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Robocars

The future of computer-driven cars and deliverbots

Using cars for backup grid energy probably doesn't work

Pumping water into a reservoir is great for storage

In the world of electric cars, some people talk about an idea called "vehicle to grid" or V2G. Renewable energy's biggest challenge is storage -- wind and solar only come at certain times of the day, but we need electricity all day. The V2G hope is to use all the batteries in electric cars as a means of grid storage.

The dance between pedestrians and robocars

Tokyo has tons of cars and pedestrians and isolates them, mostly.

How will robocars and pedestrians interact?

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Sleeper cars and the unexpected efficiency of solo transport

My article last week on Sleeper cars generated lots of interest, and Volvo's concept car generated lots of press too. Some of it was quite negative, including a article provocatively calling them the dystopian future we must prevent. I thought I would revisit some of the things about such vehicles that run quite counter to the intuitions of those used to 20th century transportation and transit.

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Sleeper cars

Volvo concept in bed mode

Yesterday, Volvo got some good buzz for a concept car which included a bed for sleeping and asking the question "why fly when you can be driven?". I've written about sleeper cars before, as well as the full robo-RV, but let's put all the issues together.

FMCW LIDAR is coming, what does it mean?

Demo point cloud from Blackmore LIDAR with speed shown as "redshift" colour.

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Aurora's manifesto is worth a read

Aurora test vehicles

I rarely just link to another story, but today I will point all to Aurora's post on its development philosophy. I think it contains some important lessons for all in the field.

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What does airline competition tell us about robotaxi competition?

A couple of years ago I released my list of factors by which robotaxi companies might compete. Many people wonder if there will be a natural monopoly, limiting us to one or two companies per city, or if we might get more.

Waymo's left turns frustrate other drivers

This week's hot story was again from Amir at The Information and there is even more detail in the author's Twitter thread.

The short summary: Amir was able to find a fair number of Waymo's neighbours in Chandler, Arizona who are getting frustrated by the over-cautious drive patterns of the Waymo vans. Several used the words, "I hate them."

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Tim Kentley-Klay suddenly ousted from Zoox

Some of Zoox's prototypes

A few weeks ago, I published an analysis of the Zoox strategy to produce a custom car. Last week, Zoox decided to fire its founder and CEO, Tim Kentley-Klay, with no warning. Very little has been said, other than:

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Cars will go to the chargers, you don't need to bring the chargers to the cars

This is where your car charges, not at your house

Many of us believe that there's a natural fit between electric drive trains and robocars. It's not required -- you can certainly make robocars driven by gasoline, natural gas, hydrogen or anything else.

Electric has several advantages:

Uber might sell its robocar division, Nuro opens first delivery pilot in Scottsdale

Uber might sell self-drive division

The newsletter The Information reports Uber's investors are pushing Uber to sell its self-drive division to some other large player. The division has, of course, been nothing but trouble for Uber, and as I have noted several times, Uber is one of the few large players in this space that doesn't have to build their own tech. They have the #1 brand in selling rides, and selling rides is what the robotaxi business is all about.

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The Spot Market in Parking

There are a lot of parking apps out there. There are apps that:

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Calculating all the externalities of driving

I and many others feel the best way to set urban and transportation policy is to properly price in the "externalities" into our travel, and to remove all other penalties and subsidies. If you can do this, then everybody is incentivized to improve the public good. In particular, entrepreneurs and companies are motivated this way, and it's their job to think of the new things nobody else thought of.

Recent Waymo announcements are slightly underwhelming

Waymo recently announced two new partnerships for their fleet of robotaxis.

The first was with Walmart. Walmart has installed special parking spots in their lots, and will offer people free rides to Walmart to pick up online orders. Only some of the 400 Waymo "Early Riders" will participate, at first.

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The wonderful no-security airport terminal

Recently the TSA indicated it is once again considering having no security on planes under 60 seats at small airports. This is controversial, of course, but many security experts think it is the right course for a number of reasons:

I wish Uber pickup at the airport were instant, like the taxi line

When I get off planes in San Francisco and summon a Lyft or Uber, I usually have to wait 8 to 10 minutes. That's because the airport has forced these companies to force drivers to wait in the "cell phone waiting lot" which is quite far from the terminal. When I don't have checked bags, it's OK because I know this and I summon the car while walking out of the gate, but with bags I have to wait for my bag before I can summon.

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