Honda is helping GM on its mission to lead the quest towards a self-driving future. From WIRED: “In a deal announced today, the Japanese automaker will help San Francisco-based Cruise and its Detroit owner develop and mass produce a new sort vehicle for a world in which human drivers are no longer needed. Honda is opening its checkbook too, pledging to spend $2 billion on the project over 12 years, and immediately putting a $750 million equity investment into Cruise.
…For Honda, the partnership offers entree into a self-driving space where it has thus far spent little time and effort. For Cruise and GM, the newcomer adds engineering know-how as it moves to develop the self-driving car that will replace its current model, a modified Chevy Bolt EV.” Much of Honda’s engineering know-how will be of value for the interior design of the vehicles; once the driverless tech is ready, the ridership experience will hinge on the interior design of the vehicle, much like airplanes today.
WHY IT’S HOT:
In addition to being a somewhat a surprising global partnership, the joint venture between Honda and GM shows that to pioneer the future of driverless vehicles, you can’t go it alone. Strategic partnerships across financing, engineering, and manufacturing will become the norm in this race to the future, particularly due to the fact that no one knows how/when driverless will make money. This deal helps de-risk GM’s path to scale its operations into driverless with a partner that will help it execute long-term.
America’s largest grocery store, Kroger, has announced plans to launch a driverless home delivery service. A pilot program will kick off in the fall in partnership with Nuro, the self-driving car company started by former Google engineers.
Leading up to the launch, Nuro is using a fleet of six self-driving cars to map ideal routes around Kroger locations. The vehicles are designed to operate on public streets, and will continue to be tested in heavy traffic and a range of weather conditions.
When the service becomes available in the first, yet to be announced test market, Kroger customers will be able to request a delivery via the Kroger delivery portal or Nuro app. The vehicles which have two temperature-controlled compartments will be loaded up with up to 12 grocery bags. When they arrive at their destination, customers will have to come to the curb or their driveway and enter a PIN code or otherwise verify their identity to retrieve their groceries.
While for many this will be a welcome improvement in grocery delivery, it may not be as liked by those customers who currently use Kroger’s same day delivery service and enjoy having a person to carry the groceries right to their door.
Why It’s Hot
Consumers have increasingly high expectations when it comes to on-demand delivery. As Nuro and other self-driving car companies perfect their technology and optimize their routes, there is likely to be a major overhaul in how groceries, laundry, and other items are delivered.
The Lamborghini Terzo Millennio concept was created from a collaboration between Lamborghini and MIT. They wanted to envision a supercar not from the next generation, but the generation after that. It focuses on:
The Terzo uses super-capacitors, which can accept and deliver charge faster than batteries can instead of traditional storage batteries.
Lamborghini and MIT are researching using the car’s carbon fiber body as an energy storage medium, turning the whole body into a battery.
That technology can also be used to monitor the car’s carbon fiber structure.
For example, if small cracks develop, the charge may move through the body differently, which can kick-start a “self-repairing” process in order to prevent the cracks from growing.
In terms of propulsion, it packs four electric motors, one in each wheel, which permits more freedom in design by hiding all the motor-related stuff in the wheel wells.
Looks like a Lamborghini, but with the removal of a traditional drivetrain, the cabin is pushed forward a great deal and air channels are everywhere to help keep the car as planted as possible.
Automation is shown off as something to help the owner become a better driver instead of a solution.
It could be capable of taking a driver around a track to display the best driving line, so that drivers can enhance their own abilities without an actual coach sitting in the car with them.
Early data shows us that self-driving cars are safe because:
They don’t get drunk
They don’t text while driving
They don’t get road rage
Nevertheless, there are ethical implications around self-driving cars that have yet to be resolved. Consider this: if the car is programmed to kill the driver in circumstances where it is required to save many more lives, is the general public ready to entrust these decisions to programmer?
Why it’s Hot
While the technology has thus far garnered all of the focus of self-driving cars, there are serious ethical decisions that are not as easy to solve via code or engineering. Ultimately, the most important decisions still must be made by humans.
The somewhat scary world of self-driving cars moved closer to reality this month with Tesla’s introduction of several new features of its self-driving technology: smarter auto-steering that can navigate even when road lines are faded, and Summon, which allows drivers to summon their Tesla within 39 feet or as Tesla CEO Elan Musk predicts, coast-to-coast within two years.
Through software upgrades, the Tesla Model S electric car can change lanes at the flick of a turn signal, as well as navigate more easily in stop and go traffic. It can also back out of a garage without anyone inside and open/close the garage door while doing it.
Why It’s Hot
Imagine getting yourself ready for work in the morning and then summoning your car once you are ready to leave. You get to work, park far away, but summon your car when you are ready to leave. That’s the future and Tesla is making it happen probably quicker than most imagined. Along with true driverless features and self-park, can the day be far away when you send your car to pick up prescriptions, get groceries or bring friends/relatives to your house (or elsewhere) for get togethers, parties, dinners, or anything that requires getting from one destination to another, even without a driver?