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WEEKEND READS

A mandate on its deathbed, flying Ubers, Las Vegas' driverless crash

R.I.P V2V mandate?

Reports indicate that the Trump administration is scrapping the proposed vehicle-to-vehicle communication mandate for new cars. If true, the surprising move could significantly alter the development of "talking cars" and show just how extensively an administration with an anti-regulation zeal can stymie even industry-supported regulatory action.

Government technology mandates have a messy history. While early lifesaving measures forced carmakers to include safety belts and airbags, other mandates resulted in public backlash. As we explored in this episode of "Futurismo," if a mandate arrives before a technology is mature, it could turn into a disaster.

But the V2V mandate is different. Carmakers have spent a decade establishing protocols for dedicated short-range communications so competing-brand vehicles can talk to each other. Governments have started installing DSRC receivers on highways. The first V2V-enabled vehicles have hit the market.

At the close of 2016, a concerted effort from advocates of 5G cellular service who believe a DSRC-based mandate would be insufficient and hinder development of a more robust solution began gaining steam. What's more, a strident anti-regulatory president is in power. While connected cars may not be a hot-button political issue, the mandate's relevance to the big government vs. small government debate puts it in line with other regulations targeted by the administration, including fuel economy mandates and trade deals.

This development wouldn't stop the rollout of V2V technology in cars, but it would significantly complicate standardization across lineups. Connected-car advocates may have to take the battle directly to carmakers to encourage the adoption of this technology and hope that consumers catch on without the helping hand of Uncle Sam.

 Shiraz Ahmed

 

Krafcik at Web Summit Photo credit: Screen grab

What you need to know

Another one for the record books Waymo marked a major milestone in the deployment of self-driving cars when it announced Tuesday that it has been testing autonomous vehicles without a driver in Phoenix since mid-October. At the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said the company's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans could run within a geofenced portion of Phoenix without human supervision — the first fleetwide operation of Level 4 autonomous vehicles on public roads.

Krafcik also said Waymo would offer driverless rides to Phoenix residents within the next few months, easing into a commercial self-driving ride-hailing service.

In October 2015, Waymo, then still a part of Google, was the first to operate a completely driverless ride when Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, took a solo ride in a Firefly vehicle without driving controls in Austin, Texas.

Get comfortable, Model 3 reservation holders Reports from Jalopnik and Financial Times include more details on Tesla's struggle to ramp up production of the Model 3, including major delays with suppliers, employee-owned production vehicles breaking down, harsh working conditions in the Fremont, Calif., factory and parts of cars being assembled at Tesla retail sites after they had shipped from the factory. It also was reported that Tesla's head of battery engineering has left the company.

However, the electric automaker isn't done vertically integrating, acquiring one of its suppliers of automated manufacturing equipment.

A lawsuit waging with Dyson for two years also became public this week, over an employee who worked on the vacuum-maker's secretive car project and moved to Tesla.

Photo credit: Uber

Up in the air Another buzz-worthy announcement was made at the Web Summit this week when Uber's head of product, Jeff Holden, gave more details on the ride-hailing giant's flying car project. The first crafts will launch in Dallas, Dubai and Los Angeles by 2020, according to Holden, and the company is one of several that have signed an agreement with NASA to create an air-traffic-control system.

This child may one day conduct a self-driving vehicle.

Fragments

Your next job could be self-driving shuttle conductor. 

Tesla dips a toe into insurance.

Ford-owned ride-sharing startup Chariot pays $50,000 to settle disability discrimination complaint.

A French startup is throwing its hat into the self-driving ring with this $290,000 robo-shuttle.

Elon Musk talks tech with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

The New York Times Magazine devotes an issue to a deep dive into the future of autonomous vehicles.

Ford CEO Jim Hackett to keynote the CES tech conference.

Photo credit: Screen grab

Obstacles ahead

This Las Vegas driverless shuttle's maiden voyage was thwarted by a truck-size iceberg. Here's a first-hand account of what happened. 

You can reach Shiraz Ahmed at sahmed@crain.com
Tags: Mobility

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