Also in the news this week are Intel, JLR, Nissan, Kroger, Nuro, Networking for Autonomous Vehicles (NAV) Alliance, Bosch and Mojio.
The ride-hailing company plans a new round of safety provisions before its driverless taxis hit the road again. Andrew Tolve reports.
Uber’s self-driving car programme is coming back to the road. Four months after one of its driverless taxis struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, and a week after the local police department released an unflattering 318-page report on the incident, news broke that Uber’s self-driving project will soon rise from its slumber, with 16 new safety provisions in place. That will include a new automatic emergency braking system that will kick in even if the safety driver is watching Hulu. As for that, Uber also plans to add a second safety person in the car, to keep tabs on the driver and the road and to increase its emphasis on testing its self-driving tech through simulation, which competitor Waymo has been doing for years to expedite machine learning.
None of this is surprising. The emerging market for driverless taxis is simply too large for a company like Uber to walk away from; Intel has pinned it as a potential $7Trn (£5.2Trn) annual revenue stream by 2050. It remains to be seen what the National Transportation Safety Authority (NTSA) concludes in its full report on the incident but given the laissez-faire mentality toward self-driving pilots in the US, it’s hard to imagine Uber will get severely penalised. Also, the company was savvy to hire a former NTSA chairman to offer internal counsel on the new safety provisions it adopts, which will likely earn it brownie points. Self-driving pilots will recommence in Pittsburgh in July and San Francisco in August or September.
In other news, Jaguar Land Rover plans to open a new hub in Manchester, England, to help develop the next generation of connected cars. Specifically, the new centre will harness expertise in software, IT and engineering to help pioneer new software code that leads to cutting-edge connected car technologies. No word yet on how big the hub will be but the carmaker says that applications are open for IT specialists, software engineers and developers.
Nissan will launch a new global centre for digital operations in India. Called the Nissan Digital Hub, it will explore ways for the carmaker to provide best-in-class user experiences, product development capabilities, security and connectivity as the automotive industry evolves, with growing use of autonomous, connected and electric vehicle technology. Nissan plans to open a number of these software and information technology development centres in Asia, Europe and North America in the coming years. The first will be located in the South India state of Kerala.
Tech companies and automotive leaders banded together to create the Networking for Autonomous Vehicles (NAV) Alliance. The alliance hopes to be a catalyst for the development of ultra-high-speed networks that can help process and transfer that vast amount of data that self-driving cars generate. Founding members include Aquantia, Bosch, Continental, NVIDIA, and Volkswagen.
America's largest supermarket retailer Kroger will soon deliver groceries to customers via self-driving vehicles. The company hasn’t said in what city it will first pilot its new rigs but we do know that it has partnered up with autonomous vehicle company Nuro to build a fleet of these grocery-running robots. They’ll max out at 25mph and make stops at people’s houses and apartments, after those customers place same-day delivery orders through Kroger's ClickList ordering system and Nuro's app.
Finally, Bosch made a strategic investment in automotive app company Mojio and revealed that the pair plan to work together to deliver advanced connected car services. As part of the innovation agreement, Bosch and Mojio will co-develop solutions in focused areas, beginning with vehicle communication and diagnostics as well as crash detection and notification. The solutions will target automakers, mobile network operators and consumers around the world. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU-Automotive analysis with information from industry sources.