Robocars

The future of computer-driven cars and deliverbots

Ending Gasoline Thinking and understanding it's about what you do while charging

It is common to see plans for EV charging which are still bound up in "gasoline thinking" where people treat an EV like a car with a tank you empty and then fill up while empty, waiting. In fact, if you do EV charging right, you always do it while you are doing something else, so it takes zero time from your day.

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Mercedes promotes Drive Pilot standby driver ("Level 3") system

Mercedes has been promoting the new Drive Pilot system in high end models. Equipped with LIDAR, it will do the full driving task on freeways in traffic jams in daytime good weather.

In this new article I discuss whether the so-called "level" 3 (or any of the levels) make sense, and what this product means, good and bad.

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Dan O'Dowd is the billionaire who says our cars & infrastructure are horribly vulnerable and only he knows how to fix it

Dan O'Dowd is the CEO of Green Hills Software. He recently placed a full page ad in the New York Times protesting the poor quality of Tesla FSD, and has started a project to get the world to secure all critical systems, including cars, using his techniques. He makes the bold claim that only he knows how to make software truly secure and bug free, and warns the world it had better listen. He knows that's an extreme claim, but also says he has proof if the secure systems he has designed for aircraft, fighter jets and the FBI. And he's got the money to make a stir.

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Waymo can charge for rides, so it gets interesting

It may seem minor that Waymo is going to start charging for robotaxi rides. But this starts the process of learning real facts about robotaxi economics and what a ride will cost, and how that changes the world.

Read the Forbes.com story at Waymo can charge for rides, so it gets interesting

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Tesla FSD Review update for 10.9, with 3 crash interventions at one intersection

Tesla FSD's 10.9 update did offer some improvements, but along a new route I quickly ran into 3 different times I had to intervene to prevent a crash at one intersection, so it still remains "F" grade quality (and really far below.)

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Tesla is crazy not to use maps

Every time I compare Tesla with other contenders, people will say things to the effect of "they don't count, they use maps so they can only drive in tiny regions" because they think that's a bug rather than a feature.

Maps are super useful, and a car that can try to drive without a map is a car that can make a map, and so maps scale just fine and help you drive more roads, rather than fewer.

So I made a video outlining the virtues of maps, why they are cheap, and why it's OK if construction changes the road after you map it.

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NHTSA forces Tesla to turn off rolling stop option in FSD prototype -- that's a very bad new power for NHTSA

The feds (NHTSA) are forcing Tesla to do a recall (software update, really) to disable the ability for the FSD prototype to do rolling stops at empty intersections. That turns out to be a surprising bold exercise of regulatory power, and probably a terrible idea, no matter how bad Tesla is. (Almost.) Full details in a new column on the situation, but there's a ton of nuance to this.

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Analysis of MobilEye strategy in robocars and video interview with CEO Amnon Shashua

It doesn't get as much coverage as others, but MobilEye has amassed an impressive portfolio of components to give them a shot at the robotaxi and robocar world (one of the few with a shot at both.)

Today I release both a new article with my analysis of their strategy and components, and also a video I made of an interview with Amnon Shashua, the founder and CEO of MobilEye, which is now a unit of Intel but will be spun out soon as a public company again.

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Two self-driving shuttle companies die in a week, but there's good news

Last week saw Optimus Ride get sold for acqui-hire, and Local Motors shutting its doors. There are reasons why self-driving shuttles aren't that interesting right now, but that's going to change, and small van-sized vehicles are probably the future of group transportation.

Read why in my Forbes site story at Two self-driving shuttle companies die in a week, but there's good news

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I get and review Tesla FSD -- and give it an F

Well, I finally got to try Tesla FSD, and it was a big disappointment. From a robocar developer's viewpoint, it sucks and I give it an F.

I made a video review and a text one. The text one contains the review part of the video and lots more information. The video has the 3.5 mile sample ride around Apple HQ, full of mistakes.

Read the text review on Forbes.com at I get and review Tesla FSD -- and give it an F

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We cam finally do away with the accursed beep-beep

I wrote before about the accursed "beep beep" that big machines make when they back up -- and even a few cars. There is an answer to it, and that answer has just come out of patent. So what can we do to ban the beep and make safer systems that don't destroy the peace and quiet of the air?

Read about that in this Forbes.com story at We cam finally do away with the accursed beep-beep

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3 At-fault accidents involving Robocars and what they mean

In a short period we saw 3 at-fault accidents involving robocars (with one being purely the fault of the safety driver) and we're going to see more. We're going to have to learn how to deal with them, to tell the difference between serious error that says a team has deployed too early, and the accidents that will happen with miles because perfection is not a possible goal.

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GM CEO Mary Barra fires Cruise CEO over robotaxi/car sales battle

I have often written about the debate between the robotaxi vision of self-driving and the private car sales vision. That debate got writ large last week with the firing of Cruise CEO Dan Ammann over his desire to push the robotaxi vision (and some other differences of view.)

I write about it on Forbes.com in GM CEO Mary Barra fires Cruise CEO over robotaxi/car sales battle

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Mercedes Gets Approval For Traffic Jam Pilot, Where Is Tesla?

Mercedez-Benz has announced approval of their “Drive Pilot” system, in Germany. Tesla, on the other hand, doesn't do this because of their focus on the far-off goal of a "full" self-driving product. What does a traffic jam pilot really mean, and what could Tesla be doing if they weren't putting so much focus on the still far-off FSD?

I consider this my my new Forbes site article Mercedes Gets Approval For Traffic Jam Pilot, Where Is Tesla?

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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.

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