State Of Autonomy: June Recap

Toyota’s patent for stitching together a superhuman view from multiple nearby vehicles

Every month, I recap the news articles I’ve consumed around autonomous vehicles, calling out the highlights and keeping track of market projections. This is also your chance, dear readers, to nominate a topic for discussion in the following month.

After some thoughts and scribbles on how to best document the market projections of self-driving vehicle technology, I landed on the graphic below, which you’ll see shortly after this overcooked explanation:

If the chart looks complicated, it’s because the industry is breeding complication. The idea here was to deliver some clarity while also emphasizing the importance of taking any claims with a grain of salt. Traditional auto manufacturers will tell any tech publication that they’re building towards “full autonomy”, while in the same breath addressing their customers with the ol’ “…but we’ll never remove the driver.” Those two concepts don’t mix. If the Tesla accident this month tells us anything, it’s that we need to be more critical of what the technology actually does vs. what the PR spin says it does.

The columns are my own perspective on the market, and don’t line up cleanly with the NHTSA’s “levels of automation” primarily because I think the NHTSA is wrong, but also because I think it’s useful for the average person to see the ADAS column and come to grips with just how much progress conventional vehicles have already made. It’s all part of the same story — though I do regret not finding a way to fit V2X in as its own column, since V2X alone is enough to revolutionize road traffic, even if we kept humans at the wheel.

Obviously this chart is highly subjective, as it’s difficult to say whose behind-the-scenes research is actually legitimate and who’s just patching together ADAS features for the sake of a sound bite. That said, it’s certainly not random placement — every company that is ahead of another is there because of what I’ve read or inferred. If you’re looking for a rationale as to why I put some company anywhere, or have a suggestion on updated claims, please shoot me a tweet so I can improve the visual.

This Month’s Highlights:

Local Motors Showcases Self-Driving Shuttle “Olli” In DC Public Test

MIT Solves Snow-Covered/Low-Visibility Road Problem For AVs (Video)

In Anticipation Of July’s Federal Regulations On Autonomous Car Safety, NHTSA Chief Claims AVs Should Be “At Least Twice As Safe”

Organization Of Transportation Officials In 46 U.S. Cities Release Recommendation For AV Adoption; Support Google’s Approach

Tesla Reports First Fatal Accident During Operation Of Autopilot Feature

Stealth Autonomous Tech Startup Zoox Raises $200M at $1B Valuation With No Publicized Product Or Roadmap

GM To Hire 1,000 Canadians In Autonomous Car Development Push

BMW, Intel and Mobileye Posture For Being The “Industry Standard” Of Self-Driving Cars; Claim Fully Autonomous Vehicle By 2021

Market Predictions:

Suggestions for revisions welcome via @mitchturck

Coming In July:

  • Why Can’t Consumers Stop Driverless Cars? (mid July)
  • Humans And Machines: Fumbling The Hand-Off (late July)
  • Your suggestion? Send a tweet to @mitchturck

Reactions From The Public:

Re: Tesla’s Reporting Of A Fatal Accident During Autopilot Operation

Re: Study Of Potential Passenger Behavior In Driverless Cars

Re: Announcement From A UK Insurance Firm That They Will Cover AVs

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