Thursday Autonomous Vehicle Round Up
Landscape with Cattle by Jacob van Strij
  • LeddarTech and Cognata partner to offer integrated sensors and simulation. This makes so much sense it seems obvious, in retrospect. Buy a suite of sensors less because of the sensing technology itself, but rather because the vendor can also provide hyper-realistic perception simulation for those sensors.
  • BMW invests an undisclosed amount in Kodiak. This happened in June, so old news, but it pairs up with Bridgestone’s investment of an undisclosed amount in Kodiak earlier this year. Kodiak seems adept at quietly scooping up (presumably) small amounts of funding. CEO Don Burnette says BMW’s investment is “purely financial” and there is no technical collaboration.
  • Quanergy announced plans to SPAC at a $1 billion-plus valuation. Remember Quanergy? They were “the future” when I first got into self-driving cars in 2015, with solid-state phased array lidar. Then things fell apart. They’re back, and the new CEO says the immediate demand comes from IoT, not automotive. The SPAC news is from June (I’m catching up on old email, sorry) and nothing seems to have happened since then, so the certainty of this SPAC merger is unclear.
  • Robotic Research will launch a driverless shuttle at US Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Miramar was the setting for the original Top Gun movie, although the real-life TOPGUN program has since relocated to scenic Fallon, Nevada. This news has circulated for a while. I mention it here because (a) I’m catching up on old email, and (b) driverless shuttles seem to be having a moment, perhaps because they’re a relatively easy, low-cost pilot program to get up and running.
  • Apropos of “driverless shuttles seem to be having a moment,” the nation’s (world’s?) largest driverless shuttle network will launch at Colorado School of Mines, outside Denver. Nine EasyMile shuttles will traverse the campus. Unclear if a safety operator will be onboard, or if these shuttles will be “fully driverless”, although I assume we’d have heard if they were to be fully driverless.
  • Yet again in driverless shuttles, over in China, Apollo is upgrading its Apolong minibuses to next generation hardware. The minibuses operate in 22 environments and have traveled 120,000 kilometers (80,000 miles).
  • Motional, which started life as Boston-based nuTonomy, and later expanded to Singapore and then Pittsburgh, is expanding its California presence. The Santa Monica office will grow and a Silicon Valley office will open. Most significantly, though, self-driving cars will start testing in LA. I don’t write much about Motional, which tends to be relatively below-the-radar, relative to similarly-sized AV firms. But it’s worth noting that the now-ubiquitous Point Pillars algorithm for object detection with lidar came out of Motional (then named nuTonomy). One of the more significant published research accomplishments by an AV firm.
  • One year of lidar stock performance. I had not realized the AEye SPAC merger appears to have not come to fruition.

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