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Wired, 11-29-2016 -- As cars edge closer to driving themselves, it can seem they’ve already forgotten humans are still here and in control. It’s not just that systems like lane centering, and collision avoidance often leap to action or lay passive without giving the human a beep of warning or explanation. As these systems advance and cars pick up more of the load while offering more distractions, these communication problems will only prove knottier. At the same time, increasingly advanced infotainment systems make it harder to keep your eyes on the road.

Acura thinks it has found the solution to both problems. This month at the LA Auto Show, Honda’s luxury arm unveiled the Precision Cockpit, which it intends to pair with the Precision Concept vehicle it unveiled earlier this year—that look and tech could start appearing in production Acuras within a few years.1 The rethought cockpit boasts two big features: a touchpad that’s more easily controlled without looking at it, and visual graphic depictions of vehicles and obstacles that the car is tracking via its myriad cameras and sensors.

These days, infotainment systems are commonly controlled in one of two ways: a touchscreen that pulls your eyes away from what’s ahead, or a hard to use, mouse-like touchpad that controls a conventional screen. Acura has blended the two, adding “absolute position mapping” to what looks like a traditional touchpad.

“As much as people like touchscreens in their cars, because of the parallels to tablets and smartphones, it may not be the best strategy for cars,” says Acura product engineer Steven Feit. Touchscreens feel like the future, but they demand eye contact, and if they’re high up on the dash—the best position for the driver’s line of sight—they can be hard to reach. “The touchpad makes it easier to control the screen more safely,” Feit says.

Then there’s the second problem: Knowing what your ride’s up to. Right now, cars that offer features like emergency braking and collision avoidance often do a crummy job conveying information about how the car will behave, and in what circumstances. When cars reach a point where they pass control between human and robot, any uncertainty is sure to be trouble.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

10-10-2016 -- On a foggy Monday morning in Silicon Valley this week, I took a ride in Google’s self-driving car and nothing happened.

That’s a big deal.

That’s because the company announced its self-driving car project, which was created in 2009, has racked up over two million miles of driving experience. It’s a significant marker for Google — no other company has that many miles of fully self-driving experience.

But that landmark actually doesn’t mean much on its own, because the real milestone is how well the technology has developed in that time.

“It’s a nice round number, but it’s really about the quality of those miles,” said Google’s head of self-driving tech Dmitri Dolgov. “We’re building a driver,” he later added.

Indeed, because after riding in Google’s car, it was clear that two million miles in four cities, along with the millions of miles a day the company does in simulated rides, has helped the technology develop from what is basically a nervous teen student driver to the equivalent of a more experienced licensed person who drives every day.

Mistakes are still made and collisions happen — Google has been involved in 14 real ones so far, 13 of which were caused by other drivers — but the ride we took in its self-driving car was uneventful, which is the goal the company has long been aiming for consistently.

My ride started like your basic self-driving car test drive. A Lexus equipped with Google’s proprietary sensors and cameras pulled up to the front of its Mountain View headquarters building, with Dolgov in the driver’s seat. Another engineer sat in the passenger seat manning a laptop that was running the self-driving software. 

Read the rest of the story HERE., May 17, 2016 -- Car industry lobbyists are complaining that in-house divisions at the European Commission are delaying technologies like driverless cars from getting onto European streets.

“We see too many cooks in the kitchen,” Erik Jonnaert, secretary general of the European car industry lobby group ACEA, said at a Brussels conferences yesterday (17 May).

“On this subject one could ask the question, ‘Who do I call within the Commission?’ and at the moment there are different people to call,” Jonnaert said of the EU executive’s splintered efforts to boost driverless vehicles and car functions with internet connection.

Jonnaert shared a panel on connected vehicles with high-ranking Commission officials from three different directorate generals ― DG Move (transport), DG Grow (single market) and DG Connect (digital). The three departments are all doing legwork for potential new legislation on driverless and connected cars.

A group of car manufacturers, consumer groups and government officials started meeting this January to come up with guidelines for new EU rules on driverless cars. DG Move is hosting the group.

