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Union, Activists Plan GM Protests Outside Charity Preview

Rally to call to light unfairness of plant shutdowns.

by Joseph Szczesny on Jan.17, 2019

The UAW plans to hold a candlelight vigil outside of the NAIAS charity preview to protest GM's planned plant closures.

The Union Auto Workers and union activists are planning demonstration ahead of North American International Auto Show charity preview to protest General Motors’ plans to close five plants.

The UAW is organizing a candlelight vigil at the Labor Monument on Jefferson a short distance from Cobo Center, starting at 4:30 p.m. “Recent announcements from GM concerning plants in the U.S. will have a devastating effect on members of the UAW family,” the union said in announcing the vigil.

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The union, along with Unifor, the union representing autoworkers in Canada, has been waging a letter-writing campaign to protest GM’s plans to close five assembly and manufacturing plants in the U.S. (more…)

Make Room in Your Garage for the Octocopter

Ohio start-up wants to have this 2-person drone in the air by mid-2020.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

The SureFly Octocopter is expected to cost $200,000 and could be airborne by 2020.

With highway congestion getting worse and worse in most major cities, there’s plenty of talk about flying cars and cabs that could leapfrog traffic, and a small Ohio start-up is determined to be the first one to take to the air.

More than 90 years after Henry Ford gave up on his Flying Flivver project, Columbus-based Workhorse Group is seeking FAA approval for its SureFly Octocopter, something that could come as early as mid-2020. The company is already taking orders for what is essentially a flying drone.

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In fact, the Octocopter on display this week at the North American International Auto Show looks a lot like the popular drones marketed by DJI and could have just as many uses, Workhorse CEO Steve Burns saying his company is already talking with farmers, firefighters and the military – never mind individual customers who like the idea of having something so easy to fly.

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Byton M-Byte’s Videoscreen Will Be as Large as Seven I-Pads, Support a Very Different Business Model

Battery-car to “become the most important digital device in your life.”

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.07, 2019

The 48-inch display in the Byton M-byte will control most of its functions - and more.

At first glance, the Byton M-Byte looks a lot like other new battery-electric vehicles coming to market these days. It’s when you slip inside the SUV that you notice the big difference. Really big, as in a 48-inch videoscreen atop the instrument panel that stretches the full length of the windshield.

The screen can simultaneously display a virtual instrument cluster, navigation information, notes on the music you’re listening to – and still have plenty of room left over for a movie or TV show to entertain passengers. And that’s a key part of Byton’s business strategy.

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“Our business model will not just be about selling cars, but using the car as a platform,” CEO Carsten Breitfeld said in an impromptu interview with TheDetroitBureau.com following a news conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “In the future, we will make more money selling digital content and shared mobility.”

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Daimler, BMW Get U.S. Approval for Mobility Company

Final hurdle cleared for two automakers.

by Joseph Szczesny on Dec.20, 2018

Daimler AG and the BMW Group have gotten the go-ahead from U.S. regulators for their combined mobility joint venture.

The BMW Group and Daimler AG have gotten the green light from anti-trust authorities in the U.S. to operate a joint venture offering a range of mobility services that are expected to grow in the future such as car sharing, charging, ride hailing and even parking.

The German automakers said the joint venture will focus on “ensuring the personal freedom of customers in the field of urban mobility, including a new mobility service that is easy to access, intuitive and focused on the needs of the user.”

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The service will allow customers to move through an “ecosystem” that combines car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking and multimodality from a single source and is available with just a few taps on a phone app, the two automakers said.   (more…)

NHTSA Moves to Accelerate Autonomous Vehicle Petitions

Agency also seeks comment on vehicle communications technology.

by Michael Strong on Dec.18, 2018

GM plans to introduce a fully driverless version of the Bolt EV in 2019 for ride-sharing fleets.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will no longer need to determine if a petition complete to issue summary for public comment, hoping to accelerate the process for getting autonomous vehicles on the road.

The agency cut the requirement wanting to improve “the efficiency and transparency of the process to focus on the safety review,” according to Reuters. Now the agency can zero in on the safety of a vehicle without a driver or steering wheel and brakes.

