The Truth About Cars » Google http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:00:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Google http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Terrorists Could Make Autonomous Cars A Security Nightmare http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/terrorists-make-autonomous-cars-security-nightmare/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/terrorists-make-autonomous-cars-security-nightmare/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157026 Self-driving cars could usher in a new form of terrorism, an investment analyst writes (via SlashDot). Alex Rubalcava, who is an investment advisor in California, says that autonomous cars would be “the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists. “A future Timothy McVeigh will not need to drive a truck full of […]

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Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

Self-driving cars could usher in a new form of terrorism, an investment analyst writes (via SlashDot).

Alex Rubalcava, who is an investment advisor in California, says that autonomous cars would be “the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists.

“A future Timothy McVeigh will not need to drive a truck full of fertilizer to the place he intends to detonate it. A burner email account, a prepaid debit card purchased with cash, and an account, tied to that burner email, with an AV car service will get him a long way to being able to place explosives near crowds, without ever being there himself.”

Criminals in Denver have already used burners, pre-paid cards and fake names to rent Car2go cars for drive-by shootings.

Rubalcava’s discussion of the risk that autonomous cars may bring to international security is a short few paragraphs in a much longer market analysis on those cars and their potential investors.

Included in his assessment is that dense urban centers may spread out (suburban sprawl all over again) if self-driving cars can shuttle us back and forth to work without their drivers actually being awake. Rubalcava also speculates that an average autonomous car could travel twice as far as a normal car, up to 50,000 miles per year if the driver doesn’t have to actually drive, and that the cost per mile for an autonomous car will be significantly lower than an average car, which would increase consumption.

(And he correctly points out that very few companies that develop technologies make it long enough to mass produce them, i.e. 1990s dot-coms.)

Even though much of his analysis is dedicated toward financial issues and scaling autonomous cars for a global market, Rubalcava says that investors should be wary of initial government intervention to mitigate security risks that a self-driving bomb car could pose. Beyond that, autonomous cars will be hugely profitable — maybe before we’re all dead.

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Analyst: Tesla Could Surge with Autonomous Ride Sharing Biz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/analyst-tesla-surge-autonomous-ride-sharing-biz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/analyst-tesla-surge-autonomous-ride-sharing-biz/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144945 Tesla’s ride-sharing business could be worth hundreds of millions to the company in the future, an analyst for Morgan Stanley said Monday. Adam Jonas increased his price target for Tesla from $280 to $465 — but said the stock could go even higher to $611 — based on his forecast that Tesla could introduce an autonomous ride-sharing […]

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2012 Tesla Model S

Tesla’s ride-sharing business could be worth hundreds of millions to the company in the future, an analyst for Morgan Stanley said Monday.

Adam Jonas increased his price target for Tesla from $280 to $465 — but said the stock could go even higher to $611 — based on his forecast that Tesla could introduce an autonomous ride-sharing service by as early as 2018, Bloomberg reported.

It’s at least the third time that Jonas has publicly pumped Tesla’s stock.

Jonas says that Tesla’s future could be in part-time car ownership or autonomous sharing, which could position the carmaker with the likes of Apple or Google who may be building cars for those purposes.

Jonas dubbed the prospective venture “Tesla Mobility” although the automaker hasn’t publicly shared plans for that kind of service. Jonas said the automaker could make public plans for a ride-sharing program in 12 to 18 months, with a launch shortly after the mid-size Model 3 in 2017. He predicted that Tesla could launch a fully autonomous, ride sharing program in roughly 10 years.

Before people could split payments for robot cars, Jonas says that there would be two phases: a semi-autonomous phase and then a nearly completely autonomous phase before launching a fully driver-less car in 2025.

Jonas asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the program earlier this month during an earnings call and Musk was predictably tight-lipped:

Jonas: First question: Steve Jurvetson was recently quoted saying that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told him that if by 2020 Tesla’s cars are autonomous, that he’d want to buy all of them. Is this a real, I mean, forget the 2020 for a moment, but is this a real business opportunity for Tesla? Supplying cars to ridesharing firms, or does Tesla just cut out the middleman and sell on-demand, electric mobility services directly from the company on its own platform?

Musk: That’s an insightful question.

Jonas: You don’t have to answer it.

Musk: I don’t think I should answer it.

Jonas: Sometimes you can tell more from the non-answer than from the answer.

Shares of Tesla were up 1.5 percent in early trading Tuesday to $259.05.

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Google’s Robot Car Crashed, Humans At Fault http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/googles-robot-car-crashed-humans-fault/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/googles-robot-car-crashed-humans-fault/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 18:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118793 Three people were injured when a car rear-ended Google’s self-driving Lexus on July 1 in Mountain View, California, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. It’s the 15th crash for the self-driving car and the first with injuries. Three people had “minor whiplash” Google’s Director of Driverless Cars Chris Urmson wrote and the driver of the car that rear-ended the […]

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Three people were injured when a car rear-ended Google’s self-driving Lexus on July 1 in Mountain View, California, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. It’s the 15th crash for the self-driving car and the first with injuries.

Three people had “minor whiplash” Google’s Director of Driverless Cars Chris Urmson wrote and the driver of the car that rear-ended the Lexus appeared to be at fault.

“Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road,” he wrote.

The robots will not look kindly on our inattention.

According to Google’s monthly report, the fleet of autonomous cars has traveled more than 1 million miles without human piloting, and the cars are averaging around 10,000 miles traveled each week.

Google says the autonomous cars have not been at fault in any of its 15 recorded accidents so far. Testers say the vehicles are being crashed into at a higher rate than normal due to under-reported accident numbers.

Earlier this month, Google sent two Lexus RX450h vehicles to Austin, Texas for mapping and testing.

