Electric vehicle news brief July 7: Albertans curious but cautious about self-driving cars

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Tesla factory.

Tesla delivers about 47,100 cars in first half of 2017, Volvo self-driving technology struggles to identify kangaroos on the road

University of Calgary study shows older male drivers most willing to trust autonomous electric vehicles

“When fully autonomous vehicles are available, drivers over 50 years old would be more willing to own and drive them for commute trips, and men in particular,” says Mahsa Ghaffari, a graduate student at Schulich School of Engineering and author of a groundbreaking University of Calgary study, the first in Canada to measure attitudes towards automated vehicles (AVs) and society’s willingness to accept a future where vehicles can drive themselves.

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Schulich transportation engineering masters student Mahsa Ghaffari is conducting a survey on attitudes towards autonomous (driverless) vehicles.

Conducted in Edmonton and Calgary, the stated-preference survey of 485 men and women across all 18+ age groups looked at experience and habits behind the wheel, including tendency to speed – and it shows confident and aggressive drivers are least likely to surrender control.

“Respondents who stated to be either aggressive drivers, confident about their response time, or enjoy driving or dangerous driving, are shown to be less willing to give up control of the tasks to the vehicle,” says Ghaffari.

Ghaffari’s paper shows a majority are ready to accept AVs to some degree, based on perceived benefit, cost and convenience, as well as various levels of automation. Some citizens are enthusiastic about certain auto-tasks: 81% said they are willing “to a very high degree” let a computer choose the route, and 43% and 40% are equally willing to allow control of lane keeping and speed, respectively.

On the other end of the scale, 15% of drivers are “not at all” or “to a very low degree” willing to let computers control braking and accelerating, and 12% had negative feelings about automated speed control.

The detailed survey outlined a multitude of scenarios, and Ghaffari found automated vehicles are more acceptable for commuting to work than non-commute trips like shopping and recreation within the city.

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“Drivers like to cede the control to the vehicle for trip destinations outside the city so that they can use their time more efficiently,” said Ghaffari.

Other findings include:
• Respondents who drive 10 to 20 hours per week are approximately three times more willing to give up control
compared to those who drive less than 10 hours per week.
• People without children showed more trust in vehicle automation.
• There are widespread concerns about how AVs will handle poor weather conditions and unexpected situations like a child running into traffic.
• Only 6-8% of respondents would trust AVs completely in all situations. More than half of
the respondents are highly willing to use AVs if more tests are conducted to confirm reliability and safety
performance.
• Only 36% of respondents said they would feel safe without looking at the road when the vehicle is driving
itself and 22.5% said they would be constantly watching the roads rather than reading, texting and so forth.
• Females and people over 35 are less keen on sharing a ride with strangers in an autonomous vehicle.
• Drivers with more than 35 years of experience are most open to full automation.

“It’s a matter of trust, and the more people know and experience, the more they will trust driverless vehicles,” says
Ghaffari.

Tesla updates EV production and delivery numbers

Tesla (Nasdaq:TSLA) delivered just over 22,000 vehicles in Q2, of which just over 12,000 were Model S and just over 10,000 were Model X. This represents a 53% increase over Q2 2016. Total vehicle deliveries in the first half of 2017 were approximately 47,100.

In addition to Q2 deliveries, about 3,500 vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter. These will be counted as deliveries in Q3 2017.

The major factor affecting Tesla’s Q2 deliveries was a severe production shortfall of 100 kWh battery packs, which are made using new technologies on new production lines. The technology challenge grows exponentially with energy density.

Until early June, production averaged about 40% below demand. Once this was resolved, June orders and deliveries were strong, ranking as one of the best in Tesla history.

Provided global economic conditions do not worsen considerably, Tesla says it is confident that combined deliveries of Model S and Model X in the second half of 2017 will likely exceed deliveries in the first half of 2017.

Q2 production totaled 25,708 vehicles, bringing first half 2017 production to 51,126.

Tesla says that production quality and field reliability of the Model X, for which the company has been “fairly criticized” have improved dramatically. It is now rare for a newly produced Model X to have initial quality problems.

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Volvo self-driving technology struggles to identify kangaroos on the road

BBC – The Swedish car-maker’s 2017 S90 and XC90 models use its Large Animal Detection system to monitor the road for deer, elk and caribou. But the way kangaroos move confuses it.

“We’ve noticed with the kangaroo being in mid-flight when it’s in the air, it actually looks like it’s further away, then it lands and it looks closer,” its Australia technical manager told ABC.

But the problem would not delay the rollout of driverless cars in the country, David Pickett added.

According to the Australia’s National Roads and Motorists’ Association, 80% of animal collisions in the country involve kangaroos.

More than 16,000 kangaroo strikes each year created millions of dollars of insurance claims, it said.

Volvo’s safety engineers began filming kangaroos’ roadside behaviour in a nationally recognised hotspot for collisions in 2015.

And the data is being used to create a system of radar and cameras that can detect kangaroos and apply the brakes if a collision is imminent.

Volvo has an ambitious target that no-one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

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