Positioning for future mobility

What’s up with Apple, Nissan, GM, Honda, Tesla, Google and more

In this last month, Apple hired an artificial intelligence expert from Nvidia. Nvidia is a chipmaker that is best known for its graphics products used for computer games, but has recently been pushing into the world of autonomous vehicles. The new hire, Jonathan Cohen, was the director of deep learning for Nvidia. Moreover, in a recent interview, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, talked about “massive change” coming to the auto industry. While Apple is still not divulging anything about its interest in vehicular space, the news are increasingly indicating that Apple is interested in a driverless electric mobility solution.

Nissan will be debuting its self-driving electric vehicle concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show.

While Google’s representatives have publicly stated that their fully driverless vehicles will be ready in 2020, Larry Burns, former GM Chief Technology Officer now consulting on Google’s driverless car project, said that the technology could be ready as a early as 2018.

Tesla’s Elon Musk has is also talking about full autonomy within three years. The timelines appear to be shortening. Tesla has launched its Autopilot using a software update. The State of California categorizes Tesla’s new tools as NHTSA Level 2 technology, which according to a DMV spokesperson means “helping drivers make better decisions”.  To discourage drivers from relying too heavily on its technology, “Tesla’s Autopilot is supposed to beep after about 10 seconds of hands-free driving to nudge drivers to grab the wheel again, and after being ignored it can sound louder warnings and turn the radio off”.  However, as has been witnessed by several videos posted on YouTube, not all Tesla drivers are heeding the advice of being in control of their vehicle.  And, therein, lies much of the problem with some of the autonomous upgrades to be released over the next few years. These systems due in the next few years are designed to take the grind out of the daily commute. But safety experts are concerned it will tempt some drivers to be distracted or check their phones. Insurers beware!

Delphi and Quanergy are teaming up to develop a low-cost (less than $1,000 US) LIDAR.

GM is declaring itself a leader in the autonomous vehicle technology space. Cadillac’s Super Cruise, the feature that launches next year, will allow drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel and their feet from the pedals. CEO Barra disclosed that the company is working on a “creative” method for keeping the driver engaged in what the car’s doing in autonomous mode. No details provided.

Honda has announced it will put a “self-drive car on the road by 2020”. However, given the position of most automakers, it is likely that this vehicle will not be fully autonomous. In fact, Honda and General Motors are reportedly working together to develop driverless vehicle technology.

Also this last month, a task force, Securing American’s Future Energy (SAFE), was created to advocate for autonomous vehicles.  Members of the new task force include Larry Burns, advisor to Google, and Lynn Liddle, Executive Vice President at Domino’s Pizza.

Peugeot Citroen has begun trials of their driverless vehicle technology.