But the car industry warned that piecemeal regulation of specific issues will not be enough to help European companies produce driverless cars quickly.

“We have a tendency in Europe that when we have safety issues in mobility we adopt a safety directive and when we have emissions issues we adopt an emissions directive,” Jonnaert said.

“Is this not the golden opportunity we’ve all been waiting for to come up with a new horizontal regulatory approach?” he wondered.

Read the rest of the story HERE:

Traffic Technology -- With a recent study showing that drivers in Europe spend an average of 30 hours every year stuck in traffic jams, Ford is currently developing technology that could make driving in congestion less stressful. The company’s Traffic Jam Assist feature aids the driver by keeping the vehicle centered in the lane, and brakes and accelerates to keep pace with the vehicle in front of it.

The system is among a range of semi-autonomous driver assistance technologies that Ford is developing, as it moves toward the eventual introduction of fully-autonomous vehicles. Activated at the push of a button when a traffic jam is encountered, Traffic Jam Assist identifies the position of vehicles in front using a grille-mounted radar, and the location of lane markings using a front-facing camera behind the windscreen.

The driver can take over at any time by using the pedals, the steering wheel or the indicators. The system also regularly monitors the driver’s interaction with the steering wheel, issuing acoustic and visual warnings if it detects a lack of steering input.

Read the rest of the story here:


Start-ups like Uber and Lyft are changing the way people view car ownership whilst the likes of Google and Tesla are forging ahead with autonomous and electric vehicles themselves. Even Apple is rumoured to be working on a self-driving car.

The reason Ford was at MWC was to promote and explain its expansion into ‘ smart mobility’ - everything from pay-by-the-minute car hire (GoDrive) to autonomous driving (Active Park Assist).

And the company insists it’s not intimidated by the technology coming from Silicon Valley, but rather sees it as an opportunity.

"We’re not scared of Silicon Valley at all,” Dr Ken Washington, the vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford, told Mirror Online at MWC.

Read the rest here:

Bloomberg -- Ford Motor Co. and Jaguar Land Rover Ltd. are teaming up with the U.K. government to test autonomous cars as an add-on to public transport systems.

The U.K. Autodrive Consortium will place 40 self-driving transport “pods” on the streets of Milton Keynes, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of London, for six months beginning in late 2017, project head Tim Armitage said in an interview. The British government’s goal is to secure a slice of the growing market for autonomous transport.

The project, which is partially funded by a government grant, is part of a five-year, 120 million-pound ($186 million) effort by the U.K. to become a leader in self-driving vehicles, challenging Germany and the U.S. The goal is to spur investment as well as reduce accidents and improve air quality.

“There’s some big wins” with autonomous vehicles, Armitage said. “But in order to reach those big wins, we need some new technology.”

The trial, a three-year investment backed by a 10 million-pound government grant and the same amount from the private sector, is running alongside two other U.K. programs in Bristol, England, and the London borough of Greenwich. U.K. road laws are more open to testing driverless cars on public roads than many other countries, making the country attractive to foreign companies, Armitage said.

Read the rest of the story here:

9-16-2016 -- Ford Motor Co. executives say the automaker’s investment in autonomous cars and new transportation services will hurt in the short term, but will set up the company for long-term success.

Ford President and CEO Mark Fields said Wednesday at the company’s annual investor day that Ford’s 2017 financial results will fall from the $10.2 billion the company expected to earn this year as Ford invests in ride-sharing shuttles and other services. But the company’s fortunes will pick back up in 2018, executives say, and those emerging opportunities could offer profit margins of more than double what Ford makes selling cars and trucks.

“As we expand to be an auto and a mobility company, we’re not moving from an ‘old’ business to a ‘new’ business. We’re moving to a bigger business,” Fields said in a statement. “The world is moving from simply owning vehicles to owning and sharing them. That’s why we are expanding to sell more vehicles and provide transportation services at the same time.”

Ford’s investor day presentations, Fields said, were meant to convince Wall Street that Ford, “is a solid investment with an attractive upside on emerging opportunities.”

As has been the case in recent years, investors shrugged off the news. Ford stock closed Wednesday at $12.14 a share, down 1.94 percent for the day.

