Category Archives: Autonomous Driving

Renault-Nissan To Test Fleet Of Autonomous Zoes In Paris

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has announced a partnership with autonomous vehicle services company Transdev which will see a fleet of self-driving Renault Zoe models hit the streets.

In a statement, the two automakers said that they will collaborate with Transdev to develop a modular transportation system that enables clients to book vehicles and for mobility operators to monitor and operate self-driving car fleets.

The partnership will start with fields tests in the Paris-Saclay business area and involve Transdev’s on-demand dispatch, supervision and routing platform.

Speaking about the deal, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior vice president of connected vehicles and mobility services, Ogi Redzic, said

“As the mobility services landscape keeps evolving, we have a great opportunity to offer innovative, connected mobility solutions for the evolving needs of our customers, fully aligned with our vision of a zero-emission, zero-fatalities society.

“Partnering with Transdev allows us to share our knowledge as leaders in electric vehicles, autonomous drive and connected-car technologies with one of the largest multi-modal mobility operators worldwide. Together we will develop an advanced driverless mobility system that will enhance existing public and on-demand transport systems.”

Source: Car Scoops

New autonomous vehicle insurance and electric vehicle infrastructure

Self-driving car insurance and electric vehicle charge point measures introduced in Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.

New insurance rules for self-driving cars and measures to improve provision of electric vehicle charge points will be introduced today (22 February 2017), as part of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.

It is hoped these measures will help the UK to become a world leader in these technologies by breaking down some of the barriers that could limit companies from testing them here.

Measures around insurance for self-driving cars will ensure better protection – a single insurance product for automated vehicles will now be able to cover both the motorist when they are driving, as well as the car when it is in automated mode. This will mean innocent victims involved in a collision with an automated vehicle will have quick and easy access to compensation.

Self-driving vehicles will allow the driver to hand full control and responsibility to the vehicle when technologies are turned on.

The measures follow a consultation by the Department for Transport on the issue of insurance for self-driving cars that closed in September 2016. The Secretary of State will be given the power to classify which vehicles are ‘automated’ and subject to the new insurance requirement.

Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said:

Automated vehicles have the potential to transform our roads in the future and make them even safer and easier to use, as well as promising new mobility for those who cannot drive.

But we must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident and today we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies.

David Williams, Head of Underwriting, at AXA UK, said:

This is a positive step forward that provides clarity to insurers to ensure we design our products appropriately. It keeps protection of the general public at its heart which we hope will encourage early adoption of some really impressive technology.

The vast majority of accidents are caused by human error and we see automated vehicles having a massive impact, reducing the number and severity of accidents. As well as making our roads safer, insurance premiums are based on the cost of claims and therefore we expect substantially reduced premiums to follow.

Other measures set out in the Bill will mean easier access to infrastructure for electric vehicles. They could also ensure the right infrastructure is in place for the growing market for electric vehicles.

Motorway services and large fuel retailers could be made to provide electric charge points and hydrogen refuelling stations under planned new laws.

The measures could also make sure data about the location and availability of charging stations is openly available, and make it easier to use the different networks which are available. They follow a public consultation on measures to improve charging infrastructure.

John Hayes, Minister of State for Transport said:

If we are to accelerate the use of electric vehicles we must take action now and be ready to take more action later. I recognise that to encourage more drivers to go electric, the infrastructure needs to become even more widespread than the 11,000 charging points already in place and more straightforward. We are determined to do all we can to make electric vehicles work for everyone and these new laws will help make this a reality.

Source: Gov.uk

Tesla Model 3 at launch (Image: K. Field/CC)

In time, all cars will be electric, driverless and running on renewables

Speculation about the future of transportation, like common flu, appears to be contagious. Not a week goes by without another celebrity, business guru or executive predicting that future of transportation is electric.

That, you may say, is probable and not newsworthy. What is newsworthy is that many of the same people are predicting that the transition is likely to be at a pace much faster than many had expected.

Tesla Model 3 at launch (Image: K. Field/CC)
Tesla Model 3 at launch (Image: K. Field/CC)

In July 2016, for example, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was quoted as saying that he suspected that 15 years from now every car on the road would be electric. Chances are that he made up the number – 15 years – without giving it much thought. One can also assume that he was talking about new cars sold in 15 years, not all cars on the road.

