The Fuse

This Week in AVs: California Approves Waymo Driverless Testing; AV START is Running Out Of Time; and More

by Alex Adams | @alexjhadams | November 01, 2018

Waymo Gets Green Light for Driverless Testing in California

Waymo announced California DMV had granted it the first permit in the state to begin driverless testing on public roads.

This week, Waymo announced California DMV had granted it the first permit in the state to begin driverless testing on public roads. Beginning in a limited area in Silicon Valley, self-driving cars without a human behind the wheel will be allowed to travel day and night on city streets, rural roads and highways with posted speed limits of up to 65 miles per hour. This is the second major announcement for the company in seven days, as on an earnings call last the company revealed, in a response to a question, that it had started charging for rides in its self-driving taxi service. Some analysts note that Waymo seems to be deliberately taking gradual steps with minimal fanfare to avoid generating media hype around their progress. This may help with managing consumer expectations and building public trust at this stage is key for broader AV deployment.

AV START Passage Running Out Of Time

On Wednesday morning, Bloomberg reported that time is “running out” for critical AV legislation to pass the Senate, with only a narrow window after the midterm elections to pass AV START and get a bill to the president’s desk. If this fails, the article notes, the House bill – the SELF DRIVE Act – dies and the whole process must begin again from scratch. Greg Rogers, SAFE’s director of government affairs, was quoted in the article as saying the AV legislative process “has been an incredible feat of bipartisanship,” adding that “attempting to recreate a bill that’s this ambitious and this significant would be like trying to catch lightning in a bottle all over again.” Passing federal AV legislation would create a crucial nationwide framework that can put an end to the current state patchwork of laws and keep the U.S. at the forefront of global AV leadership.

VW, Intel and Mobileye to Launch Self-Driving Taxi Service in Israel

The project is expected to scale to hundreds of self-driving electric cars by 2022.

Volkswagen and Mobileye, the AV vision company owned by Intel, announced on Monday that they are planning to launch a self-driving taxi service in Israel in 2019. Starting with a few dozen vehicles, the project is expected to scale to hundreds of self-driving electric cars by 2022. Under the deal, Volkswagen will supply the electric vehicles, Mobileye will be responsible for the technology and Israeli car importer and distributor Champion Motors will run the fleet management operations. According to Intel, this service is “not a pilot project” and is targeting Level 4/5 commercial mobility as a service (MaaS), representing a shift away from personally-owned vehicles toward a fleet-based mobility model.

Tesla to Take On Uber and Lyft With “Millions of Self-Driving Cars”

During a conference call on Tesla’s third-quarter results last week, CEO Elon Musk commented on the ‘Tesla Network,’ the company’s upcoming self-driving ride-hailing service. Thanks to the Autopilot system, Elon explained, Tesla owners will be able to share their vehicles on its ride-hailing system, once the self-driving technology is perfected. On the call, Elon said he expects the long-term mobility model to be “some combination of like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb,” saying some cars will be dedicated to ride-hailing while Tesla owners will be able to share their car, in much the same way homeowners can on Airbnb. As Tesla expands its sales, Musk added that “the advantage Tesla will have is that we’ll have millions of cars in the field with full autonomy capability and no-one else will have that.” This announcement comes even as Tesla recently removed “full self-driving” as an option on new vehicle sales.

 

 

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