Tesla’s Continuing Self-Driving Safety Issues

Recently the U.S. safety regulator stated that they are reviewing the consumer complaints about Tesla vehicles that are braking unnecessarily. This is just one item on a long list of recent issues being scrutinized by regulators about Tesla’s vehicle safety.

Elon Musk, this past May, stated that subtracting a radar sensor from the partially automated driving system would fix the phantom braking issue, an issue Tesla owners have been long complaining about.

According to the Washington Post Tesla owners who are reporting the phantom braking issue to the Highway Traffic Safety Administration hiked to 107 complaints in the past three months. Which is way up from the 34 complaints they received in the 22 months preceding this one.

The NHTSA stated that they are aware of the complaints about the problems with forward collision avoidance and they are reviewing the issue through their risk-based assessment process. The also stated that if the data warrants it, they will take immediate action.

This past October Tesla recalled almost 12,000 vehicles over beta software that caused unneeded braking and false collision warnings. The NHTSA also has been investigating the company’s driving assistant system over crashes with emergency vehicles and the option which allowed games to be played on the infotainment screen while the vehicle was driving. Tesla later subtracted this feature.

More recently Tesla recalled 53,822 vehicles in the US over concerns with the full self-driving beta software.


Apple Shifts Focus of Car Division to Totally Autonomous Vehicle

Trying to solve a challenge that has troubled the autonomous vehicle industry, Apple Inc is trying to accelerate its development of an electric car and has refocused the project around full self-driving capabilities, this according to sources.

In the past few years, Apple’s car team had pursued to different, but simultaneous paths to an autonomous vehicle. First, the most typical type—a limited self-driving car with steer and acceleration assistance. Or, the second option, a car that requires no human intervention to drive.

Software executive to the Apple Watch project Kevin Lynch is now in charge of the software engineers in the car division and under his leadership the project is focusing on the second option. Anonymous sources have stated Lynch wants a fully self-driving car in the first version.

The company reached a keystone moment, according to sources, when they finished most of the core work on the neural net processor needed to handle the complex A.I. needed for a computer to drive the car on its own. Ideally, Apple’s car would have no steering wheel or pedals.

The chip was designed by Apple’s silicon engineering group, outside of the car project. These are the people that develop chips for iPhone, iPad and Mac. They are not a part of the car team. Their work has included the underlying software that runs on the chip to power the autonomous A.I.

Apple plans to start using the new processor design and new sensors in its road tests soon.


Apple Hires Former BMW VP Ulrich Kranz

Ulrich Kranz, formerly a BMW executive and autonomous electric vehicle startup Canoo co-founder, has been hired by Apple to work on its own electric car.
Apple Hired Kranz in recent weeks, just about a month after he stepped down from Canoo. He will report to Doug Field, who once worked at Tesla, and heads up Apple’s electric car project.
Apple’s goal is to build a self-driving electric car by around 2024 and has spoken with Hyundai, Kia and Nissan about partnerships according to online posts though Apple has not yet confirmed any electric vehicle plans.
Kranz worked at BMW for thirty years and was senior VP for about half of those years. Kranz worked on the development of Minis, sports cars and the company’s first SUV. He was also in charge of Project I, BMW building electric vehicles for large cities.
He worked for Faraday Future before leaving for the self-driving startup Canoo in 2017.

What Could Apple’s Future Role in Autonomous Vehicles Be?

Apple has made many false starts getting into the autonomous vehicle market—they continue their efforts both by themselves and through potential partnerships.

Many believe that Apple’s future as a tech giant will be to expand beyond phones and computers, which they have conquered already. Some believe that either a role in self-driving cars or in improving health care are their best bets.

Hyundai has made a public confirmation that they have been talking to Apple about the two companies working together in some form. Hyundai’s role could be in manufacturing and with battery technology. A product could be available as soon as 2024.

Additionally, Apple sought and received the OK from California regulators to test self-driving cars on city streets. They have a handful of vehicles equipped with a variety of sensors including radar and lidar which have been spotted on the roads of Silicon Valley.

Lastly, Apple has been hiring and invest in their own business even amongst staff cuts, leadership changeups and new strategies.

Yandex and Uber to Create New Self-Driving Auto Company

Uber and Yandex are turning the autonomous vehicle portion of their joint venture into a new company which will give Yandex more control over the business and allow for new investors.

