The Fuse

This Week in AVs: Daimler and BMW Team Up; Waymo Starts Selling Sensors; and More

by Kristen Hernandez | March 12, 2019

Daimler, BMW Team Up on Self-Driving Car Technology

The development of self-driving cars has pushed further collaboration as companies seek to share the large costs of developing the technology.

Late last week, Daimler and BMW announced an expansion of their partnership into the development of autonomous vehicle technology. The automakers plan to focus on Level 3 and Level 4 automation and develop systems for autonomous highway driving and self-parking. Vehicles outfitted with these technologies would be available in the U.S., the EU, and China by the mid-2020s. This announcement highlights a rising trend of partnerships in the auto industry. The development of self-driving cars has pushed further collaboration as companies seek to share the large costs of developing the technology.

Autonomous Car Testing Plan Aims to Boost Public Confidence
An executive order signed by Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto on Monday sets new guidelines for autonomous vehicle testing in the city. The so-called “Pittsburgh Principles” will require companies testing self-driving technology to report injury and property damage crashes within certain time frames as well as share information with the city on where and when they will be conducting tests on public roads. The new guidelines are supported by companies testing in Pittsburgh, including Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora, and Uber. These new requirements are an attempt to increase transparency in the self-driving industry and help build public trust in the technology.

Waymo Starts Selling Sensors to Lower Cost of Self-Driving Cars
Waymo announced Wednesday that it will begin selling the lidar sensors used on its autonomous vehicles to other companies that are not in competition with its robotaxi business. Specifically, they will be selling its short-range sensor, called the Laser Bear Honeycomb, which monitors the car’s perimeter. Observers suggest this strategy could lower the cost of autonomous vehicle deployment. Waymo makes all of its sensors in-house, and thus significantly scaling their production should decrease the cost of each unit. As sensors are typically an extremely expensive component of an autonomous vehicle, lowering their cost could have significant effects on the overall cost of production and ultimately make this technology more affordable for consumers.

Tesla’s ‘full self-driving’ version of Autopilot is back
Tesla announced late last week it is bringing back its “full self-driving” feature as part of a shift in Autopilot marketing. The Full Self-Driving Capability option includes “Navigate on Autopilot,” which can suggest and make lane changes and actively take exits, among other features. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Full Self-Driving will allow for Autopilot use in complex city environments later this year. This announcement has reignited the debate on the marketing of driver assist systems. Critics argue that names such as “Full Self-Driving” give consumers unrealistic expectations of the extent of monitoring they are required to do for safe operation and lead to confusion on the capabilities of various ADAS systems.