Self-Driving Technology Update: Uber Loses Arizona License - Google Orders 20,000 Jaguars - Fedex Orders 20 Teslas

Posted by Fernando Correa ● Apr 10, 2018 10:01:00 AM

Self Driving Vehicles

The advent of self-driving vehicles shows a great deal of promise, but is not without risk. Uber lost its license to use self-driving cars in Arizona and is scrambling to handle a PR nightmare after an accident. Other companies are not daunted, however: Google and several other companies are showing a commitment to self-driving technology by purchasing self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles for personal transportation and shipping.

Google's Foray into Self-Driving Electric Cars 

Google's self-driving car company, Waymo, has agreed to purchase 20,000 electric cars over the next two years. While some self-driving technology is available in many cars, such as parking assistance and collision prevention, these vehicles are intended to operate entirely without driver input. Waymo's purchase plans include an adapted version of the I-Pace, a Jaguar SUV.  Experts think that Google's recent moves indicate that it hopes to capitalize on the recent increase in ride-hailing from the likes of Uber and Lyft.  The Jaguar I-Pace will form the cornerstone of Google's Waymo fleet of vehicles.  The consumer version of Jaguar's I-Pace can go 240 miles on a single charge. As conventional SUVs struggle with fuel efficiency, the all-electric, self-driving I-Pace makes for a family vehicle that combines luxury, convenience, and sustainability. Google estimates that a fleet of this size would be capable of handling one million miles of driving per day.


Uber's Latest Catastrophe 

News hit in late March that Uber's testing and use of autonomous driving technology had been suspended in Arizona following an accident that resulted in a fatality. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said that banning Uber's self-driving autonomous technology is in the best interest of the entire state of Arizona. The governor went on to call the crash an "unquestionable failure" by Uber's self-driving technology. 


Shipping Companies Testing the Waters 

Two shipping companies and the world's largest retailer are embarking on experiments with semi-autonomous vehicles. FedEx is testing the waters of semi-autonomous vehicles with plans to add 20 semi-autonomous vehicles to their fleet. 

This could save Fedex money on the final leg of deliveries, and if successful, could help shape best practices for shipping companies interested in semi-autonomous vehicles. Long-distance shipping began to face novel challenges to feasibility in recent decades, as an item may ship across the country relatively cheaply compared to the final leg of shipment to the customer's address. 

FedEx still lags behind UPS, though, in terms of early adoption of semi-autonomous trucks. UPS placed a pre-order for 125 semi-autonomous big rigs. Walmart has also placed several orders, and the interest shown by the retail giant will be a powerful force in shaping industry standards.  

The recent news about autonomous vehicles demonstrates the opportunities available to companies willing to innovate. But accidents and policies that restrict the use of autonomous vehicles show that the jury is very much still out on their safety and, ultimately, their utility.



Topics: Trucking industry, Technology