In the near future, your phone might be smart enough to know whether you are driving a car, or going along for the ride. Anti-distraction software by a tech startup called Cellepathy would automatically go into a restrictive “driver mode” when a phone is within a moving vehicle. Online features such as texts, video, games and social media would be blocked, as well as some or all nonemergency telephone calls.
California and other states would be barred from setting their own rules governing design and testing of self-driving cars, while federal regulators would be blocked from demanding pre-market approval for autonomous vehicle technology, according to a U.S. House Republican proposal reviewed by Reuters. The draft legislation, while far from becoming law, still represents a victory for General Motors Co., Alphabet Inc., Tesla Inc. and other automakers and technology companies seeking to persuade Congress and the Trump administration to pre-empt rules under consideration in California, New York and other states that could limit deployment of self-driving vehicles.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that will officially allow self-driving vehicles to operate freely on state roads, with or without human supervision. Though there weren’t any prior regulations against autonomous vehicles in Texas, Republican Sen. Kelly Hancock’s Senate Bill 2205, effective in September, explicitly ensures that these automakers will be able to innovate in the state's driverless realm. “The Texas economy fosters innovation,” Hancock said in a statement when the bill was passed by the Texas Senate Transportation Committee.
Lyft Inc. is expanding its roster of automotive partners as the second-largest U.S. ride-hailing company tries to capitalize on missteps by Uber Technologies Inc. Jaguar Land Rover said it’s working with Lyft on autonomous-driving technology and will offer vehicles for rent to the San Francisco-based startup’s drivers. The automaker, which is a subsidiary of Tata Motors Ltd., also disclosed an investment of $25 million in Lyft as part of a funding round that closed earlier, valuing the business at $7.5 billion.
The day before a Senate panel is to discuss federal regulations for self-driving cars, three senators released “principles” to guide that legislation. U.S. Sens. John Thune, R-S.D.; Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township; and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., all members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, released “bipartisan principles” to guide legislation on self-driving cars. The panel will hold a hearing about the “hurdles for testing and deployment” of robotic cars.
A U.S. Justice Department lawyer said at a court hearing it could take "weeks or months" before regulators decide whether to approve a software fix for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV diesel vehicles. The Justice Department had sued Fiat Chrysler, accusing the Italian-American automaker of illegally using software to bypass emission controls in 104,000 diesel vehicles sold since 2014. Fiat Chrysler lawyer Robert Giuffra said the company is optimistic regulators will approve the company's proposed software update as part of certifying 2017 diesel models to allow them to go on sale and then use that software to update the 104,000 vehicles on the road.
BlackBerry Ltd said it has developed new software for running complex computer systems on vehicles, giving the once dominant smartphone maker a leg up in a burgeoning segment of the technology market. The company declined to name any automakers who plan to use the technology, but senior BlackBerry executive John Wall said "multiple" car companies have started incorporating it into onboard computer systems of vehicles that are currently in development. BlackBerry touted the product, the QNX Hypervisor 2.0, as a way to make vehicles more secure from hacking, saying it can isolate multiple systems to run on a single piece of silicon, allowing them to isolate functions critical to safety from systems that are exposed to wireless networks.
Subaru of America Inc. has knowingly sold vehicles with faulty windshields and has failed to repair the defect or reimburse customers, according to a putative class action filed by drivers in California federal court. Lucia Luong, who bought a new 2015 Subaru Outback that she alleges spontaneously suffered a cracked windshield in March, said Subaru has knowingly sold vehicles with windshields that have cracked, chipped or fractured under normal circumstances, and has denied valid warranty claims in an effort to minimize its own costs. “Subaru knew of and concealed the windshield defect that is contained in every class vehicle, along with the attendant dangerous safety problems and associated repair costs, from plaintiff and the other class members both at the time of sale and repair and thereafter,” Luong said in the complaint.
Renault-Nissan is drawing up plans to build a 100 megawatt power storage plant in Europe, sources told Reuters, hoping to give electric car batteries a second life in a project that could eventually compete with utility companies. Like rival Tesla's energy storage business, the Renault-Nissan move underscores its desire to cultivate a second-hand battery market while encouraging the development of energy infrastructure that works for electric cars. The Renault-Nissan alliance plant, which has yet to be built, would be big enough to power 120,000 homes, or supplant the role of a gas- or coal-fired power station in meeting peak electricity demand on the grid, the sources said.
Silicon Valley's latest mobility startup, a short-term vehicle leasing company called Canvas, is backed by old-school muscle: Ford Motor Credit Co, the dealer and consumer financing arm of U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. From its San Francisco base, Canvas started offering variable-term leases with flexible payment options to Bay area customers in early May, with plans to eventually roll out the service to other cities. "Our mission is to identify, test and launch financial products that meet the changing needs of consumers," said Ned Ryan, co-founder of Breeze and chief executive officer of Canvas, in an interview.
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