) modular software from AutonomouStuff, which provides ground segmentation and object tracking.”

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 2 2018

Week 2 2018 - NXP launches Automated Drive Kit

The world’s largest supplier of semiconductors to the auto industry, NXP, launched its Automated Drive Kit at the CES 2018. The NXP Automated Drive Kit allows for the open, fast and flexible development of Level 3 self-driving systems and will expand to higher levels of autonomy in time. The Drive Kit is a software-enabled platform that enables carmakers and suppliers to develop, test and deploy autonomous algorithms and applications quickly on an open and flexible platform with an expanding ecosystem of partners. According to a press release by the NXP:

“The first release of the Automated Drive Kit will include a front vision system based on NXP’s S32V234 processor, allowing customers to deploy their algorithms of choice. The Kit also includes front camera application software APIs and Object Detection Algorithms provided by Neusoft; a leading IT solutions and services provider in China and a strategic ADAS and AD partner to NXP. Additionally, the Kit includes sophisticated radar options and GPS positioning technology. Customers choose from various LiDAR options and can add LiDAR Object Processing (LOP) modular software from AutonomouStuff, which provides ground segmentation and object tracking.”

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 2 2018

Week 2 2018 - Nissan and NASA co-operation

Nissan and Nasa are extending their five-year research co-operation partnership to develop a working demonstration of SAM (Nissan Seamless Autonomous Mobility) by 2019. First introduced at the CES 2017 Nissan developed SAM from NASA technology used to managing interplanetary rovers as they move around unpredictable landscapes. SAM is used to managing autonomous transportation services. According to Nissan “SAM represents a major milestone in Nissan Intelligent Integration, providing the infrastructure to safely and seamlessly integrate autonomous mobility services into existing urban environments.”

Week 45 2017 - Waymo to ditsch safety drivers
After eight years of developing autonomous driving systems, Waymo entered a new chapter in the race to bring the first self-driving vehicle to market by starting the testing of driverless cars without safety drivers at the wheel. The testing is conducted on public roads in Phoenix, Arizona with a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica mini-vans and follows relaxation of the autonomous testing rules by the authorities in October. According to Waymo through a post on Medium, the company will also invite members of the public to take part in the testing in the next few months.

Week 45 2017 - Siemens test e-highway in Los Angeles

Siemens and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) are conducting the company’s first e-highway demonstration in the USA on a stretch of road between Long Beach and Los Angeles. According to the company, the cost of the project amounted to $13.4 million.

Week 44 2017 - SsangYong gets approval to test self-driving tech

The Korean automaker SsangYong will start testing its autonomous vehicle technology on public roads in Korea. The SAE Level 3 system will be mounted on Tivoli SUV. SsangYong is accelerating its autonomous vehicle development to get in line with the Korean Government’s plans to commercialize self-driving by 2020.


Week 44 2017 - Ford and Qualcomm to test C-V2X tech

Ford, AT&T, Nokia and chipmaker Qualcomm partnered around developing C-V2X (cellular vehicle to everything) technology for commercial deployment in 2020. The partnership will commence testing at the San Diego Regional Proving Ground and aims to demonstrate the cost-efficient benefits associated with embedded cellular technology in vehicles and synergies between the deployment of cellular base stations and roadside infrastructure to improve safety and driving efficiency.

Week 43 2017 - Autonomous vehicle news of the past week

The UK automotive technology company, Delphi Automotive, this week acquired Boston based nuTonomy for a total purchase price of $450 million. According to a press release by the company the acquisition is to accelerate commercialization of its autonomous driving (AD) and Automated Mobility-on-Demand (AMoD) solutions for automakers and new mobility customers worldwide. Delphi is expected to have a fleet of 60 autonomous vehicles in Singapore and other pilot cities on three continents by year-end, with the goal to further accelerate global fleet expansion and technology development. The latest acquisition is the latest in a series of investments by Delphi to expand its leadership position in the new mobility space. Previous investments include that of AD software developer Ottomatika and data service companies Control-Tec and Movimento.

Nissan this week demonstrated a prototype of its most advanced autonomous driving technology which it is currently testing on public roads in an around Tokyo. The next-generation ProPilot kitted on an Infiniti Q50 is planned for release by the Japanese automaker in 2020. The NextGen ProPilot AI system uses inputs from 12 sonars, 12 cameras, nine millimeter-wave radars, six laser scanners and a high-definition map to analyze complex scenarios in real time and navigate through challenging city traffic.