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Pictures Inside Google’s Car Reveal Future Full of Buttons http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pictures-inside-googles-car-reveals-future-full-buttons/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pictures-inside-googles-car-reveals-future-full-buttons/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114785 Google showed off its autonomous car in California on Saturday and the Washington Post has pictures of what the interior of the self-driving car looks like. The pictures, which were taken at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, California, show the prototype’s basic layout and a screen to relay pictures from the side-view […]

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google-self-driving-car

Google showed off its autonomous car in California on Saturday and the Washington Post has pictures of what the interior of the self-driving car looks like.

The pictures, which were taken at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, California, show the prototype’s basic layout and a screen to relay pictures from the side-view mirrors.

There is no steering wheel, nor discernible accelerator or brake in the prototype, but thankfully there are cupholders.

The cars are on display at the school to promote the search engine’s contest to decorate the prototypes as they roam California streets.

Earlier this month, Google sent two self-driving Lexus hybrid cars to Austin, Texas for mapping and testing. Last month, Google said one of its vehicles was involved in a crash in California, the 12th so far.

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Google Sends Self-Driving Lexus Hybrids to Test in Texas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/google-sends-self-driving-lexus-hybrids-test-texas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/google-sends-self-driving-lexus-hybrids-test-texas/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109377 Google’s autonomous cars have made it to the Lone Star state for testing, The Detroit News is reporting. A self-driving Lexus 450h prototype was recently dispatched to Austin, Texas for testing on that city’s streets. The cars are used to map roadways and signs for future autonomous vehicles to use. Google said the car has begun […]

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Google’s autonomous cars have made it to the Lone Star state for testing, The Detroit News is reporting.

A self-driving Lexus 450h prototype was recently dispatched to Austin, Texas for testing on that city’s streets. The cars are used to map roadways and signs for future autonomous vehicles to use. Google said the car has begun to drive itself after testing in Texas it will be sending another Lexus to Austin soon.

The search-engine giant likely selected the Texas capital because a free-range Lexus fit in very well with that city’s culture.

“We also want to learn how different communities perceive and interact with self-driving vehicles, and that can vary in different parts of the country,” an official with Google told The Detroit News.

Local officials praised the move by Google.

“Austin is special in part because we welcome new technologies that could help improve our daily lives, and we can easily see the potential self-driving cars have to reduce accident rates and congestion, and to provide mobility for people who can’t get around easily,” Mayor Steve Adler told The Detroit News.

Self-driving cars are forbidden to travel faster than 25 mph by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Google started testing its autonomous prototypes in California last month.

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Google Wades Carefully Into Connected-Vehicle Waters With Android Auto http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/google-wades-carefully-into-connected-vehicle-waters-with-android-auto/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/google-wades-carefully-into-connected-vehicle-waters-with-android-auto/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 19:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1087737 Though Google’s Android OS may be awash with numerous apps, Android Auto goes for a more limited approach in the name of traffic safety. Appearing in the showrooms of Hyundai, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and other automakers this summer, Android Auto will only have 35 apps available for the time being, Automotive News reports. The limitation is […]

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2016-Chevrolet-Spark-Android-Auto-013

Though Google’s Android OS may be awash with numerous apps, Android Auto goes for a more limited approach in the name of traffic safety.

Appearing in the showrooms of Hyundai, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, and other automakers this summer, Android Auto will only have 35 apps available for the time being, Automotive News reports. The limitation is part of Google’s effort to carefully enter the realm of connected-vehicle technology, especially when it comes to minimizing distraction while on the road.

Thus, Google’s finest minds have created templates to which third-party apps must adhere, with streaming audio apps Audible, Pandora and Spotify, as well as messaging apps WhatsApp, WeChat and Telegram all pass with flying colors. The templates use a common button layout and a new common typeface called Roboto, both intended to minimize constant learning of new apps via standardized controls, thus preventing distractions in so doing.

While Google is moving steadily into the water, automakers are doing the same with Android Auto. Audi in particular has tested over 10 exclusive apps since early 2014, including ones which would track traffic history and help off-roaders tackle obstacles in the next-gen Q7. Thus far, none are ready for prime time. Meanwhile, Hyundai is first out of the gate with the connected-vehicle system aboard the 2015 Sonata, with the first models and over-the-air updates coming this month.

[Photo credit: Chevrolet]

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Google’s Autonomous Cars See 12th Accident, Virginia Opens Highways For Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/googles-autonomous-cars-see-12th-accident-virginia-opens-highways-for-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/googles-autonomous-cars-see-12th-accident-virginia-opens-highways-for-testing/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084305 Google acknowledges the 12th accident involving its autonomous cars, while Virginia opens 70 miles of highway to Google and others for testing. Google’s acknowledgement of the accident was made Wednesday during the tech giant’s annual shareholders meeting, Autoblog reports. Co-founder Sergey Brin said the vehicle was stopped at a traffic light when it was rear-ended, […]

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Google acknowledges the 12th accident involving its autonomous cars, while Virginia opens 70 miles of highway to Google and others for testing.

Google’s acknowledgement of the accident was made Wednesday during the tech giant’s annual shareholders meeting, Autoblog reports. Co-founder Sergey Brin said the vehicle was stopped at a traffic light when it was rear-ended, the seventh or eighth occurrence of such a scenario per Brin.

Safety advocates want the company to release all records pertaining to the accidents so the public can know where each instance went wrong, a request reinforced by shareholder and Consumer Watchdog advocate John Simpson during the meeting. Brin gave a synopsis of each accident in response, adding Google would be open to giving more information, an action it has yet to take thus far.

The latest accident follows a disclosure made by Google in May, wherein 11 accidents involved its fleet of autonomous cars over a six-year period, with all accidents attributed to human error by the tech giant.

