Plus plans to merge with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V in a transaction that would bring the company, which is based in California and China, about $500 million in gross proceeds and a market capitalization of roughly $3.3 billion. The agreement is expected to close in the third quarter, the companies said Monday. The deal would provide "a significant cash infusion for us to expand our commercialization efforts," Plus Chief Executive and co-founder David Liu said, as the company steps up production and aims to fill thousands of contracted orders and vehicle reservations from Chinese and U.S. fleets. The transaction would include a $150 million private placement of shares with BlackRock Inc., D.E. Top news and in-depth analysis on the world of logistics, from supply chain to transport and technology.
Tesla privately admitted to a California regulator that CEO Elon Musk has been exaggerating plans to have fully-autonomous self-driving cars on the road by 2022. The acknowledgment was revealed in a summary of answers to questions put to the company by with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. They were released by legal transparency group PlainSite, and first reported by The Verge. During an earnings call in January, Musk told investors he was'highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year,' reported The Verge. That call came five months after Musk told an AI conference in Shanghai that he was'confident' of producing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2020.
At some point in the near future--how near depends on who you ask--autonomous vehicles (AVs) will become a common sight on the roads. Without the need for a driver or human input, AVs, which are also known as self-driving cars, will require sensors and computers working together to read the road and surrounding environment. Most of the advanced driver aids in the wild today use a combination of radar and sonar to deliver warnings on unseen threats and to help stop a vehicle before a collision occurs. Lidar is a technology that can perform similar functions to radar and sonar, but it's a next-generation system that may represent the best option for AVs' ability to "see." As automakers and other companies move through testing and real-world drives, it has become clear that next-generation sensors and tech offer intriguing functionality but are not the silver bullet that many thought they'd be at first.
Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car subsidiary, has reshuffled its top executive lineup. John Krafcik, Waymo's CEO since 2015, announced on April 2 that he would be stepping down from his role. Krafcik is being replaced by former COO Tekedra Mawakana and former CTO Dmitri Dolgov and will remain as an advisor to the company. "[With] the fully autonomous Waymo One ride-hailing service open to all in our launch area of Metro Phoenix, and with the fifth generation of the Waymo Driver being prepared for deployment in ride-hailing and goods delivery, it's a wonderful opportunity for me to pass the baton to Tekedra and Dmitri as Waymo's co-CEOs," Krafcik wrote on LinkedIn. The change in leadership could have significant implications for Waymo, which has seen many ups and downs as it develops its driverless car business.
The perception that self-driving cars can really operate themselves without driver involvement is worrying automotive watchdogs, who say that some Americans have grown dangerously confident in the capabilities of semi-autonomous vehicles. Their comments come as electric vehicle maker Tesla's so-called Autopilot system is under scrutiny once again following a crash that killed two passengers in the Houston area late Saturday. "I would start by saying there are no self-driving cars despite what you may read about or what you've seen advertised," said Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. "And there's certainly nothing anywhere close to self-driving that is in production right now." Tesla has been the most common target of critics for marketing that its vehicles are capable of "full self-driving" with an upgrade. They are not capable of full self-driving – and, in fact, Tesla says on its website that drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the wheel at all times, ready to take over when the system is not able to steer, accelerate or brake on its own.
Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car subsidiary, is reshuffling its top executive lineup. On April 2, John Krafcik, Waymo's CEO since 2015, declared that he will be stepping down from his role. He will be replaced by Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov, the company's former COO and CTO. Krafcik will remain as an advisor to the company. "[With] the fully autonomous Waymo One ride-hailing service open to all in our launch area of Metro Phoenix, and with the fifth generation of the Waymo Driver being prepared for deployment in ride-hailing and goods delivery, it's a wonderful opportunity for me to pass the baton to Tekedra and Dmitri as Waymo's co-CEOs," Krafcik wrote on LinkedIn as he declared his departure.
Walmart is signaling its commitment to autonomous deliveries with a new investment in self-driving company Cruise. The two already have a cozy relationship, having recently worked together on a delivery pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona. Walmart was so impressed with Cruise's "differentiated business, unique tech and unmatched driverless testing" that it decided to take part in the GM subsidiary's $2.75 billion funding round. The investment will see Cruise become an important part of the retailer's "last mile delivery ecosystem" -- industry parlance for the final journey from warehouse to customer. Walmart has struck additional partnerships on driverless deliveries with companies including Google's Waymo, Ford and Udelv.
Waymo is a self-driving car company, but they don't particularly like using that terminology. Instead they prefer fully autonomous as a more accurate way to describe driverless or autonomous driving technology. What consumers may not fully understand is the difference between self-driving and fully autonomous. A self-driving car is a type of vehicle that can provide some level of automation like ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance System) or automatic cruise control. It still requires driver attention for proper operation or it can lead to accidents.
Automated vehicles are rapidly advancing in capability, altering the risks and liabilities ... [ ] traditionally associated with driving. Self-driving vehicles should ideally accomplish a few things: convenience for operators/owners of vehicles, cost reduction for commercial vehicles (no driver), and safer roads (fewer and less severe crashes). This last item, if true, will significantly lower the risks traditionally associated with driving. In fact, the removal of the driver fundamentally alters the liabilities that insurance companies have spent almost a century covering. As liabilities and risks shift, how vehicles are insured and the costs of that insurance will change, disrupting a $300B industry and creating opportunities for innovation. The US Department of Transportation rates a vehicle's ability to self-drive from Level 0 (none) to Level 5 (fully autonomous).
While the governments of the United States and China are pushing policies for technological decoupling, private tech firms continue to tap resources from both sides. In the field of autonomous vehicles, it's common to see Chinese startups -- or startups with a strong Chinese link -- keep operations and seek investments in both countries. But as these companies mature and expand globally, their ties to China also come under increasing scrutiny. When TuSimple, a self-driving truck company headquartered in San Diego, filed for an initial public offering on Nasdaq this week, its prospectus flagged a regulatory risk due to its Chinese funding source. On March 1, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) requested a written notice from TuSimple regarding an investment by Sun Dream, an affiliate of Sina Corporation, which runs China's biggest microblogging platform Sina Weibo.