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Auto Industry sanctions Russia, BMW chases Mercedes-Benz to Level 3 Automated Driving, NVIDIA introduces Drive Map and CARIAD wants to use VW fleet for ADAS testing

War and suffering are still rampant among our Ukrainian neighbors, and it still feels weird to write a blog that focuses on something entirely different.

A speaker at an event earlier this month quoted German author Bertolt Brecht, who aptly captured this feeling in his poem To Those Born After from the 1930s:

“What kind of times are these, when
To talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?”


These lines really resonate with me as I try to talk about trees and horrors alike. It helps that our industry does not exist in a non-political vacuum and that the war on Ukraine has effects on automotive – and possibly vice versa:


Auto Industry sanctions Russia, BMW chases Mercedes-Benz to Level 3 Automated Driving, NVIDIA introduces Drive Map and CARIAD wants to use VW fleet for ADAS testing

GM, other automakers suspend some business in Russia following invasion – via Reuters

Sanctions of unprecedented extent have been imposed on Russia – also contributed to by automotive companies: Lots of car makers and their suppliers have suspended sales, production and other operations in the country.

I attended this month’s Technical Congress by the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) where the speaker lineup included Robert Habeck, Vice Chancellor of Germany and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action. Him and VDA President Hildegard Müller were both very clear in their speeches:

The German automotive industry condemns Russia’s war of aggression and is ready to stand with Ukraine – even if that means having to stomach serious consequences of economic sanctions. Judging from international news, such as this article, it would appear that the automotive industry in other countries is ready to do the same.


Auto Industry sanctions Russia, BMW chases Mercedes-Benz to Level 3 Automated Driving, NVIDIA introduces Drive Map and CARIAD wants to use VW fleet for ADAS testing

Mercedes Will Be Legally Responsible While Drive Pilot System Is Engaged – via CleanTechnica 

Mercedes-Benz isn’t being ambiguous about who’s responsible if an S-Class equipped with their “Drive Pilot” system (powered by the Nvidia DRIVE stack) crashes during automated driving: they are.

Of course, the system will need to give control back to the human driver in certain situations. I don’t think it’s public information yet how exactly a safe handover is envisioned, but it is known that there will be a 10 second period for this. Since the system is a highway traffic jam pilot that can only be activated at speeds lower than 40 miles per hour, that translates to a buffer of approx. 180 meters maximum travel distance. Mercedes-Benz says the system will deactivate if it detects hazard lights or emergency sirens, but it’s not clear if those are the only instances.

According to this article, the required HD maps are now available for all German highways, which is a good step up from the ~13k kilometers of Autobahn that were initially announced as L3-ready. Mercedes-Benz’ next goal is to get approval for the S-Class/EQS to drive itself on roads in California and Nevada.

Philip Koopman points out that “US state laws are being passed that says the AV operator is to blame, or maybe even the car’s computer”, though – and asks the question “Can Mercedes tell the [District Attorney] to prosecute it instead of someone else for a potential criminal reckless driving case?” So the legal framework in the US might need some sorting out …


Auto Industry sanctions Russia, BMW chases Mercedes-Benz to Level 3 Automated Driving, NVIDIA introduces Drive Map and CARIAD wants to use VW fleet for ADAS testing

BMW Level 3 Autonomous Driving Tech Is Coming in 2025 – via Car and Driver

Speaking of Level 3, of course BMW isn’t going to let their long-term rival Mercedes-Benz have all the fun: The Bavarian car maker has announced its own handsfree driving system for the second half of 2025.

This system will be built based on Qualcomm Snapdragon chips and computer vision technology developed by Arriver. If you are not familiar with Arriver: They are a daughter company of Veoneer that was established after Veoneer’s ADAS/AV joint venture with Volvo Cars, Zenuity, was disbanded in 2020. Qualcomm struck a deal to buy all of Veoneer last year for 4.5 billion USD – an acquisition that, I’ve been told, was aimed specifically at Arriver.

This February I undertook a long trip in an almost-new BMW 5 series equipped with their current Level 2 system, which offers a combination of adaptive cruise control and lane centering. The experience was really quite pleasant; and the perspective of being able to truly hand off driving to the car seems very desirable to me. As far as I know this current system is powered by Mobileye technology – it will definitely be interesting to see what experience the complete replacement of the tech stack results in.


Auto Industry sanctions Russia, BMW chases Mercedes-Benz to Level 3 Automated Driving, NVIDIA introduces Drive Map and CARIAD wants to use VW fleet for ADAS testing

Nvidia launched a mapping product for the autonomous vehicle industry – via TechCrunch

Less than a year after acquiring DeepMap, Nvidia announced Drive Map for automotive this month: It aims to offer “coverage of over 300,000 miles of roadway in North America, Europe and Asia by 2024”, according to CEO Jensen Huang’s keynote at GTC.

This would cover approximately the highway networks in the main markets of those continents. That makes sense: The announcement of Drive Map coincides with the release of a new version of Nvidia’s Drive Hyperion stack for perception and automated driving – used by OEMs including Mercedes-Benz (see above) and Volvo Cars to power their Level 3 functions on highways. 

Dedicated AV companies such as TuSimple and Zoox also use Hyperion and are likely to profit from Drive Map: “The mapping tool features three localization layers — camera, lidar and radar — to provide the redundancy needed for autonomy.”

