Where’s the lane? Self-driving cars confused by shabby U.S. roadways

Alexandria Sage:

Volvo’s North American CEO, Lex Kerssemakers, lost his cool as the automaker’s semi-autonomous prototype sporadically refused to drive itself during a press event at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
 “It can’t find the lane markings!” Kerssemakers griped to Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was at the wheel. “You need to paint the bloody roads here!”
 Shoddy infrastructure has become a roadblock to the development of self-driving cars, vexing engineers and adding time and cost. Poor markings and uneven signage on the 3 million miles of paved roads in the United States are forcing automakers to develop more sophisticated sensors and maps to compensate, industry executives say.
 Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently called the mundane issue of faded lane markings “crazy,” complaining they confused his semi-autonomous cars.

Amazon in talks to buy stake in mapping company HERE


Amazon is in talks with a consortium of German carmakers about taking a stake in high-definition digital mapping company HERE, two auto industry sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
 Last August, BMW, Audi (VOWG_p.DE) and Mercedes agreed to pay 2.5 billion euros ($2.8 billion) to buy Nokia’s mapping business as part of plans to develop self-driving cars.
 Since then, the consortium has started negotiations with potential new partners mainly from the automotive industry.

Missile Maker Adapts Guidance Systems for Self-Driving Cars

Masatsugu Horie and Ma Jie:

Mitsubishi Electric Corp., a supplier of air-to-air missiles to Japan’s armed forces, is looking to adapt the technologies it originally developed for military use to help autonomous driving cars detect obstacles and avoid collisions.
 Components such as millimeter-wave radars, sonars, sensors and cameras — some of which were developed to guide missiles — are being adapted for use in self-driving vehicles that will hit the roads by 2020, Katsumi Adachi, senior chief engineer at Mitsubishi’s automotive equipment division, said in an interview. It has received orders for automatic braking systems and instruments that help a vehicle keep to its lane, he said.

The Younger the Youth, the Higher the Preference for a Self Driving Car


There’s little doubt that driverless cars are headed to a roadway near you. In fact, they’re already out and about in select towns in California, Texas and Washington. For some, the idea of surrendering the controls might sound like a dream come true. Driving-loving auto enthusiasts, on the other hand, might fight tooth and nail to stay behind the wheel. But what about young people—those who’ve grown up with technology, living online and engaging with their devices more than they do their friends and family?


As it turns out, recent Nielsen research found that while awareness of self-driving cars is strong, particularly among older youths (grades 9-12), more than 60% of American youths say they would prefer to do the driving rather than letting a car do it for them. Furthermore, this research shows that the older the youth, the stronger the preference is to do the driving. Nearly three in four high school age youths prefer to man the wheel while only just over half of elementary age youths feel the same way.

Autonomous vehicles and the shortest path

David Levinson:

I have thought of one more reason autonomous vehicles will reduce traffic congestion. Currently most drivers do not take the shortest path (though we don’t really know why that is so, we have speculations). If we take humans out of the navigation decision, cars will be more likely to find the shortest path. This may not be system optimal, but will be a significant improvement over current routing decisions.

Speculations on the Apple Car: A super-smart micro-car for the masses?

Hung-Yen Yang:

Instead, speculation has turned to the car itself: What will it look like? What will it do that is different to cars today? Will it be electric? Will it be driverless? Since they appear to have entered into an agreement with BMW, will it look anything like the BMW i3 electric car? Or will it look like a minivan as speculated in the WSJ article? How will it be manufactured? What could Apple possibly do to make a profit or improve upon the 5-seated cabin on four wheels format that has dominated the ultra-competitive car industry for over a century?
 Using parameters identified by leading analysts and taking the best of experimental car designs visible in the public domain, it may be possible to begin to visualise the rough envelope, and significant features of the upcoming Apple Car or other future vehicles[6] that may eventually supplant the motorcar that we know today.

Dutch parliament wants zero emission cars only after 2025

Janene Peters:

lower house of Dutch parliament wants only sustainable, zero-emission cars to be sold on the Dutch market from 2025. If the parliamentarians have their way, no new diesel or petrol cars will enter the Dutch market from then.

A majority of the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, voted for this motion brought by the PvdA. The motion was supported by the D66, GroenLinks, ChristenUnie, PvdD, SP, Kuzu/Ozturk and one-man factions Klein and Houwers, NOS reports.

