Every time I compare Tesla with other contenders, people will say things to the effect of "they don't count, they use maps so they can only drive in tiny regions" because they think that's a bug rather than a feature.
Maps are super useful, and a car that can try to drive without a map is a car that can make a map, and so maps scale just fine and help you drive more roads, rather than fewer.
So I made a video outlining the virtues of maps, why they are cheap, and why it's OK if construction changes the road after you map it.
There isn't usually too much learned from these reports, but we can compare year to year, so here are some things learned this time:
The feds (NHTSA) are forcing Tesla to do a recall (software update, really) to disable the ability for the FSD prototype to do rolling stops at empty intersections. That turns out to be a surprising bold exercise of regulatory power, and probably a terrible idea, no matter how bad Tesla is. (Almost.) Full details in a new column on the situation, but there's a ton of nuance to this.
It doesn't get as much coverage as others, but MobilEye has amassed an impressive portfolio of components to give them a shot at the robotaxi and robocar world (one of the few with a shot at both.)
Today I release both a new article with my analysis of their strategy and components, and also a video I made of an interview with Amnon Shashua, the founder and CEO of MobilEye, which is now a unit of Intel but will be spun out soon as a public company again.
Last week saw Optimus Ride get sold for acqui-hire, and Local Motors shutting its doors. There are reasons why self-driving shuttles aren't that interesting right now, but that's going to change, and small van-sized vehicles are probably the future of group transportation.
Read why in my Forbes site story at Two self-driving shuttle companies die in a week, but there's good news
Well, I finally got to try Tesla FSD, and it was a big disappointment. From a robocar developer's viewpoint, it sucks and I give it an F.
I made a video review and a text one. The text one contains the review part of the video and lots more information. The video has the 3.5 mile sample ride around Apple HQ, full of mistakes.
Read the text review on Forbes.com at I get and review Tesla FSD -- and give it an F
Airlines have removed change fees on many flights, a trend started by the pandemic. Everybody has wished to get more flexibility in airline ticket pricing and changing, though airlines want to squeeze out every dollar that every passenger can afford. The new trends in flexible work may allow an option to please both sides with tickets that allow the airline to change when you fly to fill seats in exchange for a lower price and easier changes.
I wrote before about the accursed "beep beep" that big machines make when they back up -- and even a few cars. There is an answer to it, and that answer has just come out of patent. So what can we do to ban the beep and make safer systems that don't destroy the peace and quiet of the air?
Read about that in this Forbes.com story at We cam finally do away with the accursed beep-beep
In a short period we saw 3 at-fault accidents involving robocars (with one being purely the fault of the safety driver) and we're going to see more. We're going to have to learn how to deal with them, to tell the difference between serious error that says a team has deployed too early, and the accidents that will happen with miles because perfection is not a possible goal.
I have often written about the debate between the robotaxi vision of self-driving and the private car sales vision. That debate got writ large last week with the firing of Cruise CEO Dan Ammann over his desire to push the robotaxi vision (and some other differences of view.)
I write about it on Forbes.com in GM CEO Mary Barra fires Cruise CEO over robotaxi/car sales battle
Mercedez-Benz has announced approval of their “Drive Pilot” system, in Germany. Tesla, on the other hand, doesn't do this because of their focus on the far-off goal of a "full" self-driving product. What does a traffic jam pilot really mean, and what could Tesla be doing if they weren't putting so much focus on the still far-off FSD?
I consider this my my new Forbes site article Mercedes Gets Approval For Traffic Jam Pilot, Where Is Tesla?
How can we tell how far along a robotaxi project is? They don't let us look under the hood, so we have to observe their real bets and milestones.
I've made a list of a rough order for the milestones. Most teams have far to go.
See Milestones of a robotaxi business at Forbes.com
In an earlier article, I noted that Cruise, in demonstrating their first robotaxi rides with no safety driver, did all the pick-up an drop-off by just stopping in the lane (late at night.) This is something many Uber drivers do as well, but it's not technically legal. Cruise is doing things one step at a time, but the SF MTA doesn't like that and filed an opposition to them getting a permit to operate the service with the public (currently they just do employees.)
Here's a Forbes.com article on the issues with doing pick-up and drop-off.
I've tended to downplay the early e-VTOL designs that are essentially big multirotor drones for people, including Volocopter. But the reality is that these designs, while losers in the long run, are winning the early race because they can get approved and in the air sooner. Here's an examination of Volocopter and what may happen long term.
Two big milestones for Cruise this week, with two stories:
First, they started unmanned operations at night in San Francisco, and give their first taxi ride with no safety driver to founder Kyle Vogt. GM employees are now using Cruise vehicles as taxis.
Sometimes people come up to full EV charging stations where cords can reach more than one spot and they unplug an EV that arrived earlier and take over the charger. Sometimes it's evil. Sometimes it's the earlier driver who is bad. How do we make a system to handle the problem?
Read more at Forbes.com in EV Drivers Are Unplugging Other EVs - How Can A System Of Etiquette Arise
Most of the major players want to run a robotaxi business -- Uber style ride service using robocars. Yet some have started to wonder if this is the best business model, or if it's even a good one, while companies invest billions in it.
In this new article on Forbes.com I investigate some of these questions and why the players are investing these sum, and what sort of profits they might make.