RDM Pod manufactured in Coventry UK
September - October 2015
The level of activity in the AV space is increasing rapidly and we did not have time to write the September issue of AV Update, so this issue combines the news from September and October. Sorry about that.
The automotive sector has come under considerable scrutiny recently due to the actions of VW. The New York Times summed the situation up with the headline ‘Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood’. This also highlights a concern over the additional software in increasingly automated vehicles (AVs) from the OEMs, and then even more so with the fully-automated vehicles in development. How do we ensure that such incredibly complex software systems are safe, secure and fit for the purpose? There appears to be no clear answer to this question, but clearly OEMs, developers and regulators will need to find some common ground.
AVs quite simply pose more questions than we have answers for right now. This technology is coming like a freight train. If we are ready, great; if we are not, tough, because it is coming anyway. The more that we can plan and prepare now, the better our chances to maximize the benefits and mitigate the downsides.
One of the realities is that there are now a huge number of announcements of AV trials and new regulations allowing testing AVs in all parts of the world. We have chosen to not report every single one, but to select those announcements that we feel are the most newsworthy.
The Automakers, Tier 1s and AV Developers
GOOGLE: With 73 vehicles now registered with the California DMV, Google has tripled its self-driving car fleet in the last four months according to a CIO article. Google has started publishing summaries of its reports to the California DMV.
Staying with Google, the company says that it will build "a few hundred" of its vehicles, according to a report in The Guardian.
GM: It seems that ‘GM plans $5.5B in cost cuts to finance driverless car development’ according to the Portland Press Herald.
EASYMILE and NAVYA: These two separate European companies have developed competing versions of fully-autonomous, low-speed electric shuttle buses. Both companies demonstrated their vehicles at the ITS World Congress in Bordeaux in October. Both companies have also released videos of their buses: Navya and EasyMile.
TESLA has been attracting a considerable amount of attention having released their Model S Software Version 7.0 including the Autosteer function (Beta) with Auto Lane Change. Intended for highway driving, it came as no surprise when videos rapidly started to appear showing the inventive ways that Tesla drivers were both using and abusing this new system on far more than just highways. In response to numerous public misconceptions around Tesla’s update and Google’s efforts, Brad Templeton explained ‘Why Tesla's Autopilot and Google's car are entirely different animals’.
Elon Musk of Tesla was happy to share in an interview with the Dagbladet Børsen his estimate that Tesla could have fully-autonomous vehicles in 3 years time. What we found most interesting is that he appears to have softened his stance on the possibility of shared fleets of automated taxis.
YUTONG: Who? Yutong is a leading Chinese bus manufacturer and they have just demonstrated their self-driving bus on a 20-mile intercity drive in Zhengzhou.
FORD: Ford has patented an interior for driverless cars with the look and feel of a private jet, according to Industry Tap.
APPLE: Engadget reports that Apple's rumored electric car project is being accelerated. The Wall Street Journal's sources indicate Apple is aiming to ship the first vehicle in 2019. There should be more detailed information when Apple begins testing on public roads. The intelligence is that the first car won't be fully autonomous, although AV technology is part of the long-term plan.
VOLVO: Håkan Samuelsson, President and Chief Executive of Volvo, said that the company "will accept full liability whenever one if its cars is in autonomous mode, as reported by vatornews.
MERCEDES and GOOGLE: In another article, this time in Motor Authority, Mercedes and Google joined Volvo in accepting liability for autonomous cars.
NISSAN: Automotive News reports that Nissan aims to put autonomous vehicles on the road by 2020 and has unveiled its latest prototype, a sensor-laden Leaf electric vehicle that can change lanes, pass cars and merge onto and off of highway by itself. The system previews a new technology called Piloted Drive 1.0 that Nissan says it will offer in Japan by the end of next year.
Windmill Development Group and CAVCOE have teamed up to conduct a feasibility and planning study for the demonstration, trial and deployment of fully automated, electric mini shuttle buses at Zibi, the re-development of industrial lands linking Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Zibi is being developed in a partnership between Windmill Developments and Dream Unlimited Corp. and aims to become the world's most sustainable community.
