Software Is Eating The Automobile Industry

General Motors announced plans to hire 3,000 software engineers and tech staff to support the development of electric vehicles and new technologies — by the end of Q1. Especially interesting, that talent won’t have to come to Detroit.

“We have a lot of flexibility on where we can draw talent from,” said Ken Morris, GM’s vice president of autonomous and electric vehicle programs.

Nearly a decade ago, Marc Andreesen coined the phrase, “Software is eating the world.”

That’s still happening.

Super Cruise Gets Better

The Detroit Free Press reports that new features are coming to GM Super Cruise. Specifically, Super Cruise will now perform lane changes “on demand”, and will negotiate highway interchanges.

More significantly, Super Cruise will roll out to the Cadillac Escalade and the Cadillac CT4 and CT5 sedans.

Super Cruise is often touted as the closest competitor to Tesla Autopilot, and maybe even a superior alternative.

Maddeningly, however, for years Super Cruise has only been available on top-of-the-line Cadillac CT6 models. As a result, it’s really hard to find a car that has it. I’ve never been in a car equipped with Super Cruise.

The Free Press also quotes GM that Super Cruise has been activated for 5.5 million miles since it launched in 2017. That means Waymo has driven more Level 4 miles since 2017 than Super Cruise has driven in something approximating Level 3. Tesla Autopilot, which has logged billions of miles, has orders of magnitude more data.

Nonetheless, Super Cruise has the potential to roll out to the larger GM model base and begin recording data at a level far beyond anything we’ve seen so far — from any manufacturer.

GM to Deploy “Thousands” of Self-Driving Cars in 2018

Reuters, relying on two anonymous sources, claims that GM will “deploy thousands of self-driving electric cars in test fleets” during 2018.

The testing will happen in partnership with Lyft and would vault GM ahead of any other auto manufacturer. Most auto manufacturers have committed to testing cars in 2020 or later.

I don’t know whether to believe this or not, but it’s exciting.

Udacity Student Kiki Jewell on Driving for Cruise Automation

Back when I was trying to break into the autonomous vehicle industry, I applied for a lot of jobs. Including a job “driving” self-driving cars for Google.

I got rejected.

The rules required a clean driving record for the past three years, and 2.5 years prior I had gotten a ticket for talking on a cellphone.

But this is the type of thing you do when you are really excited about changing your career trajectory. You try anything and everything to get close to where you want to be, and the answer always has to be “yes”.

In that spirit, I was really excited to read this post by Udacity Self-Driving Car student Kiki Jewell.

While she is studying to become an autonomous vehicle engineer, Kiki applied to “drive” autonomous vehicles for Cruise. Unlike me, she got the job. And she is learning a ton!

This is not like driving. It is much more like training a driver. You cannot relax and let your driving instincts take over, like driving for a ride sharing company or driving on a commute. You are watching the car drive, and being hyper-alert at all times, in case a human driver acts unpredictably.

How about this?

We’ve had the public throw boxes into the street in front of the car, pretend to roll over the hood as if we’d hit them, try to kick at the sensors, or even just yell at us to go when the car has decided it is still unsafe.

The future seems bright:

There is always room for improvement, and Cruise will be around for a long time, making things better and better, striving always diligently towards unattainable perfection. But they are so far along, and so rapidly improving every day, it’s stunning to watch!

Read the whole thing!