Jul 10, 2019

Cities help AVs decipher local rules of the road

Photo: Bob Chamberlin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Some forward-looking cities are starting to digitize their traffic rules to help self-driving cars navigate local roadways.

Why it matters: Automated test vehicles are getting better at operating in complex traffic environments, but street signs and lane stripes are an inefficient way to communicate rules to a 21st century vehicle, says Avery Ash, head of autonomous mobility at INRIX, a transportation data company.

  • AVs depend on sensors and human-assisted machine learning to understand traffic rules, but something as simple as an obscured stop sign can be confusing to an AV.

What's happening: INRIX created a software tool that lets cities or road authorities build a digital representation of their local traffic rules and then share that catalog with AV developers and operators so they can train their self-driving vehicles.

  • 11 cities and road authorities — including Austin, Boston, Detroit and Miami — have signed on to use INRIX Road Rules since its introduction in 2018.
  • 4 AV companies — Jaguar Land Rover, May Mobility, nuTonomy and Renovo — are using those digital rules to program their self-driving systems.
  • The latest version also helps cities create a digital catalog of things like loading zones and parking restrictions for ride-hailing companies, dockless bike/scooter zones, and city infrastructure like fire hydrants and EV charging stations.

The bottom line: Mobility solutions are unique to every city. It's important for the public and private sectors to share critical information about the local rules of the road.

Go deeper

Women are less trusting of self-driving cars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Women are less enthusiastic than men about the prospect of driverless cars. Until researchers understand why, it will be difficult for autonomous vehicle developers to win their trust.

Why it matters: AVs are supposed to bring fewer traffic deaths and improved access to transportation, but only if people trust them. To deliver on those promises, AV companies need to consider women's concerns about the technology, which could be exacerbated by worries about personal safety and a lack of accountability when there is no driver present.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019

Ford dives further into urban transit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ford is starting to position itself as more than a manufacturer of cars and trucks. It also wants to be an orchestrator of urban transit, helping cities move people efficiently from A to B.

The big picture: Legacy automakers are scrambling to reinvent themselves in the face of disruptive technologies like automated vehicles and car-sharing. Ford is trying to take a more holistic approach than others, partnering with urban planners to address their cities' current transportation problems while laying the technology foundation for tomorrow's AVs.

Go deeperArrowJul 31, 2019

Autonomous vehicles are taking a back seat to their electric peers

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Automakers are beginning to make strategic tradeoffs between investing in electric vehicles or self-driving car technology because they can't afford to do both.

Why it matters: Investors reward autonomous vehicle developers with higher valuations, but it'll be years — maybe decades — before the technology is ready and it's not clear the public even wants them. People aren't clamoring for electric vehicles, either, but to meet looming emissions standards, carmakers will need them.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019