Also in the news this week are Tesla, Porsche, GRIMM, HERE and Hyundai.
Federal investigators’ report brings to light damning details about the Uber self-driving car that killed a pedestrian in March. Andrew Tolve reports.
Uber shut down its self-driving car programme in Arizona after a damning report into the fatal crash that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, in March. The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 self-driving car detected the pedestrian a full six seconds before impact. As the vehicle and pedestrian paths converged, the self-driving software classified the pedestrian as an unknown object, firstly as a vehicle and then as a bicycle with varying expectations of future travel path. At 1.3 seconds before impact, the self-driving system determined that emergency braking was needed to mitigate a collision.
In other words, the technology worked exactly as it was supposed toand yet it never engaged its automatic emergency braking system. Why? Because it had, according to this report, been programmed not to by Uber engineers. That’s right, it is alleged that Uber decided to create a self-driving car that was incapable of braking itself in emergency situations or of alerting the safety driver behind the wheel, who in this case happened to be looking down from the wheel until just before impact. It seems the most likely explanation is that the car’s technology would behave erratically while in autonomous mode, possible getting fooled by objects that did not warrant emergency braking such as road signs or trees, so the engineers elected to switch the system off. Now a pedestrian is dead and the self-driving car programme is finished — at least in Arizona for the time being.
In other news, Tesla agreed to settle a lawsuit by car owners alleging that the Autopilot feature on Model S and Model X vehicles was misrepresented in marketing materials and was “essentially unusable and demonstrably dangerous”. If the district judge overseeing the lawsuit accepts thedeal, Tesla will pay $5M (£3.75M) into a settlement fund that will be distributed across those Tesla drivers who paid for a $5,000 enhanced Autopilot upgrade between 2016 and 2017. Tesla originally called the accusations “inaccurate and sensationalistic” but evidently has changed its tune.
Meanwhile, police revealed that a Tesla that was travelling in Autopilot mode when it slammed into a stopped fire truck on a highway in Salt Lake City, Utah, earlier this month accelerated before the collision. The Model S was following another vehicle and dropped its speed to maintain its distance; when the leading vehicle changed lanes (to avoid the fire truck), the Tesla accelerated to its pre-set 60 mph and didn’t register the truck. The driver hit the brakes moments before impact. Two people were injured.
Porsche announced that the next generation of its Cayenne E-Hybrid, which is due out spring 2019, will come with some nifty tech to optimise fuel efficiency. Hybrid Auto mode will factor in everything about your journey, from the distance to your destination to the topology of your route to your charge status and your driving style to select the optimal drive mode for the e-motor. Additionally, if drivers are running low on battery, they can select an E-Hold mode to ensure they don’t drain the battery any further and E-Charge mode to ensure that any excess power from the internal combustion engine is directed toward recharging the battery.
Cyber security firm GRIMM opened a new cybersecurity research lab in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that will develop cutting-edge security solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles and smart city technologies. The lab will be open to companies in the automobility and aerospace sectors, including carmakers, suppliers and other stakeholders, to improve the holistic security of automotive, aviation, and industrial control systems. A classroom training space with GRIMM experts will teach hands-on advanced coursework for automotive and ICS security.
HERE launched a new over-the-air solution for automakers to use in connected vehicles, thereby ensuring that data, software and firmware can be transferred between the cloud and a vehicle securely to update and enhance vehicle functions. HERE OTA Connect is designed to integrate into the automaker’s backend and uses open-source technology so that it can be offered to automotive customers globally and avoids lock-in to specific vendors. HERE plans to combine OTA Connect with its suite of automotive software and services in the coming months.
Finally, Hyundai partnered with mobile wallet specialist Xevo to bring in-car payments to Hyundai drivers. Initially, Xevo Market will integrate with Hyundai Blue Link and let Hyundai owners find and pay for coffee, fuel and parking through their infotainment screens. In the future, Hyundai plans to add restaurant reservations, takeout food, kerb-side pick-up and EV charging. Xevo also will help create the Hyundai Wallet payment platform that securely stores the customer's credit cards or PayPal account information.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU-Automotive analysis with information from industry sources.
06 Jun 2018 - 07 Jun 2018, Novi, USA
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