Building and maintaining these will be a complex task, yes – but it sure looks like HD maps will be the way to go for some time. And with the Mobileye IPO expected for later this year, this niche might be getting a lot more attention in the future …


Auto Industry sanctions Russia, BMW chases Mercedes-Benz to Level 3 Automated Driving, NVIDIA introduces Drive Map and CARIAD wants to use VW fleet for ADAS testing

VW’s Cariad looks to harness intelligent data collection for development – via Autonomous Vehicle International

One of the challenges on the road to autonomous driving is the near-infinite test space of edge and corner cases a vehicle might encounter during its lifecycle.

The key challenge in ADAS/AV verification and validation: How can you make sure your system encounters (almost) all relevant scenarios during testing that it will later need to handle in operation? Traditional test approaches would require driving millions upon millions of kilometers across all continents and in all conditions – for every individual vehicle type, configuration and software release.

While that type of driving coverage is impossible for a test fleet, it is something an OEMs regular fleet of series production vehicles may come close to. So if your new system could do a “ride-along” with every car that’s in operation, all the time, it would obviously be exposed to a vast amount of relevant, real-life situations – a resource CARIAD aims to leverage with the Volkswagen fleet starting in 2025:

“The protected [system] is a piece of hardware within a vehicle’s scalable compute platform (SCP), physically located next to the platform’s ADAS blade and completely isolated from other vehicle systems.

The ring-fenced nature of the hardware means it can be used for development purposes without any potential knock-on effect on a vehicle’s operation; for example, pre-release software can be tested in real-world conditions without any safety concerns.”

CARIAD are not the first to have this idea, and many questions will need answering: Series production vehicles obviously have constraints in how much data you can store/transmit or compute onboard; and lots of data does not necessarily translate to high quality of coverage. So what will make or break this approach is probably implementation, which will be interesting to follow – as well as which other players might come up with similar approaches.


I hope you find this month’s read worth your while – and as always, you are most welcome to share any thoughts and feedback.

Have a lovely rest of your week!

All the best

Tom Dahlström

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Putin unifies Europe, Bosch buys atlatec, Waymo sues to keep safety case confidential and Tesla intentionally breaks the law.

We are told to leave politics out of business.

Today, that is impossible for me: I could not currently justify a blog’s inherent call for attention if I did. Business doesn’t exist in an independent vacuum – and so we must talk about war.


#StandWithUkraine

This month, we witnessed the dawn of war. This is a war born out of philosophies and behavioral patterns that we hoped long overcome in Europe. A war that grimly impacts every single Ukrainian – including business partners I was meeting and discussing projects with just weeks ago.

The world we live in has since changed. Decades-old norms and status quos are disappearing rapidly, such as the neutral stance of Sweden and Finland, the indifference of Swiss banks or the quasi-pacifist German defense policy.

If a single good thing has come from Putin’s war of aggression, it is the self-fulfilling prophecy of what he sought to disrupt: a courageous unity among EU and NATO members. It is needed now more than ever.

As a defensive alliance, we must have the courage to defend what we stand for. As a community based on humanitarian values, we must extend them to our neighbors in need. As people of principles, we must uphold them – especially when it becomes inconvenient to do so.

We must stand with Ukraine – or we risk losing what unites us.


Putin unifies Europe, Bosch buys atlatec, Waymo sues to keep safety case confidential and Tesla intentionally breaks the law.

Bosch to Acquire 3D Mapping Specialist Atlatec GmbH – via Auto Futures

Last week, automotive Tier 1 supplier Bosch signed a contract to fully acquire mapping company atlatec – yes, that’s us.

Following Nvidia’s acquisition of DeepMap and Toyota/Woven Planet buying Carmera last year, atlatec becomes the latest independent HD mapping company to be snapped up by a larger player in the automotive space. Although I am obviously biased, it seems like a smart move:

Bosch aims to use atlatec’s capacities to boost its own technology in the L3/L4 automated driving space – an effort all major players (other than Tesla) agree will require HD maps to function in the foreseeable future. So it stands to reason that deeply integrated HD maps/mapping capacities will serve as a lever to bring performance up while keeping costs down – a combination that has long been one of the key selling 


Putin unifies Europe, Bosch buys atlatec, Waymo sues to keep safety case confidential and Tesla intentionally breaks the law.

Waymo to keep robotaxi safety details secret, court rules – via TechCrunch

One of the key components to make autonomous driving work is trust: The public’s trust that the vehicles you are deploying will be at least as safe as human drivers, if not safer. The quest for this trust took a bit of a blow this month, with Waymo’s legal win over the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Here’s the issue:

Before deploying AVs for testing on public US roads, companies need to file for a permit with the DMV – a filing that inevitably includes sensitive information about their technology, its operations and the underlying safety case.

Waymo has been granted a testing permit in California – and an undisclosed party filed a public record request for information related to it (the DMV is a public sector entity, after all). Waymo asserted they should have the right to black out pieces of information that include trade secrets and redacted heavily, making the eventually released documents rather inconclusive.

The underlying conflict of interest is one between companies’ rights to protect trade secrets/intellectual property (which they have to share parts of with safety regulators) and the public’s right to information when it concerns public safety.