Executives from across the company detailed how they plan to continue to have a strong core business while methodically expanding into new services and technologies such as driverless vehicles. Fields said those opportunities could offer profit margins of 20 percent, while its target for margins in its core business is 8 percent.

Ford is investing heavily in autonomous cars because it believes driverless vehicles could account for 20 percent of industry-wide U.S. yearly sales by 2030. Of that 20 percent, Fields said 80 percent will be in fleets, while 20 percent will be for personal use.

Executives believe the company has the potential to earn $3.7 trillion of the transportation industry’s $5.4 trillion in annual revenue from emerging mobility opportunities such as ride-hailing and car-sharing services.

The automaker’s leadership sees the biggest chance to make money off retail and finance, followed by mass transit. The company expects the mass transit sector will account for $900 billion of the potential $3.7 trillion the industry could earn.

Ford’s already investing heavily in that space. Last week it acquired Chariot, a shuttle service based in San Francisco that it plans to expand to five additional markets in the next 18 months. Chariot is working to deploy fully autonomous cars for a commercial ride-hailing or ride-sharing service in 2021.

By targeting its autonomous vehicle for a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service, Ford said it can reduce the cost of traveling. Traditionally, owning a vehicle has cost between 70 cents and $1.50 a mile, it says. Ford’s autonomous ride-hailing or sharing vehicles could reduce the cost to about $1 per mile — on par or even less than personal ownership.

The company also sees money to be made off insurance, motorcycle and taxi services.

Ford projects that driverless cars will represent 20 percent of U.S. yearly sales by the end of next decade. If those figures were applied to today’s record-level auto sales, Americans would have bought about 3.5 million self-driving vehicles.

Ford also expects 10 percent of all miles traveled will be autonomous by 2030.

Ford says it will still focus on its core business of selling cars and trucks, and reiterated a number of plans, including a $4.5 billion investment in electric cars it announced last December, as well as maintaining leadership in the truck and van segments.

The company also is refocusing how it sells small cars, trying to reduce its cost footprint in a segment that not many customers want. It reduced Ford Focus buildable combinations from 200,000 in 2015 to approximately 300 for the 2017-model year and 30 for the next-generation Focus.

That’s saving the company about $300 per car, Ford said.

Ultimately, Ford predicts a pre-tax profit of about $10.2 billion this year, down from earlier estimates of $10.8 billion, which it earned last year. The company estimates it will earn about $1 billion in the third quarter, or about 10 percent of the full-year results.

Read the rest of the story HERE. 

WTOP -- Google Inc. revealed Monday that its self-driving cars have been in 11 minor traffic accidents since it began experimenting with the technology six years ago.

The company released the number after The Associated Press reported that Google had notified California of three collisions involving its self-driving cars since September, when reporting all accidents became a legal requirement as part of the permits for the tests on public roads.

The director of Google’s self-driving car project wrote in a web post that all 11 accidents were minor — “light damage, no injuries” — and happened over 1.7 million miles of testing, including nearly 1 million miles in self-driving mode.

“Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” wrote Google’s Chris Urmson.

“Cause” is a key word: Like Delphi Automotive, a parts supplier which suffered an accident in October with one of its two test cars, Google says it was not at fault.

Delphi sent AP an accident report showing its car was hit, but Google has not made public any records, so both enthusiasts and critics of the emerging technology have only the company’s word on what happened. The California Department of Motor Vehicles said it could not release details from accident reports.

This lack of transparency troubles critics who want the public to be able to monitor the rollout of a technology that its own developers acknowledge remains imperfect.

John Simpson, privacy project director of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, notes that Google’s ultimate goal is a car without a steering wheel or pedals. This could prevent a person from taking over if a car loses control, making it “even more important that the details of any accidents be made public — so people know what the heck’s going on.”

Delphi’s accident report shows that the front of its 2014 Audi SQ5 was moderately damaged when it was broadsided by another car while waiting to make a left turn. Delphi’s car was not in self-driving mode at the time, company spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said.

Five other companies with testing permits told the AP they had no accidents. In all, 48 cars are licensed to test on state roads.

