One of the biggest challenges facing car companies developing driverless vehicles has little do with sophisticated robotics or laser technology.
Instead, they must figure out how to engineer something far more amorphous but no less important: human trust, the kind that is communicated when human drivers and pedestrians make eye contact at a crosswalk.
Surveys indicate that large portions of the public harbor deep reservations about the safety of self-driving technology, so Jaguar Land Rover enlisted the help of cognitive psychologists to unpack “how vehicle behaviour affects human confidence in new technology,” the British automaker said in a news release.
Supermarket giant Kroger and self-driving startup Nuro are teaming up to start a pilot program to begin testing their autonomous delivery vehicles for groceries. The idea is to eventually expand the program across 35 states.
Waymo is ready to start charging for its self-driving trips, but first, it needs to master the dreaded art of fleet management
In a nondescript depot in suburban Arizona, the future of transportation is getting a tune-up. This is where Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, houses its growing fleet of self-driving cars: hundreds of Chrysler Pacifica minivans fitted with highly advanced hardware and software that enables them to safely ride on public roads without a human driver behind the wheel.
For over a year, Waymo has been offering trips to the 400-plus members of its Early Rider program who use Waymo’s ride-hailing app to summon the minivans for free trips to school, the mall, the gym, or elsewhere within its suburban Phoenix service area. Soon, Waymo will make that service available to the general public and it will start charging money for it, too. At the outset, the company plans on offering fully autonomous rides with a Waymo employee in the car only as a chaperone. And when that happens, it will make history as the first fully driverless taxi service in the world.
ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON, Tesla CEO Elon Musk dropped a bombshell via—what else?—a tweet. “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420,” he wrote. “Funding secured.” The dude was serious, it turned out. But it’s not clear he had cleared the announcement with his lawyers. Nor his board. Nor the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has reportedly opened an investigation into whether that “funding secured” statement was, in fact, true. If it wasn’t, it just might cost the electric carmaker a metric ton in lawsuits. Or, worse comes to the absolute worst, prison? Elsewhere in the transportation universe, New York City’s city council made history by placing a one-year freeze on the number of Uber and Lyft vehicles on its streets, and by creating a minimum wage for its ride-hail drivers. This week, being a giant in the transpo space may prove expensive. Let’s get you caught up.
Patrick Sisson at Curbed reports that the company has pledged to contribute $1 per scooter per day into a fund that will pay for projects that carve out street space where its users can ride without getting intimidated by drivers or aggravating people on sidewalks. The company urged other scooter and bike-share firms to do the same.
Bird will also convene a “Global Safety Advisory Board” led by David Strickland, the former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and currently a major lobbyist for the self-driving car industry. The advisory board will make safety recommendations addressing walking and biking as well as scooters, Sisson reports.