Slammed by the NTSB, Uber Now Promises to Make Autonomous Test Data Available to Public
Uber Technologies promised to make the safety information related to its self-driving program more widely available following some fairly harsh criticism from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The agency had faulted Uber with some amount of responsibility after conducting its investigation into the fatal testing accident that took place in March of 2018. The incident, which took place in Tempe, AZ, involved an inattentive Uber safety operator who struck and killed a pedestrian who was attempting to cross a poorly lit roadway — creating a national backlash against self-driving vehicles and a push toward ensuring higher levels of safety.
Police say the vehicle was operating autonomously for testing purposes at the time of the collision. Following months of investigation, the NTSB decided in 2019 that driver failed to act in a safe manner due to being distracted by their cellphone. Uber was also faulted for possessing inadequate safety risk assessment procedures, ineffective oversight of vehicle operators, and a general absence of mechanisms to address complacency by operators as the cars drove themselves.
Joe's Got a Brand New Bag: Ousted Ford Exec Turns Up at Self-driving Tech Firm
Joe Hinrichs, formerly Ford’s president of automotive (and a leading candidate for CEO in the event that the company’s board grew tired of Jim Hackett), has found a new gig after his ouster from the automaker he worked at for 19 years.
On Monday, Massachusetts-based WaveSense announced Hinrichs as its newest board member, joining a former General Motors chief financial officer, Chuck Stevens III, and a Continental executive in the advisory body.
Waymo Drops Most Patent Claims Against Uber, Animosity Still Strong
Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous car division Waymo, formerly Google, abandoned three of four patent-infringement claims in its lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc. in a surprise move on Friday.
Earlier, U.S. District Judge William Alsup specifically asked Waymo to narrow its more than 100 trade secrets claims to fewer than 10 if they ever wanted to place them in front of a jury. During a June 7th hearing, he also said, “I want to reiterate to the plaintiff here that you should think a lot about just dropping the patent part of this case.”
Waymo listened and dumped the majority of its patent claims to focus more heavily on the trade secret issues surrounding the 14,000 files stolen by ex-employee Anthony Levandowski — which is, perhaps, the only thing the two companies can agree upon. Uber is glad to see the focus shift back onto Levandowski, who has been at the core of the case since day one. Now it only has to prove it didn’t pay for access to the data instead of spending time differentiating its own designs from Waymo’s.
Defiant Kangaroos Stand Firmly in Path of Soulless, Self-Driving Future
Who knew strange animals born with a sack stuck to their bellies would prove to be the largest hurdle in the advent of driverless vehicles? In areas where you’ll find marsupials, anyway.
While North American drivers have long grown used to smacking deer with their personal vehicles, it’s a different story in the land of Paul Hogan, Nicole Kidman, and the amiable fellow from Jurassic Park. A full 80 percent of vehicle-animal collisions on that extremely large island and/or continent involve a kangaroo. It now seems the manner in which the limber creatures get around has created a headache for a certain Scandinavian car company — one hoping to lead the industry in hands-off driving.
Nissan's Next-gen Leaf Will Kind of, Sort of, Drive Itself
After hemming and hawing for what seemed like forever, Nissan will bring American electric vehicle enthusiasts a long-overdue new Leaf later this year. Say goodbye to that old, swoopy body and 107-mile range (at best), and give a cheerful hello to a not-yet-revealed body, undisclosed driving range, and these headlights.
Okay, so there’s not a whole lot known about the next Leaf except that it won’t be an ancient thing that appeared at the dawn of the electric car resurrection. You might be able to drive to a nearby city and back. However, we now know that trip doesn’t have to be as hands-on as it once was.
Suppliers Say Automakers Are Just Guessing the Timeline for Self-Driving Cars
President Donald Trump received a tour of the American Center for Mobility this week. He did not, however, discuss the federal funding of the Michigan-based autonomous testing and development facility. Instead, the site was used as a location for the president to discuss regulatory policies and meet with automotive executives. Little was said on the subject of self-driving cars.
