Waymo is one of the biggest players in the self-driving development race, but it’s not equipped to service its rapidly growing number of driverless vehicles. As the Google spinoff increases operations beyond its limited pilot programs in California, Arizona, and Michigan, it’ll need some help maintaining its fleet of autonomous vehicles. Today, the driverless car company announced a multi-year service agreement with national automotive retailer AutoNation, which will provide maintenance and repair support to extend Waymo’s vehicle lifecycles. AutoNation will initially be tasked with servicing Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica minivans, but the agreement clearly states that the companies expect the fleet to grow. More automotive partners could add Waymo’s platform to their vehicles, and AutoNation’s new and used car dealerships across the U.S. will make expansion an even easier process for Waymo
The Woz,” who drives a Tesla Model S, is concerned some people are mistaking Tesla’s current Autopilot system as a completely capable self-driving program. In reality, Tesla’s Autopilot feature is classified by the federal government as a “level two” autonomous driving system, which means the car is only partially automated, meaning it will steer itself, accelerate, and decelerate — but the driver must always be prepared to take control of the vehicle.
Human error causes 94 percent of vehicle crashes, and each year, traffic accidents lead to 1.25 million deaths worldwide. The simple danger of conventional vehicles has inspired politicians on both sides of the aisle, veteran automakers and transportation startups, and thought leaders such as Elon Musk and Neil deGrasse Tyson to support the development of autonomous vehicles. These vehicles have the potential to save more than a million lives every year, according to Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Research Institute.But tragic as they may be, traffic accidents have a silver lining: They give others a second chance at life.Right now, more than 116,000 Americans are waiting for an organ. In 2016, 82 percent of donated organs came from deceased donors — people for whom all brain activity has ceased, but who had many of their organs still intact (the rest of the donated organs come from living donors who continue to live healthy lives after donating an organ like a kidney or liver). Of those deceased donors, 13.6 percent had died in a motor vehicle accidents making motor vehicle accidents one of the largest contributors to organ donations, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
In the mid-term, the right path must acknowledge that autonomy isn’t binary, but a continuum. Between now and ubiquitous Level 4+, myriad semi-autonomous technologies yet to be seen will hit our streets, and they aren’t Level 3 as popularly defined. Sorry, but Level 3 as we know it is not the bridge to 4, and anyone developing, deploying or marketing 3 as such is missing a multi-decade opportunity. Augmented driving, currently touted publicly only by Toyota’s Research Institute (TRI), is the ONLY method of attracting the current and next two generations of drivers to any form of autonomy. (TRI’s Gil Pratt podcast interview here).
This amazing community has over 4,000 residents, 15 miles of challenging road, and tons of points of interest. Residents can summon one of three Voyage self-driving cars, and travel effortlessly and autonomously around the community.
“We’ve been thinking about that right from the start,” said Jim McBride, Ford’s technical leader for autonomous vehicles. “We had to prioritize which problems come first.”Ford tested self-driving Fusions in the snow last winter at Mcity, a 32-acre closed course in Ann Arbor. The automaker said then that the test vehicles’ 3-D maps helped the cars “see” when their suite of sensors, cameras, radar and lidar systems could not.Autonomous vehicles use a series of redundant systems to navigate roadways. Developers vary on which sensor, camera or mapping program is the dominant driver of the vehicle, but each of the systems supplement the others. In inclement weather, one of those systems could be negatively impacted — a camera could be caked in ice, for example.