Quote from Mr. Honda:
"We [Honda] refuse to depend on anyone else. We will not copy foreign products nor pay royalties for the use of other companies’ patents. We don’t intend to get support from the government, either. I’m making it clear that we will do it our way." 
- Hondamatic transmission . For better or for worse, it was only until recently that Honda started using transmissions from ZF like other automakers. Arguably because automatic transmissions are on their way out, and they're focusing on other drivetrains.
- Honda's hybrid drive: They developed their own two-motor system rather than license Toyota's (Rather brilliant) solution like other companies. Their first system in the Insight (gen 1) not withstanding.
It seems like there's going to be an inevitable commoditization of car manufacturers in the future. Equally interesting is GM ceding some ownership of potentially game-changing tech.
I‘m pretty sure self-driving tech will not be a big differentiator, just like airbags - almost every car has them, they are a given.
They already do this with everything else. Vehicles like Mercedes and Tesla are significantly safer than some competitors. Legislation sets the floor, not the ceiling. Or at least it shouldn't create a ceiling.
And it's also the case that SUVs and other large vehicles pose a greater risk to pedestrians and other motorists than smaller ones, but legislators haven't done anything about that.
I think the difference is those are, for the most part, internal safety features for the car's driver and passengers, whereas self driving effects mostly people not in that automobile. Sure, there are some features in cars that aren't, but for the most part, a driver knows (should know) their vehicle, and someone driving a 1978 station wagon and someone else driving a 2018 Volvo won't make that much of a difference on the roadways. Driving a car with a bad autonomous mode vs. a car with a good autonomous mode could be a significantly bigger difference for pedestrians and other drivers than older and newer cars.
That's quite apart from any safety features like air bags or ABS.
For instance, I could easily imagine that some cars might have more powerful kinematic-prediction software+processors and therefore are able to use smaller safety margins, allowing for more aggressive/liberal driving-behaviors than would be possible to safely perform in self-driving systems that aren't so well-endowed.
(Then again, depending on how good the first batch of general-purpose self-driving systems are, it may be possible that traffic safety margins among the self-drivers will be reducible enough that even the base models are "good enough" for anyone who doesn't encounter too many meatbag-drivers on their commute.)
Brakes, handling, visibility - better car - better response - safer for others. Also being lighter lowers potential damage impact. Not to mention stuff like sleep at the wheel detection etc.
As an aside, strangely the Great Recession apparently improved safety during, even when adjusting for miles traveled.
It's not something people realize because they think car safety improvements slowed/stopped once airbags became widespread. But really, the mid 2000s are when cars began to get very safe. By 2011, the NHSTA had to make their star rating system much more strict because nearly every car had a achieved a five star rating.
A Volvo 940 from about 1993 head on at 80mph with a 2004 Renault Modus - the first small car to get 5 stars in the new Euro tests.
I would have bet on the Volvo. No. Dramatically no.
I’m also not sure why everyone hasn’t adopted the Toyota model of including basic safety tech in all trims...
Sure, but that's what actually happens over time. First airbags are introduced, then we get some evidence that they actually work, more manufacturers introduce them and we get even more evidence, then eventually the law requires them.
It's necessary to be deliberative before mandating things because not everything is a good idea, e.g. automatic seatbelts in the 90s.
As if anyone actually cares about people outside the car.
I'm not a terribly conscientious person, but I'm definitely worried and raise my level of caution any time I see pedestrians standing near the street or when I pass a cyclists. I know that they will be seriously injured if I hit them, and I really don't want that to be my fault. even if it isn't my fault (or if it is, but not in a way that a court will find me responsible), I am quite afraid of having to go through the whole legal process that could ensue.
Most drivers? I'm guessing not. Many drivers, however? I believe so. It doesn't take that large a percentage of the driving population for uncaring/bad drivers to cause havoc, and make it very unsafe for you to be around them. For instance, if you're a bicyclist on a busy highway, many hundreds of cars could pass you on one trip. It only takes one of those who hates cyclists to run you off the road (yes, this actually happens sometimes, in some places).
I think it probably changes when people have children, because they can imagine their child being hit, which helps to make that connection. For most drivers without children, yes really, they do not think of that stuff.
You can’t leap way ahead, but what are the chances of any one automaker doing that at this point? Unless you’ve already had a program going for years under very heavy investment it may be too late to catch up let alone lead.
