driverless vehicles, autonomous vehicles, driverless, self-driving, on demand mobility, uber, lyft, ride hailing, ride-hailing, Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

News and analysis about driverless (sometimes called autonomous) vehicles, covering everyone from Aptiv to Zoox.

Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

NOVEMBER 2017: Our analysis of the impact of sensor performance on the maximum safe speeds of autonomous vehicles

  • Passenger cars will likely have to travel below 70mph
  • Trucks will likely have to travel below 60mph
  • A significant increase in rear-end collisions is likely

Although sensors will likely improve in future, it may well not be until past 2025 that they perform well enough for cars to move more quickly.

OCTOBER 2017: The technology is so new that pretty much any self-driving demonstration is awesome. This report is to help you stay objective...

  • Why image recognition and scene understanding are key differentiators
  • The four main categories of demonstration (and how to spot them)

Be excited by the hype, but don't believe it all.

OCTOBER 2017:  A summary of the AutoAI conference in Berlin chaired by Thomas Ridge. Key sections were as follows:

  • Artificial intelligence outlook including machine learning & deep learning techniques
  • Computer vision, imaging & perception
  • Sensor fusion & data
  • Simulation, testing & validation of artificial intelligence

 

MAY 2017:  The most substantive publication yet in our series about on-demand mobility, we look at:

  • Patterns of human travel today and the implications for the cost and availability levels that on-demand must reach
  • How on-demand mobility can achieve price points that are lower than car ownership
  • How quickly people might adopt on-demand mobility in preference to other forms of transport
  • What the impact on car production would be if people switched en-masse to subscription mobility services (spoiler alert: it's bad news)
Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

2018

August

  • Waymo researchers said the company has 25,000 vehicles in its virtual test fleet driving eight million simulated miles each day -- an average of 320 miles per day -- indicating that the simulated world, dubbed Carcraft, is processed at around real world pace (13 mph would be respectable in an urban area). (Business Insider)
  • FiveAI said it will start operating an autonomous test fleet in London suburbs in late 2019, following several months off data gathering by five manually-drive, sensor-laden vehicles starting soon. The company’s ultimate aspiration is to run ride hailing services with its own vehicles. (TechCrunch)
  • US supermarket Kroger announced details for a self-driving delivery pilot using Nuro The shop involved is not Kroger-branded and there will be a $5.95 delivery fee for all orders. (Kroger)
  • Lidar maker Quanergy has reportedly seen its funding plan disturbed by Daimler’s recent sourcing of sensors from Velodyne and rumours of quality problems. The company appears to have put a planned IPO on hold but insists it is one of the “finalists” for a Daimler supply agreement. (Bloomberg)
  • Mapping supplier RideOS announced $25 million in investment. (RideOS)
  • Hertz and Aptiv announced a strategic partnership that includes running Aptiv’s vehicles in Las Vegas but also aspires to create a standard set of operating procedures. (Hertz)
  • Swedish self-driving start-up Einride unveiled a new model called T-log which is says can handle off-road activities in addition to the on-highway capabilities of its predecessor. (Business Insider)
  • Uber is stopping development of self-driving trucks. The company still sees a future for freight movement using autonomous vehicles but believes the way forward is to develop working driverless passenger transport and then transfer the technology to commercial vehicles. (TechCrunch)

July

  • Wipro and Genesys will collaborate on software and maps for self-driving cars. (Economic Times of India)
  • Self-driving truck start-up Kodiak says it has raised $40 million. (TT News)
  • Data labelling company Scale, which says it counts GM, Lyft, Zoox, Voyage, NuTonomy and Embark amongst its customers, raised $18 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Navya sold 36 autonomous shuttles in the first half of 2018, for over €200,000 each. (Navya)
  • Driverless truck maker Nikola said it had already raised $100 million of a $200 million Series C target. (Nikola)
  • News of the hiring of Tesla’s former engineering VP reignited interest in Apple’s self-driving project. (TechCrunch)
  • BMW executives said test drives of autonomous cars often last 1,000 km, with an average of three driver interventions, and expressed scepticism that fully autonomous driving will be allowed on public roads. (Autocar)
  • Waymo is running a pilot scheme with Walmart where shoppers order goods online and then collect them from a local store in an autonomous vehicle. It isn’t fully clear why the service isn’t offering to simply transport the goods directly. Waymo also announced an increased series of tie-ups in Phoenix, USA aimed at funnelling easy to service customers from major corporate partners such as dealers, rental companies and hotels. (Waymo)
  • Uber restarted operations of its autonomous test fleet in Pittsburgh, USA but the cars will remain in manual mode, gathering data for simulation and mapping, for an unspecified period of time. (Uber)
  • ZF executives said they expect take-up of private autonomous vehicles to lag commercial vehicles due to cost and reliability concerns. (Journal Auto)
  • Waymo has now reached 8 million miles driven on public roads in autonomous mode. (The Verge)
  • Rinspeed is putting a product based on the Snap Motion, an autonomous vehicle built on a flexible skateboard-type chassis into limited production for proof of concept applications. (Rinspeed)
  • Zoox is reportedly raising $500 million in a round that will value the company at $3.2 billion. (TechCrunch)
  • Self-driving truck start-up Embark raised $30 million. (Fortune)
  • Apple’s testing program has grown, with 66 self-driving cars registered for testing in California. (9to5Mac)
  • Coast Automotive unveiled its P-1 autonomous minibus. (Venturebeat)
  • The deputy head of US highways regulator NHTSA said it was too early to put rules in place for driverless vehicles but that the agency is continually trying to assess when it would be “appropriate” to do so. (Automotive News)
  • Parking aggregator SpotHero says it has 500 AV-ready parking spots in Chicago. (Venture Beat)
  • Autonomous vehicle developer ai raised $102 million. (Deal Street Asia)
  • High resolution radar developer Arbe Robotics announced $10 million in fund raising. (Arbe)
  • Baraja is ready to start shipping units of its new Spectrum-Scan modular lidar system, the specification of the units in terms of range, resolution and wavelength is unclear. (Baraja)
  • The Vietnamese government granted a licence for autonomous vehicle trials to local firm FPT Software. (Xinhua)
  • Daimler’s autonomous vehicle program will be underpinned by Nvidia electronics. (Daimler)
  • Daimler will run a pilot autonomous ride hailing service in San Francisco, starting in 2019, in partnership with Bosch. The scheme will also integrate car sharing and multi-modal services. (Daimler)
  • BMW joined Baidu’s Project Apollo, securing a board seat. (BMW)
  • Anthony Levandowski, formerly of Waymo and Uber, seems to have formed a new company called ai, but since the firm is still in stealth mode, no one knows for certain. (TechCrunch)
  • Neuvition announced a new lidar with 480 lines of resolution and a claimed range of 200 metres. (Neuvition)
  • Civil servants running the UK road network expressed scepticism that autonomous vehicles would be widespread on city streets by 2021, but wouldn’t be surprised to see them operating on motorways. (New Civil Engineer)
  • Valeo joined the Project Apollo autonomous car collective led by Baidu. (Valeo)

June

  • Waymo’s CEO said all the announcements around vehicle purchases so far (JLR I-Pace and Chrysler Pacifica) have been for intended services in the USA and that a “large number” would be needed for services in Europe. (Reuters)
  • US supermarket chain Kroger will run a driverless delivery pilot scheme in partnership with Nuro. (The Verge)
  • US crash investigators said the Uber safety driver involved in the fatal crash was not looking at the system interface, as they had claimed, instead phone records apparently show that they were streaming a talent competition on their phone. (Wired)
  • US regulators told the company behind “Autopilot buddy” to stop selling it. The $199 accessory is put onto the steering wheel to defeat Tesla’s safety measures (checking drivers are holding on to the steering wheel). (The Verge)
  • Israeli start-up TriEye said it was developing an infra-red sensor that could be integrated into cameras, helping them to detect in objects where current performance is very poor (such as mist or dust). (Globes)
  • Ford believes self-driving delivery vehicles have greater application in the suburbs than built-up areas. (PC Mag)
  • PSA believes that 120 million km of test mileage are necessary to verify self-driving on highways -- with greater distances required for rural roads and cities. (PSA)
  • A group of hackers published a series of images from Tesla’s Autopilot overlaid with system categorisation and radar data. Their analysis reveals previously unknown shadow capabilities of Autopilot (e.g. how good it is at tracking stopped vehicles) and provide information on which cameras perform which detection role. (Electrek)
  • Magna announced a partnership with May Mobility. Magna will carry out the final assembly and fitting of shuttles to May Mobility’s specification. (Magna)
  • Rental company Enterprise will run Voyage’s fleet of AVs and says it is lining up other customers. (Bloomberg)
  • Volvo invested in lidar company Luminar. Toyota previously said they will use Luminar’s products. (Volvo)
  • Innoviz is partnering with HiRain to provide lidar-based driverless technology sets to Chinese OEMs. (Innoviz)
  • Autonomous car software developer AutonomouStuff has been acquired by Hexagon. (Hexagon)
  • Waymo’s CEO said that company’s brand probably wouldn’t be as strong as incumbent brands in Europe and this could lead to a service branded by a partner. (Reuters)
  • According to executives, Waymo has reached 7 million miles of on-road driverless testing. (Ars Technica)
  • Driverless pod maker Navya is hoping to list in Paris. (Les Echos)
  • Tesla will release version 9 of its operating system in August. CEO Musk said the new software would “begin to enable full self-driving features”. (Electrek)
  • Self-driving delivery robot company Starship Technologies (Daimler invested in a prior round) raised $25 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Toyota participated in a $7.5 million investment in self-driving robot delivery company Boxbot. (Toyota)
  • GM will offer (hands off highway driving) SuperCruise on all Cadillac products by 2020 and begin rollout to other GM vehicles after that. (GM)
  • GM’s Cruise settled a legal action brought by a cyclist who collided with one of their cars but the terms were not made public. (Reuters)
  • FCA executives said the retail market for autonomy will not progress beyond L3 systems for a long time and that L4/L5 systems will cost $10,000 and, if on sale before 2023, would not be automotive grade. (FCA)

