By on August 18, 2016

Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars

Volvo is partnering with ride-hailing service Uber, a $300 million deal expected to spawn a fleet of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads.

Both companies plan to develop their own autonomous technology using a Volvo “base” vehicle, but Pittsburgh will see a crop of self-driving Swedes by the end of the year, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2016

Tesla Model 3 Unveil, Image: Tesla Motors

In his Master Plan, Part Deux, some of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s visions make a lot of sense, like a compact SUV based on the Model 3 platform, and a pickup truck, which will presumably have more than enough torque to haul around a big load (and plenty of space for a big battery pack).

That’s not at all what I want to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about some of the more speculative parts of the Musk vision: the self-driving vision. (I first wrote about some of the dystopian aspects of self-driving cars for TTAC in 2010.)

Musk wants you, the owner of a Tesla, to click a button and have your self-driving car go off and Uber itself during the day while you’re at work, earning you money. It will come back to you at the end of the day, ready for you to use again. This vision is going to have a very harsh collision with reality. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2016

Tesla Supercharger With Model S At Tesla Dealership

His company’s product is under investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk likes the favorable press the NHTSA gave to its Autopilot system.

Musk tweeted a link to a Wall Street Journal report that quotes NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind praising the semi-autonomous driving system at a Detroit conference last week. The NHTSA is investigating what role Autopilot played in a fatal Florida crash on May 7. (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2016

MY16_Accord_Sedan_sensing_4

One of the first things any child learns in the modern technological era is that there are tools for which the true purpose is explicitly stated and tools for which the true purpose is hidden behind some obfuscating official language, legal fiction, or disingenuous disclaimer. Examples of the former: shovels, over-and-under trapshooting shotguns, noise-canceling headphones. Examples of the latter: BitTorrent, “professional” lock-picking kits on Massdrop, the Hitachi Magic Wand.

With the simultaneous democratization of tech and increased frequency of tech-related legislation, more and more things are falling into the category of “used for purposes other than intended, or in a manner other than suggested.” Nobody ever lets the FAA know that they’re going to be flying a Phantom drone over a motocross track, nobody ever deletes their MP3s when they sell their CDs back to Half Price Books, and nobody ever takes the Yoshimura pipe off their GSX-R1000 when they leave Willow Springs and ride back home.

From the moment that the Tesla “Autopilot” feature was introduced, with its copious disclaimers and strident request that the owner keep his hands on the wheel and continue to act just like he was driving the thing himself, the whole world has treated Autopilot like it was Napster. Oh, sure, I’m just going to keep looking ahead with my hands on the wheel, wink-wink, nudge-nudge. The near-universal assumption, one I’ve seen echoed by dozens of Tesla owners, is that Autopilot is, in fact, a functioning autopilot system and all the disclaimers are just there to keep the lawyers happy.

What if that’s not the case at all?

(Read More…)

By on July 12, 2016

2012 Tesla Model S

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has no plans to remove the Autopilot feature from his vehicles, despite demands from safety and consumer groups.

Musk told the Wall Street Journal that lack of education is the problem, not the technology behind the semi-autonomous driving system. The executive’s comments come after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration delivered a lengthy list of questions to Tesla as part of its investigation into the fatal May 7 crash of a Model S. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2016

Tesla Supercharger With Model S At Tesla Dealership

Tesla’s bad news week has now spilled over into a second, after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a second investigation into a Tesla crash involving the semi-autonomous Autopilot system.

According to Reuters, the agency wants to know if the Autopilot on the Model X involved in a July 1 rollover was activated at the time of the incident, and if it played any role in the crash. The driver of the Model X, a Detroit-area man who wasn’t seriously injured, claims he was using Autopilot when the vehicle left its lane and hit a guardrail on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

While the NHTSA looks into this crash and the fatal May 7 collision that took the life of a Tesla owner in Florida, the automaker is engaged in a nasty war of words with Fortune magazine over two articles it claims are misleading and false. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2016

Volvo-self-driving-car

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. (Read More…)

By on July 2, 2016

Tesla Model S, Image: Tesla Motors

Safety advocates are claiming Tesla’s reputation as a leading innovator in the automotive world could breed overconfidence in its new technology, putting drivers in danger.

The May 7 death of a Tesla driver whose vehicle collided with a tractor trailer while in “Autopilot” mode sparked renewed calls for proper vetting of advanced technology in production vehicles — especially if the technology allows the vehicle to drive itself. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2016

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Uber wants to eliminate drivers from its operation, but the ride-hailing service reportedly just purchased an armada’s worth of Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans that don’t yet have fully autonomous capability.

On Friday, Reuters reported that sources at both companies told the German publication Manager Magazin that an order had been made by Uber for “at least” 100,000 S-Class vehicles.

The shelf price for that volume of Benz’s would be in the neighbourhood of $10 billion. (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2016

2016 Toyota Prius

Toyota is hoping to break the internet with an alluring butt shot of an upcoming Prius variant.

That, a new guy will turn around Lada (again), Buick says you’ll never drive an Avista, the second GM ignition trial begins, and Google’s got its eye out for buses … after the break!

(Read More…)

By on January 7, 2016

ELIO_STILLS.07-723x406

Regulators may rain on Elio’s parade even before they got started.

That, Volvo takes a serious stab at full-size luxury conventional wisdom, the big get bigger and Ford’s hybrids only go so far … after the break!

(Read More…)

By on November 19, 2015

IMG_3557

Volvo’s newest concept car is so advanced it doesn’t need sheet metal, wheels, doors, headlights or even an engine, man.

The Volvo Concept 26, unveiled Wednesday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, is the company’s vision for autonomous driving — which, at least publicly, it’s beating many of the big boys to the punch. The vision apparently includes a center-mounted tablet and an automatic 26-inch screen that emerges from the friggin’ dash.

(Read More…)

By on October 21, 2015

Stanford_MARTY_016

I think we can all take a moment to appreciate the fine, fine work that Stanford researchers have put into making a 1981 Delorean do its own donuts in a parking lot on “Back to the Future” day Wednesday. Bravo.

But the car, dubbed MARTY (Multiple Actuator Research Test bed for Yaw control), is more than just epic clickbait for a made-up, 1980s-movie holiday. The car is display for autonomous vehicle control that can go beyond a car’s “safety limits” to exploit physics.

Or, you know, the way you disable stability control to do the same donuts in a nearby parking lot.

(Read More…)

By on October 14, 2015

Teddy Lee

Ontario announced this week that it would be the first Canadian province to allow autonomous driving on its roads (although maybe not autonomous Volts) and it would make insurance companies discount policies for owners who have winter tires.

The programs were announced Tuesday and Wednesday by the ministries of finance and transportation in the province.

Ontario would join a handful of U.S. states that allow autonomous cars, including California and Michigan, on its roads for testing. According to the statement announcing the program, companies developing autonomous cars can begin applying for permits next month.

(Read More…)

By on October 10, 2015

IntelliSafe Auto Pilot interface

Volvo Cars President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson announced Thursday in Washington, DC, that the automaker would “accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode,” making Volvo one of the first automakers to solve one of many important legal issues that face autonomous vehicles.

Volvo made the announcement just days after launching a project in Sweden that will see 100 Volvo XC90s with autonomous functionality hitting the roads around Gothenburg in 2017.

(Read More…)

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