Along for the Ride #167
When even the tech journalists don't think AVs will save us
Heya friends, happy Friday!
It’s been a weird week on this side of the pond, so no long pre-amble from me. Onto the news without further ado.
Read of the Week
We need to lower our expectations of AVs
I have to admit, I’m kind of loving this season of the media turning their backs on AVs based on the plethora of broken promises and passed deadlines we’ve seen over the last five years. I’ve had this newsletter for over four years and have been doing research into AVs for over five years… very happy to welcome more and more people to the soapbox (especially the dedicated tech journalists, you know we’re starting to get to them when the tech journalists turn their back)!
This article does a great job at explaining the recent boom and bust cycle of the AV industry, and why ArgoAI’s collapse is a canary in the coal mine for other companies.
“One day, you think you’re going to change the world; the next, you’re watching your stock price plummet and weighing whether to beg Tim Cook for a bailout.”
Government and Policy
EU bans new combustion engine vehicles from 2035
We love to see it!
“The EU has been working to establish a wide ban on combustion vehicles for years now and is finally making some legislative headway.. The ban exists under the EU’s larger “Fit for 55” strategy, which aims to reduce greenhouse emissions across its block of members by 55% by 2030, compared to 2021 numbers.”
Mobileye goes public, announces partnership with VW
Post the collapse of ArgoAI last week, VW found themselves entering into a deeper partnership with Mobileye. Mobileye is Intel’s AV unit, currently developing technology to support autonomous driving from cameras and sensors to computer chips.
Baidu (China’s Google for those less familiar) has unveiled a new electric vehicle with autonomous capabilities. In terms of other interesting components offered by the tech giant, they are promising people who buy the car “will receive free charging and maintenance for the lifetime of the vehicles.”
The Board of Directors for TuSimple fired the company’s CEO and Founder, Xiaodi Hou. Hou held other fun titles for the company including: President, CTO, Chairman of the board, and member of the board’s government security committee. Why was he removed you ask? Well, mostly because staff for TuSimple seem to have also been doing work for Hydron, a hydrogen-powered trucking company led by TuSimple’s other co-founder and backed by Chinese investors. It’s a bit of a messy situation, but always here for the drama.
Y’all this one is from Tech Crunch. You read that right, not even Tech Crunch has faith AVs are going to happen!
“A couple caveats for those going apoplectic over the headline: I mean self-driving isn’t going to be a thing A) in our lifetimes and B) with any kind of omnipresent scale. So in terms of the daily lived experience of most people reading this, truly autonomous vehicles just aren’t going to happen. The evidence pointing to this has been mounting for years now, if not decades, but it’s now tipped the balance to where it’s hard to ignore for a reasoned observer — even one like myself who has previously been very optimistic about self-driving prospects.”
The uncertain path to fully autonomy
“Legislation in Congress has been stalled for more than five years over how to amend regulations to encompass self-driving cars, including the scope of consumer and legal protections. And U.S. regulators have given no indication when they might act on petitions to initially approve a few thousand self-driving cars on U.S. roads without steering wheels or brake pedals. Officials with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Thursday declined to say when they might act.”
A cute little PR-piece in the Washington Post (which I assume was paid for / pitched by Waymo in some capacity because it is sweet like bubble gum). It recounts one journalists experience hailing a Waymo vehicle in Chandler, AZ.
“The most exciting moment occurred when a truck driver in front of us decided he was in the wrong lane and just sat there for a good long time before eventually honking at us to back up so that he could reverse and slide into the lane to our left. Since the car was oblivious to social cues, the result was a standoff. Eventually, the car chirped that it was calling a human specialist to resolve the situation — right around the time that the truck driver apparently decided he had enough room to execute the merge without our help. After a pause to verify that the road was now clear, the car rolled silently on.”
Extra Bits + Bobs
Jobs you should apply for!
Token Transit is looking for a Senior Software Engineer. Maybe that’s you or maybe that’s a friend of yours! Share it out far and wide. I can vouch for the *wonderful* nature of the founders, their transit loving spirit, and general ~good vibes~.
That’s all from me, have a beautiful weekend friends.
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