I asked my friend last week if his new generator was a Honda, and he told me it was a Subaru -- which was basically just as good since Honda just contracts out to Subaru for building all their small engines, anyway.
- S2000: A powerful and lightweight naturally aspirated car with an insane redline of 9,000 rpm!
- VTEC was Honda's solution to keeping displacement down, without sacrificing power and efficiency, and what made their engines so buzzy.
- They were first to the hybrid game with the Insight (gen 1), beating Toyota's Prius to the market.
- Until the early 2000s they were putting double-wishbone suspensions in their econoboxes. This is no longer the case, to the disdain of car enthusiasts and modders.
You'll notice that they've stopped doing/stopped coming up with quirky innovations, leading them to become just another automaker.
It's in the Rolls Royce Phantom.
The Bentley Continental Flying Spur.
The Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
The Maserati Quattroporte.
The Lamborghini Urus.
The Jaguar F-Type.
The Range Rover Sport.
The BMW 1 series, 2 series, 3 series, 4 series, 5 series, 6 series, 7 series, X3, X4, X5, X6, Z4 and the M5... the Audi A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q5, Q7...
The ZF 6HP automatic was a game changer when it was released. It had six forward gears with the ability to lock the torque converter in any gear and it was cheaper to produce than most four speed transmissions. They ended up dominating the RWD automatic transmission market.
That said, the overall shift quality could be a little better, IMO. I’m no transmission expert, but I think it basically shifts “clutch-to-clutch” instead of using sprags like a traditional automatic, so it’s really sensitive to timings. If the second clutch engages too late, it’s in neutral for a bit. If it engages to early, it’s in two gears at the same time.
For example, if you’re accelerating lightly and it’s about to shift, then you suddenly have to hit the accelerator harder, sometimes it feels like it has already committed to shifting under the lighter load and it almost feels like it’s in neutral for a split second before banging into the next gear.
Not sure how much of this is related to the BMW shift maps or the transmission itself.
All that said, the transmission has proven to be very reliable. People in the 335i community are putting well over 500 ft-lbs of torque through them and they seem to be holding up, and my car has 211,000 miles and it shifts the same as it did when I got it with 40,000 miles.
Also, people with newer 5.0 Mustangs don’t seem to have many complaints, and it’s basically the same transmission.
Interesting history about Honda, thanks for sharing!
The gasoline engine is used as the "baseline" power, and the motors then either take power away from it to charge the batteries, or complement it to help in acceleration, or just bypass it completely.
When the car is running in pure electric mode, the gas engine is stopped, and the motors work together to spin the output shaft at the desired speed.
When the car is using mixed power, the gasoline engine is working at a desired power level, one of the motor/generators is adding additional torque, and the second motor is used to make up the rotational difference between the sun and planet gears. This blending of gasoline and electric allows the wheel output speed to be independent of the gasoline engine speed.
When the car is charging the battery, the gasoline engine is run harder than it needs to be to move the car, and one of the motor/generator units is fighting against it, using the excess torque to generate power.
So, there is no transmission, no "shifting", the engine and mgu's are permanently connected to gears and simply spin them at the right speeds for the desired power and speed output.
At highway speeds the engine is driving the wheels directly, which is more efficient than converting torque to electric power to drive an electric motor. Honda's two-motor system runs much like the transmission you linked, but again drives the wheels directly at highway speeds.
This site has a nice overview: http://prius.ecrostech.com/original/PriusFrames.htm
Traditional automatics use a two input shafts capable of spinning these pairs at different speeds. A series of clutches select different pairs of ratios for each "gear". A four speed auto might have two ratios for the ring gear and two more for the planet gears.
The Prius transmission takes this idea, and uses electric motors to vary the speed of these gears to create a continuous change in output speed. It's brilliant because it's so obvious when you know the trick. The end result is something that seems really complex, but is arguably even more simple than a manual transmission.
It also eliminates most of the components of an automatic that are prone to wear and breaking, which is a huge boon for reliability.
You can't just use tech from some other company even if you are part-owner. Heck I don't think you can even do that from a fully-owned subsidiary. They have to have structural/legal independence or it's really just a different branch of the same company.
That's one of the principal points that tax auditors check in a group, although it's oftentimes hard to determine a market price.
Did you mean to say manual?
YC doesn't hold shares in Cruise anymore, since the company as a whole was sold to GM for 1 billion in 2016. After the acquisition, GM invested another 1.1 billion, Softbank Vision Fund invested 2.25 billion and now Honda invests 2.75 billion. So more than 7.1 billion dollar has been invested into Cruise. It's the best capitalised YC company. Airbnb has raised 4.4 billion, debt financing included.