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Automakers currently meet nearly dozens of auto safety standards, often based on the assumption that a licensed driver would be able to control the vehicle using traditional human controls, Reuters noted. (more…)

Waymo Kicks Off Autonomous Taxi and Ride Sharing Service

Autonomous service starts in Phoenix.

by Michael Strong on Dec.05, 2018

This scene may become more common as Waymo One kicks off service in Arizona.

Self-driving ride-sharing service is here. Well, it’s in Arizona, technically, but the day that Uber, Lyft and others have waiting for has arrived with the debut of Waymo One, Waymo’s autonomous taxi and ride-sharing service.

The service operates in a 100-square-mile zone covering four Phoenix suburbs: Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. The company has been testing its vehicles in the area since 2016, including offering free rides earlier this year to generate some goodwill for autonomous vehicles.

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“Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public,” John Krafcik, Waymo’s CEO wrote in a blog post. “Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully.” (more…)

GM Moves Ammann into CEO Role at GM Cruise

Move marks the second in six months for Ammann.

by Joseph Szczesny on Nov.29, 2018

General Motors President Dan Ammann is now GM Cruise Chief Executive Officer Dan Ammann.

General Motors President Dan Ammann is changing jobs again, now serving as the full time as the Chief Executive Officer of GM Cruise, GM’s autonomous vehicle subsidiary.

Ammann had worked closely with Cruise since GM acquired the self-driving vehicle start up back in 2016.

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The move marks the second time in six months that Ammann’s role within the company has been changed. In July, he shifted some of his responsibilities to Executive Vice President Mark Reuss to focus on the company’s development of autonomous vehicles.  (more…)

GM Expanding Maven Peer-to-Peer Rentals to Include Other Brands

Other brands will be available in mid-2019.

by Michael Strong on Nov.13, 2018

General Motors Vice President Urban Mobility and Maven Julia Steyn said the company will be adding non-GM vehicles to its peer-to-peer rental fleet.

Maven, General Motors’ private ride-sharing service, is undergoing an expansion early next year. Before gig-based entrepreneurs around the country begin salivating, the expansion is product-based not geographic.

The company is going to allow non-GM brand products to be rented on the platform starting in the middle of 2019, a GM official revealed.

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According to Julia Steyn, vice president of GM Urban Mobility and Maven, said Monday during a presentation at the UBS Global Technology Conference in San Francisco, that Maven plans expand the platform to micro-fleet entrepreneurs. (more…)

Daimler, Bosch Partner as Latest to Offer Self-Driving Ride-Sharing Service

Pilot set to launch in San Jose in late 2019.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.09, 2018

Daimler and Bosch will led pilot users ride in comfort, in modified Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans.

Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program in San Jose, California starting late next year.

The carmaker, along with one of its lead technology suppliers, becomes the latest to enter a space that is expected to account for a significant share of the miles Americans clock on the roads each year by the end of the next decade. Waymo, the Google spin-off, is set to transition its own pilot program to a commercial venture this year, while General Motors is looking to launch a similar service.

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“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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Uber Aiming to Relaunch Autonomous Testing on Public Roads

After fatal crash, ride-sharing service plans to redouble steps to ensure safety.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.05, 2018

In the wake of a fatal collision with a pedestrian in Arizona, Uber suspended all of its autonomous vehicle testing. Now it wants to resume in Pittsburgh.

Uber plans to relaunch the autonomous vehicle testing program it suspended following a fatal crash in Arizona last March, but it has advised regulators in Pennsylvania that it will take additional steps to ensure the safety of its vehicles.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service has been betting heavily on fully driverless technology, hoping it will lower costs to the point where many Americans won’t even feel the need to own a private vehicle anymore. But that effort was put on hold after a modified Volvo struck and killed Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a road in a Phoenix suburb.

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It was initially unclear why the Volvo hit the 49-year-old Herzberg, as its system spotted her six seconds before impact. It was subsequently revealed during a police investigation that the backup driver charged with taking control in an emergency was actually streaming the TV show, “The Voice,” rather than watching the road. She failed to intervene when the car’s brakes weren’t automatically applied because of improper modifications made to the vehicle. (more…)