Unlike Tesla’s autopilot, Volvo says, the Ride Pilot will be able to navigate highways without driver supervision, which means “you can eat, you can watch a movie, you can read a book” behind the wheel, according to Martin Christenson, head of navigation and driving. Autobiography at Volvo Cars. (Drivers are strongly advised to resist the urge to take a nap.) The company plans to roll out the feature first in California, where generally nice weather makes the technology easier to operate, and where executives hope it will be given approval by state regulators. It is legal in nature. The Swedish automaker has also signed partnerships with Chinese AV developer Didi and US companies Aurora and Waymo to provide vehicles for its fleet of autonomous trucks and trucks.
Personalization – not sharing – seems to be the name of the auto industry game. BMW has touted a color-changing paint (albeit limited to a dreary white-black-gray palette) that might allow customers to change the look of their car on a whim. Stellantis, Chrysler’s parent company, has announced a new partnership with Amazon, complete with a “SmartCockpit” project to seamlessly integrate cars with the “digital lives of customers” — bringing your Alexa experience to the drivers seat.
Christensen, a Volvo executive, says. For this reason, the automaker also announced on Wednesday that it will begin offering a YouTube app on consoles in some cars.
Some of the biggest names in autonomous technology continue to invest in the robot hub. Lyft and self-driving car technology developer Motional say they will launch a fully self-driving driving service in Las Vegas next year. Waymo is operating a fleet of self-driving SUVs in Phoenix and is testing a similar service in San Francisco. Zoox, which was acquired by Amazon last year, previewed a vehicle for a shared taxi ride. AV software company Aurora says it will work with Uber and Toyota to operate a fleet of utility vehicles. But most of these companies have diversified money-making strategies as well, by building programs for autonomous trucks or truck fleets.
The changes matter because the world of self-driving personal cars looks very different from a world with shared fleets. If people can sleep, nap, take meetings, answer emails, or listen to lectures in their designated travel cabins, they may choose to live far from work or school, leading to more urban sprawl. Building sprawling housing, workplace and retail spaces, rather than denser housing, workplaces and retail, could increase emissions and reduce energy efficiency — an unfortunate turn of events as climate change dents our collective backs.
However, the idea of a self-driving personal car is attractive to many. At least GM thinks so. The Cadillac car maker on Wednesday launched its latest concept car, called the InnerSpace, a luxury two-passenger electric vehicle that “redefines how passengers use their time while traveling, creating a space for comfort and convenience,” the company said in a press release. Which of course leads to a question: solace and comfort for whom?
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