Ford CTO Ken Washington at TC Sessions: Mobility on July 10

A conference dedicated to transportation and mobility wouldn’t be complete without hearing from Ford, the U.S. automaker with a storied 116-year history.

We’re excited to announce that Ford CTO Ken Washington will participate in TechCrunch’s inaugural TC Sessions: Mobility, a one-day event on July 10, 2019 in San Jose, Calif., that’s bringing the best and brightest minds — founders, investors and technologists — who are determined to invent a future Henry Ford might never have imagined. Or maybe he did.

If there’s a person at Ford who can provide insight into where the company is headed, it’s Washington.

As CTO and vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering, Washington leads Ford’s worldwide research organization, oversees the development and implementation of the company’s technology strategy and plans and plays a key role in its expansion into emerging mobility opportunities.

Prior to joining Ford, he was vice president of the Advanced Technology Center at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, where he led a team of scientists and engineers in performing research and development in space science and related R&D.

TC Sessions: Mobility has a jam-packed agenda, overflowing with some of the biggest names and most exciting startups in the transportation industry. With early-bird ticket sales ending soon, you’ll want to be sure to grab your tickets after checking out this agenda.

Throughout the day, you can expect to hear from and partake in discussions about the future of transportation, the promise and problems of autonomous vehicles, the potential for bikes and scooters, investing in early-stage startups and more.

We’ll be joined by some of the most esteemed and prescient people in the space, including Dmitri Dolgov  at WaymoArgo AI Chief Safety Officer Summer Craze Fowler, Nuro co-founder Dave FergusonKarl Iagnemma of Aptiv, Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron and Seleta Reynolds of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Early-bird tickets are now on sale — save $100 on tickets before prices go up.

Students, you can grab your tickets for just $45.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

How GM Cruise uses its Dashride acquisition to build a robo-taxi company

Cruise Automation acquired a fleet management company to help keep track of its self-driving vehicles.
Cruise Automation acquired a fleet management company to help keep track of its self-driving vehicles.
Image: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

It started back in their college days when Thomas Bachant and Nadav Ullman were trying to get safe rides around the University of Connecticut campus. There was a disconnect between the partygoers who needed a ride and the designated, sober drivers.

So the two teamed up and built a mobile app, Sobrio, to make it easier to find someone going out but not drinking. When that took off at their campus they brought it to other universities. After graduation, they bought an RV and drove from campus to campus to get students hooked up to the ride platform.

Eventually they started getting calls from fleet managers who said that they wanted what they had built for universities for, say, a limo company’s service. Sobrio became Dashride and the team was then working with ground transportation companies on their dispatching software, booking, billing, and other operations. 

Now the co-founders are working with one of the biggest companies in the self-driving space, General Motor’s Cruise Automation. Cruise raised $1.15 billion earlier this month, now valuing the GM- and Honda-backed company at $19 billion. Late last year, the San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle company acquired Dashride and its seven-member engineering team. 

It makes a lot of sense: Cruise is preparing for a taxi service in San Francisco by the end of this year. As of February, 175 Cruise cars were registered for self-driving testing in California. The taxis will be autonomous all-electric Chevy Bolt cars — and several hundred will eventually be available for a hired ride as part of the Cruise network.

That’s a lot of charge levels, equipment, miles driven, maintenance checks and more to keep track of — which is where Dashride comes in.

The Dashride team with one of the Cruise autonomous vehicles.

The Dashride team with one of the Cruise autonomous vehicles.

Image: cruise

Through their fleet management software the team is taking their experience monitoring and managing fleets of delivery, campus, and non-medical emergency vehicles and translating that into a system where one day no one’s in the driver’s seat noticing a low battery warning.

Bachant compared robo-cars to human-driven vehicles in a recent phone call with Mashable: “Think about a human with a car. They’re gonna know when their car is low on fuel, or when to go in for an oil change.” But now with Cruise the team is thinking about “how a fleet operates without drivers,” Ullman added. 

The “dash” in their acquired company’s name hints at the “mission control”-like dashboard that Cruise now uses to track its vehicles on a map and with key data points like charge level, time out on the road, and where that particular car is due next.

Behind the scenes of Cruise's self-driving fleet.

Behind the scenes of Cruise’s self-driving fleet.

Image: Cruise automation

Fleet management is nothing new — for truck and delivery companies tracking trips and vehicles is crucial and has been for decades. Canadian company Geotab, a connected vehicle and data company, tracks 1.6 million vehicles, including many part of large commercial fleets like at PepsiCo and UPS.

Mike Branch, VP of data and analytics at Geotab, in a phone call last week explained how once fleets plug in the company’s device into the van, taxi, garbage truck, or other vehicles, Geotab “can tell you when your battery is going to die on your vehicle before it does.”

A connected truck reports back on its engine health or other needs.

A connected truck reports back on its engine health or other needs.

Image: geotab

As fleets and long-haul truck routes slowly become robot-controlled, predicative maintenance and tracking data help manage an “unmanned” system that won’t have a driver to flag issues. 