Week 42 2017 - Daimler unveils Autonomous snow plow

Daimler this week demonstrated the use of automated snow removal at the former Pferdsfeld airbase with four Mercedes Benz Arcs tractors. The demonstration builds on the automakers innovative Highway Pilot and Highway Pilot Connect systems presented earlier the year which allows for truck platooning. Clearing snow at airfields is a high precision task and a perfect application for autonomous driving. The development of the “Automated Airfield Ground Maintenance“ (AAGM) project was established in close cooperation between Lab1886, the Daimler innovation incubator, Daimler Trucks and Fraport AG, which operates one of the largest air traffic hubs in the world. The AAGM is guided by Daimler’s corporate strategy named CASE – connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric powertrains (Electric).


Globes, an Israeli publication, reported that the government there opened a 1.5km three-lane highway exclusively for the testing of autonomous technologies. The Ministry of Transport invited five companies to test self-driving projects on the highway north of Herzliya over the next two months. The five companies are:

  1. Nexcar, testing a dashboard camera which is connected to the cloud for early warning;
  2. GM Israel, testing its autonomous vehicle;
  3. Mobileye, testing its latest developments;
  4. Innoviz, testing LiDAR remote sensing solutions;
  5. Argus Cyber Security, testing advanced connectivity with anti-hacking capability.

Week 39 2017 - Ford partners with Lyft to introduce self-driving

Following a recent announcement by Google that it would invest in Lyft another of Google’s autonomous partners, Ford announced that it would roll out self-driving cars on the ridesharing company’s network. Ford will test its self-driving cars equipped with the Argo AI virtual driver system on Lyft’s network. According to a blog post on Medium by Sherif Marakby, vice-president, Autonomous Vehicles and Electrification at Ford the deployment would aim to:

  • Create Ford’s technology platform so that it can easily connect with a partner’s platform to effectively dispatch a self-driving vehicle;
  • Which cities should we work with to deliver our self-driving vehicle service;
  • The kind of infrastructure required to service and maintain a fleet of self-driving vehicles to ensure they are available whenever a consumer needs one?

Week 39 2017 - Baidu launch Apollo fund for self-driving tech

Baidu, China’s equivalent of Google and early entrant to self-driving cars raised $1.49 Bln (9.8 billion yuan) fund to develop self-driving cars. The Apollo Fund, as it is named, will invest in 100 autonomous projects over the next three years. The fund shares the same name as the search engines open source autonomous software. Version 1.5 of Apollo was released at the same time as the launch of the fund.

Week 37 2017 - Autonomous vehicle news of the past week

General Motors and its subsidiary, Cruise Automation, unveiled a production-ready self-driving car based on the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle. Up to now, autonomous cars are all hand build, a process that can only produce a couple of hundred cars a year, but presenting a self-driving car that is based on a mass-market platform is a game changer for GM.

Audi showcased the progress it made thus far on autonomous technology from SAE Levels 3 to 5 at the Frankfurt Auto Show this week, through three vehicles with autonomous capability. The Audi A8 with Traffic Jam Pilot, allowing full autonomy on highways up to speeds of 60kmh (37.3mph). The Audi Aicon, the German automaker’s Vision vehicle for self-driving. The Aicon, pictured below, has no pedals or steering wheel and is designed for purely electric operation and should be able to cover distances between 700 and 800 kilometers (435.0 – 497.1 mi) on a single charge. The company also introduced the Audi Elaine, an electric-powered SUV coupe that in a few short years will make highly automated driving possible – at times even without a driver on board.

USA Department of Transport issues simplified federal guidelines for autonomous driving eliminate the requirement for technology developers to apply for regulatory approval for launching autonomous technology.

Week 36 2017 - Autonomous vehicle news of the past week
Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 36 2017

Renault to unveil its autonomous vision, the Symbioz Concept, at the Frankfurt Auto Show. The Symbioz Concept will showcase how Renault sees autonomous, electric and connected mobility by 2030. The name SYMBIOZ is derived from ‘sumbiōsis’, the Ancient Greek word for ‘living together’. Renault believes that the automobile of the future will function harmoniously and in permanent interaction with its environment, road network infrastructure and the digital lifestyles of its occupants. The letter ‘Z’ at the end refers to the all-electric Z.E. technology that powers the car.