That, of course, is what makes Branson Branson. He was talking to CNN at a Formula E race, which he was attending to support the Virgin Racing team. He said,

“Formula E is pushing the boundaries forward into what will be the future. Fifteen years from now, I suspect every car on the road will be electric.”

He went on to elaborate:

“If governments set the ground rules — and they sometimes have to be brave and set positive ground rules — and for instance said, ‘more than 50% of cars must be battery-driven in 10 years and 100% in 15 years,’ we could make that happen. It will be great fun and really challenging to do. The cars would be much more efficient… and battery technology will get better and better.”

Read more: Renew Economy

nuTonomy beats Uber to launch first self-driving taxi

In the cutthroat world of technology, if you’re not first, you’re last. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see tech companies and automakers clawing to be first in line to release self-driving cars.


Uber recently partnered with Volvo in a $300-million project that should result in a self-driving fleet as early as next month. But amazingly, a 3-year-old company called nuTonomy has beat Uber to the punch by launching the world’s first self-driving taxi in Singapore.

Cambridge, MA,-based nuTonomy has been privately testing self-driving vehicles in Singapore since April and is now allowing select residents in the city’s one-north business district to be driven around in its self-driving taxis for free. Customers will be able to summon one of nuTonomy’s self-driving taxis through the company’s app and will be picked up in a Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car modified for autonomous driving.

While the taxi will drive itself, an engineer from nuTonomy will ride in the vehicle to ensure that the car is operating properly and will take over if needed. There’s no word on how many self-driving taxis nuTonomy put on the road, but the trials take the company one step closer to launching its fully autonomous fleet by 2018.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jake Watts managed to get a ride in one of nuTonomy’s self-driving taxis and, while it went well, he claims human cabdrivers may not go extinct any time soon. According to Watts, the self-driving Mitsubishi lacked Tesla’s polish and was overly cautious. The car did a fine job of avoiding jaywalkers, parked cars, and pedestrians on the short drive, but hesitated often, which could gives riders motion sickness, Watts said.

nuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma will be speaking at Autoblog’s UPSHIFT 2016 conference on transportation technology on October 6 in Detroit.

Source: Autoblog

A group of self driving Uber vehicles position themselves to take journalists on rides during a media preview at Uber's Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh (Image: GJ. Puskar, AP)

Why most self-driving cars will be electric

As our urban transportation landscape becomes automated over the next decade, it could spark an electric car revolution.

Spend enough time around these early self-driving vehicles and you notice that nearly all are hybrids or pure electric vehicles. They include Ford’s automated Fusion, the similarly equipped Fusion hybrids that Uber is deploying in Pittsburgh, the Google cars bopping around the peninsula of northern California, the Chevrolet Bolts being tested in San Francisco and suburban Phoenix.

A group of self driving Uber vehicles position themselves to take journalists on rides during a media preview at Uber's Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh (Image: GJ. Puskar, AP)
A group of self driving Uber vehicles position themselves to take journalists on rides during a media preview at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh (Image: GJ. Puskar, AP)

Today, hybrids, plug-ins and pure electrics are a marginal piece of the U.S. market, accounting for a scant 2.8% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. through the first eight months of 2016, according to hybridcars.com.

But a decade from now, electric cars will appeal far beyond the granola-eating, tree-hugging, climate-change evangelizing base that has sustained them thus far. You may not own one, but you will have ridden in them. The change won’t be instant, but it will be steady.

So why will our autonomous future likely be an electric one?

First are the regulatory reasons, namely gas mileage requirements. Then there are engineering reasons — electric vehicles are easier for computers to drive. And, of course, ride-hailing services will increasingly make up a higher percentage of daily miles driven, and it will be easier, cheaper and safer to recharge an unmanned car than to gas one up.

“One of the biggest changes will be in the growing difference in cost of ownership between electrified and internal combustion engines,”

Ford CEO Mark Fields said last week, repeating his company’s pledge to spend $4.5 billion to introduce 13 new electric vehicle nameplates by 2020.

