Archive for the ‘Autonomous Driving’ Category

Ford Plants the Blue Oval in Detroit

Bill Ford says move isn't a gesture, company expects a return on its investment.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Bill Ford share a laugh after the announcing the company's plans for the Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

In a ceremony that was equal parts pep rally, political rally and outdoor concert, Ford Motor Co. officially told the world it would be putting its new most precious resource – its mobility campus – in the city of Detroit in a yet-to-be-renovated train station.

The automaker purchased the Michigan Central Station, once the hub of train travel in and out of Detroit, for an undisclosed sum. Bill Ford Jr., founder Henry Ford’s great grandson and current company chairman, also declined to say how much the company would spend renovating the structure.

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Ford also was quick to note that even through the company was in the midst of a cost-cutting effort that was initially set at $14 billion and has since gone up to $25 billion, the acquisition of the building and some of the surrounding ones and property parcels fits within the company’s belt-tightening measures. (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…)

Byton Taking Second Byte at the Apple with New Concept

New model predicted to be available in 2021.

by on Jun.15, 2018

Byton introduced its second EV concept, the K-Byte, at CES Shanghai.

With a newly gained $500 million in its pocket, electric carmaker Byton rolled out the new K-Byte, an autonomous electric vehicle concept, at CES Shanghai.

The K-Byte is the company’s second concept. At CES 2018, it debuted its first-ever vehicle, a crossover-style EV that now gets the moniker M-Byte.

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The new K-Byte would seem to be just another of a slew of newly minted autonomous battery-electric concepts that have been unveiled in the last 12 months, but this one is a little different. Byton officials claim it will be capable of Level 4 autonomy when it hits the road in 2021. (more…)

GM Increasing Bolt Production, Per Sustainability Report

The Orion plant will also produce Maven autonomous car.

by on Jun.13, 2018

Chevy Bolt production will be increased for this year and next due to rising demand for the EV.

General Motors Co. said will increase production of its Bolt battery-electric vehicle this year in response to global demand, according to 2017 sustainability report it released ahead of the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

The Bolt EV is built at GM’s Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit.

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GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra also said at least 20 new all-electric vehicles will launch globally by 2023, and that GM is partnering with utilities and governments to accelerate the growth of charging infrastructure as it looks to deliver on its vision of an “all-electric, emissions-free” future. “We believe the future is electric,” she said. (more…)

Tesla Slashing Up to 9% of Workforce

Up to 3,000 likely to lose jobs, but assembly, battery-plant workers expected to be spared.

by on Jun.12, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees that the company would lay off 9% of the workforce in a letter.

Tesla will lay off as many as 3,000 workers, or nearly 9% of its workforce, in a bid to reorganize and address endemic problems, according to a letter sent by CEO Elon Musk to company employees.

The first layoffs reportedly were set to take effect this week, according to website Electrek, which obtained a copy of the letter. The automaker subsequently confirmed that the layoffs will take place, but emphasized that production workers will be spared, the cuts targeting the salaried side of a workforce that grew to around 30,000 after last year’s acquisition of Solar City.

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If anything, Tesla has been trying to expand the workforce at both its Fremont, California assembly plant and Reno, Nevada Gigafactory in an effort to finally put production of the critical Model 3 battery-sedan on track. Musk recently said Tesla is on track to roll out about 5,000 of the vehicles a week by the end of this month, a roughly 250% increase from the end of the first quarter – though still well below its original target. (more…)

Despite Concerns, Safety Probes, Musk Promise “Full Self-Driving” Autopilot to Debut in August

But CEO Musk doesn’t explain what that actually means.

by on Jun.12, 2018

According to a new tweet from Tesla CEO Musk, products like the new Model 3 may soon be updated with full "self-driving" capabilities.

Tesla Version 9, an apparently major software update to the operating system used for the automaker’s vehicles, will debut in August and, according to CEO Elon Musk, add “full sell-driving” capabilities to the controversial Autopilot system.

The news, announced in a Musk tweet late Monday, comes at a time when earlier versions of the semi-autonomous Autopilot system have come under intense scrutiny. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board has raised serious concerns about how it functioned in the moments leading up to a fatal crash of a Tesla Model X SUV in California earlier this year.

