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Archive for the ‘Waymo’ Category

FCA Upgrades Proving Grounds for Self-Driving Vehicle Testing

Late to the game, FCA races to make up lost time with $30 mil project.

by on Sep.05, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has invested $30 million to upgrade its sprawling Chelsea Proving Grounds, an hour west of Detroit to expand its ability to develop and test both autonomous vehicles advanced driver assist system technologies.

The automaker has been slow to embrace self-driving vehicle technology, though it has been able to leapfrog some of its competitors with an expanding tie-up with Waymo, the self-driving spin-off of Google. The new project will allow FCA to test technology from Waymo and other potential partners, as well as systems it may develop in-house.

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“The all-new facility at Chelsea Proving Grounds will help support and enable the successful rollout of the company’s five-year plan laid out earlier this year,” said Mike Manley, who took over as FCA’s CEO just two months ago. “Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables FCA to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio.”

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Tesla Under Assault as Wave of New EVs Come to Market

Mercedes-EQ’s first entry set to target Model 3.

by on Aug.30, 2018

Tesla's Model 3 production has been the focus of the company much of the year, but now Elon Musk is going to need to look over his shoulder.

Its been a rocky road for Tesla during the past year, the automaker struggling to get production of its critical Model 3 under control. But just as the factory in Fremont, California, gets into gear, Tesla is facing a new problem that could prove equally challenging.

Jaguar fired the first shot recently with the launch of its I-Pace battery-electric vehicle. Now, Mercedes-Benz is getting ready to plug in, but rather than target a pricey niche, the electric EQ C crossover the German maker will introduce next week takes direct aim at Tesla’s mainstream-priced Model 3.

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And the assault will only accelerate in the months to come, new long-range EV entries popping up at an ever-increasing pace over the next few years to the point that, by some estimates, there could be as many as 100 alternatives in U.S. showrooms by very early in the decade. (more…)

Loss of Control, Viruses Top Hurdles for Autonomous Vehicles

Ford charging ahead with AVs by trying to establish trust.

by on Aug.21, 2018

Ford says consumers need to believe they can trust AVs, and that will take time and energy.

A new study found that losing control of the vehicle and the threat of computer virus are the two most important reservations or fears consumers have about autonomous vehicles.

The study done by the University of Memphis’ FedEx Institute of Technology also found that AVs have yet to break through as status symbols. The study found that improving social status among peers is the least important incentive to adopting AVs. In addition, fewer than 5% of respondents indicated their households are willing to pay an additional $20,000 to add automation and greater connectivity to their vehicle.

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One very interesting finding was that the feeling of losing control was more important than safety concerns for people. In addition, the threat of computer virus penetrating the vehicles was considered an important barrier to adoption. (more…)

Mercedes, Bosch Team to Launch Self-Driving Car Service

Set to debut in late 2019 in Silicon Valley.

by on Jul.11, 2018

Initially, Daimler will use the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan for the pilot ride-sharing project.

Mercedes-Benz is teaming up with German mega-supplier Bosch to launch a new ride-sharing service in Silicon Valley next year that will rely on self-driving vehicles.

The project marks the latest entry into the fast-expanding field that, by some estimates, could eventually account for as much as a quarter or more of the miles Americans travel by automobile. Other planning to launch ride-sharing services using self-driving vehicles include General Motors, Google spin-off Waymo and Uber, the country’s largest ride-sharing service.

Making Sense of the Brave New World!

While Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG is referring to the vehicles it will use as “automated shuttle(s),” customers will be able to ride in style. When the project initially gets underway during the second half of 2019, it will rely on modified versions of the luxurious S-Class Sedan. Eventually, the goal is to switch to a production version of the edgy Mercedes concept vehicle, the F 015.

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Apple Raises Profile in Race for Autonomous Vehicles with Waymo Exec Hire

Hiring Waydo signals company's intentions.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Former Waymo engineer has moved over to Apple and Project Titan.

Apple has hired one of Waymo’s top engineers, Jamie Waydo, to work on its secretive self-driving car program named Project Titan.

According to Silicon Valley news site, The Information, the tech giant Waydo, who was focused on making sure software and hardware worked together in the name of safety. The question is whether or not Waymo will fight back.

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Waymo sued Uber after the ride-sharing company acquired a company founded by an engineer who had left Google to launch his own start up. The $1.8 billion lawsuit was ultimately settled for less than $275 million after several bitter exchanges in federal court. (more…)

FCA Maps Out a Self-Driving Strategy

Automaker teams up with Waymo, BMW and Aptiv, but carves out its own path.

by on Jun.01, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

While there are a growing number of autonomous vehicle prototypes on the road these days, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made headlines when they announced, earlier this week, plans to direct as many as 62,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans into the self-driving ride-sharing service the Google spin-off will launch later this year.

