Today’s Pickup: autonomous vehicle companies insist on safety

( Photo: Peloton Technology )

Good day,

FreightWaves staff writer Ashley Coker was in San Francisco last week at the Automated Vehicle Symposium and covered presentations by Lyft, Peloton, and Embark. Coker wrote that safety was a dominant theme of the conference as industry participants reacted to recent headlines about Tesla and Uber crashes. Nadeem Sheikh, Lyft’s VP of Autonomous Vehicle Programs, emphasized how safe passengers in Lyft’s autonomous cars in Las Vegas felt: “People were actually falling asleep in the back of the car.”

Embark CEO and co-founder Alex Rodrigues went so far as to claim that self-driving trucks were the only way to reach zero or near-zero truck fatalities: “Although trucks are incredibly useful, they’re also incredibly dangerous. About 4,000 people die on average in truck accidents each year in the United States. There are lots of ways truck manufacturers and governments are trying to improve this, but the only way to get to zero fatalities, which is what everyone would like, is to use self-driving vehicles, so we see this as a huge potential to improve road safety in the long term.”

Did you know?

Platooning technology can shrink the safe following distance between trucks from over 500 feet to as low as 30 feet. As safe following distance decreases, so does collision risk and average impact velocity, according to Peloton founder and CEO Josh Switkes. 


“It’s very apparent that driver satisfaction with a recruiter impacts retention.” 

-Tim Hindes, CEO of Stay Metrics, in reference to a new white paper

In other news:

‘The last bet-the-company situation’: Q&A with Elon Musk

“You know, what I think about as Tesla is kind of like a computer on wheels. It’s extremely upgradable. So we’re going to just keep adding more and more functionality to the Model 3. So the longer you own the Model 3, the better the car is going to get.” (Bloomberg)

China growth slows slightly ahead of effects from U.S. trade fight

China’s economic expansion slowed a notch in the second quarter, weighed down by a top-priority government debt cleanup even before growth takes an expected hit from the trade fight with the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)

Tanker market: US oil exports at the epicenter of trade shifts

The escalation of the trade war between the US and China is about to bring significant changes in crude ton/mile demand as US crude freights could soon be moving away from China and heading towards India, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. (Hellenic Shipping News)

Boeing kickstarts air show with order for jets worth $4.7 billion

Boeing Co said on Monday it won an order for 14 freight aircraft for a value of $4.7 billion, firing the opening salvo against rival Airbus SE in a contest for business on day one of the Farnborough Airshow. (Reuters)

What to watch for in CSX’s Q2?

CSX Corporation is set to release its Q2 financial performance on July 17, and we expect the company to post modest growth led by the Intermodal segment. However, the company’s coal freight revenues will likely decline amid lower production and the trends in natural gas prices. (Forbes)

Final Thoughts:

This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released its monthly retail trade numbers for the month of June. Retail sales jumped 0.5% in June from May’s levels. Consensus estimate was for 0.5%, so the figures are right in line. The big surprise in this morning’s report was that May’s numbers were revised up to show a 1.3% gain versus the initial report of 0.8%. This is the 5th straight monthly increase and puts year-over-year growth at 6.6%. That’s the fastest pace of Y/Y growth since Feb. 2012.

At an industry level, the big winners were health & personal care stores (+2.2%), restaurants (+1.5%), and nonstore (mostly online shopping) (+1.3%). A few big declines during the month included sporting goods stores (-3.2%), clothing (-2.5%), and department stores (-1.8%). 

Hammer down everyone!

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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.