Autonomous & Self Driving Vehicle News: Isuzu, Gatik, Motional, Hyundai, RobotLab, Cyngn, AEye, Renault & WeRide

In autonomous and self-driving vehicle news are Isuzu, Gatik, Motional, Hyundai, RobotLab, Cyngn, AEye, Renault & WeRide

Isuzu Invests in Gatik AVs

Isuzu Motors Limited (headquartered in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan; President and COO: Shinsuke Minami; hereinafter “Isuzu”) and Gatik AI, Inc. (headquartered in California, United States; CEO: Gautam Narang; hereinafter “Gatik”) have agreed to further enhance the development of the North American autonomous driving business. Isuzu will invest US$30 million in Gatik, forging a strong partnership between the two companies in the pursuit of realizing mobility services based on Level 4 autonomous driving.

The agreement between Isuzu and Gatik is focused on the development of middle mile autonomous driving and will include the design and development of a new chassis (redundant chassis) that ensures safety when equipped with an autonomous driving system. In April 2024, as part of its mid-term business plan, “ISUZU Transformation – Growth to 2030 (IX)”, Isuzu committed to the establishment of three new business pillars for the future: (1) autonomous driving solutions, (2) connected services, and (3) carbon neutral solutions. In an effort to develop autonomous driving solutions, Isuzu has partnered with Gatik with the aim of launching a level 4 autonomous commercial vehicle business in 2027.

Gatik is the only company that provides autonomous middle mile1 logistics services in North America, using Class 3-72 autonomous driving trucks to deliver goods safely and efficiently. The company is particularly focused on middle mile B2B3 logistics for large companies, and in 2021 it also successfully completed fully driverless commercial middle mile deliveries. Gatik’s Class 3-7 autonomous driving trucks are currently commercially deployed in Texas, Arkansas (United States), and Ontario (Canada).

Through this partnership, Isuzu will enter the middle mile autonomous driving business in the LCF4 segment, where the company has already established a market leadership position in the United States and Canada. This advanced technology will also allow Isuzu to actively address pressing issues facing the industry, such as the worsening driver shortage and rapidly increasing delivery needs in North America. Moreover, the two companies will jointly design and develop a new chassis with safety performance that is compatible with the installation of an autonomous driving system with the aim of starting mass production in 2027.

Gautam Narang, CEO and co-Founder of Gatik remarked “In 2021, Gatik launched the world’s first fully driverless commercial transportation service with a Fortune 500 retailer, and we are thrilled to be once again achieving an industry-first milestone by working with our partner Isuzu towards mass production of SAE Level 4 autonomous trucks. This partnership, coupled with Isuzu’s investment in Gatik, signals the company’s confidence in our technology and our world-class team, and we’re excited to bring autonomous transportation to the market at significant scale in the coming years.”

Hiroshi Sato, executive officer of Isuzu commented “As part of our April 2024 mid-term business plan announcement, we are committed to establishing three pillars of new business for the future: autonomous driving solutions, connected services, and carbon neutral solutions. As part of our efforts to develop autonomous driving solutions, we’re delighted to be expanding our relationship with Gatik to be operation ready in 2027.”

Through this collaboration, Isuzu and Gatik are committed to leading innovation in the area of middle mile autonomous driving in North America and providing new value in transportation for the betterment of society.

Aptiv Reduces Investment in Motional Hyundai Increases

Aptiv PLC, a global technology company focused on making mobility safer, greener and more connected, and Hyundai Motor Group (“Hyundai”) have completed the previously announced ownership restructuring transactions of Motional AD LLC (“Motional”).

As part of the ownership restructuring, Aptiv sold an 11% common equity interest in Motional to Hyundai for approximately $448 million of cash consideration. Aptiv also exchanged approximately 21% of its common equity in Motional for a like number of Motional preferred shares.

In addition to Hyundai’s funding of Motional earlier this month, these transactions resulted in the reduction of Aptiv’s common equity interest in Motional from 50% to 15%.

RobotLAB Partners with Cyngn

RobotLAB, an award-winning robotics integrator that delivers impactful business innovations and solutions for companies across many industries, has proudly partnered with autonomous vehicle software developer, Cyngn Inc. (“Cyngn”), to expand the availability of its industrial self-driving DriveMod robots to large-scale manufacturers and warehouse businesses. Cyngn selected RobotLAB as a preferred U.S. partner because of its decades-long experience successfully deploying more than 10,000 robots worldwide. Under the agreement, RobotLAB will add Cyngn’s autonomous DriveMod Tugger vehicles to its robust portfolio, which includes more than 200 robots.

AEye Partners with Accelight

AEye, Inc. (NASDAQ: LIDR), a global leader in adaptive, high-performance lidar solutions, announced it will partner with Accelight Technologies, Inc. (“ATI”) and LighTekton Co., Ltd. to deliver AEye’s 4Sight™ lidar solutions to the China market. Together, the group will help deliver safer autonomous trucking and railway systems in China, using AEye’s ultra-long-range 4Sight platform.

Matt Fisch, AEye CEO said, “China is leading the market in lidar adoption particularly as it applies to the build-out of its smart rail transit and investment in autonomous trucking for its highway system. Our 4Sight platform is an ultra-long-range solution that provides ‘safety at speed’ and could help deliver greater efficiency and safety for China’s dynamic public transportation systems. We are excited to work with two technology leaders to bring our 4Sight platform to China’s extensive highway and rail systems. ATI and LighTekton are the right partners to make this happen, with their advanced capabilities and innate desire to deliver a safer experience for both autonomous trucking and railways.”

