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Expert Voices contributor Ro Gupta weighs in on the struggle to define and verify AV safety standards.
Today's issue is dedicated to the automotive enthusiasts from around the world who are convening in Monterey, California, this week for events leading up to Sunday's famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, arguably the epicenter of the motoring universe.
Photo: Kian Eriksen/Total 911 Magazine/Future via Getty Images
Carmageddon is upon us: Before we know it, robocars will be ubiquitous and crowd out human-driven cars.
After all, Elon Musk has said that buying anything other than a Tesla that can drive itself will be as financially insane as owning a horse. But horses survived, and driving will too.
Reality check: Automated vehicles will change our lives and our cities — hopefully for the better by reducing traffic fatalities and making it easier to move from A to B.
What's happening: Taking a realistic look at the industry, most experts say...
Key stat: Americans spend nearly an hour each day behind the wheel, traveling 220 miles per week in 2017, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
But "commuting is not driving," argues McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, which insures collector cars and boats and who will forever be a driver. "It's almost a different act."
"Never Stop Driving," a book for which Hagerty wrote the epilogue, is an antidote for the autonomous era.
Between the lines: Digital music didn't kill vinyl records, and automation won't kill driving, Hagerty adds.
Mazda MX-5 Miata. Photo: Mazda
Speaking of "Never Stop Driving," the book's stunning photos alone will stir your desire to go out for a ride.
Details: One of my favorite chapters is called "My Last Drive."
What they're saying: Here are some excerpts...
My thought bubble: My final drive would be in a Mazda Miata, with the top down and my husband by my side. I'd drive along the water somewhere — perhaps M-22 along the gorgeous coast of Lake Michigan or California's Pacific Coast Highway.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
AV companies are wrestling with how to define and set safety standards, and at a recent symposium, a possible path emerged — even if the industry hasn't reached a consensus, Ro Gupta writes for Axios Expert Voices.
The big picture: NHTSA's voluntary safety self-assessment guidance applies to AV companies — but there are no mandatory safety standards and any future standards will have to define "safe enough" and also verify safety to earn public trust.
What they're saying: During the keynote presentations at the Autonomous Vehicle Symposium in Orlando in July, AV companies promoted their efforts on safety.
But, but, but: There was no consensus on how to define — let alone verify — safety. Verifying safety is just as difficult as defining it.
Where it stands: AV companies typically assert the safety of their tech, trust it will perform as intended in road tests, and verify safety claims by reporting crashes and disengagement of the autonomous driving software.
What's needed: A more comprehensive safety method would be for regulators and insurers to verify safety practices before the tech is tested in public environments.
Gupta is the CEO of Carmera, which makes HD maps for AVs.
Hauling: UPS joins self-driving race by investing in autonomous tech startup TuSimple (Alan Ohnsman — Forbes)
Flying: Old gyrocopters could be the funky flying cars of the future (Eric Adams — Wired)
Velodyne lawsuit: The world's leader in self-driving lidar technology is suing two Chinese companies over IP (Echo Huang — Quartz)
Lexus UX. Photo: Lexus
This week I'm driving the 2019 Lexus UX 250h F-Sport, an entry-level Lexus with awfully big ambitions.
Details: The UX (urban crossover) is aimed at millennials looking for adventure in the city. It tries to be both sporty and efficient, and affordable yet luxurious. Though labeled a crossover, it's really just a hatchback.
What's new: The UX hybrid has some nifty superpowers that allow it to see into the future to maximize efficiency — a skill Lexus claims is an industry first.
How it works: Per Lexus, the car can optimize charging and discharging of the hybrid battery by working with the navigation system and the driver's habits.
Plus, safety tech is standard on the UX, including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and front- and rear-collision mitigation systems.
My thought bubble: While impressed by the car's smarts and focus on safety, I think the UX is too cramped and its infotainment system too complicated to get me to fork over $40,000.