Bloomberg has a short update on Phantom Auto, a teleoperations startup that has recently partnered with Mitsubishi Logisnext to remotely operate warehouse forklifts.

Phantom Auto was founded by some of the earliest students in the Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program that I led, so I’m excited to see them doing well.

Co-founder Elliot Katz tells Bloomberg that remote operation has “the potential to knock 30% or more off forklift operation costs.” The driver of cost-savings seems to the ability to move jobs to lower-cost areas, since the remote operator doesn’t have to be physically co-located with the equipment.


Both and CNBC report that Volkswagen & Argo will begin testing self-driving cars in Europe this summer. That news comes courtesy of a press conference with Brian Salesky, Argo’s CEO, and Christian Senger, a Volkswagen executive.

Announcements about self-driving testing (as opposed to commercial services) have become a little ho-hum in the US, but this seems like a big deal for Europe. So far, Europe has had very little autonomous vehicle testing on public roads, and even less news about such efforts.

Volkwagen is a major investor in Argo, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, with offices in California and Munich…

Cruise is hiring a Staff Software Engineer for Maps. This job looks like a great fit for a cloud architect, even one who has no experience in robotics.

Here are the requirements:

  • 8+ years as a developer
  • Build, ship, debug, and operate full stack web services
  • Distributed systems
  • Microservices
  • API design
  • SOA
  • Node.js (or equivalent)
  • React or Redux
  • PostgreSQL

Now does that list look like a cloud architect, or what?

If you’re a cloud architect, you should be building self-driving cars! They’re amazing!

Originally published at on May 12, 2021.

My latest Forbes article analyzes SAE’s recent redefinition of its six-level autonomy taxonomy.

“…it’s basically consistent with how the SAE previously defined Level 3: the human passenger isn’t ‘driving’, but has to be ready to take control of the vehicle when the system asks.

That leaves a fair bit of ambiguity, especially about how quickly the human must ‘receive’ requests to intervene. That, in turn raises the quest of how broad the range of other tasks is in which the human can engage, while still allowing enough time to take control if the system requires.”

I think that ultimately vehicle manufacturers will define Level 3 differently in practice. Read the whole thing.

Originally published at on May 10, 2021.

He amused me.

“Yeah, it’s a hustle.”

Timothy B. Lee, one of the top journalists covering self-driving technology, just published an article in Ars Technica that asks the question, “Why hasn’t Waymo expanded its driverless service?”

Lee covers several different possibilities, from the cost of remote operations staff, to the difficulty of serving areas like Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and Arizona State University. Ultimately, he zeros in on a theory he calls, “Kyle Vogt’s Insight.”

“In 2017, Kyle Vogt-Cruise’s founder, then-CEO, and now-CTO-wrote a blog post explaining why Cruise was testing its vehicles in San Francisco.

‘Anyone who has visited San Francisco knows driving here is kind…

One of my favorite software engineering mantras is, “Write the code you wish you had.” That sentence is a little bit cryptic at first glance, but once I grasped the meaning, it became a great way for me to get unstuck, especially when writing greenfield code.

The idea is that, when writing code, I frequently encounter situations in which I need a function that doesn’t yet exist. These situations can be paralyzing, because I want to continue writing the code I’m focused on right now, but I can’t keep going unless I write this new function. Writing the new function…

Coursera went public on the NYSE on March 31, and since then I’ve been meaning to dig into their S-1, which is the technical term for the financial report they have to share with investors before a public offering. Coursera is arguably the closest competitor to Udacity, where I worked for 4.5 years, so I’m naturally curious.

Here is some headline information.

Bloomberg wrote a great headline: “The Race to Build Self-Driving Trucks Has Four Horses and Three Jockeys.” The article itself is mainly about robotaxis vs. autonomous trucks, but it’s worth reading for one infographic.

I used data from Transport Topics to create a similar infographic here, but you should click through to the original Bloomberg infographic. That has more detail, such as the specific brands that each company owns, and the brand market shares. For example, Daimler manufactures trucks in the US under the Freightliner brand name, along with Western Star.

I’m also not sure the Bloomberg analysis fully captures…

“Yandex Self-Driving Group has driven seven million autonomous miles (11.5 million kilometers) since the team was founded in 2017, more than any other company has announced, save for Alphabet’s Waymo.”

I profiled the team in Forbes. Read the whole thing.

David Silver

I love self-driving cars and I work on them at Cruise!

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