Meanwhile, Northern Virginia drivers may soon see Google’s autonomous cars on their way to work. Richmond Times-Dispatch says over 70 miles of highway on Interstates 95, 495 and 66, as well as U.S. 29 and U.S. 50, will become so-called Virginia Automated Corridors under the oversight of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The vehicles would be first certified for safety by VTTI at its Smart Road test track in Montgomery County, and at Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County prior to highway testing.

VTTI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Systems Director Myra Blanco says the aim of the program is for Virginia to show other states how to make testing of autonomous technologies easier, adding the program would “advance the technology and… attract companies and satellite offices in the Northern Virginia area to develop these new concepts.”

Testing is set to begin within a year, with the Center providing insurance and license plates for those companies looking to prove their concepts. The Virginia Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles are partners in the program.

[Image credit: Google]

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2016 Chevrolet Volt On Sale In California, Google, Apple Systems Coming This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-chevrolet-volt-on-sale-in-california-google-apple-systems-coming-this-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2016-chevrolet-volt-on-sale-in-california-google-apple-systems-coming-this-summer/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 20:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1077578 California consumers will be the first to buy the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which will have Google’s and Apple’s infotainment systems beginning this summer. The second-gen PHEV is available for ordering in California starting Thursday, Inside EVs reports, with deliveries set for August. Oregon and the Northeast will join in late August with delivery in early […]

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2016 Chevrolet Volt

California consumers will be the first to buy the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which will have Google’s and Apple’s infotainment systems beginning this summer.

The second-gen PHEV is available for ordering in California starting Thursday, Inside EVs reports, with deliveries set for August. Oregon and the Northeast will join in late August with delivery in early October, while the rest of the nation can put their orders in beginning October 1 for deliveries starting in November. Price of admission begins at $33,995 MSRP.

When those Volts are delivered, they will be among the first in Chevrolet’s lineup to have Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay systems, Autoblog notes. Joining the Volt will this summer will be the 2016 Cruze, Camaro, Spark and Malibu equipped with MyLink and seven-inch touchscreen. Overall, 14 2016 models will have the systems across all trims.

The decision to offer both systems came down to providing consumers choice, GM’s connected-vehicle experience chief Alicia Boler-Davis said, adding “no two customers are alike, and we cannot expect a single solution that works for every driver in every situation.”

The announcement follows Hyundai’s move to introduce Android Auto to the 2015 Sonata Tuesday, with CarPlay to follow later.

[Source: Chevrolet]

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2015 Hyundai Sonata First To Offer Android Auto Direct From Showroom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-hyundai-sonata-first-to-offer-android-auto-direct-from-showroom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-hyundai-sonata-first-to-offer-android-auto-direct-from-showroom/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 17:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075954 A year ago, Google introduced Android Auto to the world. Now, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the first to offer the system directly from the showroom floor. Those seeking to connect their Android smartphones to their Sonata must check-off the technology package available — featuring the 8-inch nav screen required for Android Auto — for […]

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2015 Hyundai Sonata Limited

A year ago, Google introduced Android Auto to the world. Now, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata is the first to offer the system directly from the showroom floor.

Those seeking to connect their Android smartphones to their Sonata must check-off the technology package available — featuring the 8-inch nav screen required for Android Auto — for most trims, Automotive News reports. Consumers who already have a 2015 Sonata with the 8-inch screen can visit their nearest dealership for a free software update to bring Google’s connected-vehicle system into the fold; an over-the-air update direct from Hyundai is also a possibility.

While the Sonata is first off the line with Android Auto already onboard, Pioneer has offered the system on the aftermarket since March. Quality control and difficulties in making the change on the assembly line midyear were among the reasons cited for the delay, according to Hyundai Motor America senior manager Carson Grover, who adds those who use Android Auto for the first time won’t ever want to stop:

Within not too many years, this could become almost a ubiquitous technology in the industry. We have a great opportunity by being early because it’ll be a differentiator for us for hopefully quite some time. I think customers will very quickly start to see the benefit and see the reason to seek out a vehicle with this technology.

The introduction will prove to be a boon for Google, as well, as Android Auto’s showroom introduction gives the tech giant the opportunity to seize some market share before Apple’s iOS-based CarPlay system enters showrooms later on, the Sonata among the models to receive the system.

Other automakers, such as Ford, General Motors, Honda and Volkswagen, will bring Android Auto into their respective offerings within the next year, among the dozens of automakers who have pledged to do so.

[Source: Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

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Urmson: Google Involved In 11 Autonomous-Vehicle Accidents Over Six Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/urmson-google-involved-11-autonomous-vehicle-accidents-six-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/urmson-google-involved-11-autonomous-vehicle-accidents-six-years/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066282 Yesterday, Google said it was involved in three recent autonomous-vehicle accidents on California’s roads. The tech giant since admitted to eight more. The 11 total accidents occurred over the six-year period Google has been working on autonomous technology with its fleet of over 20 vehicles, Reuters reports, though project director Chris Urmson adds that none […]

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Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

Yesterday, Google said it was involved in three recent autonomous-vehicle accidents on California’s roads. The tech giant since admitted to eight more.

The 11 total accidents occurred over the six-year period Google has been working on autonomous technology with its fleet of over 20 vehicles, Reuters reports, though project director Chris Urmson adds that none of them occurred with the vehicle in a proactive role.

Urmson said seven of the 11 reports involved rear-end collisions mainly on city streets at a traffic light, as well as a couple of instances where the vehicle was side-swiped, and one where a car rolled through a stop sign before striking one of Google’s cars.

The explanation comes as the tech giant and supplier Delphi were found to have been involved in four recent accidents involving autonomous vehicles since California granted such vehicles permission to test on public roads last September, the details of which were kept private due to the state’s reporting laws. Urmson says none of the accidents involved injury, with all vehicles receiving only minor damage from each incident.