Coalition partner VVD finds the motion overambitious and unrealistic. VVD Minister Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs thinks that at most 15 percent of all sold cars can be completely electric in 2025. Party leader Halbe Zijlstra thinks the plan contradicts the Energy Agreement. “It seems crazy to get this plan to work. I think we’ll have to withdraw from the Energy Agreement”, he said.

Campus Shuttles Speed Ahead in the Autonomous Vehicle Race

Aarian Marshall:

Which is why campuses are so exciting to people like Alex Rodrigues, a co-founder of Varden Labs. His company, and others producing driverless shuttles like it (there are a few of them), see inroads on university, office, and assisted living campuses where streets are shielded from many of the inconveniences of government oversight.
 Varden Labs got its start on a $35,000 grant, hardly Google money. But since summer 2015, Rodrigues and his team have been tinkering with autonomous golf carts on university campuses—first at the University Waterloo, where they were students, now on a five-college California tour that will take them from Sacramento State to UCLA. Their current model’s name is Alvin. Hello, Alvin:

What would Apple Car look like?

Tariq Rauf:

How would Jony Ive design the Apple Car? What would a unibody car look like? How would Apple translate its signature aesthetic onto a car? For some reason these thoughts crossed my mind and it was interesting to explore. I hadn’t flexed my 3d muscles in ages and I’ve never designed a car – good opportunity to change both those things. I gave it a (very quick) shot.
 Not enough time for process and no research unfortunately, just old school mouse and mind tinkering with a few constraints and design cues taken from their existing products (click for larger image):

Car Makers Hunger for Self-Driving Tech

Mike Ramsey:

parts suppliers have hooked into tech startups in recent years to boost their in-vehicle connectivity and to accelerate autonomous-car development. The Bay Area already is dotted with auto-industry outposts funding or recruiting Silicon Valley engineering talent to keep pace with Alphabet Inc.’s Google X and others working on self-driving cars.
 Carol Reiley, president of Bay Area autonomous-driving startup Drive.ai, said her company, which like Cruise Automation and Zoox has been operating under the radar, just raised $12 million from venture-capital investors.

The Tesla Dividend: Better Internet Access

Susan Crawford :

Tesla updates its autopilot system through pushed software upgrades, which means big downloads by each car. But there’s also a tremendous amount of data being uploaded by the system as each car learns from its experience: The whole point of “deep learning” computing is that computers like those in the Tesla fleet of cars are finding patterns in enormous amounts of data and making predictions based on those patterns. And then spreading that knowledge around the fleet.
 The data ingested and spewed out by these vehicles will become overwhelming at the same time that our desires for immediate, no-delay inputs and outputs from these vehicles will become requirements. And the only way to move all this data around is to have fiber everywhere, in every neighborhood in the country.

Light Traffic

MIT Senseable City Lab:

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETHZ), and the Italian National Research Council (CNR) have developed slot-based intersections that could replace traditional traffic lights, significantly reducing queues and delays. This idea is based on a scenario where sensor-laden vehicles pass through intersections by communicating and remaining at a safe distance from each other, rather than grinding to a halt at traffic lights.

The Immobile Masses: Why Traffic Is Awful and Public Transit Is Worse

Kendra Pierre- Louis:

Last week, San Francisco residents found that their regional rail service, the BART, was experiencing systemwide delays and thwarting commutes. Such service problems aren’t unusual. In response to the news, for example, one rider tweeted, “we’ve come to expect rush-hour equipment problems and train delays from you [BART]. What you’re saying is that today ends with ‘-day’.”
 What was uncommon was the response from @SFBART, the service’s official Twitter account, which happened to be run that day by employee Taylor Huckaby.

German Carmakers Gobbled Up Nokia Maps So No One Else Would Take It

Ina Fried:

We simply wanted to protect that company,” said Klaus Fröhlich, a member of BMW Group’s management board.
 In addition, the three companies — BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz — sought to avoid getting into bed with Google, knowing that the search giant wanted all kinds of personal information in exchange for access to its maps.
 “​We do not want [to do business with] companies who do not accept the privacy of our customers and want to bring their information into their ecosystem,” Fröhlich said.
 By owning Here together, the companies protect their access.

