The race to build fully autonomous cars has gone into hyperdrive, with major carmakers such as GM, Daimler, BMW and Audi promising SAE Level 5 autonomous driving by sometime in 2021. Goldman Sachs predicts that robo taxis will grow the ride-hailing and sharing business from $5 billion in revenue today to $285 billion by 2030. Autonomous driving will redefine mobility and historic earning streams are sure to be toppled. Even with all the road testing the carmakers are doing, the only way the car companies can meet their ambitious goals is by leveraging the power of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to learn on real-world roads and accelerate development using simulations. The automakers are using simulation techniques such as hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) and software-in-the-loop (SIL) to make this happen.
Autonomous car makers are running more and more real-world tests, and Intel is now joining the fray, bringing its self-driving cars to the roads of Jerusalem. The company's Mobileye subsidiary, which develops self-driving technology, calls the city home. And since, according to Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua, Jerusalem has a reputation for aggressive driving, it doesn't seem it will have to go very far to test the limits of the cars' artificial intelligence. Testing in the challenging Jerusalem conditions, Shashua wrote in a blog post, should showcase the cars' ability to make quick decisions. They must react to other drivers and pedestrians who don't use crosswalks without causing slowdowns or accidents.
The car industry is reinventing the wheel to prepare for autonomous vehicles. Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., whose roots stretch back to when Henry Ford was building his Model T, is developing a "smart tire" that can monitor its own air pressure and temperature, and eventually respond by itself to changes in road conditions. Yet it's more than just tires that are being changed. Koito Manufacturing Co., AGC Inc. and Lear Corp. are putting semiconductors and sensors inside headlights, glass and seats to make them as intelligent as the self-driving cars. Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo LLC, Intel Corp.'s Mobileye NV and Baidu Inc. dominate the core technology for autonomous driving, yet suppliers still count on finding their own space in the business.
Driverless cars should have a fairly easy time getting the green light to operate on U.S. roadways, as long as they look and act like the vehicles people have been driving for the past century. Take away the steering wheel and brake pedal--as Google hopes to do from its self-driving car--and that vehicle is no longer street legal and probably would not be for some time, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT). As carmakers move at full throttle on efforts to rethink the automobile, the DoT is scrambling to figure out how it can adjust decades of driver safety regulations to accommodate vehicles driven entirely by computers. DoT's Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center reviewed current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and concluded that increasing levels of automation for parking, lane changing, collision avoidance and other maneuvers is acceptable, provided that the vehicle also has a driver's seat, steering wheel, brake pedal and other features commonly found in today's automobiles. Implementing more radical changes, such as using smartphone-control, replacing the windshield with large video displays or realigning seats so there is no clear "driver," would prevent approval under current safety standards, according to the new report.
NuTonomy is offering rides in its self-driving taxis to select residents of Singapore from Thursday, ahead of a commercial launch of the service in 2018. The trials on the smartphone app-based service follows an agreement earlier this month between NuTonomy, a startup set up by two former MIT experts in the areas of robotics and intelligent vehicle technology, and Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) to begin trials of an autonomous mobility-on-demand transportation service. The NuTonomy trial comes ahead of similar tests planned by Uber Technologies later this month on the streets of Pittsburgh in the U.S. NuTonomy said its new "robo-taxi" service, which will include specially configured Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicles, will run on an on-going basis within Singapore's one-north business district, where the company has been conducting daily autonomous vehicle testing since April. You can see a video of the trial here. The vehicles will be fully autonomous but an engineer from the company will ride in the vehicle both to monitor its performance and to also take over control if required at some point for safety or other reasons.