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Archive for the ‘Semi-autonomous Driving’ Category

BMW’s iNext Offers a Glimpse at Automaker’s Autonomous, Electrified Future

Show car offers broad hints about BMW's next all-electric model.

by on Sep.15, 2018

BMW offered a handful of journalists a sneak peek at the iNext concept during an around-the-world tour.

BMW was one of the first of the traditional automakers to enter the plug-in vehicle market, well ahead of luxury rivals like Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus. But it has been slow to follow up on its original i3 and i8 models, especially when it comes to all-electric offerings, even as those competitors have laid out aggressive plans to launch literally dozens of their own new products in the coming years.

BMW has been dropping hints about where it might go next for several years. And the Bavarian automaker is looking to get back in the game with the appropriately named iNext, an all-electric and autonomous crossover set to make its debut in 2021.

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A handful of select media outlets, including TheDetroitBureau.com, got a chance to check out a prototype version of the iNext during an otherwise top-secret, around-the-world series that took the concept vehicles from Germany to New York, then Los Angeles and, finally, Beijing.

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Woman Injured in Model S Autopilot Crash Sues Tesla

Owner blames Autopilot but was looking at cellphone when crash occurred.

by on Sep.10, 2018

The driver of the Tesla involved in this March crash in Utah suffered a broken foot and other injuries

A Utah woman who was injured in the crash of a Tesla Model S in May has filed a lawsuit against the automaker alleging negligence and claiming that the vehicle’s Autopilot system should have prevented the crash – even though she admitted to police that she was looking at her cellphone when the battery-sedan ran into the back of a fire truck.

Heather Lommatzsch broke her foot in a crash, which occurred about the same time as several other high-profile incidents involving Tesla vehicles using the automaker’s semi-autonomous Autopilot technology. That included one in California in which a motorist was killed when his vehicle hit the center barrier on a freeway and ultimately caught fire.

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The lawsuit comes at a particularly awkward time for Tesla, the automaker watching its share price plunge by nearly a third since shortly after CEO Elon Musk announced his interest in taking the company private. That project has since been abandoned and both Musk and Tesla now face an investigation by the SEC. Tesla also faces a number of lawsuits and Autopilot is under investigations by federal regulators following several of those recent crashes.

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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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Toyota Investing $500 Mil in Uber, Will Aid in Autonomous Vehicle Efforts

Move could help ride-sharing service in anticipated IPO plan.

by on Aug.28, 2018

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO and Toyota EVP Shigeki Tomoyama shake over their new alliance.

Toyota confirmed  reports it will invest $500 million in Uber and partner with the nation’s largest ride-sharing service on the development of the autonomous and fully driverless vehicles Uber believes will slash its costs and make it a viable alternative to personal vehicle ownership.

The announcement comes barely a week after Uber wrapped up its search for a new chief financial officer, something that, along with the new Toyota alliance, could help move closer to a widely anticipated IPO. The Japanese maker’s investment puts a value of $72 million on Uber.

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“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president, TMC, and president, Toyota Connected Company. “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving R&D companies, could further advance future mobility.”

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Kroger Launches Driverless Delivery Pilot in Scottsdale

Debut echoes Waymo/Walmart partnership.

by on Aug.16, 2018

The Kroger project won't completely solve the "last mile" challenge. Customers still will have to go out and grab their bags from the delivery vehicle.

While it may take some time before you can hail a driverless ride-sharing vehicle, you may soon be able to have your groceries delivered autonomously – at least if you live in certain parts of greater Phoenix.

Kroger has teamed up with Nuro, a self-driving tech firm to launch a trial grocery delivery program in one part of the Southwest community, and could roll it out to other parts of the country if it proves successful. The move comes shortly after rival Walmart announced a similar pilot program pairing it with Google’s autonomous vehicle spin-off Waymo.

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“Kroger wants to bring more customers the convenience of affordable grocery delivery,” Kroger Chief Digital Officer Yael Cosset said in a statement.

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Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Could Cause, Not Prevent Crashes, Warns New IIHS Study

Drivers may expect new systems, like Tesla Autopilot, to completely take over driving duties.

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla's own semi-autonomous Autopilot tech came under suspicion after this January crash.

Federal safety investigators raced to the scene of a crash involving a Tesla Model S sedan last January after the vehicle slammed into the back of a firetruck stopped on a California highway, regulators wanting to know why that happened despite the vehicle using the carmaker’s advanced driver assistance system specifically designed to prevent such a crash.

“ADAS” systems are being introduced on a wide range of vehicles and, according to industry experts, could substantially reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on U.S. roads. But a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raises serious concerns about the technology. After testing five different systems offered by four automakers, IIHS warns that even though ADAS can prevent some accidents, the technology also could miss some potential problems and, in some situations, actually steer into a crash.

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A major concern is that these new, semi-autonomous systems still require drivers to be constantly vigilant, and occasionally intervene, said IIHS chief researcher David Zuby. But that’s often easy to forget. “If the systems seem too capable, then drivers may not give them the attention required to use them safely.” (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…)

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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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.

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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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