Torc Robotics has partnered with chipmaker NXP Semiconductors to improve its 360 degrees imaging providing real-time info about a vehicle’s surroundings to its self-driving systems according to a press release by the company.  According to Techcrunch the goal for Torc is to help automotive OEMs, and top-tier suppliers negotiate the new landscape of self-driving, with guidance gleaned from their own experience, and with hardware and software platforms to fill in the gaps in existing automaker autonomy programs.

Delphi is said to add 100 more employees at its Pittsburgh unit to support its activities in autonomous driving, taking the team to 150 by next year, signaling an acceleration in the development of the technology. The team will support a fleet of up to 50 self-driving vehicles by the end of 2018. Delphi’s autonomous fleet which includes BMW‘s and Audi SUV’s will be complemented with Chrysler Pacifica mini-vans in the future according to The Incline.

Week 35 2017 - Autonomous vehicle news of the past week

Chinese automaker, JAC, and China’s Google, BAIDU, this week announced a partnership to develop a Level 3 mass market self-driving car for production in 2019, year after Audi will produce a level 3 capable Audi A8. Baidu launched its autonomous strategy, called Apollo, two months back. The Apollo strategy mimics that of Google, aiming to develop software for autonomous vehicles. Hardware partners to the Apollo program include Bosch. It’s still unclear how the strategic partners will develop the vehicle as testing of autonomous cars is not yet legal on Chinese roads. Baidu, however, has a permit to test autonomous cars on Californian roads. Other automakers, such as Volvo and Ford are targeting Level 4 autonomous vehicles by 2021.

Samsung Electronics this week acquired a permit to test self-driving cars on California’s public road system, making it the 38th company to be allowed to do so. Samsung started testing autonomous vehicles in South Korea in May 2017. See the full list of all 38 permit holders here and the result of the 2016 autonomous testing here.

The German auto supplier ZF, a global leader in driveline and chassis technology as well as active and passive safety technology, this week entered into a partnership with the University of Califonia to develop autonomous driving solutions. In a press release by the company its CEO, Dr. Stefan Sommer defined the partnership as follows – “Our latest research collaboration will significantly boost our Vision Zero Ecosystem in two areas that are key to fully autonomous driving – computer vision and deep learning.”

Week 34 2017 - Ford self-driving strategy, German ethics guide and other news

Germany which has adopted its self-driving law in May 2017 this week announced guidelines for autonomous vehicle software. According to Reuter’s the ethical guidelines of the rules is set to protect people at all cost above property or animals. Autonomous vehicle software is not to determine between sex, health or age of a person in deciding what to do in the event of avoiding an accident.

Tata Motors of India joined the UK’s autonomous drive testing project, named ‘UK Autodrive.’ The UK Autodrive program is conducted in Milton Keyes and Coventry and includes other automakers active in the UK market, including Tata, Jaguar Land Rover, and Ford. Tata is using its Tiago vehicle in the trials.

Hyundai will deploy an autonomous fleet for the 2018 Winter Olympics which is held in the city of Pyeongchang, South Korea during February 2018. The self-driving software will utilize Hyundai’s subsidiary, MnSOFT’s ultra-high-precision HD Map, with a margin of error of only 10cm as opposed to the 30 meters of previous maps. According to South Korean IT publication, etnews, Hyundai will supply a fleet of self-driving fuel-cell based SUVs and buses to ferry people over the 126km between the capital and the event venue.

According to the Korea Post Hyundai and it’s sister company Kia is testing V2X technology in partnership with the City if Hwaseong on a 14km section of road to test V2X (Vehicle to everything) systems. V2X technology is where the vehicle communicates on a real-time basis with the road on which it travels and includes traffic signals, other road users such a pedestrians and other vehicles.

Ford‘s new CEO, Jim Hackett, previously the Chairman of the US automakers Smart Mobility unit, sees a slower transition to completely autonomous vehicles. In an interview with SFGate, Jim Hackett said that he does not see the company’s vehicle revenue threatened by a sudden shift to robot cars leading to fewer vehicle sales. Although the Ford CEO remained committed to a 2021 target by its predecessor for Level 4 ride hailing vehicles he sees a more a more progressive transition than a sudden shift. He added that Ford believes vehicles will become smarter, allowing it to tap more revenue streams from its 100 million “users.” Ford recently acquired SF based ride-sharing company, Chariot, and autonomous tech company, Argo AI, to ensure that it remains relevant going into the future. In line with its 2021 strategy Ford also announced this week that it would include commercial delivery vehicles in its self-driving offering by 2021.