BMW perseveres with i3 in tough environment for EVs

Diana Kurylko:

ago, BMW’s odd-looking i3 has become the No. 3-selling electric vehicle in the U.S. But BMW executives and analysts say the car could be a tough sell in coming months.
 Low gasoline prices, which hurt EV sales in general, are a major reason. But the i3, as the initial vehicle in BMW’s grand plan to become the most sustainable luxury brand in the world, is showing that pioneering in the green space can be tough.
 With the i3, BMW pumped billions into development of a car that not only is emissions-free but assembled using wind power, constructed of carbon fiber that is produced in a plant using hydropower, and has an interior made with recycled materials. The i3 is the smallest of BMW’s family of sustainable cars, with the $140,000-plus i8 plug-in hybrid sports car at the other end. An autonomous car, iNext, is to launch “early in the next decade,” BMW CEO Harald Krueger said last week.

The i3 long bet.

The Road Taken,’ by Henry Petroski

Josh Barro:

Local governments tried endless variations of asphalt and concrete before developing paving surfaces that didn’t produce excess dust or deteriorate quickly under rain and snow. They gradually built longer bridges, learning from earlier designs that worked, and that didn’t. They tried out different paint colors for lane markings, finding the ones that drivers could see best.
 This little-things perspective is needed at a time when America’s infrastructure agenda is simultaneously characterized by grandiose ambitions and limited budgets. Money is tight, and infrastructure needs are going unaddressed. At the same time, despite funding limitations, politicians have a tendency to fall in love with novel, pathbreaking, expensive projects that frequently go astray, resulting in arguments against spending more on infrastructure.
 Petroski devotes one chapter of his book to the new eastern span of the San ­Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, which opened in 2013, nine years late and $5 billion over budget. “With uniqueness also come uncertainties — of complications during design and construction and of cost,” he writes. Replacing an old bridge with seismic problems could have been done fairly easily and cheaply by building a simple viaduct. But politicians wanted a “signature span,” and for a variety of aesthetic reasons they chose to build a single-tower, self-anchored suspension bridge — a relatively rare design. The proposed bridge would be the longest of its kind in the world.

Uber seeking to buy self-driving cars

Edward Taylor and Harro Ten Wolde:

They wanted autonomous cars,” the source, who declined to be named, said. “It seemed like they were shopping around.”
 Loss-making Uber would make drastic savings on its biggest cost — drivers — if it were able to incorporate self-driving cars into its fleet.
 Volkswagen’s Audi (VOWG_p.DE), Daimler’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz, BMW (BMWG.DE) and car industry suppliers Bosch and Continental (CONG.DE) are all working on technologies for autonomous or semi-autonomous cars.

via Svi Rosov.

Questioning electric vehicles green credibility

Jack Stewart:

Electric-car drivers are saving the planet, right? Their vehicles produce none of the pollutants that dinosaur-burning, fossil-fuel-powered machines do. That is the standard view, and governments around the world provide incentives to encourage the uptake of this new technology.
 That is why a Tesla owner got a rude shock when he went to import his vehicle into Singapore — the first person to do so. Instead of an expected rebate of around S$15,000 (US$10,800) he received a fine of the same amount for being a gross polluter. The Tesla Model S is a 100% electric vehicle. It does not have an exhaust to emit from. So what happened?

Automakers Go Back to School to Learn to Build Self-Driving Cars

Jack Clark:

Automakers didn’t build the self-driving car: Google did. That’s a big problem for them. Hoping to catch up, Ford, Toyota, and Volkswagen are betting on academics. Along with Nvidia, Samsung, Qualcomm and Panasonic, they’re each giving $300,000 to the University of California at Berkeley to fund artificial intelligence research.
 The alliance, called DeepDrive, is a rare moment of AI cooperation among car companies, which are racing one another to create the kind of brains that propel Google’s prototype gumdrop-shaped vehicles around Mountain View. It also highlights the new position universities find themselves in. Their AI lab work is in high demand– and corporations don’t want to wait months or years to get their hands on it.

Why That Long-Term Car Loan Could Be Costly

Carla Fried:

There were 17.4 million car sales last year, the most sales since the financial crisis, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Alas, also on the rise is a financially questionable way to pay for the big-ticket purchase.
 More than seven in 10 new cars purchased with a loan last year had a term of more than 60 months, according to Experian Automotive. While five-year loans have long been the most common, car loans lasting six to seven years have grown from 11 percent of the loan market in 2008 to 29 percent last year. The average car loan is now 67 months long. That’s a far cry from how your grandfather financed his Buick; in the early 1970s, car loans averaged less than 36 months.