> When SoftBank agreed to invest $2.2 billion in Cruise, the self-driving unit of General Motors, most of the attention was on the valuation of $11.5 billion. But a closer look shows that could be inflated by terms. SoftBank’s initial $900 million investment in the firm is at a lower valuation of $8.3 billion; it is only if products are ready to be commercially deployed that it has agreed to invest more money at a higher valuation.
With unicorn-scale deals, the topline number is sometimes not reliable, as it may come with high liquidation multipliers or other restrictive agreements.
"YC doesn't hold shares in Cruise anymore, since the company as a whole was sold to GM for 1 billion in 2016.".
It's no longer a YC company.
I don't need full autonomy everywhere, but there are a few things that definitely could be rolled out now.
Give me a virtual bumper. Never let me get closer than a meter to the car in front of me. If it stops, stop my car too. Get moving again? Go.
Stay in the lane at low speeds. Combine with above, get a far more relaxed experience in stop and go rush hour traffic.
Extend the virtual bumper to parking. Rather than video and beeping or full autonomy, just stop the car from hitting anything, 5cm distance control.
Or does this exist? Haven't seen it in my Tesla test drive.
This is Honda's Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow
Otherwise ACC is only useful on freeways that aren’t too crowded. Nice, but not nearly as nice as being able to hassle traffic jams.
But, ACC seems way better than adaptive cruise control in my KIA, which disengages at crawl speed rather than stopping.
Comma.ai ships a plug and play device that will override the cars software with better software and allow you to do just what you are asking. It's wonderful for stop and go traffic.
Works right now on most newer Hondas and Toyotas, as well as a random assortment of other vehicles. You can even port your own car if it's not supported and has the appropriate hardware.
Yes. Here's a road test, from 2013, of three anti-collision systems.
These things are all over the place on performance. As many Tesla crashes and deaths have demonstrated, Tesla's system won't stop for stationary obstacles. (Road barrier, street sweeper, stalled car, fire truck - the list goes on.)
There needs to be a minimum performance standard for these things. A reasonable minimum goal is to mitigate collisions down to a 35MPH difference or less. With seat belts, air bags, and crush depth, almost anything below 35 MPH is survivable now.
And those things also brake for other cars and pedestrians if they project that a collision would happen. There will be a lot less deaths caused by road accidents once everybody upgraded their cars. Exciting times!
This would be particularly useful with a lane-keeping solution, where it could show exactly where it thinks the lane is - overlaid right on top of the actual lane, using perspective skew to match the driver's view.
One thing I dislike with Tesla hype is that practical technology from other companies are buried. Not Teslas fault...really the media.
I'm in the market for a new car. Many manufacturers have similar tech, here is Toyota.
I think what the comment was about would be trying to park your car and as soon as your bumper is 6 inches from theres, stopping you completely. If you push down on the accelerator, nothing would happen. Inertia aside, it would be impossible to hit another car.
I guess it depends on what you mean by "try to".
I drive a VW; if I'm inching out of a parking spot, it will automatically stop the car if it detects traffic. I suppose I could tromp on the gas at that moment and blast out into oncoming cars, but I'm not sure why I'd want to...
Same with catching up with slow moving traffic at highway speeds. It will detect the vehicle (or object) in front and apply the necessary braking pressure. The slower the object in front is moving, the faster it will apply harder pressure (and flash a warning to apply the brakes manually).
Essentially, if you don't react, the car will. You can then override it.
The GP was asking about a scenario of stop and go traffic (if I understood it correctly). I've used autopilot on a couple of occasions on I-5, and indeed, my car stopped when the car ahead did, then it resumed when the car ahead moved forward, maintaining distance and keeping lanes.
It's a different use case from the one you are describing.
The odds that that deal has gone up in smoke I'm guessing are high.
A quick search suggests that GM is mostly debt financed, with a weighted average cost of capital of only 5%.
1. as a self-driving module supplier, the more adoption from the market the better - it's an endorsement and it helps Cruise to build better products with more data points and more customers.
2. it reduces GM's financial risk if Cruise folds (unlikely); also it also improve Cruise's Survivability if GM is in trouble. As an auto module vendor, diversification is key.
