RUSH - Self driving trucks for freeway haulage logistics is all the
rage at the moment for investors looking for the latest digital gold rush.
Kodiak joins Pony.ai,
Chuxing, Waymo, Aurora,
as they look for the elusive holy grail of AI on the road, somewhat blowing
into the weeds. You can read more about these companies and the media
coverage, and reviews, on this site. Strangely, even with the green
revolution taking place all over the world, there is as yet no energy
vending system for these autonomous vehicles. It's competition as usual, in
a world calling for collaboration.
Self-driving cars and trucks
may drive themselves, but development is driven by economics. They will
forecast to grow exponentially in the next two decades. How we deliver goods, the ownership of personal vehicles, ridesharing, public transportation – these all will take new shapes as
electric vehicles (AEVs) accelerate.
Cities, utilities, industry players and policymakers are quickly scaling to deliver on
AEVs, which promise to be safer, faster, more cost-effective, and cleaner for our health and environment than yesterday’s mobility systems.
REUTERS 1 JUNE 2021 - Cruise urges Biden to back autonomous vehicle deployment boost
Cruise LLC, the autonomous vehicle (AV) company majority-owned by General Motors Co
(GM.N), has urged President Joe Biden to back efforts to speed thousands of self-driving cars to U.S. roads, saying the country risks lagging behind China, according to a previously unreported letter seen by Reuters.
The chief executive of Cruise, Dan Ammann, in a letter to Biden dated May 17, asked him to back legislation raising the cap on the number of vehicles that a company can seek to have exempted from safety standards that do not meet existing federal requirements that assume human drivers are in control.
The cap, Ammann wrote, "acts as a U.S.-only impediment to building these vehicles at scale in the United States." Cruise provided a copy of the letter to Reuters.
"China’s top down, centrally directed approach imposes no similar restraints on their home grown AV industry," Ammann wrote. "We do not seek, require or desire government funding; we seek your help in leveling the playing field," he said, citing research that AVs are "estimated to create and sustain 108,000 jobs over the next five years."
The White House declined to comment on Monday.
Senators John Thune and Gary Peters have been working for several years on efforts to ease restrictions on
AVs. An amendment to a bill designed to address U.S. competitiveness against China proposed by Thune to raise the cap stalled last week amid opposition from labor unions and plaintiffs attorneys, but Thune and Peters are expected to continue to pursue the issue.
Thune and Peters in April circulated language for potential legislation to grant the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the power to lift the cap and initially exempt 15,000 self-driving vehicles per manufacturer, rising to 80,000 within three years. The NHTSA would need to certify self-driving vehicles exempted are at least as safe as human-driven ones.
Ammann, in his letter to Biden, said that "without your support and congressional action to revise these self imposed barriers, the U.S. AV manufacturing industry will lag, AI development will stall, and our foreign competitors will race ahead."
The auto industry, Alphabet Inc's Waymo (GOOGL.O) and others have been pushing for years to convince Congress to speed self-driving vehicle deployment.
Reuters reported May 11 that Waymo and California-based Cruise have applied for permits needed to start charging for rides and delivery using autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, citing state documents. read more
In October, Cruise said it planned to seek NHTSA approval to deploy a limited number of Cruise Origin vehicles without steering wheels or pedals. The Origin, which was developed with GM and Cruise investor Honda Motor (7267.T), has two long seats facing each other that can comfortably fit four passengers. Production is expected to begin in early 2023.
BEAT 2020 - During GM’s investor day conference in New York this morning, Dan Ammann, CEO of the automaker’s self-driving subsidiary Cruise Automation, gave a glimpse at the progress it’s made toward a fully self-driving vehicle fleet. He said that Cruise’s engineers, of which there are now 1,800 (up from 1,000 in March 2019), have over the past four years helped improve autonomous driving performance by a factor of well over 1,000. Concretely, they’ve reduced the amount of time between major software updates by 98% while cutting the time it takes to train the AI underpinning its cars by 80%, such that major new firmware rolls out up 45 times more frequently than before (as often as twice weekly).
Furthermore, between summer 2019 and now, Ammann says there’s been 2.5 times increase in the utilization of its Chevrolet Bolt test vehicles — an improvement that’s expected to drive down costs. On the subject of division-wide cost savings, Cruise anticipates its forthcoming electric vehicle fast-charging station in San Francisco will contribute to an 85% reduction in cost per kilowatt of charging. And Ammann claims that compute costs will be reduced by 85% with GM’s newly unveiled Origin shuttle.
Ammann recently claimed that vehicles like Origin, a vehicle designed in equal part by GM, Cruise, and Honda that lacks a combustible engine or a driver and that can accommodate up to six people, will save the average San Francisco resident up to $5,000 a year and operate continuously for up to a million miles. Last month, he proclaimed in a Medium post that the world needs to move beyond human-driven single-occupancy vehicles in the future, arguing that there’s a gap left unfilled today by public transportation systems, ridesharing services, and micro-mobility apps for scooter or bike rental.
“It’s our mission at Cruise to make that technology as safe as possible and get it deployed as rapidly as possible, so that we can have the impact of saving millions of lives that are lost on the road,” said Ammann, who estimates that the autonomous ride-sharing and delivery logistics markets are $5 trillion and $2 trillion opportunities, respectively, and that data insight and in-vehicle experiences represent a combined $1 trillion. “Our goal in the simplest possible terms is to build a superior product. It’s to build a product that is better than what people have as transportation alternatives today … Our goal is to make shared rides that don’t suck.”
Cruise is considered a pack leader in a global market that’s anticipated to hit revenue of $173.15 billion by 2023. Although it hasn’t yet launched a driverless taxi service (unlike competitors Waymo, Yandex, and Drive.ai) or sold cars to customers, it’s driven more miles than most — around 450,000 in California in 2018, according to a report it filed with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. That’s behind only Waymo, which drove 1.2 million miles that year.