Read the rest of the story here:

CNET -- Every month, Google releases a report detailing the goings-on (PDF) of its autonomous fleet. To Google's benefit, the updates are usually light on dramatics -- after all, the company's spent good money to keep its cars from getting into accidents. But bad things occasionally happen, and although November was a relatively easy month, the car is still learning.

Currently, Google's self-driving-car family includes 23 Lexus RX450h hybrid crossovers and 30 of the company's own gumdrop-shaped prototypes. Most are located in Mountain View, California, but a dozen are off in Austin, Texas, as well. Its fleet averages between 10,000 and 15,000 autonomous miles per week.

The most notable event from the last month was a widely publicized traffic stop, when police pulled over one of Google's prototypes for driving 24 miles per hour in a 35-mph zone. The company noted that its fleet is capable of both hearing sirens and seeing flashing lights and that the cars are programmed to pull over or drive much more cautiously when emergency vehicles are approaching.

Its cars are still learning in other ways, as well. Google devoted part of its report to explaining how the company's self-driving fleet is learning to make right turns on red, a maneuver that's not always easy -- or legal. The cars are now creeping forward to get a better look at oncoming traffic, but its sensors are still capable of monitoring sidewalks, crosswalks and other vehicles at the same time.

Read the rest of the story here:

12-19-2016, Business Insider -- Google announced it was spinning out its self-driving car unit into an independent company called Waymo on Tuesday.

The tech giant has been working on autonomous technology longer than anyone in the game. It first announced the project in 2009 under Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford professor lauded as the founder of the self-driving car.

The concept of building a robot car was so bizarre at the time it prompted Fiat Chrysler to launch a peculiar attack ad in 2011:

"Hands-free driving, cars that park themselves, an unmanned car driven by a search-engine company? We've seen that movie. It ends with robots harvesting our bodies for energy."

Well, times have changed. Now Fiat Chrysler supplies Pacifica minivans for Waymo. Major automakers like General Motors and Ford are also investing in self-driving cars.

But even though Google has been in the self-driving car space longer than anyone else out there — before it was even considered a legitimate space like it is today — it's getting lapped by the competition.

Google may know what it's doing when it comes to refining self-driving car technology, but it has been totally lost when it comes to bringing a product to market.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

4-18-2017 -- A growing percentage of people say they don’t trust self-driving car technology, according to a J.D. Power study. Falling confidence in all age groups — with the exception of Generation Y drivers born from 1977 to 1994 — poses a challenge to automakers and suppliers who want to roll out the capability in coming years, the study authors say.

The 2017 U.S. Tech Choice Study was released Tuesday at an Automotive Press Association meeting in Detroit. It found that compared to its 2016 survey, 11 percent more Gen Z consumers (those born from 1995 to 2004) and 9 percent more pre-boomers (those born before 1946) say they “definitely would not” trust the systems that control robotic cars. The survey found 22 percent of Gen Z consumers don’t trust autonomous technology; nor do 34 percent of Gen X (born from 1965 to 1976), 44 percent of boomers (born from 1946 to 1964) and 49 percent of pre-boomers.

J.D. Power could not explain why Generation Y bucked the trend; 17 percent don’t trust the technology, down from 18 percent in 2016.

The research company found consumers in general are concerned about the added complexity, as well as privacy issues and the possibility of a car being hacked, said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and human-machine interface research at J.D. Power.

Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at the California-based research firm, says the industry has reached a watershed moment: Consumers don’t seem willing to give up the steering wheel and brake pedal to a computer.

“The technology is advancing really, really quickly. But the key question for our industry is how does the industry lead consumers into this new world?” Sargent said. “The engineering will get there, can we take consumers with us? Can we kind of carry them over this river of doubt, this fear and frankly lack of understanding, and take them over to the other side?”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

CNBC -- Samsung Electronics is setting up a new business unit to focus on automotive-related technology such as components for driverless cars, the South Korean giant said on Wednesday.

Details about the team were scarce but Samsung said it is to focus on infotainment systems and autonomous driving technology. Samsung did not say how big the team would be.