[Photo credit: Google]

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Autonomous Vehicles Scrutinized Over Liability Amid ‘Minor’ Incidents http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065818 Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern. Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the […]

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World Premiere Freightliner Inspiration Truck

Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern.

Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the accidents happened while the cars drove themselves, while the other pair occurred while their human occupant was behind the wheel.

The vehicles in question belonged to Google and Delphi, with the former linked to three of the four accidents. Both companies claimed they were not at fault, and that the accidents were minor in scope. An employee with the California Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed two of the accidents happened in autonomous mode at speeds below 10 mph, but no other information could be given due to confidentiality laws regarding collision reports.

The accidents come as autonomous vehicles are under ongoing scrutiny over safety and responsibility for whatever does happen in a given accident. Down the road, such a vehicle – which may have no means to override an action in the future – may decide to sacrifice the lives of its occupants in order to protect everyone else, a scenario among others likely to hold back the technology overall, according to BMW sales boss Ian Robertson:

The technology will be held back by the ultimate moral question on who’s responsible. An algorithm will make a decision which might not be acceptable from a cultural or societal point of view.

The potential solution may place full responsibility upon the occupant/driver, following an amendment to the United Nations’ Vienna Convention on Road Traffic made last year allowing assisted driving so long as “such systems can be overridden or switched off by the driver.” The 1968 convention previously banned autonomous vehicles outright when it came into force 38 years ago, declaring all drivers to maintain control of their vehicles at all times.

[Photo credit: Freightliner]

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Marchionne May Marry FCA To Apple, Google If No Automaker Will http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/marchionne-may-marry-fca-apple-google-no-automaker-will/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/marchionne-may-marry-fca-apple-google-no-automaker-will/#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 16:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1056962 FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s search for a consolidation partner may take him to Silicon Valley if the automakers won’t give him the time of day. While making his pitch for consolidation during Wednesday’s Q1 2015 earnings call, Marchionne said dialogue about a possible partnership with Apple or Google if he couldn’t pair FCA off with […]

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Apple Logo Circa 2005

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne’s search for a consolidation partner may take him to Silicon Valley if the automakers won’t give him the time of day.

While making his pitch for consolidation during Wednesday’s Q1 2015 earnings call, Marchionne said dialogue about a possible partnership with Apple or Google if he couldn’t pair FCA off with another automaker should be encouraged, Bloomberg reports.

His reasoning?

I’ve always been intrigued by the notion of having technology disruptors show up in the marketplace and change the paradigm. If they show up and they are truly successful, with their cash piles and know-how, they could fundamentally hurt this industry.

At present, FCA already has an established relationship with Apple, with the tech giant’s Internet software and services boss Eddy Cue having a seat on Ferrari’s board, and CFO Luca Maestri having several years of experience in the automotive industry, including helming General Motors’ relationship with Fiat between 2000 and 2005.

On the other end, Apple is hard at work on an EV, with production set for 2020 unless the execs aren’t happy with progress. The company’s shareholders also would like Apple to pair-off with Tesla — the most recent urging occurring last month — though CEO Tim Cook only stated that the Californian automaker would use his company’s CarPlay connected-vehicle system.

As far as FCA and Apple heading down to the chapel is concerned, no one at the latter offered any comment to Marchionne’s proposal. With the company having just purchased Beats for $3 billion last year and divesting itself of in-house production of its physical offerings, a deal between it and any automaker, let alone FCA, isn’t likely at this time.

[Photo credit: Christopher Aloi/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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Study: Samsung Rivals Apple Among Auto-Related Patent Holdings http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/study-samsung-rivals-apple-among-auto-related-patent-holdings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/study-samsung-rivals-apple-among-auto-related-patent-holdings/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020385 Just like the ongoing fight between the two titans in the smartphone space, Samsung is Apple’s main rival in the auto industry. According to Autoblog, a study by Thomson Reuters looked over 4,761 auto-related patents filed among Google, Samsung, Tesla and Uber between 1990 and 2014 to compare where Apple stands among them in the […]

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2014 Samsung-Exide BMW M3 DTM at Brands Hatch

Just like the ongoing fight between the two titans in the smartphone space, Samsung is Apple’s main rival in the auto industry.

According to Autoblog, a study by Thomson Reuters looked over 4,761 auto-related patents filed among Google, Samsung, Tesla and Uber between 1990 and 2014 to compare where Apple stands among them in the patent wars. While all have rapidly increased those filings as of late, Samsung is firing full batteries of patents; 600 patents alone were filed in 2014.

Between Samsung and Apple, the differences were stark: the former filed 3,094 over the quarter-century, with more recent patents focused on battery and fuel-cell technology, while Apple held just 275, most of which relate to connected-vehicle technology. That said, the company spent the 1990s rebuilding itself from the clone wars through candy-colored computers, followed by the iPhone-led silver future of the mid-2000s through the present; the auto industry was likely not a primary focus for the late Steve Jobs or his successor Tim Cook.

Thomson Reuters suggests in its study that one way for Apple to better compete in the auto industry — whether it builds a car or not — is to buy Tesla, whose collection of battery patents would compliment the tech giant’s device integration and connected-vehicle patents. The group adds that such a merger would put the duo on par with Google in the patent wars.

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Google Introduces Comparison Tool For Auto Insurance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/google-introduces-comparison-tool-auto-insurance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/google-introduces-comparison-tool-auto-insurance/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020121 Shopping around for an auto insurance policy? Google has a comparison tool that might just help you find what you seek. TechCrunch reports the tool, Google Compare for Auto Insurance, allows consumers to compare rates either directly through the tool or via a questionnaire that pops up upon entering the words “car insurance” in Google’s […]

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Google Compare for Auto Insurance

Shopping around for an auto insurance policy? Google has a comparison tool that might just help you find what you seek.

