Foxconn has manufactured about 30% of the components used in Tesla’s electric car […].
At an event on Wednesday Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk explained that the company’s new autopilot service is constantly learning and improving thanks to machine learning algorithms, the car’s wireless connection, and detailed mapping and sensor data that Tesla collects. […]
“The whole Tesla fleet operates as a network. When one car learns something, they all learn it. That is beyond what other car companies are doing,” said Musk. When it comes to the autopilot software, Musk explained that each driver using the autopilot system essentially becomes an “expert trainer for how the autopilot should work.”
New high-end cars are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet, containing 100 million or more lines of code. Compare that with about 60 million lines of code in all of Facebook or 50 million in the Large Hadron Collider. […]
The sophistication of new cars brings numerous benefits — forward-collision warning systems and automatic emergency braking that keep drivers safer are just two examples. But with new technology comes new risks — and new opportunities for malevolence. […]
Makes you wonder what sort of opportunities for better streamlining, unification, speed, and security there are. What is Tesla doing, and what will Google and Apple do, differently?
A few days ago, I illustrated the transition that auto companies face, in advancing from today’s gasoline, driver-dependent, unconnected vehicles to the cars of tomorrow.
Alexandria Sage, for Reuters in San Francisco, wrote a great article that brings this transition to life. Some nuggets:
[Tesla’s ability to update its software over the air (OTA)] has spurred the big automakers to get more serious about OTAs, although they are hampered by the challenge of making software compatible with internal combustion engines, dealers worried about losing service revenue and security concerns. […]
As much a tech company as an automaker, 12-year-old Tesla is free of the constraints its rivals face – complicated combustion engines, huge model ranges, […] and a reliance on car dealerships.
Tesla “started from a blank piece of paper […] They didn’t have 100 years of legacy engineering to contend with. […]
“It’s not in carmakers’ interest to annoy the dealer,” […]
Yesterday, I posted a working view on dimensions and issues that affect car performance and car enjoyment. Today, I’m sharing with you the rest of the slide, the “Near Future” items.
It’s a working view, and certainly a very high level one. Hopefully, however, it will help you shape yours – via curiosity, reinforcement, or even disagreement – about how the car might evolve. As you can see, many items are driven by software, and several may be enabled by modularity (the cabin, maintenance, upgrade-ability advances). You can be sure that these elements are the focus of discussion at Tesla, Google, and Apple, as they develop their next-generation vehicles.
Now, for simplicity, this particular view is focused on ten dimensions. Most of them are related to the physical product. But there are many more ways to think about cars: some very fundamental aspects (e.g., jobs to be done), related steps (production system, customization, financing, charging at home and away, etc.), and specific high-value technologies (driver assistance, battery, quick charger, sensors, machine learning, security, just to name a few). The point, then, is that there are actually many ways to re-think the car, its purpose, context, and systems, and many dimensions to competition. The view above is just a device-centric start. I might explore some of the additional elements in the future.
Critically, it’s important to remember that no single car or car maker will advance in all areas. The effective product, design, and engineering leaders will focus on the most impactful elements and prioritize those. The outcome will depend on the customer they want to serve, the company’s capabilities and aspirations, competitor offerings, and the time available. (And – critically – on the leaders’ own sensibilities and the dynamics inside the organization.)
Still, it’s *very useful* to develop a rich super-set of things one *could* improve upon, comprised of this list and the other items I touched on. That sort of situational awareness helps you prioritize, and have confidence in your priorities, about where to direct R&D, product definition, design, and marketing. It helps you to shape the product you ship and its future generations.
So, back to cars, then. There are plenty of ways to make cars better. Who will be first? Who will be boldest? Who will be best? Who will make the transition from today’s car to tomorrow’s. And who might just skip most of that transition altogether? It’s 2015 – it feels like the future – but the journey to re-invent the car has just started.
A few points:
- Apple DOESN’T have to go through the same transition (the “curve”). But I didn’t draw Apple coming in at the top because doing a full product isn’t easy.
