Some people have wondered about my forecast in the spreadsheet on robotaxi economics about the very low parking costs I have predicted. I wrote about most of the reasons for this in my 2007 essay on Robocar Parking, but let me expand and add some modern notes here.
The long awaited list of recommendations and potential regulations for robocars has just been released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal agency that regulates car safety and safety issues in car manufacture. Normally, NHTSA does not regulate car technology before it is released into the market, and the agency, while it says it is wary of slowing down this safety-increasing technology, has decided to do the unprecedented — and at a whopping 115 pages.
Two self-driving car events of note: Uber just began operating a fleet of Volvo self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, and nuTonomy launched the first autonomous pilot taxi program last month in Singapore. Both still require a driver, although he/she will be as hands-off as much as possible.
InterDrone concluded their 2nd annual trade show and conference in Las Vegas. The differences between the 2015 event and this one reflect the rapid changes in the industry and can be seen as a predictor for the next few years.
For many years integrators have engineered, built and installed automation machinery for their manufacturer clients. As manufacturing has begun to move from mass production to mass customization, the integration process has required more flexibility and increasingly used robots as part, if not all, of the solution.
On my recent research trip to Odense, Denmark, the value offered by integration firms was clearly evident in the integrator companies I visited. Each quietly went about helping their manufacturer clients solve production problems by designing, building, testing and installing complete or partial automated manufacturing lines and systems. They all appeared to be having success pains: each had recently moved into larger quarters and were quickly filling the new space, and each was finding it difficult to hire all the technical talent they sought.
The vision of many of us for robocars is a world of less private car ownership and more use of robotaxis — on-demand ride service in a robocar. That’s what companies like Uber clearly are pushing for, and probably Google, but several of the big car companies including Mercedes, Ford and BMW among others have also said they want to get there — in the case of Ford, without first making private robocars for their traditional customers.
In this world, what does it cost to operate these cars? How much might competitive services charge for rides? How much money will they make? What factors, including price, will they compete on, and how will that alter the landscape?
PrecisionAg’s editor Eric Sfiligoj has prepared a list of the top 10 technologies that are shaping precision ag today. Most involve some level of robotics, navigation, sensors and variable rate dispensing.
In our Roundtable, we discussed how advancements in prosthetics could help sports evolve, the importance of exoskeletons being used today, and difficulties that remain when trying to test new advancements. This Roundtable features Sabine Hauert, Kassie Perlongo, Ioannis Erripis, Frank Tobe, Maciej Pietrusinski, and Samantha Payne, all providing a range of perspectives across the board from academia, research, business, and the general public.
Case IH (Case New Holland International Harvester) displayed their new cab-less tractor at a farming show in Iowa. The presentation was to show off what they hope will be the future: an autonomous tractor without a steering wheel, pedals or a cab for the driver.
August was another big month for funding robotic startups. 18 deals. Almost $430 million (bringing the year-to-date total well over $1 billion)! Plus, another $1 billion paid in August for four acquisitions.