Autonomous more attractive than electric

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In this blog: Autonomous is turning into the newest kid on the block.

By the way some automakers are jumping into the autonomous wagon it seems to me they take it much more to heart than electric. OK, the electric cars are still the new kid on the block, but the autonomous tech is easily making a lot of headlines recently...

For example, GM invested in Sakti3 battery startup, but nowere near much as in a fresh deal for the aquision of Cruise Automation. Fortune says it's "north of $1 billion" while some five years ago GM invested $3.2 million in Sakti3.

Other automakers and tech giants, particularly from Germany, are also very active on the autonomous front. Audi, for instance, does not make fully electric cars yet, but is betting heavily on autonomous tech. True, they are about to start producing an all electric quattro for 2018 debut, but one can easily see autonomous tech is kind of getting a different attention there.

A lot is going on in battery and other EV tech research. It's just that autonomous kind of rapidly got into the spotlight and at that, without all the troubles EVs are going through for years now. This will almost certainly change, though, as regulations won't be easy to conform. And there will be new regulations coming into force for the autonomouos tech for sure.

Maybe it's just becuase the electric is already there and is hardly news. It may be the better base (than ICE) for the autonomous tech which is definitely a hot topic. It's like electric is the solid foundation that we're a bit already used to, it's subconscious.

But also, the autonomous tech could be applied to ICE cars which many automakers continue to stick to. And it can give the ICE cars something really new as they start losing ground to EVs. So it's just a matter of stuffing your existing models with electronics?!? Absolutely not an easy task, just way different than making an EV from the ground up.

I probably think so because the AI systems are getting better so fast and they can learn from themselves. And the battery, the BMS, the motor and the controller are all different beasts.

And then we come to the charging. News broke a hacker uncovered an upcoming 100 kWh Tesla battery. Sweet, but it can't be charged in 5 or 10 minutes now. We'll just need some supersonic breakthroughs in charging, not only more power(ful charging stations). Like, as I always had those visions, somehow "game" the system by making thousands of little charging processes at once, thus decreasing the time significantly.

According to Frost and Sullivan research, 3.7 kW onboard EV chargers will still dominate (with 60%) the market even in 2020. So consider this scenario: I get into my fully autonomous car in the spring of 2020, get transported some 300 km away doing nothing but reading books, touching screens or watching around and I arrive relaxed. Then I need to do some business for couple of hours and go back. Except that I can't because I need to wait my otherwise fully autonomous car charge its battery for some 6 or 7 hours...

Yes, I do hope different tech will progress simultaneously. They should be. Or something may look awfullly awkward if not. Right now I don't see much going into onboard chargers progress, other than a new super efficient (97%) 24 kW device from Kettering University, HELLA and GaN systems. Not that this is a small!

So, looks like fully autonomous cars are coming faster than we all expected, thanks to new chips from NVIDIA, a lot of startup efforts and a new hug automakers are giving to an artifical baby. Let's see what a kid it will be.

People in this conversation

  • Guest - John

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  • Guest - James

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