To my knowledge, this was the first court ruling of this sort – but it could certainly have larger implications, if it serves as a precedent in future cases.


Putin unifies Europe, Bosch buys atlatec, Waymo sues to keep safety case confidential and Tesla intentionally breaks the law.

Teslas recalled because self-driving software tells them to roll through stop signs – via ABC

Tesla again – is it starting to feel like they are over-represented on this blog? Maybe, but it’s hard to ignore articles that include sentences like this one:

“The recall shows that Tesla programmed its vehicles to violate the law in most states[.]”

This relates to Tesla’s FSD performing what’s called a “rolling stop” at intersections, meaning it would coast through stop signs at lower speed rather than coming to a complete halt as mandated in most states.

Some people were wondering whether it was a big deal for a vehicle to roll a stop sign since that’s what most human drivers do, too. Personally, I find it a very big deal if an OEM configures technology to intentionally break the law, because I don’t want private companies deciding which laws to follow and which not.

Industry expert Philip Koopman does a very good job at citing 10 total reasons why you should care in this blog post which I absolutely recommend as a bonus read.


That’s it for this month. I hope all of you are safe and look forward to better times, when we will return to automotive news only.

All the best

Tom Dahlström
atlatec

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Volvo Cars releases Level 3 system, Tesla raises FSD price and more criticism, human error may not be sole factor behind majority of car crashes

January is over and I hope you’ve had a lovely time breaking your New Year’s resolutions! Personally, I got myself a sports injury last week which has been a great excuse not to work out …

But enough about you and me – let’s look at what the rest of the automotive industry has been up to this month:


Volvo partners with Luminar and Zenseact to bring autonomous driving feature to new e-SUV – via TechCrunch

Volvo Cars originally proclaimed they wouldn’t build a Level 3 automated driving system: The safety risks surrounding the handover of driving functions from a car to its driver were deemed too high. However, the OEMs goal of going directly for L4 has been rendered impractical for the time being: With no system deemed safe enough for fully autonomous operation in certain areas and no regulation that would allow them, Volvo Cars has chosen to go for L3 after all.

Their new system is called “Ride Pilot” and aims for limited self driving “on highways that Volvo has validated and at lower speeds” – which makes it a direct competitor for Mercendes-Benz’ “Drive Pilot” and Honda’s “Sensing Elite” – especially if and when these systems will be available outside their respective home markets.

It seems understandable that Volvo Cars does not want to miss out on a Level 3 go-to-market: For all we know, L3 could be as good as it gets for a while – and when unsupervised self driving really comes, it will surely be advantageous for OEMs to have proven themselves on the lower rungs. It will be interesting to see if the Volvo brand can establish itself as a pioneer for safety even in this new domain.


Volvo Cars releases Level 3 system, Tesla raises FSD price and more criticism, human error may not be sole factor behind majority of car crashes

Elon Musk says he’s hiking “full self driving” by another $2,000 – via Ars Technica

Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) package now costs $12,000 in the US. This price hike comes during an all-time high of criticism of the system’s proclaimed and actual capabilities:

The Dawn Project took out a full-page ad in the New York Times this month, warning of safety risks not only for drivers but the general public: It considers all of us unwilling test subjects in what is essentially FSDs (paid) public beta phase. Additionally, the California DMV is revisiting its decision to consider the test program to be outside its regulatory mandate.

Also worth noting is the suspected business case for Tesla – which Brad Templeton (ex-Waymo) described in an article for Forbes last month: “As an automaker, Tesla plans to lease Teslas to customers, then buy them back at the end of 3 years and convert them to robotaxis. That’s easy with the sleek interior of the Model 3 and Y — just pull out the wheel and pedals and put a wooden plate in the hole. Then [Musk] gets to supply his robotaxi fleet with 3 year old cars where customers ate almost half the depreciation cost.”


Volvo Cars releases Level 3 system, Tesla raises FSD price and more criticism, human error may not be sole factor behind majority of car crashes

The Deadly Myth That Human Error Causes Most Car Crashes – via The Atlantic

Let’s get ethical: We all know the argument that human error is responsible for over 90% of car accidents. It is one of the more popular talking points to advocate for allowing autonomous vehicles on the road; that they would actually be safer than human drivers. This article does a good job challenging that belief, looking at the systemic conditions within which human drivers operate:

The article is focused on the USA, where more than 20 000 people died in traffic accidents in the first half of 2021 alone. Being a rather car-centric society, new US drivers often take to the roads at 16 years old. They then get behind the wheel of vehicles frequently weighing over 3 metric tons and packing up to 400 horse power – and the hood of which easily towers above children and small adults.

Additionally, road construction factors are not taken into account by the statistic: Crashes happening on accident-prone roads are still chalked up exclusively to human error if the driver fails to compensate for shortcomings in civil engineering.

These are of course issues that to some degree exist in most modern societies, not only in the US: In their efforts to electrify fleets, many OEMs have been focusing on large and heavy high-margin models, such as SUVs. So is it really honest to blame only human error when drivers are frequently operating under systemic conditions that make accidents/fatalities more likely? The law says yes, but there may be other ways to look at it …


Alright, this ended up being a lot of text per item so I’ll compensate by leaving it at those 3 articles for this time.

I hope you appreciate the read – and if you have any thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them! You can leave a comment here or tag me on LinkedIn.

