Wishing all our readers and AV Subscribers a very happy and prosperous New Year.
Earlier this month, the Ottawa AV Summit 2017 was held in Kanata, Ontario, hosted by the Kanata North Business Association, CAVCOE and the Conference Board of Canada. The objective was to help the local technology industry better understand the business opportunities and technologies in the AV space and to network with each other. The event was very successful and we had twice as many attendees as we expected.
The Canadian Parliamentary research report "Automated and Connected Vehicles: Status of the Technology and Key Policy Issues for Canadian Governments" reads very well for the advancements in Canada on the AV front. The report uses a significant amount of source material from the report CAVCOE and the Conference Board of Canada published a year earlier.
Here in Canada, we remain concerned that our very occasional adverse weather (our tongue firmly in cheek) will slow the deployment of AVs on our roads. However, it seems that Tesla’s Autopilot is already accomplished at steering in the snow, even without visible lane lines or a lead vehicle. Tesla does not recommend that drivers do this, but it does bode well for the future as we see that automated driving technology continues to improve -- even on a month-by-month basis.
The Automakers, Tier1s and AV Developers
We were impressed by the Cruise Automation video of their Chevy Bolt AV negotiating very complex traffic situations in Downtown San Francisco. This is a ‘must see’ video – and we admit we have now seen it more times than we have collectively seen Star Wars.
Regarding the Tesla autopilot crash in May last year, the NHTSA investigation has now come to a close. The report concludes that the agency has not identified any defects to recall the vehicles and the autopilot inside the car worked well within its limits, as reported by The Guardian and AutoBlog. NHTSA acknowledges that Tesla’s crash rate dropped 40% after Autopilot was installed. This is a powerful argument in favour of increased automation in vehicles. However, we are still concerned that SAE Level 3 will result in new safety issues that will reverse this trend.
For Alphabet's Waymo, there is a possibility that the company could sell its products to automakers, as reported in this Bloomberg article. Previously the former Google Self Driving Car Project had overseen the design and manufacture of their own prototype ‘Firefly’ vehicles, but they continue to maintain that all avenues are open for future commercialization.
Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute, recently said at CES 2017 that the world is “not even close” to seeing Level 5 AVs. We are in full agreement with Gill, but note that the definition for SAE Level 5 is for a vehicle that can operate unmanned without limitations. Whereas a high capability Level 4 vehicle could have a few operational limitations while literally transforming our cities and transportation between urban centres. Ford, Tesla and other automakers are getting more and more optimistic about Level 4 vehicles. Gill talks about the improvements in technology that need to exist before even a Level 3 vehicle can warn the human driver of impending trouble.
Ford has already expanded its fleet of self-driving cars from 10 to 30 vehicles and is conducting testing in Michigan, California and Arizona. In 2017, it plans to further expand this fleet to 90 vehicles.
“Quanergy's New $250 Solid-State LiDAR Could Bring Self-Driving to the Masses” by Driverless.id highlights how Quanergy’s new solid state LiDAR is heading for mass production this year and therefore goes a long way in addressing concerns that self-driving cars might never be affordable. Not to be outdone, Quanergy’s main competitor Velodyne has announced that it has opened a new megafactory in San Jose, California and that it expects to build more than a million LiDAR units there in 2018.
In 2016, a number of startups gained interest in AV industry. And it seems 2017 may just be better as there are an increasing number of startups in the industry that we will be watching.
Michigan just became the first state in the US to formally permit autonomous cars on public roads with no driver in the front seat. Governor Rick Snyder put his signature on bills permitting automakers to operate networks of self-driving taxis in the state. The legislation reversed a previous law that required autonomous vehicles to have a backup driver aboard. There are multiple reports on this, including WIRED.
“A lobbying group for taxi and limo drivers in upstate New York wants the state to ban self-driving cars for at least 50 years.” reports Fortune. One of the major challenges faced by increasing automation in our lives is job displacement. That self-driving taxis will eventually take away the jobs of human drivers seems inevitable, but should we seek to transition into this future as soon as possible, or delay as long as possible, as these New York State drivers would like? Government will need to take a clear lead here as this type of push-back from driver’s groups is likely to be replicated all over the world in the coming months.
