brad's blog

Pick-up and Drop-off are big challenges for robotaxis - so much that SF's MTA opposes Cruise operation

In an earlier article, I noted that Cruise, in demonstrating their first robotaxi rides with no safety driver, did all the pick-up an drop-off by just stopping in the lane (late at night.) This is something many Uber drivers do as well, but it's not technically legal. Cruise is doing things one step at a time, but the SF MTA doesn't like that and filed an opposition to them getting a permit to operate the service with the public (currently they just do employees.)

Here's a Forbes.com article on the issues with doing pick-up and drop-off.

Topic: 
Tags: 

Volocopter's simple "drone" design may end up a winner

I've tended to downplay the early e-VTOL designs that are essentially big multirotor drones for people, including Volocopter. But the reality is that these designs, while losers in the long run, are winning the early race because they can get approved and in the air sooner. Here's an examination of Volocopter and what may happen long term.

Volocopter's simple "drone" design may end up a winner

Topic: 
Tags: 

Cruise goes under the hood and talks about their technology

Two big milestones for Cruise this week, with two stories:

First, they started unmanned operations at night in San Francisco, and give their first taxi ride with no safety driver to founder Kyle Vogt. GM employees are now using Cruise vehicles as taxis.

See Cruise takes robotaxi "Ride #1"

Topic: 
Tags: 

EV Drivers Are Unplugging Other EVs - How Can A System Of Etiquette Arise

Sometimes people come up to full EV charging stations where cords can reach more than one spot and they unplug an EV that arrived earlier and take over the charger. Sometimes it's evil. Sometimes it's the earlier driver who is bad. How do we make a system to handle the problem?

Read more at Forbes.com in EV Drivers Are Unplugging Other EVs - How Can A System Of Etiquette Arise

Topic: 
Tags: 

How good a business is running a robotaxi?

Most of the major players want to run a robotaxi business -- Uber style ride service using robocars. Yet some have started to wonder if this is the best business model, or if it's even a good one, while companies invest billions in it.

In this new article on Forbes.com I investigate some of these questions and why the players are investing these sum, and what sort of profits they might make.

Topic: 
Tags: 

WeRide safety driver caught napping -- why is this still happening? Plus new LIDAR

A video shows a WeRide safety driver apparently sleeping on the job on Highway 85 in San Jose. After Uber's fatality 3 years ago, are some operators still not monitoring driver attention?

I asked WeRide and learned only part of the answer at WeRide safety driver caught napping -- why is this still happening?

Topic: 
Tags: 

Most Self-Driving Demonstrations Are Theater, Here’s How To Make Them More Real

You have probably seen many demonstration videos of self-driving cars navigating the roads with aplomb. They show us a little about what the system can do but as long as they are cherry picked, they don't really tell us how the team is doing.

They could do better if they drive a random road at a pre-announced random time and stream it live, so there can be no cherry picking. Time to start.

Topic: 
Tags: 

The Lucid Air Dream has over 500 miles of range -- worth it or a giant splurge?

The new high end versions of the Lucid Air luxury electric car -- the Grand Touring and Dream -- report a range of over 500 miles from a 113kwh battery. They do this at a high price -- $130K and $170K! What do you really get for 500 miles of range? It's obviously nice, but is it worth it at this high cost?

Topic: 
Tags: 

NHTSA investigates Tesla crashes into emergency vehicles, what does it all mean?

NHTSA is investigating 12 crashes by Teslas on Autopilot into emergency vehicles on the side of the road. It's also asking the other companies who make products like Autopilot for their statistics. What can be done to prevent these crashes, and are any number of them acceptable? Is Tesla doing things wrong or doing it better than anybody else? We may learn that and the issues are complex.

I discuss them in this new Forbes.com article:

Topic: 
Tags: 

Unusual charging on a 5,000 mile electric car road trip

Rounding out my 3 part series on doing a 5,000 mile international road trip in a Tesla, I talk about the times I used slower chargers. The world installed vast numbers of slow chargers at huge expense in a giant waste of money, but they do have virtues on a road trip, and eventually all hotels will have them. On a road trip charge and range become very important and sometimes they save the day.

Topic: 
Tags: 

Good and bad about using a 12v fridge on a Tesla road trip

On road trips many people like to have a cooler. For my most recent trip I graduated to getting a 12v compressor fridge, a real fridge that, in theory, needs no ice. I presumed that in an electric car, with a giant battery, running the fridge would be no problem (it uses up only about 2 miles worth of range electricity per day.)

That turned out not to be the case due to a bad way the Tesla 12v system is designed. I wrote up this story of the ins and outs of using a fridge in a car, and how to fix the 12v problem in this new story on Forbes.com

Tags: 

Forget smart cities, you need to make your infrastructure stupid to survive the future

The instinct of many transportation planners is to make "smart infrastructure," and to try to make plans for it going out 30 years. That's impossible, nobody knows what smart will mean in 5 years. The internet solve this problem, and grew by making the infrastructure as stupid as possible, and it revolutionized the world. The internet teaches lessons for how all infrastructure planning must go in the future -- keep the physical as simple as possible, do everything in the virtual, software layer.

Tags: 

Using electric school buses to power the grid / Remote driving and Starlink

Vehicle to Grid (v2g) to provide power from car batteries is tough. A new venture wants to do it with electric school buses, which follow a fixed schedule and have big batteries. I examine how that would work at:

Electric Schoolbuses and V2G

Tags: 

Self-Driving Teams Have Always Strived To Measure Safety. What If That’s Not The Hard Thing?

In the robocar world, everybody is safety-obsessed. But what if what's holding things up isn't that, but the fact that focus on safety had delayed the good road citizenship needed to operate a real service. Is good road citizenship even harder than safety? What ways might we measure it and get the trade-off right. I discuss this in a new Forbes site article seen in:

Topic: 
Tags: 

Aboard the Energy Observer, a French hydrogen/solar/wind powered boat

I got a chance to visit the Energy Observer, a French boat powered by solar and wind with hydrogen energy storage as it visited SF while sailing around the world.

Hydrogen doesn't work so well in cars, but it can make sense in other places like aircraft, trucks and grid. But what about on a boat?

Read my analysis at Aboard the Energy Observer, a French hydrogen/solar/wind powered boat

Tags: 

Pages