The news comes as Samsung looks to find new growth drivers amid slowing smartphone sales and as an increasing number of technology companies look to jump into the automotive space.

Read the rest of the story here:

Tech Insider -- Taking a ride in a fully autonomous car may not be as far off as you think.

Autonomous cars are only about five to 10 years away from becoming mainstream, according to Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, which was published Tuesday.

The research firm’s annual report places autonomous vehicles at the peak of its hype cycle, which is when expectations for the technology are often inflated and many companies are jumping into the space.

Last year, autonomous vehicles were still categorized as pre-peak on Gartner’s hype chart. And while the tech is still in its nascent stages, it’s move to forward in the cycle is significant. 

“While autonomous vehicles are still embryonic, this movement still represents a significant advancement, with all major automotive companies putting autonomous vehicles on their near-term roadmaps,” Gartner said in a press statement.

There’s no question there are plenty of players betting on driverless cars.

2/22/2016, CRN -- The future of autonomous, self-driving vehicles may lie in the technology of vehicle-to-vehicle communications, according to one expert.

National Highway Traffic Safety Association administrator Mark Rosekind spoke at MIT on the realities of self-reliant vehicles, and said the ability for vehicles to communicate with one another in an instantaneous fashion is crucial to ensuring the safety of passengers.

 “Connected vehicles give you further lines of safety that you couldn’t get from an independent, autonomous vehicle,” Rosekind said.

For example, before all vehicles become self-reliant, a self-reliant smarter car could communicate to other vehicles about what may lie around a corner or three football field lengths ahead in traffic. That sort of communication can extend to an entire smart city Internet-of-Things (IoT) ecosystem.

“It’s not just talking to cars, it’s talking to the infrastructure, it’s talking to pedestrians. There’s just a lot of opportunity there,” he said.

However, that sort of innovation can only happen if cars from different brands can communicate with one another, so the technology may need to come from government policy.

Read the rest of the story here:

C3 Report -- If the thought of self-driving cars is unsettling to some, then the prospect of autonomous big rigs may seem downright scary. But the idea came closer to reality this week when Daimler’s Freightliner commercial truck division introduced the first self-driving semi in the U.S., and announced that it had received a license from the state of Nevada to test the vehicle on public roads.

Before you envision robot big rigs roaming the highways, you should know that Daimler estimates that it will be at least 10 years before its self-driving 18-wheeler will be ready for the road. And the Freightliner Inspiration Truck that the company unveiled in Las Vegas is far from fully autonomous. But like self-driving cars, autonomous trucks will one day be common. The benefits of the technology are too numerous to not become part of the transportation future.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck that debuted at a press event this week—which drove across the Hoover Dam as part of a publicity blitz—uses technology already available in vehicles from its sibling Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Steering Assist is part of Mercedes-Benz’s Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control system, it uses a radar sensor to maintain the distance to a vehicle ahead and a camera to detect markers on the road to keep the car in its lane.

The difference between Mercedes-Benz Steering Assist and the technology on the Freightliner Inspiration Truck is that a C-Class has sensors in the steering wheel to detect whether a driver’s hands are on the wheel. When a driver removes his or her hands for more than a few seconds, the system issues an alert. And if the driver doesn’t grab the wheel after a few more seconds, the Steering Assist system is deactivated.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck doesn’t have the steering wheel sensors, so the driver can operate the vehicle hands-free until the system detects a situation such as an intersection or slow traffic ahead, warns the driver, and eventually deactivates the system.

The Freightliner Inspiration Truck isn’t a true self-driving vehicle like the futuristic Mercedes-Benz F-015 Luxury in Motion concept the automaker unveiled at CES. But it is a first step on the path toward autonomous big rigs—and will offer substantial benefits. As Daimler board member and head of the company’s Trucks and Buses division, Wolfgang Bernhard, noted at the Las Vegas debut of the Freightliner Inspiration, the main advantages of the technology are saving lives, emissions, and money.

Bernhard noted that 90 percent of crashes can be prevented by autonomous technology because it can significantly reduce accidents caused by driver distraction and drowsiness. He also said that autonomous technology will create significant fuel savings and in turn reduce emissions.

