GM, not Tesla, is better bet on autonomous vehicle future right now, Deutsche Bank says

General Motors' strong competitive position in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is widely underestimated by investors, according to a Wall Street firm.Deutsche Bank raised its rating for the automaker's shares to buy from hold, saying the company will attain a large market share of the new AV market."GM's AV's will be ready for commercial deployment, without human drivers, much sooner than widely expected (within quarters, not years), and potentially years ahead of competitors," analyst Rod Lache wrote in a note to clients Sunday. "We believe that businesses built off of this platform will ramp much faster than is widely expected. A fast ramp could perpetuate sustainable advantages. And we believe that this will be material, even to a company of GM's size."Shares of General Motors, incorporated in 1908, are up 13% year-to-date through Friday compared with the S&P 500's 12% return. Lache raised his price target for General Motors shares to $51 from $36, representing 29% upside from Friday's close.The analyst has just a hold rating on the more popular car of the future play on Wall Street, Tesla.The analyst estimates up to 60% of U.S. households in cities may find it better to use autonomous vehicle services instead of owning a car. He forecasts more than 2% of U.S. miles driven in 2025 will be through "autonomous on-demand mobility" offerings, then rising to 10% share by 2030. More: Edmunds: 8 new cars, SUVs coming to the U.S. in 2018 More: Tesla to reveal 'beast' semi-truck in October, Elon Musk says More: 'Fortune' ranks Most Powerful Women in Business, from Mary Barra to Reese Witherspoon Lache believes General Motors can attain 17.5% share of the market. He cited how the company has said the autonomous vehicle and mobility business could be a potential $7 trillion global market."This is a massive market opportunity," he wrote. "The monetization model is recurring in nature (vs. the transactional/cyclical model that automakers Continue Reading

Arizona getting ahead of autonomous vehicle industry by stepping aside

With major testing by Waymo, Uber, General Motors, Ford and Intel, Arizona is more than holding its own in the race to attract the self-driving car industry.Though 22 states have either passed legislation or executive orders addressing the industry,  Arizona has several things working in its favor.The East Valley is the only location where preselected customers can call for a free ride in a Waymo minivan.Metro Phoenix is one of three places people can hail a ride in a self-driving Volvo from Uber, the others being Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The vehicles mostly operate near Arizona State University and up Scottsdale Road, though they often are spotted in Phoenix as well.And Scottsdale is the only place outside San Francisco or the Detroit area you might catch a glimpse of a Chevy Bolt named after a cartoon animal puttering through town. MORE: What we know about self-driving cars in Arizona The companies don't disclose the exact numbers of their vehicles on the road, but there are enough that their bulky rooftop sensors are now a common sight.On some crosstown drives, Arizonans might spot vehicles from all three companies and others. All of them use drivers ready to take over when needed.In addition, Intel tests its own self-driving technology using cars such as BMWs, Ford Fusions and Land Rovers in Chandler.Ford also is testing self-driving technology at its Wittmann proving grounds where about 15 employees, including some from Michigan and California, work.A few accidents involving Waymo and Uber have occurred in Arizona, with minor injuries only, and law enforcement agencies did not fault the self-driving vehicles.Arizona isn't the most active state for testing. That would be California, with about 30 companies. But Arizona can claim a substantial amount of activity for a state without auto manufacturing, where many of the other tests are taking place throughout the country.“Arizona is in a nice spot Continue Reading

Legislature gives final approval to autonomous vehicle bills

LANSING — In an attempt to position Michigan as the center of research for autonomous vehicles, the Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a package of four bills that allows for the testing of driverless cars in the state.Without any discussion or debate, the House of Representative passed the package with overwhelming majorities. The Senate concurred this afternoon with technical changes made by the House and sent the bills to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.The bills — SB 995-998 — approve testing of the new technology on 122 miles of roads in the state and open the way for the American Center for Mobility to redevelop the old Willow Run airport for autonomous vehicle testing and research.One of the bills ends a requirement that a human be inside driverless cars ready to take over if needed. Those driverless cars, used mainly by ride-hailing services like Uber or Lyft, would have to be monitored by an individual who wouldn’t have to be inside the vehicle.Besides Michigan, other states, including Florida, Nevada, Arizona and California, are positioning themselves as hubs for the research and development of self-driving vehicles. Uber and Carnegie Mellon University have made Pittsburgh another key venue for autonomous mobility.Much of the work is being done by automakers and ride-sharing and technology companies such as Google, Uber, Lyft and Apple.A year ago, Mcity, a 32-acre simulated city and test facility, opened on the University of Michigan's North Campus, where automakers, suppliers and telecommunications companies are testing autonomous vehicle systems in a controlled environment.Toyota, along with General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Honda, is a founding partner in U-M's Mobility Transformation Center, which oversees Mcity.In July, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. approved the $1.2-million purchase of 311 acres in Ypsilanti for the American Center for Mobility Continue Reading

