I'm back from another electric car road trip -- more later on that -- but here's a story where I provide a report from a Waymo One user on how he sold one of his family's two cars and replaced it with robotaxi service. He's an early adopter, but he helps us examine just what some of the issues are around getting people to do that.
The future of computer-driven cars and deliverbots
This week I am at the Nvidia GPU Technology Conference, which has become a significant conference for machine learning, robots and robocars.
Here is my writeup on a couple of significant announcements from Nvidia -- a new simulation platform and a "safety force field" minder for robocar software, along with radar localization and Volvo parking projects.
Yesterday, it was announced the state attorney in Arizona will not press criminal charges against Uber around the fatality a year ago in Tempe. It is still not decided if charges will apply to the safety driver.
I have a Forbes.com piece on the nature of fault in the Uber crash:
Readers all know I love robocars and write about the tremendous effect they will have on our lives and cities. But a new technology, running about a decade behind but now real, is coming which could have even more dramatic effects, the e-VTOL or "flying car."
Of course, just after releasing my review of Tesla Autopilot they announced new pricing and features, with some explanation of what "full self drive" is.
For now, it turns out it's still driver assist, but on city streets. It's an interesting question if that's a good idea. I offer some additional analysis and updates.
Read my Update to Tesla Autopilot Review
We all love open source. But the usual rules of open source break down if every vehicle deployed on the road has to have gone through a complex and expensive safety certification process. You can't just download, patch and go.
So we need other solutions to allow the world of the tinkerer/hacker and the innovation and superior function it can provide.
Since the famous Trolley Problem has come up again recently thanks to the MIT Moral Machine, it's time for what seems to be an annual debunking of the notion.
This time, to illustrate the pithy headline above, I tell the story of why the hypothetical situation is even rarer than people imagine because of the way braking and steering systems are designed on robocars, and how their driving patterns will be designed to minimize risk.
I have written often about the new economies in transportation that future technology like robocars provide. In my research I've learned something that seems to not be well known in the transportation world -- that often, smaller is better and more energy efficient.
This week we've looked at two issues regarding robocars in the city:
California has released the disengagement reports the law requires companies to file and it's a lot of data. Also worth noting is Waymo's own blog post on their report where they report their miles per disengagement has improved from 5,600 to 11,000.
For many years, people have wondered if people might tell their robocars to just drive continuously around the block rather than pay for parking. I've written before about how that doesn't make sense, but a recent paper from Adam Millard-Ball of UC Santa Cruz tries to make a real case that it could make economic sense, even if it's antisocial.
I have started doing some of my posts on forbes.com. They invited me to contribute and I felt it is worth finding out if it extends my reach. For now, I will link to posts here, and eventually I will perhaps build a special RSS feed to combine the posts I do there with the ones here to make it easy for readers.
Various announcements and rumors suggest the major German automakers, including VW/Audi, Daimler and BMW might be planning a real alliance on robocars.