Fortune magazine reports that permits for testing self-driving cars are a hot commodity in California. The latest to get permits are Tesla, Nissan, Delphi Automotive, and Bosch. They join Google, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz unit, and Volkswagen’s Audi unit, all of which received permits earlier in the program. "The growing list of companies with state approval to test autonomous vehicles on city streets and highways highlights the race to turn the sci-fi technology into reality. It also shows how California has become an important hub for innovation in the auto industry, which was once almost entirely centered in Detroit and Japan" says the article. So far, 36 permits have been issued to 7 different companies; 25 of these went to Google.
Transit / Transportation
Paul Godsmark recently posted an item on Reddit.com that pulls together several recent Uber announcements. He posted them together to see if a possibly bigger picture could emerge:
- 'Uber is working on another $1Bn in funding'
- 'Uber’s Nonprofit Ridesharing Service People’s Uber Expands To More Chinese Cities'
- 'Uber Hires Google’s Same-Day Delivery Boss'
An interesting article in Clean Technica argues that Self-Driving Buses Could Really Reinvent Transportation Systems. Lindsey and Townsend, authors of the study behind the article, state that self-driving buses might be on an avenue of increasing change. “Now what if those buses—like the private automobile “platoons” envisioned by the auto industry—could travel safely only feet apart at top speeds?” The answer: more efficient use of infrastructure. However, to truly understand the potential benefits of AVs, we need to understand that the current view of a ‘bus’ being a large vehicle on fixed routes needs to be adapted to include smaller vehicles serving on-demand flexible routes.
Socio-Economic Impacts of AVs
The Massive Economic Benefits Of Self-Driving Cars is the name of an article in a recent issue of Forbes. The analysis for the US leads to an estimate of $642 billion / year. which in the words of the author is "a really, really big deal". This is about half of the $1.3 trillion/year that Morgan Stanley estimated that the US could save when AVs are fully deployed.
A detailed analysis of the economic benefits in Canada attributable to AVs will be in the CAVCOE / Conference Board of Canada / Van Horne Institute report that was mentioned at the top of this newsletter.
Another recent article -- also in Forbes -- was titled: Self-Driving Cars Could Undermine British $80 Billion Rail Project. The article explains that autonomous cars could spell doom for railways in general, and could render obsolete a British government project to spend up to about $80 billion to link London, England’s second biggest city Birmingham, and Leeds with a high-speed rail system (HS2). Self-driving cars would offer a direct, private, comfortable door-to-door link for travellers, with at least competitive average speeds for journeys of up to about 200 miles. This debate emphasize the importance of ensuring that the planning for all major infrastructure projects related to surface transportation include some due diligence related to the potential impacts from the future deployment of AVs.
Government / Regulatory
On October 16, 2014, the House of Lords in the UK had an excellent debate on automated vehicles. Their Lordships were well-informed and the debate was factual, detailed, and recognized the huge, positive impact that automated vehicles will have on the British economy. Lord Giddens stated "Today we are witnessing a period of dramatic technological change. What is going on in the motor industry looks as though it will revolutionize that industry even more thoroughly than Henry Ford did in the early part of the 20th century.
What also impressed us in this debate is that it was non-partisan. Speakers from all parties supported a strong role for the UK government in not only permitting AV testing on UK roads, but also stimulating and supporting the AV ecosystem.
It’s also worth noting that Lord Borwick questioned the possible impact of AVs on the proposed UK high speed rail (HS2) project.
The full transcript of the debate is available via the on-line version of Hansard. (The link should take you to the start of the debate, about 40% of the way down the page. If you find yourself at the top of the page, just scroll down.)
Other AV Articles
Yahoo Finance Canada has an article on 5Q: Barrie Kirk on the (very near) future for driverless cars
CTV's morning show, Canada AM, had a recent item on the future of self-driving cars; this included an interview with Barrie Kirk. You can view the video here.
Nine of 10 licensed drivers would consider buying a self-driving car if it meant paying a lot less for insurance, reports Automotive News based on a new survey by consumer Web site CarInsurance.com. The survey asked consumers if they would buy -- or consider buying -- an autonomous vehicle if they could get an 80 percent discount on their auto insurance. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they "very likely" would buy a self-driving vehicle and 56 percent said they would consider it if such an insurance discount was offered.
Why China is more eager for self-driving cars than the West in auto-blog explains that China's auto market continues to grow, and it's having an increasingly important effect on the bottom line for all automakers worldwide. Just look at examples like General Motors' strong recent growth or Porsche's expanding sales. In addition to being vital for business, some industry watchers think the nation's huge consumer force might just make it the premier place for automatic driving technology to prosper more quickly than in any other market. According to Ward's Auto, recent Nielsen statistics show that Chinese consumers are more interested in autonomous driving technology than their counterparts in both the US and Germany. The people there are more willing to pay to add it to their vehicles, too.
In the last issue of AV Update, we reported on the Connected Vehicle/Autonomous Vehicle (CVAV) Research Program for Road Vehicles. This program is a partnership of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario, the Ministry of Research and Innovation and the Ontario Centres of Excellence. The objective is to encourage businesses and academic institutions to develop and commercialize innovations in connected and autonomous vehicle technologies, with a focus on projects that show a strong potential for commercialization.
Since then, the program partners have held a webinar to brief potential applicants on the background and the funding program itself. CAVCOE listened in and found it to be very informative and useful. You can view the webinar and/or download the slide deck by going to the OCE web site scrolling down to the bottom of the page to the links.
Driverless car researchers develop plan to prevent hacking on the highway is an article in ExtremeTech. Jonathan Petit of University College, Cork and Steven Shladover of the University of California Berkeley have completed what they say is the first exhaustive analysis of potential hacking on self-driving cars.
Upcoming AV-related Events
November 17: The California Self Help Counties Coalition (SHCC) is holding their annual ‘Focus on the Future Conference’. CAVCOE’s Paul Godsmark is honoured to have been invited to speak to the SHCC, which represents the transportation interests of 31 million Californians.
November 17-18, 2014: Automotive Tech.AD's conference on The Future of ADAS; Detroit
November 18-20: The Connected Car Expo in L.A. (preceding the L.A. Auto Show) has CAVCOE’s Paul Godsmark on the panel for ‘Autonomous Car Fallout: What Happens Next?’ – it promises to be a very exciting event with plenty of media attention.
November 30 - December 3, 2014: The Association for Commuter Transportation of Canada (ACT Canada) conference on Sustainable Mobility & Healthy Communities Summit 2014 in Markham ON. Barrie's paper is on "Three Technologies that will change the World".
December 15-16, 2014: Florida Automated Vehicles Summit 2014; Walt Disney World, Orlando FL, USA
May 4-7, 2015: AUVSI's Unmanned Systems Conference and Trade Show; Atlanta, Georgia
May 24-28, 2015: ITS Canada's 2015 Annual Conference and General Meeting; Gatineau QC.
June 16-19, 2015: CCMTA's Annual Meeting; Whitehorse, Yukon.
June 17-18, 2015: Autonomous Vehicle Test & Development Symposium 2015; Stuttgart, Germany.
July 21-23, 2015: Automated Vehicles Symposium 2015, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI, USA.
Update is a free, monthly roundup of news and analysis in the
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Editors: Barrie Kirk, Paul Godsmark
Photography: Christine Vanstone, Keith Fagan
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