Everything but autonomous, net neutrality and Uber's 'Game of Thrones'

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Bosch’s automatic braking feature in action.

Weekly analysis, news and randomness from the future of transportation.

On the road to self-driving cars, we tend to focus on the perks: reduced traffic, cheaper ride-sharing fares and the elimination of human-caused traffic deaths. In our haste, we overlook innovations that are already available — but that’s primarily because most of those features only kick in during an emergency, ensuring most of us won’t experience them firsthand.

Still, the tech that’s out there is pretty amazing. Bosch invited journalists to test its new mobility technologies at an event at its test track in Boxberg, Germany, this month. Many of these included hands-free driving or parking functions, while others used autonomous vehicle technology in critical safety features for when a human is still behind the wheel. Bosch showed a redundant steering system meant as a fail-safe for a self-driving car, which ensures a driver won’t lose power steering in an emergency situation, and automatic braking that stops any car even at highway speeds — regardless if man or machine is driving. The company also demonstrated sensors — which will eventually serve as a driverless car’s eyes — that can detect an unavoidable crash and, when paired with electronically controlled seat belts, secure a driver and prime him or her for airbag impact.

Most people won’t see these features in action unless their car is about to crash. And salespeople are likely to show off the flashier driver-assist features in a test drive rather than simulate an accident. But for those who do find themselves in those situations, it’s likely they’ll be thanking their lucky stars that these safety features exist. And while we’re still a long way from reducing the 94 percent statistic of human-caused traffic deaths to zero, these developments along the way will certainly make a dent.

 Katie Burke

Hot, succulent federal regulatory statutes.

What you missed

Self-driving cars go through the sausage factory Legislation that aims to standardize autonomous vehicle regulations across the country scored a small but significant victory, passing a House panel by voice vote Wednesday

Wanted: CEO, experienced at cleanup, must be willing to ride-hail Uber’s search for a top executive has the rumor mill churning. Unable to resist a guessing game, Mobility Report polled our staff on picks for the job. See our nominations here. (Hint: You’ll find a former presidential candidate and a possible future presidential candidate.)

Golden electric parachutes Lucid Motors approached management at Ford Motor Co. about purchasing the startup luxury EV carmaker, according to Bloomberg. Ford demurred. 

Yet another fractious regulatory battle As the FCC looks at changing how it regulates the Internet in the debate over net neutrality, providers such as AT&T and Comcast are claiming self-driving cars as one example of why so-called fast data lanes are needed. One supporter: German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mobility Report Water Cooler Did Lyft reinvent the bus, or is it pioneering a fixed micro-transit route? Drop the jargon and join us as we chat about the clash between next-gen startups and old-school transit advocates in this week’s Mobility Report Water Cooler.

Waymo goes sight-seeing in the desert.

Fragments

• Waymo takes its cars to Death Valley to see if they can beat the heat.

• General Motors’ self-driving unit Cruise Automation is rolling out an app to hail self-driving cars next week. The catch: It’s only for Cruise employees. 

• Two former Tesla engineers claim they’ve found the lidar-less autonomous vehicle mapping solution. 

• Dude, where’s my Tesla?

• California is making its roads autonomous-vehicle-friendly, while hackers find new ways to take advantage of them.

• Uber faces yet another lawsuit, this time over disability access.

No word on how these compare to the cost of new lidar sensors. Photo credit: DEA

• The industry may be divided over flying cars, but these Ford Fusions are a good compromise.

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