The instinct of many transportation planners is to make "smart infrastructure," and to try to make plans for it going out 30 years. That's impossible, nobody knows what smart will mean in 5 years. The internet solve this problem, and grew by making the infrastructure as stupid as possible, and it revolutionized the world. The internet teaches lessons for how all infrastructure planning must go in the future -- keep the physical as simple as possible, do everything in the virtual, software layer.
In the robocar world, everybody is safety-obsessed. But what if what's holding things up isn't that, but the fact that focus on safety had delayed the good road citizenship needed to operate a real service. Is good road citizenship even harder than safety? What ways might we measure it and get the trade-off right. I discuss this in a new Forbes site article seen in:
I got a chance to visit the Energy Observer, a French boat powered by solar and wind with hydrogen energy storage as it visited SF while sailing around the world.
Hydrogen doesn't work so well in cars, but it can make sense in other places like aircraft, trucks and grid. But what about on a boat?
Read my analysis at Aboard the Energy Observer, a French hydrogen/solar/wind powered boat
Updating a few stories reported before (including Monday) I note that Scale.AI has launched their mapping service, which helps people tag and label maps more efficiently. Pony.AI shows off they are doing taxi tests with no safety driver in China, where roads are more complex than in Fremont, California. And Waymo shows off its Pride.
Read about these in this Forbes.com article Scale Mapping; Pony.AI driving in China; Waymo Pride
Last week saw a flurry of robocar news. The most significant was the deployment of no-safety-driver testing by Pony.AI in Fremont, CA, but there's also big funding news for Waymo, Cruise and Kodiak, Deepmap is sold to Nvidia, new taxis for Baidu, deals for Nuro and a collision between a Waymo and a scooter in SF -- in manual mode. Read all about it in my round up at:
Two major virtual self-driving conferences scheduled themselves for June 9. So I went to both, of course. Interesting news tidbids came from Argo, Starship, Scale, Chinese robotaxi makers, Zoox and many others. I summarize it here:
Cruise has been granted a permit to begin unmanned robotaxi tests in California. But they aren't allowed to charge, which forbids a lot of useful research, and explains why Waymo hasn't bothered with that permit yet. I discuss why it's so useful to experiment with payment in this Forbes site article at:
8 years ago, I proposed that pool pumps really should be designed to make use of solar (or wind) power. We have now seen used solar panels show up at the ridiculous price of $50 for 250 peak watts.
For a long time, Tesla refused to implement driver gaze monitoring with Autopilot. Now, quietly, the new release does it, though with no other changes as yet.
But it's quite a shift in their actions.
See the details at this Forbes.com story at
Some buzz has arisen due to photos of a Tesla with a LIDAR on it, and hints that Tesla is dropping radar from their cars in a hurry. Is this a major change of heart, par for the course, or a response to the chip shortage.
See analysis of that at this new Forbes site article:
Governor Inslee of Washington has refused to sign a bill he says he supports, which bans new fossil cars by 2030. He refused to sign it because it ties it to creating a road use tax system for EVs, which he says he also supports, but not in the same bill.
He might be right, but the reality is that having a road use tax system is a pretty trivial thing for the cars of 2030. In fact the Teslas of 2018 could do it with a software update.
A recently released video shows Waymo having some real problems when it encounters a construction zone it doesn't understand (that's expected) but then the remote ops team gives the wrong instructions and a comedy of errors follows. I discuss it here:
A VW executive suggested they might sell you a real self-driving function (when they have it) for around $8.50 per hour, as opposed to paying for it in a lump sum when you buy the car as Tesla plans.
What are the economics like of buying self-driving by the hour?
Read about that in my Forbes.com article at VW will sell you self-driving for $8.50/hour some day. Too high or too low?
The controversial Tesla crash in Texas is probably not so controversial. The NTSB's preliminary report only releases a few tidbits of information, but they point to Autopilot not being involved.
The new services keep coming, and now Baidu/Apollo has opened up a robotaxi service in outer Beijing, at an industrial park. While they call it fully driverless, they still have an employee in the passenger seat who is told to do nothing. This is in contrast with AutoX's service near Shenzhen and a few others, as we move closer to a true robotaxi service.
Details, and contrast with AutoX are in my new Forbes site article at:
Tesla released some important new details on the Texas crash that everybody's talking about (but probably shouldn't be talking that much about.)
The new details are not enough, though. Information is now contradictory until we learn more. Was there somebody in the driver's seat or not? We've learned that cruise control did play a role, but are told it brought the car to a stop, which it clearly didn't.
Read more details in this piece at: