Gauging the disruptive power of robo-taxis in autonomous driving


The self-driving taxi could ultimately take the global auto industry on a wild ride. Our use-case approach reveals why. Personal mobility could change profoundly in the next two decades. Consumers, who increasingly view mobility as a service, want more choices for traveling between points A and B, including ride hailing, car sharing, and perhaps even self-driving "robo-taxis." For automakers, the proposed changes could replace the industry's traditional emphasis on "moving metal" with new schemes to capture greater profits per mile or per trip.

After a Tesla crash, more doubts drivers can be trusted with self-driving tech like AutoPilot


The driver of a Tesla Model S crashed into a fire truck while driving down a California highway. SAN FRANCISCO -- If you want proof that people will push the limits of a technology, even if at risk to their lives, look no farther than last week's crash of a Tesla Model S in Utah. According to a report issued Wednesday by police in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City, the 28-year-old woman at the wheel of the $100,000 electric sedan engaged Autopilot -- Tesla's driver-assist software that requires driver oversight -- and then didn't touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds. Until she hit a stopped fire struck at 60 mph. That she walked away with only a broken foot likely warrants a separate story on how the Model S can handle a crash.

Intel's Mobileye inks deal to supply millions of autonomous vehicles


Intel's Mobileye unit has been awarded a contract to supply millions of autonomous vehicles. According to Reuters, eight million cars will be equipped with self-driving technologies and shipped off to an automaker stationed in Europe. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Erez Dagan, senior vice president for advanced development and strategy at Mobileye told the publication that the contract will come into play in 2021 when Intel's Mobileye EyeQ5 chip is ready. The processor is an upgrade on the upcoming EyeQ4, which is due to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Here maps helps the Mercedes S560 tackle sharp corners


As the car approaches a sharp bend on a back road in Northern California, the $155,000 (starting at $99,900) Mercedes-Benz S560 slows down of its own accord. I guide it through the corner with a bit of help from lane keep assist. Then, as the vehicle exits to a straightaway it accelerates back to the adaptive cruise control speed setting until it encounters another switchback. The latest S-Class luxury line of cars from Mercedes ships with an updated version of Active Intelligent Drive (the automaker's semi-autonomous suite) which uses data from Here maps to determine just how fast the car should take a corner. That means if you're doing 65 miles per hour using adaptive cruise control and the upcoming bend in the road is too sharp for that speed (according to Mercedes and Here at least), the car will automatically slow down to an appropriate pace.

Americans Can't Have Audi's Super Capable Self-Driving System


Between Silicon Valley's disruption-happy tech giants and Detroit's suddenly totally on board automakers, it's easy to think of America as the center of the self-driving universe. And so it seems a bit backwards that Audi has decided to release the world's most capable semiautonomous driving feature in … Europe. When the 2019 A8 sedan hits dealer lots later this year, Europeans will have access to Traffic Jam Pilot, which will take control of the car on the highway at speeds below 37 mph; no need for the constant human supervision required by current systems like Tesla's Autopilot. On this side of das pond, however, as CNET reports, too many questions remain about laws that change from one state to the next, insurance requirements, and things like lane lines and road signs that look different in different regions. When the A8 goes on sale here, it won't come with Traffic Jam Pilot.

A peek at BMW's self-driving ride-hailing plans


Automakers are trying to figure out where they fit in the autonomous-driving future. With sales falling, some of these companies are exploring the idea of becoming ride-hailing services too. BMW is one of them and during the opening of its autonomous Driving Campus in Germany, it offered rides in an autonomous 7 Series that gave us a glimpse of its plans. The ride itself was short. A quick circle on a closed course peppered with stationary BMWs in a parking lot -- but it was autonomous.

Google and Apple might lose the infotainment war


Android Auto and CarPlay are both pretty great. You plug your smartphone into your car and you're greeted with a familiar set of icons. Why wade through a confusing interface, when two of the biggest tech companies in the world have made it easy for you to use the map and media apps you already know. But in the tech world, if you're not constantly improving, something else will appear and automakers, they're not sitting around. At Google I/O, the search and data-collection giant announced a modest, yet important update is coming to Android Auto.

Tesla Ramps Up Model 3 Production and Predicts Profitability


After a tumultuous year in stormy seas, Tesla is making progress toward a safe harbor. In a report to investors today, the automaker revealed that it built more than 2,000 Model 3 sedans for three consecutive weeks in April, an encouraging number for a company that has lagged badly on its production targets for this all-important vehicle. Trouble is an old friend to Elon Musk's young automaker, which over a 15-year existence has confronted one near-disaster (flirtations with bankruptcy, high-profile crashes, lawsuits, federal investigations, grievous delays) after another. The fans cheer, the stock goes up, the short-sellers are foiled again. This report foreshadows another victory lap: "If we execute according to our plans, we will at least achieve positive net income excluding non-cash stock based compensation in Q3 and Q4," it states.

Volkswagen in talks to manage Didi fleet, codevelop self-driving cars

The Japan Times

BEIJING – Volkswagen AG, the world's biggest automaker, is in talks to form a joint venture with China's Didi Chuxing to manage part of the ride-hailing company's fleet of cars and help develop "purpose-built" vehicles for Didi's services. As part of the deal between Volkswagen and China's biggest ride-hailing service, expected to be signed early next month, the German automaker will initially manage a fleet of about 100,000 new vehicles for Didi, of which two-thirds will be Volkswagen Group cars, according to a senior executive at the carmaker. Volkswagen will also jointly buy some new cars with Didi to allow the Chinese company to expand its fleet. The two eventually plan to collaborate to design and develop dedicated vehicles, the executive said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the details are still private. The executive did not give financial details of the deal but said Volkswagen will get a slice of the revenue once the venture develops.

Inside BMW's Autonomous Driving Campus and plans


Dr. Dirk Wisselmann, senior expert for autonomous driving at BMW, tells me that the automaker's first level 3 car will have the technical capabilities for level 4 or 5 highway driving. "We can create a software update (for the car) and inform our drivers, 'We are are very confident on this road. We are very sure nothing can happen. You can sleep if you want to.'" He makes sure to note that this is a best-case scenario.