GM's Cruise Asks White House to Dissolve AV Testing Restrictions

General Motors has a long and illustrious history of receiving government favors, with 2021 likely to continue the trend. Having recently seen its request to have federal EV tax credits reset approved by the Senate Finance Committee, GM-owned Cruise is now seeking to double down by asking regulators to scale back restrictions on autonomous vehicle testing. With practically every automaker simultaneously requesting government hookups on a weekly basis, it’s hardly surprising to see this.

What is unique is the rationales given for government help and it’s often the only way to measure their merit. While most claims tend to boil down to “ we need more money,” Cruise wants regulators to get out of the way so the United States can become more competitive against China’s AV programs and is hardly the first company to make such a suggestion.

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Cruise AV Company Raises $2.75 Billion in Latest Funding Round

General Motors backed autonomous vehicle startup Cruise has reportedly scored $2.75 billion from its last round of funding, with Walmart again taking a particular interest in the company. The multinational retail corporation previously participated in a pilot program where Arizona-based shoppers could call upon a Cruise AV to have their groceries delivered. While just one of several autonomous programs Walmart is involved with, the relationship with Cruise must be in fairly good shape to throw that kind of money into a business that seems to have missed more deadlines than it has kept — even if that does seem to be the trend for AV startups.

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Uber Safety Driver Charged With Negligent Homicide in Arizona Test Incident

The Uber test vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, has been under public scrutiny since March of 2018. But we never heard a lot about the safety driver behind the wheel. So much attention was given to addressing whether or not the autonomous systems on the SUV should or could have seen Elaine Herzberg — and stopped the car before the tragedy occurred — that it became the overriding narrative.

But it really shouldn’t have, as some of the earliest video footage appeared to show that Uber’s safety operator had entirely tuned out of the driving experience in the moments leading up to the incident. Fortunately, Maricopa County Superior Court and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were keeping tabs while the rest of us were not. In fact, the former decided to charge Rafael Vasquez (who also goes by Rafaela) with negligent homicide late last month.

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BMW Looks to Shed About 6,000 Positions, Ends AV Partnership With Mercedes

Bavaria-based BMW says it aims to cut roughly 6,000 positions from its lineup on account of coronavirus complications. Times are tough and the manufacturer needs to tighten its belt, just like many of its peers.

The alley-oop that precedes the slam dunking of these jobs into the wastebasket will be tempting retirement packages for those of a certain age. But BMW also said it is interested in offering younger people financial assistance for full-time higher education with a guarantee of a job when they’re done — offering some amount of hope.

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Ford Loosens Purse Strings, Showers Michigan With Cash

The $6 billion in funding promised in Ford Motor Company’s new four-year labor contract is starting to be seen and heard. Having secured a walletful of incentives from the state of Michigan, Ford is now promising about $1.45 billion and 3,000 new jobs for the Southeast Michigan area.

Ford’s cash dump, announced Tuesday, will flow into three facilities in the area, one of which doesn’t yet exist.

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Self-Driving Cars Still Not Scratching Public in the Right Places

Every few months, the American Automobile Association gives us an update on the public’s feelings toward autonomous vehicles. Its surveys continue to place the number of individuals made uncomfortable by the idea of riding in a self-driving car at around 3 in 4.

While the ratio did come down slightly in 2017, high-profile fatalities involving autonomous (or Autopilot-enabled) vehicles in Florida, California, and Arizona ultimately took the number of fearful motorists back up to 78 percent by the start of 2018. For 2019, AAA said 71 percent of survey respondents still had serious trepidation, with only 19 percent claiming they’d even consider putting a loved one into a self-driving vehicle.

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In Wake of Crashes, Public Confidence in Self-driving Cars Pulls a U-Turn

Following a Wild West-like expansion in autonomous vehicle testing, coupled with years of rosy predictions from automakers and Silicon Valley types, the public seemed ready to embrace self-driving cars with open arms.

Opinion polls showed significant distrust in the technology, but least among young adults, the idea of self-driving cars remained a popular one. That’s changed, apparently.

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QOTD: Are These Crazy Canucks Onto Something?

A great number of us here at TTAC distrust autonomous vehicles, the predictions surrounding them, and — for reasons that become clearer with every reported mishap — most of the companies peddling this technology as a way of making our roads death- and traffic-free about 48 minutes from now. Or is it two years? These predictions come and go.

If we’ve learned anything recently, it’s that some companies place greater trust in their fledgling technology than they should, and that citizens would be right to take their forward-thinking claims with a heaping of salt.

An interesting poll just emerged from the snowy wastes of Canada, one that fills this author with a newfound trust in his [s]countrymen[/s] countrypeople. Depending on where you live, you either can’t wait for the autonomous revolution, or you don’t trust it at all. Apparently, no country is more skeptical than Canada.

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  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.