Daimler will soon take its Mercedes-Benz self-driving cars to the public streets of Beijing. It's the first non-Chinese company to win a license to test level 4 self-driving vehicles there. Level 4 is the second-highest tier of autonomous driving, in which cars can operate without human input in select conditions. Eventually, you might be able to take a nap while these types of vehicles ferry you around. The test vehicles use technology from Daimler's partner Baidu Apollo, and they had to go through rigorous closed-course testing in Beijing and Hebei before Chinese authorities granted the license.
Computers may be poised to take control of driving in the future, but humans will be backing them for some time yet. Tech giants Waymo and Uber Technologies Inc., auto makers General Motors Co. GM -0.85% and Nissan Motor Co. NSANY -1.16%, and upstarts like Phantom Auto are all developing ways for people to remotely assist their autonomous vehicles during complicated driving situations. "You're going to want as many different backup systems as possible, and human beings performing remote operations is one of those," said Anthony Foxx, former U.S. Transportation Secretary and adviser to venture-capital firm Autotech Ventures. Having human backup will likely help alleviate concerns that regulators and insurance companies have about the new technology, he added. Driverless cars, using sensors, cameras and digital maps, tend to navigate the world based on road markings and rules of the road.
Waymo, the self-driving subsidiary of Google-parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG), took its first delivery of 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans supplied by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU) in December of 2016, adding an additional 500 to its corral in April 2017. Earlier this year, the companies announced that Waymo would be adding "thousands" more minivans to its fleet, though it didn't specify how many. This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool. The companies just revealed the extent of their partnership, which will see Waymo adding up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans to its fleet, more than 100 times the 600 it currently drives. While terms of the deal weren't made public, this total could exceed $2 billion, and delivery of the cars is expected to begin later this year.
The co-founder of Google's DeepMind has slammed self-driving cars for not being safe enough, saying current early tests on public roads are irresponsible. Demis Hassabis has urged developers to be cautious with the new technology, saying it is difficult to prove systems are safe before putting them on public roads. The issue of AI in self-driving cars has flared up this year following the death of a women hit but a self-driving Uber in March. The accident was the first time a pedestrian was killed on a public road by an autonomous car, which had previously been praised as the safer alternative to a traditional car. Speaking at the Royal Society in London, Dr Hassabis said current driverless car programmes could be putting people's lives in danger.
Expect to see driverless cars roaming around the Buckeye State in the near future. Ohio Governor John Kasich has issued an executive order permitting self-driving car tests on public roads, adding to a small but growing list of autonomous-friendly states that includes Arizona, California and Michigan. There are conditions, of course, although they're not extremely strict at first glance. Every vehicle will need a human operator from the company performing the tests and reporting any accidents. Every hopeful firm will also have to register with DriveOhio, a central hub for mobility initiatives (conveniently established by Kasich in January) that will collect information on both the cars and their testing locations.
Shortly after one of its autonomous minivans was involved in a crash while operating in manual mode, Waymo got a slice of stage time at Google I/O to discuss its self-driving cars, using that time explain the role of artificial intelligence in autonomous driving. In a Medium post elaborating on the points made in the I/O keynote, Waymo Chief Technical Officer Dmitri Dolgov said it uses A.I. to train self-driving cars to identify their surroundings in a manner similar to human drivers. Waymo started out as Google's internal self-driving car project before being spun off into a separate unit. There was a significant amount of cross-pollination between autonomous car engineering and the Google Brain A.I. program during the early stages of both projects, according to Dolgov. Among other things, this allowed error rate for pedestrian detection in self-driving cars to be reduced 100 times in just a few months, Dolgov said.
Toyota said on Thursday it is building a closed-course test facility in Michigan for its self-driving vehicle technology that will replicate "edge case" driving scenarios that are too dangerous to conduct on public roads. The facility at Ottawa Lake, which is being built by the Toyota Research Institute, will go into operation in October. "This new site will give us the flexibility to customize driving scenarios that will push the limits of our technology and move us closer to conceiving a human-driven vehicle that is incapable of causing a crash," Ryan Eustice, the Toyota Research Institute's senior vice president of automated driving, said in a statement. Automakers such as General Motors Co and companies such as Alphabet Inc unit Waymo have been racing to develop self-driving cars and be the first to market with a viable product. But questions about the safety of self-driving technology and oversight of developers were raised after a fatal collision between an Uber Technologies Inc self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian in Arizona in March.
Toyota announced today that it will build a gigantic, 60-acre facility in Michigan to test "edge case" driving scenarios with its autonomous vehicles that are too dangerous to perform on public roads. The news comes more than a month after the Japanese auto giant halted its self-driving tests on public roads in the US in the wake of a deadly crash involving a self-driving Uber in Arizona. Construction permits were filed this week to transform an approximately 60-acre site at Michigan Technical Resource Park in Ottawa Lake into a closed-course facility for the Toyota Research Institute, the car company's Silicon Valley arm, to test its vehicles. The site will include congested urban environments, slick surfaces, and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps. When it becomes operational this October, the company will use the site to specifically test scenarios deemed too risky for public roads, most likely involving vehicles without a human driver.
Uber Technologies Inc. said it doesn't plan to renew its permit to test autonomous vehicles in California following a fatal crash involving one its robot vehicles last week in Tempe, Ariz. The company will let its testing permit lapse at month's end, rather than resubmit for renewal and face potential scrutiny amid an investigation into the circumstances of the accident. Uber's self-driving vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian crossing a Tempe street with her bicycle outside of a crosswalk. "We proactively suspended our self-driving operations, including in California, immediately following the Tempe incident," said an Uber spokeswoman in a statement. "Given this, we decided to not reapply for a California DMV permit with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate on public roads in the immediate future."
NVIDIA will suspend all of its public road self-driving tests following Uber's fatal accident, a company spokesperson has told Recode. The company supplies chips for Uber's self-driving vehicles and it says that it needs to find out more about last week's crash. "The accident was tragic," a spokesperson said in a statement. "It's a reminder of how difficult [self-driving car] technology is and that it needs to be approached with extreme caution and the best safety technologies." During his keynote today at NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference, CEO Jensen Huang said the fatal accident reminded the company how important safety is when it comes to this type of technology.