Transportation


Self-driving car drove me from California to New York, claims ex-Uber engineer

The Guardian

Anthony Levandowski, the controversial engineer at the heart of a lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, claims to have built an automated car that drove from San Francisco to New York without any human intervention. The 3,099-mile journey started on 26 October on the Golden Gate Bridge, and finished nearly four days later on the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan. The car, a modified Toyota Prius, used only video cameras, computers and basic digital maps to make the cross-country trip. Levandowski told the Guardian that, although he was sitting in the driver's seat the entire time, he did not touch the steering wheels or pedals, aside from planned stops to rest and refuel. "If there was nobody in the car, it would have worked," he said.


Kroger starts use of unmanned vehicles for delivery in...

Daily Mail

U.S. supermarket chain Kroger Co said on Tuesday it has started using unmanned autonomous vehicles to deliver groceries Scottsdale, Arizona in partnership with Silicon Valley startup Nuro. The delivery service follows a pilot program started by the companies in Scottsdale in August and involved Nuro's R1, a custom unmanned vehicle. The R1 uses public roads and has no driver and is used to only transport goods. Kroger's driverless grocery delivery vehicles are finally hitting the road. The firm said it will start testing the self-driving cars on Thursday at a Fry's Food Store in Scottsdale, Arizona Kroger's deal with Nuro underscores the stiff competition in the U.S. grocery delivery market with supermarket chains angling for a bigger share of consumer spending.


Elon Musk to unveil first 'Boring Project' tunnel under LA

Daily Mail

Elon Musk is set to unveil the first underground tunnel he hopes will revolutionise commuting. Musk also plans to show off the autonomous cars that will carry people through the test tunnel, which runs about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) under the streets of Hawthorne, California, Musk's SpaceX headquarters. He's also planning to unveil elevators he says will bring users' own cars from street level to the tunnel. On Saturday, Musk also shared a teaser for the launch event with a poster of one of the Boring Company's tunnels and a light at the end. The test tunnel runs about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) under the streets of Hawthorne, California, Musk's SpaceX headquarters.


Engineer at the center of Uber row claims to have completed self-driving trip across America

Daily Mail

The controversial engineer at the center of Uber's multi-year row with Waymo claims he has completed the longest coast-to-coast trip in a self-driving car across the U.S. Anthony Levandowski, a former Uber engineer, told the Guardian that he didn't touch the autonomous vehicle's steering wheel or pedals during the four-day, 3,099-mile trip from San Francisco to New York City, aside from the occasional rest stop. While the Guardian didn't confirm the details of his trip, if it occurred as Levandowski described, it marks the longest recorded trip by a self-driving car without a human taking over. Levandowski rode in a modified Toyota Prius for the 3,099-mile trip from San Francisco to New York City. The car operates using a semi-autonomous driver-assistance system, named Co-Pilot. Co-Pilot is a level two autonomous system.


Enabling Faster, More Capable Robots With Real-Time Motion Planning

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. Despite decades of expectations that we will have dexterous robots performing sophisticated tasks in the house and elsewhere, the use of robots remains painfully limited, largely due to insufficient motion-planning performance. Motion planning is the process of determining how to move a robot, or autonomous vehicle, from its current configuration (or pose) to a desired goal configuration: For example, how to reach into a fridge to grab a soda can while avoiding obstacles, like the other items in the fridge and the fridge itself. Until recently, this critical process has been implemented in software running on high-performance commodity hardware.


Kroger launches Nuro unmanned vehicles to delivery groceries to customers in Arizona

USATODAY

By 2025 Kroger will get rid of plastic bags. Kroger is using driverless vehicles to delivery groceries. After nearly half a year of anticipation, Kroger has delivered on its promise to deliver groceries to your door without a delivery person. Through a partnership with Silicon Valley startup Nuro, Kroger will deliver groceries to customers in Scottsdale, Arizona, through driverless vehicles, the U.S. supermarket chain announced Tuesday. The unmanned vehicle, which is called the R1, travels on public roads and only transports goods.


Why Nike thinks the future of its stores is an app

The Independent

For something that ends with something so pleasant, shoe shopping can sometimes seem like the worst kind of work: concern that a shop won't have your size, asking to find out if they do and try it on, only to discover that size doesn't fit and being forced to trudge back ashamed and ask for a different size, before being forced to wait all over again as you try and check out. Nike, it turns out, wants to put a stop to that kind of shopping just as much as you do. And with its latest additions to its app, it appears to have succeeded. The company is just one of a range of firms betting that the future of retail looks a little like its past, and that traditional shops aren't being killed by technology but enhanced by it. The company's new update – known as Nike App At Retail, and newly launched at its London Store right on Oxford Circus – allows you to shop right from the app, choosing your size and style and having it checked out seamlessly.


Inside Shenzhen's race to outdo Silicon Valley

MIT Technology Review

Every day at around 4 p.m., the creeeek criikkk of stretched packing tape echoes through Huaqiangbei, Shenzhen's sprawling neighborhood of hardware stores. Shopkeepers package up the day's sales--selfie sticks, fidget spinners, electric scooters, drones--and by 5, crowds of people are on the move at the rapid pace locals call Shenzhen sudu, or "Shenzhen speed," carting boxes out on motorcycles, trucks, and--if it's a light order--zippy balance boards. From Huaqiangbei the boxes are brought to the depots of global logistics companies and loaded onto airplanes and cargo ships. In the latter case they join 24 million metric tons of container cargo going out every month from Shekou harbor--literally "snake's mouth," the world's third-busiest shipping port after Shanghai and Singapore. A few days or weeks later, the boxes arrive in destinations as nearby as Manila and Phnom Penh and as far afield as Dubai, Buenos Aires, Lagos, and Berlin.


Big round for robotics company picking up where Kiva left off

ZDNet

RightHand Robotics, a Boston-based robotics company tackling a particularly vexing technical challenge for ecommerce fulfillment centers, has secured $23 million in Series B funding. The Round was led by Menlo Ventures with participation from GV (formerly Google Ventures). RightHand's rapid growth is a testament to the mounting challenges faced by ecommerce fulfillment centers, which are confronting higher throughput and a tight labor market. While much of the fulfillment process has been automated, logistics providers still rely on armies of human workers to perform mundane piece-picking tasks, such as moving items from a conveyer belt to a bin. Though seemingly straightforward, the technical challenge of automating piece-picking for ecommerce is immense.


Anthony Levandowski Returns With a Self-Driving Truck Scheme

WIRED

Anthony Levandowski, the engineer whose alleged theft of trade secrets landed him in the middle of a blockbuster self-driving car legal fight, has stepped back into the spotlight with a new company. Pronto AI, he announced on Tuesday, is developing a $5,000 aftermarket driver assistance system for semitrucks, which will handle the steering, throttle, and brakes on the highway. To prove it works, Levandowski used the software to send his Toyota Prius across the country. In October, Levandowski says, the car drove 3,099 miles from San Francisco to New York City. At no point did he take control away from the computer, except to handle the non-freeway bits, chiefly to refuel and rest up.