The all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning, announced recently by the Ford Motor Co., will feature hands-free driving by virtue of Blue Cruise advanced driving assistance system (ADAS). The hands-free driving features will also be available on the 2021 internal combustion pickup truck and certain Mustang models through a software update later this year, according to an account in TechCrunch. The hands-free capability uses cameras, radar sensors and software to provide a combination of adaptive cruise control, lane centering and speed-sign recognition. It has undergone some 500,000 miles of development testing, Ford emphasized in an announcement in April. The system also has an in-cabin camera that monitors eye gaze and head position to help ensure the driver's eyes remain on the road.
Leading carmakers such as Ford Motor and Toyota Motor are catching up with tech giants in the global race to develop self-driving technology as indicated by new patent data. The two companies claimed the top two positions on a list of most competitive firms in terms of patents related to autonomous driving technology. The list was compiled by Nikkei and based on a survey of patents registered in the U.S. by the end of January conducted by Patent Result Co., a Tokyo-based company that analyzes such licenses. Ford and Toyota have overtaken Waymo, the autonomous car company owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, which topped the previous list made in July 2018. As self-driving technology edges closer to practical use, automakers are now threatening to one-up IT powerhouses that once led the pack, given their expertise in conventional car manufacturing.
Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk for years has been championing his vehicles' driver-assistance system called Autopilot and forecasting that self-driving cars are an emerging reality. Some would-be social media stars and Tesla owners can't seem to wait. Param Sharma, 25, has posted multiple videos to Instagram in which he appears to operate a Tesla while in the back seat with nobody at the wheel. Police in California arrested Mr. Sharma on May 10 for alleged reckless driving after an officer said he saw him operating a Tesla Model 3 from the back seat on a Bay Area highway. Similar videos abound on social media, even though Tesla's technology is intended only as a way to assist drivers, who are instructed to keep their hands on the wheel.
A man who was spotted riding in the backseat of a Tesla Model 3 with its partially automated driving feature apparently engaged was arrested on Monday after fellow motorists alerted the police. The California Highway Patrol reported that 25-year-old Param Sharma was taken into custody when an officer at the Bay Bridge toll plaza in Oakland saw the car pass by without anyone in the driver's seat. According to the report, the officer witnessed Sharma get into the driver's seat and bring the vehicle to a stop. The vehicle was towed and Sharma was taken into custody and charged with reckless driving and disobeying an officer. The CHP said Sharma had previously been cited on April 27 for similar behavior and that video of someone resembling him riding in the back of a Model 3 with no one visible in the driver's seat had been posted to social media.
Federal investigators said Monday they were able to glean some insights into what might have happened after a fire erupted from a Tesla crash that killed two people in the Houston area in April and destroyed the vehicle's data recorder. . The National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary findings from its probe into the crash, which raised speculation about whether the vehicle's partially self-driving system, Autopilot, was to blame. The speculation stemmed from local authorities saying they were nearly positive that no one was behind the wheel when the vehicle crashed. The NTSB, in its preliminary report, said video footage from the vehicle owner's home security system showed him getting behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S and then slowly exiting the driveway. The vehicle traveled about 550 feet "before departing the road on a curve, driving over the curb, and hitting a drainage culvert, a raised manhole and a tree," according to the NTSB.
The 2021 Cadillac Escalade is available with the latest version of GM's hands-free Super Cruise highway driving aid. Fox News Autos Editor Gary Gastelu lets it take him for a ride. General Motors is developing autonomous vehicles through its Cruise division, which is already testing the vehicles on the streets of San Francisco without a driver behind the wheel, but you won't be able to buy one. The vehicles are intended for use in a ride-hailing service the company is hoping to launch in select cities soon, including Dubai where it recently signed a deal to become the city's exclusive self-driving taxi service. The Cruise Origin is a fully autonomous electric taxi GM plans to begin producing soon.
Having just donated your well-worn 1994 Toyota Camry to charity, you're driving a brand new 2020 Honda sedan on a major street, enjoying air-conditioned comfort on a sunny day, with the satellite radio service narrowcasting tunes from the soundtrack of your life. In a half second, the car slows from 45 to 20 -- and you never touched the brake pedal. You never saw it coming but your neck is still reminding you painfully of your whiplash injury. A close family member experienced this exact scenario just a month ago. She never touched the brake pedal.
Toyota Motor Corp. said Tuesday it had agreed with ride-hailing firm Lyft Inc. to acquire the U.S. firm's self-driving division for $550 million, aiming to accelerate its development of autonomous driving technologies. The purchase via Woven Planet Holdings Inc., a Toyota unit engaging in software development, will equip the Japanese automaker with development bases in California and London in addition to Tokyo. Woven Planet and Lyft also have agreed to use Lyft's system and fleet data to speed up commercialization of Woven Planet's automated-driving technology and improve its safety features. This will be the first buyout by Woven Planet since it began operations in January this year. It plans to complete the acquisition of Lyft's division, Level 5, in five years.
One of the victims killed in last week's Tesla car crash in Texas, which police suspect to have involved the vehicle's autopilot mode, was William Varner, a 58-year-old anaesthesiologist, his employer said. In the incident on Saturday, two men were killed after their 2019 Tesla Model S, travelling at a high speed, failed to negotiate a curve and crashed into a tree, catching fire, police reports noted. According to the police, one of the victims was found in the passenger seat and the other in the back seat, while nobody was at the driving seat at the time of impact, raising doubts on the involvement of the car's autopilot mode. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Monday saying that data logs retrieved from the crashed car by the company ruled out the use of the autopilot system. "Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled ... Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have," he tweeted.
Two men died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver's seat, crashed into a tree north of Houston, authorities said. "There was no one in the driver's seat," Sgt Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said of the crash on Saturday night. The 2019 Tesla Model S was traveling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the roadway, crashing to a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said. After the fire was extinguished, authorities located two passengers, with one in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat of the Tesla, the report said, citing Harris County Precinct 4 police officer Mark Herman. Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.