Michigan’s roads could soon be filled with self-driving Chevy Bolts

Image: General Motor

In light of the recent passageway of the most lax autonomous vehicle statutes in the U.S ., the streets of Michigan will likely soon be the among the most common places to test self-driving cars.

First up: GM, which announced that it will instantly begin testing its line of autonomous Chevy Bolt EVs on the state’s public roads.

Testing on the private roads in GMs Technical Center campus in Warren was already underway before the passage of the legislation, which is known as the SAVE Act. Now that the automaker has the go-ahead from the nation, the operation will expand to include roadways around metro Detroit in the coming months. In those areas, trials will focus on the autonomous tech’s development in winter weather conditions.

Revolutionizing transportation for our clients while improving safety on roads is the goal of our autonomous vehicle technology, and todays proclamation get us one step closer to making this vision a reality, told General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra in the official statement. Our autonomous technology will be dependable and safe, as customers have come to expect from any of our vehicles.

GM had announced the formation of an autonomous vehicle engineering squad back in January, along with its $500 million investment in Lyft. GM’s acquisition of Cruise Automation in March pushed the project ahead even further.

The automaker has been testing the self-driving Bolts on public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale since June, with more than 40 autonomous vehicles logging miles in the two cities.

Michigan’s self-driving statutes have one very concrete caveat: Merely technology produced by automobile producers are allowable.

That means that if Uber, for example, were explore a pilot testing program, it would run into some of the same issues it recently faced in San Francisco. There, the state challenged the company’s legal right to have its tech on public streets without “re going through” the proper DMV channels. Notably, GM Cruise LLC is one of the 20 entities to which the California DMV has issued a permit.

With Google set up in the country and other automakers rearing to hone their own self-driving tech, Michigan could once again become the center of innovation in the automotive world. This time around, the automation steering the industry forward won’t just be on the assembly lines it’ll be right out on the streets.

Read more:

Driverless taxis start moving on Singapore’s roads

Just six cars for now in Singapore, with more to come.
Image: yong teck lim/AP

SINGAPORE The world’s first self-driving taxis started picking up passengers in Singapore on Thursday, says nuTonomy, the vehicle startup here making autonomous cars.

Its cars have been undergoing trials in the city state for the better part of the past year, and on Thursday started running in a limited 2.5-square-mile business and residential district called one-north, with pick-ups and drop-offs limited to specific locations.

But the company may have found itself overwhelmed by the response. When Mashable requested a ride on Thursday, a PR rep told us the car’s battery “needed charging”, and that we’d have to try again another day.

The Associated Press also reports that “select members of the public” will be able to hail a free ride through their smartphones in nuTonomy’s taxis, but riders first need an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service.

Image: yong teck lim/AP

The company says dozens have signed up for the launch, and it plans to expand that list to thousands of people within a few months.

While multiple companies, including Google and Volvo, have been testing self-driving cars on public roads for several years, nuTonomy says it will be the first to offer rides to the public. It will beat ride-hailing service Uber, which plans to offer rides in autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, by a few weeks.

The service will start small six cars now, growing to a dozen by the end of the year. The ultimate goal, say nuTonomy officials, is to have a fully self-driving taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018, which will help sharply cut the number of cars on Singapore’s congested roads. Eventually, the model could be adopted in cities around the world, nuTonomy says.

Image: yong teck lim/AP

The cars modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics have a driver in front who is prepared to take back the wheel and a researcher in back who watches the car’s computers.

Each car is fitted with six sets of Lidar a detection system that uses lasers to operate like radar including one that constantly spins on the roof. There are also two cameras on the dashboard to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights.

Cameras that help detect changes in traffic light colors inside the car.

Image: yong teck lim/AP

A “lidar” that detects obstacles using laser sensors is seen atop the vehicle.

Image: yong teck lim/AP

The testing time-frame is open-ended, said nuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma. Eventually, riders may start paying for the service, and more pick-up and drop-off points will be added. NuTonomy also is working on testing similar taxi services in other Asian cities as well as in the U.S. and Europe, but he wouldn’t say when.

“I don’t expect there to be a time where we say, ‘We’ve learned enough,'” Iagnemma said.

Doug Parker, nuTonomy’s chief operating officer, said autonomous taxis could ultimately reduce the number of cars on Singapore’s roads from 900,000 to 300,000.

“When you are able to take that many cars off the road, it creates a lot of possibilities. You can create smaller roads, you can create much smaller car parks,” Parker said. “I think it will change how people interact with the city going forward.”

Testing in Singapore

NuTonomy, a 50-person company with offices in Massachusetts and Singapore, was formed in 2013 by Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers who were studying robotics and developing autonomous vehicles for the Defense Department. Earlier this year, the company was the first to win approval from Singapore’s government to test self-driving cars in one-north. NuTonomy announced a research partnership with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority earlier this month.

