Dan Ammann, Cruising Man; GM Prez Sent to Autonomous Group
Even though GM is no longer serious about the Cruze, it appears to be very serious about Cruise. For those with short memories, Cruise Automation is The General’s unit that focuses on autonomous cars.
News has broken that current GM president Dan Ammann will take over as CEO of Cruise, pushing aside current CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt, who’s booted down the ladder to Chief Technology Officer. All this is expected to take place on January 1st, 2019.
Tesla and NTSB Squabble Over Crash; America Tries to Figure Out How to Market 'Mobility' Responsibly
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is currently investigating last month’s fatal crash involving Tesla’s Autopilot system, has removed the electric automaker from the case after it improperly disclosed details of the investigation.
Since nothing can ever be simple, Tesla Motors claims it left the investigation voluntarily. It also accused the NTSB of violating its own rules and placing an emphasis on getting headlines, rather than promoting safety and allowing the brand to provide information to the public. Tesla said it plans to make an official complaint to Congress on the matter.
The fallout came after the automaker disclosed what the NTSB considered to be investigative information before it was vetted and confirmed by the investigative team. On March 30th, Tesla issued a release stating the driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning before the accident. It also outlined items it believed attributed to the brutality of the crash and appeared to attribute blame to the vehicle’s operator. The NTSB claims any release of incomplete information runs the risk of promoting speculation and incorrect assumptions about the probable cause of a crash, doing a “disservice to the investigative process and the traveling public.”
Driving Aids Allow Motorists to Tune Out, NTSB Wants Automakers to Fix It
Driving aids are touted as next-level safety tech, but they’re also a bit of a double-edged sword. While accident avoidance technology can apply the brakes before you’ve even thought of it, mitigate your following distance, and keep your car in the appropriate lane, it also lulls you into a false sense of security.
Numerous members of the our staff have experienced this first hand, including yours truly. The incident usually plays out a few minutes after testing adaptive cruise control or lane assist. Things are progressing smoothly, then someone moves into your lane and the car goes into crisis mode — causing you to ruin your undergarments. You don’t even have to be caught off guard for it to be a jarring experience, and it’s not difficult to imagine an inexperienced, inattentive, or easily panicked driver making the situation much worse.
Lane keeping also has its foibles. Confusing road markings or snowy road conditions can really throw it for a loop. But the problem is its entire existence serves to allow motorists to take a more passive role while driving. So what happens when it fails to function properly? In ideal circumstances, you endure a moderate scare before taking more direct command of your vehicle. But, in a worst case scenario, you just went off road or collided with an object at highway speeds.
Autonomous Features Are Making Everyone a Worse Driver
Autonomous vehicles are about as polarizing a subject as you could possibly bring up around a group of car enthusiasts. Plenty of gearheads get hot under the collar at the mere concept of a self-driving car. Meanwhile, automotive tech fetishists cannot wait to plant their — I’m assuming — khaki Chinos into the seat of an autonomous vehicle and enjoy a coffee without the hindrance of having to actually drive the thing to their destination.
I’ve previously discussed how autonomous cabs will become unparalleled filth-boxes, destined for salacious behavior. Because without driver oversight, why not sneeze into your hand and wipe it on the seat back? Now, surveys are beginning to indicate privately owned computer-controlled cars will be subject to similar activities — with some drivers suggesting they’ll have no qualms about having sex, drinking booze, or binge eating behind the wheel.
That’s the future we’re being promised, but a lot of autonomous features have already made it into modern production cars. Word is, they’re starting to make us terrible drivers. It’s enough to worry automakers to a point where they’re considering implementing an array of systems to more actively encourage driver involvement on a platform that’s designed to do the opposite.
Get ready to drive your self-driving car.
Toyota's Futuristic Concept-i is the Best Friend You'll Never Have
Yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota debuted its Concept-i — an adorable and attentive little cutie pie of a self-driving car.
While it’s too impressive to make it to production anytime remotely soon — especially since Toyota recently disavowed impending autonomy — it’s sweet to see a company embracing fun as a central design concept. It’s a major departure from the super-serious, steering-wheel-absent “driving solutions” hypothesized by other manufacturers. The Concept-i works with drivers, keeping traditional driving controls and offering a “chauffeur mode” when you’re not interested in using them.
