brad's blog

Didi makes a profit, Uber doesn't, can Robotaxis

In the study of how much profit Robotaxis can make it's interesting to note that even in the Pandemic year, Didi will make a billion dollar profit from ride hail, while Uber continues to lose money and make people wonder if it can ever be profitable.

Didi's profit suggests the path to robotaxi profitability is attainable. Some more data is at this Forbes site article:

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AutoX opens full robotaxi service in Shenzen suburb

Earlier, AutoX started doing limited tests with staff of a robotaxi service with no safety driver on board in Pingshan, a suburb of Shenzen. Now, this service is available to the general public. No numbers yet, but it shows they have the confidence.

More details at AutoX opens robotaxi service to the public

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Can EV charging be a business?

Gas stations are a business -- they sell gasoline at a profit. But EV charging isn't like that, and almost no EV charging stations are run with the primary goal of selling electricity at a profit to customers.

Some want the business, but will it work? Is this a temporary or permanent situation?

I explore that in my new Forbes site article at Can EV charging be a business?

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MobilEye details their unusual strategy.

People don't talk as much about MobilEye (Intel) in the self-driving race, but their strategy is different and interesting, and they are the most established in working with automakers. I have an article discussing some elements of their strategy include a very different approach to sensor fusion and mapping, among other things.

Read my new Forbes site column at MobilEye's strategy to win self driving

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Aptera's new car is incredibly efficient, but the solar panel on it is convenient, not green

Aptera, which has been trying for many years to make a successful efficient electric car, is now taking orders for a vehicle which uses only 100 watt-hours/mile to travel, compared with 250 for a Tesla Model 3 and more for others. That's a big deal.

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Robocars 2020 year in review (Video and Story)

It was a much bigger year for Robocars than anybody expected. At the start of the year everybody felt we were in a "robocar winter" with things slowing down and pulling back. Instead, the year showed big milestones and huge valuations.

This year, in addition to my traditional text review, I have done it as a video for those who prefer that. The video can be seen below on Youtube:

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Waymo Vs. Uber Vs. Tesla Vs. Amazon Vs. Others: Who Will Sell You Your Robotaxi Ride?

So which app will you open to call a ride in the robotaxi world? Uber now will link with Aurora -- but is Uber's position in the ride-selling world unassailable? Will Waymo/Google, Cruise, Amazon/Zoox, Tesla or others win the day? I look at competitive factors in the race to replace selling cars with selling rides.

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Uber ATG And Aurora Merge To Staggering $10B Valuation

Uber's self-driving unit (ATG) has been merged/sold to Aurora, a high flying startup with a combined valuation of $10B, but a big drop for Uber and climb for Aurora. I outline the odd nature of the deal in this new article as the robocar news just keeps on coming. It's not winter any more.

See a new Forbes site article at Uber ATG And Aurora Merge To Staggering $10B Valuation

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Amazon/Zoox Custom Vehicle Design Revealed Early And Leaks Some Details

Reddit user Lakailb87 caught the new Zoox vehicle on the streets of San Francisco

Zoox (now a unit of Amazon) has been secretive about their custom vehicle design, with a reveal set for Dec 12. It was photographed out in the wild yesterday, though, so I have written a new Forbes site column about their design -- similar to a few others, but with diferent LIDAR design and other goodies.

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We should rethink the ethics of vaccine challenge tests to be more like those of a battle

As vaccine approval nears, you've no doubt heard proposals to speed up vaccine testing with what is known as a "challenge" trial, where you deliberately infect volunteers with the virus. This approach is controversial, but has been around for some time. There are already organizations collecting volunteers, and tens of thousands have signed up.

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AutoX begins no-safety-driver taxi pilot in Shenzen

It's only with special guests and staff, but AutoX has followed Waymo in starting a robotaxi service with no safety drivers on board, with all 25 of their vehicles in Shenzen. It means they are getting very confident in their system.

Read more details in a new Forbes site piece at AutoX begins no-safety-driver taxi pilot in Shenzen

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When robocars must be perfect, and when they need not be

A recent Waymo tester has been challenging Waymo cars to pick him up in unusual pickup spots. Some of the times, the problem is probably being solved by a remote human operator giving advice to the car. What many do not understand is that this is not a flaw, but probably the simplest and cheapest way to solve the problem.

Read more at When robocars must be perfect, and when they need not be

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Cheap, fast, surprisingly good Covid testing using scratch-n-sniff

It occurred to me, learning that 80% of Covid infected patients lose their sense of smell (Anosmia) that it should be possible to build the cheapest and most effective Covid screener (for use at entrances to schools/airports/buildings/restaurants) with a simple "scratch-n-sniff" card. These cards, which cost pennies, would come with a set of scratch squares, and under each would be boxes with the names of possible scents. A QR code would (encrypted) have the answer. You sniff, check the boxes and then a phone or other device scans your answer.

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Mercedes "Automated Valet Parking" disappoints

Promised for years, you can finally do automated valet parking if you have a 2021 Mercedes S class and park in one garage at Stuttgart airport. First demonstrated at Stanford in 2009, this feature is long overdue, and this implementation is quite disappointing, doing little more than save the driver a few minutes of walking.

I go into the details of what robotic parking could and should do, even today in a new article on Forbes.com at:

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