Cruise runs lots of simulations across its suite of internal tools — about 200,000 hours of compute jobs each day in Google Cloud Platform as of April 2019 — one of which is an end-to-end, three-dimensional Unreal Engine environment that Cruise employees call The Matrix. Over 30,000 instances spin up daily across 300,000 processor cores and 5,000 graphics cards, each of which loops through a single drive’s worth of scenarios and generates 300 terabytes of results.
In the real world, Cruise uses third-generation all-electric cars equipped with lidar sensors from Velodyne, as well as short- and long-range radar sensors, articulating radars, video cameras, fault-tolerant electrical and actuation systems, and computers running proprietary control algorithms engineered by Cruise. They also sport in-vehicle displays that show information about upcoming turns, merges, traffic light status, and other information, as well as brief explanations of pauses. Most are assembled in a billion-dollar Lake Orion, Michigan plant (in which GM further invested $300 million last month) that’s staffed by 1,000 people and hundreds of robots.
Cruise is testing the cars in Scottsdale, Arizona and the metropolitan Detroit area, with the bulk of deployment concentrated in San Francisco. It’s scaled up rapidly, growing its starting fleet of 30 driverless vehicles to about 130 by June 2017. Cruise hasn’t disclosed the exact total publicly, but the company has 180 self-driving cars registered with California’s DMV, and three years ago, documents obtained by IEEE Spectrum suggested the company planned to deploy as many as 300 test cars around the country.
Currently, Cruise operates an employees-only ride-hailing program in San Francisco called Cruise Anywhere that allows the lucky few who make it beyond the waitlist to use an app to get around all mapped areas of the city where its fleet operates. The Wall Street Journal reported that Cruise and GM hope to put self-driving taxis into usage tests with ride-sharing company Lyft, with the eventual goal of creating an on-demand network of driverless cars.
Building on the progress it’s made so far, Cruise earlier this year announced a partnership with DoorDash to pilot food and grocery delivery in San Francisco this year for select customers. (Ammann says that other pilots are ongoing and “under discussion.”) And it’s making progress toward its fourth-generation car, which features automatic doors, rear seat airbags, and other redundant systems, and it lacks a steering wheel.
Growth certainly hasn’t slowed lately. In May 2018, Cruise announced that SoftBank’s Vision Fund would invest $2.25 billion in the company, along with another $1.1 billion from GM itself. And in October 2018, Honda pledged $750 million, to be followed by another $2 billion in the next 12 years. Today, Cruise has an estimated valuation of $14.6 billion, and the company recently expanded to a larger office in San Francisco and committed to opening an engineering hub in Seattle.
But Cruise is burning through cash quickly. GM posted a $1 billion loss on Cruise in 2019, up from a $728 million loss in 2018.
THE VERGE 12 APRIL 2021 - Cruise is bringing its driverless robotaxis to Dubai in 2023
Cruise, the autonomous vehicle company backed by General Motors and Honda, will launch its first international
robotaxi service in Dubai. The company will start testing its vehicles in the kingdom in 2023, with plans to launch a commercial ride-hailing service soon after — though it hasn’t specified an actual date. The news was announced early Monday by Dubai’s crown prince, Hamdan bin Mohammed.
As part of the ride-hailing service, Cruise will use its fully autonomous Origin vehicles, which it first unveiled in 2019. The company does not plan on utilizing its Chevy Bolt electric vehicles that it currently uses as part of its test fleet in San Francisco.
The Origin is designed to be a shared vehicle, and when it goes into production, it won’t have any controls typically associated with human driving, like a steering wheel or pedals. Cruise said the goal is to scale up to at least 4,000 vehicles in Dubai by the year 2030.
Cruise still intends for San Francisco to be its first market for its commercial
robotaxi service. The company had planned to launch a commercial service in its hometown in 2019, but failed to do so and has yet to announce a new date.
The Cruise Origin will go into production at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant starting in 2022. In light of the
COVID-19 pandemic’s negative effect on shared ride-hailing, Cruise recently unveiled a new set of safety protocols intended to keep people socially distant during trips and the vehicle sanitized between fares.
Cruise is among the best capitalized autonomous vehicle companies in the world. Over the last three years, the company has raised over $9.25 billion from a number of investors including SoftBank,
GM, T. Rowe Price Group, and Microsoft. Cruise is currently valued at
Dubai may be a natural fit for Cruise’s fully autonomous
vehicles. The kingdom has the goal of 20 percent of its trips taking place in autonomous vehicles by 2030. Dubai has also invited a number of urban
air mobility companies, like Volocopter, to test their electric aircraft.
RECHARGING UNMANNED EVS
FOR SMARTER CITIES
At the moment, the only system
that would be capable of servicing such vehicles would be the proposed SmartNet™
dual fuel service stations, where such vehicles do not need human assistance
to replenish their energy reserves, using modular
Allied to this is PAYD
(Pay As You
Drive) billing, also seen as a necessary function for autonomous,
unmanned, self-driving, robotic
vehicles of the future.
UNMANNED ELECTRIC VEHICLES
THE AUTOMATED and ELECTRIC VEHICLES ACT 2018
SERVICING FOR ROBOT VEHICLES - Those looking for a future proofed infrastructure for
renewably sourced energy for electric vehicles, may want to consider the new
breed of self driving passenger cars, taxis, and commercial trucks that will benefit from automated
recharging if they are to be fully autonomous in operation - most especially
unmanned robotic taxis and freight vehicles. These units are potentially
safer in terms of hydrogen handling, than piped gas, offering an alternative
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