The Driverless Commute, presented by Dentons: GM prepares for its post-car future; Volvo goes to a car show without any cars; CA doesn’t want you to own an AV; and West London may have AVs before Xmas

Welcome again to The Driverless Commute, presented by the global law firm Dentons, a weekly digest clocking the most important technical, legal and regulatory developments shaping the path to full autonomy.

1. Tea leaves

General Motors’ second-most senior executive is leaving his role to lead its autonomous vehicles division, the latest in a series of radical lane changes for the Detroit heavyweight.

Dan Ammann, the company’s former president and architect of nearly every major business decision for GM in the last decade, has been named CEO of Cruise Automation, which plans to launch a commercial driverless cab service next year.

The move follows the news that GM plans to shutter three factories and discontinue five car models, and portends the unlikelihood of its return to the halcyon days of simply making cars and selling them to consumers.

The Driverless Commute, a subscription-based service, is provided by Dentons’ global Autonomous Vehicles team. If you believe a colleague or associate would benefit from this service, please share this link so they may subscribe.

2. The dog didn’t eat my homework

When Volvo arrived this week at AutoMobility LA, the first-in-the-season “new auto industry” show, the Swedish car maker arrived deliberately empty-handed.

Attendees might be forgiven for expecting the automaker to exhibit cars at an auto show, but Volvo’s booth contained no shiny sheet metal. While rivals unveiled production vehicles or bizarre concept cars, Volvo instead used the event to showcase the technology that will power the cars of tomorrow.

With interactive demonstrations of connectivity services, vehicle subscriptions, and autonomy, the booth was yet another reminder that carmakers are no longer strictly metal benders but also technologists.

3. California dreaming

California’s comprehensive planning agency has issued new automotive autonomy guidelines to regulators and policymakers in an effort to prevent the state’s nightmare driverless scenario: more cars and worsened traffic.

Drafted by a multi-agency workgroup established by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, “Automated Vehicle Principles for Healthy and Sustainable Communities,” is designed to guide the state toward a shared-use, no-emission transit paradigm. AV deployment, the report says, must align with the following principles:

  • Shared-use
  • Pooled
  • Low-emissions
  • Right-sized
  • Part of an efficient, multimodal system
  • Affordable (transportation equity)
  • Efficient land use
  • Safe streets and enhanced public spaces

The principles aren’t new or necessarily novel, but signify the “what-if” fears that state and local governments, especially those in traffic-plagued or transit-challenged jurisdictions, have regarding deployment of driverless cars.

4. The Auto(nomous) Bahn

  • Eight in ten driving positions are at “significant risk of being taken over due to automation,” according to new research from British price comparison website MoneySuperMarket.
  • LG Electronics has formed a new division devoted to automotive autonomy.
  • Oxford University driverless spinoff Oxbotica says it will deploy driverless cars on public roads in West London before Christmas.
  • Elon Musk says Tesla’s next software update will include Easter eggs such as “Romance Mode.”
  • Waymo is reportedly returning contingency drivers to its cars ahead of an imminent public launch.
  • The Washington Post went for a ride in one of Waymo’s tricked-out minivans. See what it’s like.

5. Know everything AV, all the time

Our best-in-industry intelligence service, The Console, marries machine learning algorithms with human analysis to create comprehensive, real-time advisories on everything autonomy.

The Console monitors, digests and packages everything of consequence to your business: television and radio chatter, social media scoops, legislative and regulatory activity, legal filings, acquisitions and white papers.

A service of Dentons’ 3D Global Affairs, which yokes traditional legal capabilities to government affairs, corporate competitive analysis and strategic communications, The Console mines the public record to populate an easy-to-navigate platform. Click here to request a no-obligation demonstration of the service with James and Eric.

Click here to speak with our experts and attorneys across the world to learn more about any of the items contained in this newsletter.

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Eric Tanenblatt

About Eric Tanenblatt

Eric Tanenblatt is the Global Chair of Public Policy and Regulation of Dentons, the world's largest law firm. He also leads the firm's US Public Policy Practice, leveraging his three decades of experience at the very highest levels of the federal and state governments.

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James Richardson

About James Richardson

James Richardson is a strategic communications counselor with 15 years’ experience advising presidential candidates, Global Fortune 500 executives, national nonprofits, and sovereign governments on strategic communications and reputation management. He helps lead Dentons’ 3D Global Affairs practice.

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