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News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

You've Got Mail: Democrats Pen Concerns on Landmark Autonomous Car Bill

Political letters: an underappreciated variation on political memos. Five Democratic US Senators released a letter on March 14 that urged changes to the Senate autonomous vehicles bill. The bill, which would fast-track the development and deployment of self-driving cars, raised concerns that "the bill indefinitely preempts state and local safety regulations even if federal safety standards are never developed," according to the letter by Senators Feinstein, Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Udall, and Markey.

Das Auto Standards Go to China

Germany is exporting both autonomous vehicles and the laws to govern them. A leading German law professor who focuses on automated driving has been invited to present and hold meetings about Germany's latest self-driving car legislation. According to the professor, China often adopts German criminal and civil law. The new German law will allow road tests with drivers removing their hands from the wheel and taking their eyes off the road.

If You Build It, the Self-Driving Cars Will Come

Makes sense, right? GM is set to invest more than $100 million to upgrade their manufacturing capabilities at two production facilities for self-driving cars. The manufacturer recently filed a petition to bring a fully autonomous version of their Cruise vehicle onto their debut commercial ride-sharing fleet next year. The petition is currently under review at NHTSA. To read the article from Reuters, click here.

Lyft Signs for Magna Car(as)

Ah, the barons of self-driving cars, and their Great Charter. Magna International, a Canadian auto-parts supplier, has partnered with Lyft to supply the ride-sharing service with kits to turn regular vehicles into self-driving cars. The kits will include camera, radar, and lidar systems. Overall, the company is investing $200 million in Lyft and the co-development of self-driving cars in an example of auto industry diversification as vehicle sales are expected to drop in the ridesharing and self-driving economy. Critical question- do these autonomous car kits come with an Allen wrench?

Waymo Gives Atlanta a Freight

There’s no need to be alarmed, but that semi only being supervised, not driven, by a human. Waymo has rolled out self-driving trucks on the roads around Atlanta for testing as they carry cargo to Google data centers. Analysts see the truck market as a strong strategic move for Waymo given price and data sensitivities in the autonomous passenger car space as well as openings in the trucking market.

Uber Heats Up Autonomous Trucking Market from Arizona Deserts

“Travel my way, take the highway” – lyrics Uber probably didn’t quote about their work in Arizona. For several months, Uber’s self-driving trucks have been carrying cargo on Arizona highways, according to a recent company statement. While the trucks still have a licensed truck driver available at the wheel for now, Uber intends to eventually integrate fully autonomous trucks into their Uber Freight service, which matches truckers and trucking companies with cargo.

Humans Not Required: California Clears Fully Self-Driving Cars

Ah, California driving – coastal highways, slow traffic, and human-less cars. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that autonomous cars without a human driver in the vehicle can be tested on public roads as soon as April 2. The regulations only apply to cars, and companies involved will need to meet numerous criteria for safety, car communications, and testing notifications before sending their vehicles on the roads solo.

All Oiled Out: BP Forecasts Oil’s Peak in Autonomous, EV Future

Well, that’s a first. In its annual Energy Outlook, BP’s researchers forecast a fundamentally changed transportation industry, with more travel but less private cars and increased efficiency standards. In fact, by the late 2030s, autonomous and electric vehicles would cause a dip in fuel demand and the first-ever predicted peak oil use. Plastic manufacturing is expected to become a source of growth for the oil industry as its role in ground transportation diminishes.

Monetizing the Drive: Buying a Car and Selling the Data

Truly nothing is ad-free anymore. The surge in software and sensors in new vehicles and the ever-growing role of AI technology means new profits are within reach for automakers through data use. If consumers opt in for data-driven services – such as maps for finding charging stations, discounts on car insurance, coupons at gas stations – they’ll also opt-in to sharing their valuable driving data with third parties. Big Brother, meet Big Auto.

VW Wants to Think Different with EVs

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, VW is not shy about its regard for the company behind iPods, iPhones, and iPads. Volkswagen is looking for inspiration from a likely design source, Apple. Just as the tech company definitively distinguished itself from competitors such as Samsung and Sony, Volkswagen wants to distill down a new design concept and company priorities that will set it apart in the age of electric vehicles.