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. The last mile
One of the world’s best-connected Apple watchers said that he expects the Cupertino, Calif.–based tech giant will go to market with a bumper-to-bumper integrated autonomous vehicle between 2023 and 2025, a rapid acceleration of expectations for a program that from most outward appearances had stalled or whose scope had dramatically winnowed.
Apple’s self-driving unit, dubbed Project Titan, has the green light from transportation regulators to actively test at least 66 experimental cars in California, but the notoriously tight-lipped company has kept its automotive designs shrouded in mystery even as high-profile departures spurred as-yet-unsubstantiated rumors of downscaling.
But famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a new note Tuesday to investors that the company’s driverless and augmented reality initiatives would dovetail in the mysterious Apple Car, and whose convergence would fuel a US$2 trillion valuation.
Kuo, who’s been called “the world’s most accurate Apple analyst,” didn’t justify his confident forecast, but said he believes Apple’s experience integrating hardware and software into single products means it could outperform both leading technology firms and legacy auto makers.
At the same time, we notice that Apple filed a European patent application this month for an augmented reality windshield that would allow riders to video chat with other enabled cars or Apple users.
The AR display, according to the filing, will broadcast road and weather conditions and detailed maps while taking action to monitor and pacify riders should they grow uneasy. By tracking riders’ stress levels as demonstrated by eye motion, temperature, heart rate and fidgeting, the display would narrow to reduce passengers’ cognitive load.
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2. Click It or Ticket, Robocar
A federal conference of state highway safety agencies said in a new white paper this week that states should require the physical presence of licensed drivers in autonomous vehicles until such a time as the technology has matured beyond the risk of so-called edge cases.
The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents the various state offices that administer Click It or Ticket and other safety campaigns, wants state legislatures to mandate physical, licensed drivers in experimental cars and to regulate remote-controlled operation of advanced driving systems.
It’s worth noting that wish list would conflict with a series of high-profile pilots across the country, including the recent announcement by Sacramento, Calif., that it would allow remotely monitored self-driving cars to cruise the capital city.
The report, for which the funding was provided by US insurance giant State Farm, can be downloaded here (PDF).
3. The Auto(nomous)bahn
- What fear? Three-fifths of passengers in Drive.AI’s new Fisco, Texas, pilot have been repeat passengers, according to the company.
- Amazon has filed a patent application in the United States describing an intelligent “roadway management system” that would alert connected autonomous vehicles to dangerous road conditions, traffic, construction or inclement weather in real time.
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi toured Abu Dhabi’s massive planned smart city development Masdar City this week in an autonomous vehicle. As far as we can tell, he’s the first national leader to go driverless.
- Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, who once said that unchecked artificial intelligence was a greater risk to the world than an agitated nuclear North Korea, said he would be making his company’s vehicle security software open-source for rival car makers and technology companies.
- Five.AI, a British artificial intelligence and self-driving startup, has been approved by London safety regulators to commence a 10-month program to study the natural road behaviors of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to help autonomous vehicles better understand human drivers.
4. Know it before your competitors
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.