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But Musk has repeatedly downplayed such concerns — even pointing his finger at owners who may not have used Autopilot properly – while promising a far more advanced version of the system was coming. And in his late Monday tweet, Musk said, “to date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety (but) with V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”

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Deal Done! Ford Buys Michigan Central Station

Automaker buys historic train station to anchor urban tech campus.

by on Jun.11, 2018

The 18-story Michigan Central Station was once the world's tallest railroad depot. Now it'll be the center of Ford's urban campus in Detroit.

Ford Motor Co.’s ongoing effort to attract young workers to the company by setting up its tech-based operations in Detroit took another step forward today when it announced it completed the purchase of the Michigan Central Station for an undisclosed sum.

The automaker has already set up some tech-oriented operations in the neighboring Corktown district and the acquisition of the train station, previously owned by the Moroun family, which also owns the Ambassdor Bridge, cements the company’s plans for the area.

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Company officials declined to comment on what it plans to use the building for, saying it would reveal all of that information on June 19. (more…)

NTSB: Model X Accelerating, Driver Took No Action in Crash

Report doesn't assign blame, just determines final moments.

by on Jun.08, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the crash of a Tesla Model X determined that seconds before the crash the vehicle was in Autopilot mode, accelerating and had no input from the driver to avoid the collision.

Walter Huang, 38, was killed on U.S. Hwy 101 in Mountain View, California, when his Model X slammed into a road divider, hit two other vehicles and then burst into flames, Huang, who according to his wife had complained previously about the failure of Autopilot in the same area before, was pulled from the vehicle before it caught on fire.

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Huang had the vehicle in its semi-autonomous Autopilot mode for nearly 19 minutes before the crash and it was set at 75 miles an hour. However, due to traffic in front of him, the vehicle was traveling at 65 mph before the vehicle in front of him moved, allowed the Model X to accelerate to the selected speed. (more…)

Volvo Hopes to Electrify Customers – and Investors

All-electric models now expected to generate half its sales by mid-2020s, with 1/3 self-driving.

by on Jun.08, 2018

The Volvo 40.2 Concept hints at what's coming with the marque's first all-electric vehicle.

Volvo took a lead in the push into electrification last year, announcing it would use some of battery-based drive system on all future products, whether mild, conventional or plug-in hybrids, or pure battery-electric. And, last January, it gave us a hint of what that first BEV would be with the debut of its 40.2 concept.

The production version will follow in 2019 and, if Volvo’s latest forecast is any indication, so will plenty of other all-electric models, as the Swedish automaker now says it wants them to generate half of its sales by mid-decade.

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The mid-term plan Volvo is laying out is nothing if not ambitious. It also predicts that half of the Chinese-owned automaker’s sales will come from self-driving vehicles, and that half of its volume will come through its Care by Volvo subscription service, rather than conventional sales and leasing. Oh, and add a goal of boosting volume – and profitability – to match other premium manufacturers.

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Freightliner Takes Aim at Tesla with Two Big EV Semis and a New E-Mobility Center

Daimler’s U.S. truck division will put first 30 into field tests this year.

by on Jun.07, 2018

The new Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 semis.

Freightliner, the U.S.-based truck subsidiary of Daimler AG, is taking direct aim at Tesla with the debut of two new battery-powered semis that it plans to begin fleet testing later this year.

The eCascadia and eM2 join a range of smaller delivery trucks that Freightliner and other Daimler truck brands have been rolling out over the last couple years. A number of major freight and delivery companies, ranging from UPS to PepsiCo, have expressed interest in the clean, fuel-efficient technology. That has drawn a number of vehicle manufacturers into the emerging field, including Volvo AB and Volkswagen AG, as well as Freightliner and Tesla.

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Daimler also plans to set up a new Automated Research and Development Center near Freightliner’s headquarters in Portland, as well as a new E-Mobility Group to help share technologies among its various truck brands.

“We are the undisputed global leader of the trucking industry and we intend to remain in that position with electric trucks and buses,” Daimler Trucks chief Martin Daum said in a statement.

That was echoed in a comment by Roger Nielsen, the president of Daimler Trucks North America, that took a clear shot at Tesla, a company that has not only never built a truck before but which has had major trouble meeting production targets and quality goals for its passenger vehicles. But it also underscored the fact that Daimler is taking Tesla’s imminent arrival in the truck market as seriously is it is the California company’s electric passenger car line-up.

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