TechCrunch reports the tool, Google Compare for Auto Insurance, allows consumers to compare rates either directly through the tool or via a questionnaire that pops up upon entering the words “car insurance” in Google’s search engine. Either method asks for the consumer’s zip code and information about their car, then compares up to 14 quotes from Google’s insurance partners like Mercury Insurance, MetLife and Stillwater Insurance Group; insurance giants like Progressive, State Farm and GEICO have declined to work with the tech giant on this project thus far.

Said partners become involved through a flexible cost-per-acquisition scheme, with Google adding that partner ranking and eligibility aren’t based on payment. The tech giant says its partners can use the service to set themselves apart from the others by mentioning what features make one partner different from the rest.

For now, the tool is limited to California residents, with other states to join in later this year per Google. Further down the road, however, the company could use the information gathered from how its partners price a given risk to enter the insurance game as an underwriter, possibly pairing its offerings with its autonomous car.

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Lincoln ‘Dares Greater’ Than Cadillac In Google SEO Game http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lincoln-dares-greater-cadillac-google-seo-game/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/lincoln-dares-greater-cadillac-google-seo-game/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1007698 Oscar viewers who are seeking on Google the Cadillac that “dared greatly” are suddenly hearing Matthew McConaughey’s voice, thanks to Lincoln’s SEO skills. Autoblog reports the first instance of Lincoln’s slogan hijacking appeared less than 24 hours after Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” adverts aired during the 87th Academy Awards. As seen above, those wanting to know […]

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Lincoln Dares Greater Than Cadillac In The SEO Game

Oscar viewers who are seeking on Google the Cadillac that “dared greatly” are suddenly hearing Matthew McConaughey’s voice, thanks to Lincoln’s SEO skills.

Autoblog reports the first instance of Lincoln’s slogan hijacking appeared less than 24 hours after Cadillac’s “Dare Greatly” adverts aired during the 87th Academy Awards. As seen above, those wanting to know more about Cadillac — and about that mysterious car making a brief appearance in a separate Oscars advert — will find a sponsored link for the brand at the top, followed by Lincoln’s version of the truth in second.

Originally, the second sponsored link — which read, “Dare Greatly – It’s not about making a statement, it’s about doing what you love” — directed consumers to Lincoln’s homepage, greeting them with the sight of the 2015 MKZ Hybrid. Since then, the link directs to the same page, but the image is that of the 2015 MKC. The link’s slogan, meanwhile, changes with every search; for this author, it currently reads, “You don’t have to make a statement when you know who you are,” likely a swipe at brand president Johan de Nysschen’s and brand director Melody Lee’s ambitions and aspirations for Cadillac.

As for the Oscars campaign, AutoTrader said that searches for Cadillac jumped 53 percent within an hour after the first advert aired.

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Zetsche: Google Better Off As Supplier Than As Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/zetsche-google-better-off-supplier-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/zetsche-google-better-off-supplier-automaker/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002106 Google may have the right stuff to shake up the auto industry, but Dr. Z doesn’t believe the tech giant will ever be an automaker in its own right. Reuters reports Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche said as much in a meeting with analysts last week, when he suggested Google focus its energy on learning […]

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Google may have the right stuff to shake up the auto industry, but Dr. Z doesn’t believe the tech giant will ever be an automaker in its own right.

Reuters reports Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche said as much in a meeting with analysts last week, when he suggested Google focus its energy on learning how cars are used instead of entering the industry as an automaker itself.

Meanwhile, he also continued to press his concerns about data privacy, in light of automakers and tech companies growing closer together as vehicles become more connected to the Internet:

When we talk about high safety with Mercedes, it does not apply specifically for protection from accidents, but this means safety of their personal data as well. To be able to provide that, we have to keep control, and we can’t do that when it is collected by Google.

Daimler plans to control data reported by its cars, protecting it from autonomous and connected vehicles alike.

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Apple Rumored At Work On Titan EV Project http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/apple-rumored-work-titan-ev-project/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/apple-rumored-work-titan-ev-project/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1002074 Not about to let Google or Tesla tackle the automotive space without competition, Apple is rumored to be entering the game with its own EV project. Autoblog reports the project, dubbed Project Titan, is an EV resembling a minivan, and has several hundred Apple employees working to make the vehicle a reality. Vice president of […]

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SONY DSC

Not about to let Google or Tesla tackle the automotive space without competition, Apple is rumored to be entering the game with its own EV project.

Autoblog reports the project, dubbed Project Titan, is an EV resembling a minivan, and has several hundred Apple employees working to make the vehicle a reality. Vice president of product design and former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky is said to be leading the project, while director of Mac systems engineering and former Mercedes-Benz R&D chief Johann Jungwirth is contributing his knowledge. Austrian supplier Magna Steyr has also been tapped by Apple execs to help guide the project along.

News of the rumored EV comes amid other rumors regarding the company’s poaching missions to Tesla — who allegedly have done the same to Apple in return — as well its desire to enter the autonomous vehicle market to one-up Google down the road.

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GM, Harman Delivering Android-Equipped Vehicles By Late 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-harman-delivering-android-equipped-vehicles-late-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-harman-delivering-android-equipped-vehicles-late-2016/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940961 Remember how the heads of Volkswagen and Daimler were urging their fellow automakers not to drink so much Google Kool-Aid? General Motors thinks the punch isn’t spiked at all, pressing forward with a plan to bring Android into its brand portfolio by late 2016. Automotive News reports supplier Harman International will be the one to […]

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Chevrolet MyLink

Remember how the heads of Volkswagen and Daimler were urging their fellow automakers not to drink so much Google Kool-Aid? General Motors thinks the punch isn’t spiked at all, pressing forward with a plan to bring Android into its brand portfolio by late 2016.