May

  • Uber said it was closing its self-driving operations in Arizona, dismissing 300 employees. (AZ Central)
  • The NTSB released a preliminary report into the fatal Uber crash. The report detailed that the pedestrian crossing the road was first detected about 120 metres ahead of the vehicle, although the vehicle AI was unable to identify them as a person (with a bicycle). It also emerged that Uber had deactivated its own emergency braking systems and was completely reliant on the driver to react to prevent an accident. (NTSB)
  • Apple is reportedly using VW’s ItalDesign factory to modify minbuses for use as autonomous vehicles on Apple’s campus. The same story also linked the company to self-driving developer Torc Robotics. (New York Times)
  • Sony’s CEO refused to deny aspirations to develop cars. (Bloomberg)
  • US / Chinese autonomous car start-up ai announced $128 million in funding and released a kit called Aries that it says enables L4 autonomous capability for under $8,000 per vehicle. (Roadstar.ai)
  • Mobileye’s CEO put the retail cost of the company’s fully autonomous driving solution (mostly camera-based but apparently to eventually include some “backup” radar and lidar” at under $8,000. He also divulged some of the resources required to help AI develop, the company has a team of “more than 2,000” analysts in Sri Lanka labelling data collected by Mobileye sensors. (Bloomberg)
  • Waymo’s detailed application for a Californian permit to operate self-driving vehicles in a limited commercial trial showed several interesting elements of their set-up. (Mark Harris)
    • Page 19 says Waymo does not currently have (or plan to use) remote operators to pilot the vehicle (indicating that in the event of a problem, operators will go to the vehicle).
    • Page 21 describes the geo-fenced area that the vehicles will be allowed to cover, including roads with speed limits of up to 65 mph (although it doesn’t say the vehicles will travel this fast) and that vehicles will operate in good weather, light rain and fog (indicating issues with other conditions, potentially for reasons of both sensor capability and vehicle control).
    • Page 22 says that in the event of bad road conditions or weather, vehicles will safely pull over, not try to complete their journey.
    • Page 24 shows Waymo’s proposed geofenced zone. Vehicles will only carry out journeys that start and end within the geofence.
  • Hyundai’s Cradle venture fund, Toyota AI Ventures and Denso invested in radar start-up Metawave’s $10 million round. The company claims that its “next generation” radar can see over 150 metres with high resolution. (Metawave)
  • The implied take rate of Nissan’s ProPILOT driver assistance technology suite is around between 20% - 25% on vehicles where it is offered. (Nissan)
  • Uber’s CEO said the company will resume testing autonomous vehicles in “the next few months, I don’t know”. Uber has reportedly determined that the decision software was at fault for the recent fatal crash; the car spotted the pedestrian but, under a protocol designed to reduce false positives, decided to continue its present course rather than swerve or avoid them. (The Information)
  • ai will offer a ride hailing service using autonomous vans starting this summer in Texas -- the small number of vehicles in the fleet may hamper efforts to recruit customers. (Bloomberg)
  • GM’s head of strategy said it will take around 6 months to learn a new city. (GM)

April

  • Aptiv and Lyft announced a fleet of 30 vehicles in Las Vegas, USA that will take part in a long term autonomous trial as part of a “multiyear agreement”. (Aptiv)
  • Autonomous vehicle AI provider Algolux raised $10 million, led by GM Ventures. (FINSMES)
  • A German-led study found that consumers were prepared to pay for autonomy, but not much. Only around 50% of respondents would part with more than €1,000 for the technology. The authors noted that this could be a lack of imagination on behalf of those surveyed and that technology demonstrations could change things. (Fraunhofer)
  • An MIT project is working on vehicles that do not require high quality maps and instead use (relatively) rough data about the surroundings to determine its route. (IEEE Spectrum)
  • A British Tesla owner was convicted of dangerous driving after putting his vehicle on Autopilot and climbing into the passenger seat whilst on a motorway. The owner told police he was the “unlucky one who got caught”. (BBC)
  • BMW will use a solid state lidar sourced from Innoviz and Magna for autonomous vehicles -- by extension, presumably FCA vehicles will too; given that they are developing a shared self-driving platform. If rumours are to be believed then you can add Hyundai-Kia to the list too. (Magna)
  • Self-driving start-up Voyage announced an open source safety library comprising code and scenarios. The company hopes it can become a widely-used foundation for autonomous vehicle software. (Voyage)
  • Waymo’s CEO said that the company “might disrupt the utilitarian market” and explained the company’s “Firefly” program of self-built cars as a way to exploit a short-lived loophole in testing regulations, rather than an attempt to become an OEM itself, saying he “wasn’t aware of” any longer term goal for Waymo to make its own cars. (Autocar)
  • Local Motors announced a collaboration with Robotic Research, a company with past experience in automating systems and vehicles for military applications. (Local Motors)
  • Alibaba’s CEO said the company had done “a lot of research on driverless things”, sparking speculation about what they might have in mind. (Yahoo)
  • Uber says it has a way to improve the accuracy of GPS in areas with high rise buildings: rather than being confused by the weak signals from satellites, it identifies “negative information” and fills in the obscured trace. (The Verge)
  • Luminar, a maker of high resolution lidar, said that it would have a production rate of higher than 5,000 units per quarter by the end of 2018. The company is working with four major automakers (Toyota plus three others) at present. Luminar said that a key component has dropped in cost from tens of thousands of dollars to $3 per piece, and the entire sensor cost “a lot” less than $1,000 per unit to produce (purchase price remains unclear). (Forbes)
  • ai raised $5 million in funding, at present the company sells aftermarket dongles that plug into cars and offer enhanced control over vehicle functions. At the same time, it collects data from users in the hope of creating a crowdsourced self-driving platform. (TechCrunch)
  • Ford said its research indicated that driverless delivery vehicles would complete routes 25% more efficiently than those piloted by humans. (Autocar)
  • Waymo’s CEO indicated during an interview that Honda would shortly be announced as a partner, with a focus on delivery vehicles. Ford and Hyundai were also mentioned as partners (as part of the Waymo / Uber trial it was disclosed that Ford and Waymo came close to a deal in 2015/16). (Bloomberg)
  • Three Chinese companies -- GLP, G7 and NIO Capital -- formed a JV to develop smart trucks. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Visteon launched a machine learning and data processing platform, called DriveCore. (Visteon)