That Fleet of Robot Pacificas is Ready to Roll, Possibly On a Street Near You
Google’s recently rebranded autonomous vehicle project, Waymo, and Fiat Chyrlser Automobiles have been working together on developing self-driving minivans since the summer. Half a year in, the two companies have announced the production of 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids with complete self-driving capabilities.
As you read this, the modified vans are being outfitted with Google-designed sensors and software, almost ready for the road.
Uber Informed the California DMV Its Rules Don't Apply to Their Cars
Uber Technologies Inc. have again ignored mandates from California regulators that the ride-services firm must apply for a permit to test self-driving cars, setting the table for a potential legal battle. Uber’s grounds for refusing to apply are that the autonomous vehicles are not quite self-reliant enough to warrant the paperwork.
Unveiled to the public on Wednesday, the company’s self-driving cars faced immediate criticism in San Francisco after news broke that one had breezed through a red light and another almost caused an accident. The general denunciation forced the California Department of Motor Vehicles to notify Uber to cease operations, to which it responded with a frank “no.”
Self-Driving Uber Car Filmed Running a Red; California Shuts Down Pilot Program
Uber proudly released a fleet of eleven driverless Volvos onto the streets of San Francisco Wednesday morning and one or two immediately started running amok. One person tweeted about seeing a self-driving vehicle nearly hitting another car, while another posted a video showing an autonomous tech-equipped XC90 breezing through a red light and active pedestrian cross-walk.
Before the end of the program’s first day, people were clamoring for Uber to explain the incidents and the California Department of Motor Vehicles had sent the ride-hailing company a cease and desist letter for operating without a permit.
No Driver? No Problem: Michigan Just Legalized Autonomous Cars on Public Roads
Vehicles without steering wheels, brake pedals, or even drivers are now allowed to operate on public roads in Michigan.
Today, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of auto industry-backed legislation that permits automakers and technology companies to develop, test and even sell autonomous vehicles in the Mitten State. The policy even enables autonomous ride-hailing services, provided that the vehicles have undergone certification.
Michigan is now the wild frontier for self-aware cars.
No Car Will Be the New Apple Car
After numerous rumored postponements to the vehicle’s intended release, repeated strategy disagreements, large-scale layoffs, and the loss of key team members assigned to the self-driving vehicle project, it appears that Apple is scrapping the idea of building a car entirely.
According to Bloomberg, hundreds of members of Apple’s Project Titan have been laid off, reassigned to other projects, or have outright quit over the last few months. As a result, the initiative has been embarrassingly “refocused” once again.
Marchionne to Apple: Pick Me! Pick Me!
It seems Sergio Marchionne may be switching teams when it comes to shacking up with another company to build cars of the future, reports Bloomberg.
At the Geneva International Motor Show, the self-confessed Apple geek said that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be well-suited to contract build a car designed in California.
“I would assume that we have the credibility to be one of the players they have looked at,” Marchionne said in Geneva. “There are parts of us that would be interesting for them.”
Breaking the Law Is Safer When Everyone Else Is Breaking It
Google. While breaking privacy laws seems to be their global sport of choice, they sure do stick to the letter of the law when their autonomous cars are perusing American roads.
Oddly, that’s a problem according to the New York Times, because the rest of us operate our automobiles in a legal gray area, bending the rules to our benefit when we know we won’t get caught.
Apple Hiring All The Robot Car Experts Now
Expert marketing company, and sometimes computer-maker, Apple has poached an automated car engineer from Tesla to join its growing roster of robot car builders, Reuters is reporting.
According to Jamie Carlson’s LinkedIn profile, the former Tesla engineer has joined Apple in “Special Projects.” Carlson is the seventh high-profile hire for the Cupertino-based company who has specific automotive experience. Carlson joins a former Volkswagen engineer, a Chrysler VP and the former deputy director of autonomous systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, among others, at Apple.
Maybe they’re all working in the cafeteria?
Honda's Next Innovation In Driverless Cars Has Two Legs, Not Four Wheels
Last week’s New York Auto Show saw Honda make a robot – and not a car – the centerpiece of its press conference. Even though it had a very important new product to introduce, Honda instead chose to have ASIMO do a song and dance number, and then promptly depart in the middle, due to (an admittedly adorable) case of “stage fright”.
Toyota Says No To Fully Autonomous Car
Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda threw another bucket of cold water on wild fantasies of autonomous cars. Instead of developing cars that drive themselves, Toyota is thinking more of cars that assist you in driving.