The driver's seat may be empty, but this truck knows where it's going. Embark is a new self-driving truck company that has begun testing its autonomous big rig in Nevada. SAN FRANCISCO -- Just how hot is the self-driving vehicle space? So hot that if you're a sharp 21-year-old with robotics experience and some smart friends, you can land millions to start your own company. Embark, a new self-driving truck startup that launched Friday, is the brainchild of University of Waterloo buddies Alex Rodrigues and Brandon Moak, also 21.
Self-driving cars clearly stand to benefit from sharing data -- you want your car to know about traffic jams before you're stuck in gridlock. The tech giant is partnering with Here on a next-gen communications hub for nearly or completely autonomous cars. Here's location info will help LG share a car's situational awareness with other vehicles, giving you customized driving info and (potentially) smarter decisions. If there's a road ahead with mercifully light traffic, for instance, your car might turn on to it to avoid delays.
Uber had the lead on ride-hailing and self-driving cars for a while, but it's encountered some roadblocks. Now Lyft is jumping in, with the announcement that the U.S. ride-hailing company will develop its own self-driving technology at a facility in Silicon Valley. "We believe Lyft is in the best position to demonstrate what a great overall user experience can be. Lyft is also uniquely positioned to build technology in collaboration with partners in a way that makes it possible to roll out self-driving cars at scale in the fastest, safest, most efficient way," Lyft Vice President of Engineering Luc Vincent wrote in a Medium post announcing Lyft's plans. Lyft earlier this year introduced an open self-driving platform that allowed car manufacturers and self-driving systems to sync with Lyft's network.
Uber had hoped Levandowski, one the most respected self-driving engineers in Silicon Valley, would help the ride services company catch up to rivals including Waymo, in the race for self-driving technology. Instead the hiring led to a court fight and the threat of criminal charges. Uber replaced him as the head of its self-driving car unit in April before finally making the decision to fire him.
Levandowski left last year to found a self-driving truck company called Otto, which was then purchased by Uber in an arrangement that Waymo lawyers claim was planned as a way to steal thousands of pages of confidential materials. Now Business Insider has obtained an internal memo where he tells employees they'll be reporting to someone else for the duration of the lawsuit. For its part, Uber is claiming it uses different LiDAR technology (which enables self-driving cars to see the environment around them) and has even made the argument that Waymo's implementation is well ahead of the stuff it's using. Next week the judge in the case is scheduled to rule on an injunction request by Waymo that could remove Levandowski from the project or otherwise cripple Uber's efforts, while Levandowski recently invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying in the case.