June 3, 2019

The Automotive Analyst, June 2019

What the Postal Service’s Pilot with TuSimple Means for Autonomous Long-Haul Transport The way that we ship and receive products, packages, and even mail is changing. Turn on the TV and you’ve probably seen FedEx’s ads for their new autonomous package-delivering robots. Amazon has been piloting Prime Air, a drone service that delivers packages to purchasers in 30 minutes or less. Advancing autonomous technology is already revolutionizing delivery services and the United States Postal Service (USPS) is the latest business to get in on this promising potential. The USPS has partnered with TuSimple, an autonomous vehicle provider, and is running a pilot using autonomous trucks to ship mail between cities. This is the first time that the USPS has partnered with an autonomous vehicle provider and this pilot could transform long-haul transport throughout the entire country. The USPS-TuSimple Pilot The two-week pilot will test the performance of TuSimple trucks on long-haul trips between USPS distribution centers in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas. Typically, USPS freight trailers carry mail and packages on the trip of over 1,000 miles, transporting bulk mail between distribution centers rather than providing the door-to-door delivery of smaller USPS vehicles. During the test, trucks will travel major […]
July 5, 2018

The Automotive Analyst, Summer 2018

On connectivity What if we’re going about things all wrong? There are all sorts of opinions about how many millions or billions of miles autonomous vehicles need to drive before they’re ready for prime time, but we should never lose sight of the fact that mankind has an uncanny knack for devising new ways to gum up the works. What if it doesn’t matter how many test miles are driven? We may never get to a point where everybody agrees that it’s time to release the AVs into the wild, so maybe programming an AV to be able to handle every scenario under the sun is the wrong goal. Maybe a better way is to focus on building out the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) infrastructure so that the first vehicle in the line to encounter the thing that’s never been encountered before can tell all of the vehicles behind it to STOP NOW. Could the ability to communicate, whether it’s Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V), Vehicle-to-Network (V2N), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) or Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P), be the most important advancement in the path to autonomy? Horns, the original V2V communicator Do you remember your driving test administrator asking you to demonstrate that you know how to operate the […]
February 9, 2018

The Automotive Analyst, February 2018

Peering into the Autonomous Future Hopefully you’ve gotten used to writing “2018” by now, or typing it at least. We thought it might be fun to take a moment and reflect on some automotive topics, trends and technologies we think will be important this year but that we may or may not quite understand and try to make sense of them. No headline-grabbing here, just some clear, honest straight talk, in no particular order. Autonomous cars will be here any day now! Or sooner, or possibly later…but wait, they’re already here! Does anybody pay attention to predictions anymore? There are some great roundups here, here and here. The variance of the predictors raises more than a few questions, including, but not limited to: should there be a penalty for overestimating? Who’s being sincere and who’s head faking? And what exactly are they predicting? Ahh, what does “autonomous” mean? There’s a cornucopia of “autonomous” features available today, including automatic braking, lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control, and auto-parking to name a few that automate certain tasks but you can’t check out and take a nap yet. For that you need a “self-driving” vehicle, which is what it sounds like: a vehicle that drives […]
August 28, 2017

The Aftermarket Analyst, August 2017

To Level 3 or not to Level 3 Audi’s recent announcement that its 2019 A8 sedan would have a Level 3 automated driving system gave new legs to the debate over whether Level 3 vehicles are safer than Level 1 or 2 vehicles. Some say we skip Level 3 altogether and move straight to Level 4 and 5 while others say it’s the logical next step. Just like many topics we encounter on the road to autonomy, the answer isn’t clear cut. SAE J3016 Back in January 2014, SAE International, the organization of aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industry engineers, issued a set of definitions classifying six stages of autonomy (see their chart below). The U.S. Department of Transportation defined autonomy in five stages for a while but thankfully scrapped it in October 2016 and adopted the SAE standards. Think F40, a “bugeye” Sprite or even most lower-end cars today and you have Level 0. In the Levels 1 and 2, the driver remains in control of the vehicle, but the vehicle can assist or perform some tasks like warn you when you change lanes without signaling or maintain a safe cruising distance. In Levels 4 and 5, the vehicle can […]