All the best

Tom Dahlström

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FTC sues to stop NVIDIA/ARM merger, Honda envisions 0 fatalities, Mercedes receives L3 approval and Tesla faces safety scrutiny and criticism over FSD

The holidays are upon us, and so this month’s edition of your automotive news digest comes a bit early: I imagine we all would like to focus on other topics during Christmas and New Year’s.

Before that time is here, let’s dive right into what happened this month:
 


Nvidia’s big ambitions could be its Achilles’ heel in the Arm deal – via The Verge

As you have probably heard, NVIDIA has been trying to acquire chip company ARM for the last year. Just when it seemed like a done deal, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an open competition watchdog has filed a lawsuit to stop the merger this month.

The FTC (and other regulators) worry that one-party ownership might lead to Nvidia “[using] its control over Arm to advance its own interests in emerging markets like data centers and autonomous vehicles, instead of working to ensure that all the companies […] can continue to do so on an equal playing field.”

However this suit will develop, it brings up an interesting point: In this day and age, high-tech has become such an integrated part of our daily lives that we might need to rethink how to regulate access to it (especially in times of strained supply chains). There’s already a movement lobbying to declare the internet a public utility and regulate it like electricity and water – and I suppose it’s indeed hard for most of us to argue that the internet is anything less than integral to our way of life. I wonder if we will see similar ideas come up in the hardware/software domains during this decade …


FTC sues to stop NVIDIA/ARM merger, Honda envisions 0 fatalities, Mercedes receives L3 approval and Tesla faces safety scrutiny and criticism over FSD

Honda unveils two key future safety technologies toward the realization of its goal for zero traffic collision fatalities by 2050 – via Green Car Congress

I found this a rather interesting look at Honda’s two-part strategy to eliminate traffic collision fatalities in automotive by 2050:

The 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗴𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗗𝗿𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗿-𝗔𝘀𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗧𝗲𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆 will focus on individual human drivers’ risk profile: Taking into account the results of Honda’s “original functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-based study of the human brain and analysis of risk-taking behaviors”, the goal is to create a kind of safety profile unique to every driver and to predict (and mitigate) driver errors “based on information obtained through a driver monitoring camera and pattern of the driving operations.”

The 𝗦𝗮𝗳𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗦𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝗡𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸 𝗧𝗲𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆 on the other hand focuses on “potential risks in the traffic environment, which are detected based on information obtained from roadside cameras, on-board cameras and smartphones” – and continuously aggregated into a comprehensive digital twin of traffic situations.

The latter sounds a little bit like science fiction at this point, but this is a long-term plan, after all: The goal is to analyze traffic scenarios and run possible simulations on how they might develop faster than they actually play out- with the goal of identifying (and mitigating) risks before they even occur. It reminds me of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report, but with a less dystopian outcome. 🙂


FTC sues to stop NVIDIA/ARM merger, Honda envisions 0 fatalities, Mercedes receives L3 approval and Tesla faces safety scrutiny and criticism over FSD

Mercedes Gets Approval For Traffic Jam Pilot, Where Is Tesla? – via Forbes

Congratulations, Mercedes-Benz: The brand became the first to gain approval for a Level 3 self-driving series production function. Daimler will outfit its next-generation S-Class model with the traffic jam assist feature, which can take over control on certain highway routes (13 000 km to start with) when driving at speeds of up to 60 km/h.

Unlike Tesla, who have removed all medium- and long-range sensors other than cameras from their cars with a less-than-ideal outcome (see the look at the new Model Y review in last month’s blog), Daimler is not only keeping radar but also using a LiDAR sensor by French Tier 1 supplier Valeo in its hardware stack.

There’s been a debate for several years now about whether “full” autonomous driving (Level 4 or even 5) can be achieved via an evolutionary path, going from L2 to L3 and then continuously improving and upgrading the tech until it’s L4-ready – or if you need to find an entirely new, revolutionary path to develop an L4/L5 system. While that debate is far from decided, the pathway to an actual go-to-market which Daimler (as well as Honda) have now paved for themselves, could go a long way in gaining the public’s trust for more developments to follow – as well as that of shareholders/investors.


FTC sues to stop NVIDIA/ARM merger, Honda envisions 0 fatalities, Mercedes receives L3 approval and Tesla faces safety scrutiny and criticism over FSD

Inside Tesla as Elon Musk Pushed an Unflinching Vision for Self-Driving Cars – via The New York Times

Speaking of Tesla, the NYT came out with an worthwhile investigative piece this month: It casts a very unflattering light on Elon Musk’s promise of “Full Self Driving” and the way he is reportedly conducting himself and his company on the way there.

Quoting anonymous sources, including 3 people who were part of the project’s origin, there’s since been continuous friction between executives pushing for “Autopilot” and lofty promises surrounding it and engineers more cautious of what the system actually can and cannot do – as well as the potentially misleading and dangerous nature of its name and marketing.

With the NHTSA now officially probing Tesla for safety risks connected to their ADAS stack, this article is definitely worth reading (or listening to): both as a recap of the developments since Tesla’s FSD announcement, and as a behind-the-scenes look at how Time Magazine’s Man of the Year 2021 runs the company that made him the richest man in the world.


I hope you enjoy the read and wish you all the best for the holidays!

