In April 2023, NYC Mayor Adams unveiled new 400-lb robo-cops, intended to revamp NYPD’s police force. San Francisco and other cities are following suit. The race to introduce robocops could be because real cops have had several issues dealing with self-driving cars. For example, in April 2022, SFO police had to pull over GM’s self-driving Cruise several times because it did not have headlights on, then would not wait for the cops, and continued driving until it was pulled over again. Then in 2023, SFO firefighters voiced their serious complaints to the State about self-driving cars, after they had to break the window of a self-driving car that would not move to let the fire engines reach its destination. Perhaps the Mayors of NYC and SFO and the makers of self-driving cars, believe that robocops could be programmed to send them only appreciation letters, that is why they are replacing the police force with robocops.
To celebrate this year’s solstice, Ford CEO James Farley said, “Ford makes trucks for real people who do real work.” Farley expects that Ford’s EV pickup Ford Lightning F-150 will be more popular than Tesla’s EV pickup Cybertruck, which is expected to be popular only among “Silicon Valley people.” It is interesting that both trucks have the same starting price, yet Ford boasts of an intelligent battery backup system.
One hundred years ago the most popular vehicle was a pickup. Many people lived and worked on farms, and needed vehicles for hauling farming equipment and materials. Carrying people was secondary.
Today there are a considerable number of electric pickup brands:
- Ford F-150 Lightning
- Chevrolet Silverado EV
- GMC Sierra EV
- GMC Hummer EV
- Tesla Cybertruck
- Toyota Tacoma EV
- Rivian R1T
- Canoo Pickup Truck
- Lordstown Endurance
The US pickup truck market is so popular that Nissan plans future EV pickups and Volkswagen is seriously looking into entering the electric pickup truck market.
Stagecoach and Starship Technologies today lobbied the UK Parliament’s Transport Committee to introduce regulations to make autonomous vehicles safer. Stagecoach is working on autonomous buses, and Starship is introducing autonomous delivery robots. Warwick University’s Manufacturing Group, a leading university in engineering and manufacturing design, joined the companies. The companies advocate that safety measures will help protect the public and the companies who work in this field.
Autonomous cars will benefit from high dynamic range (HDR) cameras because these cameras use AI-based chips that process data better in low and high-field vision. This image from Silicon Valley’s Ambarella AI chip maker shows how HDR chips help autonomous cars better detect objects at tunnel entrances and exits. The Norwegian company Zivid is one of the leading companies for HDR computer vision. Lucid Motors which makes high-end electric vehicles uses some of the best HDR cameras on the market.
Silicon Valley’s Ambarella chips will be used to power the vision and intelligence of German cars. Germany’s Conti (who create the future in motion and whose parts are widely used in Bentley and other major car brands) signed an agreement in January 2023 with Ambarella to use its AI-based chips to create hardware for autonomous cars. Ambarella’s chips lead in the new chip trend of ‘system on a chip’ or SoC which combines multiple CPUs on one logic board. Conti uses this technology in its AEye’s 4Sight Intelligent Sensing Platform.
The autonomous vehicle chip market is forecast to reach $29 Billion by 2030. Chips for autonomous vehicles fall into four categories: traditional automotive microcontrollers (emission control, antilock brakes); wireless chips that connect the cars to the Internet; vision sensors that “see” the road; processor chips that use AI and include the autonomous vehicle’s “brain.”
Some leading chip makers for autonomous cars include Mobileye (Intel), NVIDIA, NXP (Netherlands), Renesas (Tokyo, Japan), Qualcomm, TI, Infineon (Milpitas, CA), STMicro (India), and Xilinx (now part of AMD).
Volkswagen has been using NVIDIA Drive IX Technology since 2018. Baidu’s Apollo Go Robotaxi service uses Baidu’s second-generation Kunlun II AI chip. Samsung is developing special chips for Google’s Waymo.
Baidu, known as China’s Google (NASDAQ: BIDU), developed Apollo Go Robotaxi, the first autonomous taxi to get permits in China. The service is based on 5G technology, which companies say ensures the safety and reliability of autonomous vehicles. Apollo Go has operated without a safety driver since 2021 in 10 Chinese cities, including Bejing and Wuhan. The service started on August 8, 2022, reached a milestone of 1.4 million rides early in 2023 and is expected to add more cities. Like Google’s Waymo autonomous taxi service, Apollo Go uses AI for maps and driving algorithms. Waymo operates in San Francisco and Phoenix and will add Los Angeles in 2023.
With the rise of self-driving vehicles, it’s only a matter of time until there’s a country where the guy’s truck leaves him.
Uber bought self-driving San Francisco startup Otto in 2015; in 2016 Otto made the first-ever autonomous beer delivery.
BMW’s CEO Oliver Zipse introduced their new “BMW i Vision Dee” EV sports sedan, a car that transitions colors between 32 colors including white, green, blue, pink, yellow, and purple. The car uses an E-ink which is used in the e-readers of Kindle; the body of the car is divided into microcapsules that contain the color pigments. The color settings are changed based on applying an electric field; each color is simulated by an electric field. “Dee” stands for ‘digital emotional experience’ and underscores the growing bond between humans and machines. BMW designers believe that there will be a fusion between virtual experience and driving. This video shows how the car changes colors.