TEMPE, ARIZONA/SAN FRANCISCO – A woman crossing a street was killed by an Uber self-driving sport utility vehicle in Arizona, police said on Monday, prompting the ride services company to suspend its autonomous vehicle program. The accident in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe dealt a potential blow not only to Uber's strategy but the eventual roll-out of robot cars on public roads. It was the first fatality from a self-driving vehicle, which are being tested around the globe in a high-profile race by global automakers and tech companies expecting that autonomous vehicles will transform transportation and the ride services business. The vehicle was in autonomous mode with an operator behind the wheel at the time of the accident, which occurred overnight Sunday to Monday, Tempe police said. "The vehicle was traveling northbound … when a female walking outside of the crosswalk crossed the road from west to east when she was struck by the Uber vehicle," police said in a statement.
General Motors said on Thursday it will invest more than $100 million in two facilities as it prepares to build production versions of its Cruise self-driving car next year at its Orion Township assembly plant in Michigan. The largest U.S. automaker also said roof modules for GM's self-driving vehicles will be assembled at its Brownstown Battery Assembly plant. In January, GM filed a petition seeking U.S. government approval for a fully autonomous car – one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal – to enter the automaker's first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been reviewing the petition for more than two months and has not yet deemed it "complete" – a step before it releases details of the proposal. A final decision might not come until later this year or 2019.
In the increasingly fierce--if not entirely tangible--fight for the exploding self-driving car market, Lyft stands out for its free love vibes. The company encourages anyone and everyone with robo-car tech to deploy its vehicles on Lyft's ride-hailing network. In a business that could be worth trillions before long, Lyft wants to be the middleman for the everyman, the platform that will connect cars to riders--and take its slice of the money, of course. So far, Ford, Waymo, Jaguar Land Rover, and Aptiv (a self-driving spinoff from supplier Delphi) have thrown their keys in the bowl. At the same time, Lyft announced last July it was developing its own autonomous driving technology, hiring hundreds of engineers to fill a building in Palo Alto.
The era of artificial intelligence (AI) is officially here. The AI market is expected to grow from $21.46 billion in 2018 to $190.61 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 36.62% between 2018 and 2025, according to a recent report. AI's phenomenal growth across different industries is being fueled by unprecedented computing power, ever-increasing amounts of data--billions of gigabytes every day--and sophisticated deep-learning algorithms. According to the AI Index report, the number of active U.S. startups developing AI systems has increased 14 times whereas the annual VC investment into such startups has increased only 6 times since 2000. Moreover, the share of jobs requiring AI skills in the U.S. has grown 4.5 times since 2013.
Driverless cars are already ferrying around passengers in Las Vegas and in other limited areas, and automakers are expecting models to hit the showroom floor in just a few years. But what are the implications of this gigantic shift for our roads and on society? Self-driving cars have been involved in accidents, and there will almost certainly be more going forward. By 2030, however, self-driving cars should be able to demonstrate a tangible reduction in road deaths, both of passengers and pedestrians. Their real time intelligence will perform faster and better than any human can at detecting potential collisions.