Week 33 2017 - FCA joins yet another self-driving alliance and other news

As the race for electric vehicles hots up so it does for autonomous vehicles as car makers try and regain the edge it lost in the EV sector to tech start-ups. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), dead-last in the EV race, this week joined the BMW Intel self-driving car alliance as the company gears-up to produce self-driving cars by 2021. The BMW led alliance also includes Intel’s recently acquired Israeli tech company, Mobileye, Delphi Automotive, and Continental. Together the alliance will have 140 self-driving test vehicles on the roads by the end of 2017. Interestingly enough FCA is also a partner with Google’s Waymo where it developed and deployed autonomous Chrysler Pacifica minivans.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp funded American Center for Mobility announced that it will start operating its autonomous vehicle testing ground in December 2017. The converted Willow Run facility, first used for airplane testing, is a two-and a half-mile highway test loop. Michigan, which has been one of the pro-active states in self-driving development invested around $110 million in the conversion and expects to develop a second facility by 2019 to represent urban driving conditions.

US Chipmaker, NVIDIA, which led the push into autonomous technologies ahead of its competitor Intel, this week announced its investment in two-year old Chinese self-driving truck start-up TuSimple. The undisclosed investment by NVIDIA was part of $20 million funding round led by Sina, the Chinese Social Media company. TuSimple recently completed a Level 4 autonomous trip from San Diego to Yuma, Arizona.

Week 30 2017 - Self-driving act progressing in the USA

The US House Energy and Commerce Committee this week advanced legislation designed to keep autonomous vehicles safe and promote the advancement of the technology. The self-driving act is billed as the PAVE Act, which expands the existing authorization of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to evaluate exemptions from federal motor vehicle safety standards only if there is no reduction in safety and increases the number of vehicles for which exemption may be granted. The exemption will help the advancement of the autonomous driving development by allowing the industry to collect data and help Government to recall self-driving cars for safety reasons. The act is becoming increasingly important as more and more companies and states get involved in the testing of self-driving technology. Ride-hailing company, Lyft, this week announced that it formed a self-driving division and will establish a self-driving research facility, named Level 5 in Palo Alto, California.

Week 27 2017 - VW partner with Kuka on autonomous tech

VW and robotics firm Kuka this week signed a new co-operation agreement to develop robot-based innovations for all-electric and autonomous automobiles. The new agreement will expand the existing e-smart Connect project which includes a practical and user-friendly solution for charging high-voltage batteries of electric vehicles pictured here charging the VW GenE research vehicle. The Kuka developed charger is a charging solution developed for parking garages.

Top 5 Electric Vehicle News Stories of Week 27 2017 vw robots chargingThe Volkswagen Group is planning a strategic e-mobility offensive in the course of realigning its drive strategy. By the end of 2018, more than ten new electrified models will be launched on the market. A further 30 models will follow by 2025. These will be all-electric battery-powered vehicles. In parallel, Porsche will manage the ongoing expansion of infrastructure for quick-charging stations. The Volkswagen Group is providing a vision for autonomous driving of the future with the “Sedric” concept car. Audi recently established Autonomous Intelligent Driving GmbH for self-drive systems. This company is carrying out work for the entire Volkswagen Group.

KUKA AG is one of the biggest providers of intelligent automation solutions and is the world’s leading manufacturer of production plants in the automobile industry. The Group’s own Research Department headquartered in Augsburg lays the technological fundamentals for innovations in industrial production and service robotics.

Week 25 2017 - Bumper week for autonomous tech
Ford this week publicly presented its autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid we reported on at the end of last year. The self-driving Fusion was put through its paces at the University of Michigan where it successfully navigated daily traffic conditions at a top speed of 25mph.

The French PSA Group announced that it plans to have a Level 3 self-driving vehicle by 2020 and introduce semi-autonomous DS 7 Crossback next year. The PSA systems are called ‘Traffic Jam Chauffeur’ and ‘Highway Chauffeur’.

Audi started testing Level 3 autonomous vehicles in New York. Audi calls the technology ‘Audi Highway Pilot’.