Yandex, the largest internet company in Russia, will be investing $150 million in this new company, according to Yandex. That company supposedly buying part of Uber’s stake as well. The Moscow based company will then own 73% of the new company, leaving 19% to Uber and the rest to the new company’s management.

Yandex is also giving over its own ride share business, MLU BV, that includes ride-hailing and food delivery.

These changes provide Yandex more wiggle room to develop technology.

Last year Uber separated its self-driving unit to seek new investors.

Yandex declined to comment further.



Volkswagen Announces an “Open-Source” Approach to Creating Autonomous Car OS

Volkswagen will be using the so-called “open-source” model to refine parts of its software operating system for its future vehicles. “Open-source” meaning collaborators outside of VW would help them create standards for vehicle operation systems. Perhaps they would come from other car companies or even from completely outside the auto industry.

With the gathering ubiquity of autonomous driving, any carmaker attempting to create a self-driving vehicle has to create thousands of lines of code to collect and analyze data from radar, cameras, sonic sensors etc and then the operation system must use this analyzed data to control the brakes and steering at the least.

VW, by 2025, wants to increase its involvement with developing its own software to 60%. Current VW is involved in only about 10% of the design. They’d also like to get more involved in electronics and vehicle architecture design.

VW stated the believe in the future, because of the use of open-source software, there will likely be fewer operating systems than there are car makers. Like with home computers and smart phones there are basically two choices Windows or Macintosh, Android or iOS.

VW wants to define the core operating system but is interested in collaborators to refine other elements of its functionality. All of this in the hopes of creating standards that could be used in a circle wider than just VW vehicles.

UPS Invests in EV Trucks and Will Test Autonomous Vehicle with Waymo

UPS has made to recent moves to cut both emissions and delivery costs—they put in an order for 10,000 trucks with United Kingdom company Arrival Ltd and is set to test Waymo self-driving vehicles to haul packages.

The UPS Arrival team up equates to a minority investment from the biggest package delivery service in the world. And comes soon after former customer, no rival Amazon put in an order to Rivian for 100k electric vans. Rivian is a Michigan startup partially funded by Amazon.

The Waymo test will run for six months according to UPS. UPS will pay Waymo for use of their self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to curry packages from Phoenix area UPS stores to a near-by UPS sorting center.

UPS is confident this move help bring their delivery models into the future and will help compliment how their human drivers work.


When Will I Be Able to Buy Real Autonomous Vehicle?

While autonomous vehicles account for much of the automotive news’ headlines, you won’t see a “true” self-driving car in anyone’s driveway in the next couple of years (at the least).

SAE international standards rate the cars on a five-point scale in which a 0 rating means a vehicle is 100% human controlled and a 5 rating means the vehicle would never need intervention on the part of human driver.

Lots of people are driving cars with a rating of 1—these cars feature things like cruise control and backup cameras. Cars with ratings of 2 and 3 do exist, like many Tesla models, or Benz E-Class, a Volvo S90 and a Cadi CT6. Vehicles that fall under these ratings have features that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel, the cars may even change lanes or park themselves.

Cars rated at a 4 or 5 aren’t on the consumer market yet. Vehicles rated at a 4 are good at navigating familiar places and probably wouldn’t ever leave their city or state. They are being developed for ride sharing and delivery purposes and are currently being tested in the real world. Cars rated at a 5 would mimic a human’s ability to drive—though hopefully they would be much safer drivers than many human drivers are! These cars, in theory, would be able to make quick decisions and navigate anywhere on their own.

Waymo Autonomous Taxi Fleet Looking into Commercialization

Waymo’s self-driving fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids, so far, has had about 400 people sign up and use the service. So far these rides have been free. Soon, however, Waymo may start charging for those trips that Phoenix area customers have been taking.

During an investor’s call Ruth Porat, CEO of parent company Alphabet, said that the company was looking into commercialization and that some customers are now paying for rides. But there weren’t many other details.

Waymo has gone outside the box and thought about ways to keep the service free—to the riders anyway. The trips would probably cost the same as Uber or Lyft according to Waymo. But Waymo is looking into a somewhat unconventional idea—getting your destination to pay for the trip.

Ford and Lyft Team Up For Autonomous Car Venture

Ford recently announced it will partner with Lyft to provide self-driving cars, in large numbers, to the ride-services fleet by 2021. Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.

The company has said it will invest $700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self-driving vehicles.

Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft’s network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them. Ford will put human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network.

Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing $1 billion over the next five years.