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Cybersecurity Efforts Critical to Automotive Industry

Car companies focused on ensuring safety of self-driving cars.

by on Aug.06, 2018

GM President Dan Ammann said recently that the company's focus on cybersecurity is critical to its long-term goals.

The operation of self-driving vehicles will require an intense focus on cybersecurity, experts said during a conference in Detroit organized by Billington Cybersecurity, which brought together representatives from the automobile and tech industry as well as the government.

Dan Ammann, General Motors president, told the conference that GM cybersecurity is one of “the key enablers” to making GM’s vision of “zero crashes, zero emission and zero congestion” a reality.

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“As we continue to develop our Autonomous Vehicle program, safety is paramount, just like it is in everything that we do,” Ammann said. “For our customers, that means providing the safest products possible, including the strongest cybersecurity.” (more…)

Rental Car Business Being Squeezed by Ride Sharing

Autonomous vehicles present major change in prices.

by on Jul.31, 2018

Fully driverless vehicles, like the ones Ford plans to build for Lyft, may be the death knelll for some rental car companies.

The rental-car business faces a growing threat to its future from ride-sharing companies, according to a new survey from AlixPartners.

“Results from our survey suggest that the $30-billion U.S. car-rental industry is already undergoing a tectonic shift, with boundaries not just blurring but being obliterated between car-rental and ride-hailing and other forms of new mobility,” said Arun Kumar, a director in the Automotive and Industrial Practice at AlixPartners and a co-author of a new report focusing on the rental-car business.

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“The companies that survive this shift will be those that act now to transform themselves to be relevant in a world which seems to much prefer simply clicking on an app than standing in line at the rental counter,” Kumar said. (more…)

Uber Shuts Down Otto Autonomous Truck Division

Ride-sharing service puts emphasis on self-driving cars.

by on Jul.31, 2018

An autonomous Otto truck like the one that hauled 45,000 cans of beer across Colorado last year.

Just a week after it restarted its autonomous passenger car program, Uber has shuttered Otto, the division that was charged with developing self-driving trucks.

The ride-sharing company says it wants to concentrate on developing the driverless cars and SUVs that could eventually lower the cost of using its services. But the decision to shelf Otto comes as Uber struggles with a series of setbacks, including not only the death of a pedestrian hit by one of its self-driving prototypes but also a legal battle with Google spinoff Waymo that saw a key employee accused of stealing critical intellectual property.

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“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement referencing the company’s decision to restart its self-driving program after the fatal crash near Phoenix back in March. “As we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on (the passenger car) effort is the best path forward.” (more…)

Uber Ready to Resume Autonomous Testing in Pittsburgh

Company reviewed, revised protocols, including adding 2nd driver.

by on Jul.27, 2018

Uber is ready to resume testing its autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, but several changes have been instituted to ensure improved safety.

Uber is reviving its self-driving vehicle test program in Pittsburgh, after a nearly four-month hiatus implemented in the wake of the pedestrian death in Arizona.

Company officials said there are and will be significant changes to the program to help avoid another fatality or other issues. First, there will be two employees in every vehicle. The “mission specialists” will occupy the two front seats.

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Additionally, the vehicles will be driven by a person instead of by the machine. This is to help the system “learn” more about a variety of situations drivers may encounter ranging from the everyday to once-in-a-lifetime. The second “specialist’s” role it to document anything out of the ordinary. No word on when the vehicles will drive themselves again. (more…)

Maven to Let GM Vehicle Owners Profit from Car-Sharing

Vehicles from '15 model-year on can be used in new peer-to-peer test.

by on Jul.24, 2018

GM owners will be able to make money renting their vehicles when they'd normally be sitting idle.

We’ve entered the “sharing economy,” the experts tell us, with home-sharing operations such as AIRBNB, ride-sharing companies like Uber and car-sharing ventures like Car2Go becoming increasingly popular with American travelers and commuters. But now, General Motors’ own sharing service, Maven, is testing a program that could give GM owners a way to profit from this trend.

Maven has launched what it calls a “peer-to-peer car-sharing beta” that allows owners of relatively recent GM products to list their own cars through the service and pocket some of rental fees. If the program takes off, it would join other peer-to-peer car-sharing services such as Turo. And French automaker PSA, in its bid to return to the U.S., has launched a similar program in Los Angeles.