Texas signed a bill authorizing testing of self-driving cars on public roads.

French self-driving manufacturer Navya announced the establishment of a US-based plant in Michigan and aims for the start of production by the end of the year.

Week 24 2017 - GM produces autonomous Bolt
GM announced this week that it completed the equipment of 130 Chevrolet Bolt EVs with its next generation of self-driving technology. The vehicles will be added to its fleet of 50 current generation Bolt EVs testing the autonomous technology on public roads in San Francisco Scottsdale and Detroit. The company reported that the new generation technology features GM’s latest array of equipment, including LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware designed to accelerate development of a safe and reliable fully autonomous vehicle.


In related news the California DMV permitted self-driving truck start-up, TuSimple, to test its artificial intelligence (AI)-based Level 4 autonomous driving system on 420-miles of public roads from San Diego to Tucson in Arizona.

Week 19 2017 - Think Tank predicts 95% of miles will be shared and autonomous by 2030.

CNBC ran an article on the prediction by the US thinktank RethinkX that 95% of miles traveled will be in electric powered autonomous cars by 2030. The controversial prediction is way above that of Boston Consulting which predicted that only 25% of such trips would be in self-driving or shared vehicles. Looking at the website of Tony Seba, a co-author of the RethinkX study, “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030: The Disruption of Transportation and the Collapse of the ICE Vehicle and Oil Industries.” the report also predicts that only 20% of Americans will own cars by 2030.
The predicted shift in mobility leads into other news this week where Ford’s CEO was challenged on his strategy for the company, resulting in its performance lagging its competitors. Mark Fields, CEO since 2014, embarked on what is the auto sector icon’s biggest strategy shift in history by investing heavily in self-driving technology. The challenge for the Ford CEO’s strategy is that he has one foot in the future and one in the present, resulting in an earnings decline of 42%.

Week 15 2017 - Apple to test self-driving car

Apple joined the growing number of companies authorized to test autonomous vehicles on California’s public roads. Tech companies have recently encroached on automakers territory, with 11 of the 21 companies on the list of permit holders authorized by the California DMV now being from the sector. Uber, a tech company, lost its permit in February 2017.

According to the permit Apple, based in Paulo Alto, is allowed to test three 2015 Lexus RX450h vehicles on public roads. According to the rules of the autonomous testing program, each vehicle should have two drivers, usually engineers, at all times in the vehicle.

It is not yet clear what Apple’s self-driving strategy is, news over the last two years have been conflicting, ranging from the company either following the Google route of not building car’s but only systems to the Tesla route, building an Apple iCar. The world’s most valuable tech company tagged its self-driving efforts as Project Titan.

Week 14 2017 - Navigant research discounts Waymo and Tesla autonomous efforts

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 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

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 on Navigant’s list are Ford, GM, RenaultNissan Alliance, Daimler, Volkswagen Group, BMW, Waymo, Volvo/Autoliv/Zenuity, Delphi and 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.

Week 7 2017 - Tesla Level 4 Automation by years end

This week Tesla CEO Elon Musk commented on the disruption of self-driving cars to the sector during the World Government Summit in Dubai. Mr. Musk was in Dubai for the launch of Tesla in the Emirates. His comments indicated that Tesla would have its first Level 4 Autonomous system available by the end of 2017. The disruption is significant to the auto sector since once a self-driving car is available, it will devalue new cars without the technology. According to Mr. Musk, the disruption will be slow initially but that in ten years from now all new cars will have the capability to be autonomous. It’s significant that Mr. Musk made the comments at a Government Summit as regulations, not technology seems to be the biggest hurdle at the moment. Will technology force the pace of Governments? We sincerely hope so.

Week 5 2017 - Waymo's Disengagement report shows accelerated learning

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released it’s 2016 Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement report this week. We reported earlier that a total of 20 companies were authorized to test the autonomous technology on the State’s public roads by the end of 2016. The Disengagement report reflects 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 it fails. Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle program moved from Google to a stand-alone company Waymo, revealed its 2016 scoring in a blog post by it’s Head of self-driving technology. Waymo showed a marked improvement from its 2015 safety-related disengages of 0.8 (341) disengages per 1000 miles to 0.2 (124) in 2016.

For a complete analysis of 2016 disengagement reports follow the link

Week 52 2016 - Ford debuts second generation of its self driving test vehicle

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.


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