March

  • Cepton launched the Vista “120 line equivalent”, 200m range lidar; mass production will begin in Q2 2018. The company said it was “a cost point nobody can touch with this type of performance” without providing specifics and pointed to the units relatively low power consumption (at 9W, its about the same as many 16 line units). (Cepton)
  • Waymo’s CEO said the company was doing “zero” work on data gathering but that it might “be a workstream in future”. (Telegraph)
  • Uber reached a settlement with the family of the woman recently killed in a collision with a self-driving car. (Reuters)
  • Uber gave up its testing permit for California. (Engadget) The company also shut down its on-demand package delivery service. (TechCrunch)
  • Local Motors will use Elite Transportation Services to provide fleet management for its AVs. (Mass Transit)
  • Intel’s MobilEye division released the results of using its proprietary object recognition algorithms against the publicly-available video of Uber’s fatal self-driving crash. The company said that even with the (assumed to be) low resolution version of the camera feed, it could have detected the pedestrian a minimum of 1 second prior to the collision. (Intel)
  • Scotty Labs, a start-up developing remote control for autonomous vehicles said it had raised $6 million and formed a partnership with Voyage. (Scotty Labs)
  • Nvidia announced a virtual testing platform for autonomous vehicles saying that it can simulate data inputs from a variety of sensors. (Nvidia)
  • ai announced that it would start awarding drivers “gold stars” for good driving whilst the company’s data logging equipment is operating. The value of the gold stars does not appear to extend beyond a warm feeling in the driver’s heart. (Comma.ai)
  • Waymo will use Jaguar’s I-Pace as its first all-electric autonomous vehicle, planning for up to 20,000 -- a fleet that Waymo says could operate 1 million trips per day. (Waymo)
  • Further details emerged of the Uber crash and various pundits and experts weighed in, including the Teamsters union. Waymo’s CEO said his company’s software “would be able to handle situations like that one” and Velodyne said that they would have expected their lidar to detect the pedestrian, but made clear that it is the responsibility of other systems to interpret the lidar data and make appropriate decisions. Police released a video of the incident which appears to show the vehicle failing to recognise the pedestrian crossing the street, even after they appear in the glare of the headlights -- indicating either radar and lidar failing to detect their presence, or that the object identification software wrote the sensor data off as a false positive. (Twitter)
  • Apple have reportedly increased the size of their test fleet in California to 45 vehicles -- second only to GM’s Cruise in the state. (TechCrunch)
  • Toyota reportedly held talks with Uber about buying the latter’s driverless technology. (TechCrunch)
  • BMW iVentures and Toyota participated in an $18 million investment in lidar maker Blackmore. (Blackmore)
  • Gatwick airport in the UK will trial use of autonomous vehicles “airside”, saying that its fleet of 300 vehicles are stationary 90% of the time. (zdnet)
  • Magna invested $200 million in Lyft and the two parties will develop self-driving vehicles for use on Lyft’s network. Importantly, the deal appears to give Magna access to Lyft’s data, a privilege which previous investors, such as GM and JLR seem to have failed to secure. (Magna)
  • A test car owned by Uber had a fatal collision with a pedestrian whilst in automatic mode. (The Guardian)
  • Uber has started using autonomous trucks in commercial service (with a safety driver behind the wheel). Human drivers take loads from pick-up to a transfer hub and then the automated truck drives a section of highway to another transfer hub (where a human-driven truck picks up the load once more). (TechCrunch)
  • Waymo has started testing autonomous trucks in a third location: Atlanta. (Waymo)
  • May Mobility’s CEO (BMW and Toyota are investors) said it was buying in many of the sub components for its electric autonomous vehicle and would beat Waymo and Cruise to market “with a successful product”. (Xconomy)
  • HERE published a study into consumer attitudes around privacy, with a focus on location sharing. Bad news for proponents of the “personalised advertising will pay for everything” school of thought… it was the lowest rated reason for consumers to share data (page 34). (HERE)
  • Uber is reportedly courting Waymo to provide an autonomous vehicle fleet for use on Uber’s network -- similar to the intent of Waymo’s existing partnership with Lyft. (Engadget)
  • Aurora (partnering with VW, Hyundai and Byton) raised $90 million in a Series A round. (TechCrunch)
  • ai said that it had been successfully trialling autonomous vehicles on the streets of Nansha and that it has agreed a partnership with Guangzhou Automotive Group. (Pony.ai)
  • California will allow test autonomous vehicles that do not have safety drivers behind the wheel. (California DMV)
  • Pix said it was running an event to create a self-driving car in five days using a team of 15 people. (Pix)
  • Waymo said its fleet has now covered 5 million miles on public roads and celebrated by releasing a short video with real time information overlaid onto video a vehicle in motion. Although the video looks cool, note the limited range (the long range view from 1:40 is illustrative here) and resolution of the real time data versus some of the cleaned up images other companies have showed off in the past. Also note that the conditions are about as perfect as you can get for video. (Waymo)
  • Toyota and BMW iVentures invested in May Mobility, a maker of autonomous buses. (Toyota)
  • Toyota is restructuring its autonomous driving efforts and spending an additional 300 billion yen (about $2.8 billion). The effort will be led by US-based Toyota Research Institute. (Toyota)

February

  • Avis said it will continue to expand its operations with Waymo. (Reuters)
  • Uber’s CEO posted photos of a meeting with Toyota’s leadership, saying that the two companies were discussing a partnership for autonomous vehicles. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Uber’s CEO said autonomous cars would be in operation on Uber’s network “in less than a year”. (Bloomberg)
  • Hyundai’s head of autonomous vehicles said that sales will be driven by ride sharing fleets rather than individual customers. (Bloomberg)
  • Waymo has received a permit to operate commercial ride-hailing services in the state of Arizona, where it already has a test fleet. (Quartz)
  • A report by the London Assembly (regional government) said that the city would not be ready for driverless cars before 2030, and urged the adoption of car sharing instead. (Bloomberg)
  • Mining company Rio Tinto said that it would increase its 80 vehicle autonomous mining truck fleet to 140 units by 2019, citing substantial increases in productivity and cost reductions. (Rio Tinto)
  • Driverless buses are going into operation at Fukushima, reducing the number of people at the site. (Japan Times)
  • Byton announced a partnership with Aurora to develop level 4 and 5 self-driving vehicles. (Byton)
  • Uber and Waymo settled their ongoing case over stolen IP after a few days in court. The $245 million settlement will be paid in Uber stock at a $72 billion valuation. Google emails released during the trial confirmed that the company had tried to agree a tie-up with Ford (long rumoured but previously denied by both companies). (Futurism)
  • Continental and Nvidia agreed a partnership for self-driving car technology, intending to integrate Continental’s sensor technology with Nvidia’s chips. The partners hope to be able to offer a Level 3 product in 2021. (Continental)
  • Autonomous truck company Embark said it had completed a 2,400 mile journey from California to Florida to test its systems (with safety drivers). There were numerous disengagements but the company was encouraged that often the intervals were several hours at a time (not unexpected from highway driving if the system is competent). (Engadget)
  • Uber’s CEO said that because some routes are “tricky” for autonomous vehicles, Uber expects to see “a mix of human-driven vehicles along self-driving ones for years to come”. The company also thinks that self-driving cars “must” be shared, rather than individually owned. (Uber)
  • Scania and Chinese truckmaker Haylion agreed a collaboration to work on autonomous trucks. (Scania)
  • Long-rumoured talks for Hyundai to join BMW’s self-driving alliance are reportedly in the final stages. Memo: Hyundai recently announced a collaboration with Aurora on driverless cars. (Handelsblatt)
  • Mercedes-Benz’s VP of strategy said putting self-driving systems in a vehicle with an internal combustion engine “doesn’t make sense” because of the negative impact on fuel economy. (Wired)
  • California’s DMV released reports from companies authorised to test autonomous vehicles in the state (newcomers are exempt). The reports cover the period to November 2016. Notably, Faraday Future failed to submit a report on time. Analysts quickly crowned Waymo as the champion of the self-driving space, with Cruise getting an honourable mention for the level of improvement in the last 12 months. Drawing deep conclusions from the data is becoming increasingly dangerous. Many OEMs with testing licences run very small fleets in California, rarely putting their vehicles on the road (Tesla is one). Even Waymo’s fleet is shrinking (but miles per car are going up). (Ars Technica)
  • Lyft is opening a European office, but it isn’t aimed at running ride sharing yet. Instead, it is creating an autonomous vehicle centre in Munich, Germany. (Bloomberg)
  • Autonomous delivery van company Nuro raised $92 million. Its concept vehicle has slots for different customer grocery orders, enabling it to drive to your door (carrying them in is your job). (Reuters)
  • Udelv announced the start of public trials with its autonomous delivery vehicle. (Golem)

January

  • Uber’s CEO believes the company will serve fare paying customers with autonomous vehicles within the next 18 months serving fare paying customers. The initial use cases will be limited to certain areas / trips. He forecast that full autonomy, for a given vehicle to operate any trip without limitations, was 10 - 15 years away. (TechCrunch)
  • Lidar supplier LeddarTech and Optis announced a partnership to create accurate simulations of lidar signals that could be used in virtual autonomous vehicle testing. (Optis)
  • Waymo will start testing AVs in Atlanta, but this may not lead to a public ride sharing program. (Fortune)
  • Self-driving start-up ai raised over $112 million in funding. The company hopes to run a fleet of vehicles in Guangzhou, China, following the investment. (TechCrunch)
  • Magna released the Icon radar aimed at self-driving vehicles and developed in collaboration with Uhnder, a start-up still in stealth mode. Magna claims a range of more than 300 metres for the sensor. (Magna)
  • A back-to-back comparison of camera-based and lidar point cloud generation by the US Army Corps of Engineers found that, for sensors with similar resolutions, lidar data was much faster to process. (GIM International)
  • PSA is planning for 80% of its vehicles to have a limited ability to navigate themselves and 10% to have L4/L5 capability by 2030. (Les Echos)
  • US transport officials said that new rules for self-driving cars would be released in the summer. (Reuters)
  • Navya and VIA announced the integration of the Navya AV features into VIA’s app so that customers can summon and then control certain aspects of the Navya vehicle. (VIA)
  • Gett, in partnership with MobilEye, will install mapping equipment on 500 London black cabs in order to map streets ahead of autonomous vehicle deployment. (Auto Express)
  • Baidu announced a JV with Singaporean group Asia Mobility Industries, in addition to a joint investment fund with $200 million to spend on advanced mobility projects. (Press Release)
  • GM unveiled a Bolt without a steering wheel, and requested permission to use the vehicle on public roads in the US. Following Waymo’s example, the company released a “safety report” that explains the workings of an autonomous vehicle without providing any technical substance beyond widely-agreed and long-standing principles. (GM)
  • Toyota debuted the e-Palette concept vehicle at CES; a scalable electrified and autonomous vehicle. Toyota announced partnerships with Didi, Uber, Amazon and Pizza Hut to develop applications for the vehicle and said it was sharing technology development with Mazda, Uber and Didi. (Toyota)
  • Aurora announced tie-ups with VW and Hyundai. The focus of the VW project is mobility as a service (robo taxis), whereas Hyundai are aiming for a level 4 vehicle by 2021 (presumably for retail). The company also said it would partner with Nvidia to create new hardware for self-driving cars based on existing Nvidia (Nvidia)
  • Lidar maker Ouster said that it would sell its recently released OS-1 sensor for $8,000 per unit to research and educational customers -- subject to them passing eligibility requirements. (Ouster)
  • Autonomous technology developer AIMotive said it had raised $38 million in a Series C round with investors including Samsung, Cisco and Bosch. (AIMotive)
  • Local Motors said it had created a financing agreement for its autonomous vehicles that would allow operators to lease over 84 months, subject to teaming up with Local Motors’s approved partners. (Local Motors)