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“Your car is one of the most expensive things you own. Sitting idle, it is a wasted asset,” said Julia Steyn, vice president, General Motors Urban Mobility and Maven. “It’s time to put your car to work. Maven’s peer-to-peer offering is a smart way for owners to offset their vehicle investment.”

(more…)

Mercedes, Bosch Team to Launch Self-Driving Car Service

Set to debut in late 2019 in Silicon Valley.

by on Jul.11, 2018

Initially, Daimler will use the Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan for the pilot ride-sharing project.

Mercedes-Benz is teaming up with German mega-supplier Bosch to launch a new ride-sharing service in Silicon Valley next year that will rely on self-driving vehicles.

The project marks the latest entry into the fast-expanding field that, by some estimates, could eventually account for as much as a quarter or more of the miles Americans travel by automobile. Other planning to launch ride-sharing services using self-driving vehicles include General Motors, Google spin-off Waymo and Uber, the country’s largest ride-sharing service.

Making Sense of the Brave New World!

While Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG is referring to the vehicles it will use as “automated shuttle(s),” customers will be able to ride in style. When the project initially gets underway during the second half of 2019, it will rely on modified versions of the luxurious S-Class Sedan. Eventually, the goal is to switch to a production version of the edgy Mercedes concept vehicle, the F 015.

(more…)

Uber Gets Reprieve in London

Court gives ride-hailing service a 15-month pass.

by on Jun.27, 2018

Uber has been given a 15-month reprieve in London by a British court.

Uber has been granted a 15-month probationary license by a British court on Tuesday, which will allow it to continue operating in London.

The ride-hailing service argued successfully that Uber had made significant changes to its business and corporate culture after Transport for London, the city’s regulatory body for public transportation, declared Uber unfit to serve the city. The agency said Uber had failed to vet its drivers, who had been involved in a series of sexual assaults.

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Uber’s “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” Transport London said in its decision. (more…)

Uber Fatality Now Deemed “Entirely Avoidable”

Safety driver was watching television right before crash.

by on Jun.22, 2018

The Tempe (Arizona) Police Department released the video footage of Uber's collision with a pedestrian.

After initially faulting the pedestrian killed in a crash with an autonomous Uber car in March, the Tempe (Arizona) Police Department is calling the collision “entirely avoidable” after determining the safety driver was streaming Hulu on her phone while behind the wheel.

According to the department’s 318-page report, the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, was watching a television show on her phone for 5.3 seconds prior to looking up and seeing 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg crossing the road in front of her.

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Vasquez applied the brakes just 0.5 seconds before the collision. The report says that Vasquez could be charged with vehicular manslaughter. She was watching the television show “The Voice” for 42 minutes with it ending at 9:59 p.m., which is about the time that Herzberg was struck. (more…)

GM Revamps Responsibilities for Ammann, Reuss

Ammann focusing on autonomous vehicles, Reuss leads products, Cadillac

by on Jun.21, 2018

General Motors President Dan Ammann (right) with Cruise Automation co-founders Kyle Vogt (center) and Daniel Kan (left).

Two of General Motors top executives are getting new responsibilities with GM President Dan Ammann focusing on the company’s development of autonomous vehicles and Executive Vice President Mark Reuss taking on oversight of Cadillac and GM’s product portfolio planning.

Ammann will now be able to focus his efforts on the company’s ever-growing collection of autonomous vehicle subsidiaries, such as GM Cruise, as well as the deployment of these vehicles through a variety of outlets, such as Lyft.

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In the meantime, Reuss will bear down on the company’s global enterprises, product development as well as Cadillac. The luxury brand’s oversight comes a critical time as the company parted ways with Johann de Nysschen and replaced him with long-time GM executive Steve Carlisle. (more…)

Apple Raises Profile in Race for Autonomous Vehicles with Waymo Exec Hire

Hiring Waydo signals company's intentions.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Former Waymo engineer has moved over to Apple and Project Titan.

Apple has hired one of Waymo’s top engineers, Jamie Waydo, to work on its secretive self-driving car program named Project Titan.

According to Silicon Valley news site, The Information, the tech giant Waydo, who was focused on making sure software and hardware worked together in the name of safety. The question is whether or not Waymo will fight back.

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Waymo sued Uber after the ride-sharing company acquired a company founded by an engineer who had left Google to launch his own start up. The $1.8 billion lawsuit was ultimately settled for less than $275 million after several bitter exchanges in federal court. (more…)

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