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:
There has been much coverage about a fatal Tesla crash in Texas because police say the car didn't have anybody in the driver's seat. Elon Musk says Autopilot was not engaged, though of course the dead men may have been trying to pull a stunt hoping they could engage it in an area it isn't supposed to work. It didn't work.
So here's my analysis of what we know and don't know and why there probably is no big new story here.
Some announcements of hard ship dates for robotic vehicle deployments -- 2022 in Israel for shuttles, 2023 in USA for delivery vans using MobilEye and 2023 in Dubai for GM/Cruise Origin shuttle.
A few more details in new Forbes site post at MobilEye and GM/Cruise announce production ship dates in 2022 and 2023
President Biden has proposed massive spending on electric vehicle infrastructure, including 500,000 charging stations. Yet the first 100,000 stations were deployed for the wrong reasons, and many sit mostly unused. We do want lots of charging stations, but they don't need to be very expensive at all. I outline how in this new Forbes site article at:
Waymo self-driving's CEO, John Krafcik, has stepped down. More interesting is the two new co-CEOs appointed from inside (one from the original founding team that I worked with) have no automotive industry background. Having worked at Waymo and followed it more closely than almost anybody, I have some thoughts on the shift in this Forbes site column:
Over a decade ago I started advocating for having a large public library of simulation scenarios to test self-driving cars. Today, Deepen.AI, a company I am an investor/advisor to announces it has built such a library, in cooperation with the World Economic Forum and WMG University of Warwick and with involvement from many companies and government agencies. In the Safety Pool, people can build and contribute test scenarios, and in return get back manyfold from the contributions of other members.
Right now Waymo One only serves suburban Phoenix. How hard is it going to be for self-driving companies to expand to new cities, new countries, new conditions and new rules of the road? Some think very hard -- and it's not trivial. But it's likely they can afford it just fine. I explore why is this new article on Forbes.com:
A modest change at Waymo -- allowing you to do multi-stop trips where the vehicle waits around for you (physically or virtually) at no charge gives us a taste of the different economics of robotaxis compared to Uber, since no driver has to be paid. I discuss these changes in a new Forbes site article at:
A proposed California bill would require all robocars to be zero emission in under 4 years. As good as going electric is, the government should not be picking the power train so soon, especially when there is no sign that the existing players are bad actors. I detail more in my Forbes site article at
Everybody is working on making robocars drive more safely and cause fewer accidents. Waymo recently released a paper outlining how they ran a large number of accidents in simulation, and tested what happens if the Waymo system is driving the primary car (which caused the accident) or the secondary car (which didn't) in 2-car collisions. No surprise that they prevented the accidents when being the primary car. More interesting is they prevented almost all the accidents when being the second car.
A new company offering battery swap for EVs launches today. They convert the car's battery pack to use standardize 2.5kwh modules, and cheap robotic stations swap them out. Battery swap has a number of useful advantages, but it's failed before because it's not actually that great a solution for private car owners, and it standardizes the most important area of EV innovation.
In 2008, I wondered what we could do to help you avoid getting motion sick as a passenger in a self-driving car. I wondered if you could make audio cues to warn the mind of upcoming turns, or just alert you to look up. Researchers with Volvo recently experimented with similar ideas, and the answer was yes, it helps. Here's my article about this and other comfort issues on future robocars, which may produce a ride that's almost like sitting still.
Rumours swirl constantly about an Apple Car. Here is my Forbes site piece on what sort of car Apple would make: Expensive but superior, non-standard, well-designed, electric but charges itself when you're not using it, self-driving and surprising. For details see:
The California Robocar disengagement reports. They don't tell us a great deal but here is some analysis with tidbits learned from them, and a discussion of why Tesla is missing.
In the study of how much profit Robotaxis can make it's interesting to note that even in the Pandemic year, Didi will make a billion dollar profit from ride hail, while Uber continues to lose money and make people wonder if it can ever be profitable.
Didi's profit suggests the path to robotaxi profitability is attainable. Some more data is at this Forbes site article:
Earlier, AutoX started doing limited tests with staff of a robotaxi service with no safety driver on board in Pingshan, a suburb of Shenzen. Now, this service is available to the general public. No numbers yet, but it shows they have the confidence.
More details at AutoX opens robotaxi service to the public