2017

December

  • Didi Chuxing’s CEO said that he believes the company could be the second-best developer of self-driving cars -- behind only Waymo/Google. (QZ)
  • Velodyne said it was reducing the price of the VLP-16 lidar unit by “up to 50 percent”. Although the press release contains no specific pricing, this implies unit costs of around $4,000 for the 16-line unit. (Velodyne)
  • Quanergy opened a new lidar factory that would allow mass production of its S3 solid state lidar. The company says that the current price of the unit is a “few hundred” dollars and believes it will drop to below $100. (Quanergy)
  • Indian self-driving cargo vehicle start-up Ati Technologies said that it plans to have a vehicle (which the firm is designing from a blank sheet of paper) available for sale in early 2019. The software controlling the self-driving vehicle was written in one month. (Economic Times of India)
  • Waymo is reportedly working with insurance company Trov to provide compensation for accidents or lost and damaged personal items. The intent is that the insurance in bundled with the fare. (TechCrunch)
  • Autoliv said it will demonstrate a concept that integrates voice and gesture recognition with in-cabin sensors to create a vehicle that can interact with occupants as if it were an additional passenger and also adapt its driving style based on non-verbal cues. (Autoliv)
  • AEye released further details of its iDar sensor ahead of demonstrations at CES. The product integrates lidar and camera feeds to create a 3D point cloud with complimentary photographic image, similar to TetraVue’s The advantage is that this removes lots of calibration necessary in systems that combine separate camera and lidar elements. It is especially useful in creating ground truth for images. (AEye)
  • Honda representatives gave a presentation to authorised repairers that provided insight into the calibration routines of ADAS sensors. A repair shop will need a 40ft x 50ft area to perform the necessary routines. (Repair Driven News)
  • Tencent and GAC unveiled the iSPACE concept, a shared, connected and autonomous electric vehicle. (EV Obsession)
  • Chinese start-up PIX said it had created an autonomous vehicle platform that reduces part numbers by 90% and dramatically improves manufacturing efficiency and time to market. (PIX)
  • ZF showed off a concept steering wheel with a screen in the centre aimed at autonomous vehicles. (ZF)
  • Volvo has started giving autonomous-capable vehicles to 100 families in Sweden in order to monitor how they use the vehicles everyday. At first the full capabilities of the vehicle will not be available. The company says it will have a fully autonomous car commercially available by 2021. (Volvo)
  • The autonomous vehicle trial in Boston between Lyft and nuTonomy (now owned by Aptiv) has now begun. Customers order a Lyft ride as normal and are sent a nuTonomy car if they are in the same area. (nuTonomy)
  • Aptiv’s CEO repeated the company’s view that autonomous vehicle system cost will have fallen to $5,000 per unit by 2025. Although this led to plenty of media excitement, the company has been showing this figure in public domain presentations for over a year. (Bloomberg)
  • Malaysian media profiled the efforts of local self-driving vehicle start-up Reka Studios. (Paul Tan)
  • Baidu led a $15 million investment in Chinese driver assistance start-up Smarter Eyes Technology. (SCMP)
  • A presentation by Apple at a machine learning conference showed more of company’s research into image recognition and scene understanding (such as identifying the movement of partially obscured pedestrians). Some commentators speculated that Apple are having to be more open in order to attract talent to the company. (Wired)
  • Rinspeed previewed the Snap autonomous vehicle, which will be displayed at CES in January. The vehicle uses a skateboard concept whereby different body shapes can be mounted quickly onto a running base, enabling re-purposing for new roles. (Autocar)
  • Aston Martin said that it has intentionally not fitted ADAS technologies to new vehicles because customers want a more pure driving experience. CEO Andy Palmer said that partner Daimler could supply such devices on a plug-and-play basis if customer perspective changed. (Automotive News)
  • Lidar start-up Ouster emerged from stealth mode announcing that it has $27 million in funding. The company says that its 64 line product, the OS1 is available now for $12,000 per unit. The company hopes to manufacture 1,000 units per month at the beginning of 2018 and be running at a rate of 10,000 units per month by late 2018. (Forbes)

November

  • Fisker said it would build an autonomous shuttle called Orbit with backing from Chinese company Hakim Group. Deliveries are targeted to start by the end of 2018. (Boss Magazine)
  • Zoox gave a rare test ride to a reporter -- they were impressed with the vehicle, saying it “trumped [all the other AVs they had experienced] in terms of the complexity of situations it could handle”. (Bloomberg)
  • KPMG released a whitepaper saying that new vehicle sales could decrease by half in 2030 in a world of proficient autonomous vehicles. (KPMG)
  • Waymo said that its test fleet has now driven 4 million real-world miles. In the last six months the vehicles covered 1 million miles and the company says that this is accelerating. In the past year Waymo has completed 2.5 billion simulated miles. (Waymo)
  • Continental said its fifth-generation radar would be in production by 2019/ The company claims a range of up to 300m for small objects. Note that Continental view “small” as things like spare wheels, not bricks. (Continental)
  • Optimus Ride will operate autonomous buses in a large US housing development. Testing has already begun, and passenger rides should start in 2018. (Boston Globe)
  • Intel formed a partnership with Warner Bros. to develop immersive experiences in autonomous vehicle cabins, possibly through the use of augmented reality. The companies aim to create a concept vehicle together. (Intel)
  • Singapore is planning to put driverless buses onto the streets in three locations from 2022. The idea is for the vehicles to operate on-demand during off-peak times. (Straits Times)
  • Volvo signed a non-excusive supply agreement to supply “tens of thousands” of vehicles (the number was quoted as up to 24,000) to Uber between 2019 and 2021 for Uber to install its autonomous driving suite. Volvo said that it wants to be the supplier of choice for robo taxi services. (Volvo)
  • Renovo announced that it would work with Velodyne and use the latter’s lidar as the reference sensor for the bolt-on driverless vehicle solution it is developing. (Press Release)
  • Israeli vision company Newsight Imaging and Chinese laser maker LeiShen Intelligent will partner to create solid-state lidar for automotive application. (Press Release)
  • Waymo said that it had begun trials of self-driving vehicles on public roads without safety drivers. Subject to further tests, the company plans to offer rides to members of the public within a few months. (Waymo)
  • Navya launched a self-driving bus service in Las Vegas, the assembled media were more captivated by the truck that crashed into the demonstration vehicle within minutes of the service starting. (The Verge)
  • Velodyne launched the VLS-128, a 128-line lidar sensor with a range of nearly 250m. Pricing is still near-prohibitive for production applications. (Press Release)
  • Embark has begun testing driverless trucks on a 650 mile stretch of highway in the USA. (Wired)
  • Apple has acquired InVisage, an imaging sensor company that has short-range lidar amongst its product range. (Electronics Weekly)
  • A review of GM’s Super Cruise system being fitted to Cadillacs found that the vehicle’s facial recognition (intended to ensure that the driver is concentrating on the road) cannot recognise some beverage type and still has problems in difficult lighting conditions. (Detroit Free Press)
  • The RAND Corporation issued a study saying that autonomous vehicles should be deployed quickly, once their standard of driving was beyond that of the average driver, arguing that cumulative lives saved by implementing early outweighed the benefits of waiting until vehicles were substantively safer than humans (and avoiding retrospective moral quandaries about how a vehicle should have perhaps acted in a situation that caused a fatality. (RAND)
  • A recent trial of commercially available L1/L2 vehicles by Danish authorities found significant deterioration in sensor performance in wet roads, with only one vehicle on test demonstrating the same obstacle detection ability in both wet and dry conditions. (Autonomes Fahren)
  • Waymo gave a closed course demonstration to selected members of the media. (TechCrunch)
  • Baidu has created a partnership with ride-hailing company Shoqi. The deal should help accelerate development of high resolution maps by increasing the fleet size. (Xinhua)
  • High resolution radar supplier Arbe Robotics raised $9 million. Note that the company explicitly talks about Level 3 capability in its press releases. (Globes)
  • Researchers have developed a new method for testing self-driving neural networks called DeepXplore. The idea is to run identical tests on several neural networks at once and spot bugs by identifying major differences in output. (IEEE)
  • Waymo said that it would use US dealer AutoNation to service its autonomous test fleet. (International Business Times)
  • Low-cost lidar developer Blickfeld raised $4.25 million in seed funding. (TechCrunch)

