Autonomous Cars with Marc Hoag is the world's only weekly podcast dedicated entirely to driverless cars, and the #1 result on Google! We discuss the products, tech, law, policy, and societal impacts of self driving cars, what I call the greatest step change in humanity since the Industrial Revolution!
Copyright © 2020 Marc Hoag. All Rights Reserved.
#172-Brett Bavar, rideOS.ai
Today's guest is Brett Bavar, the Engineering Lead at rideOS.ai, a universal mobility-as-a-service platform that aims to "efficiently move people and things throughout the world."
I first connected with Brett via my good high school friend Bill Chen, one of the first team members of rideOS, and we agreed it made sense to do an episode together on the fascinating work they've been up to which, frankly, is fairly unique in the AV landscape.
Simply put -- though of course I leave it to Brett to explain more fully -- rideOS is a sort of routing optimization layer between any autonomous vehicle -- defined quite broadly -- and optimal navigation and prioritization routes for any thing that has mappable paths between A and B.
It's a fascinating conversation spanning some 40 minutes in length, so I hope you're sitting comfortably to learn all about Brett and his work with the rideOS team.
#171-Uber selling ATG; Motional in Vegas; Honda reaches Level 3
1. Uber selling ATG
News is circulating that Uber is prepping a sale of its self-driving car division Uber ATG -- Advanced Technologies Group -- to Aurora. Once worth over $7B, this sale would come almost three years after Uber's autonomous driving ambitions were stalled following the tragic accident in which an Uber test vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. But is this really game over for Uber's self-driving car plans? I think not.
2. Motional in Vegas
Two episodes back we talked about Motional -- the joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv which recently partnered up with shuttle service Via -- and now there's news that Motional will itself begin driverless car testing in Las Vegas. This news comes right on the heels of Cruise's recent announcement that it too had been granted a driverless testing permit in San Francisco.
3. Honda reaches L3
Despite Audi's claim not long ago that it had achieved a Level 3 vehicle with its Audi A8, Honda says its 2021 Legend will be the first widely available consumer vehicle with Level 3 technology enabling so-called "traffic jam assist" functionality. Like the Audi, this means that in traffic jams, meaning slow traffic speeds, presumably with cars in front and behind, and with clear lane indications, the driver will be able to take its eyes off the road unless and until the car alerts the driver the intervene. This is different from a Tesla and its impressive Autopilot system which requires human attention at all times, thereby qualifying it as a Level 2 system.
#170-John Rossant, NewCities.org, CoMotion, & Neom City
Today’s guest is John Rossant, the Chairman of NewCities.org and CEO of CoMotion. John also sits on the advisory board of Saudi Arabia’s impressive Neom City, a 150 sq-mi (388 sq-km) planned smart city powered fully by renewable energy, and eschewing conventional transportation methods for autonomous vehicles, both land-based and air-based.
During our 40-minute conversation, John shares his fascinating insight on Neom, while touching on his global experiences derived from his time at NewCities and CoMotion.
#169-Motional, Daimler, Ghost
Today: Hyundai and Aptive do a thing; I make a mistake; and ghosts learn to drive cars. All this, right now…
1. Hyundai and Aptive
About a year ago, we discussed the new partnership as between Hyundai and Aptiv which saw the two companies forming some sort of unknown venture. This venture was apparently a company called Motional, and Motional has just partnered up with Via, a shuttle-van ride service that partners up with municipalities. The idea is for Motional to give Via driverless capabilities.
2. I make a mistake (about Daimler)
Special thanks to Oscar Slotosch (Episode #142) for pointing out that I missed the recent announcement about Daimler’s partnership with Waymo to provide L4 trucking. Thing is though, it still seems that Daimler is focusing only on commercial trucking for now, so I try to go deeper than the last episode in an attempt to figure out (or at least guess) what’s going on.
Comma.ai has a friendly competitor driven by ghosts. Ghost is a plug-and-play hardware/software solution that, for $3500 and $100/month will AV-ify most 2012 cars with Level 3 capabilities.
#168-Mercedes gives up on AVs; AV design; AV timelines
Today: Mercedes-Benz announces they're giving up on AVs; we talk AV design and what it really means; and, we unpack the true meaning of AV timelines. All this, right now....
1. Mercedes-Benz gives up on AVs
In a bizarre bit of PR non-hype, Mercedes-Benz announced to the world that they are giving up on AVs; this includes their (long since forgotten) partnership with BMW in which the Bavarian heavyweights were meant to co-produce AV software together, never mind the fact that neither company possesses such expertise. What's curious about this announcement is that it raises the question of what happens to Mercedes' ongoing development and improvement of their existing ADAS systems. Also, I make a fairly bold prediction, namely, that Mercedes will acquire an AV company in the next one to three years.
2. AV design
The question of AV design often misses the bigger picture question: it's not so much a matter of how will today's passenger vehicles look, but rather, how will existing automobile companies' product lines change, and by change, I mean, how will they grow. Companies will soon branch out into both human-driven and autonomous vehicles in the same way they currently have, say, passenger vehicles and camper vans.
3. AV timelines
In a recent AV roundtable-type discussion in which I participated, 2038 was pegged as "the year" that Level 5 AVs become a thing. And while I agree with that prediction -- I've often said that L5 vehicles should start to become a part of our lives in the mid- to late-30s -- I think this binary view of AV timelines sort of misses the point, i.e., it misses the crucially important interim years for businesses to ramp up in preparation for an AV future, not least of all, insurance companies.
#167-Tesla FSD beta
So this is a big, hugely polarizing deal: Tesla has just unleashed the beta version of its so-called “full self-driving” or “FSD” for short.
Released only to an extremely small, but unknown number of so-called “early adopter program” (“EAP”) customers, this software update — 2020.40.8.10 — unleashes the full suite of long promised “self driving” features in an admittedly risky package; so risky, in fact, that the release notes warn that “[i]t may do the wrong thing at the worst time.”
And the Internet has lost its collective minds: on one side of the ever-widening rift are the usual Tesla fanatics praising Elon for this extraordinary (non-?)achievement; on the other are naysayers criticizing him for his blatant ambivalence for, and risk with, human safety.
I argue several points:
First, the data needs to speak: if in fact this proves to be safe, then it should be continue.
Second, we need to do anything we can — yes, even take more risks — if it means reducing the number of people killed every day.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The series of podcasts would make excellent book for training engineers for a career in autonomous vehicle field. Les Teague
I first got to listen to sponsorships which is fine and I get. Then the rest of the podcast was a commercial for Tesla and a tech company. I learned nothing.
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I really enjoyed and learned a lot from this series. As a new comer and enthusiast for AV this is one of the best platform to get started with AV.