The Next Billion Cars – Autonomous Vehicles: Learning to Crawl

In 2016, Telsa made a video touting their ‘self-driving’ software – faked. Every major manufacturer promised self-driving cars by 2021 – none are even close. Will the nirvana of driverless cars ever come – or will it remain a temping mirage, forever just over the horizon? Mark is joined by co-host Sally Dominguez and Special Correspondent Drew Smith as we speak to GIO boffin Steve Cratchley, and reconnect with Ken Goldberg – does Ken still believe autonomous vehicles are a decade or more away? Are we advancing toward autonomy – or stalled in the high-speed lane?

Here’s the deeply disturbing footage of the 8-car pileup on San Francisco’s Bay Bridge on Thanksgiving Day – possibly due to a failure in a Tesla’s self-driving feature.

A Tesla engineer testifies that the firm’s 2016 video touting its self-driving software was faked. That led to Tesla warning its investors that it’s being investigated by the US Justice Department.

Mercedes is the first car maker in the US cleared for ‘Level 3’ autonomy – in Nevada.

And back in 2022, Mercedes told the press it would be taking full legal responsibility for its driver assistance features…

And of course y’all should be listening to Drew’s other podcast, “Looking Out“…

Thanks to series sponsors GIO and BMW Electromobility.

SUSTAIN #2: Will electrified transport help us ‘flatten the curve’ on climate change?

Mercedes goes all in on EVs, with studies now indicating EVs do save 50% of emissions over their lifetime, versus petrol vehicles. Is this enough to keep on course to a low-carbon future? And what about flying cars? Co-host Sally Dominguez and Special Correspondent Drew Smith have some answers.

Mercedes goes all electric by 2030 – read about it here.

Study confirms EV has much lower lifecycle emissions than petrol vehicles – read that here.

Here’s that mindblowing video from Joby Aviation, showing how quiet this eVTOL ‘flying car’ really is!
And a really long flight with their aircraft – proof that electrification of air travel can work!

Episode 5.08 – What stands in the way of electric vehicles?

Co-host Sally Dominguez and special correspondent Drew Smith explore the many facets of vehicle electrification with Mark. EVs are finally happening – but does that make them inevitable?

(Pictured: GMC’s new Hummer EV SUV, coming at the end of 2021)

Episode 5.06 – What’s the next fuel after batteries?

Co-host Sally Dominguez looks beyond battery-powered vehicles, opening the door to a future featuring hydrogen, “paste”, and ammonia-powered engines. This diverse transition from fossil fuels enables a range of new vehicles for all of the ways we’ll live and work in the decades to come.

Sally’s new book EPIC Resilience is a great guide to staying match-fit in an ever changing world. Grab a copy here!

Episode 5.05 – Has Europe gone ‘all-in’ on electric vehicles?

Special correspondent Drew Smith explores a European car market that appears to have reached a tipping point in sales of electric vehicles. Is it real? Is it sustainable? Can the power grid handle all those new EVs?

Drew asks the experts – and gets some surprising answers.

Drew co-authors the amazing ‘Looking Out’ newsletter – read the latest one here.

THE NEXT BILLION CARS Episode 11 – The Next Billion Bubbles

Physical distancing makes personal transportation a necessity. When public transport risks infection, cars & bikes become our safe spaces. Co-host Sally Dominguez looks at the sudden reframing of the automobile as self-contained ‘safe space’ during the pandemic. Special correspondent Drew Smith rhapsodises about the Renault Espace, the first MPV designed – to carry people.

1984 Renault Espace

Be sure to sign up for Drew Smith’s “Looking Out” newsletter – grab it here.

THE NEXT BILLION CARS Episode 7 – The Next Billion Tons

Waste? Not! Designing cars for near-perfect recycling – is it even possible, or do the next billion end up as junk? How do we rethink a sustainable future around billions of automobiles? And can EVs promise zero carbon emissions?

We reference a lot of material on this episode, including this BP report on how much carbon we’re adding to the atmosphere every year. And a great article on recycling shredded automobiles.

THE NEXT BILLION CARS Episode 6: The Next Billion Passengers

Apps have turned us into ride-sharing, route-planning, ‘micromobility’ experts. We’re all passengers now, with more options than ever before.

LEK Partner Mark Streeting is an expert in ‘mobility-as-a-service’, a new term for the kind of seamless end-to-end transportation pioneered by Uber…

LEK’s Mark Streeting advises businesses & governments on ‘mobility-as-a-service’

Special correspondent Drew Smith spoke with ZipCar co-founder Robin Chase about how the city has been defined by cars – and what it means to move past that into the age of passengers.

Robin Chase, co-founder of ZipCar

And co-host Sally Dominguez found an intriguing Chinese startup – Grove Hydrogen Automotive – building hydrogen-fuel-cell powered vehicles and offering them to drivers on a ‘subscription’ basis – as a path toward jump-starting hydrogen fueling infrastructure throughout the nation.

A gull-winged Grove Hydrogen Automotive subscription vehicle.