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Archive for the ‘Driverless Vehicles’ Category

Ford Spending $740 M to Revamp Dilapidated Train Station, Campus

Automaker hopes to get $250M in assistance for the project.

by on Aug.15, 2018

A rendering of what Ford's new campus, including Michigan Central Station, in Corktown will look like.

Ford recently unveiled its plan to move its electric and autonomous vehicle operations into a campus in southwest Detroit, anchored by a historic train station the company plans to refurbish during the next few years.

The move to reinvent the former Michigan Central Station was hailed by Detroit politicians and neighborhood advocates; however, other than a nebulous figure of $4 billion it planned to invest overall, no real dollar amount for the new campus was released.

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Ford disclosed Tuesday at a meeting with community leaders it plans to spend $740 million to revamp Michigan Central Station, as well as other neighborhood sites. The automaker aims to turn the building into a campus of offices for up to 5,000 employees. (more…)

Apple Brings Back Top Engineer for Project Titan

Field's return has some wondering if a full-on vehicle is in the works.

by on Aug.10, 2018

Is Apple CEO Tim Cook getting the band back together? The company rehired one of its former engineers, Doug Field, for Project Titan.

Apple rehired Doug Field, one of its top engineers, after he left Tesla Inc. last month and assigned him to report to the leader of the Project Titan team.

Field spent five years at Tesla as the company’s top engineer. He left the company this summer under unusual circumstances. His hire also creates a unique circumstance as well — is Project Titan now focusing on creating a full-blown vehicle again instead of just a self-driving car system?

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Field is returning to work for Bob Mansfield, who has been overseeing Project Titan for the past several years. Mansfield was the person who, reportedly, moved the Apple’s car project from a full-on vehicle to just a self-driving system. (more…)

Cybersecurity Efforts Critical to Automotive Industry

Car companies focused on ensuring safety of self-driving cars.

by on Aug.06, 2018

GM President Dan Ammann said recently that the company's focus on cybersecurity is critical to its long-term goals.

The operation of self-driving vehicles will require an intense focus on cybersecurity, experts said during a conference in Detroit organized by Billington Cybersecurity, which brought together representatives from the automobile and tech industry as well as the government.

Dan Ammann, General Motors president, told the conference that GM cybersecurity is one of “the key enablers” to making GM’s vision of “zero crashes, zero emission and zero congestion” a reality.

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“As we continue to develop our Autonomous Vehicle program, safety is paramount, just like it is in everything that we do,” Ammann said. “For our customers, that means providing the safest products possible, including the strongest cybersecurity.” (more…)

Rental Car Business Being Squeezed by Ride Sharing

Autonomous vehicles present major change in prices.

by on Jul.31, 2018

Fully driverless vehicles, like the ones Ford plans to build for Lyft, may be the death knelll for some rental car companies.

The rental-car business faces a growing threat to its future from ride-sharing companies, according to a new survey from AlixPartners.

“Results from our survey suggest that the $30-billion U.S. car-rental industry is already undergoing a tectonic shift, with boundaries not just blurring but being obliterated between car-rental and ride-hailing and other forms of new mobility,” said Arun Kumar, a director in the Automotive and Industrial Practice at AlixPartners and a co-author of a new report focusing on the rental-car business.

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“The companies that survive this shift will be those that act now to transform themselves to be relevant in a world which seems to much prefer simply clicking on an app than standing in line at the rental counter,” Kumar said. (more…)

Uber Shuts Down Otto Autonomous Truck Division

Ride-sharing service puts emphasis on self-driving cars.

by on Jul.31, 2018

An autonomous Otto truck like the one that hauled 45,000 cans of beer across Colorado last year.

Just a week after it restarted its autonomous passenger car program, Uber has shuttered Otto, the division that was charged with developing self-driving trucks.

The ride-sharing company says it wants to concentrate on developing the driverless cars and SUVs that could eventually lower the cost of using its services. But the decision to shelf Otto comes as Uber struggles with a series of setbacks, including not only the death of a pedestrian hit by one of its self-driving prototypes but also a legal battle with Google spinoff Waymo that saw a key employee accused of stealing critical intellectual property.

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“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement referencing the company’s decision to restart its self-driving program after the fatal crash near Phoenix back in March. “As we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on (the passenger car) effort is the best path forward.” (more…)

Uber Ready to Resume Autonomous Testing in Pittsburgh

Company reviewed, revised protocols, including adding 2nd driver.

by on Jul.27, 2018

Uber is ready to resume testing its autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, but several changes have been instituted to ensure improved safety.