By some estimates, 20% or more of the miles Americans clock on the road will be in driverless vehicles operated by ride-sharing services like Waymo, Uber and Lyft by the end of the coming decade. Millions of motorists may opt to give up their personal vehicles and switch to those services. Millions more are expected to own their own autonomous vehicles.

The Last Word!

Until recently considered a laggard in the self-driving field, FCA has jumped in big, relying on partnerships with not only Waymo, but BMW and mega-supplier Aptiv. And that approach will not only help it to make up for lost time but give FCA several alternative paths to follow.

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SoftBank Investment Triggers GM Best Share Gain Ever

Cruise Automation could be floated in IPO.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Chevy Bolt will be General Motors first fully autonomous car when it brings a self-driver to the market in the future.

Shares of General Motors posted their biggest gain in years, rising nearly 13% Thursday on news that Japanese tech investment fund SoftBank was investing $2.25 billion in GM’s autonomous vehicle development subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

SoftBank’s big investment was one of several major announcements yesterday that underscored the growing interest in self-driving vehicles. Waymo, the spinoff of Google, said it would purchase as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans for use in its planned self-driving ride-sharing service. Currently in a pilot program, it intends to begin commercial operations in Phoenix later this year and then begin a national rollout.

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GM plans to launch a similar ride-sharing operation through another subsidiary, Maven, using versions of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV modified by Cruise. Mary Barra, the automaker’s CEO, said GM will look at “other opportunities” for Cruise that could involve alliances with other companies SoftBank has funded, including Uber and China’s Didi Chuxing. (more…)

Waymo Set to Purchase 62k Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans for Autonomous Ride-Share Service

Announcement follows news of a major investment in GM Cruise self-driving car program.

by on May.31, 2018

An early version of a Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan roams the streets of Phoenix.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo will radically accelerate their alliance, FCA announcing it will supply as many as 62,000 more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google.

FCA previously committed to providing several thousand of the plug-in people-movers. Waymo has also committed to purchasing up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace battery-electric SUVs, and CEO John Krafcik has told TheDetroitBureau.com that it expects to add still other models for use in the planned self-driving ride-share service that is currently in pilot testing in Phoenix. Commercial service will launch in that city later this year, Krafcik announced in March, and will eventually expand to “other” cities across the U.S.

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The FCA-Waymo announcement comes just hours after General Motors revealed that Japanese venture capital fund SoftBank is investing $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle unit. That news quickly sent shares of GM surging by 10% in early Thursday morning trading.

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Three Quarters of Americans “Too Afraid to Ride” in Self-Driving Vehicles

As more problems reported, acceptance declines, finds new AAA study.

by on May.23, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

They’re expected to flood our roads by the millions over the next decade, and Congress is currently working on legislation that would expand testing on public roads – but a new AAA study reveals that the American public is, if anything, growing more concerned about the safety of autonomous and fully driverless vehicles.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. drivers would be “afraid” to ride in one today, up from 63% when the AAA last polled American motorists in late 2017. The decline in confidence appears to follow an array of incidents involving prototype autonomous vehicles, including the first-known fatal crash near Phoenix when a hands-free SUV being tested by Uber slammed into a pedestrian.

Safety First!

“Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

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Apple’s Mysterious Autonomous Vehicle Program is Rapidly Expanding

Records show permits for more than 55 self-driving cars.

by on May.16, 2018

CEO Tim Cook has finally begun to offer some hints as to Apple's self-driving car program.

While Apple has yet to say much about its long-rumored car program, some intriguing information has come out thanks to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV revealing that the tech giant now has permits to test up to 55 self-driving vehicles in the state.

That would actually give Apple the ability to test even more vehicles than Waymo, the Google spinoff that has been far more open about its own autonomous ambitions – though less than General Motors, its San Francisco-based Cruise Automotive now holding permits for 104 test vehicles.

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And the DMV report does not cover other states where Apple might be testing, notably Nevada and Arizona, the two Southwest states that have positioned themselves as particularly friendly to autonomous vehicle researchers. Waymo, for example, is known to be running large fleet tests that may run into the hundreds of vehicles in Arizona, including both autonomous models requiring human backup “operators” and the first of its completely driverless prototypes. (more…)