Automotive News reports supplier Harman International will be the one to supply the new connected-vehicle system to GM, having won a $900 million contract in 2012 for the right to do so. CEO Dinesh Paliwal explains what’s in store for consumers when they sit behind the wheel of an Android-powered vehicle:

As you would expect, this next-generation infotainment solution will enable an app store, which allows this infotainment system to stay technologically relevant over the life cycle of the vehicle. Apps will be developed by General Motors, Harman and a bunch of other third parties, not just Google and Apple.

Harman, a member of the Open Automotive Alliance, will also make their system available to other automakers, so long as they don’t mind being “one life cycle behind” GM, who would be the first to use the system.

As for where in the lineup the first Harman/Android units will turn up, Paliwal didn’t say. At present, though, it may be a while before full assimilation occurs; within Chevrolet alone, QNX, Linux and Microsoft rule the day in vehicles like the Malibu, Impala and Sonic.

Meanwhile, GM hasn’t commented on Paliwal’s announcement. The automaker had planned to roll-out a service called AppShop, announced during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, only to bail this summer when the service failed to meet consumer expectations.

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Daimler, Volkswagen Urge Independence From Google Data Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/daimler-volkswagen-urge-independence-google-data-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/daimler-volkswagen-urge-independence-google-data-platform/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939705 Google knows what you’re thinking. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.” Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG aren’t too thrilled with this electric eye’s […]

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Google-Android-KitKat

Google knows what you’re thinking. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.”

Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG aren’t too thrilled with this electric eye’s ability, urging its fellow automakers to develop automotive data platforms that would secure sensitive customer information from the Mountain View, Calif. tech giant.

According to Bloomberg, VW boss Martin Winterkorn says that while his company seeks a connection with Google’s data systems, it still wants to have dominion over its own vehicles, citing “potential conflict” rising from making consumer data available to Google. Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche stated similar concerns with Google:

Google tries to accompany people throughout their day, to generate data and then use that data for economic gain. It’s at that point where a conflict with Google seems pre-programmed. That’s where we need to negotiate.

Zetsche also found the discussion of in-house data systems among automakers like his company and Volkswagen encouraging, proclaiming the move would maintain independence against the rising tide of “third parties,” such as Google’s Android Auto, Apple’s CarPlay and BlackBerry’s QNX OS, as it would “boost” Daimler’s position “when working with Google.”

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Google’s Autonomous Car Drives Sans Passenger, Hides Behind Security http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927994 Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard. According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, […]

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Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard.

According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, but were ushered aside by security so as no hard evidence of testing could be posted online.

As for why the commuter pod was tooling around with no soul to keep tabs on its progress, a likely idea, according to writer Mark Rogowsky, is an autonomous taxi being used by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft whenever the car’s owner isn’t using it. A report by Morgan Stanley cited by Rogowsky states that a car is used for only 52 minutes per day, sitting idle the rest of the time. Were a vehicle to be put into service by a TNC, it would see more road time, providing more transportation options in so doing.

Though Google isn’t in a rush to bring a product online tomorrow, automakers like General Motors, Mercedes and Tesla will press ahead with partial-autonomy tech, which could arrive as soon as 2016. Meanwhile, the main piece in the puzzle — a 360-degree laser — continues to fall in price, recently dropping from $85,000 to $7,999. Rogowsky believes another 80 percent to 90 percent price cut will come in the near-future, helping to reduce the overall cost of autonomy.

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A Sober Second Look At Self-Driving Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/sober-second-look-self-driving-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/sober-second-look-self-driving-cars/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:45:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903346 While TTAC‘s Mike Smitka published an essay urging readers to reign in their expectations regarding autonomous cars, a new report by MIT’s Technology Review pours even more cold water on the utopian fantasies of those waiting for the day when humans are no longer in control of the automobile. While the full text is available at MIT, the […]

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While TTAC‘s Mike Smitka published an essay urging readers to reign in their expectations regarding autonomous cars, a new report by MIT’s Technology Review pours even more cold water on the utopian fantasies of those waiting for the day when humans are no longer in control of the automobile.

While the full text is available at MIT, the American Enterprise Institute summarized the obstacles faced by autonomous cars in a series of handy bullet points

  • The self-driving car can’t drive itself in 99% of the country.
  • It knows almost nothing about parking, and can’t be taken out in snow or heavy rain.
  • If a new stoplight appeared overnight, the car wouldn’t know to obey it.
  • Google’s cars can detect and respond to stop signs that aren’t on its map, but at an unmapped intersection stop sign the car wouldn’t know what to do after it had stopped, and would probably remain stationary until a human driver intervened.
  • The car hasn’t yet tackled big, open parking lots or multilevel garages.
  • The car’s video cameras detect the color of a traffic light, and they’re still working to prevent them from being blinded when the sun is directly behind a light.
  • Pedestrians are detected just as moving, column-shaped blurs of pixels—meaning that the car wouldn’t be able to spot a police officer at the side of the road frantically waving for traffic to stop.
  • The car’s sensors can’t tell if a road obstacle is a rock or a crumpled piece of paper, so the car will try to drive around either. The car also can’t detect potholes or spot an uncovered manhole if it isn’t coned off.

Given all of the breathless hype regarding the technology, and Google’s introduction of their own prototype, sans pedals and steering wheel, it helps to have a contrarian viewpoint to dampen some of the exuberant enthusiasm professed by many who are better versed in the tech side of things, without understanding the unique subtleties of the auto world.

