The Fuse

This Week in AVs: US DOT Launches AV 3.0 Guidance; Honda Invests $2.75 Billion in Cruise; Ford Proposes Industry Standard for AV Intentions; and More

by Alex Adams | @alexjhadams | October 05, 2018

AV 3.0 a Shot in the Arm for Autonomous Trucking

Launched today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “AV 3.0” policy guidelines build upon the previous two iterations, but this time it broadens its scope to embrace the potential impact of Level 4 fully-autonomous trucks. Under previous guidance, the legality of trucks without a driver in the cab has been ambiguous, which limited industry pilots on interstates and/or across state lines. The latest guidance in AV 3.0 clarifies that Level 4 autonomous trucks without drivers are legal; this may lead to increased attention and activity in the heavy duty automation space.

The latest guidance in AV 3.0 clarifies that Level 4 autonomous trucks without drivers are legal

For light-duty vehicles, AV 3.0 builds on the approach in previous reports by keeping regulatory requirements to a minimum; the most significant announcement today may be the Administration’s intent to update regulations to allow vehicles without manual controls, such as steering wheels or brakes, in the medium-term future.

Honda to Invest $2.75 Billion in Cruise

Honda is investing $750 million in Cruise, GM’s self-driving car unit, with plans to commit an additional funding of $2 billion in the coming years for the joint development of a driverless car. With Honda now taking a 5.7 percent stake in Cruise, the joint venture will augment Cruise’s efforts to launch a robot taxi service in 2019, as well as create a “purpose-built” AV from the ground up – the first, says GM CEO Dan Ammann, company that will have tried that on a massive scale. The investment from Honda is the second significant stake purchase this year in Cruise, with Japan’s SoftBank taking a 19.6 percent stake in the company with an investment of $2.2 billion in June.

Is 5G Necessary for AVs?

As AVs move closer to widespread deployment, a key question has yet to be resolved: How – and will – these vehicles communicate with each other? Two major frontrunners for vehicle-to-vehicle communication are 5GLTE and Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC). Although some argue that AVs will be unable to function as desired without the widespread connectivity of 5GLTE, DSRC is already being used in connected vehicles, and will be potentially mandated by federal regulators for all new vehicles. Although fears of a Betamax-VHS repetition persist, the solution may not be a binary choice as DSRC and 5GLTE could prove to be complementary rather than competitive.

Ford Proposes Standard to Signal AV Intentions

In an effort to expand AV safety from passengers to pedestrians and other road users, Ford has proposed an industry-wide standard for communicating driving intent, whether it be driving, yielding or accelerating from a stop. Ford’s proposed standard would have AVs use two white lights moving side-to-side to signal the car is yielding and is about to stop, a solid white light to signal the vehicle is driving autonomously, and rapidly blinking white lights to act as a “start-to-go” warning before the car accelerates. In March, Uber also patented a similar system that uses lights and sounds to notify pedestrians of an AV’s intentions. Regardless of which system wins out, these moves toward a more holistic vision of roadway safety indicate the AV industry remains committed to its goals of safer driving.