Waymo announced purchasing orders for 60,000 FCA Pacificas and 20,000 Jaguar IPaces to be converted into robotaxis. If we're to assume a crude ballpark estimate of $150K apiece for those vehicles, then we're talking a $12 billion just for that. GM can't go up against those kinds of capital investments without help.
Argo.ai, Ford's answer to GM Cruise, is also seeking partners/funding from outside Ford. Wish them luck.
You do know that GM makes automobiles right? If GM wants 60,000 Chevy Cruises to use for robotaxis, they can just keep their lines running for a few extra shifts. Their cost for the same vehicles is COGS, which is something like half the MSRP of an automobile. Doing so would actual increase the profit margin on their products that are sold to outside customers. GM also has ~40% more revenue than Alphabet and could easily borrow $12 billion if it were strategically important.
Man people really don't understand the weight of traditional autos.
The plan for all these companies is to scale up to deployments of millions of vehicles, they won't see ROI for a decade or more, and that's only if everything works like it's supposed to, it's still technically and unproven business model built on an unproven technology.
And sure GM can raise funds if they really want to, but they've gone from 0 to $60b in debt in the last 6 years, with $20 accumulated just over the last year. They have to deal with converting their fleet to electric over the next decade. Very expensive. Lots of risk. GM needs to pick and choose which risks are worth taking.
It's interesting to me to see their valuation be so sky high since I feel like it's not manifesting in the streets.
Either GM has licensing fees in its future, or the project is proving to be too capital intensive. Or could there be an effort towards a consortium?
Most of the major talent in the field is gainfully employed. I simply do not fully understand the objective of all of this capital raising. I look forward to better understanding the strategy in the rear view mirror.
Actual ten years ago, in 2008, Japan had long lost the halo of being the dominant economic force of the future it had through most of the 1980ies and 1990ies. In 2008, Tesla was already selling the Roadster, the iPhone wasn't new anymore, the The Matrix sequels were already older than the original movie had been at the time of their release. Another twenty years earlier, we all watched Bruce Willis chase German terrorists through Nakatomi Plaza, that's when Japan was "The Future".
What is a self-driving car, really? Software on wheel. Who's leading the pack in software development? America.
And I don’t think you can chalk smartphones down to an American invention really.
Given that the F-150 is the bestselling vehicle in the United States, Ford might become one of the world's top sellers of hybrid cars when they release it. And the hybrid Mustang is supposed to be one of the fastest Mustang models.
Chrysler pretty much invented the minivan and is actually very competitive in the minivan market. Here's a review of Chrysler vs Honda & Toyota.
It might be mildly interesting if any batteries were stashed in the rear - in the winter I have to put about 1000 pounds of sandbags to make it safe to drive on snow and ice.
who do you think is the world leader in tech?
This is a good sign for Criuse being a competitor in the self-driving space, and a sign of self-driving market health in general. Much better than Toyota investing $500 billion in Uber for self driving.[∆]
It would also mean liability could be diffused to the industry rather than companies.
Or it could be that as Cruise's value goes up, GMs goes down. Look at what was Yahoo for an example -- for a while the stock was worth less than just the value of their Alibaba shares, meaning the stock market attributed a negative value to what was left of Yahoo.
That is not what the situation meant.
Yahoo was trading at less than their book value per share. The vast majority of their book value was the share of Alibaba the company owned. This asset was not generating revenue for Yahoo, nor was it a liquid investment that Yahoo could convert into cash whenever it wanted to. There may have also been other conditions on sale of the stake that meant, in at last some circumstances, the liquidation value of the stake was significantly less than the paper value on the books.
Therefore, it gets discounted by the market. Since it comprised such a large portion of Yahoo's book value, the size of the discount was greater than the value of Yahoo's operations, leading to a price/book ratio less than 1. Yahoo's other operations still had positive value.
But it’s not going to be easy. Lots of companies are working hard so the chance of a come-from-nowhere great idea seems lower and lower. If it happens I’d assume it comes from someone with experience in the domain... i.e. an existing player with a new angle.
Have you tried both systems? SuperCruise is really good at where it's able to drive, maybe better than openpilot but not by much. Openpilot is also getting really good and can be enabled anywhere, tho most of it's usage is still on highways.
No. The Honda investment is $750M. The rest of $2B commitment are for Honda to implement/integrate with Cruise's hardware/software technologies - not really payments to Cruise.
However don't read the above as invest in the early days - there are a lot of seemingly great ideas that will turn out to fail for some reason. Honda's bet is much less risky because it seems much more likely that cruise will have something to sell in the future. GM's bet was more risky, and [I forget who they bought cruise from] made an even more risky bet. This time it looks like it will pay off, but not all do.
