The Fuse

This Week in AVs: Waymo Believes 5G Will Accelerate AV Deployment, Chinese More Comfortable with AVs than Americans; and More

by Kristen Hernandez | May 17, 2019

Waymo CTO: 5G will be a self-driving car ‘accelerator and enabler’
Waymo CTO Dmitri Dolgov told reporters last week that fifth generation wireless technology will help the company’s autonomous vehicles with “communication [and with] latency and bandwidth.” 5G has the potential to enable a variety of technologies. With respect to self-driving cars, lower latency could boost real-time decision-making capabilities and bandwidth improvements would help the cars process the massive amounts of data created by sensors. While Waymo’s vehicles currently use dual modems to communicate safety-critical information, Dolgov said that “[5G] will be an accelerator” of the autonomous technology. A recent SAFE issue brief also suggested 5G could help transform mobility, though action is needed to encourage private investment in the technology.

More than half of Chinese consumers are eager for autonomous vehicles, while just over a third of respondents from the United States and the United Kingdom feel similarly.

Chinese More Willing to Embrace Self-Driving Future Than Americans
According to a survey by the Capgemini Research Institute, more than half of Chinese consumers are eager for autonomous vehicles, while just over a third of respondents from the United States and the United Kingdom feel similarly. The survey also indicated that over 50 percent of respondents would prefer to ride in an autonomous vehicle within the next five years and many would be willing to pay up to 20 percent more for such a vehicle. Markus Winkler, global head of automotive at Capgemini, suggested that recent investments and increasing awareness about autonomous vehicles has helped increase overall consumer enthusiasm for the technology. This suggests that increased exposure to autonomous vehicles in the United States may drive higher consumer acceptance levels.

Maserati to Use BMW Self-Driving Technology, Fiat Chairman Says
Fiat Chrysler (FCA) chairman John Elkann announced that Maserati will be FCA’s first brand to use BMW’s self-driving technology. Though a timeline for deployment has yet to be announced, Maserati vehicles will eventually incorporate highway driver-assistance features developed by the German automaker. FCA has been part of BMW’s self-driving consortium since 2017 and has additional partnerships with Waymo and Aptiv. This announcement will ultimately lead to more options for consumers for driver-assist systems, which will help increase exposure to and acceptance of the technology.

GM to Invest $126 Million to Keep 300 Jobs at Canada Plant
General Motors announced last week plans to invest $126 million to continue operation at a facility in Oshawa, Ontario. While the factory’s focus will be stamping and sub-assembly for GM and other companies, part of the facility will be converted to an autonomous vehicle test track. This investment will allow around 10 percent of employees at the facility to keep their jobs. The plan is emblematic of the shifting automotive industry; as automakers prioritize production of electric and autonomous vehicles, factories may be repurposed to accommodate a variety of uses.