Transportation


Harnessing data from driverless cars to improve transportation

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Self-driving cars were once thought of as a far-off, and maybe even impossible, concept, but they're here now. At the end of November, General Motors announced its plan to launch a fleet of driverless cars -- without backup drivers -- across several major U.S. cities, beginning in 2019. In doing so, the auto industry signified that it's prepared to lead a dramatic shift in how both humans and commercial goods move from place to place. Of course, powering this initiative is data -- and likely exabytes of it. Driverless vehicles depend on data for everything from communicating their position on the road, to calculating speed and braking distances, to recognizing traffic signals and upcoming hazards in their path.


Musk Says Tesla Is Building Its Own Chip for Autopilot

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Rockets, electric cars, solar panels, batteries--whirlwind industrialist Elon Musk has set about reinventing one after another. Thursday, he added another ambitious project to the list: Future Tesla vehicles will run their self-driving AI software on a chip designed by the automaker itself. "We are developing customized AI hardware chips," Musk told a room of AI experts from companies such as Alphabet and Uber on the sidelines of the world's leading AI conference. Musk claimed that the chips' processing power would help Tesla's Autopilot automated-driving function save more lives, more quickly, by hastening the day it can drive at least 10 times more safely than a human. "We get there faster if we have dedicated AI hardware," he said.


Toyota, Panasonic strike battery deal in threat to Tesla

USATODAY

Japanese car maker Toyota unveils a new humanoid robot that mirrors the movements of its remote operator, as Stuart McDill reports. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda spoke at the company's earnings press conference in Tokyo on May 10. (Photo: Toyota Motor Corporation) Toyota reached a deal to explore a new battery partnership with Panasonic in a move that threatens to encroach on Tesla's territory, heightening the ongoing rivalry between the two automakers. Toyota and Panasonic said Wednesday that they are launching a "feasibility study" to investigate the technological potential of batteries that use prismatic cells, which are grouped together in pouches to power electric cars. The deal places Panasonic in the unusual position of straddling the technological and strategic divide between Toyota and Tesla. Panasonic already has a major partnership with Tesla to jointly manufacture a competing battery technology that relies on different batteries relying on cylindrical cells.


Elon Musk Says Tesla Is Building Its Own Chip for Autopilot

WIRED

Rockets, electric cars, solar panels, batteries--whirlwind industrialist Elon Musk has set about reinventing one after another. Thursday, he added another ambitious project to the list: Future Tesla vehicles will run their self-driving AI software on a chip designed by the automaker itself. "We are developing customized AI hardware chips," Musk told a room of AI experts from companies such as Alphabet and Uber on the sidelines of the world's leading AI conference. Musk claimed that the chips' processing power would help Tesla's Autopilot automated-driving function save more lives, more quickly, by hastening the day it can drive at least 10 times more safely than a human. "We get there faster if we have dedicated AI hardware," he said.


Ford will roll out a new self-driving car design and strategy next year

Mashable

Ford is changing the focus its self-driving car platform as early as next year. The company says it now plans to focus on features beyond just enabling a computer system to drive from point A to B. SEE ALSO: Lyft's self-driving cars are now on the road in Boston The company's president of global markets Jim Farley wrote about the new developments in a Medium post, in which he emphasized Ford's devotion to the customer as the main concern for its autonomous plans. More specifically, Farley wrote that Ford is dedicated to establishing systems that will prioritize the movement of people and goods, hinting at plans for commercial fleets and ride-hailing services that align with the company's existing deals and partnerships. The automaker's plans include a brand new self-driving vehicle design that eschews the hockey puck-sized LiDAR units mounted near the side-view mirrors seen last December for a less obtrusive roof-mounted sensor unit. Ford will test the new design in an undisclosed city starting next year, according to a report from Reuters.


Autonomous Driving Levels 0–5 Implications

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Autonomous driving systems are changing the way we think about the future of personal transportation. How soon will we have access to vehicles that don't require human control? Are driverless cars just around the corner? What will our travel be like if we're spending a lot less time behind the wheel? What technology actually makes autonomous driving possible?


Do Self-Driving Cars Dream Of Safe Streets?

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Earlier this year at the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas, Bill Ford said out loud what a lot of people in the auto industry were thinking–or, more precisely, worrying about more than they care to admit. The Ford CEO was talking about the advent of driverless vehicles, a topic that's getting a lot of ink these days as every automaker and some of the biggest players in Silicon Valley pour billions of dollars into the development of "naked" robotic cars (so-called Tier 5 autonomous vehicles, or AVs, without steering wheels or pedals). Engineering the autos will be the easy part, Ford said, because the technology is ramping up quickly. More daunting, though, will be deciding how to program autonomous cars to make life-and-death decisions. "If a vehicle has to choose who does it hit (if it is about to be in an accident), does it save the occupant or 10 pedestrians?


Volvo looks to supply Uber with up to 24,000 self-driving cars

The Japan Times

STOCKHOLM/SAN, FRANCISCO – Uber plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, marking the transition of the U.S. firm from an app used to summon a taxi to the owner and operator of a fleet of cars. The nonbinding framework deal could offer San Francisco-based Uber a way to overcome setbacks at its autonomous driving division in Silicon Valley's race to perfect self-driving systems. Combining Volvo's cars with Uber's self-driving system builds on their nearly three-year relationship and comes as Uber's autonomous driving unit has been hit by a lawsuit over trade secrets and the departure of top talent. Automakers, ride-hailing firms and tech start-ups have been forging loose alliances in an effort to advance self-driving technology and claim a piece of what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar business. Geely-owned Volvo said in a statement on Monday it would provide Uber with its flagship XC90 SUVs equipped with autonomous technology as part of a nonexclusive deal from 2019 to 2021.


Uber plans to buy 24,000 autonomous Volvo SUVs in self-driving push

The Guardian

Uber is planning to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo, the company has announced, moving from its current model of ride-sharing using freelance drivers to owning a fleet of autonomous cars. Following the three-year self-driving partnership with Volvo, the non-binding framework could give Uber a boost in its ambitions to perfect self-driving systems to replace human drivers, following setbacks and lawsuits over trade secrets and talent. Volvo said Monday it would provide Uber with up to 24,000 of its flagship XC90 SUVs, which retail from around £50,000, equipped with autonomous technology as part of a non-exclusive deal from 2019 to 2021. The Geely-owned car company will provide the vehicles, while Uber will provide the yet-to-be-built self-driving system, which is currently under development by Uber's Advanced Technologies Group. The announcement follows the news that Alphablet's Waymo will launch the world's first autonomous car service in the next few months in Arizona, where it is legal to operate self-driving cars without humans behind the wheel, unlike the majority of the rest of the US and the world, which requires the safety net of a human driver.


Uber just made its biggest move yet to adopt self-driving cars

Mashable

Uber just made a deal that will boost its self-driving efforts in a big way as well as signal a shift in the way the company operates. The company announced a partnership with Volvo where it would buy "tens of thousands" of self-driving vehicles from the Swedish automaker, deploying them from 2019-2020. The exact terms of the deal weren't initially disclosed, but an Uber spokesperson confirmed to Mashable via email that the fleet size will be around 24,000 vehicles. The agreement is worth over $1 billion, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The agreement marks a bold step forward for Uber, both for its autonomous program and its overall operational strategy.