"The pursuit of innovation does not include a license to put innocent lives at risk", said Democrat Phil Tang when he recently introduced a legislation to tighten self-driving rules in California. The bill was inspired by Uber’s recent illegal autonomous taxi launch that was a violation of the law itself. The state had rolled out $150 permits for its Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program in 2014 and some of the big names – Google, Ford, Tesla – had received permission to undertake self-driving testing. But Uber had not applied for one. The bill would give the state the power to levy a fine of up to $25,000 per vehicle per day of violation, and prohibit infringing companies from applying for a permit to legally test autonomous cars on California roads for up to two years.
The US has named 10 sites that will act as official test tracks for validating the AV technology. California was the only state with 2 sites.
Other AV Articles
This Vox article compares the difference in approach towards AVs by car makers and tech companies. It will be amazing to see as the year goes on if there is a single common direction that all companies begin to follow or if the different approaches continue to be the trend.
A McKinsey&Company report describes the upcoming trends that are most likely to cause disruption in the auto industry. The article lists autonomous, electric and connected vehicles as 3 of the 4 major disruptions. These 3 have also been mentioned by us at CAVCOE as the innovations that will change the face of transportation. The report says that 2030 will the year when 15% of total vehicles on roads will be autonomous, technological and regulatory issues aside.
This article by Eno Center of Transportation lists the top 6 stories that are likely to drive autonomous vehicle polices in 2017. Among these are the very recent stories on Uber fleeing the red light in San Francisco, autonomous shuttle launch in Santa Clara University, and Elon Musk and Travis Kalanick joining President Donald Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum.
Upcoming AV Related Events
Feb 2, 2017: Insuring Autonomous Vehicles; London, UK.
Feb 21-23, 2017: Autonomous Vehicles Asia 2017; Singapore.
Feb 27-28, 2017: Cyber Security 2017: Securing the Smart City of the Future; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Feb 28-Mar 2, 2017: Autonomous Vehicles Silicon Valley; Santa Clara, California, US.
Mar 6-7, 2017: Automotive Tech.AD; Berlin, Germany.
Mar 14-16, 2017: EEVC 2017 – European Battery, Hybrid and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Congress; Geneva, Switzerland.
Mar 15, 2017: Autonomous Car Detroit; Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Mar 28-29, 2017: International VDI Conference - Autonomous Trucks, Dusseldorf, Germany. Our Paul Godsmark will be presenting at the event.
Apr 4-6, 2017: SAE 2017 World Congress and Exhibition; Detroit, Michigan, USA.
April 19-20, 2017: Automated Vehicles 2017: Planning the Next Disruptive Technology; Toronto, Ontario, Canada. AV Update subscribers can register using promotional code PRM2 to save $400 off the total conference rate. For more information, please contact Joel Elliott at email@example.com.
Apr 25-26, 2017: ATZ Live; Frankfurt, Germany.
May 15-17, 2017: UITP Global Public Transport Summit; Montreal, Canada.
May 16-18, 2017: Connected and Autonomous Vehicles; Santa Clara, California, USA.
May 22-25, 2017: AutoSens; Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Jun 7-8, 2017: TU Automotive Detroit 2017; Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Jun 20-22, 2017: Autonomous Vehicle Test & Development Symposium; Stuttgart, Germany.
Jul 5-6, 2017: The Future of Transportation World Conference; Cologne, Germany.
Jul 5-6, 2017: 4th International VDI Conference Automated Driving 2017; Berlin, Germany.
Jul 11-12, 2017: Autonomous Vehicle ADAS Japan 2017; Tokyo, Japan.
Jul 11-13, 2017: Automated Vehicles Symposium; San Francisco, California, USA.
Sep 19-21, 2017: AutoSens; Brussels, Belgium.
Oct 5-6, 2017: Automotive Simulation World Congress; Tokyo, Japan.
Oct 24-25, 2017: Autonomous Vehicle Safety Regulation World Congress 2017; Novi, Michigan, USA.
Oct 29-Nov 2, 2017: ITS World Congress; Montreal, Canada.
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