Singapore is ideal because it has good weather, great infrastructure and drivers who tend to obey traffic rules, Iagnemma says. As a land-locked island, Singapore is looking for non-traditional ways to grow its economy, so it’s been supportive of autonomous vehicle research.

Auto supplier Delphi Corp., which is also working on autonomous vehicle software, was recently selected to test autonomous vehicles on the island and plans to start next year.

“We face constraints in land and manpower. We want to take advantage of self-driving technology to overcome such constraints, and in particular to introduce new mobility concepts which could bring about transformational improvements to public transport in Singapore,” said Pang Kin Keong, Singapore’s Permanent Secretary for Transport and the chairman of its committee on autonomous driving.

The driver took his hands off the steering.

Image: yong teck lim/AP

“It felt like there was a ghost or something.”

Olivia Seow, 25, who does work in startup partnerships in one-north and is one of the riders nuTonomy selected, took a test ride of just less than a mile on Monday. She acknowledged she was nervous when she got into the car, and then surprised as she watched the steering wheel turn by itself.

“It felt like there was a ghost or something,” she said.

But she quickly grew more comfortable. The ride was smooth and controlled, she said, and she was relieved to see that the car recognized even small obstacles like birds and motorcycles parked in the distance.

“I couldn’t see them with my human eye, but the car could, so I knew that I could trust the car,” she said. She said she is excited because the technology could free up her time during commutes or help her father by driving him around as he grows older.

An Associated Press reporter taking a ride Wednesday observed that the safety driver had to step on the brakes once, when a car was obstructing the test car’s lane and another vehicle, which appeared to be parked, suddenly began moving in the oncoming lane.

Iagnemma said the company is confident that its software can make good decisions. The company hopes its leadership in autonomous driving will eventually lead to partnerships with automakers, tech companies, logistics companies and others.

“What we’re finding is the number of interested parties is really overwhelming,” he said.

Additional reporting by Mashable.

Read more:

Obama thrills Silicon Valley with pledge to invest$ 4 billion in self-driving cars

Venture capitalists and Silicon Valley firms have been pouring money into autonomous vehicles for years, but there’s a new investor getting in on the action: the United States government.

The Obama administration on Thursday called for$ 4 billion of spending on self-driving cars.

The investment, which would be budgeted over a 10 -year period, will be used to “accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects, ” according to a statement by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration( NHTSA ).

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a speech at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, promised a series of initiatives aimed at solving the considerable technological and legal challenges that could otherwise slacken the rollout and adoption of self-driving vehicles.

Now in its final year, the Obama administration is advising a longterm opinion toward federal involvement in the development of autonomous vehicles. Foxx indicated the process could take several decades while emphasizing the potential benefits of a future with roads occupied by self-driving cars.

“Automated vehicles promise to move people and goods more efficiently than we are moving them today, ” Foxx continued. “And, when automation is combined with other technologies like electric motors and innovations coming out of the sharing economy, we will be able to reduce congestion and pollution even further.”

Bryant Walker Smith, chair of theEmerging Technology Law Committeeof theTransportation Research Boardof the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, compared this stage of investment in autonomous vehicles to the invention of the airplane.

“We’re all lucky that Orville and Wilbur Wright had a beach where they could fly their aircrafts. The relevant proposals is about determining that beach for the 21 st Century, ” he said. “In words of funding, it could rival European efforts.”

Smith cautioned, however, that the White House’s pledge is simply a proposal with no detailsnot a definitive investment. The nearly$ 4 billion in suggested spending will appear in the administration’s 2017 budget.

In the near word, Foxx said there are plans to have the NHTSA work with automakers and state governments to develop model laws and regulations for states to adopt. This will take place over the next six months, he said, with hopes of creating a route to a consistent national policy.

Some early steps are already in place. The U.S. Department of Transportation( DOT) has launched initiatives to learn more about the future of transportation, including connected vehicle test beds across the country and the Smart City Challenge. Likewise, the NHTSA has funded a project to develop best practices among the states with respect to automated driving.

Still, Smith called the six-month goal for policy framework “remarkably ambitious, ” and he suggested it is “both inspired and imperiled” by the impending end of the administration.

“Policy is about much more than passing a law, ” Smith said. “I’m pleased that the U.S. DOT is going to facilitate a more thoughtful approach to the regulatory topics. Some countries have been essentially praying the U.S. DOT to do this for years. But states will still play an important role in calibrating their laws, preparing their roads, and taking other measures to encourage automated driving.”