All the best

Tom Dahlström
atlatec

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Tesla struggles without radar, chip shortage affects OEMs and T1s differently, Qualcomm’s Veoneer bet pays off and Aurora releases AV trucking stack

Winter is here! Driving to work through the snow and rain this morning, I once more realized what a luxury it is to drive a personal automobile: I honestly hope this industry can find a sustainable way for us to keep these comforts … 

I also hope you are staying warm and cozy at this time – so curl up with a hot beverage of your choosing and let’s dive into this month’s read:


2021 Tesla Model Y review: Nearly great, critically flawed – via CNET

As you may remember, Tesla announced earlier this year that they’d be removing radar sensors from all upcoming models – presumably because they were interfering with the superior environmental perception provided by their cameras. I took a critical look at the camera vs. radar argument in this guest article for AV International in July – and now the first radar-less Tesla is coming out. CNET’s editor in chief, Tim Stevens, experienced multiple false positives during his test drive and comes to a clear conclusion:

“This is a massive problem. It happens on both the highway and on secondary roads, any time the cruise control is engaged even without Autosteer. It means the car’s cruise control is patently unsafe, which means the entirety of Autopilot is unsafe. And that means the car itself is unsafe.”

Ouch.


Semiconductor/chip shortage in automotive

Chip shortage: automakers with high profits, suppliers suffer
 – via Market Research Telecast

The semiconductor crisis affects everyone? Yes, but actually no: A new EY study says automotive OEMs seem to have successfully mitigated the shortage by prioritizing their high-end, high-margin models – and posted record profits for the last quarter. Their suppliers, on the other end, are negatively affected by the lower-volume, more volatile requests from carmakers with over 40% of Tier1s “now in a financially tense situation” according to PwC.

As someone working in sales along the automotive value chain, I negotiate quite a few contracts with both OEMs and suppliers. Next time I get the argument that “this will never happen, anyway, why do you care if we leave the clause in the contract”, I might just reply with a link to this article ….


BMW taps Qualcomm for ships and ADAS

BMW is turning to Qualcomm to supply chips for the automaker’s self-driving cars – via Automotive News

Speaking of chips and Tier1s: Qualcomm’s play to out-bid Magna for Swedish sensor maker Veoneer got completed this month. People in the industry were confident that Qualcomm’s real acquisition target was Arriver: a subsidy of Veoneer working on cutting edge ADAS/autonomous driving technology that was formed when Zenuity, the supplier’s former joint venture with Volvo Cars was disbanded.

Now, Qualcomm was able to announce BMW as a new flagship customer for its automotive-grade chips – and Arriver will ride that wave as a supplier of ADAS technology to the OEM. I guess both Mobileye and Nvidia will keep a close eye on the developments to follow …


Tesla struggles without radar, chip shortage affects OEMs and T1s differently, Qualcomm's Veoneer bet pays off and Aurora releases AV trucking stack

Aurora releases first commercial beta of Aurora Driver autonomous driving system – via Green Car Congress

Let’s close on a note about autonomous trucks: Aurora released a first commercial version of their self-driving stack this month. In a collaboration with truck maker PACCAR and logistics carrier FedEx, the “Aurora Driver” is going to service a route between Dallas and Houston: a highway that’s seeing a lot of interest in this field, with TuSimple, Kodiak Robotics, Embark and other players also having chosen Texas for testing and commercial debuts in the autonomous trucking space.

Aurora uses cameras, radars and a priprietary LiDAR for perception and claims that Driver is ready for commercial use, mastering “unprotected left and right turns, high-speed merges, and various forms of construction” in its present beta form. 


That’s it for this month; I hope you enjoyed the selection – be careful on winter roads and have a lovely advent season!

All the best

Tom Dahlström
atlatec

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atlatec back in London, Tesla rolls back latest FSD beta + launches real-time insurance, Luminar considers subscription model for ADAS/AV functions

In-person events are back! Over the past weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of attending a number of face-to-face meetings, conferences and expos in Germany and Sweden. I can tell you: It’s been a bliss for my contact-starved, mostly remote-working self.

And the fun’s just getting started – because I can already tell you that the good news are about to carry on into the winter season:

atlatec@MOVE 2021

London Calling: atlatec @ MOVE 2021 – via atlatec

One Brexit referendum and a global pandemic later, it’s finally time to go back: back to “MOVE: Mobility Re-Imagined” in Lodon, that is. This conference I last attended just before COVID hit in 2020 is one I have fond memories of: Not only did we receive a lot of interest at the atlatec booth, the expo was also notable for its integrated approach to mobility, bringing together stakeholders from all kinds of organizations. If you’re there, come visit me at our pod S98 on November 9 – 10!

atlatec back in London, Tesla rolls back latest FSD beta + launches real-time insurance, Luminar considers subscription model for ADAS/AV functions

Tesla pulled its latest ‘Full Self Driving’ beta after testers complained about false crash warnings and other bugs – via The Verge

We’ve seen it before: @tes Tesla rolls out a new increment of their “Autopilot” system, users upload videos of it failing to YouTube and the social media audience gets upset. Elon Musk has become infamous among the ADAS community for beta testing the safety-critical FSD system on the general public. This time, however, the latest release was actually rolled back after Elon Musik himself announced “some issues” via Twitter. A possible change of pace related to changes in NHTSA leadership? You tell me …

atlatec back in London, Tesla rolls back latest FSD beta + launches real-time insurance, Luminar considers subscription model for ADAS/AV functions

