This article continues my discussion of Elon Musk’s leadership of Tesla from my previous article. This article discusses Tesla’s visionary invention of the Over the Air (OTA) vehicle updating system. This system, or a similar one devised by other companies in the industry, will be critical for the success of the autonomous vehicle industry in the U.S. The updates for fully autonomous vehicles will be more frequent and more extensive and they are essential for these vehicles to drive safely.

The article also discusses Musk’s decision for Tesla to construct needed charging stations, equipped with faster charging outlets for their…


When you think of the leaders of a new technology venture like the development and production of autonomous vehicles, you probably think of a bunch of nerds with glasses sitting behind a computer all day typing code. A person like Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla is certainly a surprise. This technology billionaire has incredible charisma and a flare for making dramatic (and often incorrect) predictions about the products and services that his companies provide.

He is also a controversial figure. Writing about him for my book, The Future is Autonomous, I tried to portray…


While Uber sold its Advanced Technology Group, effectively ending its original autonomous “robotaxi” plans, the financial model they created could still be use by other companies. It is also incorrect to say that Uber turned away from autonomy entirely. As its ride-hailing service lost customers during the pandemic, its food delivery service UberEats gained customers. I discussed other companies like Nuro focusing on last-mile delivery of gods and groceries in my book, The Future is Autonomous, and this trend was already popular befoe the COVID-19 pandemic and has exploded in popularity since.

After failing to purchase UberEats’ main competitor in…


After my book The Future is Autonomous launched, Uber sold the Advanced Technologies Group responsible for the testing and deployment of its autonomous vehicle fleet for a $400 million investment in start-up Aurora Innovation, Inc. on December 7, 2020.

However, the steps that Uber took to create a “safety culture” and the emphasis it placed on creating a standard for the industry to test autonomous vehicles is still relevant and important. The “Fleits” financial model could also still be an option for companies seeking to create a ride-hailing “robotaxi” fleet.

The question posed by the fatal collision between Uber’s test…


This article discusses the background of current Waymo CEO John Krafcik. He is the leader with the most experience in the auto industry that I discuss in my book, The Future is Autonomous. His experience allowed him to create, develop, and ultimately perfect the notion of “lean production” which he patented. This technique allowed him to only focus on developing the technology for the “Waymo Driver” instead of alo developing a vehicle after the “Firefly” debacle.

John Krafcik’s Leadership Background Ushers in a New Direction for Waymo

John Krafcik was born on September 18, 1961 in Southington, Connecticut. He lived…


This article begins my six-article series covering three major autonomous vehicle companies in the US. All of this material is taken directly from my book, The Future is Autonomous: The US and China Race to Develop the Driverless Car. I can think of no better place to start than discussing arguably the top global company in the industry in Waymo.

In this article, I discuss the origins of Waymo as the Google Self-Driving Car program operating out of Google’s secretive “moonshot” X labs. For an in-depth analysis of how Google began to develop autonomous vehicles, relying on veterans from the…


In this article, I discuss how a vehicle knows in general where it is in the world, its speed and other identifying factors. At this point, it can then use the information it receives from the camera and LiDAR sensor data about the world around the vehicle, form a path through the path planning algorithm system, and act on that planned path to drive safely. This information was taken directly from my book, The Future is Autonomous: The U.S. and China Race to Develop the Driverless Car.

The Autonomous Vehicle Discovers Where it is and What to Do Next

Autonomous…


This article discusses the basics of artificial intelligence and machine learning. I also discuss how autonomous vehicles use the information they receive through the cameras and LiDAR sensors which perceive the world to drive better and safer over time through continuous repetition of driving tasks in the deep learning neural network system. This information was taken directly from my book, The Future is Autonomous: The U.S. and China Race to Develop the Driverless Car.

The Development of Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy Before Autonomous Vehicles

In the 2019 remake of the horror film Child’s Play, there is a scene in which…


I discussed the debate between cameras and LiDAR sensors as the “eyes” of the autonomous vehicle last article. This article deals with the complicated process of “sensor fusion.” This is the second part of my chapter related to the different sensors for autonomous vehicles in my book The Future is Autonomous: The U.S.and China Race to Develop the Driverless Car.

“Sensor fusion” is used to detect when a camera or sensor has inaccurate “noise,” for example when rain and fog blurring camera visibility. The system then uses filter algorithms so another sensor can make up for the inaccurate “noisy” data…


This week’s article will be the first article in a four-article series about the technological innovations of autonomous vehicles which allows a vehicle to drive itself! The material for this article comes from my book, The Future is Autonomous: The U.S. and China Race to Develop th Driverless Car.

One disclaimer, my background is in policy and economics. I am not an engineer. However, I have been very grateful to have received input from two very experienced engineers who work on autonomous vehicles. Therefore, this article, as well as the next three in the series describe the basic technological components.

Phillip Wilcox

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