Driverless cars will be tested in California for the first time without a person behind a steering wheel under new rules that state regulators approved Monday for the fast-developing technology. The regulations are a major step toward getting autonomous vehicles to dealerships and onto the streets of California, where companies such as Tesla and Waymo are leading the way on the technology. Until now, driverless cars could only be tested on public roads in the state if a person could take the wheel in an emergency. "I think this is a move that had to happen for California to stay competitive in this field," said Nidhi Kalra, a Rand Corp. senior scientist who has been studying the issue for a decade. Although the technology is being developed in California, companies such as Waymo have already been testing in other states such as neighboring Arizona because requiring a human driver limits the kind of car that can be tested, she said.
No matter how many Amazon Echo commercials you see, it takes a little time to adjust to Alexa. Putting a virtual assistant in your home signals a change in lifestyle, sort of like adopting a puppy. There will be a lot of trial-and-error, but once you find your rhythm, you'll forget what life was like without her.
With the looming advent of the age of autonomous cars comes many questions. Foremost among them: Can they deliver pizza? That's what Domino's and Ford will try to find out in the coming weeks when they deploy a jointly-developed self-driving car into the streets of Ann Arbor, Mich., that's equipped with a heated compartment hidden behind the passenger side rear window that rolls down and dishes out orders when a customer enters an access code into a tablet installed on the side of the vehicle. While the prototype Ford Fusion Hybrid can drive itself, and has within the confines of a testing facility, it will be operated on public streets by an engineer, who will be accompanied by researchers studying how customers who opt into the program enjoy the experience and interact with the vehicle. Are they comfortable retrieving their pizza and wings from the modern equivalent of Herbie the Love Bug?
Under the wrong conditions, 'stop' could mean'go faster' to an autonomous car. A new study led by the University of Washington found that the type of computer brain set to be used in autonomous cars could be fooled into thinking a Stop sign is a 45 mph Speed Limit or other sign by adding just a little graffiti. The researchers peppered one Stop sign with a few black and white blocks, and used stickers to make another read "Love Stops Hate." In both cases, the deep neural network processing images fed to it by a camera misread the signs most of the time, even though they retained their octagonal shape and red background color. Another test simulated a slightly faded right turn arrow, which the computer often thought was a Stop sign or added lane sign, but which a human would have no trouble identifying.
There may be no need to tip your Lyft driver in Boston later this year -- because there may not be a driver. The ride-hailing company said Friday it will introduce driverless cars to its Beantown fleet later this year -- before expanding the program to other cities. Driverless cars will be chosen for particular customers by Lyft depending on traffic, weather, route and time of day, the company said. As the driverless car program expands and becomes more battle tested -- and accepted by passengers -- Lyft said it will still have a need for "drivers."
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from the ride-sharing service he co-founded, another twist in a rough year for the company. There's also a court battle stemming from allegations that Uber stole trade secrets from Waymo, Alphabet's (GOOGL) self-driving car development company. Waymo alleges that Anthony Levandowski - a former top manager for Google's self-driving car project - stole pivotal technology from Google before leaving to run Uber's self-driving car division. Uber's board releases Holder's recommendations, which include removing some of Kalanick's responsibilities and replacing Uber's chairman and founder, Garrett Camp, with an independent chairman.
The Atlanta-based airline has recently teamed up with Tinder to transform the exterior of Brooklyn building into a "dating wall" covered in worldly murals depicting nine different Delta destinations. According to a press release, the idea is for Brooklynites to snap photos near the murals, upload them to their dating profiles, and trick unsuspecting Tinder dates into thinking they're more well-traveled than they actually are. "So this summer, Delta and Tinder are offering New York singles an opportunity to snap profile pictures that will make you look like a jet-setter via a series of painted walls on display on Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn." The airline has also placed another large mural -- the second in its Painted Wall Series -- a few blocks away at the site of Brooklyn's weekly Smorgasburg food festival.
VW brand Chairman Herbert Diess has confirmed to Auto Express that a model based on the electric I.D. Buzz features a battery pack mounted flat in the floor, Tesla Model X-style, that VW says is good for 270 miles of range and is equipped with a wireless charging system that can deliver an 80 percent charge in just 30 minutes. Buzz features a highly configurable interior, with seats that can be turned into tables and beds, and front chairs that can be rotated to face the back. That's because it was designed with fully-autonomous driving capabilities in mind, something VW hopes to add by as early as 2025.
The move coincided with the release of former Attorney General Eric Holder's report on allegations of harassment throughout Uber's ranks. Uber released the list of recommendations provided by Holder's law firm, saying the company's board of directors will adopt all of the changes. The leadership team will run Uber's day-to-day operations while Kalanick is away. The investigations began after a former Uber employee wrote a blog post in February accusing managers of dismissing her complaints of sexual harassment.
It's been 30 days since Susan Fowler blogged about her experience working as an engineer for the poster child of Silicon Valley bro culture, Uber. I bet Travis Kalanick, the ride-hailing company's hard-charging CEO, would cough up a sizable chunk of his $6.3 billion net worth to stuff that genie back in the bottle. Sunday's surprise resignation of Jeff Jones – who was recruited just six months ago as president of ride sharing and head of global marketing – capped a month-long executive exodus in the wake of Fowler's accusations of organizational chaos, sexual harassment and brazen misbehavior by Uber management. If the revelations are true (the company is still investigating), then under the hood of Uber's brilliant innovation and stellar growth lies what can best be described as an out- of-control mess. The question is, can Kalanick navigate the crisis or will he be forced out?