Archive for the ‘autonomy’ Category

Reuters: Tesla looking to start testing autonomous semi in “platoon” formation

August 9th, 2017

Enlarge (credit: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced in April that the company is working on pushing a long-haul electric semi truck to market, which is set to be formally revealed in September. Now, Reuters has viewed e-mail correspondence between Tesla and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles that indicate that the company has discussed testing semi trucks on the state’s roads.

The Reuters report also mentioned that the semis would be outfitted with autonomous functions, so they could traverse the nation’s highways without a driver in the front seat. The e-mails seemed to indicate that Tesla’s semis would “platoon,” that is, drive in a formation such that a number of trucks could follow a lead vehicle. It’s unclear whether the lead vehicle would have a driver, or operate autonomously with a person in the front seat to monitor safety.

The idea of “platooning” autonomous semis is an old one. More than a year ago, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment held an autonomous truck platooning demo that involved automakers such as DAF Trucks, Daimler, IVECO, MAN, Scania, and Volvo. The advantages of platooning is that it’s theoretically safer—if the lead truck slows down, the rest automatically follow. It also offers most of the trucks decreased wind resistance, which could help increase an EV semi’s range—a major concern given the weight freight companies load semis with. Of course, there are social ramifications too. Platooning reduces the number of drivers that a shipping company would have to employ.

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Posted in autonomy, battery, Biz & IT, cars, electric, semi, Tesla | Comments (0)

After Uber defied California’s DMV, the DMV revoked Uber’s registrations

December 22nd, 2016

If these people are in California, this is not a self-driving Uber with an engineer up front. (credit: UberPop)

On Wednesday night, the California DMV issued a statement saying it would revoke the registrations of 16 cars owned by Uber, which the company had been using to test its self-driving system. The DMV said that “the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles.”

The move from the California DMV comes after a contentious public battle last week, when Uber suddenly announced the launch of its pilot program in San Francisco (the same program had been running in Pittsburgh for a few months already). But Bloomberg noted that the ride-hailing company still hadn’t registered with the state’s DMV, which requires that companies looking to test self-driving cars apply for a special permit to do so on public roads.

Uber countered that its system wasn’t very advanced yet and was indistinguishable from a mere Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), which do not require special permits. Uber cited Tesla’s autopilot software, which drivers currently use without adhering to the DMV’s autonomous vehicle rules. Tesla, however, has registered with the state’s motor department to test autonomous vehicles.

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Posted in autonomy, California, Cars Technica, self-driving, Uber | Comments (0)

California DMV orders Uber to stop self-driving car tests on SF roads [Updated]

December 14th, 2016

Enlarge (credit: Uber)

Update: California’s DMV has ordered Uber to stop testing its self-driving hardware and software on California roads until the company gets from proper permitting from the state, according to a letter seen by the Associated Press. Ars Technica has reached out to Uber for comment but has yet to receive a response.

Original story: Uber has started testing self-driving functions on roads in San Francisco after a few months of testing its sensor suite and hardware on the streets of Pittsburgh.

The ride-hailing company has three Volvo XC90s, each equipped with Uber’s hardware and software. (Although Volvo has made strides in self-driving functions, Uber is using its own system.) When a passenger requests a ride, Uber lets the passenger know a car with self-driving functions will be picking them up, and the passenger can accept or decline the ride. An Uber engineer rides in the front seat at all times.

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George Hotz cancels self-driving car product after US regulator asks questions

October 28th, 2016

CEO of George “Geohot” Hotz speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 at Pier 48 on September 13, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch) (credit: TechCrunch)

Autonomous driving company announced via its Twitter feed this morning that it would be canceling its forthcoming Comma One product. Comma One was supposed to bring after-market autonomy to third-party vehicles. The company was founded by hacker George Hotz (aka Geohot), who is credited as the first person to hack the iPhone. In his tweets under the account, Hotz said that he decided to discontinue production after he received a stern letter from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requesting more information about how the product works and safety precautions built into the technology.

“First time I hear from them and they open with threats. No attempt at a dialog,” Hotz tweeted with a link to the NHTSA’s 10-page letter. “Would much rather spend my life building amazing tech than dealing with regulators and lawyers. It isn’t worth it,” he added.

Finally, Hotz tweeted, “The comma one is cancelled. will be exploring other products and markets. Hello from Shenzhen, China.”

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Posted in autonomous cars, autonomy, Cars Technica, Geohot, George Hotz | Comments (0)

Volvo execs talk self-driving aspirations over the V90 Cross Country reveal

October 17th, 2016

Megan Geuss

VAIL, Colo.—It’s 8 am in mid-September, and the air in the Rocky Mountains is cold and crisp and still. A small group of journalists and car reviewers drives Volvo S90s and XC60s down 10 miles of dirt road to get to a lodge by the side of the picturesque Piney Lake, where the Swedish automaker will announce the company’s V90 Cross Country—the latest in Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) line of cars.

Mechanically, this new model is more-or-less an S90 tweaked to make it ideal (or so Volvo claims) for off-roading. (We should note the Volvo XC90 also handles off-roading, but that vehicle was curiously absent from the day’s events.) The Colorado-based event, like its sister event in Sweden, was tailored to show the invitees that Volvos aren’t just luxury vehicles—they’re built for “Swedish ruggedness” and suffer “battle scars” easily. (I assumed “battle scars” to mean scratches and dings, although maybe even an arrow to the wheel—I didn’t ask.)

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