Google, Ford, And Uber Team Up To Lobby For Driverless Cars

What Happened
Google, Ford, Volvo, Uber, and Lyft announced on Tuesday that they are forming a coalition to speed up the introduction of self-driving cars to the market. The new lobbying group, named the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, aims to push for federal actions that accelerate the development of driverless cars and promises to “work with lawmakers, regulators, and the public to realize the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.”

In related news, reports surfaced today suggest that Google’s self-driving car is “close to graduating from X.” Basically, this means its parent company Alphabet no longer considers its driverless car program as an experimental moonshot project, but one that is about ready to transition into a standalone business. Meanwhile, Volvo is reportedly planning to test its driverless cars on some public streets in London next year.

Why Brands Should Care
The developments in driverless cars are an important market trend that The Lab has been keeping a close tab on (and included in the 2020 section of our Outlook 2016) due to the incredible amount of new media time it can potentially free up. If and when driverless cars hit the mainstream market, it would enable media owners and brand advertisers to visually connect with consumers on the go through in-car media such as digital video and video gaming.


Source: The Verge

Tesla Unveils Model 3 With Autopilot Feature

What Happened
Leading electric car maker Tesla unveiled a new Model 3 on Thursday night. With a starting price of $35,000 (before federal tax credits), it is the most affordable car Tesla has made to date. Among its many high-tech features, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced all Model 3 cars will come with the Autopilot feature it first debuted in October, which allows Tesla cars steer themselves, change lanes, and even park themselves. Pre-orders are now available worldwide, with first deliveries expected towards the end of 2017.

Market Impact
With the affordable price tag and mass market appeal, the Tesla Model 3 might just be the car to usher driverless vehicles into the mainstream car market. The Autopilot feature may not be perfect right now, but Tesla presumably will have significantly improved it by the time this model ships.

The development in driverless cars is an important market trend that The Lab cares about (and included in the 2020 section of our Outlook 2016) because of the incredible amount of new media time it can potentially free up. The average daily commute time in the States is currently about 50 minutes. If and when driverless cars are adopted by mainstream car-owners, it would make it possible for media owners and advertisers to visually connect with consumers on the go through in-car media such as digital video and video gaming.


Source: The Verge

Header image courtesy of


Tesla Officially Debuts Autopilot Driving

What Happened
Earlier today, Tesla released the much anticipated version 7.0 of its Model S software, an update that enables the car’s first self-driving features, first announced in October last year. The 7.0 release starts rolling out in the US tomorrow, and will proceed to Europe and Asia in the coming weeks. Although technically not a fully autonomous vehicle yet, the Tesla cars updated with the newest software will gain new features such as Autosteer, Auto Lane Change, and Autopark, all designed to assist drivers.  

What Brands Need To Do
Autonomous cars have been developing at a rapid pace this year. We saw some major car manufacturers showcase prototypes of driverless cars at CES in January. But what Tesla showcased today is definitely more ready for the consumer market. Given this quick development, it probably won’t be long before autopilot driving can free drivers from steering wheels, at least partially. Brands should consider getting onto the in-car media platforms in order to capture this newly-gained idle attention of the drivers.


Source: Mashable

There’s Now An Artificial Town For Testing Driverless Cars

What Happened
Autonomous car researchers at the University of Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation and private companies, have created an entirely artificial town that sprawls 32 acres, providing a controlled and highly malleable environment for testing driverless cars. Officially named “Mcity”, the fake town features moveable facades that can easily be arranged in all sorts of road conditions from blind corners to odd intersections, providing an ideal “simulated urban and suburban environment” for testing.

What Brands Should Do
Mcity is back with million-dollar investments from auto companies like Nissan, Toyota, Ford, GM, and Honda, who all have direct stakes in the development of autonomous vehicles. Yet, brands from other industry verticals like State Farm, Verizon, and Xerox are also invested in this fake town, presumably for their interest in this field. Although not immediately actionable for most brands, this artificial city nevertheless signals the acceleration of developing driverless cars and the impact it will have on adjacent industries such as car insurance and in-car communications, as well as the steps some companies are taking to get ahead of competitors.

Source: Gizmodo

Header image courtesy of U-M’s Michigan News

The Future: Now brought to you by Google

Google has never been shy about it’s intention to reshape the world. This month the company unveiled two projects that illustrate a long-term ambition to go beyond strongholds like search and mobile, and to be a major player in the emerging transportation and renewable energy industries. Leveraging a considerable war chest and influence, Google’s is asking people to imagine a future that to some may sound, well… a bit like a Jetsons episode.

Google has been testing a fleet of revolutionary cars that drive themselves with the use of software, GPS, and a system of cameras and sensors. Spearheaded by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun, who co-invented Street View, the program’s seven vehicles (mostly modded Priuses which always have a human on hand) recently traveled 1,000 miles on major highways and city streets without any human intervention and 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. Continue reading “The Future: Now brought to you by Google”