The Driverless Commute: Is 2019 a bear turn for AVs?; the fight over connected car communication divides car makers in Europe; cheaper, lighter LiDAR and machine-learning for lane-keeping.

1. A bear year

2018 was the year of the driverless car.

No, they didn’t become commercially available and they failed to traverse the realm of true autonomy, but they captured the public’s imagination and sometimes paranoia in a way unlike ever before. Finally, it wasn’t just artificial intelligence researchers talking about autonomous vehicles, but regular Joes drawn in equal parts fascination and fear to the subject.

But now the honeymoon is over.

After throwing money at startups like drunken sailors for years, the industry has signaled a coming retrenchment. Rather than more multi-billion dollar acquisitions, expect to hear about reoganizations and partnerships that would have been unthinkable only years earlier.

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Talking cars: The FCC holds the key to unlocking the promise of autonomous vehicles

The dream fueling the development of driverless systems is a world where people and goods are transported quickly and efficiently, and without the accidents, pollution or visual clutter that are inevitable when humans control each vehicle individually. In this imagined new world, each vehicle would be optimized for its intended use, allowing us to reclaim all of the time and money we currently waste sitting in traffic or waiting for goods to arrive. In fact, the technologies needed to support autonomous vehicles are improving so quickly that this dream could soon become a reality, which has awakened regulators and lawmakers to the pressing need to confront the issue of digital roadway management.

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