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August 16, 2017 News of the Day: Fiat Chrysler will join BMW, Intel on Autonomous Platform, GM Announces Voluntary Delisting from Toronto Stock Exchange, Ford Patents Removeable Steering Wheel

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【Summary】August 16, 2017 News of the Day

Original Eric Walz    Aug 16, 2017 1:36 PM PT
August 16, 2017 News of the Day: Fiat Chrysler will join BMW, Intel on Autonomous Platform, GM Announces Voluntary Delisting from Toronto Stock Exchange,  Ford Patents Removeable Steering Wheel

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) will join BMW, Intel, and Mobileye in creating an autonomous platform that automakers around the world can use to develop self-driving cars and to bring autonomous technologies to production by 2021.

The collaboration's plan is to make solutions for different levels of automated driving, from partial to full automation. In joining the collaboration, FCA brings to the table its unique engineering and technical resources, as well as its sales volume and experience in North America.

FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said in a statement: "In order to advance autonomous driving technology, it is vital to form partnerships among automakers, technology providers and suppliers. Joining this cooperation will enable FCA to directly benefit from the synergies and economies of scale that are possible when companies come together with a common vision and objective."

The group will launch 40 autonomous test cars by the end of the year. Recently, Intel and Mobileye announced plans to build 100 automated vehicles to be deployed around the world, and the larger group can benefit from the data gleaned from these test cars.

"We welcome FCA's contributions and use of the collaborative platform, which has made substantial progress over the last year and is rapidly entering the testing and execution phase," Mobileye boss Amnon Shashua said in a statement.

FCA is also supplying Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Google's self-driving car project that spun off into Waymo.

GM Announces Voluntary Delisting from Toronto Stock Exchange

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DETROIT — General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM; TSX: GMM.U) today announced that it has applied and received approval for a voluntary delisting of its common stock from the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) in Canada. The delisting from the TSX will not affect the company's listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Trading on the NYSE and alternative platforms accounts for a vast majority of GM's current daily trading volume. Given the relatively low trading volume of its shares on the TSX and the fact that GM's NYSE listing provides its shareholders with sufficient liquidity, the company believes that the costs associated with maintaining a dual listing are no longer justified. Accordingly, effective at the close of markets on Nov. 30, 2017 the company's shares will no longer be traded on the TSX.

After delisting from the TSX, the company's common stock will continue to trade on the NYSE under the symbol GM. Shareholders will be able to continue to trade their shares on other exchanges and those who wish to do so should contact their broker or investment manager for further details.

Ford Patents Removeable Steering Wheel and Pedals

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Autonomous vehicles will eventually not need steering wheels or gas pedals. However that does not mean automakers will do away with them completely.

Ford was just issued a patent on Aug. 10, 2017. The description from Ford notes two challenges when completely removing the steering wheel.

One is that the wheel typically houses the driver-side airbag. The second is "the lack of a steering wheel can handicap vehicle development by making it more difficult to place a vehicle under a driver's control" for evaluating a vehicle's response to "extreme dynamic maneuvers such as rapid lane changes."

While an attachable steering wheel and pedal set solves the development and driver preference issues, Ford's patent addresses safety concerns by putting an airbag in both the steering wheel and the dashboard, deactivating the dash airbag when the steering wheel is in place. The patent includes drawings of airbag deployment in both scenarios.

With the steering wheel attached, it can control steering either mechanically or electronically (steer-by-wire). Pedals can be controlled with a spring and gas damper, or use an electric actuator and software to simulate brake pedal resistance. The patent also states that the connection openings would be covered by trim panels to provide a "pleasing appearance" with the components removed.

With future regulations regarding autonomous vehicles still unclear, this patent illustrates a possible solution where regulations require driver controls. It would allow Ford to build and deliver the same car to a customer who doesn't want a steering wheel or pedals, and to one in a country or state where the law places limits on self-driving cars.

Genesis Owners Can Control Their Cars Remotely Using Google Assistant

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Carmaker Genesis has announced today that its customers will be able to use the Google Assistant to do things like lock and unlock their car doors and more.

According to Genesis' press release, customers will be able to send commands to their vehicle using Google Home or a smartphone with Google Assistant, by linking their Genesis Connected Services account with Google Assistant. Once that is done, Google Assistant will need the PIN number for Genesis Connected Services, so it can use your account.

Currently there are only a few commands that currently work for Google Assistant, which includes locking and unlocking the car, remote start with climate control, remotely hit the horn or turn on the lights and sending driving directions to the vehicle's navigation system.

Genesis does note that users are able to speak these commands to Google Assistant, or text them. So for instance, if you're in a meeting and are in a rush to get home once it's over, you can remote start your car by typing it into the Google Assistant, and you're car will be there waiting for you once you are finished.

Now that the Google Assistant is available on both Android and iOS, the Google Assistant is much more useful for users that also own a Genesis vehicle. The Google Assistant can tell you things like the weather, which will help you decide how warm or cold you want your vehicle, so when you get inside your vehicle, it'll be nice and comfortable. This feature is available today for all Genesis owners, and will be on display later this month – and likely all of the auto shows for the rest of 2017, as would be expected.

GM CEO Will No Longer Advise President Trump as Council Disbands

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra no longer will advise President Donald Trump on American economic issues and job growth.

On Wednesday, a group of business leaders and President Trump announced the disbandment of the Strategic and Policy Forum, which originally included GM CEO Barra and more than a dozen other CEOs from several industries.

The breaking up of the group comes amid a turbulent week for Trump, who twice cast blame on counter protesters for a "Unite the Right" rally Saturday by white nationalists turning deadly in Charlottesville. A woman was killed during the event after a man rammed a Dodge Challenger into a crowd.

In a statement, the group said it was breaking up amid the controversy as the president faced blowback for his responses to an alt-right rally that turned violent, according to Bloomberg. "The debate over forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans."

"General Motors is about unity and inclusion and so am I," Barra said in a statement. "Recent events, particularly those in Charlottesville, Va., and its aftermath, require that we come together as a country and reinforce values and ideas that unite us -- tolerance, inclusion and diversity -- and speak against those who divide us -- racism, bigotry and any politics based on ethnicity."

In a tweet following reports of the group disbanding, Trump said it was his decision to end the economic forum as well as the Manufacturing Council. Several members stepped down as a result of his responses to the alt-right rally.

"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both," Trump tweeted. "Thank you all!"

His remarks were a reversal from a day earlier, when he pledged that he had "many" CEOs willing to take the places of those who quit his manufacturing group. He called those who left "grandstanders."

Other executives of the economic forum included Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS Markit; Jim McNerney, former chairman, president and CEO, Boeing; Bob Iger, chairman and CEO, Walt Disney Co.; and Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Former Uber Technologies Inc. CEO Travis Kalanick and Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk were previously part of the economic council, however, the two stepped down earlier this year following differences with Trump.

GM previously had defended Barra's continued involvement with the group as "a seat at an important table" as the Trump administration dealt with issues such as tax reform and job growth.

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