Google guilty for going slowly, bad month for VW and more motoring news

A Google Self-Driving Car Was Stopped For Driving Too Slowly

Last month, one of Google’s autonomous cars was stopped by the cops for driving too slowly.

The incident drew widespread attention amid accusations that it was kerb-crawling in a red light district.

googleselfdriveIndeed, it was sauntering along at just 24mph in a 35mph zone without a care in the world.

Google though, says that it doesn’t send its autonomous vehicles on roads that have a speed limit beyond 35mph.

“First, slower speeds were easier for our development process,” explained Google in a new report. “A simpler vehicle enabled us to focus on the things we really wanted to study, like the placement of our sensors and the performance of our self-driving software.

“Secondly, we cared a lot about the approachability of the vehicle; slow speeds are generally safer and help the vehicles feel at home on neighbourhood streets.”

Google is not backing down though, and continues to defend its rather limp 25mph speeds. They pointed out that there are other lanes in which offended vehicles can overtake, and says that its cars can travel faster if they want to.

“I once spotted a Google car doing 28mph,” said one American.

4,600 Miles Of UK’s Road Network Has No Mobile Phone Coverage

Blimey, even in 2015 when the Pope drives around in a Fiat and your grandma is on Facebook, some 2% of the UK’s roads have no mobile phone coverage.

According to a report released by the RAC Foundation, not a single network provider covers up to 4,561 miles of our roads.

rac-logoThis means that drivers who are stranded can’t make an emergency call.

However, if a driver is stranded in an area their network provider doesn’t cover, they will be able to make a call if another network provider does cover the area.

If there is no network coverage at all, the driver remains stranded and may even vanish forever.

Maybe.

30,000 miles of road, meanwhile, have only partial 2G signal, while 14,554 miles have no 3G coverage. A staggering 45% of our roads have just partial 3G signal, while over half has no 4G coverage.

Steve Gooding, Director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Most of us like to think we are always just a mobile phone call away from help but even in a crowded, high-tech country like Britain the reality is somewhat different.”

“Our work shows there are thousands of miles of road along which you would not want to break down or have an accident because calling the emergency services and home wouldn’t be an option.”
Powys is home to the most miles without any coverage, with some 437 miles of their roads remaining free from signals.

One driver we spoke to from Bermondsey said he is “never going to Powys ever again.” When we told him that Argyll & Bute has 293 miles off network-free roads, he got even more furious, spat out his Stella, and told Argyll & Bute to “do one.”

“I used to like going for a drive,” said a woman driver from Dover, “but now I’m terrified to venture further than Tesco ever again.”

2025 Will See 20 Million Self-driving Cars On The Road

For all the doubters out there, a brand new study has revealed that at least 20 million autonomous vehicles will be on the roads by 2025 at the latest.

Autonomous Vehicles: Adoption, Regulation and Business Models 2015-2025 was carried out by UK firm Juniper Research, and found that live trials are now becoming more and more common, while it is only a matter of time before the first self-driving cars hit the road.

The bulk of early consumer adoption is expected to take place in North America and West Europe, and is forecast to commence around 2021.

Because self-driving cars will be able to offer enhanced convenience and safety, the projected early adoption is expected to see sales of up to 20 million units by 2025.

With that said, sales of autonomous vehicles would still make up only 1% of the worldwide car market.

Still, the numbers are significant when compared to the electric vehicle.

Although electric vehicles were expected to take off, worldwide sales have still not even reached a million units.

“Stakeholders are currently investigating multiple business models with manufacturers expected to engage in product licensing, self-production or open sourcing the systems,” said the report.

“In the interim, consumer usage of ADAS (Advanced Driving Assistance System) technologies such as adaptive cruise control and automated braking will become key. These will serve to prepare drivers for the psychological change from the role of driving a car to operating a driverless car.”

Early first movers in the market are unsurprisingly expected to be Google, Apple and Tesla, while Daimler and Volvo are currently the only two conventional car manufacturers that will make significant headway.

Google has been in development more than anyone else and will be a key player.

Research is still ongoing into how a self-driving car can deal with the Trolley Problem. Basically, when faced with two disastrous outcomes, what will it choose?

Volkswagen Sales Plummet By 25% In November

VW lossLet’s face it; the final quarter of 2015 hasn’t been great for Volkswagen and they’ve definitely seen better days.

Usually, the German automotive giant has plenty to celebrate as a year approaches its end, but this time around they have to brace themselves for each monthly sales report.

And the November reports do not make pretty reading.

Sales for November 2015 totalled just 23,882 units which means they are down 25% for the same period of last year. Overall, yearly sales are down by 4.3%, which we can say is solely down to the emissions crisis that has engulfed the organisation.

Sales dropped 3.5% in October, with all group brands that sell TDI diesels affected.

The crisis has affected four and six-pot diesel units and VW is working tirelessly on finding a solution to end the slump and stop the bleeding.

Finding a solution is hard when VW dealers are not able to sell new diesels – which are usually the brand’s top sellers by far.

Mark McNabb, chief operating officer of Volkswagen of America, said that the company “is working tirelessly on an approved remedy for the affected TDI vehicles. During this time we would like to thank our dealers and customers for their continued patience and loyalty.”

Just 774 Volkswagen Golf’s were sold in November, which represented an incredible drop of 64%.

In better news, sales of the environmentally friendly e-Golf are up.

Volvo Reports Best Ever Sales Month

volvoWhile poor old Volkswagen is floundering, Volvo is doing better than ever before.

The Swedish automotive firm posted a 26% rise in retail sales for last month, which means that its total sales of 49,055 cars is its best sales month in its proud 88-year history.

In the medium-run, Volvo has now tasked itself with reaching annual global sales of 800,000 cars.

The renewed sense of ambition has been fuelled by what the company has described as “a complete shake-up of its product line-up in the next four years.”

The worldwide success of the Volvo XC90 has led the way for the Volvo S90, which is only the second car to be based on the firm’s innovative Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) technology.

There were 6,903 retail sales in the U.S. alone in November 2015, which represented a staggering increase of 90.5% on the same period of last year.

Sales have no doubt been boosted by the formidable XC60 and XC90 models, which are outselling all other Volvo’s.

In Europe, retail sales are up a little more modestly, though the continent has still seen an increase of 23.9%. 26,646 Volvo’s were sold here last month, with Sweden alone witnessing a sales increase of 24.3%.

Chinese sales are up by 15.8%.

Will Titterington
  • 4th December 2015

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