The courtroom fight between Uber and Waymo is over; now the race to get an autonomous ride-hailing service to market is back on. On Friday, we learned that Waymo--the self-driving car arm of Google parent Alphabet--has made one huge stride: The company applied to become a transportation network comp...
The most powerful factor that's going to transform society over the next decade is going to be the revolution in transportation. From self-driving taxis and tractor trailers to autonomous flying drones to 30-minute rides from LA to San Francisco on a hyperloop, we're about to witness a series of a massive disruptions. These new technologies are going to make it faster and cheaper to move around and make it possible to commute to work from much longer distances, but it's also going to have a major impact on jobs, cities, and the economy. The technology for self-driving vehicles is already here. Tesla Autopilot was the first big test case, but the world's largest automaker Volkswagen announced at CES 2018 that it will be rolling out autonomous driving to its entire line of vehicles.
This week, California startup Nuro revealed a $92 million Series A, which closed in mid-2017. Founded by former Google engineers Jiajun Zhu and Dave Ferguson, Nuro is set to launch a small, self-driving delivery van for last-mile urban delivery. Nuro's pitch to consumers (and, inevitably, to local and federal legislators still wary of self-driving technology) will be that its pint-sized, battery-powered vans are safer than human-piloted vehicles and will relieve congestion and pollution by taking bigger delivery trucks off crowded city streets. Its pitch to enterprise customers will be that the vehicles save money by optimizing delivery routes, decreasing accidents, and reducing workforces. No word who Nuro's early customers might be, but e-commerce giant Amazon is one possible candidate.
Waymo already turned 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans into self-driving vehicles, but apparently, those aren't enough for the company's upcoming taxi service. FCA US has revealed that it's supplying the former Google self-driving division with thousands of Chrysler Pacific minivans and that delivery will begin in late 2018. Waymo will use the vehicles it's already testing to launch its ride-hailing service in Phoenix this year -- the additional driverless minivans will be deployed to other cities when the service expands its reach. "With the world's first fleet of fully self-driving vehicles on the road, we've moved from research and development, to operations and deployment. The Pacifica Hybrid minivans offer a versatile interior and a comfortable ride experience, and these additional vehicles will help us scale."
Seegrid, which makes self-guided vehicles for materials handling, is the latest robotics company to announce record-setting results for 2017. The company's revenue and profit milestones track broader trends for industrial robotics companies helping fill automation gaps in a number of growing industries. They also suggest that real growth in self-guided technology is already happening, though it has nothing to do with Waymo or Tesla. "Manufacturing and e-commerce companies are under pressure to modernize their operations and transform their facilities into the smart factories of the future," explains Jim Rock, CEO of Seegrid. "Our customers expect a partner who can not only deliver a quality product, but help shepherd the transition into a more automated, data-driven environment."
Waymo, Alphabet Inc's self-driving car unit, would start testing its self-driving vehicles in Atlanta, it said on Twitter on Monday. 'Atlanta is a major hub for technology and innovation, and a natural fit for Waymo's testing program,' Waymo said on Twitter. With over eight years of testing under its belt, Waymo is a pioneer of self-driving technology, and is already testing vehicles in suburban Phoenix, Michigan, Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Waymo, Alphabet Inc's self-driving car unit, would start testing its self-driving vehicles in Atlanta, it said on Twitter on Monday. While self-driving car companies test their vehicles in public, they routinely have a human in the driver's seat ready to take over if the technology fails.
Self-driving cars promise to be the transportation of the future, but one old-world problem could throw a wrench in the whole experience: motion sickness. It's likely that riders in self-driving vehicles will pass the time reading a book, checking their phone or watching a movie while they sit in an autonomous car - but, these activities all increase the likelihood of getting motion sick. University of Michigan researchers have developed a pair of prototype glasses that could prevent motion sickness in self-driving vehicles. The glasses sit on the bridge of the wearer's nose and have a built-in'light array system' to prevent motion sickness. The lights help to prevent nausea by mimicking the car's movement About half of adults struggle with motion sickness when they read a book in a moving vehicle.
As supporters and critics debate self-driving vehicles, 125,000 senior citizens who live in a central Florida retirement community will take them for a ride in the world's largest self-driving experiment. They'll travel 750 miles of roads in The Villages retirement community near Orlando. Voyage, an autonomous vehicle (AV) startup specializing in a robo-taxi service, will pick them up at their homes and drive them free of charge to and from grocery stores, theaters, pools, golf and tennis with only a "technician" on board to monitor the system -- and take the wheel if necessary. Later on, the technician will be dropped and a transportation fee added. If this rollout proves successful, it could pave the way for AVs to assist seniors nationwide with needed services.
Plans for the first mass-production autonomous car without a steering wheel or pedals will be reviewed'carefully and responsibly', US regulators said. Law makers are looking at General Motors' request to test its driverless Cruise AV vehicles on the road sometime next year, with no human backup drivers. The company filed a petition with the US federal government seeking permission to put the vehicles on the road sometime next year. That would let the firm build a fleet of robo-taxis, beating off competition from rivals to launch such a service. The US Transportation Secretary made the comments during a press briefing held yesterday, urging the motor industry to engage with the public over the technology.
General Motors says it is making the first mass-production autonomous car without a steering wheel or pedals. The company has filed a petition with the US federal government seeking permission to put the vehicles on the road sometime next year, with no human backup drivers. That would let the firm launch a fleet of robo-taxis, beating off competition from rivals to launch such a service. The location of the service has not yet been revealed, but GM is said to be in talks with representatives of a number of states in the US over the plans. The car will be the fourth generation of its driverless Chevy Bolts, which are currently being tested on public roads in San Francisco and Phoenix.