Detroit’s Next Big Crash


Loaning money at high rates to people who may not be able to repay is a recipe for disaster, as the housing bubble demonstrated. Delinquencies on subprime car loans that have been bundled into bonds have already risen to 4.7 percent, the highest rate since 2010.
 What’s more, automakers have been goosing sales by offering ever-longer loans with lower monthly payments, pushing leases that count as “sales,” and dumping their sedans onto rental car companies and other bulk buyers. Last year, these low-margin fleet sales rose more than 6 percent — helping companies meet the federal goal for overall fuel economy in spite of growing light-truck sales.
 Despite these danger signs, the auto industry can well avoid another meltdown — if it positions itself for the economic headwinds, and for the technological change that stands to radically reshape the car business.

Even When Drivers Become Obsolete, Zenrin Plans to Sell Car Maps

Ma Jie and Masatsugu:

Mapping technology is one of the biggest technical hurdles facing autonomous cars, according to Carlos Ghosn, chief executive officer of Nissan and Renault SA. Unlike traditional maps used in current car navigation, which rely on a pre-installed database, maps for autonomous driving need real-time updates including of traffic conditions and precise road information such as closures and new signs.
 “There’s a huge gap between making current navigation maps and maps for autonomous driving,” said Zenrin President Zenshi Takayama at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo. “It’s like comparing climbing Mount Fuji to climbing Mount Everest.”
 Such efforts are being stepped up as automakers across the world work on the technology to make self-driving cars a reality. As many as 12 million autonomous cars are forecast to be sold globally in 2035, accounting for about 10 percent of total car sales, according to IHS Automotive.
 Zenrin, which is 7.5 percent owned by Toyota, is counting on this new push to be a growth driver as competition erodes revenue from its key businesses such as smartphone map services and car navigation maps. Zenrin posted two consecutive financial-year periods of sales and operating profit declines through March 2015. Its shares rose 1.8 percent to 2,007 yen as of 12:36 p.m. in Tokyo trading, their highest intraday level since Feb. 5. The company’s shares have fallen 19 percent this year, compared with a 11 percent decline in the benchmark Topix index.
 Advanced Technologies
 “No matter how complete your current map database is, you can’t put everything in there, and real-time deep learning capabilities are essential for autonomous driving,” said Zhou Lei, a Tokyo-based partner at Deloitte Tohmatsu Consulting. “In order to compete with rising rivals, especially new entrants like Mobileye, Zenrin also needs advanced computer science technologies.”
 Zenrin intends to develop a system to make three-dimensional maps automatically from the data sets generated from vehicles mounted with various sensing equipment. The aim is a system that will be updated with fresh information, according to Tomoki Yamaguchi, a spokesman at the mapmaker. Zenrin, which is using data collected by equipment from other companies, didn’t give further details of how it plans to gather real-time information.
 “If we just use a monitor car, we will only be able to get the same information as everyone else — we don’t have any advantage,” said Takayama. “You still need the knowhow to turn the data into maps.”
 Zenrin started making tourist guide maps in west Japan’s renowned onsen, or hot springs, town of Beppu in 1948. Over the years, Zenrin moved from making meticulous print maps to digital systems used in car navigation, for which Zenrin has the largest market share in Japan.
 It has about 1,000 field surveyors, such as Fumiaki Kohguchi. On a January afternoon, Kohguchi walked through the streets and alleys of Tokyo’s Bunkyo district noting changes such as new tenants or parking lots. He’s aware of the contribution his work could make to autonomous driving.

John Oliver on encryption

Via Javed Anwer. YouTube.

China’s Baidu Hits the Gas in Race to Develop Driverless Cars

Chuin-Wei Yap:

Chinese Internet search giant Baidu Inc. is investing in a growing collection of patents and stepping up field tests in its quest to develop autonomous cars, a race that pits the company against global technology heavyweights, its Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said on Thursday.

The venture for the driverless vehicles, which can be remotely summoned and directed, relies heavily on artificial intelligence, a strategic direction in which Baidu has invested heavily.

“Artificial intelligence will continue to be an unceasing core for Baidu innovations,” Mr. Li, also Baidu’s chairman, said on the sidelines of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the annual political conclave that advises China’s legislature.

Baidu has applied for many patents in pursuit of the technology and “we will keep applying as the technology is still at an early stage,” he said. The company currently has a few autonomous cars undergoing tests, he said.