Daimler officials also suggested that the increased efficiency enabled by of autonomous trucks could help lower the cost of consumer goods. In 2012, semis transported about 70 percent of all freight in the country, and the global trucking industry is expected to triple by 2050. A side benefit is that the driver can be more productive behind the wheel, handling logistic and maintenance issues on the fly.

Martin Zeilinger, director of Advance Engineering for Freightliner, said that the driver and the technology “will be a partner” and that a “skilled driver is an essential part of the equation.” After all, the technology simply allows the driver to somewhat disengage on long highway stretches, and can’t perform complex maneuvers such as parking.

Read the rest of the story here:



Washington Post -- When self-driving cars begin zipping through Northern Virginia this year, they won’t need any special registration, and the testers sitting behind the wheel won’t need a special license. In the eyes of the law, they’ll be regular cars.

Virginia is one of a handful of states seeking to attract the potentially lucrative business of developing self-driving cars. And along with a few other states, its lawmakers and regulators are inclined to welcome the industry — and get out of the way.

California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to legalize automated vehicles, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Of those, two have set out detailed regulations.

In states such as Virginia and Texas, however, self-driving cars can hit the roadways thanks to a simple argument: Doing so is legal because the law doesn’t say otherwise.

“Automated vehicles are probably legal,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a University of South Carolina law professor whose research helped advance that interpretation. “That is the default assumption.”

That’s the view Google took this summer when it put driverless, retrofitted Lexus SUVs on the road in Austin, the first time the tech giant has run tests outside of California. Texas transportation officials say they are not involved with the project.

And on the strength of that argument, auto parts maker Delphi took a prototype on a cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York, passing through 15 states, nearly all of them lacking laws that address autonomous cars.

Read the rest here:

Business Insider, 8-21-2016 -- Tesla will soon be releasing an update to its Autopilot system, reports Electrek.

The carmaker has updated its hardware design to fully embrace the capabilities of the new semi-autonomous driving system, and vehicles with these new specifications will be produced soon, according to the report.

The new Autopilot system will employ a trio of front-facing cameras paired with an enhanced radar array. Tesla already uses a forward-oriented radar system but will be adding additional sensors to build a sound-based, real-time model of the area immediately around the car, in a departure from attempts to create such a model using light-based lidar, according to TechCrunch.

The updated system will reportedly enable the semi-autonomous cars to read stop signs and traffic lights, allowing drivers keep Autopilot mode engaged even when not on the highway.

Tesla continues to pursue autonomous driving technologies, with the goal of introducing fully self-driving cars by 2018. The company is ramping up both vehicle and battery production with the opening of new facilities, and is on track to meet its annual targets. Competitors are trying to keep up with development as carmakers race to introduce semi and fully autonomous vehicles. 

John Greenough, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that examines the major strides automakers and tech companies have made to overcome the barriers currently preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the market. Further, the report examines global survey results showing where fully autonomous cars are highly desired.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Three barriers have been preventing fully autonomous cars from hitting the road: 1) high technological component prices; 2) varying degrees of consumer trust in the technology; and 3) relatively nonexistent regulations. However, in the past six months, there have been many advances in overcoming these barriers.
  • Technology has been improving as new market entrants find innovative ways to expand on existing fully autonomous car technology. As a result, the price of the components required for fully autonomous cars has been dropping.
  • Consumer trust in fully autonomous vehicle technology has increased in the past two years.
  • California became the first US state to propose regulations. California's regulations stipulate that a fully autonomous car must have a driver behind the wheel at all times, discouraging Google's and Uber's idea of a driverless taxi system.
  • Read the rest of the article HERE. 

12-12-2016, Road Show -- Many different suppliers are working to create chips for various automakers' self-driving cars. But Tesla is taking a different route, reportedly working with Samsung on its own, bespoke chip.

Samsung Electronics will supply the semiconductors for Tesla's own system-on-chip, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources talking to South Korea's Electronic Times. The sources told Electronic Times that the project would take about three years to complete. Tesla did not immediately return a request for comment.

