Daily Authority: 🚚 No trucker, no problem

An Apple self driving test vehicle

One of the test vehicles Apple is using for autonomous driving.

👋 Good morning and happy Juneteenth for yesterday!

Alright, team, this is my final week here at Android Authority. I’ll be wrapping up here after starting this newsletter as the DGiT Daily back on October 2nd, 2018, and there have been some 800 newsletters sent since! Don’t worry, the team will keep making sure you get your morning’s tech news you need to know. I’ll write more about what it all means during the week!

Self-driving trucks

aurora self driving truck

The reality of self-driving vehicles has been pretty fun to keep tabs on over the years: we’ve seen Tesla’s controversial beta testing (without using Lidar sensors), constant improvement from the likes of Alphabet’s Waymo and GM’s Cruise, to autonomous shipping, and plenty more — like trucks!

  • It’s clear at some point soon that most new vehicles will be capable of significant portions of self-driving, especially on highways which are mostly alike.
  • And as that comes closer, the differentiator won’t be if a brand of car can or cannot, but more what it costs to have it available.
  • Tesla’s add-on “Full Self-Driving” (which still isn’t full but something like a Level 2 driver-assistance system) is $199p/m or, last check, $12,000.
  • Elon Musk suggested recently that Tesla would be worth almost nothing if it doesn’t solve self-driving, or at least would be worth what other car manufacturers are worth.
  • There’s so far to go from handling 90% of daily roads and traffic to all scenarios, which is the big challenge.
  • But here’s one area that’s coming fast: self-driving big rigs.

Better for almost everyone?

  • Christopher Mims in the WSJ ($) ponders the changes coming to big rigs, and if America is ready.
  • The argument is that fully-decked out trucks with loads of sensors will be better than humans in some ways: helping trucks see things a human driver might miss will avoid the cost to people who drive trucks for long distances and long hours.
  • Plus, there’s apparently a shortage of 80,000 drivers.
  • Though, nowhere near as smart as a human, or adaptable, but with useful help, and in a limited sense at first: highway driving, not full A to B.
  • Mims writes it’s going to be jarring: “Some day in the next few years, if you’re on the right stretch of highway in America’s Sunbelt, you are likely to have the disconcerting experience of pulling alongside a fully loaded semi-truck, glancing at the cab, and seeing no one behind the wheel at all.

When?

  • That day might be the end of 2023, though that date is based on two start-ups and their aims, rather than a super realistic view.
  • Waymo’s trucking arm notes “there is no production-ready, commercially available truck with the redundant control systems that a self-driving system would require,” like backup steering, brakes, electrical systems — and those additions won’t be cheap, but the cost will quickly be offset.
  • The potential might be an extra $20,000 of hardware of sensors and computing, with labor costs mostly removed, and truck utilization going up if they’re allowed to run at more times than without driver limitations.
  • Jobs will be lost and the romance of the road will cause pushback. But trucks will be remotely monitored by humans, and it’s likely humans will pilot them on city streets.
  • One good quote to finish from Parth Vaishnav, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, who’s been looking at the impacts of self-driving trucks on truckers themselves: “These trucks are going to have different capabilities than a human-driven truck will have, so they will not be used in the way a human-driven truck will be used — in the same way a hundred guys with shovels are not an excavator.”

Roundup

🟩 Google uses a Drake song to argue against green bubbles in iMessage (Android Authority).

📺 “We all want a new Nvidia Shield Tablet and now is the perfect time”. Agree! A refresh here would be perfect. (Android Authority).

👉 “Microsoft’s weird Surface Duo 2 has surprisingly become my favorite device of the year”: At least nine software updates and a sizable price cut have transformed Microsoft’s dual-screen phone, though Dan here admits it’s more a secondary device (The Verge).

🔥 Diablo Immortal has reportedly earned $24 million since release from eight million downloads (Engadget).

📉 As cryptocurrency tumbles, prices for GPUs continue to fall, which is great for gamers but more interesting for alternative uses such as machine learning and big data crunching (Ars Technica).

Next chance is July 13, and this photo on Wikipedia of the event back in 2016 brings back some memories of some old phones:

Manhattanhenge 2016 07 12 FRD

Tristan Rayner / Android Authority

Have a great start to your week,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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