“You need to be able to connect these things together,” Branch, speaking from the perspective of an actual autonomous vehicle, said, “Whether or not I’m healthy, what’s my tire pressure, how many miles have I driven, what’s my engine health, am I in range?”

As Cruise’s Bachant said, “we’ve already removed the human from the driver seat, now we remove it from operations.” It’s all about autonomy.

Uploads%252fvideo uploaders%252fdistribution thumb%252fimage%252f91094%252f538402fb 1a36 411e 848c f1f10f23593b.jpg%252foriginal.jpg?signature=xvcqrnfwzow7scobrslnbzqb79q=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Ford will slash 7,000 salaried jobs by August

Ford Motor is laying off 7,000 salaried employees as part of CEO Jim Hackett’s restructuring plan to reduce bureaucracy, cut costs and turn the automaker into a more agile company prepared for a future that extends beyond its traditional business of producing and selling cars and trucks.

The cuts represent about 10 percent of the automaker’s salaried employees. Some buyouts and layoffs have already occurred, according to an email sent to employees by Hackett. The contents of the email were initially reported by the WSJ. TechCrunch has since reviewed the email.

Some 1,500 employees opted for voluntary buyouts, which occurred in November 2018, according to a spokesperson. Ford expects to complete the restructuring efforts expect by August globally. Cuts affecting Ford’s North American workforce will be complete by June, a Ford spokesperson told TechCrunch.

This cuts will result in annual savings of about $600 million, Hackett said in the email. “We also made significant progress in eliminating bureaucracy, speeding up decision making and driving empowerment as part of this redesign,” he wrote.

The layoffs were anticipated by employees. Ford informed employees last October that it would be restructuring the company, a move that would likely result in layoffs and voluntary buyouts.

The reorganization is part of a broader strategy to prepare for a future with autonomous vehicle technology, electrification and unconventional ownership models.

The restructuring plan is focused on making the company more agile and less bureaucratic. Each business went through a “Smart Redesign” process, according to Hackett’s email, which notes that 1,000 employees were involved in this activity.

Ford previously announced it would spend $11 billion to add 16 all-electric vehicles within its global portfolio of 40 electrified vehicles through 2022. At the heart of the company’s electrification effort is its Corktown project, a massive 1.2 million-square-foot space dedicated to its electric and autonomous vehicles businesses.

The goal of Corktown is to create a “mobility corridor” — Ford’s version of its own Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley — that ties hubs of research, testing and development in the academic hub of Ann Arbor to Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, and finally to Detroit.

Last year, Hackett revealed several other techcentric plans for the automaker that included the introduction of an open cloud-based platform for cities to use, a partnership with Qualcomm for Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything, or C-V2X, a term that means two-way communication with stoplights, signs and other city infrastructure. The company 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

EVgo is installing fast chargers at Chevron filling stations

Sponsored Links


Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

EV infrastructure company EVgo has teamed up with Chevron to install fast chargers at select filling stations in California. The chargers, with up to 100 kW of capacity, are now running at Menlo Park and under construction at other locations in Los Angeles and Bay Area communities including Aliso Viejo, Manhattan Beach and Venice. “EVgo is helping everyone — including traditional fueling stations — take advantage of the benefits of EV adoption,” EVgo CEO Cathy Zoi said in a statement.

With an EVgo fast charger, you can get about 90 miles of range in 30 minutes, and they work with any EV that accepts DC Fast Charging. Its charging network is one of the larger ones in the US, and the company recently teamed up with GM to offer new Chevy Bolt owners free charging for a limited time. Having them at conventional gas stations is particularly convenient for highway travelers, who can take care of meals and bathroom breaks while their vehicle charges up.

Since customers won’t be buying fuel, service station owners haven’t exactly been motivated to install chargers. However, that’s slowly changing — for instance, one of the largest suppliers of gas dispenser recently invested in Tritrium, and EV charging company. And gas stations can make a cut on the electricity and sell snacks to customers, as I discovered when touring France’s charging infrastructure in a Renault Zoe.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source

Chevy tests a crossover utility version of its Bolt EV

Sponsored Links


KGP Photography

Chevy has talked about producing more electric crossovers besides the Bolt EV, and it now appears much closer to fulfilling that goal. Our sister site Autoblog has obtained photos and video of Chevy testing a more utility-focused crossover, rumored to be named the Bolt EUV, on public streets. It’s heavily disguised, to put it mildly, but you can see a more SUV-like design with a larger back and a more vertical snout. While the current Bolt is officially labeled as a crossover, the EUV would bet better-suited to grocery runs and family vacations.

There’s no official release schedule for the EUV, but a combination of rumors and GM’s overall timeline suggests you’ll see the machine arrive in late 2020.

This will likely be a stopgap model for Chevy. GM is in the midst of developing a third-generation platform that will form the foundation of its EVs for years to come, but that will take time — this gives the automaker more variety before it transitions to electric vehicles in earnest. And much like Tesla’s Model Y, Chevy could produce the Bolt EUV without making dramatic changes.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Link to original source