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Here are all the companies besides Tesla that are building trucks of the future

Mashable

Tesla will reveal its semi-truck design tonight in a highly anticipated event in Hawthorne, California, reaching another goal in founder Elon Musk's "Master Plan" for the company. The semi is the automaker's first shot at disrupting the trucking industry in the same way it brought all-electric cars to the forefront of the consumer auto conversation -- but Tesla won't be alone in its attempt to bring electric, autonomous big rigs to the world's highways. There are multiple next-gen trucking projects in the works from all manner of players, from fledgling startups with one killer concept to major conglomerates launching new brands. Some of the ventures focus on creating all-electric powertrains for heavy-duty vehicles, while others add self-driving features and new fleet logistics systems to standard rigs -- but they all want to shake up the trucking industry. SEE ALSO: Elon Musk rips the press for'ridiculous' coverage of Tesla firings Before Musk takes the stage at 8 p.m. Pacific on Thursday (or jumps on top of his new rig or whatever he winds up doing), lets take a look at a few of the other most exciting trucks in development that could change the way we haul cargo.


GM Buys Lidar Startup Strobe to Help It Deliver Self-Driving Cars

WIRED

General Motors just took another step to prepare itself for the future of driving, acquiring a startup that makes what could prove a key technology to unlock self-driving cars for use in fleets. Cruise, GM's self-driving car startup, will now source its lidar laser sensors from Strobe, a Pasadena-based startup that the Detroit automaker just acquired. GM did not disclose the terms of the deal, which it announced Monday morning, but it's a potentially crucial move in its plan to deploy large fleets of robocars, given the importance of the sensor, and the difficulty of making it not just robust and reliable, but cost effective. Other notable lidar startups include Luminar, whose 22-year-old founder just signed a deal to put his sensors on Toyota's self-driving cars, and Innoviz, an Israeli company working on what's called solid-state lidar.


God Is a Bot, and Anthony Levandowski Is His Messenger Backchannel

#artificialintelligence

In September 2015, the multi-millionaire engineer at the heart of the patent and trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, Google's self-driving car company, founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. In February, Waymo--the company Google's autonomous car project turned into--filed a lawsuit against Uber. "Anthony went to a car store and said we want to buy 100 cars," Sebastian Thrun told me in 2015. Under Thrun's supervision, Street View cars raced to hit Page's target of capturing a million miles of road images by the end of 2007.


The Self Driving Car Whiz Who Fell from Grace

WIRED

In September 2015, the multi-millionaire engineer at the heart of the patent and trade secrets lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, Google's self-driving car company, founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. In February, Waymo--the company Google's autonomous car project turned into--filed a lawsuit against Uber. "Anthony went to a car store and said we want to buy 100 cars," Sebastian Thrun told me in 2015. Under Thrun's supervision, Street View cars raced to hit Page's target of capturing a million miles of road images by the end of 2007.


Toyota invests in Japanese startups to catch up in autonomous car race

The Japan Times

The automaker last week made a $9.1 million (about ¥1 billion) investment in the initial public offering of Uenoyama's firm, PKSHA Technology Inc., which is developing software that could one day help cars learn to hold a conversation with drivers. "The digital needs of the manufacturing sector have become bigger and bigger, and that's why we started working with Toyota," said Uenoyama in a recent interview at his office near the University of Tokyo, where the 35-year-old received a Ph.D. in machine learning. Toyota's investment in PKSHA, along with another Tokyo-based startup called Preferred Networks Inc., comes as software starts to rival the motor as the most important thing inside a car and automakers compete with the likes of Google to make vehicles that can drive by themselves. To speed up development, Toyota spent $1 billion in 2015 to build a Silicon Valley AI research lab, and is said to be considering opening a hub in Tokyo next year.


Self-driving ships could be ready in three years

Los Angeles Times

Spurred in part by the auto industry's race to build driverless vehicles, marine innovators are building automated ferry boats for Amsterdam canals, cargo ships that can steer themselves through Norwegian fjords and remote-controlled ships to carry containers across the Atlantic and Pacific. "We're in full autonomy now," said Jeff Gawrys, a marine technician for Boston startup Sea Machines Robotics, sitting at the helm as the boat floated through a harbor channel. The startup has signed a deal with an undisclosed company to install the "world's first autonomy system on a commercial container ship," Johnson said this week. In Norway, fertilizer company Yara International is working with engineering firm Kongsberg Maritime on a project to replace big-rig trucks with an electric-powered ship connecting three nearby ports.


California bans drones from delivering marijuana

Daily Mail

It says transportation must be via commercial vehicles and trailers and bans aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, and unmanned vehicles. They'll also have to retain distribution records and enter transport and shipment information into a California'track-and-trace' database. 'Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles.' The strict regulations put a major dent in the plans of startups like Trees Delivery, Eaze, and MDelivers, which planned or envisioned using drones to make marijuana deliveries in the future.


Self-driving Lyft cars will pick up passengers in the Bay Area with new partnership

Mashable

SEE ALSO: Ford and Domino's team up for self-driving pizza deliveries Lyft hopes to collect data to improve the passenger experience in self-driving cars, while Drive.ai The deal is similar to Lyft's partnership with nuTonomy to bring self-driving cabs to Boston, which was announced earlier this year. This will be the first public partnership for Drive.ai, The startup is known for its emphasis on familiarizing the public with self-driving tech, which will continue to be a focus during the Lyft trial, Drive.ai She said the company has been testing its tech on public roads in California since last year, but this will be the first time the public will have a chance to ride in its cars. Notably, Lyft's pilot program with nuTonomy in Boston hasn't launched, even though it was announced back in June. These two programs and the regions in which they'll operate are very different, however, so there might be a chance that the Bay Area's driverless Lyfts could hit the roads before Boston's.


Startups Are Laser-Focused on Helping Self-Driving Cars See

TIME

"It's easy to make an autonomous vehicle that works 99% of the time," Russell says later. His company plans to start shipping an "auto-grade" sensor that costs less than $1,000 in 2018, he says, assuming it checks the boxes in a battery of tests. Oryx Vision, an Israeli startup that is building a test unit for cars, hopes to eventually sell lidar sensors to vehicle manufacturers for about $100. Tesla's Elon Musk has argued that advanced radar could do the same job as lidar, and other startups are working on super-powered cameras to help cars see more clearly.


Elon Musk Wants Tesla to Build a Self-Driving, Electric Semi Truck

WIRED

Assuming Tesla can figure out how to make battery tech work for long-haul trucking (no easy feat), adding autonomy to the equation makes perfect sense. Tesla joins a long list of enterprises working on autonomous long-haul trucking, including Uber, Google spinoff Waymo, Volvo, Daimler, the US Army, and a small horde of startups. The great news is that the technological challenge of making a truck drive itself on the highway is relatively simple. Of Course Google's Waymo Is Building Self-Driving Trucks You Don't Have to Wait for Tesla to Get Your Electric Pickup Truck In the tugboat model, a human drives the truck from the terminal or depot to a staging area on the highway, then turn things over to the computer.