Of the 102 autonomous vehicles licensed in California the remainder are: Tesla 12, Mercedes Benz 5, Volkswagen, Delphi, Bosch, Nissan and Cruise Automation all with 2 and BMW and Honda with 1 each.
ChicagoInno reports that "Chicago is quietly preparing itself to be a testing ground for driverless cars as officials are currently in the process of identifying "innovation zones" within the city that could pilot autonomous vehicle projects and other new technologies."
The first of three RDM's low-speed, electric"Pods" is now being used in Milton Keynes, UK. as part of a project to trial driverless vehicles in pedestrian-friendly zones. CAVCOE's Paul Godsmark visited the RDM factory in Coventry, UK earlier this year; his photo of a Pod appears at the top of this newsletter.
DAIMLER: In a news release, Daimler says that a production Daimler truck has operated in Germany on an automated basis on a German expressway.
ROBOT TAXI: Mashable and the Wall Street Journal's Japan Real Time blog report that Robot Taxi has announced that it will begin testing a taxi service with self-driving cars in 2016, with the aim of having a fully operational commercial service in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Testing will begin south of Tokyo with simple routes designed to bring passengers from their homes to get groceries.
The Corpus Christi Caller Times had an interest article on the lack of AV driving regulations in Texas and how this can help bring testing business to the state. It seems the Texas Legislature had four bills regarding autonomous vehicles, including ones that would set up a pilot program, but none of them became law. Bryant Walker Smith was quoted in the article as saying that because Texas has not adopted any self-driving regulations, this may give AV developer like Google the freedom to test AVs as they wish.
The Province of Ontario has become the first jurisdiction in Canada to permit testing of AVs on public roads. Companies can apply for permission in late 2015, and testing can start on January 1, 2016. The testing program will enable companies to conduct research and development in Ontario rather than in competing jurisdictions, as well as support opportunities to bring automated vehicles to market.
Ontario is adding $500,000 in funding to the Ontario Centres of Excellence Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle Program. this is in addition to the $2.45 million in funding recently provided.
Other AV Articles
wired.co.uk reports that self-driving cars and big data could remove eight out of every ten cars on the streets of New York City, according to architect and engineer Carlo Ratti. "You're totally blurring the distinction between public transportation and private transportation", says Ratti. He sees self-driving cars as the next step in making urban transportation more efficient.
There’s a “potential financial benefit to the US on the order of more than $3 Trillion per year”. That’s 19% of current GDP. This is based on a report in the MIT Technology Review, as reviewed by City Metric. Earlier this year, the Conference Board of Canada, CAVCOE and the Van Horne Institute published a report with a similar analysis for Canada. The free report is available here.
The City of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada has joined the list of cities that are investigating how AVs will change the city. Edmonton's study will assess the impact of AVs and develop a plan of action.
Upcoming AV-related Events
November 2-3, 2015: TU-Automotive Europe 2015 Conference and Exhibition; Stuttgart, Germany.
November 3-5, 2015: Unmanned Systems Canada 2015 Conference; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
November 11-13, 2015: Autonomous Trucks 2015; Detroit, Michigan, USA.
November 16-17, 2015: 2nd Automotive Tech.AD 2015; Detroit, Michigan, USA
February 25-26, 2016: Automotive Tech.AD Berlin 2016 – The Road Towards Autonomous Driving; Berlin, Germany.
June 19-22, 2016: EVS29 Electric Vehicle Symposium & Exhibition, Montreal, Canada
October 10-14, 2016: ITS World Congress, Melbourne, Australia
October 29 - November 2, 2017: ITS World Congress, Montreal, Canada
Update is a free, monthly roundup of
news and analysis in the world of automated
vehicles and their impact on all levels of
government and the private sector.
Editors: Barrie Kirk, Paul Godsmark
Photography: Paul Godsmark
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