October

  • Waymo said that it would begin testing in Michigan to learn about driving in cold weather conditions, particularly snow. (Waymo)
  • Pioneer unveiled a lidar product with a spinning mirror that it aims to sell for under $100 per unit by 2020. At present, the product appears to be aimed at Level 3 applications. (Bloomberg)
  • Nividia’s CEO said that it would take “no more than 4 years to have fully autonomous cars on the road”. (Reuters)
  • Argo AI (majority owned by Ford) announced it has acquired lidar company Princeton Lightwave, saying that it was now “uniquely positioned to innovate in both sensor hardware and the interface between sensor and software”. (Argo AI)
  • Ford said that it would bring autonomous vehicles into a test market in 2018. (Ford -- Webcast)
  • GM think that they will be ready to take the driver out of a vehicle in “quarters, not years”. (GM -- Webcast)
  • Delphi said that it was buying self-driving car developer nuTonomy. The deal is worth up to $450 million depending on whether future targets are met. After the transaction closes, Delphi’s combined test fleet of legacy and nuTonomy cars will be 60 vehicles. (Delphi)
  • The CEO of Mobileye (owned by Intel) co-authored an academic paper that lays out some rules Mobileye hopes can help assign blame in accidents and both be used to establish whether self-driving vehicles are safe in principle and be applied to specific accidents. (Intel)
  • A video posted in Twitter showed the latest prototype driverless vehicle prepared by Apple and the detailing of the sensor set housing led some commentators to speculate that Apple was working on finer aesthetic design points ahead of an unveiling. (CNET)
  • Researchers associated with a UK Government funded AV trial in London published a survey on public perceptions of driverless vehicles. One finding was that when cast as a pedestrian, people thought driverless vehicles would be safer than human-piloted ones, but that as a passenger, they saw human-driven vehicles as safer. (Gateway Project)
  • Waymo launched a campaign called “Let’s talk self-driving” to try and build support from groups that are marginalised today or are natural advocates for road safety. (Waymo). As part of the campaign, Waymo released a report. It doesn’t provide any new details on the Waymo fleet but does have some nice explanations, such as the concept of geo-fencing (page 16). (Waymo)
  • Nvidia unveiled a new chip called Drive PX Pegasus that it says may have a small enough form factor to fit in production self-driving vehicles. At the moment though, the power consumption is far beyond what OEMs believe they can accommodate (see next item). (The Verge)
  • A Bloomberg article collected quotes from BorgWarner, Delphi and Ford executives explaining why the first generation of autonomous robo taxis are likely to use internal combustion engines rather than being all-electric. (Bloomberg)
  • California’s Department of Motor Vehicles published draft rules that could allow vehicles without safety drivers onto the streets. The regulations could be in place by June 2018. (Detroit News)
  • UK start-up StreetDrone said that it was about to start deliveries of its first product, the StreetDrone One. The £49,500 vehicle is a Renault Twizy with various sensors such as lidar and camera integrated that the company believes will be of interest to universities wanting to research self-driving technology. (The Engineer)
  • Rinspeed showed some concept artwork of the Snap, an autonomous vehicle with replaceable bodies. It says that a prototype will be on display at the next CES. (CarBuzz)
  • US Postal Service released a report into the use of autonomous driving technologies. USPS said that it wants to pilot autonomous vehicles starting in 2019 with full-scale deployment in rural areas between 2022 and 2025. They are also interested in city delivery vehicles. Pages 1 - 2 and 12 - 17 of the report list a range of applications USPS is interested in, not all of which require L4/5 capability. (USPO)
  • Deutsche Post DHL will deploy electric vehicles equipped with ZF’s ProAI self-driving sensor and processing kits (cameras, lidar and radar). The vehicles will record data from normal driving but if the fleet learning is successful then the same set-up might drive the vehicles in future. (ZF)
  • After saying that the Fisker EMotion would have five lidar sensors, the company announced that the units in question would be Quanergy (Robotics Tomorrow)
  • VW Group CEO Müller said in an interview the first step for driverless vehicles will be “taxis and parcel delivery in urban areas, where speeds are low”. (Autocar)
  • Baidu and BAIC signed a strategic partnership with a view to deploying L4 driverless cars by 2021. (TechCrunch)
  • Magna has joined the BMW-led self-driving car platform. Magna’s role appears similar to that of Delphi and Continental since it will act as a non-exclusive integrator and offer the technology to other companies. (Magna)
  • Reportedly about 35,000 Tesla Model S and X customers have paid the incremental $3,000 for suitably equipped vehicles to enabled “fully self-driving capability” even though no timescale for releasing the feature has been specified. The take rate of enhanced Autopilot is said to be 77%. (Electrek)
  • Said in a company video that full self-driving technology was “many years off” and cautioned that some companies researching autonomy were potentially not thinking through all the safety implications, saying “it’s one thing to make a five-minute YouTube video” but putting millions of vehicles into the hands of “everyday people” was a different scale of problem. The company believes that billions of miles of testing are necessary and when the team hear other companies talk about their millions of testing miles they think “that’s nice”. Video at 46:00. (Toyota)
  • Fisker’s CEO said that the EMotion would be equipped with five solid state lidar units in order to enable fully autonomous driving. (Auto Evolution)
  • Various media sources speculated that Waymo could launch ride hailing services using autonomous vehicles without safety drivers in Phoenix, Arizona within the next few months. (ArsTechnica)
  • The US autonomous driving bill passed unanimously in Senate committee hearings -- seen as a good sign for the bill once it reaches the overall voting stage. The bill has already passed in the House of Representatives. (Futurism)
  • The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is leading a project to build an automated bus depot. The concept includes automation of light maintenance activities in addition to internal and external cleaning. (Autonomes Fahren)
  • Ford’s CEO said during a speech to students that he wasn’t ready to trust a self-driving car, although he would be “very soon”. (Jalopnik)

September

  • Drafts of a US senate bill on self-driving vehicles have excluded trucks from the same categorisation, leading to speculation that union leaders have successfully lobbied to make introduction of self driving technologies more difficult in their industry. (Wired)
  • ai has raised $15 million from ride-hailing firm Grab and will open an office in Singapore, where the two firms may collaborate on a self-driving car program. Memo: Grab is already working with Nutonomy and drive.ai recently announced a project with Lyft. (TechCrunch)
  • Toyota published a white paper on the future of autonomous driving, saying SAE Level 3 autonomy is “potentially as challenging to implement as Level Four automation”. It said it would have a human-supervised highway only system on sale by 2020 and a system capable of operating in urban areas in the 2020s. (Toyota)
  • Self -driving start-up JingChi raised $30 million and is reportedly already working on a $100 million Series A. (Deal Street Asia)
  • Baidu launched a $1.5 billion fund called “Apollo Fund” to spend on driverless car projects over the next three years. (BBC)
  • Information from the Uber/Waymo case showed that Waymo was seeking $2.6 billion in damages for one of the nine trade secrets it claims has been stolen. Given that Waymo’s entire spending on the project has been disclosed at just over $1 billion, it isn’t clear how this figure has been calculated. (TechCrunch)
  • Self-driving trucking company Embark showed off its new headquarters and released a video showing two hours uninterrupted autonomous driving (it didn’t reveal at what point beyond the two hours the driver had to take over, or why). (TechCrunch)
  • Google’s Waymo and Intel said that they were collaborating on self-driving car technology. Note that Intel is also a partner in BMW’s self-driving consortium as well as being a member of Baidu’s Project Apollo. (Intel)
  • Tencent said that it will work on a strategic partnership with Guangzhou Automobile Group to investigate opportunities in e-commerce, insurance and electric vehicles. (China Money Network)
  • Audi and Samsung’s new fund made an investment in TTTech, a connected car company. (Samsung)
  • A consortium involving 13 OEMs will run a 4 year research project called L3Pilot to investigate autonomous driving technologies and consumer behaviour in European cities and on highways. The project has a budget of €68 million (with nearly half of this coming from an EU grant). (VW)
  • Court documents released as a part of the Waymo-Uber court case say that Google/Alphabet spent $1.1 billion on its driverless program between 2009 and 2015. (IEEE)
  • European not-for-profit safety tester NCAP issued an outline of a 2025 safety testing regime that calls for standard fitment of autonomous technologies that can reduce accidents, including vehicle-to-vehicle communication and emergency steering. (Autocar)
  • Waymo’s CEO said that he thinks self-driving trucks are vying with robot taxis for the first widespread implementation and that the company is still trying to get OEMs to sign up to its platform. (Bloomberg)
  • Self-driving start-up Zoox is reportedly in talks with SoftBank about a sizeable investment (TechCrunch)
  • The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance intends to have a fully autonomous vehicle on sale in 2022 and to become an operator of robo taxis, without providing further details. (Nissan)
  • VW said that it would be putting autonomous cars on the streets in 2021. (VW)
  • Audi’s Aicon autonomous vehicle concept pointed towards long-distance driverless travel, with a claimed ability to travel at high speeds and a range of over 700km. Audi majored on the contrast with robo taxis which are “reduced to pure functionality” -- an interesting statement of fact, given that no robo taxis exist! (Audi)
  • UK start-up FiveAI said that it had raised £35 million from a combination of public and private sources to fund development of an autonomous on-demand transport service. Similar to Uber, the company is developing its own self-driving solution as well as intending to run the server. (TechCrunch)
  • Waymo (Google) gave an overview of how they use simulation to increase the rate of AI learning for autonomous vehicles (Waymo on Medium)
  • LIDAR company LeddarTech announced that it had raised $101 million from investors including Osram, Delphi and Magneti Marelli. (Leddartech)
  • LIDAR company Innoviz announced it had raised $65 million from a variety of investors including Delphi and Magna. (Innoviz)
  • Lyft said that it would introduce self-driving vehicles in collaboration with ai. Memo: Lyft is already working with GM’s Cruise operation and has recently begun its own in-house autonomous effort. (Lyft)