- Also, the transition to another “steady state” in cars will take much time. That’s another reason I didn’t draw Apple coming in after the curve.
- Transitions are done best when you can AVOID them. Apple can. And note that done “best” doesn’t mean done “easiest”. You have to master technology, product, and the consumer’s ability to adapt.
- Apple’s ability to avoid a transition in its own executives’ mindset, own technology, own manufacturing, and own consumers’ memory is a HUGE plus. Meaningfully counter-balanced, however, by applying its capabilities in new ways to a new category.
- Generally, though, expect other auto makers to have trouble making the transition. It’s a question of timing (how soon), quality (e.g., hacked security), ingenuity (e.g., design opportunities), and ecosystem (e.g., device interaction). Hence the “curve”.
- Finally, as you can tell from the checklist, there’s more to success than the car itself. For example, I didn’t even get into supply and production issues.
For more of my posts on cars, just click here.
Samsung is also prepping to display new products at CES 2016 that include devices with transparent displays, the reports noted.
4. Vehicles may contain as many as 10 cameras when the age of self-driving cars arrive (Thanks to Vladimir Koifman, who linked to this on Image Sensor World.)
1. Auto manufacturers pledge auto-braking for the masses (Scroll down to the “Complete stop” section.)
In another move that could speed the adoption of self-driving cars, ten automakers pledged on Friday to outfit all of their new cars with automatic braking systems, which use on-vehicle sensors to apply the driver’s brakes if a collision with a car or any other object is imminent.
2. Intel Establishes Automotive Security Review Board Hope it’s effective.
[Intel] announced the establishment of the Automotive Security Review Board (ASRB). The board will encompass top security industry talent across the globe with particular areas of expertise in cyber-physical systems
[Google] says the project isn’t ready to become a separate company yet, “though it’s certainly a good candidate to become one at some point in the future.”
4. Google reveals plans to increase production of self-driving cars Exploring production makes sense.
[Google] revealed its plans to build many more fully autonomous prototypes, and possibly move towards mass manufacturing.
5. Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ car initiative negatively impacting Tesla’s product development, source says It’s so hard, from the outside, to understand the true nature of what, if anything, is going on – even with some inside information. It does, however, sound interesting. Especially if some of the people that Tesla lost (Apple gained) are senior engineers and production managers.
BMW’s new chief executive Harald Krueger is open to exploring deeper partnerships with software and computer companies such as Apple […].
BMW has realized next-generation vehicles cannot be built without more input from telecoms and software experts […].
7. Honda gets California approval for self-driving cars on roads Cool. More exploration and more competition should lead to better products, faster.
Link to the Tweet1. (Above is a screenshot, to make sure readers can also see it in RSS or email.)
First, this is outstanding. Hope Tesla can deliver on the timing, price, and capability. Second, it’s just one more element, in my view, that Apple considered in its decision to pursue a car, and how intensely to do so. Specifically, Apple would have considered the rate at which key costs would come down (battery and related systems; driver assistance and related systems) down and, from that, how quickly Tesla, Toyota, and others would reach mass market (or near mass market) prices.
Prius, starting at $24,000 is already there (US-centric view). Tesla is two years away, if we assume Elon Musk’s estimate is solid. Combine that with Tesla’s ability to execute (battery, design, product definition, marketing), and these factors likely add to some of the urgency Apple feels. And that’s before we even consider Google’s advances. But, I emphasize, competitor progress is just one element.
By the way, by barely mentioning the Prius, am I implying that Apple pays more attention to Tesla’s progress than Toyota’s? Yes. Tesla has more capability, and more potential, to capitalize on the current (poor) state of cars than Toyota. For simplicity, think about it on this one level: how much emotion do you think a Prius stirs in most people? And a Tesla? … Yep.
1. Tip of the hat to Drew Olanoff, at TechCrunch; I learned about Elon Musk’s Tweets from his article.