Ep 54: AVs cheaper, safer, boringer; Volvo’s EV AV truck; Tesla’s cross-country Autopilot road trip and BMW iNEXT

Volvo Vera EV AV cabless truck
Volvo Vera EV AV cabless truck. SOURCE: Volvo

Today, Episode 54! Companies are deploying AVs at a faster and faster pace, but are we going to see safer, cheaper, and boringer? Volvo unveils it’s all-electric autonomous truck without a cab; and, Tesla whets our appetite for its fully autonomous cross-country drive with Autopilot 10 alpha, while BMW unveils its iNEXT EV, a concept car slated for 2021 that looks like a buck-toothed rhinoceros with its head transplanted onto a sledgehammer.

Autonomous Vehicles to be safer, cheaper… and boring-er?

Those of us eager for an autonomous future have been waiting with baited breath, eager anticipation, to see what today’s innovative AV companies have in store for us. There were generally two schools of thought: that ride sharing would be the first major offering; or that autonomous trucking and delivery services would come first. It seems the latter will see the light of day first, with short-range delivery of goods and services, and slow, closed circuit shuttle pods for humans, to reach mass market adoption first. This then presents a safer, cheaper, and decidedly boring-er future than we’d hoped: 25 mph shuttle pods wasn’t quite what we had in mind.

Volvo’s new EV AV cab-less truck

Take a modern commercial big rig truck — just the tractor — and remove its engine and cockpit; literally just chop the entire cab off. What are you left with? Just a bit of body work housing the wheels and drivetrain. Well, that’s basically what Volvo’s new AV EV offering — named Vera; no idea why — is all about. Since this design isn’t particularly aerodynamic, it will be limited solely to urban routes with battery packs between 100 kWh to 300kWh offering a range of up to 300 km (186 mi).

Tesla’s cross-country Autopilot road trip & BMW’s iNEXT buck-toothed rhino

We’ve been promised a fully Autopilot-driven Tesla road trip for several year now, and it looks like Elon Musk is gearing up with a suggestion this may happen soon with Autopilot 10 alpha. For those of you keeping track, Autopilot 9 isn’t even out quite yet — but should be rolling out in the coming weeks — nevertheless, Autopilot 10a will surely start testing before AP9 has fully run its course. Meanwhile, BMW’s iNEXT concept — slated for public consumption in 2021 — is a promising step in the right autonomous/electric direction, except that it looks like a buck-toothed rhinoceros with its head transplanted onto a sledgehammer.

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