August

  • GM said that Super Cruise (their L2/L3 highway driving solution) would be a $5,000 option on base models of the Cadillac CT6, although it will come as standard on higher end vehicles (Automotive News).
  • Siemens will buy self-driving simulation company Tass. (Economic Times of India)
  • Magna showed off its MAX4 self-driving system and said that it expected vehicles to be present in geo-fenced areas “quite soon”. Magna’s forecast for overall sales of autonomous vehicles is that in 2025, 4% of sales will be Level 4 vehicles. (Bloomberg)
  • Semi-conductor company NXP and self-driving company Torc Robotics have established a consortium to develop radars for self-driving cars (TechCrunch)
  • ZF announced a strategic relationship with the University of California, Berkley to work on automotive applications of machine vision and deep learning. (ZF)
  • Daimler showed a new concept vehicle called Smart Vision EQ fortwo. The vehicle shows how Smart’s cars could evolve into driverless pods in future and is similar in many details to the Mini concept unveiled in 2016 (except that the Mini was a mixed-mode manually-driven and autonomous concept). (Daimler)
  • Ford’s VP of autonomous and electric vehicles wrote in a blog post about the company’s efforts to create a driverless vehicle for moving people and goods, but didn’t mention any timing. He revealed that the vehicle will be hybrid electric “initially” and his description makes the product Ford are developing sound like a combi-van. (Ford)
  • The UK government has granted licenses for self-driving lorries to be tested on public roads in order to develop improved understanding of platooning. (BBC)
  • Apple is reportedly developing autonomous shuttles that it will use to ferry people around its campus as a part of its autonomous driving efforts. (New York Times)
  • Germany’s ministry of transport received the report it had commissioned into ethics of autonomous driving. The report suggests a number of ethical principles and frames autonomy as a safety technology and encourages data sharing between OEMs (page 29 Figure 3). It also actively discourages emergency handovers between vehicle and driver (principles 17 & 19). (BMVI)
  • May Mobility, a start-up led by ex-Ford and GM mobility gurus demonstrated a prototype autonomous vehicle and said it was looking to augment its existing $3.5 million fund-raising in order to accelerate development. (TechCrunch)
  • Navya (a company operating an autonomous bus service in France) unveiled the results of a user satisfaction survey. They found that, on balance, users were receptive to further introduction of autonomous public transport, however the scores indicated that many customers need greater exposure before becoming enthusiastic about the potential for autonomous vehicles. (Navya)
  • Tencent announced that it was creating an alliance to develop artificial intelligence for driverless vehicles. Members include BAIC. (South China Morning Post)
  • NuTonomy said that it hopes to begin operating a paid-for service in Singapore using driverless vehicles from Q2 2018 onwards. The company intends to partner with Grab to offer the new service. (Reuters)
  • Autonomous truck startup TuSimple has raised $20 million from a group of investors including Nvidia. (TechCrunch)
  • 3M is testing transparent stickers that can be placed onto existing street signs in order to give autonomous vehicles additional information and reduce the need for cameras to use visual recognition (for instance, QR barcodes can be embedded in the stickers). (Business Insider)
  • Patent pictures appeared to show the design of Waymo / Google’s intended driverless car dashboard. The image features prominent “Go” and “Stop Now” buttons and appears configured for independent passengers. (Business Insider)
  • In an interview, the CEO of ai (in which Ford has a majority stake) talked about how and why his AI philosophy avoids deep learning algorithms and that the plan is have around 200 employees by the end of the year (from around 100 now and virtually none at the beginning of the year). (The Verge)
  • Autoliv announced a partnership with Seeing Machines to develop driver monitoring systems (seeing aimed at L3 autonomous cars). (Autoliv)
  • Delphi announced a partnership with Innoviz to use the latter’s LIDAR technology in driverless systems that Delphi is developing. (Delphi)
  • Copies of Ford’s patent for a removable steering were released. Having previously publicised its plans for a vehicle without a steering wheel by 2021, Ford believe that a removable device is required for a variety of use cases, including: extreme manoeuvre testing of production-intent vehicles and retrofitting steering wheels for users who are put off travelling in a vehicle where they are unable to take control. (US Patent Office)
  • South Korea will purchase up to 200 autonomous pods from UK sportscar manufacturer Westfield in a £30 million deal. The pods are the same type that are undergoing trials in London. (The Manufacturer)
  • Lyft’s director of product said in an interview that he believes drivers will continue to be core to the company’s offering, event with the advent of autonomous vehicles, although he des believe that they will not be required for all journeys. (Recode)
  • Intel announced the closure of the Mobileye takeover and that it was commissioning a self-driving car test fleet of 100 vehicles. The fleet will be formed of multiple different car brands and nameplates. (Intel)
  • Foxconn’s CEO said that the company was looking for a suitable site in Michigan for a development centre that would focus on next generation technology and self-driving cars. (Detroit News)
  • Media updates on Hyundai’s project to showcase self-driving vehicles at the 2018 Winter Olympics said that high definition maps, accurate to 10cm, were at the centre of the company’s autonomous strategy -- especially due to the snow expected at the Winter Olympics site. (ET News)
  • Indian self-driving truck start-up Flux Auto says that it is eschewing LIDAR in favour of “cheap cameras”. The company believes it can offer a bolt-on product for $3,000 - $4,000. (TechCrunch)
  • LIDAR maker Oryx Vision has raised $50 million in its series B round. (TechCrunch)

July

  • Daimler participated in the Series B round of funding ($46 million) for Chinese self-driving start-up Momenta. (TechCrunch)
  • Researchers uncovered GM patents for self-cleaning autonomous vehicles. The ideas appear to include vehicles with integrated vacuum cleaners and steam cleaning as well as sensors to tell if the car is dirty. (Auto Guide)
  • The Indian minister of road transport said that he did not support the use of autonomous cars in India as “each car gives a job to a driver. Driverless cars will take away those jobs, I am certain on this issue”. His comments were not supported by other government sources, who said that the Government’s position was undecided. (International Business Times)
  • US unions raised concerns around the light touch regulations that lawmakers are considering with one union leader saying autonomous vehicles “are likely to cause massive job dislocation and impact worker safety”. (Bloomberg)
  • German vehicle testing firm Dekra has purchased a racing circuit at Lausitz in preparation for a surge in testing miles for autonomous vehicles. (More…)
  • Self-driving truck start-up Embark announced that it had raised $15 million and was working on adaptations of Peterbilt The company is planning a Level 3/4 system that will navigate highways autonomously whilst using a driver for city routes. (More…)
  • Several media outlets wrote profiles about Lvl5 a mapping start-up that uses camera and GPS data to build high definition maps. It is paying drivers (many of whom are Uber and Lyft drivers) to send it data from their trips in order to build its database of features. (More…)
  • A report by AlixPartners said that 50 creditable companies are trying to develop an autonomous vehicle system, as well as a “plethora” of smaller players. The survey including consumer research that finds traditional OEMs such as Ford and GM are viewed as less attractive than Tesla and Google in terms of autonomous vehicles. Note: prior research implies that this is debateable with other studies both for and against traditional OEMs versus technology companies in terms of reputation. (More…)
  • As if to illustrate the point above, Indian software services giant Infosys showed off an autonomous vehicle produced by its engineering team. (More…)
  • The CEO of nuTonomy gave an interview around some of the practicalities of autonomous vehicle development. Highlights include: he currently sees autonomous driving software as having to be developed on a region by region basis and isn’t sure how that will change; and he sees multiple competitors across regions rather than a winner takes all market. (More…)
  • Continental gave greater details on its Cruising Chauffeur system, confirming its Level 3 to Level 4 credentials. The press release describes a system where the vehicle can drive itself on highways (regulations permitting) and will execute an emergency stop (including pulling over to the side of the road) if the driver fails to take over. The company also highlighted its work on redundancy: it has two separate decision-making systems, one for normal operation and one for emergencies. Continental say that the system will be available in 2020. (More…)
  • Baidu announced that its Project Apollo initiative, launched earlier this year, now has over 50 partner companies. These include several Chinese OEMs, Ford and Daimler. (More…)
  • US Start-up Torc emerged from stealth mode saying that it was producing self-driving hardware for retro-fit to existing vehicles. It currently has 1,000 miles of autonomous driving. (More…)
  • Continental said that it had taken a stake in French autonomous bus company EasyMile. (More…)
  • Autoliv has entered into an agreement with Velodyne with the intent of commercialising the latter’s LIDAR technology (should have been reported last week). (More…)
  • As part of the ongoing Uber-Waymo litigation, a judge ordered Waymo to turn over documents relating to its communications with Lyft. Uber seems particularly interested in the nature of M&A discussions between the two. At the same time, Waymo has dropped three of the four patent claims it made, seemingly due to the inability to get the engineer at the centre of the case to testify as he wants to avoid self-incrimination. (More…)
  • ai launched its first product, called Panda. The device plugs into existing car hardware and collects information about how the vehicle drives. The intent is that later on this information can be used to create self-driving programs. (More…)
  • Dutch start-up Amber is claiming that it will have self-driving cars on the streets by mid-2018. (More…)
  • Swedish start-up Einride unveiled its driverless delivery vehicle concept. There is no cabin so the vehicle must either operate in autonomous mode or be driven by a remote operator. (More…)
  • Porsche is said to be working on autonomous vehicle software designed for on-track application. The company has apparently retained the services of ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber to help them record circuit data that can then be downloaded to other cars and teach the owners how to drive faster. (More…)

