This Week in Mobility Tech:
- Ol’ Muskie Gets in Trouble for Tweeting
- BMW Wants You to Talk to Your Car
- BMW and Daimler Team Up As a One-Stop Mobility Shop
- Peugeot Plans to Re-enter US market, and
- VW Unleashes a Pissed Off Toaster
Watch the Show
SEC says Elon Musk Violated Settlement with Tweet (Engadget)
Elon Musk might be in hot water with regulators mere months after he reached a settlement over a financially relevant Twitter post. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has asked a judge to hold Elon Musk in contempt for allegedly violating the settlement by tweeting that Tesla would make “around 500k” cars in 2019. Musk was supposed to get approval from Tesla before social network posts that would include vital info, but the SEC claimed he directly shared “inaccurate and material” data with more than 24 million people.
If the judge does hold Musk in contempt, it won’t bode well for his future. The settlement spared Musk from admitting guilt (and thus keeping his CEO job safe) so long as Tesla adopted “controls and procedures” for his communications and reduced his control over the firm. A violation casts all that in doubt — he might not escape relatively unharmed this time around.
[Get the full story here.]
BMW Natural Interaction Boasts Voice Control, Gestures and Gaze (BMW)
At Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona this past month, BMW presented their newest smart car upgrade: BMW Natural Interaction.
The new system combines the most advanced voice command technology available with expanded gesture control and gaze recognition to enable genuine multimodal operation for the first time. The first BMW Natural Interaction functions will be available in the BMW iNEXT from 2021.
Just like in interpersonal dialogue, BMW Natural Interaction allows the driver to use their voice, gestures and gaze at the same time in various combinations to interact with their vehicle. The preferred mode of operation can be selected intuitively, according to the situation and context.
Voice commands, gestures and the direction of gaze can be reliably detected by the vehicle, combined and the desired operation executed. This […] is made possible by speech recognition, optimized sensor technology and context-sensitive analysis of gestures. Through precise detection of hand and finger movements, gesture direction – in addition to gesture type – is also registered for the first time in an extended interaction space that encompasses the driver’s entire operating environment. Spoken instructions are registered and processed using Natural Language Understanding. An intelligent learning algorithm, which is constantly being refined, combines and interprets the complex information so that the vehicle can respond accordingly. This creates a multimodal interactive experience geared towards the driver’s wishes.
By combining different modalities, vehicle functions can be initiated in different ways. The driver decides how they want to interact, based on their own personal preferences, habits or the current situation. So, when the driver is engaged in conversation, they would probably choose gesture and gaze control; when their eyes are on the road, better to rely on speech and gestures. In this way, for example, car windows or the sunroof can be opened or closed, air vents adjusted or a selection made on the Control Display. If the driver wants to learn more about vehicle functions, they can also point to buttons and ask what they do.
–Wonder how it will interpret some of the gestures I do during rush hour?
[Check out the Press Release here]
Peugeot Set for a Comeback in North America (Bloomberg)
With the auto industry in retreat and U.S. President Donald Trump threatening new tariffs on European cars, France’s PSA Group is stepping into the fray with a plan to re-enter North America with the Peugeot brand.
A quarter century after the manufacturer quit selling cars in the U.S., the world’s second-biggest market, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said Tuesday PSA will start shipping vehicles from Europe or China in 2026.
PSA has been working toward the announcement, adding a car-sharing service in Washington, D.C. in 2018. The French manufacturer’s move will help lessen dependence on Europe, where it delivered 80 percent of its cars last year, including the compact Peugeot 308 and the 3008 sport utility vehicle. Still, the risks are great because the compact-car market that’s one of Peugeot’s strength is small in the U.S.
The decision marks a rare show of confidence in an automaking industry whose fortunes turned sour last year after trade wars and slowing economic growth added to the hefty cash demands of keeping up with technological changes. Despite this, Tavares — a onetime protege of fallen Renault SA titan Carlos Ghosn — managed to return the Opel brand to profitability after acquiring it from General Motors Co. in 2017. PSA’s Peugeot, Citroen and DS premium brands too have topped margin goals.
[Read the full Story here.]
BMW Group and Daimler AG invest more than €1 billion in joint mobility services provider (BMW)
The BMW Group and Daimler AG are pooling their mobility services to create a new global player providing sustainable urban mobility for customers. The two companies are investing more than €1 billion ($1.1B) in total to develop and more closely intermesh their offerings for car-sharing, ride-hailing, parking, charging and multimodal transport.
The cooperation comprises five joint ventures:
- REACH NOW for multimodal services
- CHARGE NOW for charging
- FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing
- PARK NOW for parking
- SHARE NOW for car-sharing
“Our mobility services have developed a strong customer base and we are now taking the next strategic step. We are pooling the strength and expertise of 14 successful brands and investing more than €1 billion to establish a new player in the fast-growing market for urban mobility,” said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “By creating an intelligent network of joint ventures, we will be able to shape current and future urban mobility and draw maximum benefit from the opportunities opened up by digitalization, shared services and the increasing mobility needs of our customers. Further cooperations with other providers, including stakes in startups and established players, are also a possible option.”
[…] The two companies’ mobility services have a wealth of experience and a strong customer base, with a combined total of over 60 million active customers to date. Building on their current, highly attractive product range and robust costumer base in the key regions of Europe and America, the companies will grow their global footprint as their existing mobility services combine to form five joint ventures:
[Read the official press release here.]
VW Conceives Autonomous Angry Toaster
If you watched the video of this week’s program you saw me sharing a video VW’s concept car. We had initially reported on this around this time last year.
This is Cedric, Volkswagen’s newest concept for the future of autonomous driving. Cedric (as in self-driving car, get it?) is fully autonomous, meaning it has no steering wheel or pedals, and it can be summoned at the push of a button for ride-hailing trips, a la Uber and Lyft.
VW claims that Cedric is the first vehicle to be designed for fully autonomous driving “from scratch.” Of course, it’s important to note that Cedric is just a concept, meaning it does not exist anywhere but in the imaginations of a few VW engineers and designers. Which may explain why Cedric looks so angry. Cheer up, Cedric! Maybe someday you’ll be a real car.
About the Show
AutoConverse ON AIR is a live weekly broadcast that explores the people, ideas, and technologies that influence how we are connected and the way we get around. Follow this link for more information. For details on how to watch and listen, go here.