Google wants to amend Michigan autonomous vehicle bills

Google is contesting legislation the Michigan Senate passed last week to make the state a hub for autonomous car research.The technology giant sees some of the language as excluding companies like Google that are newcomers to making cars.In a letter to Rep. Bradford Jacobsen, R-Oxford, and members of the House Communications and Technology Committee, Google executive John Krafcik, head of Google's Self-Driving Car Project, took issue with two provisions and asked that they be amended. ► Related:  Michigan moves forward with autonomous vehicle testingThe first defines a "motor vehicle manufacturer" as a company that has distributed motor vehicles before participating in research within Michigan."One interpretation of that definition would exclude companies, like Google, that manufactures autonomous vehicles but do not currently sell them," Krafcik wrote.The second provision requires autonomous vehicles operating in Michigan to be "supplied or controlled by a motor vehicle manufacturer.""That could be interpreted to exclude vehicles supplied by a vehicle manufacturer that another company, like Google, modifies with automated driving systems," Krafcik said. "We urge you to consider these small but crucial amendments to the bills to ensure that investment and deployment of autonomous vehicle technology is not inadvertently discouraged in the state."► Related: Can autonomous cars drive profits for automakers?Google's involvement underscores how high the stakes have risen in the autonomous vehicle race. It also reflects the unavoidable turf battles that will be fought as traditional automakers and suppliers compete with new players like Google. Michigan is one of many states trying to position itself as friendly to those developing the technologies.Neither Rep. Jacobsen nor Senate Majority Leader Mike Kowall, R-White Lake Township, who was copied on the letter, could be reached for comment by press time. Continue Reading

Michigan moves forward with autonomous vehicle testing

The Michigan Senate unanimously passed a package of four bills Wednesday aimed at making Michigan a research center for testing of autonomous vehicles.Lawmakers said the bills would put Michigan at the forefront of autonomous vehicle research and likened the speedy action on the bills to the U.S. race to become the first to land on the moon."I see this as the equivalent to the race to space. This is going to benefit our families. It’s going to make our cars safer," said Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth. "Continuing the analogy of the race to the moon, we can think of this as one small step for Lansing, one giant leap for mankind."►Related: Can autonomous cars drive profits for automakers?►Related: Michigan Senate panel OKs autonomous vehicle research billsBut Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law who has studied the legal impact of self-driving cars, said that some of the bills could protect automakers from ride-sharing competition from companies such as Google, Apple or other technology developers.Specifically, Senate bills 995 and 996 expressly authorize "on-demand automated motor vehicle networks" that involve a recognized motor vehicle manufacturer in some capacity. As originally drafted, only these manufacturers would have been eligible to "participate" in those networks, Smith said.In other words, General Motors could run an "on-demand automated motor vehicle network" while Google and Uber could not."The original version read like it was written by or for an auto manufacturer," Smith said. "Traditionally, making cars has largely been limited to really big companies that have a lot of resources and incentives to be safe. What automated driving presents is a return to the day when anyone can create a new technology in their garage and compete with existing modes of transportation."Smith also cited language in Senate Bill 927 that appears to target hackers who want Continue Reading

Senate OKs tougher penalties for tampering with autonomous vehicles

LANSING — The Michigan Senate unanimously passed a pair of bills Thursday that would increase the penalties for interfering with the computer systems of autonomous vehicles.Currently, there is a 10-year sentence and $50,000 fine for anyone who tampers with the computer system of a driverless vehicle that results in injury. The new bill would increase the penalty to life in prison if the interference with the computer system resulted in death.The law wouldn't apply to auto manufacturers or licensed mechanics who are servicing the car. If it's found that the tampering could be or was reversed without any injury to the car's owner, the tamperer could be subject to a misdemeanor charge carrying a 93-day jail sentence and a maximum fine of $500.►Related: Tesla announces fully self-driving carsRelated: Will Ford have a completely self-driving car by 2021?While there have been few — if any — documented cases of accidents caused by hacking into an autonomous vehicle’s computer system, a pair of hackers did hack into several driverless cars in 2013 and 2015 in a research demonstration that was later presented at a security conference.The bills — SB 927-928 — were approved in the Senate without any discussion or debate and now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. Contact Kathleen Gray: [email protected]  Follow her on Twitter @michpoligal Continue Reading

First to test autonomous vehicle at Mcity is a Ford

The first autonomous car to start testing at the Mcity campus will be a Ford.The automaker will be first to run a self-driving vehicle through its paces at the 32-acre simulated city created on the campus of the University of Michigan that provides a safe area to put a car through repeated paces.The facility, part of the university’s Mobility Transformation Center, opened in July for use by more than a dozen automakers, suppliers, telecommunications and other companies in the pursuit of autonomous driving technology. Faculty and students can also use the mock city to pursue their projects and studies.Ford, General Motors, Honda and the rest of the automotive industry have spent years working on autonomous driving and much of their technology is already incorporated into today's vehicles as features that improve safety by working to prevent collisions.“Testing Ford’s autonomous vehicle fleet at Mcity provides another challenging, yet safe, urban environment to repeatedly check and hone these new technologies,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “This is an important step in making millions of people’s lives better and improving their mobility.”Ford's Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle is equipped with cameras, radar and sensors including LiDAR to generate a real-time 3D map of the vehicle’s surrounding environment to make driving decisions in a test area complete with street lights, crosswalks, lanes, ramps, roundabouts, curbs, bike lanes, trees, hydrants, sidewalks, signs, traffic lights and construction barriers.The Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle is part of a project to develop sensing and computing technologies and refine algorithms.The goal of Mcity is that we get a scaling factor. Every mile driven there can represent 10, 100 or 1,000 miles of on-road driving in terms of our ability to pack in the occurrences Continue Reading