Still, automakers routinely remind us that autonomous vehicles are right around the corner. Ford says it can have autonomous cars rolling out by 2021, Audi and Nissan have said 2020, and Volkswagen has claimed it’ll be ready for self-driving models in 2019. Tesla — which has been pioneering the technology longer than most — has stated it has the hardware necessary in its current production vehicles and would have a bulletproof system installed in 2018, anticipating regulatory approval in 2021. However, suppliers are predicting much less optimistic timelines for self-driving cars — and the dates given vary wildly.
The Average American is Seriously Afraid of Autonomous Cars: Study
There is something uncanny about a car that can drive itself. If you transplanted the world’s first motorists into a modern autonomous vehicle and let it lose on a track, they’d probably surmise witchcraft as the only plausible explanation and jump out in terror. Humans are innately distrustful of anything unfamiliar — it’s an important part of our survival strategy as a species. With that in mind, it isn’t surprising to hear that many Americans are a little wary of self-driving cars.
However, a recent study from the American Automobile Association suggests it might be more serious than that. The vast majority of surveyed Americans admitted to being “afraid” of riding in an autonomous vehicle while over half said they felt less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with driverless technology. This isn’t likely to be welcome news for automakers, considering that every major manufacturer is currently investing heavily into the computer and industrial sciences required to make autonomous tech possible.
Google Car Staffers Enriched Themselves by Giving Their Boss the Finger
Take the money and run, Steve Miller once said, and boy, did employees at Google’s self-driving car project take that advice to heart.
According to a Bloomberg report, the financial incentive to leave the project and hit the bricks was so great, many realized they couldn’t afford not to quit. And, in the grand tradition of pulling up employment stakes, many enjoyed the fact that their departure cost the company big, big bucks.
In many cases, those employees used the money to become Google competitors.
A War Against Self-Driving Cars Just Kicked Off in New York, But It Could Turn Into Grenada
A great philosopher once said that you can’t start a fire without a spark, followed by something about rhythmic movements in unlit spaces.
Well, if there’s a war brewing against autonomous technology and self-driving vehicles, the flashpoint might have occurred in New York — City and State — last week. A large trade group and labor union joined forces in denouncing the driverless scourge headed their way, with one of the groups angling for a 50-year-ban on the automotive heathens.
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.
GM's 'Super Cruise' Continues Its Slow Plod to Production
General Motors’ futuristic semi-autonomous driving technology now seems tinged with nostalgia.
The automaker’s “Super Cruise” self-driving function was first announced back in September 2014, but the new model many expected to be launched with the feature — the 2016 Cadillac CT6 — showed up without it.
Now, GM plans to debut the feature next year, and a recently intercepted letter from the federal government shows what to expect from the system.
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.
Now a Self-Driving Technology and Mobility Player, Ford Seeks an Edge
Taking to a Dearborn stage on Monday, Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields declared, “We are expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company.” With this statement, Fields has created additional competition. No longer will Ford only be battling traditional auto manufacturers.
Now, the automaker’s competitors include Uber, Lyft, Google, and Apple — each one focused on current and future mobility solutions. How does the company plan to win?
Apple Hires Blackberry Exec for Car Project; Project Team Heads in New Direction
Apple’s annoyingly mysterious self-driving [s]unicorn[/s] car project has a new team member.
Dan Dodge, founder and former CEO of Blackberry’s QNX automotive software division, has already joined the ranks of Apple’s shadowy “Project Titan” team, Bloomberg reports. After endless speculation about the future iCar (and what it will look like), sources close to the company say the project is now moving in different direction.
Is the Apple car fading from view?
No LIDAR Means No Safety in Self-Driving Vehicles, Says Auto Supplier Exec
If you’re going to let people take their hands off the wheel and let the vehicle do the driving, you’d better offer every tool available to make sure it’s safe.
That’s the view of Stefan Sommer, CEO of German auto parts supplier ZF Friedrichshafen, who advocated for the use of LIDAR (light detection and ranging) in autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles in the wake of the fatal Tesla crash.