Uber is reviving its self-driving vehicle test program in Pittsburgh, after a nearly four-month hiatus implemented in the wake of the pedestrian death in Arizona.

Company officials said there are and will be significant changes to the program to help avoid another fatality or other issues. First, there will be two employees in every vehicle. The “mission specialists” will occupy the two front seats.

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Additionally, the vehicles will be driven by a person instead of by the machine. This is to help the system “learn” more about a variety of situations drivers may encounter ranging from the everyday to once-in-a-lifetime. The second “specialist’s” role it to document anything out of the ordinary. No word on when the vehicles will drive themselves again. (more…)

Ford Charges Ahead With New Autonomous Vehicle Unit

New L.L.C. comes weeks after announcing new Detroit campus.

by on Jul.24, 2018

Less than a month after Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Bill Ford, announced plans for a Detroit campus, Hackett unveiled Ford Autonomous Vehicles L.L.C.

Less than a month after inviting the world to look at the dilapidated former train station that will be the cornerstone of the campus for the company’s autonomous and electric vehicle operations, Ford charged ahead wih the endeavor creating Ford Autonomous Vehicles L.L.C.

The new organization is charged with accelerating Ford’s AV business to capitalize on market opportunities, and the company’s not just taking a flyer on this business: it plans to roll $4 billion into the effort.

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“Ford has made tremendous progress across the self driving value chain – from technology development to business model innovation to user experience,” said Jim Hackett, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead.” (more…)

Manly Manley Facing Tough Challenges at FCA

Great track record at Jeep, Ram, but lots more to do, observers caution.

by on Jul.23, 2018

New Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley is not sliding into a cushy job, rather it is a position that faces several difficult challenges in the near and long term.

The head of Fiat Chrysler’s European, Mideast and African business operations reportedly has stepped down, the apparent departure of Alfredo Altavilla kicking into high gear what could become a period of significant turmoil in the automaker’s senior ranks touched off by the unexpected departure of long-time CEO Sergio Marchionne over the weekend.

The 66-year-old Marchionne, who brought Fiat in as a white knight to save Chrysler after its 2010 bankruptcy, was replaced over the weekend by Michael Manley after suffering a grave decline in health following seemingly routine shoulder surgery last week.

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The 54-year-old Manley was considered the front-runner to replace Marchionne when he retired nearly a year from now, but the unexpected shake-up will put plenty of pressure on the new CEO to hold things together while also moving ahead with the new FCA five-year plan Marchionne unveiled barely two months ago. Altavilla was seen as one of the other senior execs positioned to succeed Marchionne and it remains to be seen if his departure could be followed by others. (more…)

Detroit Auto Show Moving to June in 2020, Adding Major New Features

Sponsors aim to revive what's been North America’s leading car show.

by on Jul.23, 2018

Toyota Pres. Akio Toyota is shown here revealing the 2019 Camry during this year's NAIAS.

The North American International Auto Show will move from January to June in 2020, a new timeslot that organizers are betting will help revive the flagging momentum of what had long been one of the industry’s most important annual events.

The Detroit Auto Dealers Association had signaled its intention of abandoning its traditional, mid-winter schedule, though a switch to October was also under study. But that would have conflicted with other shows in Europe and Asia, the dealer group’s Executive Director Rod Alberts told TheDetroitBureau.com in an exclusive interview.

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In a background briefing ahead of today’s official announcement, Alberts said one of the advantages of a summer event is the ability to add new functions that expand beyond the confines of Detroit’s sprawling Cobo Hall convention center. “We realized we have to change the show (and) showcase Detroit, too,” said Alberts, who has been running the DADA for the past 28 years.

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Marchionne Out, Manley In as Fiat Chrysler CEO

Questions about health issues blamed for Marchionne’s early departure.

by on Jul.21, 2018

Larger than life: Marchionne outlined a broad 5-year-plan during a day-long June session in Milan.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced on Saturday that Jeep and Ram brand boss Michael Manley will replace CEO Sergio Marchionne, who due to complications from recent surgery is gravely ill and will not return to work.

Though the 66-year-old Marchionne was known to have undergone surgery this past week for what was reported to be a shoulder problem. According to FCA’s statement, the Italian-born and Canadian-educated Marchionne experienced “unexpected complications,” while his conditions had “worsened significantly in recent hours.”

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Word of Marchionne’s departure quickly echoed through the automotive grapevine. Few industry executives have had a higher profile presence in recent decades, and even fewer could be said to have done more to shape a company in his own image as did Marchionne, who rescued the then-bankrupt Chrysler by securing a U.S. government bailout and then merging it with Italy’s Fiat S.p.A.

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