June

  • Alphabet’s (Google) Waymo driverless car division announced an agreement with Avis to run its self-driving test fleet in Phoenix. The exact terms of the agreement (length of time, geography and exclusivity) were unclear. (..)
  • Volvo announced that the recently formed partnership with Autoliv (called Zenuity) to develop autonomous cars will work with Nvidia, targeting a Level 4 autonomous car by 2021. (More…)
  • ai said that it had raised $50 million in order to help develop self-driving technology, including devices that could be retro-fitted to existing vehicles. (More…)
  • GM indicated that it was looking at ways to involve its dealers in the servicing and fleet management of autonomous vehicles. (More…)
  • HERE announced a joint venture with Mapillary to use the latter’s crowd-sourcing images to built better 3D maps. (More…)
  • Self-driving vehicle researchers were aghast after Volvo reported that it was having particular problems detecting kangaroos with its sensor set up because of the way that they jump around. Fortunately, it turned out to be mis-reporting and concern the fine-tuning of Volvo’s current safety systems, meaning travellers to the outback can still dare to dream of a driverless future. (More…)
  • An online study of people’s perceptions driverless vehicles appeared to debunk industry myths by finding that men over 50 were most open to the experience (More…)
  • Continental were announced as a member of the BMW / Mobileye / Intel development partnership as a “system integrator”, a similar role to Delphi’s. Continental’s press release did not mention Delphi at all. (More…). Delphi’s earlier press release had noted that its agreement was non-exclusive. (More…)
  • Continental gave further details on its Cruising Chauffeur Level 3 autonomous system for eyes-off highway driving. The system uses camera, radar and lidar sensors (More…)
  • A Polish inventor believes that he may have cracked the dual challenges of autonomy and energy sufficiency by creating the World’s first self-driving potato. (More…)
  • UK government legislation under the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill is expected to create a framework that means insurance pay outs for crashes by autonomous vehicles are consistent with human-piloted ones. (More…)
  • The Renault-Nissan alliance intends to launch driverless on-demand services “within 10 years”, though likely not starting before 2020. The services at launch are intended to be heavily geo-fenced, including specific pick-up and drop-off locations. (More…)
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook gave an interview where he acknowledged the company’s interest in autonomous cars for the first time saying that Apple was focusing on “autonomous systems” and that a major disruption is looming. Cook was also keen to link autonomy and electrification. He declined to say what type of product this might mean Apple would offer. (More…)
  • German chancellor Merkel speculated that within 20 years, it might be necessary to own a special licence in order to drive a car manually. (More…)
  • Lyft intends that by 2025 it will provide at least 1 billion rides per year in electric autonomous vehicles. (More…)
  • GM declared itself to be the first company to “use mass-production methods” to build autonomous vehicles as it completed a batch of 150 Bolt cars. (More…)
  • Waymo announced the retirement of its self-built driverless vehicles as its new FCA supplied Pacifica minivans are more capable. (More…)
  • Machine vision and LIDAR maker AEye announced a $16 million fund raising round with investors including Intel and Airbus. (More…)
  • The autonomous car field became ever more crowded as Iranian business Persian Gulf Intelligent Technology and Industry Company announced that it had been testing a system it had developed using a 25km test track. (More…)
  • US start-up Optimus Ride is planning to start testing vehicles on the roads of Boston. It hopes to turn its test program into one that takes passengers, similar to the Lfy/Nutonomy tie up. (More…)
  • Japanese start-up ZMP announced that it would partner with one of Tokyo’s top ten taxi fleets by size to try and develop a self-driving taxi in time for the 2020 Olympics. (More…)
  • US lawmakers are developing a series of rules to govern the implementation of self-driving vehicles. Proposals being considered include making all states conform to the same regulations and removing the regulatory agency’s power to block new entrants until it is satisfied that they can operate safely. (More…)
  • Valeo and Cisco unveiled a smart parking service based on Valeo’s vehicle control technology and Cisco’s car park monitoring systems. The system enables vehicles that are in suitable car parks to be parked autonomously. (More…)
  • Vedecom (a self-driving consortium including PSA and Renault) announced a tie-up with Karamba Security to create vehicles that are protected from cyber attacks. They plan to operate vehicles commercially starting in late 2017. (More…)
  • Helsinki will reportedly launch a public fully autonomous bus service (likely to have a conductor on board) later than year, following successful demonstration trials. (More…)
  • Bosch and TomTom announced a “breakthrough” in the use of radar sensors to generate a road signature that could be used in combination with GPS to determine a vehicle’s exact location. Among the benefits claimed by Bosch is that radar signatures use significantly less data than video based location recognition. (..)
  • In an article by Mobility Buzz, insurance experts indicated that their expectation is that autonomous vehicles would lead to greater, and more severe, accidents due to the increase in technology. This is at odds with much of the automotive industry’s conventional wisdom on the expected level of accident reduction from AVs. (..)
  • UK Simulator trials of humans taking control of autonomous vehicles in emergency situations reinforced earlier research, showing that that humans are on average incapable of immediately taking over the vehicle and require an adjustment period of a few seconds. (..)
  • Continental gave an overview of the work that it is doing around driver interaction with an autonomous vehicle. Similar to the UK trial above, it uses simulators, but was less forthcoming on its findings. (..)
  • Ford Chairman Bill Ford said that it would be up to governments and regulators to decide on the ethics of how autonomous vehicles would makes decisions in crash scenarios. Ford called this the “difficult piece” of autonomy. (..)
  • US transport secretary Elaine Chao met with carmakers in Detroit to discuss rules for autonomous driving saying that “the pressure is mounting for the federal government to do something [in providing clear rules to encourage progress]” (..)
  • Cognata reported an additional investment of $5 million. The company makes simulation software to test autonomous vehicles in highly realistic virtual environments. (..)
  • Continental unveiled 2025AD.cn, a site that it is hoping will become a leading platform for sharing of autonomous car technologies and data. It is the sister site of 2025AD.com. (..)
  • Delphi and Transdev announced a partnership intending to develop a “global, fully automated, mobility-on-demand (AMoD) transport system”. (..)
  • Honda said that it was targeting introduction of Level 4 automat ed driving capability by 2025. (..)
  • Lyft and Nutonomy announced a partnership to run a robotaxi pilot in Boston. Nutonomy have already been testing in Boston since the end of 2016. (More…)
  • BMW issued more details of its driverless vehicle program. The company listed Level 3 and Level 4 “with technical provisos” as being offered in 2021. (..)
  • UK professional body, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport published a report called “(Re)inventing the wheel” looking at the impact of new technologies, including driverless, on the transport environment to 2035. (..)
  • Continental and Bosch have struck an agreement with China’s Baidu to develop automated driving, connectivity and mobility services. (..)
  • Media profiled Italian / Californian collaboration the Camal Edit, an electrified autonomous modular platform that uses a vehicle design by Camal Studios (previous projects include Ferrari) on OSVehicles’s (More...)
  • HERE suggested that autonomous cars will have so much processing power that parked vehicles could make money from being used for cloud computing, a similar logic to the vehicle-to-grid battery business where pilot projects are already underway. (..)
  • Continental gave details of a wireless charging system that it has developed. Similar in concept to the system Qualcomm demonstrated a few weeks ago, Continental’s system has a lower charge rate and has been developed for parked cars. (..)
  • Bosch announced a cooperation with Sony semiconductor aimed at improving camera recognition, especially in difficult light conditions. (More…)
  • Waymo’s research into autonomous trucks was profiled in the media. (..)
  • Russian search giant Yandex has demonstrated an autonomous vehicle intended for use in its Yandex.taxi ride sharing service. (..)