Mich. universities push ahead on autonomous vehicles

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of Soar Technology Inc., which was among the donors to Lawrence Technological University’s autonomous vehicle project.Southfield — On the small campus of Lawrence Technological University, a few students are on the cusp of programming one of the nation’s first autonomous vehicles as a class project.Already, the two-seat electric vehicle — the size of a golf cart — won an international competition last spring for the software the students developed, taking first place in a new division of the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition at Oakland University.That honor attracted local investors to give the team of students funding to develop the semi-autonomous vehicle into a fully autonomous vehicle to use as a taxi next fall on the private university’s 107-acre campus.“We are the auto capital, we should be leading the new technologies,” said Lawrence Tech computer science professor CJ Chung.The University of Michigan soon will launch two driverless shuttles on its north campus in Ann Arbor later this fall. But those vehicles are being produced and programmed in France by the company Navya, said Susan Carney, a spokeswoman for UM’s Mcity.Many other colleges are involved in autonomous vehicle research, testing and training, including Michigan State University and Oakland University. Three Michigan colleges, Kettering University, Michigan Technological University and MSU, are part of a three-year North American autonomous vehicle competition.Meanwhile, autonomous vehicles are being launched on college campuses around the world, in places such as California, Taiwan and Singapore, Chung said. But those vehicles were developed by professional engineers, not students.Lawrence Tech’s vehicle is known as ACTor, or Autonomous Campus Transport/Taxi, and is expected to be functioning on campus by August. It is planned to be a level-three autonomous vehicle, Continue Reading

Michigan Senate panel OKs autonomous vehicle research bills

SAGINAW — A Michigan Senate panel Wednesday approved four bills aimed at accelerating autonomous vehicle projects in Michigan.The legislative package now moves to the full state Senate. It approves testing of the new technology on 122 miles of roads in the state and opens the way for the American Center for Mobility to redevelop the old Willow Run airport for autonomous vehicle testing and research."The law that we drafted in 2013 was just to allow testing," said Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, one of the bills' sponsors. "This opens everything — as long as you have everything working and you pass all the standards that we set forward."► Related: Can autonomous cars drive profits for automakers?Besides Michigan, other states including Florida, Nevada, Arizona and California are hustling to position themselves as hubs for the research and development of self-driving vehicles. Uber and Carnegie Mellon University have made Pittsburgh another key venue for autonomous mobility.Much of the work is being done by automakers, ride-sharing and technology companies such as Google, Uber, Lyft and Apple.A year ago, Mcity, a 32-acre simulated city and test facility, opened on the University of Michigan's North Campus, where  automakers, suppliers and telecommunications companies are testing autonomous vehicle systems in a controlled environment.Toyota, along with General Motors, Ford, Nissan and Honda, is a founding partner in U-M's Mobility Transformation Center, which oversees Mcity.Ford CEO Mark Fields said two weeks ago it will have a fleet of completely autonomous taxis operating in an unnamed city by 2021. ► Related:  Will Ford have completely self-driving car by 2021?The next day, ride-sharing service Uber said it would offer a fleet of self-driving cars on selected routes in Pittsburgh within weeks. Separately, Uber and Volvo are investing $300 million to develop a fully autonomous Volvo Continue Reading

GM deal is a big move in autonomous vehicle quest

General Motors received quick regulatory approval of its acquisition of Cruise Automation, the three-year-old start-up that has developed a "highway autopilot" product that could accelerate GM's quest for a fully autonomous car.A spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission said the agency granted expedited approval, saying the transaction would not violate antitrust laws.GM did not disclose the purchase price, but some media outlets have reported the automaker paid $1 billion for the small San Francisco company. The companies expect to complete the deal by the end of June.While all major automakers have opened offices and hired software developers and robotics experts, this deal represents one of the early acquisitions by a traditional automaker of a company rooted and financed through northern California's rich venture capital community.What attracted GM was a device Cruise's employees have created that enables drivers to take a car onto the highway, then push a button that transfers control of the accelerator, brakes and steering. The company also has worked on autonomous features on farming tractors and mining equipment."GM is really saying we want to control our own destiny and get the software expertise needed for full autonomy," said Egil Juliussen, an analyst with IHS Automotive who is focusing on the convergence of traditional automakers and Silicon Valley. "The competing manufacturers are going to have to respond to this. Either cooperate with Google or someone else."On March 11, Ford said it was forming a new subsidiary, Ford Smart Mobility, led by former Steelcase CEO and Ford director Jim Hackett.The new venture will design and build mobility services on its own and collaborate with start-ups and tech companies, Ford said at the time.Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford has been saying for years that the company must turn its attention toward a new way of thinking, emphasizing Continue Reading