Luminar’s Path To Autonomy Runs Through Software – via Forbes

Luminar is a major player in the LiDAR space, having won over OEMs such as Volvo Cars for use of their sensors in ADAS/AV systems. So it’s quite interesting to see how a company this well-positioned looks at what actually constitutes their value-add – and what revenue models they envision in this space. From the article: “While [Luminar’s Vice President of Product and Strategy] Jefferson predicts Luminar will sell physical lidar units for the foreseeable future, he also envisions that driver assistance technology may eventually be sold to consumers on a subscription basis, resulting in monthly recurring revenue for Luminar.”

atlatec back in London, Tesla rolls back latest FSD beta + launches real-time insurance, Luminar considers subscription model for ADAS/AV functions

Tesla officially launches its insurance using ‘real-time driving behavior,’ starting in Texas – via electreck

Tesla again! The company is not only shifting paradigms in testing safety-critical software, but is also looking to disrupt the auto insurance sector: Elon Musk has announced a policy model with premiums based on real-time driver behavior analytics. This carries the potential for another ethics-based debate: Is it acceptable to penalize individual drivers for mistakes we can all be expected to make now and again? And: Could this make drivers hesitate a split second too long about a life-saving full brake, for fear of negatively affecting their safety score – and thus raising their insurance costs? This month’s news should be enough for a debate or two in my opinion …

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Tesla under NHTSA investigation, Rivian eyeing IPO, atlatec offering live demo at IAA Mobility

Welcome back to the automotive industry news for August 2021! I hope you’ve been having lovely weather where you’re spending your summer – but if not (like in Germany), then perhaps I might interest you in a bit of light reading and a hot beverage instead. We’ll supply the reading of course – let’s get to it: 

Live HD Maps/Lane-Level Guidance Demo at IAA Mobility – via atlatecTesla under NHTSA investigation, Rivian eyeing IPO, atlatec offering live demo at IAA Mobility

We’re super excited to return to real-world events, starting as exhibitors at the re-booted IAA Moblity in Munich next week! To make things even better, we are offering a live, in-vehicle demo:

Together with our partners Artisense and NNG we will demonstrate how HD maps boost ADAS functions such as lane-level navigation/guidance, AR HUD style. Places will be limited, but you are more than welcome to let us know you’d like to reserve a seat – or drop by the atlatec booth A418 in hall B2 to inquire about ad-hoc availability.

Or, if you can’t make it to Munich, we are also running a joint webinar on the topic tomorrow, September 1 at 11 AM. 

Link to the expo page: https://atlatec.de/iaa-mobility-2021/

What Will Come Out Of NHTSA’s Tesla Autopilot Investigation? – via Forbes

 

 

Tesla under NHTSA probe after FSD-related crashes

Sadly, a Tesla using its “Full Self Driving (FSD)” or “Autopilot” system struck an emergency vehicle this month – the 12th time this has been reported. The incident occured right after the US NHTSA announced a probe into Tesla and its ADAS functions. As mentioned in this newsletter last month, Tesla is the only OEM not using HD maps for its hands-free driving system which, like LiDAR, Elon Musk has called “a crutch.” The article, wondering what the NHTSA probe might lead to, also takes a closer look at the background for context.

Link to article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/samabuelsamid/2021/08/23/what-will-come-out-of-nhtsas-tesla-autopilot-investigation/

Ford BlueCruise Hands-Free Driving Still Has Catching Up To Do – via The Verge

Ford BlueCruise hands-free driving system

I thought I’d include this review of Ford’s new hands-free driving system, comparing it to GM’s “Super Cruise” because the two companies’ approach to Level 2+/Level 3 ADAS is so different from Tesla’s – as the article says:

“Both […] use high-definition maps of divided highways across the US and Canada to limit where their respective systems can be used. GM’s maps now include more than 200,000 miles of roads while Ford is initially limited to 130,000 miles although expansions are promised from both. If you aren’t on one of the approved roads, the systems simply won’t engage. While Tesla tells drivers that Autopilot is only meant for use in divided highways, it does nothing to prevent enabling the system anywhere.”

Link to article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/samabuelsamid/2021/08/26/ford-bluecruise-still-has-catching-up-to-do/

Rivian Files for IPO, Seeking About $80 Billion Valuation – via Bloomberg

Rivian eyeing 80bn IPO

In the electric vehicles space, Rivian seems to be eyeing an IPO – after already having raised USD 10.5 billion so far: Building a car company is a costly business!

The desired valuation of USD 80 billion seems like a moonshot at first, considering that Ford, as one of their invstors has a 53 bn market cap – and Rivian has yet to begin regular vehicle deliveries. But then again people were saying similar things about Tesla – and now they’re worth more than the next 9 car makers combined … Apparently the IPO is supposed to happen around Thanksgiving, so this will be one to watch over the next weeks!

 

Link to article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-27/rivian-is-said-to-file-for-ipo-seek-about-80-billion-valuation

That’s it for this time – see you in Munich, or right back here next month!

PS: This monthly overview of automotive industry news is also available via newsletter.