Advertising doesn’t work


passed the one-year mark working as a Web Developer at an advertising agency. I’ve learned a lot in that kind of environment, I feel I’ve become slightly more aware of making sure that good code is complimented by good design and more importantly, I’ve learned that a lot of the time, you cannot save a customer from themselves when it comes to what they want vs what is advisable.
 One thing that I haven’t so much learned, as reinforced, is my feeling that advertising is not as effective as everyone would have us believe.
 I’ve watched first hand as marketing campaigns that cost clients huge sums of money have resulted in incredibly poor conversions, or in most cases when it comes to print and physical mediums, have no real way to measure the effectiveness of the campaign ROI at all!

Cars will become ‘personal companions,’

Diana Kuryliko:

The futuristic autonomous, highly connected Vision Next 100 concept car shown last week hints at BMW’s future direction into increased connectivity, says its CEO.
 “At the BMW Group, we are always on a quest for the best solution,” said CEO Harald Krueger. “It is part of our DNA.”
 At its earnings press event on Wednesday, March 16, BMW is expected to announce a major foray into connectivity and digitalization as part of its strategy through 2025.
 “Future mobility will connect every area of people’s lives,” Krueger said. “And that’s where we see new opportunities for premium mobility.”
 Krueger gave only hints of what he’ll present, but said the Vision Next 100 demonstrates the kind of technologies that will be on the road in the next 20 to 30 years.

Honda CEO Shifts Focus to Electric Vehicles

Yoko Kubota:

Honda Motor Co. wants partially or fully electric cars to account for two-thirds of global sales by 2030, its chief executive said, laying out long-term priorities after his inaugural year was dominated by safety issues.

The pledge Wednesday by Honda’s Takahiro Hachigo was the latest sign of the industry’s shift to environmentally friendly cars. The fallout from Volkswagen AG’s diesel-emissions scandal has fueled the trend, with the German giant ramping up plans for electric vehicles.

Vehicles with electrified powertrains account for about 5% of Honda’s sales today, most of them gas-electric hybrids. The company plans to start leasing a fuel-cell sedan in March and sells a limited number of plug-in hybrids and purely electric cars in the U.S. Mr. Hachigo said hybrids and plug-ins would likely account for about half of Honda’s sales in 2030, while the other electric vehicles would take 15%.

VW Toys With Giving Up the U.S. Mass Market, and Dealers Fume

David Welch & Christoph Rauwald:

Diess’s trial balloon underscores how VW is struggling to regain its footing in the wake of the diesel-emissions scandal, which sent sales plummeting. Returning to the days when it was a boutique brand in the U.S. — more like Subaru or Mazda — would be a turnabout by a company that aimed to more than triple sales in the country and overtake Toyota as the world’s largest and most profitable carmaker. It would also be an admission that the VW reputation is so damaged that it simply can’t go head-to-head with the biggest players in the world’s most lucrative market.
 At a minimum, the lofty U.S. sales targets set by former CEO Martin Winterkorn are under review and could be gone. Diess wants to focus on improving pricing and profits with better sport utility vehicles, instead of chasing big numbers, said a person familiar with the matter. Volkswagen hasn’t firmed up a plan to return to the premium price strategy in the U.S., the person said.
 Horn’s Departure
 For the more than 600 VW dealers in the U.S., it would be a disaster, Brown said. “We’ve got to be a real brand — and that means you have to go after sales volume. Anything else will be unacceptable.”
 Volkswagen of American spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan declined to comment on the possible shift in strategy.
 The automaker was caught last year cheating on California and U.S. emissions tests for its four-cylinder diesel engines. Winterkorn resigned, and VW is facing lawsuits and massive fines. It’s yet to come up with a solution to bring its diesel cars into compliance.
 The sudden departure Wednesday of Volkswagen of America Chief Executive Officer Michael Horn — who drove the mass-market push — fueled concerns that a complete shift in U.S. strategy might be gathering steam in Germany, said Brown, co-owner of two VW dealerships in suburban Dallas.
 He said dealers want Volkswagen to stick with its current blueprint, and keep prices low enough for mainstream consumers. Dealers invested a lot in their showrooms and need bigger sales volume to make a profit on their bigger, more expensive stores, he said.
 ‘Severely Damaged’
 The National Automobile Dealers Association said in a statement Thursday the brand has been “severely damaged” and dealerships have been hit hard. “A critical step in this recovery will be for VW to honor the future product plan that Mr. Horn and VW dealers fought vigorously for,” the trade group said.
 When VW was gearing up for its mass-market push, its Passat mid-sized sedan had a base price of around $28,000 — $8,000 more than a like-sized Toyota Camry. VW sold 11,000 Passats in the U.S.; Toyota sold 350,000 Camrys. But Volkswagen hadn’t been looking for big numbers. The emphasis had been on engineering and driving performance, and the sticker prices meant the cars weren’t for everyone.