May

  • A UK survey of consumer opinions on driverless cars found that OEMs were perceived as more trustworthy than tech firms -- an earlier US study had indicated the opposite. Over half of those surveyed believe that autonomous vehicles will be widely available within the next 10 years. (..)
  • Researchers at the University of Michigan (under the banner M City) published a white paper saying that they believed they had a method to dramatically reduce the time it would take to certify the safety of autonomous vehicles. Their method uses real world data and a computer model to build a random but comprehensive test cycle for the vehicle to accomplish. (..)
  • Chinese carmaker Great Wall will develop self-driving and electric vehicle technology with Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics. (..)
  • Toyota said that it was exploring the use of blockchain technology to securely store autonomous vehicle driving data from multiple sources. The system Toyota is developing is aimed at improvements in three areas: holding test data, usage based insurance and transacting feeds for car or ride hailing. (..)
  • Innoviz announced that it will release an aftermarket LIDAR product that can be used for self-driving vehicle development. The product called InnovizPro will be able to collect and analyse data that should be representative of later mass produced products such as the InnovizOne (set for release in 2019). (..)
  • Waymo and Lyft confirmed that they have agreed to work together on deployment of autonomous vehicles. Waymo cited Lyft’s commitment to “improving the way cities move” as part of the logic for the tie-up, whilst Lyft said that Waymo holds “today’s best self-driving technology”. (..)
  • Ford’s head of product development Raj Nair said that Ford was using recent acquisition Chariot to experiment with fleet management and could develop it into a tool for autonomous fleet management. (..)
  • ZF said that it will create a joint venture called e.Go Moove with start-up Go Mobile to produce a 15 seat autonomous electric minibus, for which it will supply the electric drive and some autonomous components. (More...)
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk criticised those holding back the advance of autonomous technology saying that they were “killing people”. (..)
  • Bloomberg published an updated graphic of tie-ups in the mobility space. (..)
  • Car sharing company Getaround said that it was developing technologies that would allow it to provide on-demand maintenance services in future. (..)
  • The dispute between Uber and Waymo about the former’s alleged use of illegally obtained Waymo technology will go to trial. Uber had tried to frame the issue as a dispute over an employee contract and was seeking arbitration. (..)
  • Researchers demonstrated how autonomous vehicles can smooth traffic flows by releasing a video of a vehicle trained to brake and accelerate in such a way that gradually ends a stop-and-go traffic problem (performed on a closed course). (..)
  • An update to the German Road Traffic Act was approved that allows autonomous vehicles. The vehicle will be allowed to operate in autonomous eyes-off mode if a driver is ready to take back control if necessary. The law mandates that manufacturers will be responsible for accidents in autonomous mode and will be revisited in two years’ time to learn from technological developments. (..)
  • Geely said that it is aiming for Level 3 automation of vehicles by 2019. (..)
  • Toyota and Nvidia announced a collaboration to develop artificial intelligence technologies for driverless cars. (..)
  • New York state announced a year-long pilot program that will allow operators to apply for special licenses to test autonomous vehicles onto the roads. (..)
  • Media profiled South Korea’s K-City, a test area billed as the world’s largest test site for driverless cars. (..)
  • Uber announced the creation of a new self-driving research group in Toronto, Canada. They will augment the existing teams in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. (..)
  • A report by think tank RethinkX forecast that 95% of miles travelled by 2030 would be through offerings from Transport As A Service (TaaS) providers. (..)
  • A report by market research company Frost & Sullivan forecast level 4/5 autonomous vehicles on the road “as early as 2020”, in line with announcements made by some manufacturers. (..)

April

  • PSA said that it will form a strategic partnership with nuTonomy to test autonomous vehicles in Singapore. nuTonomy already has a test program running in the city state, thus far using Renault Zoe vehicles. The program with PSA will use Peugeot 3008 SUVs and aims to launch by September. (..)
  • Mapillary, a Swedish start-up, released a free dataset of street level images to help train driverless vehicle artificial intelligence. (..)
  • MobilEye told Reuters that the company’s maps did not need to wait for fully autonomous cars to generate revenue and would make money from SAE Level 2 and 3 systems using the technology. (..)
  • Samsung gained approval to begin testing driverless cars in South Korea. (..)
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that he believes level 5 autonomy will be a reality within the next two years. (..)
  • Busmaker Proterra said that it was working on a self-driving electric bus program in Nevada. (..)
  • Self-driving start-up Renovo had a $10 million funding round which included Verizon. (..)
  • Tesla updated owner terms and conditions to allow data sharing of “short video clips” in order to improve autonomous driving technology. Tesla said it would store the data in such a way it was impossible to know which car it was from. (..)
  • Alphabet’s (Google) Waymo announced that its driverless car program had begun operating with (chosen) members of the public in Phoenix, Arizona (USA). The scheme uses 500 of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans Waymo has recently taken delivery of from FCA. (..)
  • Amazon has reportedly created an in-house team to look at driverless technologies. (..)
  • Autonomous vehicle manufacturer Navya (specialising in driverless mini-buses so far) announced it will open a new factory in Lyon. Factory capacity will be around 200 vehicles per year (against 2016 actuals of 25 vehicles). (..)
  • Amber Mobility, a Dutch start-up, wants to begin operation of driverless vehicles for business-to-business use in Eindhoven (Netherlands) by mid-2018. (..)
  • An autonomous testing consortium in the UK said that it will trial driverless cars on UK roads and motorways in 2019. (..)
  • VW will test electric powered heavy trucks with some autonomous capabilities by using them for internal logistics. (..)
  • Baidu announced that it would make its driverless technology open source under the banner of “Apollo”. Baidu’s aim is to have capability for highways and open city roads by 2020 (..)
  • Daimler said that it is still evaluating possible semi-conductor suppliers for the processor units of its autonomous vehicles, (..)
  • Bosch said that it will form a self-driving partnership with Chinese software firm Baidu and mapmaker AutoMavi. Bosch has only recently announced a collaboration with Daimler. (..)
  • Google have purchased a large block of land in Nevada, USA, ostensibly for a data centre but media speculation was that a test track for autonomous vehicles could be built there too. (..)
  • Boston Consulting Group released a forecast that by 2030 up to 25% of driving on US roads could be performed by self-driving cars. (..)
  • Apple received a permit to begin testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in California. The vehicles will be sourced from Lexus. (..)
  • CEO of Volvo North America said that driverless cars will result in lower vehicle production. He was quoted as saying “We’re building factories as we speak as if nothing will change. I don’t think we have the right answer yet because everyone is building”. (..)
  • Singapore’s Land Transit Authority has signed a partnership deal that aims for autonomous buses to be ready by 2020. The buses would reportedly have a top speed of 60 km/h. (..)
  • The Waymo vs Uber case around IP allegedly taken from Waymo by Anthony Levandowski (now head of Uber’s driverless program via a start-up called Otto that he helped found and then sold to Uber) continued. Uber received several negative comments from the judge, who threatened injunctions barring them from using disputed technologies (Source). Documents filed under the case also revealed that Google have started legal proceedings against (Otto cofounder) Lior Ron - this had been speculated previously.
  • Online education start-up Udacity has launched its own self-driving technology company called Voyage (Source)
  • The Trump administration said it plans to nominate Derek Kan, currently a general manager at Lyft, as under secretary of transportation for policy. He is expected to help in reviewing rules for driverless cars (Source)
  • A research analyst has used data from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to compare the autonomous driving performance of different companies. Note that the data may not be directly comparable (Source)
  • Navigant released a comparison of companies working on self-driving vehicles, rating Ford (Source)
  • Aurora, the self-driving company started by ex-Google autonomous vehicle boss Chris Urmson has reportedly received $3.1 million in funding (Source)
  • Speculation about Apple’s ongoing driverless program were spurred by its latest release of supplier information (Source)

March

  • Further details of the collision between an Uber AV and private vehicle last week emerged, with the suggestion that Uber’s vehicle may have gone through an amber signal and surprised the other vehicle, which was turning across the road.
  • Google and Uber continue to argue over where to hear the case surrounding Anthony Levandowski, the ex-Google employee and Otto founder. Uber said that Google had previously been trying arbitration and the current case should be treated as such. Uber legal activity is directed at keeping proceedings private.
  • US insurance company AAA released a survey saying three-quarters of drivers are afraid to ride in an autonomous car. A separate survey from Canadian software firm Klashwerks said 18% of drivers were “terrified” of self-driving cars and just under 25% would never ride in one. The “why are they afraid?” section of the report didn’t mention the fact that without autonomous vehicles in use, no one is actually talking from experience.
  • Media profiled Austin Russell, a 22 year-old who has started a company called Luminar Technologies Inc that builds Lidar.