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News, knowledge, and insights for the automotive industry.

Autonomous Shuttles Make First Foray onto Detroit Streets

And they’re not products of the Detroit Three. Two self-driving electric shuttles, developed by Ann Arbor-based startup May Mobility, were the first commercial autonomous shuttles to ferry passengers within the city of Detroit. May Mobility partnered with one of the city’s biggest investors to expedite getting the shuttles on the street. The Polaris Gem E6 shuttles gave passengers a lift from 8-10pm on a low-traffic street, following a loop just under a mile long. The future is arriving.

Golden State Prepares for Golden Era of Driverless Cars

California is getting ready for a Flintstones-Jetsons-like change. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles recently published proposed rules to regulate self-driving cars once “everyday people” eventually use the technology. While most companies say autonomous cars for personal use are several years away, the rules also address testing requirements, rolling out prototypes without steering wheels or pedals, and more. The rules for public access were originally due more than two years ago, but technological developments and federal regulatory interest delayed California’s publication.

China Hastens the World Toward an Electric-Car Future

The biggest automakers in the world are being forced to follow Beijing’s lead as China takes steps to dominate in electric vehicles and technology. To read the story from the New York Times click here.

GM’s Self-Driving Party Levels Up with Strobe Lasers

While we don’t believe GM is getting into the nightclub industry, anything is possible. The automaker just announced the acquisition of Strobe, a startup that does actually make lasers. However, these are not paired with disco balls and electronic music. Instead, Strobe’s lidar, or laser-based imaging technology, uses a pulsed laser sensor to measure the distance between objects and instruct autonomous navigation systems. Acquiring Strobe is expected to dramatically reduce the cost of each lidar on GM’s self-driving cars and eventually lower the bottom line for the full car.

In Age of Autonomous Vehicles, Talking Cars Reassure Drivers

Oh the humanity! According to the results of a recent psychological study on possible human reactions to autonomous cars, the subjects were four times as likely to trust a self-driving car with a human name and voice. Enter Iris, who gave the study, and the future of mindless driving machines, a genuine human voice. As noted by researcher Nicholas Epley, the voice allowed riders to infer the presence of a mind controlling the car, rather than code and sensors, and to relax physiologically. Herbie (and Alexa and Siri), looks like you’ve got competition.

Follow the Money to Find In-House, External Fraud

Automotive practice group chair Aaron Jacoby recently spoke with Automotive News about how fraud is becoming more sophisticated, organized, and difficult to track for dealerships and lenders. Aaron talked about how he believes one of the most efficient ways for a dealership to find an in-house fraudster is to follow the money. “The first step is to inspect general revenue cash flow from finance and insurance.

Musk, Maria, and the Model 3 Delay Big Rig Debut

Change of plans, Tesla followers – the Semi ain’t ready. Rather than releasing the Tesla Semi in late October, Elon Musk is rescheduling the unveiling to mid-November in an effort to allocate more resources to Model 3 production and battery crews to benefit Puerto Rico. The Model 3 is “deep in production hell” according to Musk, and as the company aims to become more of a mass market producer, it has struggled to churn out enough Model 3s to meet the enthusiastic demand.

Uber’s New Bootcamp Isn’t for Drivers

So if they’re phasing out drivers, is the car going to give us a passenger rating? A behind-the-scenes look at Uber’s autonomous vehicle training facility in Pittsburgh reveals a lineup of Ford Fusions and Volvo XC90s learning how to respond to different driving situations and dangers. The studious cars, with a safety driver ready to take over if needed, practice over varying physical conditions, traffic patterns, and rogue obstacles throughout the course. They’re still working on their ratings.

Prospective Buyers Find Electric Car Charge Times ‘Traumatic’

Take time to stop and smell the gas emission-less roses. While manufacturers are installing more charging points across the US and technological improvements are making the process faster, “charging time trauma” is the new top reason why car buyers avoid electric cars. “Range anxiety,” it appears, has moved to second place. While right now it may sound simpler to swing by your local gas station for a few minutes rather than waiting hours for a charge, several companies are taking major steps to invest in speeding up the process and bringing electric cars to the mainstream.

Dashboard Tech Smorgasbord Distracts Drivers

We can go back to the car phone and the 8-track, just leave the GPS please. A new study by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the latest high-tech driver dashboards are doing everything but allowing for safe driving. Drivers of the latest vehicles are taking their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for “dangerously long periods of time” according to the study. Options range from allowing drivers to use social media, email, and text while driving to manning touch screens, voice commands, writing pads, displays on windshields and mirrors, and 3D images.