GM Buying Self-Driving Tech Startup for More Than $1 Billion

Dan Primack & Kirsten Korosec:

Talks between the two companies originally related to a strategic investment by GM in Cruise, which was planning to raise a new round of venture capital funding. But that quickly morphed into an acquisition discussion with the entire agreement getting hashed out in less than six weeks.
 Cruise Automation had raised over $18 million in venture capital funding, most recently at a post-money valuation of around $90 million. Investors include Spark Capital, Maven Ventures, Founder Collective, and Y Combinator.
 The three-year old company is best known for having created an aftermarket “kit” that allows buyers to convert certain types of cars―namely Audi A4 and S4 models―into autonomous vehicles for highway driving. It But GM appears to be more interested in integrating Cruise’s technology into its original manufacturing process.
 General Motors spokesman Kevin Kelly said the company could not comment on the price or the terms of the deal. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter. Cruise Automation will operate as an independent unit within GM and maintain its offices in San Francisco.

Auto Distribution Complexity: The Fiat Case

Cliff Banks:

Dealers also will be able to apply Fiat’s sales numbers toward overall sales goals.
 Dealers not consolidating under one code will receive a reported $1,000 monthly rent assistance.
 (The Automotive News article has substantial details about the changes, and is worth the read).
 Fiat still has to address plunging sales. According to the article, Fiat will begin offering generous stair step incentives to dealers along with reducing vehicle prices. Fiat also will reduce the number of trim levels that are available for the 500L and 500X in an attempt to create wider distance between the two vehicles, which have been cannibalizing sales from each other. Meanwhile, dealers shouldn’t count on the Fiat 124 Spider, due in showrooms in the next couple of months, to help much.
 These are welcomed changes for Fiat dealers, who have been hammered financially after investing in a brand that has never fulfilled its promise. Many dealers have invested more than $1 million in setting up stand alone facilities for the brand.
 In 2010, during a keynote presentation at an AICPA conference in Phoenix, I urged dealers to exercise caution before investing in Marchionne’s vision (I actually said, “If you’re thinking about investing in Fiat, pick up the phone and call a Smart dealer and ask them how smart they are feeling right now.”).
 Historically, brands selling only small vehicles are not sustainable in the U.S. market. Even MINI has had its challenges over the years. Smart never really made a go of it and Scion this year was shut down — which in hindsight, is not a surprise. The fact is, Fiat was never going to be much more than a niche brand in this country.
 Several Chrysler dealers told me after the presentation, they were intrigued by the possibility of getting their hands on the Alfa Romeo brand, which Marchionne was holding out as a carrot to persuade dealers to get on board with Fiat.

BMW and the GPL

Terence Eden:

search shows a BMW Open Source site which is highly active. An email to them, or to BMW’s head office, or their legal team, would have generated a far more useful reply.
 As it happens, someone within BMW contacted me to explain where the Open Source Licences are within the vehicle. I’ll be honest, they are well hidden – and not referenced in the user manual as far as I could see – but they are there.

Within a decade, electric vehicles could be cheaper than gasoline vehicles. Then, watch out.

David Roberts:

First, sales of EVs (BEVs + plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs) will grow to about 41 million in 2040. That will put total EV ownership at about a 25 percent of the global fleet.
 Second, by 2040, EVs will account for 35 percent of new vehicle sales (and rising).
 Third, look what happens to poor plug-in hybrids. They never rise above niche sales and are rather quickly rendered irrelevant by BEVs. I wonder if we’ll even see much development in the PHEV space, with this kind of forecast floating around. Maybe for large commercial vehicles?
 BNEF acknowledges that two things could substantially alter this forecast.
 One is that oil prices could go even lower than expected. Note that BNEF’s forecast is based on the Energy Information Administration’s “low” reference case for oil prices, which has them rising to around $70 per barrel in 2040.

