Time Warp (Mike Gambino, 2011)

Autonomous Vehicles: Slow Down to Go Faster

By | Automotive | 2 Comments

Reprioritization of Autonomous Vehicles Development is Needed

Everyone is in the self-driving car race. Google has been developing autonomous driving capabilities since 2009 and continues to demonstrate incremental improvement in its autonomous driving technology since. By 2012, Google’s fleet has logged 300,000 self-driven miles. Tesla’s AutoPilot, another household name on the driverless car stage, has logged nearly 250 million miles of hands-free driving. Delphi’s Roadrunner completed a nearly 3,400-mile cross-country trip, 98% of it in self-driving mode.

Fearing the perception of falling behind in the race to take the checkered flag, practically all major automakers and suppliers are investing heavily in self-driving technologies and are very vocal telling their own bold vision of crash-free, stress-free traffic. And if you are a car executive who doesn’t dream big enough, you are out! Read More

Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé (1954) (Andy Warhol, 1986)

Tesla: Making Cars is Hard to Do

By | Automotive, Manufacturing | 4 Comments

Tesla Struggles to Ramp Up Manufacturing Volume, With Unintended Consequences

Ramping up an auto manufacturing line is difficult. For a newcomer, reaching efficient and lean operation at the level of Toyota and GM is extremely challenging. And, as I pointed out in the past, Tesla’s ongoing manufacturing woes are a painful proof.

In 2010, Tesla acquired the Fremont, CA NUMMI manufacturing plant previously owned jointly by General Motors and Toyota for a $42 million bargain basement deal. When I visited the Fremont plant a while ago, my host was especially proud of the junkyard price the company paid for two huge Schuler hydraulic stamping presses, which form the largest line in North America and the 6th largest in the world.

What Tesla didn’t get as part of the deal is knowledge and experience in complex manufacturing. Read More

At The Optometrist (Norman Rockwell, 1956)

OpenText Acquires Covisint: A Telltale of the IoT M&A Market

By | Automotive, Internet of Things, M&A | No Comments

In an announcement that failed to get headlines, OpenText, a Canadian enterprise information management (EIM) company,  recently disclosed it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Covisint Corporation, best known as the enterprise data interchange (EDI) company whose name nobody was sure how to pronounce.

Covisint was formed in 2000 by a consortium of automotive companies, including General Motors, Ford, and DaimlerChrysler. Over the years, the company expanded its EDI platform and services into the healthcare, oil and gas, government, and financial services markets. Read More

Autocars Sabra

Smart Mobility in the Startup Nation

By | Automotive | No Comments

From the Sussita to Billion-Dollar Megadeals

You do not need to be intimately vested in the automotive industry to have heard about megadeals involving Israeli automotive technology startups.

On June 11, 2013, Google completed the acquisition of navigation software company Waze for a reported $1.3 billion. As part of the deal, each of Waze’s 100 employees was to receive an average of about $1.2 million, which is the largest payout to employees in the history of Israeli high tech.

On March 13, 2017, Intel announced a mammoth $15.3 billion deal to acquire Mobileye, a provider of vision technology used in vehicle active safety applications and autonomous driving. The deal price was a 34% premium over where Mobileye’s shares were trading at the time of the deal. Intel also announced it was moving its automotive R&D unit to Israel. Read More

Philosopher Illuminated by the Light of the Moon and the Setting Sun

Ethical and Societal Implications of Automated Vehicles

By | Automotive | No Comments

(The following is the transcript of my opening remarks at the Ethical and Societal Implications of Automated Vehicles Panel at the Autonomous Vehicle Symposium.)

Whenever we discuss autonomous vehicles: what are the desired behavioral models?  how can we design them to make the right decisions?  we place the car at the center of the problem definition: can it avoid crashing?  can it be programmed to make “ethical” decisions?  what if it doesn’t follow “ethics” rules?  what happens when two autonomous cars on a collision-course obey conflicting decision rules?

The recent incidents involving Tesla’s cars operating semi-autonomously in Autopilot mode led to renewed interest and, not surprisingly, concerns about the technology. Tesla’s public response was to explain the technical reasons the car failed to detect and avoid a fatal collision; again, putting the car at the center of the argument.
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