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Google Wanted Autonomous Vehicle Driver Interventions Kept Quiet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/google-wanted-autonomous-vehicle-driver-interventions-kept-quiet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/google-wanted-autonomous-vehicle-driver-interventions-kept-quiet/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899122 In the entire time Google has been working on delivering an autonomous future upon the driving populace, only one accident was reported, and was caused by human error. That said, the tech giant would prefer you not to know that or of any similar future incidents. Through a FOIA request, Quartz reports Google lobbied California’s […]

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1024px-Jurvetson_Google_driverless_car_trimmed

In the entire time Google has been working on delivering an autonomous future upon the driving populace, only one accident was reported, and was caused by human error. That said, the tech giant would prefer you not to know that or of any similar future incidents.

Through a FOIA request, Quartz reports Google lobbied California’s state government for amendments to traffic safety legislation that would, in the words of the company’s director of safety Ron Medford, “limit required reporting to accidents involving vehicles operated in autonomous mode.” The company also wanted language removed that obligated it to report “disengagements” — when the car returns control to the driver — to the government, citing lack of relevance regarding vehicle safety.

Though the state’s DMV wants this data for future driver testing when the day of the autonomous vehicle comes, Medford claimed the reporting would create “a significant burden on manufacturers” and the DMV, especially since the agency did not have “the engineering expertise to interpret the data.”

Other concerns Google wanted the state legislature to address included the fear of trade secrets going public — and to its rivals — as well as the possibility for test drivers to simply leave all of the driving to the car than to disengage even once. The company found support from General Motors, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, all wondering what the fuss was about regarding autonomous vehicle testing and reporting obligations.

The California DMV did excuse manufacturers from reporting every disengagement — only those linked to safety reasons will now be reported to the agency — but did want everything else related to autonomous driving. Google, for its part, was disappointed “that the vast majority” of its comments were ignored.

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Former Ford CEO Mulally Joins Google’s Board Of Directors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/former-ford-ceo-mulally-joins-googles-board-of-directors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/former-ford-ceo-mulally-joins-googles-board-of-directors/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867202 Once thought to be the possible next CEO of Microsoft after his time as CEO of Ford drew to a close, Alan Mulally has instead turned up in Mountain View, Calif. as Google’s newest board member. Autoblog reports Mulally was appointed to the tech company’s board of directors July 9, and began serving on its […]

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Alan Mullaly

Once thought to be the possible next CEO of Microsoft after his time as CEO of Ford drew to a close, Alan Mulally has instead turned up in Mountain View, Calif. as Google’s newest board member.

Autoblog reports Mulally was appointed to the tech company’s board of directors July 9, and began serving on its audit committee Tuesday. CEO Larry Page was thrilled to have the former Ford CEO on board, citing Mulally’s “wealth of proven business and technology leadership experience.” Mulally himself had this to say:

I am honored to serve on the board of a global iconic company that is dedicated to enhancing our lives. I look forward to working together with the Google board and management team to continue to deliver their compelling vision.

Mulally’s presence will likely lend more street cred as far as Google’s foray into autonomous vehicles is concerned; it’s rumored Google hired Roush — known mostly for NASCAR and tuned Mustangs — to build 100 of Google’s autonomous prototypes for testing.

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Don’t Drink the Google Kool-aid: Autonomy’s Limits in Three Sips http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dont-drink-the-google-kool-aid-autonomys-limits-in-three-sips/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dont-drink-the-google-kool-aid-autonomys-limits-in-three-sips/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:30:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865633 Please welcome TTAC’s newest contributor, Professor Mike Smitka. Mr. Smitka teaches a course on the Economics of the Auto Industry at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and is regarded as an authority on the automotive world. He also makes time to read and comment on TTAC. Google’s senior executives are busily touting the wonders […]

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Please welcome TTAC’s newest contributor, Professor Mike Smitka. Mr. Smitka teaches a course on the Economics of the Auto Industry at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia and is regarded as an authority on the automotive world. He also makes time to read and comment on TTAC.

Google’s senior executives are busily touting the wonders of autonomous vehicles. There’s the technological marvel, at least in the eyes of Silicon Valley. There are the economic benefits – no more congestion, no more accidents. Wonder of wonders! – and great for the Google empire, and for its stock price.

The Google PR machine is a marvel to behold, and the gullibility of the audience – well, it’s Google! They have the wherewithal to launch a concept car, or rather 100 copies of one, with footage [er, a few megabytes?] of a blind man and a child in what would normally be the driver’s seat. But is their technical contribution really that big? Will economic benefits be as great as they claim? Indeed, will Google even be a player in future vehicle technologies? Their PR machine is not paid to probe such issues, much less point out that alternative technologies may bring the core benefits more quickly and at a modest cost. Oh, and without generating a penny of revenue for Google…

First, the core innovations necessary for an autonomous vehicle are already on the road, the result of decades-long engineering efforts alongside which Google’s investment and expertise pale in comparison. Go back 20-odd years and Delphi (then still a part of GM) was already mapping the creation of a “cocoon” that would protect the driver. Blindspot detection, lane departure warnings, backup “assist” (shh, don’t call it a safety feature, there might be lawyers around) and adaptive cruise control were all part of their vision. They’d acquired Hughes Aircraft [which eventually morphed into DirectTV] to get the engineers needed to start migrating military radar and control technology into cars. Over time the electromechanical enablers went from dreams to practical (if not always affordable) devices. First came electrically-activated brakes (and eventually electronic stability systems), then E-steer, and all sorts of engine and transmission controls, radar systems on a single circuit board, vision systems. Delphi’s dream is now a reality.

Again, these have been on the road for years, though some in numbers too small to affect overall safety or congestion. All these systems are falling in price. So we don’t have to await an entirely new generation of vehicles to begin reaping the benefits. Crucial to Google’s vision is that these are all partial solutions. But once adaptive cruise control is pervasive, will what Google offers will be more than a marginal improvement, with (Google hopes!) a non-marginal jump in the price tag?

