Collaborating Authors

Automobiles & Trucks

World Robotics 2023 report: Asia ahead of Europe and the Americas


The new World Robotics report recorded 553,052 industrial robot installations in factories around the world – a growth rate of 5% in 2022, year-on-year. By region, 73% of all newly deployed robots were installed in Asia, 15% in Europe and 10% in the Americas. "The world record of 500,000 units was exceeded for the second year in succession," says Marina Bill, President of the International Federation of Robotics. "In 2023 the industrial robot market is expected to grow by 7% to more than 590,000 units worldwide." China is by far the world s largest market.

Autonomous driving remains a distant reality in Japan

The Japan Times

Japan is pushing for 50 locations with driverless services in place within three years, but fully autonomous vehicles remain nearly nonexistent in the country. So far, Fukui Prefecture is the only place with vehicles featuring level-4 capabilities -- defined when they can handle all driving tasks -- but only under specific conditions with the option for humans to take over. In the town of Eiheiji, the seven-seater golf carts are only allowed to navigate a 2 kilometer course. The limited availability of autonomous driving in Japan stands in stark contrast to the U.S. and China, where robotaxis already roam the streets in some cities. Waymo, backed by Google parent Alphabet, and General Motor's Cruise are testing driverless taxi services in San Francisco.

#IROS2023: A glimpse into the next generation of robotics


The 2023 EEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2023) kicks off today at the Huntington Place in Detroit, Michigan. This year's theme, "The Next Generation of Robotics," is a call to the young and senior researchers to create a forum where the past, present, and future of robotics converge. The program of IROS 2023 is a blend of theoretical insights and practical demonstrations, designed to foster a culture of innovation and collaboration. Among the highlights are the plenary and keynote talks by eminent personalities in the field of robotics. On the plenary front, Marcie O'Malley from Rice University will delve into the realm of robots that teach and learn with a human touch.

Tesla trial begins over whether 'experimental' autopilot caused driver's death

The Guardian

The lawyer representing victims of a fatal Tesla crash blamed the company's autopilot driver assistant system, saying that "a car company should never sell consumers experimental vehicles," in the opening statement of a California trial on Thursday. The case stems from a civil lawsuit alleging that the autopilot system caused the owner of a Tesla Model 3 car, Micah Lee, to suddenly veer off a highway east of Los Angeles at 65 mph (105 kph), where his car struck a palm tree and burst into flames. The 2019 crash killed Lee and seriously injured his two passengers, including an eight-year-old boy who was disemboweled, according to court documents. The lawsuit, filed against Tesla by the passengers and Lee's estate, accuses Tesla of knowing that autopilot and other safety systems were defective when it sold the car. Jonathan Michaels, an attorney for the plaintiffs, in his opening statement at the trial in Riverside, California, said that when the 37-year-old Lee bought Tesla's "full self-driving capability package" for $6,000 for his Model 3 in 2019, the system was in "beta", meaning it was not yet ready for release.

Mercedes take the wheel: Testing Drive Pilot L3 autonomy in traffic


The day is finally here: There's a self-driving car available for purchase in the US. Or, at least, there will be within the next few months. Mercedes-Benz is bringing its Drive Pilot-equipped cars to California and Nevada, and, when they're deployed, you'll not only be able to take your hands off the wheel but also take your eyes off the road. Drive Pilot is the first proper SAE Level 3 autonomy system on the road, meaning when the car is driving itself you, the driver, aren't even liable for the car's behavior. That's an impressive feat, but it's one that comes with a lot of caveats.

The Slatest for Sept. 26: Why Autoworkers Are Worried About the Electric Car


Joe Biden showed up on the United Auto Workers' picket line today--but even with the president's historic gesture of union support, a specter is looming. The shift to electric vehicles is coming, and "this future is not guaranteed to offer the same kinds of middle-class jobs and robust benefits that unionized autoworkers enjoy in many states," Nitish Pahwa writes. He takes a close look at what the EV transition is going to mean for organized labor. Fred Kaplan noticed three of his own books among the list of titles that Meta used to train its new large language model, LLaMA (basically its answer to ChatGPT). So he decided to ask it some questions--what did it think of his books?

The Download: Europe vs Chinese EVs, and making AI vision less biased

MIT Technology Review

Earlier this month, the European Commission announced it is launching an anti-subsidy investigation into electric vehicles coming from China. The move has long been in the making. The rapid recent growth in popularity of Chinese-made electric vehicles in Europe has raised alarms for the domestic automobile industry on the continent. No matter how it shakes out, an official inquiry could hurt the expansion of the Chinese EV business at a critical moment. Computer vision systems are everywhere.

California governor vetoes bill requiring human drivers in autonomous trucks


A California bill requiring autonomous heavy-duty robo-trucks to have human drivers was vetoed late Friday by state Governor Gavin Newsom. The bill, Assembly Bill 316, was a worker-backed bipartisan effort in the state to curb the number of fully autonomous trucks on the road, and to save jobs. As reported by Reuters, Newsom's veto of the bill will come as a relief to companies like Aurora and Daimler Truck that are testing and developing driverless trucks to haul goods. The veto can overturned by the state legislature with a two-thirds vote but the last time this happened in California was in 1979, so the chances that it does are slim. California is not the only state that allows for the testing and use of driverless trucks, but, as Reuters notes, it is among the few states that ban autonomous trucks over 10,000 pounds.

The east German town at the centre of the new 'gold rush' … for lithium

The Guardian

It has been called the new gold rush – a rush to catch up with China in producing and refining the materials needed in everything from computers to cars: but has it come too late to save Europe's car industry? Deep inside a former East German town lies the first fruits of the EU's grand plan to "de-risk" and wean itself off dependency on imports for the green revolution. In Bitterfeld-Wolfen, 140km south-west of Berlin, an Amsterdam-listed company is scrambling to complete construction of a vast factory that will be the first in Europe to deliver battery-grade lithium. There is now a race across Europe to both mine the silver-white soft metal and manufacture its refined form, lithium hydroxide – the key ingredient in the batteries that power electric cars, robot vacuum cleaners and mobile phones. "Everybody wants to get access to lithium. This is maybe why they call it the white gold, because it is like a gold rush," says Stefan Scherer, chief executive of AMG Lithium.

'Catch Me If You Can'-style conman exposed after decades of bizarre lies, scams: report

FOX News

Royal Mail has launched the United Kingdom's first-ever drone delivery service. The service was launched on Scotland's Orkney Islands -- operating for three months with the intent to extend in the future. A man in the U.K. who claimed to be friends with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a pilot with a multimillion-dollar trust fund, and a cruise ship captain was exposed as a decades-long conman who swindled millions of dollars from people, according to a report. Jody Francis Oliver, 45, is currently behind bars on fraud and theft charges after leading seven different lives and allegedly swindling roughly $5.6 million from people, The Times of London reported. For decades, the man reportedly took on different high-powered identities, despite being an unemployed married dad of three.