The Fuse

This Week in AVs: Zoox Gets a New CEO; Pony.ai Launches Uber-Style Driverless App in China; and More

by Kristen Hernandez | January 18, 2019

A 12-year Intel veteran will become the new CEO of self-driving car company Zoox

Aicha Evans, formerly the chief strategy officer at Intel, will be joining California-based driverless startup Zoox. She will take over as CEO of the company beginning on February 26. At Intel, Evans gained some experience with the autonomous vehicle industry through leading the company’s long-term strategy. Evans has expressed excitement about joining Zoox, stating that the company “has set itself apart from entrenched players as the only company creating a solution purpose-built to meet the needs of the fully autonomous future.”

Hyundai MOBIS Lights a Path to Reducing Accidents Involving Autonomous Vehicles

“Light has been used as a conduit for communication among vehicles and pedestrians for almost as long as the automobile has existed, so we are excited to lead the evolution of this technology to save lives and offer peace of mind to all that use the road.”

Hyundai MOBIS showed off its latest Communication Lighting concept, intended to reduce the number of accidents involving AV technology, at CES last week. This concept includes both an “Indicating Lighting Zone,” which tells pedestrians that a vehicle is operating in autonomous mode, and a “Communication Lighting Zone,” which communicates with pedestrians and vehicles in a variety of driving scenarios. Vehicles that utilize this technology will be able to detect a pedestrian from more than 450 feet away. When the technology detects a pedestrian, it will be able to use warning symbols, crosswalk symbols, countdowns, and directional arrows projected by headlamps or displayed by an LED board to indicate when it is safe to cross the vehicle’s path and what direction the vehicle intends to move in next. Micro Goetz, the director of lamp engineering at Hyundai MOBIS, is enthusiastic about the safety potential of the technology: “Light has been used as a conduit for communication among vehicles and pedestrians for almost as long as the automobile has existed, so we are excited to lead the evolution of this technology to save lives and offer peace of mind to all that use the road.”

China’s Waymo rival quietly launched an Uber-style app for driverless cars, making it one of the first to do so

Pony.ai has launched an autonomous taxi hailing app in southern China. Through the app, users can hail a driverless taxi from a prescribed location in Nansha, part of Guangzhou, to company-specified areas. While news reports were unclear, it appears that Pony.ai will have safety drivers in their vehicles. Rides are currently free, and the app can only be used by employees and a few VIPs. The company will use the service to acquire additional data about scenarios their vehicles may encounter in order to improve their self-driving software. Pony.ai produces this software themselves, but the vehicles are made by automakers such as China’s BYD and GAC. The company has said that they are looking to grow their self-driving fleet from 20 vehicles to 100 this year, though they do not anticipate expanding their autonomous taxi service significantly in that time. In the future, their goal is to have a fully-fledged autonomous ride-hailing service.

Valeo Demonstrates Remote-Control Concept for Self-Driving Cars

Valeo has demonstrated a system, called Valeo Drive4U Remote, that would allow an outside operator to take control of an autonomous vehicle in certain circumstances. This system is meant to be both a safety and convenience measure and is for limited use and by mutual consent. This is one method Valeo is exploring to solve the problem of what to do if a self-driving car finds itself in a situation where it can no longer drive. For example, if a vehicle encounters a construction zone where a detour may require it to cross a double-yellow line, but it has been programmed never to take this action, the car may refuse to move. In such a situation, the remote operator could take control of the vehicle and move it across the line and through the detour. Valeo believes that because “anything can happen on the road, from sudden severe weather conditions to an unexpected medical problem” this system is necessary to make autonomous driving both safe and efficient.

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