So it is not obvious to me that Google will have any role in vehicles short of full autonomy – after all, their presence has not been needed for these existing tools! Nor will car companies be eager to jump into bed with Google. Quite the opposite – the industry has a long history of breaking up systems into smaller pieces and mandating licensing so as to avoid dependence on any single supplier. It’s not that Google’s role won’t be appreciated; their roadmap has already got regulators thinking in a more integrated way about this panoply of new vehicle technologies. That’s not a trivial contribution, but it’s not going to boost their stock multiple.

Second, Google’s is not the only approach. In particular, connected vehicle technologies promise most of the benefits at a far lower price point and with a faster rollout. Such systems are inexpensive because they can use the copious computing power already in car, while the hardware consists of inexpensive RFID transponders. The pieces of such systems are now being tested on the road, with a large test facility, the Michigan Mobility Transformation Center – an artificial cityscape – under construction in Ann Arbor, adjacent to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Such systems don’t require the manifold sensors of an autonomous vehicle. Indeed the core components could be sold as an aftermarket item, albeit with lower functionality. Such connectivity could be rolled out in the course of years.

In contrast autonomy will require decades. Yes, Nissan is talking about having their first autonomous vehicle on the road as early as 2018, regulators permitting; more realistically, we’ll start seeing “real” vehicles from 2020, given the lead time for vehicle development when new systems are involved. (It’s not just that the hardware and software have to be integrated into existing vehicles, it’s also that test procedures need to be developed for both the hardware and the software.) By 2025 the industry will have enough vehicle-years of experience to address regulatory fears and start the path to consumer acceptance. (In the background, the industry will need to coalesce around how to implement such systems; SAE standard-setting committees will be very busy!) Then production capacity has to be ramped up – global vehicle production by that point will be over 100 million units a years. So that’s another 10 years, bringing us to 2035. And then the fleet must turn over; with the average age of vehicles now over 11 years and rising, that will mean another decade for half of all vehicles to be autonomous. We’re thus looking at 2045 and beyond. In contrast, a combination of aftermarket and designed-in RFID systems could be on every vehicle by 2025, offering varying levels of collision avoidance and traffic flow smoothing.

Third and finally, what will be the benefits? Google likes to trumpet the elimination of accidents and the end of congestion. Perhaps. The trucking industry stands to benefit, though again this will be incremental to what is already on the road (truck trains are already running in Europe). However, if you’re in LA or Beijing, well, the restructuring of where people on average live versus where they work will take decades. Furthermore, to the extent adaptive cruise control speeds traffic, the initial impact will be to make longer commutes along major arteries more attractive, so that these roads will have to carry every more cars. Folks, congestion is here to stay.

In the meantime, a household will still need a vehicle (or two!) for commuting, so we won’t be able to get rid of all those cars. Nor will autonomous vehicles be so inexpensive that suburbanites will have one for the daily drive and another for kids and yardwork, else battery electric vehicles would already be the dominant vehicle on the Beltway around DC.

Yes, accidents will fall. Perhaps in some distant utopia we’ll no longer need airbags or crumple zones. Will connected vehicles deliver all these benefits? No. In particular, aftermarket devices could only offer warnings, not take over steering and braking. But they’ll come close, and at a price point and with a time horizon quite different from the drink Google wants us to imbibe.

Mike Smitka is an economist at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He’s been a judge of the Automotive News PACE supplier innovation awards since they began in 1994. His household’s vehicles are a 2014 Chevy Cruze, a 2013 Honda CR-V and a 1988 Chevy pickup. Find his auto industry course at Econ 244; he also blogs at Autos and Economics

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Today’s Must Read: Google Doesn’t Get Us http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/todays-must-read-google-doesnt-get-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/todays-must-read-google-doesnt-get-us/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:02:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862369 In the absence of While You Were Sleeping, I’d like to open up the floor to discussion on this spectacular piece from Jalopnik‘s Damon Lavrinc, titled Google Co-Founder ​Sergey Brin Doesn’t Understand Us And Never Will. Lavrinc lays out the case that Brin and his ilk see not just cars, but car ownership is inefficient, wasteful, and dangerous. […]

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In the absence of While You Were Sleeping, I’d like to open up the floor to discussion on this spectacular piece from Jalopnik‘s Damon Lavrinc, titled Google Co-Founder ​Sergey Brin Doesn’t Understand Us And Never Will.

Lavrinc lays out the case that Brin and his ilk see

not just cars, but car ownership is inefficient, wasteful, and dangerous. They take up too much space, use too many resources, and, listening to Brin, are an unconscionable blight on society…Brin looks at the world through an engineer’s lens. It’s binary: good versus bad, progress versus stagnation. The idea that someone would derive any amount of pleasure from the act of driving is completely antithetical to the society Brin envisions. Add in the fact that he’s also the protagonist in a world of his own creation, worth $30 billion, and nestled safely inside the Silicon Valley hive mind, and – with the right (Google) glasses – you can see where he’s coming from. Until you can’t.

 

Lavrinc describes this vision as “divorced from reality”, and rightfully so. I personally abhor this mindset for a whole host of reasons, whether it’s because I don’t want an engineer in Silicon Valley deciding to reshape my access to mobility in their pseudo-utopian image, or that Brin stands to profit handsomely from a plan that would engender the obsolescence of one of my favorite hobbys.

Most of all, I resent the mindset that every facet of life must be optimized, engineered or worse “disrupted”. A world like this leaves no room for spontaneity or idiosyncrasy, two of the imperfections that add so much joy to life. But I understand that this is the way the world is going – and if I faced a long, arduous commute, I’d probably have a different opinion.

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