A competition, of sorts, between Silicon Valley and Detroit has been ongoing in the past decade for the engineering and computer programming talent needed to create the next generation of smart, connected and ultimately self-driving vehicles.

The two sides will likely have to work together — either through mergers and acquisitions or strategic partnerships — and electric cars will be the platform.

The federal government’s corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards will vary depending on the mix of trucks, SUVs and passenger cars a manufacturer sells, but a substantial portion of electrified vehicles will be needed to achieve the goals.

And then there are the engineering reasons.

“There are a lot fewer moving pieces in an electric vehicle. There are three main components — the battery, the inverter and the electric motor,”

said Levi Tillemann-Dick, managing partner at Valence Strategic in Washington, D.C., and author of “The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future.”

“An internal combustion engine contains 2,000 tiny pieces that have to be kept lubricated and they break every once in a while.”

Read more: USA Today

Peak Oil Could be in 15-20 Years (Image: Bernstein Research)

Big Oil Is Terminal

“Peak oil demand” is the new “peak oil supply” because of climate change and plummeting costs for electric car batteries.

It’s increasingly clear that we’re not going to move off of oil because we run out of supply. Rather, we’re going to move off of oil because it is both the economic and moral thing to do.

The research firm Bernstein notes that two “existential threats to the oil industry” exist — “climate change” and “advances in battery technology and computing power, which have resulted in a surge in interest in electric vehicles and autonomous driving.” They project the peak in oil demand could come as soon as 2030–2035:

Peak Oil Could be in 15-20 Years (Image: Bernstein Research)
Peak Oil Could be in 15-20 Years (Image: Bernstein Research)

Read more: Think Progress

Tesla Model 3 at launch (Image: K. Field/CC)

Perfect storm of factors speeding electric vehicle development

Even if you work the auto industry, you probably didn’t expect the current rush to develop, build, sell, and drive electric vehicles.

UK motorists now have more than 30 electric models to choose from
UK motorists now have more than 30 electric models to choose from

But there’s no denying it. A series of technology developments, market disruptions, and wake-up calls are hastening an inevitable shift from fossil fuel engines to electric power in cars and trucks, according to a post on TechCrunch.

Battery technology is the greatest enabler of the shift to fully electric-powered vehicles. Lower electricity cost means less expensive cars. With range anxiety now a “thing” and a common deterrent to full-electric car purchases, larger capacity batteries are needed for adequate driving range. The cost of lithium-ion battery power has dropped by about 80 percent in the last eight years. One kilowatt of power that cost roughly $1,000 in 2008 is now closer to $200. Continued battery technology advances plus the impending construction of huge new battery factories could bring prices down to $100 per kilowatt in the next few years.

Autonomous vehicle technology is developing hand in hand with the switch to electrification. Auto manufacturers are working fast to develop autonomous capabilities just to stay up with their competitors. Combining hybrid and all-electric power with autopilot and auto-assist features gives manufacturers showcase platforms.

Read more: Digital Trends

Tesla Model 3 at launch (Image: K. Field/CC)

Your time is up, Stanford tech expert tells petroleum industry

ADDRESSING a high-profile audience of the Thai energy sector last week, Stanford University lecturer and Silicon Valley investor Tony Seba minced no words in warning them that petroleum, which had been a source of livelihood to many of them, would become obsolete by 2030 or sooner.

Tesla Model 3 at launch (Image: K. Field/CC)
Tesla Model 3 at launch (Image: K. Field/CC)

Citing four key technologies – energy storage, electric vehicles, self-driving cars, and solar – the author of the amazon.com best seller “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation” said the energy and transport industries were on the cusp of either being transformed or destroyed.

“The energy and transport industries will become high-tech industries” he told the Petroleum Institute of Thailand’s 30th anniversary event that was attended by energy and science ministers, privy councillor, director of the Crown Property Bureau Snoh Unakul, and other top energy officials and executives. Speaking at a press conference held at the conference, Seba said since consumers would switch “en masse” to electric vehicles by 2020, petroleum – 60 per cent of which is used for transport – was going to become obsolete.

The driving force will be the four key technologies that will improve exponentially, not because of climate change, he said.

