TechCrunch Mobility: Cruise Robotaxis Are Returning and Ford's BlueCruise is Under Scrutiny - Latest Global News

TechCrunch Mobility: Cruise Robotaxis Are Returning and Ford’s BlueCruise is Under Scrutiny

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It’s been another wild week in the world of transportation, particularly in the electric vehicle startup and automated driving industries. Secure, cruise caught our attention by heralding a return of sorts. But there is much more to read, including about the Indian ride-hailing giant Ola departure from Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand; a post about a New York-based startup that wants to enable electric vehicle charging on roadside lampposts; Uber eats Introducing a TikTok-like video feature; and contract manufacturers Magna Piloting humanoid robots developed by Sanctuary AI.

Oh, one more thing – reporter Rebecca Bellan is back! I know readers have missed her, so show her some love by sending her some tips to [email protected].

Let’s go!

A little bird

Founders, investors, engineers, politicians and others tell us things. And we’re here to share the verifiable information they have small birds shared with us.

Do you have a tip for us? E-mail Kirsten Korosec at [email protected], Sean O’Kane at [email protected] or Rebecca Bellan at [email protected]. If you prefer to remain anonymous, Click here to contact usincluding SecureDrop (Instructions here) and various encrypted messaging apps.

offer of the week

Station money

Just a ton of deals this week!

Base brand, a Finnish company that has developed AR and computer vision software for car manufacturers, has raised €22 million ($23.6 million) in a Series B round led by ETF Partners. Other supporters include Finnish Industry Investment, Constructor Capital, Business Finland, the European Innovation Council and private investors.

bumperan automotive fintech startup, raised £2 million in a Series B extension round that also included backing from Suzuki Global Ventures and Marubeni Ventures.

Carraran Israeli startup that provides battery modules and thermal management systems for electric vehicles raised $5.3 million in a Series A round that included new investors Salida BV, OurCrowd and NextGear, as well as current backers Gentherm, NextLeap Ventures, Dive Digital and others took part.

The exodusA France-based startup that has developed battery cooling technology for electric vehicles has raised 35 million euros ($37.5 million) from BpiFrance and the Meridiam Green Impact Growth Fund.

HysetCo SAS, a startup that rents hydrogen-powered electric vehicles to taxi drivers in Paris, has raised nearly 200 million euros ($218 million) in a round led by Hy24. Raise Impact and Eiffel Investment Group also participated.

Yoshi mobility, a Nashville-based startup that developed an app that provides drivers with preventive maintenance, virtual vehicle inspections and electric vehicle charging, has raised $26 million in a Series C round led by General Motors Ventures. Bridgestone Americas, Universal Motors Agencies and Shikra Limited also participated.

Notable reading and other tidbits


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the driver of a Ford Mustang Mach-E that crashed into a stationary car in Texas in February was using the BlueCruise hands-free driver assistance system. This is the first known fatality in a BlueCruise accident. The NTSB announcement came a day after the safety agency said it was investigating a second fatal crash near Philadelphia in which Ford’s driver assistance system may have been active.

Autonomous vehicles

GMs Self-driving car subsidiary cruise is back. Somehow. The company is redeploying robotaxis, but not in its hometown of San Francisco. Instead, Cruise is setting up an office in Phoenix and all of its autonomous vehicles will be driven manually by employees. Here’s the weird thing: Cruise says it will create maps and collect street information in Phoenix, a city where it has had a presence (and autonomous driving) since at least 2020. This means it has mapped these streets before.

Going back to mapping left me a little confused. Is this the case or does Cruise see the need to restart the entire process due to concerns about the underlying technology?

Cruise has also petitioned California regulators to reinstate his operating licenses in San Francisco. Will we see the company map its hometown again, or will it jump in again with a robotaxi service?

In the meantime, Waymo officially launched paid rides in Los Angeles this week. We previously reported that California regulators had approved the Alphabet-owned company to charge fees for its robotaxi service in the city. The service will start small and expand based on demand and performance metrics, a Waymo spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Electric vehicles, chargers and batteries

exponent energyThe Indian battery technology company that claims to have developed 15-minute charging technology has partnered with an automaker Omega Seiki mobility to deliver a three-wheeled passenger electric vehicle with these fast charging capabilities.

Faraday future is currently fighting two internal whistleblowers. Both former employees have filed lawsuits alleging the troubled electric vehicle company lied about some of the few sales announced so far. They also claim that founder Jia Yueting “armed” the electric car startup’s human resources department to retaliate against anyone who commented on these alleged misrepresentations.

Lucid Motors delivered more electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2024 than in any other quarter, but fell just short of the record.

Tesla lowered the monthly subscription price for its “Supervised FSD” (formerly known as “FSD Beta”) from $199 to $99 to get more money and data from drivers.

Ride hail

Lyft And Above said they will pause their planned departure from Minneapolis after city officials decided to delay the start of a pay raise for drivers by a few months.


Check out this in-depth look Neural concepta company that uses AI to help engineers develop more aerodynamic vehicles for the racing, automotive and aerospace industries.

This week’s bikes

I’m in a Mercedes EV again, this time in one 2024 Mercedes EQE 350 4MATIC. The model’s retail price is $77,900 (excluding shipping fee). The version I drove cost $97,615, thanks to numerous options including a 10-degree rear-axle steering system, a head-up display, air suspension, an AMG exterior and a driver assistance system for $1,250 .

There are a number of improvements compared to the previous model year, including a new braking system, a heat pump to improve driving efficiency in winter conditions, a 20-mile improved battery range, 20-inch wheels, a power-opening cargo door, and a better user interface (mine in my opinion) on the central infotainment.

What I really wanted to try out was the advanced driver assistance system and in particular the automatic lane change function, which I still had to test.

In the infotainment center, the driver can choose between “manual” and “automatic” lane changing options. When the automatic function is selected and ADAS is turned on, the vehicle performs automatic lane changes without driver input. Here’s how it works. I was driving in the right lane on the highway with ADAS activated. As the car approached slower traffic, an arrow appeared on the instrument cluster (see photo), the system turned on my turn signal and then performed the lane change. This can be overcome by holding the steering wheel firmly and keeping it on track.

My thoughts? The system worked smoothly and I was able to use it occasionally. The question is whether drivers want to give up this kind of control.

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