In Silicon Valley, tech companies have welcomed the pledge, which is an expansion on Obama’s statement during the State of the Union to invest in a “2 1st century transportation system.”

“Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to save lives, ” spokesperson forGoogletold the Daily Dot, “so we welcome the secretary’s commitment to removing barriers that may prevent them from sharing the roads when they’re ready.”

Areportin December indicated Google is planning to partner with Ford to manufactureself-driving vehiclesthat would be used to develop a ridesharing service.

The statement from the search giant echoed Foxx’s on the health risks security benefits of autonomous vehicle technology, which the secretary suggested could have saved “more than 25,000 lives … in 2015 alone.”

There is some question as to just how much safer self-driving cars will be; a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that self-driving vehicles have a higher crash rate per million miles traveled than conventional vehicles. However, most of those accidents were were caused by human drivers slamming into the computer-controlled automobiles, suggesting people still have not adjusted yet to sharing the roads with autonomous cars.

Lyftand General Motors recentlyannounceda plan to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads of Austin, Tx. for users of the ridesharing platform.

A spokesperson ridesharing service Lyft told the Daily Dot that the company is “optimistic about the Obama administration’s plan to support the introduction of autonomous cars.”

“Safety is the top priority for Lyft and GM’s on-demand autonomous network, which will introduce self-driving autoes to the U.S ., ” the spokesman said. “We look forward to continuing to work with federal, nation, and localgovernments to shape the future of mobility.”

While ridesharing is clearly a focus of the future of transportation for many firms, consumer-focused companies are also optimistic about the government’s participation in the future of autonomous technology.

“A consistent, coordinated, and transparentregulatoryframeworkis the best way toallowtechnologyto moveforward, ” aTeslaspokesperson told the Daily Dot. “Our conversations with the Department of Transportation and California DMV have been quite positive. Theybothclearly acknowledge the safety potential ofautonomous transport and want tosupportit ina style that encourages its appropriate growth and introduction into the market.”

H/ T The Hill | Photo via Open Grid Scheduler/ Flickr( Public Domain )

Read more:

Faraday Future might be in even bigger difficulty than we supposed

Can the automaker deliver in the midst of disagreement ?
Image: Lance Ulanoff/ mashable

At CES 2017, Faraday Futurewas one of the biggest draws.

The upstart automaker devoted the first buzzy( if not a bit nauseating) presentation of the demonstrate when it unveiled the FF 91, complete with a record violating 0 to 60 mph acceleration down a test track.

It was an exciting moment up until the event, the public had never seen anything close to a working production vehicle. While the autonomous system reached a few snags during its own demo, this was the first proof the automaker might be able to fulfill its initial promise to challenge Tesla’s reign as the preeminent name in the all-electric car space.

But if a report published today by Business Insider must therefore be believed, it was all a charade “ve been meaning to” distract from the company’s impending implosion. Representatives for Faraday Future and its partner/ backer LeEco, the Chinese electronics company, called the report “speculation” and dedicated no further comment.

According to the report, which quotes eight “executives” said to have intimate knowledge of Faraday Future’s business, the company is apparently “in shamblings, ” being abandoned by executive-level the workers and facing a shortage of cash in the face of mounting debts.

Faraday’s executive and fiscal woes aren’t exactly news but the scope of the company’s problems, especially after the FF91 debut, could be.

BI claims that many of Faraday’s issues stem from the disconnect between Chinese investor Jia Yueting’s LeEco team and its US-based executives. According to one of the sources, the style the automaker is being treated by Yueting induces it more of “a subsidiary” than a standalone priority.

The one surefire route the company could stay afloat “wouldve been” success of the its FF91 car.

“If they can’t figure out a route to get the money out of China in the next 60 days, the suppliers would basically force them into bankruptcy, ” one of the sources told BI .

The one surefire way the company could stay afloat “wouldve been” success of the its FF91 car. However, the company says it won’t ship until 2018.

One source told BI even that timeline was highly unlikely, calling the demo of the car “a bunch of bulls-.”

Still, the FF91 turned a lot of heads at CES, so and things seemed even better when Faraday announced it received more than 64, 000 preoders for the car following the show.

But the company didn’t disclose the breakdown of those reservations anyone preordering could do so without putting any fund down, although Faraday offered a “priority” sign-up that required a $5,000 deposit. Faraday has not disclosed how many priority orders it received, but research reports claims that real number is comically low: Merely 60 people submitted a paid reservation.

When reached for comment by Mashable about the reservation numbers and BI ‘s other claims, a Faraday Future rep had nothing to share. “We are unable to provide specific details with regards to reservation type, ” he said via email. “The specific number mentioned in the BI article came from an anonymous source and therefore we cannot comment onspeculation.”

Read more: