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Tesla and Mobileye Head In Opposite Directions

With eight gainers and 12 losers, the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) fell 1.34 points to close this week at 156.72.

The D20’s 0.9-percent drop compared unfavorably to the Dow’s 0.2-percent gain and S&P 500’s 0.5-percent rise.

Mobileye (MBLY) and Telsa (TSLA) have gotten into a relatively public feud as Mobileye accuses Tesla of “pushing the envelope in terms of safety.” This just after Tesla dumped Mobileye’s camera-based system in favor of a radar-based Autopilot after the now famous fatal crash in May of a Tesla Model S, whose Autopilot was engaged but didn’t recognized a tractor-trailer truck.

The once partners headed in opposite directions in share price as well this week. Mobileye was the D20’s largest price percentage loser, dropping 9.5 percent, or $4.53, to close at 42.94.  Tesla was the leading price percentage gainer for the D20, adding 5.6 percent, or $10.93 to its value, and ending the week back over $200 a share at $205.40.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up-and-Comers:

 Not to be outdone by Uber’s launch of driverless cars in Pittsburgh, Lyft co-founder and president, John Zimmer, published a manifesto detailing his transportation vision for the next 10 years. It includes the rapid growth of autonomous vehicle fleets and the disappearance of private car ownership.  It also predicts the transformation of cities from being car-centric to people-centric.

Privately-held Velodyne announced its latest LiDAR sensor model, called Puck HiRes. It was partially funded by $150 million in investments from Baidu and Ford.  The announcement continues to add fuel to the radar-versus-LiDAR-versus-camera sensor debate that is currently raging in the autonomous driving development community.

News Roundup: Mobileye and Delphi Promise Level 4 or 5 Automation By 2019, Uber Makes 3 Calculated Autonomous-Car Moves in One Short Week, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of some of the most interesting headlines from the driverless and connected-car industries over the past few days.

Mobileye and Delphi Automotive announce plans to leap-frog competitors and achieve Level 4-5 automation by 2019

Auto technology supplier Delphi Automotive and sensor manufacturer Mobileye made a big announcement Tuesday. The two are partnering up for autonomous cars, and made the bold pledge to offer a car capable of at least Level 4 automation–and possibly even Level 5–by 2019, which would likely put them at least a year or more ahead of major competitors such as Google, Tesla and Ford. Level 4 automation, on a scale that goes up to 5, would mean the car could completely drive itself in almost every situation, with little to no assistance. The two companies said they plan to have their product ready to show off at the next Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in 2017, and be completely production-ready by 2019. Read more about the Mobileye-Delphi announcement on USA Today.

 

Uber makes three bold moves in one week in an effort to push past Google on driverless cars

Ride-hailing supergiant Uber had a busy week last week, moving several puzzle pieces into place to secure itself a slot ahead of Google in the driverless car race. In one short week, the company purchased Otto, the self-driving truck company started by former Google execs; launched a pilot program to try out driverless taxis able to be hailed via an app in Pittsburgh; and ponied up $300 million to secure a partnership with Volvo to design and manufacture autonomous cars by 2021. Read more about Uber’s busy week on Forbes.

 

Intel shows off its intent to get in on the autonomous car industry during San Francisco developer forum

Intel is best known for its computer chips, but the tech giant made it clear during its developer forum in San Francisco last week that it has eggs in several technology baskets at once–including that of autonomous cars. Intel showed off its research and development work in several areas such as Internet of Things and many facets of the autonomous car world such as in-vehicle technology, communications and analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and human-machine interfacing during the forum. Read more about the roughly one dozen demos Intel hosted on Post and Parcel.

TomTom Helps D20 Beat Dow and S&P 500

With 16 gainers, three losers and one unchanged, the Driverless Transportation Stock Index (D20) last week easily out ran the Dow and the S&P 500 and finished over 150 for the first time since January 1. While the Dow gained 0.3 percent to finish the week at 18,570.85 and the S&P 500 moved up 0.6 percent to close at 2175.03, neither could match the D20’s 1.8 percent gain.

Prompted by a fivefold increase in quarterly profits, TomTom (TOM2) led the price gainers with a jump of nearly 6 percent and finished last week at €7.10 a share. TomTom continues to try to reduce its dependency on hardware products while growing its recurring revenue line of content and services. Blackberry (BBRY) and TomTom should share notes as this sounds like a page out of Blackberry’s turnaround strategy.

Elon Musk’s much publicized release of the Tesla Master Plan (Part II) had little positive effect on Tesla (TSLA) stock as it gained a meager $1.87 last week. Musk lays out an integrated strategy of solar energy collection, battery storage, and the design and production of a wide range of autonomous electric vehicles, all under the Tesla brand.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up and Comers:

Autonomous-fleet management start-up BestMile raised $2.5 million in seed funding. The firm is a spin off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. The funders were “led by a super-angel from the Zurich region and completed by the US venture capital firm Perot Jain, L.P., Forticap SA based in Geneva, and private investors from Switzerland, Germany and Silicon Valley,” according to a press release from Lausanne-based BestMile.  

BestMile is a collaborator on the SmartShuttle project in Sion, Switzerland that began in June (See “Driverless SmartShuttle is No Cuckoo Clock”). The Navya vehicle uses Velodyne’s LiDAR Pucks, GPS RTK navigation devices, stereovision cameras, inertial navigation systems and odometry.

Zoox Slinks into VC Jungle with $200 Million

Burney Simpson

Autonomous car upstart Zoox has raised $200 million from three investors in a venture round. The three are Shahin Farshchi, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), and Lux Capital, according to CrunchBase.

Zoox is “a robotics company pioneering autonomous mobility. We are developing our own fully autonomous electric vehicle and the supporting ecosystem required to bring the technology to market at scale,” according to a LinkedIn write up by board member Laurie Yoler.

Zoox is led by Australian designer and film-maker Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson, a Stanford University engineer who worked with Sebastian Thrun, first director of Google’s self-driving car program.

Zoox’s first public model was a futuristic roadster-style vehicle that predated the driverless car that Mercedes rolled out to massive attention at CES 2015. The Boz was bi-directional with no front or back, and had no windshield, steering wheel, or brake pedal, according to Electric Vehicle News.

Zoox appears to still be operating in a low-key manner. Its website is a single page with Zoox spelled out in gray against a black background. (Shades of ‘White Light/White Heat’). The two oo’s in Zoox are connected like an infinity symbol. Hovering over Zoox displays ‘mailto:zoox.com’.

This has been an eventful year for Zoox. California in March gave it a permit to test its cars on state roads, and in the spring it was on a hiring spree, bringing in managers from Tesla (See “Zoox Recruits from Tesla, with Live Tests Coming”). Meanwhile, longtime Silicon Valley investor and Tesla founding board member Yoler joined the board.

INFLUENTIAL INVESTORS

DFJ is an influential Silicon Valley investor.

Farshchi is a Lux partner though he also makes an occasional personal investment. He is said to have a technical background with GM.

New York- and Silicon Valley-based Lux invests in “counter-conventional, seed and early stage sci-tech ventures,” says CrunchBase.

Fatality Fails to Dent Tesla Stock

The first fatality in a Tesla (TSLA) while in Autopilot mode doesn’t seem to have affected the market’s appetite for the company’s stock.

While the Dow and S&P 500 rebounded nicely with 3.2 percent gains last week, the D20 managed to only recover some of its Brexit loses by rising about 1 percent and closing Friday at 141.83. Gainers outnumbered losers 11 to nine as the index ended four consecutive weekly losses.

For the third week in a row, Mobileye (MBLY) was the D20’s leading price gainer. Positive vibes from its latest deal with Intel and BWM continue to propel the stock to levels not seen since October. Last week, Mobileye’s stock increased 13 percent to close at $47.11.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has opened an investigation into a fatal crash in May involving a Tesla Model S that occurred while its Autopilot feature was engaged. Despite that, Tesla’s stock was up $23.35 percent last week, gaining 12 percent and closing at $216.50.

Also, last week Volvo AB (STO:VOLV-B) increased its provision against a possible EU antitrust fine. The market reacted swiftly, knocking 8.60 SEK off its stock price and reducing it 9.3 percent to 84.3 SEK.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up and Comers:

Lyft looking for investors – hires Qatalyst Partners. Qatalyst recently played a part in Microsoft’s planned $26 billion purchase of LinkedIn. Lyft is a rideshare firm perhaps best known for the $1 billion stake made in January by GM, Didi Chuxing, a Saudi prince, and others. It was reported that investment series valued Lyft at $5.5 billion.

China rideshare firm Didi Chuxing made more news with a $400 million investment from Poly Group, a Chinese government real estate and trading firm. In May, Apple invested $1 billion in Didi which operates in more than 400 cities in China. It claims over 85 percent of China’s ride-hailing market and completes as many as 14 million rides per day.

Brexit Dumps Driverless Stocks

The Driverless Transportation (D20) Stock Index almost doubled the losses seen by the Dow Industrials and the S&P 500 last week, dropping 3.0 percent to close at 140.70. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 lost 1.6 percent on news that Great Britain voted to leave the EU with its Brexit referendum. With 15 losers and five gainers, the D20 dropped to levels it has not seen since February.

On the bright side Mobileye (MBLY) leapt up nearly 6.5 percent, making the stock the D20’s price performance leader for the second consecutive week. Mobileye’s stock jumped $2.53 to $42.70 last week on rumors that it may extend its partnership with BMW.

Investors are concerned about Tesla’s (TSLA) plan to acquire Solar City. After the announcement last week, its stock dropped $22.32 to $193.15 to close down more than 10 percent. The market doesn’t seem to believe that solar panels and electric vehicles can be a synergistic fit. The market has occasionally doubted the vision of Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk, only to be proven wrong.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up and Comers:

Santa Cruz Tech Beat reports Pearl raised $50 million in its first round of funding. Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Pearl has developed RearVision, an easily-installed backup camera that “provides obstacle alerts and updates automatically.” Pearl develops aftermarket products for the autonomous vehicle market. Pearl’s three cofounders met at Apple.

A Ford Motor Credit Co. lease-sharing pilot has been a flop after three months in Texas, according to Automotive News. Ford Credit Link has signed no customers at three participating dealers in the Austin area. Three to six customers can sign on to a lease then use the vehicle as they see fit. “Maybe there would be more interest in a metro city, but especially in Texas, getting three to six people to agree to something has been very difficult,” said one dealer.

Data-Gathering Partners GM, Mobileye Lead the D20

After a bull rush two weeks ago with all 20 stocks rising, the Driverless Transportation (D20) Stock Index settled down last week to eight gainers and 12 losers. Following four weeks of consecutive gains, the D20 caught its breath and slipped 0.40 to close at 149.18.

The D20’s leading price gainer was Mobileye (MBLY), up nearly 3 percent over last week’s close while partner GM (GM) was the biggest loser. GM’s dispute with regulators over the safety of updated Takata airbags and a disastrous May for new car sales conspired to knock 5.7 percent off its price. It closed the week at $29.59, its lowest price since early April.

But the data-gathering power of partners Mobileye  and GM is beginning to generate interest. Some realize that GM’s 3 million new cars a year equipped with OnStar coupled with Mobileye’s road-experience management (REM) localization product could overtake Google (GOOG) and Tesla (TSLA) in number of miles-per-day of detailed road data collected. This data gathering exercise is becoming increasing important to the goal of totally autonomous vehicles.

The D20 kept pace with the Dow, which lost 0.4 percent to finish the week at 17807.06, while the S&P 500 essentially remained unchanged.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Nvidia Does it Again, Sends D20 Higher

With 11 gainers and nine losers, the Driverless Transportation (D20) Stock Index edged up 0.9 percent last week to 145.10, beating the Dow and S&P 500 once again. The Dow dropped 34.4 points to close at 17500.94 while the S&P 500 crept up 5.7 points to finish Friday at 2052.32.

For the second consecutive week, Nvidia (NVDA), a leading maker of Graphic Processing Units or Chips, led all D20 stocks with an 8.2 percent price jump. Nvidia’s latest consumer product, the GTX 1080, sold out within minutes of its availability on Amazon.

Electric vehicle OEM Tesla (TSLA) also had a strong week, with its stock price jumping $12.67, or 6.1 percent, to close at $220.28. Tesla continues to enjoy favorable press about advanced orders on its newly announced Model 3. Valeo (VLEEY), the French auto parts maker, was the D20’s biggest loser, dropping $4.96, or 6.3 percent, to end the week at $73.76.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Former Employees From Google, Apple, Tesla Start ‘Otto,’ Develop Equipment for Self-Driving Trucks

Jennifer van der Kleut

A group of 40 former employees of top-notch firms like Google, Apple, Tesla, Cruise Automation, Nokia’s HERE and others have banded together to form Otto, a company that aims to outfit commercial trucks with equipment that turns them into self-driving vehicles.

Otto is working to develop a hardware kit that, once installed in a freight truck, would enable the vehicle to drive autonomously. The equipment could be purchased and then installed at either a service center, or possible by the truck’s manufacturer if Otto is able to establish manufacture partnerships, reports The Verge.

Two of Otto’s founders–Anthony Levandowski, who led Google’s self-driving car division, and Lior Ron, who led Google Maps–said in a blog post that commercial trucks are ripe with problems and inefficiencies that they believe autonomous driving could help solve.

“…They cause a large number of fatalities, are inefficient and, to top it off, there’s an increasing shortage of drivers. That creates the perfect storm for a tech-based solution, Otto’s founders believe,” TechCrunch reports.

Initially, Otto will focus on highway driving by the trucks they outfit. Drivers will still be responsible for navigating surface streets, and for loading and unloading the trucks as usual.

One thing that is unclear, The Verge explains, is whether the fact that the human in the truck does not have to operate the truck the majority of the time–highway driving makes up the bulk of a commercial truck’s travels–will allow trucking companies to get around laws that minimizes the number of hours trucking employees can work.

“…In theory, an Otto-equipped truck might be able to safely operate for many more hours than a human who is always in full control, but [Lior Ron] says they’ll have to work with regulators to prove that out,” The Verge explained.

TechCrunch reports that Otto initially started out developing driver assistance systems, that aim to make driving a truck more safe. That philosophy carries over into the company’s self-driving equipment.

“…Among many things, they aim to let drivers safely take a sleep break while leaving their truck driving autonomously,” TechCrunch said.

To start with, Otto is testing on Volvo VNL 780 trucks, but The Verge reports that they eventually hope to work with many Class 8 trucks, which are the largest, heaviest trucks on American roads.

Nvidia Powers D20 Index Gain

Leading Graphics Processing Unit provider Nvidia (NVDA) almost single-handedly powers the D20 to a slight gain despite losers outnumbering gainers almost two to one.

The Driverless Transportation (D20) Stock Index eked out a gain of 0.3 percent last week, closing Friday at 143.80. Nvidia soared on a whopping 16 percent price increase, finishing up $5.65 to $40.98. The dramatic jump happened after Nvidia announced quarterly revenue and earnings results that beat expectations due to Tesla’s (TSLA) growing demand for Nvidia’s chips. Nvidia’s stock price has risen 88 percent since September 4, 2015, making it the leading price gainer for the D20.

The Dow dropped 1.2 percent to close at 17535.32 and the S&P 500 lost 0.5 percent to end the week at 2046.61, marking one of the rare weeks this year when the D20 went in an opposite direction from the Dow and S&P. Mobileye (MBLY) was up 4.4 percent on rumors that it had inked two more deals to help a major automaker create driverless cars. Nissan (NSANY) was up 4 percent on news that it plans to acquire 34 percent of troubled Mitsubishi.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.