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Mitsubishi, VW and BOSCH go for crowdsourcing HD maps, Waymo launches new simulator

The road to everywhere: are HD maps for autonomous driving sustainable? – via Autonomous Vehicle InternationalThe road to everywhere: are HD maps for autonomous driving sustainable?

Mitsubishi Fuso selects Woven Alpha to power HD mapping for its ADAS – via Safe Car News

Mitsubishi Fuso selects Woven Alpha to power HD mapping for its ADAS

Just a few months after NVIDIA announced their acquisition of DeepMap, Mitsubishi’s Woven Planet has confirmed they’ll be buying mapping company Carmera (bonus article here). And, just in time, Mitsubishi Fuso has announced they’ll be integrating Woven Planet’s HD maps into their ADAS stack.

To me, this is two interesting pieces of news in one: First, the consensus that HD maps will be required for next-level ADAS features (Level 2+ and above) is once again confirmed across vehicle categories, leaving Tesla as basically the only OEM to double down on not using them (see also the article on Autonomous Vehicle International above). Second, the field of HD mapping is facing consolidation – and investor-backed players might have to opt for a profitable sell-off in the short term, rather than waiting for the elusive moment in time when the AV business model will fully take off.

Link to article: https://safecarnews.com/mitsubishi-fuso-selects-woven-alpha-to-power-hd-mapping-for-its-adas/

Welcome to Simulation City, The Virtual World Where Waymo Tests Its Autonomous Vehicles – via The Verge

Welcome to Simulation City, The Virtual World Where Waymo Tests Its Autonomous Vehicles

Waymo is arguably one of the front runners in autonomous driving, and they have always been vocal about their view of simulation as a cornerstone of it: According to the company, Waymo has simulated 15 billion miles of driving, compared to “only” 20 million miles of real-world driving that have been completed.

In addition to their older simulator Car Craft, Waymo has now presented their new software, called “Simulation City” – which it hopes will bridge some gaps, such as new vehicle models. The article contains a video and a GIF giving some visual impressions, too, so feel free to steal a glance!

Link to article: https://www.theverge.com/2021/7/6/22565448/waymo-simulation-city-autonomous-vehicle-testing-virtual

Bosch builds digital twin for more accurate maps – via eeNews Europe

Bosch builds digital twin for more accurate maps

This month was ripe with mapping-related news! Tier1 supplier BOSCH is partnering up with Volkswagen to create a “crowdsourcing” solution, aiming to produce/update HD maps by leveraging the data of sensors on board series production vehicles – in this case the VW Golf 8. The article quotes BOSCH’s Dr. Mathias Pillin as saying “The more vehicles that provide information now and in the future, the larger and more robust the database will be for automated and assisted driving”, which seems to be in line with what other suppliers are banking on, most famously perhaps Mobileye.

It looks like crowdsourcing will truly be the holy grail of HD mapping in this decade – and it will be very interesting to see the differences in how automotive players approach this (traditional Tier1s vs. tech companies such as NVIDIA) as well as which strategies and platforms we’re going to see.

Link to article: https://www.eenewseurope.com/news/bosch-builds-digital-twin-more-accurate-maps

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Automotive news from Tesla, DeepMap, Volkswagen, and atlatec

Your monthly automotive briefing

Welcome back to the monthly industry Newsletter from atlatec. I hope you had a great start into the summer. In this issue, we are covering Tesla’s latest decision to completely remove radar sensors, DeepMap’s future with NVIDIA, and Volkswagen’s idea of pay-per-use self-driving cars. Enjoy the read and make sure to watch our latest fireside chat on YouTube.

Explainer: Tesla drops radar; is Autopilot system safe? – via Yahoo Finance

Tesla

Since atlatec is a computer vision company, you can expect us to be strong supporters of what this type of sensor technology can do. With Elon Musk’s most recent headline news, however, many industry experts believe he is putting too much trust in cameras – by completely removing radar sensors from future Tesla models.

Tesla’s head of AI, Andrej Karpathy, has shed some more light on the reasons behind this move, explaining that in Tesla’s view, their camera system has become so superior to radar that adding “mixed signals” only makes for errors and added sensor fusion effort, rather than higher safety and better performance through redundancy.

If the past is any indication for the future, Elon won’t care much about what other EV/AV companies think about this move – but it remains to be seen if his shareholders will, depending on what results Tesla will be able to deliver regarding its self-driving functionalities.

Nvidia acquires hi-def mapping startup DeepMap to bolster AV technology. – via TechCrunch

Deepmap NVIDIA

Last year, we were actually speculating about whether or not this would happen: NVIDIA, a key investor in DeepMap, has announced they’ll be acquiring the HD mapping company completely.

According to official quotes, the reason is to leverage DeepMaps IP in order to boost NVIDIA’s mapping – and thus, self-driving – capabilities, presumably enabling them to widen their footprint as suppliers for ADAS/AV technology among other automotive OEMs. The one comparison that comes to mind as a direct competitor is Mobileye: It will be interesting to see if NVIDIA will try to establish a similar offering with an end-to-end solution encompassing sensors, processors (remember they bought ARM in 2020) and software.

