It's been a week since we cracked open the champagne to celebrate our 25th birthday, along with our memory banks to take a look at our history of predicting the future. Now that we're back in the present and once again looking forward, it seems like we're not the only outfit reconsidering the road ahead. Chinese automaker NIO thinks it can make battery swapping work this time. Elon Musk reveals yet another Model 3 that costs more than $35,000. Uber and Lyft are defending against claims they make traffic worse--again--and we have yet more confirmation that systems like Tesla's Autopilot are confusing people.
The world's largest plane, Stratolaunch, has a completed a key taxi test ahead of taking to the skies for the first time. The gigantic plane, which is the vision of late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, is believed to be close to its first flight after reaching a record-breaking 90mph during medium-speed taxi testing at the Mojave Air & Space Port. Allen died Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, aged 65. The massive plane has a wingspan longer than a football field and comes equipped with two cockpits, 28 wheels and six engines normally used to power 747 jumbo jets. Eventually it will be used to transport rockets carrying satellites and even a newly revealed manned space plane into the Earth's upper atmosphere, where they will blast off into space.
Elon Musk has announced that Tesla's new custom AI chip is about six months away from being installed in new production cars. The CEO said that the chip, which was confirmed as being in development last December, will offer "somewhere between [a] 500% & 2000%" increase in its vehicle's autonomous driving performance. Existing Tesla owners who have already paid for full self-driving will be offered this "hardware 3" update for Autopilot free of charge. The announcement comes as v9 of Tesla's onboard software has already reportedly brought big improvements to its neural network with a unified camera network that more seamlessly integrates all eight of the car's cameras. Musk has suggested that this software update delivered an approximate 400 percent increase in its capabilities.
Apple users have been urged to update their iPhones and other devices, as the effects of a deeply dangerous computer vulnerability still spread across the world. Last week, security researchers found they had found a security flaw so dangerous that fixing it could cause computers to slow down or even need to be re-designed entirely. It exploited a vulnerability in a technology called "speculative execution" – something that can be found in almost every computer made in the last 20 years. As such, computer companies have been looking to fix any vulnerabilities that computers may have, which if exploited would allow attackers to read secret information from a device. Indeed, they had already started before the weakness was leaked, as experts had hoped to do so secretly until the problems had been patched up.
The rise of IoT has coincided with a huge amount of fear around the impact this technology will have on jobs. Arguably, the profession most in the spotlight has been drivers, as the march of autonomous vehicle technology creates an obvious challenge to the driving profession. It's a concern that need not worry those in the driving profession, at least according to a recent report commissioned by the American Center for Mobility, led by Michigan State University, and supported by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The report suggests that even when autonomous vehicles are a widespread presence on our roads, it will only result in a modest number of trucking jobs being impacted. The authors of this report believe that the technology will be deployed in the latter half of the 2020s, at which point some in the passenger business (taxi drivers etc.) could be affected, but they suggest that the shortage of truck drivers in the industry already, coupled with the belief that the new technology will support rather than replace drivers, lends them to believe the B2B sector won't be impacted as much.
Electric drones booked through smartphones pick people up from office rooftops, shortening travel time by hours, reducing the need for parking and clearing smog from the air. This vision of the future is driving the government's "flying car" project. Major carrier All Nippon Airways, electronics company NEC Corp. and more than a dozen other companies and academic experts hope to have a road map for the plan ready by the year's end. "This is such a totally new sector Japan has a good chance for not falling behind," said Fumiaki Ebihara, the government official in charge of the project. For now, nobody believes people are going to be zipping around in flying cars any time soon.
Since March, when an autonomous vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona, forecasts for AVs have been decidedly less optimistic. But autonomous vehicle promoters are undeterred. AI entrepreneur Andrew Ng contends that self-driving cars will be safe for pedestrians when walkers and cyclists conform to their limitations. "What we tell people is, 'Please be lawful and please be considerate,'" he told Bloomberg. Peter Norton is an associate professor in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia.
BMW has revealed a self-driving motorcycle that can speed around a racetrack and even park itself without anyone sat on top. The vehicle is powered by intelligent software that can turn, accelerate, lean around corners and brake with no human input. BMW hopes the AI can one day keep bikers safe by operating as a driving assistant that automatically brakes or adjusts the steering during dangerous situations on the road. In a new video, BMW Motorrad - the German automaker's motorcycle division - showed off a self-driving version of its R1200GS, a vehicle it has spent more than two years developing. The driverless bike is shown starting its own engine, accelerating and then making turns on a racing track at breakneck speed before returning to a complete stop - all without a rider perched on its seat.
We propose CM3, a new deep reinforcement learning method for cooperative multi-agent problems where agents must coordinate for joint success in achieving different individual goals. We restructure multi-agent learning into a two-stage curriculum, consisting of a single-agent stage for learning to accomplish individual tasks, followed by a multi-agent stage for learning to cooperate in the presence of other agents. These two stages are bridged by modular augmentation of neural network policy and value functions. We further adapt the actor-critic framework to this curriculum by formulating local and global views of the policy gradient and learning via a double critic, consisting of a decentralized value function and a centralized action-value function. We evaluated CM3 on a new high-dimensional multi-agent environment with sparse rewards: negotiating lane changes among multiple autonomous vehicles in the Simulation of Urban Mobility (SUMO) traffic simulator. Detailed ablation experiments show the positive contribution of each component in CM3, and the overall synthesis converges significantly faster to higher performance policies than existing cooperative multi-agent methods.
Renesas has announced the acquisition of Integrated Device Technology (IDT) in a deal worth $6.7 billion. On Tuesday, the Tokyo, Japan-based semiconductor manufacturer said the deal will add a number of "complementary product lines" to the Renesas lineup, which will support the firm's growth strategy. The acquisition has been agreed for $49 per IDT share, representing a premium of roughly 29.5 percent over IDT common stock price as of August 30. The all-cash transaction is worth approximately $6.7 billion (733 billion yen). Equity finance will not be raised for the transaction' instead, cash reserves and bank loans will provide the funding required.