Next-Gen Mobility News, March 17th

Volume 26

Welcome to the next edition of our bi-weekly recap of the latest and greatest in connected and on-demand mobility.  If you’re not already receiving this email, you should be: Subscribe
Cruise origin self-driving ride-hail and delivery vans are coming soon
MotorTrend, March 9th
Cruise Automation, a self-driving tech startup, was founded in 2013 and bought by General Motors in 2016. GM remains a majority shareholder, but Cruise (it has dropped Automation from its name) operates independently, with 1,600 employees.
Alphabet’s Waymo says its tech would avoid fatal human crashes
Bloomberg, March 8th
The autonomous-car artificial intelligence from Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo avoided or mitigated crashes in most of a set of virtually recreated fatal accidents, according to a white paper the company published Monday.
Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services USA and PreAct Technologies partner to commercialize advanced near-field sensing for usage based insurance
Insurance News Net, March 9th
Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services USA and PreAct Technologies announce a collaboration to commercialize new data insights resulting from the innovative work of both companies. Using PreAct’s advanced near-field sensor technology, future cars will be able to better understand driving risks related to insurance when coupled with Aioi’s edge computing data science platform, MOTER.
Electric Last Mile claims 45,000 van orders amid e-commerce boom
Automotive News, March 16th
Electric Last Mile Inc., the plug-in delivery van startup that’s in the process of merging with blank check company Forum Merger III Corp., said it has 45,000 pre-orders and will start production at a former Hummer plant in Indiana in the third quarter.
Volkswagen could soon steal Tesla’s crown
CNN, March 16th
After years as the undisputed king of the electric car, Tesla (TSLA) could be matched sale for sale by Volkswagen (VLKAF) as early as 2022, according to analysts at UBS, who predict that Europe’s biggest carmaker will go on to sell 300,000 morebattery electric vehicles than Tesla in 2025.
The last mile: Robots take to streets for local delivery
ZDNet, March 9th
A company that makes an innovative robot that may one day challenge Amazon drivers for their urban deliveries, is newly buoyed by a seed round announced this week. Refraction AI, an automation firm founded in 2019 and creator of the REV-1, a low-cost, lightweight autonomous delivery robot, will use its $4.2 million raise for customer acquisition, geographic expansion, and product development.
Billions poured into electric-vehicle companies, but much more will be needed before the auto industry changes
Market Watch, March 15th
Wall Street and Silicon Valley poured billions of dollars into electric-vehicle and related companies in 2020, betting on their future dominance and in many cases fueling valuations that bear little relation to the companies’ current or expected production and sales.
Cruise to buy self-driving car rival Voyage
Axios, March 15th
Cruise, the San Francisco-based robotaxi company backed by GM and Honda, is buying Voyage, a competitor that’s been testing self-driving vans in retirement communities.
BMW’s new curved iDrive display is a ‘major step’ toward autonomous driving
The Verge, March 15th
BMW is pulling the curtain back on its next iteration of iDrive, the software and infotainment platform that has served as the centerpiece of the automaker’s in-car experience for the last 20 years.
Kia shows off first full images of new EV6 electric car
The Verge, March 15th
Kia has given a first real look at its new EV6 electric car, following some shadowy teaser images that were released last week. Full details of the EV6 won’t be announced until an online event later this month, but the new images do at least reveal what it actually looks like.
Last-mile delivery robotics company Refraction AI raises $4.2M
Tech Crunch, March 8th
Ann Arbor-based Refraction AI announced today that it has raised a $4.2 million seed round. The startup, which debuted on the TechCrunch Sessions: Mobility stage back in 2019, was founded by a pair of University of Michigan professors (Matthew Johnson-Roberson — now CTO — and Ram Vasudevan) seeking to solve a number of issues posed by many delivery robots.