At a press conference last week at CES, Toyota, led by Gill Pratt of DARPA fame and now CEO of Toyota Research Institute (TRI), informed the world what Toyota intended to do with it’s billion dollar investment in their new AI research facilities in Silicon Valley and Cambridge.
While many people view technology or regulation as the biggest obstacles to robocar deployment, it could be that the bigger obstacle is that we have yet to determine what our safety goals are for autonomous cars, and also how to test these vehicles so that we can know when these goals have been met.
Almost every newspaper in the world reported the story of how a motorcycle cop pulled over one of Google’s 3rd generation test cars, the 2-seaters, and many incorrectly reported that the car was given a ticket for going too slow.
In the buzz over the Tesla autopilot update, a lot of commentary has appeared comparing this Autopilot with Google’s car effort and other efforts and what I would call a “real” robocar — one that can operate unmanned or with a passenger who is not paying attention to the road. We’ve seen claims that “Tesla has beaten Google to the punch,” but while the Tesla release is a worthwhile step forward, the two should not be confused as all that similar.
Everybody has heard about Google’s restructuring. In the new setup, Google X, which includes the self-driving car division, will be a subsidiary of the new Alphabet holding company, and no longer part of Google.