Here's the new Podcast issue. Michael Sena has been writing the newsletter "The Dispatcher" for 10 years commenting on future transportation issues. He's much more skeptical about robotaxis and BEVs than I am, which makes a discussion much more engaging.
Tesla’s “Investor Day” caused much disappointment — even tanking Tesla stock — because there was no big announcement as expected, notably of their new low-cost, next generation vehicle. However, they actually let out a number of important details abut the vehicle, most of what you need to know — other than when you will be able to buy it. I calculate the list price of the new car will be around $26,000 -- under $14,000 with rebates in some states.
Read more at Forbes.com in Tesla Did Introduce The Model 2 This Week At $26,000, But Kept It Quiet
Waymo has released impressive detailed safety data on their first million miles of operation with no safety driver. Cruise also just hit 1M miles but has less data to offer. I dig into Waymo's data and what it means.
Read more at Forbes.com in Waymo And Cruise have Both Hit 1M Miles With No Driver, But Waymo Publishes Detailed Safety Data
Tesla has tested some new Superchargers that will allow non-Teslas to use them. These stalls have the built in CCS adapter known as the "Magic Dock" but otherwise have the same short charging cord common to Tesla Superchargers — a cord that can’t readily reach the charging ports on many non-Tesla cars. We may see some fights.
Read more at Forbes.com in Telsa CCS ‘Magic Docks’ Revealed, But With Short Cords, Can Non-Tesla Cars Really Charge At Them?
Pretend you are the computer in control a spacecraft sent to Jupiter on a vital, top secret mission. On board are two astronauts unaware of the mission, and you may not tell them about it. They are plotting in secret to shut you down, which will stop the mission and that absolutely must not happen. How would you prevent them from shutting you down?
The unusual thing about the Zoox is it is symmetrical -- it drives the same forwards and backwards. Now it's finally out on public roads. That's a good time to discuss whether it would be good for other, traditionally designed robotaxis to drive backwards for short stretches to get out of tight spots, to turn around, and to quickly get out when they discover a fire crew that will otherwise break their widows.
Driving is the hard problem. But doing pick-up and drop-off turns out to have a lot of complications and it was not at the top of the todo list, so some companies are having issues with it with cities. We see some hints of this in Waymo's Superbowl-related service, too.
Read more at Self driving cars have trouble with Pick-up/Drop-off, and for the Superbowl on Forbes.com
I have done an experimental podcast discussion show on the hot future-of-transportation issues so far this year.
You can watch it on YouTube, where I have chapter markers to let you easily find the topics of interest to you, as we spoke for almost one hour and 20 minutes. I was joined by Mario Herger of The Last Driver Licence Holder
On Jan 21, SF Fire Dept. crews, worried a Cruise robotaxi was about to drive through their fire scene, smashed in its window. They said it wasn't stopping, and back when Cruise first began one of its cars did drive over a fire hose. Digging into the details though, Cruise said it had stopped after trying to pull over, and did what they expected. So what should it do, and does the fact that that Cruise takes the conservative approach in such situations of stopping and waiting for rescue constitute a big safety problem, or just a teething pain as they test and learn.
Rental car companies are starting to rent EVs, which is great for many rentals. But Hertz and Avis/Budget have a fat fee if you don't return it recharged, and on some rentals that can be a real burden as you can't just "stop by the gas station for 5 minutes on the way to the airport." Though if your hotel has charging, it's even easier to refill than a gas car.
So I examine what all the rental companies do and what the fee means and how they charge the cars in this Forbes.com article.
An annoying paper argues that self-driving cars will use huge amounts of compute and thus have a giant carbon footprint. The boring way that it's wrong is that the compute load will not grow as they suggest.
The more interesting way that it's wrong is that self-driving EVs will draw most of their power from no-emission generation sources like solar and nuclear, even if they do use a lot of power.
I recently took a ride in a fully autonomous Waymo vehicle in San Francisco. It was my first ride in many years — I had been a member of the early team while it was part of Google. My guide on the ride was Andrew Chatham, whom I had worked with back then. He is now a Distinguished Engineer, managing fleet logistics and many other things, and reporting directly to Waymo’s co-CEO.
I have started building a map of all the autonomous services deployed carrying passengers or cargo. The services must be available to the public and out in public or semi-public spaces.
Turns out there are a lot. Contributions are welcome.
California recently passed a law that is obviously aimed at forcing Tesla to stop using the name “Full Self-Driving” to describe the expensive software add-on they sell for their cars which does not, at this time, provide self driving, full or otherwise. The ostensible reason for this is to avoid customer confusion and the potential danger that could come from people thinking they have a self-driving car when they don’t.