Tesla's used a variety of supplier parts in the past. Its Autopilot system started out with Mobileye's EyeQ3, but the automaker parted ways with Mobileye earlier this year. To support its latest Autopilot system, which features additional imaging hardware, Tesla moved to Nvidia's Drive PX 2 system.

Moving to its own, bespoke setup would not only give Tesla greater control over its hardware, it might also provide an advantage that other suppliers don't have. Electrek notes that Tesla hired a number of former AMD executives and chip architects earlier this year, which is helping reinforce these rumors as more than pure speculation.

Given that this bespoke system-on-chip would take years to complete, it's likely that it would end up as the backbone for yet another iteration of Autopilot, provided that is what Tesla plans to do.

Read the rest of the stoyr HERE.

USA Today -- Americans love their cars (and trucks). They also love technology gadgets. So, it’s not the least bit surprising to see strong interest in efforts to merge the smart technology of our gadgets into our cars.

For some, the penultimate expression of this combination is the autonomous, self-driving car. Efforts by Google, as well as car makers like Audi and Tesla, have received enormous amounts of press and fostered speculation of highways full of machine-driven cars by the end of the decade.

The reality, however, is likely to be far different. It’s not that the technology isn’t there to make cars that can drive on their own — it clearly is. But the practical, legislative, and insurance requirements that are going to surround the widespread usage of autonomous cars are likely to keep them from becoming mainstream for a decade or even longer. The problem isn’t necessarily with a single car, it’s about getting a lot of cars from a variety of vendors all working together in a coordinated fashion. That is not a trivial task.

What we will see, moving forward, is increasingly smart cars. Those smarts are going to come at many levels — from the relatively simple but still important notion of better integrating our smartphones and popular mobile applications into our cars’ in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems, to better car connectivity, to increasingly sophisticated advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Today’s cars already offer a surprisingly wide but not always well-known array of ADAS systems, from lane drifting warnings, to collision detection systems, to 360-degree camera views to performance enhancing adjustments to drivetrains and suspensions, and more. Even good ol’ cruise control — arguably one of the first ADAS features — is evolving to the point where it can do some basic autonomous driving of its own.

Not surprisingly, there are a lot of technology companies involved in making these kinds of improvements and their automotive business is growing. Companies like graphics giant nVIDIA, who reported a 76% increase in their automotive business during last week’s earnings report, not only can power the graphical display on car infotainment systems, but they’ve also created chips specifically designed to read, react and learn from sensors and cameras built into cars.

Read the rest of the story here:

4-19-2017, Autoblog -- Your feelings about autonomous cars could be related to your age, as a recent J.D. Power study has found out. According to the 2016 US Tech Choice Study, younger generations trust fully autonomous cars far more strongly than older generations.

As many as 56 percent of "Gen Y" vehicle owners, also known as millennials, trust self-driving technology, closely mirrored by 55 percent of Gen Z'ers (born in the mid-1990s at earliest) feeling the same. The study was conducted in February and March of 2016 among 7,900 people who bought or leased a new vehicle in the last five years.

41 percent of Generation X customers trust autonomous tech, but there is a steep drop to 23 and 18 percent when so-called Baby Boomers and Pre-Boomers are asked about it. A full 39 percent of Baby Boomers "definitely would not trust" self-driving technology, and neither would 40 percent of Pre-Boomers (born between 1930 and 1945). Only 11 percent of Generation Z customers feel as negatively, and only 27 percent of Gen X and 18 percent of Gen Y drivers share the sentiment.

"The level of trust is directly linked to the level of interest in a new technology among automobile buyers," says Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. "Acceptance can be increased with exposure over time and experience with automated technologies. But trust is fragile and can be broken if there is an excessive number of incidents with automated vehicles."

Still, the adjacent tech of autonomous vehicles is strongly favored by customers, as many want smart headlights, night vision, lane change assist, traffic jam assist and radar functions. 70 percent of vehicle owners say they would definitely want night vision in their next car, which would help detecting sudden objects in the dark, but interest does wane when the technology is mentioned to often cost $2,000 when specified for a new car.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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