Other Asian carmakers such as Toyota and Hyundai are doing much better getting onboard the EV/Hybrid train though.
The only missteps was their zev hydrogen tech which doesn't make engineering sense (to me), and a black eye from bad v6 transmissions for way too long in the 90s thru 00s, and a departure from small, low-displacement, high efficiency, well handling cars with sla suspension for pigfat appliances with cheap mcstrut suspension and more wings.
Lucky for them, the world is a bit pigfat and risk adverse themselves, and still buy CRVs like crazy. While the 88-01 civic, and s2000 still somehow support their reputation in enthusiast circles thanks to those now purely nostalgic qualities.
But I digress. I think ICE cars will continue to serve a purpose. Mazda just announced a new rotary ICE hybrid engine design this week! If self-driving tech takes off, it will be applied just as easily to either tech. I see Honda at no major positional disadvantage here.
BMW uses them and Porsche uses them on their GT# 911s. You'd think if there were a case to be made for the performance demerits of a MP setup, Porsche wouldn't be using them on their halo cars (or their class-winning race cars).
Lots of EVs are on their way and Honda and Mazda aren't announcing any future plans to enter that market.
I don't see the early mover advantage, just a realistic risk for really late companies. And rigjt now it is not too late for anyone at a long stretch. It is important to remember thst the EV game now moved to car makers core competencies in mass production. There a stll a ton of challenges for them but none as existential as it seemed a couple of years back.
$2 billion in other resources. Honda has a good European and Japanese market to sell cars.
He said timetable for initial launch is same... 2019, all depends on safety. But the investment is more for after that.
See uncertainty avoidance and long-term orientation:
But that’s VERY different from ‘most advanced’.
Cadillac Super Cruise seems to be just as capable as Tesla's Autopilot but kept on a much tighter leash because GM is more tempered and pragmatic about it.
I have aspirations to own a Model 3 eventually but I have absolutely no interest in Autopilot or any Lvl 3 autonomy and will not purchase a vehicle with it. You should either be 100% engaged or 100% disengaged from the driving process.
Also, to be clear, despite what Elon Musk may have told you, Autopilot has no chance of ever being fully autonomous on the current hardware, and it never did.
Why is that?
What makes you think Tesla is the most advanced, rather than simply the most willing to toss what they have out into the public?
The only brand besides Uber that has killed anyone in autopilot is Tesla and they've killed three people.
Edit: Why all the down votes. Go check out some of the videos. It works pretty well. Its a level 2 system so the user still needs to pay attention to the roads which is true with any lkas system out now days.
It's a less reliable version of the lane keeping systems that the automotive manufacturers already have and nothing close to the autonomous system that George Hotz was promising would be easy a few years back.
I also doubt automotive manufacturers want to deal with the drama around comma.ai and its publicity given they have a reputation to maintain as serious, safety conscious, organizations.
What they have now is a Devkit that is level 2, which they are using to iterate on, gather data, gather feedback, and will ultimately ship a much more complete consumer friendly product.
It's really the only option for hobbyists and enthusiasts to get self driving capabilities today without 50k+.
Do you have any evidence/studies for either of these statements?
> It's really the only option for hobbyists and enthusiasts to get self driving capabilities today without 50k+.
Right. It's not a serious automotive grade safety system.
Now do the same with Comma's Openpilot.
Instead, if you know more, share some of what you know so we can all learn something.
More specifically, I'm against anything less than L4 autonomous self driving cars.
For example, if people are going to text and drive, would you rather they have an intelligent L2 system that reliably keeps you in the lane and not crashing into the car in front of you, or just do as they are doing now?
I think there is much value in considering these systems as a better safety feature rather than fully autonomous.
Beyond safety, I think L2 accidents (which are already happening) will be VERY bad for the perception of autonomous driving in general, and will make it VERY hard on a regulatory level to get L4+ autonomous cars out on the road when they're finally ready.
The thing that changed for me while driving with both systems engaged is that my role changed from driving and continuously making small adjustments to stay centered in the lane and keeping the right distance. With the systems engaged, I was mostly monitoring that they work accurately. I don't have to bother continuously with most things, I can spend more time watching all surroundings to watch for anomalies / things the systems can't handle.
The end result for me at least felt a lot safer, and more relaxed. The systems felt very, very reliable.