Volkswagen floats idea of pay-per-use self-driving cars. – via Electronics 360

Volkswagen

Who will use autonomous vehicles, and who will pay for them? Underlying business cases are one of the pillars that will have to carry self-driving technology if it is ever to become mainstream. Volkswagen has shared some ideas: A pay-per-use model, where the public can rent AVs by the hour.

Klaus Zellmer, VW board member for sales, marketing and after sales even shared a possible price: 7 Euros per hour might buy you access to a self-driving Volkswagen model.

One one hand, easy access to autonomous mobility when you need it seems neat – on the other hand, 7 Euros per hour is a hefty price when compared to public transportation solutions that many city dwellers on the globe are used to. For more rural areas, however, this might solve a real mobility problem; especially if co-financed by municipalities, as an addition to public transportation.

Webinar “How to scale ADAS testing with objective KPIs” – via atlatec

ADAS testing

When we opened up registrations for our first-ever webinar, our team made some bets on how many people would sign up. Most of us guessed at around 20 to 30 registrations – and we’re very glad we didn’t put up any money: We ended up with over 500 registered participants, the majority of which joined us live to watch the discussion between atlatec CEO Henning Lategahn and our partners at GeneSys, MdynamiX and the Kempten University of Applied Sciences.

Apparently the topic, scaling precise ADAS testing on public roads and putting measured performance into meaningful context, was quite relevant for many: We are still getting daily requests for the video recording as well as our panelists’ presentations. If you, too, would like to watch it, you can access all the material right here on our website.


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May 2021 news: SAE, German legislation, Ford and atlatec

As we are slowly entering the summer season, let’s look back and recap the latest automotive news of May. This month SAE updated the official names for ‘Autonomous Driving’ Levels, Germany passed legislation for autonomous vehicles driving without safety drivers’ presence, and Ford released its first electrical truck – the F-150 Lightning.

Apart from that, we kindly invite you to join our live panel discussion on ADAS testing that will take place in just a week. You can register for both German and English sessions – pick the one that fits you best. 

SAE Updates, Refines Official Names for ‘Autonomous Driving’ Levels – Via Car and Driver

SAE autonomous driving levels

There’s a lot of debate around what “autonomous driving” really is; and some pretty diametral view points – sometimes within one and the same company (looking at you, Elon Musk and Tesla’s legal department). One framework that’s proven to be useful in differentiating between what does and does not constitute self-driving technology are the SAE Levels Of Driving Automation (L0 – L5).

This standard, formally known as SAE J3016 has now been updated to more accurately separate driver support features (L0 – L2) and automated driving features (L3 – L5). It also clearly classifies simultaneous use of modern ADAS features like ACC and LKA as a Level 2 system – and thus firmly places it in the driver support domain. So get the latest “cheat sheet” and you’ll be well prepared for the next heated ADAS vs. AD debate – which we probably all get into at some point.

Germany Passes Legislation For Autonomous Vehicles Driving Without Driver’s Presence – Via Tech Times

May 2021 news: SAE, German legislation, Ford and atlatec

Speaking of automated driving: In a move sure to surprise many, Germany’s national parliament has voted to allow testing of Level 4 systems on public roads from 2022 – without a safety driver on board. Some restrictions such as proper insurance and remote shutdown options apply, but those hardly seem like roadblocks for companies serious about this type of technology.

With several OEMs in the country as well as players like Argo AI and Mobileye already testing their cutting-edge systems on public roads in Germany, it will certainly be interesting to see what to actually expect on and off the Autobahn next year – and how the public will react.

Stop Worrying and Love the F-150 Lightning – Via auto connected car news

May 2021 news: SAE, German legislation, Ford and atlatec

When is a car not a car? When it is a truck – or perhaps even something else entirely. Ford has revealed the battery electric version of its best-selling truck, dubbed the F-150 Lightning – and while thorough, independent reviews will need to be considered, it seems that competitors such as Rivian or Tesla’s Cybertruck will be facing a formidable competition:

The product management at Ford seems to have employed impressive user centricity; completely rethinking what a truck actually is – or can be. The F-150 Lightning is not only powered by a battery: It will also power external appliances, from work crews’ tools all the way to complete households, if necessary in a blackout: Something that will arguably be a selling point for citizens of US states regularly threatened by flooding, tornadoes or wildfires. For companies that run work crews (perhaps the most important customer segment for this vehicle), the BEV version of the F-150 may well turn the question of “Why go electric” into “Why not”: The use of a vehicle that makes both the job and fleet management easier (thanks to improved telematics) and that can easily be recharged back at the company lot every night seems compelling – even more so if it also brings maintenance costs down, which are typically higher for combustion engine vehicles.


You may remember our article about ADAS testing from last month’s newsletter, exploring a solution to create and leverage reference data at scale that we co-created for Porsche. Now we bring the contents to you live, as a webinar together with our partners:

Join atlatec CEO Henning Lategahn as well as representatives from GeneSys, MdynamiX and the Kempten University of Applied Sciences on June 8th or 10th:

We are offering sessions both in English and German language. So far the resonance has been amazing; which is why we’ve upgraded our webinar hosting package to allow for additional registrations. So if you haven’t already, you are warmly invited to sign up – we hope to see you next week!

I hope this overview helps you to stay on top of industry news. Make sure to watch the latest fire-side chat with the atlatec team. The video is already available on YouTube.

Stay tuned for the atlatec industry newsletter coming in the end of June!