Robocars

The future of computer-driven cars and deliverbots

Custom Robotaxi from Baidu

Baidu Apollo has released their own custom robotaxi plan. This one looks more like a regular minivan/custom taxi, but its steering wheel, there only for compliance purposes, is designed to be removed when the law allows, and that opens up the interior. They also say they can make it for about $37,000.

For more details see my Forbes.com story at Custom Robotaxi from Baidu

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All you need for a great EV road trip

I have written a guide of useful hints and tricks for doing an EV road trip and barely spending any time charging. I've done over 10,000 miles of EV road trips and you can to, once you get an EV.

Read this at Forbes.com:

All you need for a great EV road trip

I have two other articles on Forbes.com that I didn't publish here in the blog:

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Michigan wants a smart highway on I-94. A dumb highway is better

A recent big announcement says the Cavnue consortium and Michigant will build a "Connected Autonomous Vehicle" corridor on I-94 outside Detroit. It's the classic "smart road" which special infrastructure and cars communicating with it.

But is it that smart, or is a dumb highway smarter in the end?

I outline the reasons in this Forbes site article at Michigan wants a smart highway on I-94. A dumb highway is better

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What must robotaxis do to make people give up car ownership?

For the robotaxi business to be worth it, they must get customers who give up car ownership because of the service, and use it regularly. But since robotaxis will have a limited service area, what will they do to make it happen?

I discuss various strategies, including partnering with competitors and linking services areas in a new Forbes site column at What must robotaxis do to make people give up car ownership?

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Tesla teases a Robotaxi, are they crazy to give up off-lease plan?

Elon Musk has now teased that Tesla will build its own custom robotaxi, at low cost. This is at odds with their brilliant plan to turn off-lease Teslas into robotaxis, letting somebody else eat up 40% of the depreciation. Will they do both, or do they have a new plan up their sleeve for a small one-person pod?

Read about this in my new Forbes.com story at Tesla teases a Robotaxi, are they crazy to give up off-lease plan?

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We find out what happens when SF Police pull over an unmanned Cruise robocar

From the earliest days, one of the most common questions was "What happens when the cops want to pull over a robocar or give it a ticket?" We find out a real answer in a video of SFPD stopping an empty Cruise robotaxi on the streets of San Francisco.

It wasn't actually that much of a mystery, and the major teams all have detailed first responder training and plans in place, and it happened here. This was a very rare case where it actually made sense to pull over this car, which was driving at night without its lights on, which is unsafe.

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Ending Gasoline Thinking and understanding it's about what you do while charging

It is common to see plans for EV charging which are still bound up in "gasoline thinking" where people treat an EV like a car with a tank you empty and then fill up while empty, waiting. In fact, if you do EV charging right, you always do it while you are doing something else, so it takes zero time from your day.

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Mercedes promotes Drive Pilot standby driver ("Level 3") system

Mercedes has been promoting the new Drive Pilot system in high end models. Equipped with LIDAR, it will do the full driving task on freeways in traffic jams in daytime good weather.

In this new article I discuss whether the so-called "level" 3 (or any of the levels) make sense, and what this product means, good and bad.

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Dan O'Dowd is the billionaire who says our cars & infrastructure are horribly vulnerable and only he knows how to fix it

Dan O'Dowd is the CEO of Green Hills Software. He recently placed a full page ad in the New York Times protesting the poor quality of Tesla FSD, and has started a project to get the world to secure all critical systems, including cars, using his techniques. He makes the bold claim that only he knows how to make software truly secure and bug free, and warns the world it had better listen. He knows that's an extreme claim, but also says he has proof if the secure systems he has designed for aircraft, fighter jets and the FBI. And he's got the money to make a stir.

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Waymo can charge for rides, so it gets interesting

It may seem minor that Waymo is going to start charging for robotaxi rides. But this starts the process of learning real facts about robotaxi economics and what a ride will cost, and how that changes the world.

Read the Forbes.com story at Waymo can charge for rides, so it gets interesting

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Tesla FSD Review update for 10.9, with 3 crash interventions at one intersection

Tesla FSD's 10.9 update did offer some improvements, but along a new route I quickly ran into 3 different times I had to intervene to prevent a crash at one intersection, so it still remains "F" grade quality (and really far below.)

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Tesla is crazy not to use maps

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.

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NHTSA forces Tesla to turn off rolling stop option in FSD prototype -- that's a very bad new power for NHTSA

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.

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Analysis of MobilEye strategy in robocars and video interview with CEO Amnon Shashua

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.

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