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Autonomous Vehicles


How The Big Four Dodged Pandemic And Made Record Earnings

#artificialintelligence

"The big tech is banking heavily on AI, Cloud and 5G technologies to retain customers and drive growth" A global emergency can smother your business, government lawsuits can break your company, competitors with trillion-dollar market value can wipe your organisation off the map. But what would happen when all three come together in the same year? The pandemic brought the world to a standstill. The internet giants, however, came out of it unscathed. Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook, popularly known as the big four, have not only survived a combination of calamities but registered profits and left the Wall Street analysts dumbfounded.


Budget 2021: Drones and aviation tech gets AU$32 million

ZDNet

Ahead of the 2021-22 Budget being handed down on Tuesday, the federal government has announced a new digital economy strategy, which it described as an investment into the settings, infrastructure, and incentives to grow Australia's digital economy. The strategy, costing just shy of AU$1 billion, is set to include work on "emerging aviation technologies". The government will be making a two-year, AU$32.6 million investment in an Emerging Aviation Technology Partnerships program to "support the use of emerging aviation technologies to address priority community, mobility, and cargo needs in regional Australia". The program will see the government partner with industry to look into tech such as electric engines, drones, and electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. "This program will support the digital transformation of Australian businesses, increase business efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions through new technology," the government said.


Latest Tesla News Contradicts Musk's Claim; Could Be Bad News For Self-Driving Car Fans

International Business Times

A Tesla engineer has informed California regulators that the electric vehicle company might not have a fully self-driving vehicle ready for this year. The information comes from documents dated May 6 exchanged between the California Department of Motor Vehicles and several Tesla employees, including CJ Moore, the company's autopilot engineer. The documents were released by the legal transparency group PlainSite, which got them under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In January, Tesla chief Elon Musk said he was "highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year." "Tesla is at Level 2 currently. The ratio of driver interaction would need to be in the magnitude of 1 or 2 million miles per driver interaction to move into higher levels of automation," California DMV noted in the memo.


Home video shows driver entering front door before deadly Tesla crash, NTSB says

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Federal investigators said Monday they were able to glean some insights into what might have happened after a fire erupted from a Tesla crash that killed two people in the Houston area in April and destroyed the vehicle's data recorder. . The National Transportation Safety Board released preliminary findings from its probe into the crash, which raised speculation about whether the vehicle's partially self-driving system, Autopilot, was to blame. The speculation stemmed from local authorities saying they were nearly positive that no one was behind the wheel when the vehicle crashed. The NTSB, in its preliminary report, said video footage from the vehicle owner's home security system showed him getting behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S and then slowly exiting the driveway. The vehicle traveled about 550 feet "before departing the road on a curve, driving over the curb, and hitting a drainage culvert, a raised manhole and a tree," according to the NTSB.


5 Levels of Autonomy (L3 – L5)

#artificialintelligence

Last week we discussed level 1 and 2 autonomy and this week we will move on to L3-L5 which is considered to be "true" autonomous driving. With L3 in certain situations (e.g., highway driving) the car can fully take over all driving tasks including lane changing, but the driver must be constantly paying attention and has to keep his/her hands near the steering wheel at all times and must be paying attention and not distracted by some other tasks such as watching tv, staring at a phone or sleeping. The reason the driver must always pay attention is that if the autonomous system finds itself in a situation it cannot handle (e.g., an unexpected detour or highway construction) it will provide a warning (e.g., seat vibrates or an alarm sounds) and then hand control back to the driver. L4 is a fully autonomous car that can perform all driving functions without fail and doesn't ever require intervention from the driver, though the driver has the option to take over at any time. The caveat however is that the autonomous function can ONLY be used in certain prescribed situations (e.g., proper weather conditions with certain visibility) or locations (e.g., in a well-mapped city or vicinity).


The Pentagon Inches Toward Letting AI Control Weapons

WIRED

Last August, several dozen military drones and tank-like robots took to the skies and roads 40 miles south of Seattle. Their mission: Find terrorists suspected of hiding among several buildings. So many robots were involved in the operation that no human operator could keep a close eye on all of them. So they were given instructions to find--and eliminate--enemy combatants when necessary. The mission was just an exercise, organized by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a blue-sky research division of the Pentagon; the robots were armed with nothing more lethal than radio transmitters designed to simulate interactions with both friendly and enemy robots.


UK postal service tests autonomous drone deliveries to remote islands

Engadget

It's not just online and big-box retailers that are exploring deliveries by drone. Following in the footsteps of the Swiss Post, the UK's Royal Mail is the latest postal service to trial drone flights. The company has announced a landmark project to deliver packages -- including personal protective equipment, COVID testing kits and assorted mail -- to a UK island using an autonomous Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV). As part of the government-backed project, a large drone will take off from the mainland and fly to the Scilly Isles (a remote archipelago off the Cornish coast in southwest England). The twin-engine UAV can carry up to 100kg of mail of all shapes and sizes, which the Royal Mail said is equivalent to a typical delivery round.


New robo-taxi is sleek and slim compared to other 'monstrosities'

Mashable

When a self-driving car passes by, you tend to notice. The towering sensors whirling around on the top of the car more than stand out. But Chinese autonomous vehicle company Pony.ai is reimagining the roofline for its next generation of autonomous taxicabs. As part of a partnership with autonomous vehicle sensor maker Luminar announced Monday, the Pony.ai Typical LiDAR sensors like those from Velodyne, Intel's Mobileye, and Waymo's own Laser Bear Honeycomb are mostly cone-shaped to help pull in a full 360-degree view from the top and around the car.


Plus's SPAC Merger Marks Autonomous Trucking Shift to Public Markets

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Plus plans to merge with Hennessy Capital Investment Corp. V in a transaction that would bring the company, which is based in California and China, about $500 million in gross proceeds and a market capitalization of roughly $3.3 billion. The agreement is expected to close in the third quarter, the companies said Monday. The deal would provide "a significant cash infusion for us to expand our commercialization efforts," Plus Chief Executive and co-founder David Liu said, as the company steps up production and aims to fill thousands of contracted orders and vehicle reservations from Chinese and U.S. fleets. The transaction would include a $150 million private placement of shares with BlackRock Inc., D.E. Top news and in-depth analysis on the world of logistics, from supply chain to transport and technology.


China tech titans go all in amid global electric car frenzy

The Japan Times

China is shaping up to be the first real test of Big Tech's ambitions in the world of carmaking, with giants from Huawei Technologies Co. to Baidu Inc. plowing almost $19 billion into electric and self-driving vehicle ventures widely seen as the future of transport. While Apple Inc. has long had plans for its own car and Alphabet Inc. has Waymo, its autonomous driving unit, the size -- and speed -- of the move by China's tech titans puts them at the vanguard of that broader push. The lure is an industry that's becoming increasingly high tech as it pivots away from the combustion engine, with sensors and operating systems making cars more like computers, and the prospect of autonomy re-envisioning how people use will them. As the world's biggest market for new-energy cars, China is a key battlefield. Established automakers like Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co. are already slogging it out with local upstarts such as market darling Nio Inc. and Xpeng Inc.