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News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Autonomous Cars: If You Build Sell It, Will They Come?

Self-driving cars apparently have a solid reputation management team. According to a new AAA study, the amount of US drivers who are fearful of autonomous vehicles is on a significant decline. A 63 percent majority of drivers are still fearful of the new vehicles, but that is a notable drop from 78 percent last year. The quick decline is positive news for autonomous technology companies as they race to bring self-driving cars to market.

Who's On First? GM Sets 2019 Driverless Debut Date

The automaker is up to bat against federal approval. General Motors recently submitted a federal safety proposal to put the first market-ready, self-driving car on public roads in 2019. The car, which would have no steering wheel or gas pedal, must be approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Current regulations assume the need for a human driver, and convincing NHTSA that GM's Cruise AV matches can match the safety levels of a human-driven car will be no small feat. If GM wins federal approval, it would also need to pioneer approvals in most states.

DOT Calls for Comment Cards on Automated Vehicle Policy

This is one survey request you might want to open. This week, the US Department of Transportation published several notices for public comment involving automated cars, trucks, buses, and light rail.

Renault-Nissan Stirs the Startup Tech Pot with $1 Billion to Bid

Automakers have tasted tech and they are ready for their next course. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance recently announced a new venture capital fund, named Alliance Ventures, that will be dedicated to startup technology investment. The automakers hope to accelerate development of technologies they currently do not have, including cutting-edge batteries and autonomous cars. The company will commit $200 million annually over five years with teams in Silicon Valley, Paris, Japan, and China to sniff out the latest promising ventures. So, what’s cooking, good looking tech startups?

Fisker Returns with a Solid State of Affairs

The name’s Fisker, Henrik Fisker. The Los Angeles-based Danish expat known for designing the Aston Martin DB9, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, the BMW Z8, and many more iconic cars is staging a comeback in the electric car industry, bringing a new company, car, and battery to CES. Fisker’s previous company, Fisker Automotive, collapsed in 2013. Despite the attractive prototype of his supercar, the battery prototype has garnered the most attention, with Fisker claiming to deliver a solid-state battery in the next five years.

Startup Aurora Restarts VW Engineering Reputation

Moving on and moving up. Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Co. have both announced partnerships with Aurora Innovation, a self-driving startup with a focus on machine learning led by ex-Googler Chris Urmson. The industry particularly noted the Aurora-VW partnership as the company works to leave diesel and Dieselgate behind and move toward battery-powered, self-driving cars. Through this partnership, VW is expected to speed up the process of developing a driverless ride-sharing vehicle fleet in cities.

Toyota Showcases Third Gen Autonomous Test Rig

And the third time seems to have charmed critics. Toyota Research Institute has released details about Platform 3.0, which is built on a Lexus LS 600hl hybrid luxury sedan, and will officially debut the autonomous research vehicle at CES 2018. Platform 3.0 presents a sleeker, more consumer-friendly design that hides several unattractive elements of the previous model. The hardware also received an upgrade that is expected to enhance both performance and production.

Machine Learning Tech Levels Playing Field in Autonomous Competition

Neural networks driving autonomous vehicles—a giant leap for self-driving cars and a big question for regulators. Machine learning technology at Aurora Innovation is being taught how to mimic decisions made by human drivers, allowing the year-old startup to rapidly build and improve autonomous vehicles. The tech is also allowing the fledgling company to compete with the biggest players from the automotive and technology industries, nabbing partnerships with Volkswagen Group and Hyundai.

Car Sales Head Down New, Uncertain Road

As 2017 came to a close, so did the auto industry’s sales streak. Manufacturers reported a decline in domestic new-vehicle sales, breaking seven straight years of growth in the car sales industry. The decline in the American market is expected to continue in 2018, and may force carmakers to trim production and find new ways to entice customers. To read the article from the New York Times, click here.

Lidar Joins the Post-Holiday Sale Trend

Buy next year’s holiday décor, the sweater you actually wanted, and self-driving tech for 50 percent off! Velodyne, a top supplier of sensors and laser-based guidance systems for self-driving cars, announced that it has slashed the price of its latest rotating ‘puck’ product in half, reducing the cost to $4,000. While hailed as a step in making LIDAR systems more feasible for broader commercial use, the technology can still cost about $85,000 for a more comprehensive system.