Daimler CEO says digital mapping consortium in expansion talks

Ilona Wissenbach:

The HERE mapping business needs additional investments to make it viable for use as a navigation tool for self-driving cars. Having more carmakers join the consortium will potentially spread the cost across more members and could improve the volume of live traffic information being fed to the map from vehicles on the road.
 Last week carmakers Renault-Nissan (RENA.PA), and supplier Continental (CONG.DE) said they were considering taking a stake in the HERE mapping consortium.
 Intelligent mapping systems like HERE’s are the basis on which self-driving cars, linked to wireless networks, can perform functions such as recalculating a route to the nearest electric charging station or around a traffic jam or accident.

Mexico plant to show off Toyota’s revamped system (NGA)

Dave Guilford:

The new manufacturing strategy is tied in with the Toyota New Global Architecture, which will be used in the next-generation Corolla slated to be the plant’s first vehicle, Leroy said.
 “With this new plant in Mexico, we definitely want to do some things very differently,” he said. “It should not just be a kind of copy-paste of what we did in the past.”
 Although the plant will have new technology, that will not be the main thrust, Leroy said. He said Toyota wants to change the layout and workflow inside the plant with shorter production lines, as well as the flow of part supplies.
 “Because of the concept of the plant and because the product is different, we can assemble the parts in a different condition, which means make the lines shorter, which is also quite good in terms of global competitiveness,” he said.

Via Bertel Schmitt.

Obituary: Aubrey McClendon, 1959-2016

Ed Crooks:

He was passionate about the potential for gas to replace coal for power generation and oil for transport, telling an Oklahoma TV station in 2012: “You can’t really be against hydro-fracking and say you’re an environmentalist, because immediately the default options are fuels that are much less clean than natural gas.”
 At times, he seemed to be trying to transform the US energy industry by sheer force of personality.
 McClendon was born into the Oklahoma oil and gas aristocracy in 1959. His great-uncle was Robert Kerr, the first homegrown governor of the state, and a founder of Kerr-McGee, one of the big names among US independent oil and gas companies until it was bought by Anadarko Petroleum in 2006.

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Face Regulatory Barriers

Alexander Eule:

At least to start, self-dri­ving is go­ing to be a Sun­belt ac­tiv­ity. Tech­nol­ogy still hasn’t mas­tered the view through snow or fog. “The fore­cast for get­ting these cars to drive in bad weather is about as de­pend­able as most weather fore­casts,” Brauer says. He sees short-haul routes in places like Austin, Tex., or Santa Mon­ica, Calif.

US Chamber of Commerce sues Seattle over Uber, Lyft ordinance

By Heather Somerville and Dan Levine:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sued the city of Seattle on Thursday over an ordinance that allows drivers of ride-hailing apps Uber [UBER.UL] and Lyft to unionize, saying it violates federal antitrust laws.
 Seattle last year became the first U.S. city to pass a law giving drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft, as well as taxi and for-hire drivers, the right to collectively negotiate on pay and working conditions.
 City officials took action amid growing concerns about how drivers are compensated. Both Uber and Lyft vigorously opposed the measure, arguing that existing federal labor law trumps local legislation.

Norway’s National Transit Plan Will Spend Almost $1 Billion on New Bike Highways

Feargus O’Sullivan:

Norway has just announced a new tool in its fight against transit emissions: a new network of bike highways.
 As part of a plan announced last week, the country will spend a massive 8 billion Norwegian Kroner ($923 million) creating 10 broad, two-lane, cross-country bike tracks in and near Norway’s nine largest cities, allowing longer-distance cyclists to travel with a speed and safety hitherto impossible. A key component of plans to slash Norway’s transit emissions by half, the bike highway scheme still faces some resistance. Not only is cycling in Norway relatively uncommon by Scandinavian standards, but the new highways will be constructed in a mountainous country that is cold and dark for much of the year.

State of the Automotive Finance Market Fourth Quarter 2015

Melinda Zabritski, Experian:

Modest high risk growth for new financing; used down YOY
 Leasing reaching all-time highs at 28.9% of all new consumer transactions

 Loan amounts continue to grow; with gap between new and used payments rising despite increase in terms

 Rates on new financing have increased in conjunction with growth in high risk originations

  Open balances reach all-time highs with majority of loans/balances in prime+

 30 day down, yet 60 day delinquency creeping up with both percentage of units and dollars on the rise

Hannah Lutz has more.