Besides “exponential” technological development in key areas such as in lithium-on batteries, solar photovoltaic installations and generating costs, electric and autonomous cars, and LIDAR sensors, Seba pointed out business model innovations that could accelerate the changes such as storage-as-a-service, electric vehicles’ (EVs) free charging network, car-as-a-service, and “zero money down solar” leasing.

EVs will hit the low-end automobile segments by 2020 when their prices drop to $20,000 (Bt700,000) and will put an end to internal combustion engine cars when EV prices fall to $5,000 in 2030, he predicted. Tesla recently introduced its Model 3 at an unsubsidised retail price tag of $35,000. Within 24 hours, it received 180,000 bookings – a record for the car industry.

Read more: Nation Multimedia

The researchers claim there is now urgent need for a higher qualified workforce to avoid further skills shortages across the electric vehicle sector

Electric cars worth £51bn to UK economy ‘if Government acts now’

The UK Government will lose out on major economic benefits unless it makes a significant investment in upgrading the nation’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and upskilling the motor industry, an independent academic report will warn this week.

The report, commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), concludes that the overall economic and social benefit of EVs, connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51bn per year by 2030, with the potential for 320,000 newly-created industry jobs.

Researchers will present the report’s findings to a cross-party group of MPs on Wednesday (13 April), calling on the Government to focus on protecting the economic growth of the motor industry by acting strategically to make charging low emission cars more convenient for drivers, and ensuring that there are enough skilled technicians to service and repair them.

Loughborough University professor Jim Saker, who will host Wednesday’s Parliamentary meeting, said:

“The UK, by the nature of its size and geography, has a natural advantage in the rapid adoption of vehicles with the new power train technologies, but it is dependent on Government investment to pump prime this initiative.

“Without proper regulation, a skills gap will emerge with only a limited number of technicians working in the franchised sector being able to service and repair new technology vehicles. If this trend is found to be true then it is likely that the independent sector of the retail automotive sector will decline. This will mean that the market will fail to open up and develop to the benefit of the UK economy.”

Read more: Edie.net

Tesla Model S (Image: A. Souppouris/Engadget)

A semi-autonomous road trip in the Tesla Model S

How I learned to love Autopilot

Tesla Model S (Image: A. Souppouris/Engadget)
Tesla Model S (Image: A. Souppouris/Engadget)

Perhaps the worst driving experience of my life happened in 2009 while helping a friend move. She could only afford to rent a rusty van for a single day, so I agreed to make the 14-hour round trip from London to Scotland and back again in one shot. After setting off at 9 AM, we arrived at 7 PM, some four hours behind schedule, thanks to bad traffic. I started the 450-mile home leg at around 9 PM, and the entire journey was a battle to stay awake, alert and within the confines of my lane. Plenty of coffee and roadside breaks later, I arrived home at 6 AM, 21 hours after setting off. It was the most unsafe I’ve ever felt in a car.

When Tesla offered us the opportunity to test out its semi-autonomous Autopilot feature in the Model S, my thoughts immediately went to Scotland and that traumatic journey. While I’m never going to trade my VW Golf for a car that expensive, the new Model 3 will arrive at $35,000 with many of the same capabilities. So I saw the opportunity to take an extremely early Model 3 test drive, of sorts. I wanted to know if it could make a cross-country journey on electric power, and see if the Autopilot would have made that long trip to Scotland a little less arduous.

The conceit

To test this theory, we would drive up to the north of England — Scotland just wasn’t practical given the time constraints we were under. We’d then stretch out the process with some video and photo shoots, before heading home hopefully somewhat exhausted. On the trip back to London, we’d then make use of the autonomous features — about 90 percent of the journey back could be driven by the Tesla, with limited human oversight.

My colleague Matt Brian picked up the Model S — a $120,000 (£110,250) P90D, to be precise — from Hounslow, on the outskirts of London. From there we’d take the M25 freeway, which encircles London, before setting off on the M1, the main road heading north. We chose Leeds, a city around four hours away in the north of England, as our destination. Because the Tesla is electric, though, we’d need a charger to get us there. Or at least back.

Read more: Engadget