Ep 51: FCA invests $30M into AV test facility; consumers not ready for Level 5 cars; Audi’s releases an Aicon

Photo by Daniela Cuevas on Unsplash
SOURCE: Photo by Daniela Cuevas on Unsplash

Today, Episode 51! FCA gets serious about AVs with a $30M investment in an AV test facility; for the first time in history, technological development seems to be outpacing consumer demand as people get less comfortable with Level 5 full autonomy rather than more comfortable; and, Audi prepares the world for its Aicon autonomous test fleet.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles invests $30M into autonomous test facility

FCA is finally getting very serious about autonomous cars, with an investment of $30M into an autonomous test facility in Michigan (this from a story over at Autoblog). This of course above and beyond their current primary involvement with AVs, namely, producing the fantastic Chrysler Pacific minivan in use by Waymo for its autonomous test fleet.

Consumers aren’t ready for Level 5 cars? 

So this is weird: never before in history can I think of a time where technology outpaced consumer demand. Think about the advent of the cell phone, or computers generally: with consumers it was always a matter of “more, better, bigger (hard drive space), smaller (form factor)” and so on. With AVs, however, it appears (and here) that more consumers are less comfortable with fully autonomous level 5 cars rather than more comfortable. In this segment, I compare and contrast the development of autonomous car tech to autonomous aviation tech, and consider why there’s such a difference here.

Audi readies the world for its Aicon autonomous test fleet

We’ve discussed quite a bit about Volkswagen’s We electric car sharing platform; now Audi is readying its Aicon fully level 5 autonomous test fleet vehicle, the Aicon. More of an extension of your home (with wheels and automated driving capability) and less of traditional car, it’s a whopping 9 inches (22.9 cm) longer than the already huge Audi A8L luxury saloon, and utterly devoid of human driver controls like steering wheel or pedals. Instead, it’s kitted out with a wrap around display and huge, rotating, reclining lounge seats.

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