The Ultimate Driving Machine Prepares for a Driverless World

Brian Dumaine:

This year BMW turns 100, and it’s still roaring like one of its deep-throated V-8 engines. In 2015 it outsold rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi for the 11th straight year, keeping its crown as the largest luxury-car maker in the world. The newly launched 7 Series, which has reclining rear seats, has been wowing the auto press. What could go wrong?
 Well, plenty. If Munich-based BMW wants to stay ahead of the pack, it must figure out how to maneuver through the biggest disruption in transportation since the car displaced the horse-drawn carriage. And that disruption is coming faster than most think. “The next 10 years will bring more change than the last 30,” says Christoph Grote, head of BMW’s advanced technologies group.
 We’re not talking about more horsepower or improved handling. The very essence of the automobile is up for grabs. BMW’s honchos believe that new modes of transportation are needed to reduce traffic and boost safety while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It’s a major transformation that can be divided into three elements: autonomous driving, electrification, and car sharing. “There is an exciting alternative to the auto industry as we’ve known it over the last 100 years,” says Larry Burns, who once ran R&D for GM GM 1.94% and now advises Google GOOGL 3.48% . “A lot of people will no longer be driving themselves in heavy gas-powered vehicles that they own personally, and the industry is going to have to adapt to that.”

The car century was a mistake. It’s time to move on.

J.H. Crawford:

We must first remember that all cities were car-free little more than a century ago. Not all cities responded to the advent of automobiles with the same enthusiasm as the cities of the United States. In fact, some cities never did adopt the car. Venice was unwilling to destroy itself in order to build streets wide enough for cars, and therefore has never had them except in a sliver near the mainland. The same situation exists in the Medina of Fez, Morocco, and several other North African cities. These districts are usually the most vibrant parts of their cities.

Google self-driving cars lack a human’s intuition for what other drivers will do.

Samuel English Anthony:

On Feb. 14, a Google self-driving car attempted to pass a municipal bus in Mountain View, California. The bus did not behave as the autonomous car predicted, and the self-driving car crashed into it while attempting to move back into its lane. The Google car was traveling at the stately speed of 2 mph, and there were no injuries. Google released a statement accepting fault and announcing that it was tweaking its software to avoid this type of collision in the future.
 There is good reason to believe, though, that tweaks to the software might not be enough. What led the Google car astray was the inability to correctly guess out what the bus driver was thinking and then react to it. Google said in its statement:
 Our test driver, who had been watching the bus in the mirror, also expected the bus to slow or stop. And we can imagine the bus driver assumed we were going to stay put. Unfortunately, all these assumptions led us to the same spot in the lane at the same time. This type of misunderstanding happens between human drivers on the road every day.
 Yes, people sometimes misunderstand one another’s intentions on the road. Still, people have an intuitive fluency with this kind of social negotiation. Self-driving cars lack that fluency, and achieving it will be incredibly difficult.
 For the past five years, my collaborators and I in the Vision Sciences Lab at Harvard University have been exploring the differences in capabilities between people and today’s best AIs. My studies have focused on simple tasks, like detecting a face in a still image, where AIs have become reasonably skilled. But I have become increasingly unsettled by the implications of our research for very challenging AI tasks. I am especially concerned by the implications for the extremely challenging task of driving a car. Self-driving cars have enormous promise. The improvements to traffic, safety, and the mobility of the elderly could be dramatic. But no matter how capable the AI, humans just behave differently.

Toyota Plans Organizational Shake-Up

Yoko Kubota:

Toyota Motor Corp. is preparing to reorganize the company around product classes in a shift from a regional orientation after topping global sales of more than 10 million vehicles in each of the past two years.

Toyota will outline the changes before its fiscal year ends in March. The plan, said people familiar with the situation, is to make the car maker more nimble in the face of challenges due to its sheer size.

President Akio Toyoda wants to reorganize the company into units focused on vehicle size and type, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. One unit might be in charge of Toyota’s compact-car business, while another might handle sedans. Other units could focus on commercial vehicles or additional business segments.

Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai declined to comment.

Most Americans fear riding in autonomous vehicle

Paul Eisenstein:

Three-quarters of Americans say they would be “afraid” to ride in an autonomous vehicle, according to a new AAA study, yet nearly two-thirds also say they want some of the basic technologies needed to make self-driving cars work.
 If anything, familiarity brings comfort. Those who drive a vehicle with features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist are more likely to feel comfortable with the idea of letting a car do the driving.
 “With the rapid advancement towards autonomous vehicles, American drivers may be hesitant to give up full control,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “What Americans may not realize is that the building blocks towards self-driving cars are already in today’s vehicles and the technology is constantly improving and well-trusted by those who have experienced it.”