“As Matt said, China is leading the market in lidar adoption and we are very excited to work with AEye to bring their ultra-long-range lidar to the China market, where the TAM is estimated to be $2.5 billion USD over the next 3 years. We believe AEye’s 4Sight technology will truly advance the overall safety experience in both autonomous trucking and railway systems,” says Gordon Gu, Chairman of ATI.

ATI is a global company and a manufacturer of passive and active pluggable modules used in fiber optic networks for telecom, datacenter, CATV, and broadband access networks. ATI’s dedicated team designs and manufactures high-quality optoelectronic products for various high-tech markets.

LighTekton is a high-tech enterprise focusing on photoelectric perception technology in the field of pan-autonomous driving, headquartered in Wuhan Optics Valley, China. With full-stack product R&D capabilities, based on optoelectronic technology and photoelectric and lidar sensors, it provides customers with a full range of services such as device packaging, module assembly, complete machine design, and solutions.

Renault Autonomous Plans

Renault Group has a pragmatic vision of technology, based on the principle that innovation only makes sense if it is shared, economically accessible and genuinely useful to as many people as possible.

Technological developments are now making it possible to offer increasingly effective driver assistance and delegation functions adapted to different types of vehicles and use.

For the individual vehicles, Renault Group already offers top-level driving assistance on most of its models, providing comfort and safety. Further automation of some functions, with the aim of achieving complete vehicle autonomy, seems unlikely for the time being, given current regulations, customer expectations and the cost of the complex technology involved.

When it comes to public transportation, Renault Group intends to be a real player in sustainable and autonomous mobility. To this end, the Group is developing an electric, robotised, and pre-equipped miniBus platform that will host various automation solutions from specialist partners.

Experimentations have been underway for several years, and others are about to be announced, in particular with WeRide, the world expert in autonomous vehicles, with a first demonstration of public transport in real conditions in a few days’ time during the Roland-Garros 2024 tennis tournament.

Renault Group’s autonomous vehicle strategy

There is an international consensus around 6 levels on “automated and autonomous driving”, ranging from level L0 without any driving assistance, to level L5, the ultimate level in which the vehicle would be fully autonomous, in all situations and without any on-board operator.

In the case of individual vehicles, Renault Group is concentrating its efforts on the L2 or even L2+ level, with several driving assistances that are at the top level of the market and make its vehicles safe and pleasant to drive with confidence, such as contextual cruise control or lane keeping assist, or soon the automatic overtaking function. Although assisted, the driver remains responsible for driving.

There is a significant technological complexity gap between level L2 automation and level L3 autonomy, because the vehicle must be able to operate safely in complex environments with limited driver supervision. At this stage, the induced cost to be borne by customers, in relation to the driving benefits, would make demand insufficient or even anecdotal.

At the same time, the Group is making sure that the architecture of its vehicles can evolve towards the autonomous car if expectations, regulations, or the cost of technologies make this breakthrough feasible.

On the other hand, when it comes to public transportation, Renault Group sees the relevance of offering autonomous vehicles, with an annual need estimated at several thousand miniBuses over the next few years.

The autonomous miniBus, a relevant and necessary solution for public transport

In Europe, more than 400 major cities will gradually become low emission zones, while still having to ensure the mobility of their populations.

Convinced of the benefits of autonomous public transportation, Renault Group has been conducting trials for several years to define the best response to the needs of local authorities, such as the “Mach 2 project” announced in 2023, which from 2026 will see a fleet of automated electric minibuses integrated into the public transportation network of Chateauroux Metropole (France).

Ultimately, these trials will lead Renault Group to offer a robotised electric miniBus platform based on the New Renault Master, able to integrate automation solutions from specialist partners such as EasyMileMilla and WeRide.

More flexible, autonomous miniBuses will be able to operate 24/7 in complete safety and will be a zero-emission alternative or an efficient complement to existing solutions (train, tram, bus) in terms of costs and CO2/km.passenger. The additional costs of robotisation and automation could be offset by the absence of on-board operators. A simple remote supervision system will be required to operate a fleet of vehicles.

Renault Group is initiating a new collaboration with WeRide, a world-renowned expert in autonomous driving, for the large-scale commercial deployment of vehicles with an L4 level of autonomy, i.e. capable of managing driving situations on their own, within an operational defined domain, with remote supervision, but without an on-board operator.

When, in 2018, Alliance Ventures[1] invested in the fledgling company WeRide, which was then blowing out its first candle, it anticipated the strong future need for collective autonomous mobility.

Since then, WeRide has become a global benchmark for autonomous vehicles, with more than 700 autonomous vehicles in service (including 300 miniBuses) that have travelled more than 28 million km in Asia, the Middle East, and North America… and soon in Europe with Renault Group.

Renault Group is moving forward to implement its autonomous vehicle strategy. As a result, thanks to our experiments and our partners, the best in their fields, we will be in a position, well before the end of this decade, to propose a highly relevant range of autonomous, low-carbon miniBuses to meet the growing needs of the regions.

Gilles Le Borgne, CTO Renault Group