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Los Angeles, There's a New Self-Driving Car Company in Town: Meet Motional

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Motional has announced it wants to more than double its number of employees in the state, and most of them will work in Los Angeles as human operators for self-driving cars that will learn, inch-by-inch, mile-by-mile, how to drive themselves. Until Motional gets the required permits from the California DMV, the self-driving car fleet will have to always have human drivers behind the wheel and ready to step in at a moment's notice. Motional is already testing vehicles in Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Singapore. Initially, the vehicles will map the roads, and self-driving tests will be conducted once that stage is completed. The first stage will focus on the Santa Monica area, where Motional has set up an office and an operations facility. Furthermore, Motional will hire people for its new research and development office in San Francisco, so those interested in career opportunities in this field should check out the company's website.


Approaching the motional ground state of a 10-kg object

Science

Cooling objects to low temperature can increase the sensitivity of sensors and the operational performance of most devices. Removing most of the thermal vibrations—or phonons—such that the object reaches its motional quantum ground state has been achieved but typically with tiny, nanoscale objects. Using the suspended mirrors of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) that form a 10-kg optomechanical oscillator, Whittle et al. demonstrate the ability to cool such a large-scale object to nearly the motional ground state. An upgrade to LIGO with such a modification could increase its sensitivity and range to gravitational waves but also extend studies of quantum mechanics to large-scale objects. Science , abh2634, this issue p. [1333][1] The motion of a mechanical object, even a human-sized object, should be governed by the rules of quantum mechanics. Coaxing them into a quantum state is, however, difficult because the thermal environment masks any quantum signature of the object’s motion. The thermal environment also masks the effects of proposed modifications of quantum mechanics at large mass scales. We prepared the center-of-mass motion of a 10-kilogram mechanical oscillator in a state with an average phonon occupation of 10.8. The reduction in temperature, from room temperature to 77 nanokelvin, is commensurate with an 11 orders-of-magnitude suppression of quantum back-action by feedback and a 13 orders-of-magnitude increase in the mass of an object prepared close to its motional ground state. Our approach will enable the possibility of probing gravity on massive quantum systems. [1]: /lookup/doi/10.1126/science.abh2634


Enthusiasm around autonomous vehicles has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic - TechRepublic

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A report on the public perception of self-driving vehicles in the United States found that 62% of people surveyed believe autonomous vehicles are the way of the future, and that enthusiasm for those vehicles has risen since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey of more than 1,000 Americans and its accompanying Consumer Mobility Report comes from Motional, a driverless technology company created by Hyundai and Aptive. Motional was created to work on commercial uses of SAE level four vehicles, which are fully autonomous and able to perform all tasks from the beginning to the end of a trip. Along with finding enthusiasm for driverless vehicles rising, Motional also found that there's a knowledge gap around self-driving vehicles that plays directly into an enthusiasm gap. Respondents who rated themselves extremely knowledgeable about autonomous vehicles were far more likely to believe that those on the road to day are safe and reliable (76%), versus those that said they are less knowledgeable, of whom only 10% said current self-driving vehicles are safe.


Uber will test 'autonomous' food delivery sometime next year

Engadget

Uber and autonomous vehicle company Motional announced a partnership today for "autonomous deliveries" through Uber Eats. As you might imagine, there are some caveats. The pilot is slated to launch at some point in "early 2022," though Motional (itself a partnership between Hyundai and Aptiv) would not provide further details on timing. The full array of food options normally available through Uber Eats also won't be available. Instead customers will pick from "a curated set of meal kits from select restaurants."


Lyft aims to bring fully driverless cars to multiple US cities in 2023

Engadget

Lyft has completed more than 100,000 self-driving rides in Las Vegas over the last few years. Now, the company has revealed plans to bring fully driverless cars to multiple cities in the US, starting in 2023. The Las Vegas rides have taken place with a safety driver at the wheel, ready to take over in an emergency. Motional, which is a joint venture between Aptiv and Hyundai, is Lyft's partner on that project (formerly under the Aptiv banner). It recently received permission to test autonomous vehicles on Nevada's roads without safety drivers in cars, and it plans to do so in the coming months.