Ep 67: Steering wheel or no steering wheel? China gets its first solid state LiDAR AV; so does BMW

SOURCE: Innoviz

Today! We discuss whether you’d be more comfortable getting into a fully autonomous car (read: driverless; no human backup driver) that had the usual steering wheel, pedals, and shifter, or whether you’d be prefer something that looked truly unique and different, without such driver inputs; China launches the world’s first solid state lidar-equipped AV; and BMW readies its own solid state lidar-equipped cars with Innoviz.


Today’s question (which is directly linked to the first segment of today’s episode): Would you feel safer in an autonomous vehicle that didn’t have a backup human driver that looked like a contemporary car (steering wheel, pedals, etc), or a totally novel, shuttle pod sort of thing with no steering wheel, pedals, etc? Cast your vote now and we’ll report back on Tuesday!!

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So: To steering wheel or not to steering wheel?

As a startup founder and head of product for over 8 years, I can’t help but analyze things through my startup goggles. So a question occurred to me just yesterday: was it a mistake for autonomous vehicle companies — including Waymo — to introduce the public to test vehicles that still had a steering wheel and pedals? The idea was that it’s a rather disconcerting thing to see an empty driver’s seat, with the wheel and pedals being operated as if by some invisible phantom. I argue that it’s a huge mistake.

China gets first AV with solid state LiDAR

Alibaba’s Cainiao Network and Robosense have just rolled out the GPlus, the world’s first vehicle equipped with solid state lidar, about which we’ll discuss much more in subsequent episodes.

BMW too readies solid state LiDAR for its upcoming cars

Meanwhile, in Germany, BMW is working with Israel-based startup Innoviz (@InnovizOne) to produce autonomous cars using their solid state lidar. Again, we’ll discuss solid state lidar in far greater depth in a subsequent episode.

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