Along for the Ride #166
a short n sweet newsletter 💌
Heya friends, happy Friday!
Short n sweet newsletter this week. Bit of a rough week for the AV industry across the board as people (governments, the public, companies themselves) continue to lose faith that the technology will (a) quickly solve our problems, and (b) make money.
🚧 But before we dive in, I wanted to flag that I am looking for more newsletter contributors! You can read about how it works here, and respond to this email to reach me if you’re interested. I am especially in getting more global perspectives, so if you are outside of North America, be sure to send me note! 🚧
Read of the Week
Ford shuts down Argo AI, takes $2.7b loss
In one of the more serious downturns this week, Ford shutdown their primary autonomous unit this week. This impacts 2,000 people from the organization who were all subject to layoffs. Some were placed in positions at either Ford or VW, but many were not so lucky. Ford noted that Argo AI was behind other companies, hovering around L2/L3 capabilities while others are operating at L4 standards [see here for SAE autonomous driving standards].
Jim Farley, Ford’s CEO, even went so far as to say “profitable, fully autonomous vehicles at scale are a long way off and we won’t necessarily have to create that technology for ourselves.”
Government and Policy
AVIA hires first Executive Director
The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association (AVIA) has hired former U.S. Republican Senate aide, Jeff Farrah, as its first executive director. He was previously General Counsel for *drum roll please* the National Venture Capital Association which (wait for it!) advocates on behalf of … *venture capital firms*. Kind of hilarious to me that VCs have advocacy association at a national level, but I am not surprised.
Pete Buttigieg says U.S. is in ‘Valley of Death’
Three cheers for Mayor Pete on this hot quote about the limbo state we’re currently in with autonomous vehicles:
“There is a very serious danger right now in this kind of valley of death between where we started and where we’re headed, where these technologies do run the risk of making things worse. Especially if people see ADAS, which is an automated driver assistance system, and treat it like a driver replacement system.
“Just to be clear, I don’t care what they call these things, Autopilot or Self-Driving or whatever, there is no car that you can buy today from a dealer where you don’t have to be paying attention at all times when you’re driving.”
Oklahoma passes law to permit AVs
Oklahoma is now one of 30 states to allow autonomous vehicles through legislation. A new law allows for the use of autonomous vehicles on state roadways. The rule also applies to commercial vehicle operators. Time will tell how this pans out, but Oklahoma is likely a great state for AV companies to pursue: long, wide roads that prioritize driving, driving, and … more driving.
Tesla’s criminal investigation
More information emerged this week about the US’ Department of Justice (DOJ) investigating Tesla’s “Autopilot” feature following more than a dozen crashes, some of them fatal. Musk also shared this week that he does not expect Tesla to get approval for “Full Self-Driving” mode this year (CarBuzz). So sad. So shocking. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
“The DoJ’s Autopilot investigation is far from recommending any action partly because it is competing with two other DoJ investigations involving Tesla, one of the sources said. Investigators still have much work to do and no decision on charges is imminent, this source said.”
Research and Academia
Research from Pew shows that “Americans are relatively cautious when it comes to the widespread use of [autonomous vehicles'], and … survey data shows there is a clear age gap on the issue, with adults 50 and older more likely than younger adults to express wariness about the technology.”
That’s all from me. Have a beautiful weekend friends.
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