If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
DETROIT – General Motors Co. is seeking U.S. government approval to include a fully autonomous car -- one without a steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator pedal -- in its first commercial ride-sharing fleet in 2019, executives said. For passengers who cannot open doors, the Cruise AV -- a rebranded version of GM's Chevrolet Bolt EV -- has even been designed to perform that task. It will have other accommodations for hearing and visually impaired customers. This will be one of the first self-driving vehicles in commercial passenger service and among the first to do away with manual controls for steering, brakes and throttle. What is the driver's seat in the Bolt EV will become the front left passenger seat in the Cruise AV, GM said.
Inc.'s Alexa voice-activated virtual assistant will be added to some Toyota and Lexus vehicles this year, advancing Amazon's ambitions to expand its speech platform beyond the home. Alexa will let drivers and passengers get directions, control entertainment features, get the news and perform other functions in the car via voice command, the companies said Tuesday at the CES consumer electronics conference in Las Vegas. Alexa in cars can also be synced with smart home devices to control thermostats while on the road. "It's still really day one for us in terms of what we can do with Alexa in the vehicle," said John Scumniotales, head of products for Alexa's automotive efforts, onstage at an event at CES. The world's largest online retailer is seeking to remain in constant contact with customers by making its Alexa platform and Echo digital assistants as ubiquitous as possible.
LAS VEGAS – The world's largest automotive alliance will invest as much as $1 billion (about ¥112 billion) to fund mobility startups over the next five years as it looks to make inroads with new technology at a time of rapid upheaval for the transportation sector. Carmaking partners Renault SA, Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. will invest as much as $200 million during the venture capital fund's first year, the alliance said in a statement Tuesday. The fund, called Alliance Ventures, will finance new developments in electrification, autonomy, connectivity and artificial intelligence. "The way we're organized now is not sufficient," Carlos Ghosn, chairman of the alliance, said in an interview at CES in Las Vegas, citing a need for the creativity of startups and outside partners. "I don't think we can do it alone."
LAS VEGAS – The smartphones and other small machines that used to dominate the annual Consumer Electronics Show have been overshadowed in recent years by bigger mobile devices: namely, automobiles. Major automakers like Toyota, Kia, Hyundai and Ford have a noticeable presence at this week's tech showcase in Las Vegas, though most save more practical announcements about new cars, trucks and SUVs for the upcoming Detroit auto show. CES has been a chance for carmakers and suppliers of automotive parts and software to display their wilder and far-out ideas. A Chinese company, Byton, has unveiled an attention-grabbing concept electric SUV with futuristic features. Nvidia announced it's teaming up to help Uber develop self-driving taxis.
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.
DETROIT – A self-driving car company created by Google is pulling the human backup driver from behind the steering wheel and will test vehicles on public roads with only an employee in the back seat. The move by Waymo, which started Oct. 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Arizona, is a major step toward vehicles driving themselves without human backups on public roads. Waymo, which is owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet, is in a race with other companies such as Delphi, General Motors, Intel, Uber, Apple and Lyft to bring autonomous vehicles to the public. The companies say the robot cars are safer than human drivers because they don't get drowsy, distracted or drunk. Google has long stated its intent to skip driver-assist systems and go directly to fully autonomous driving.
Green-energy vehicles, self-driving technologies and internet connectivity are expected to be the rage at this year's Tokyo Motor Show slated to open to the public Saturday at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center in Koto Ward. The 45th biennial exhibition, will see participation from a total of 153 carmakers and auto suppliers, including 13 overseas firms from 10 different countries. The expo will run until Nov. 5, with the opening ceremony being held on Friday. During Wednesday's media preview, major automakers showed their visions of the future with concept cars equipped with cutting-edge technologies. Toyota Motor Corp. unveiled the prototype for its hydrogen-powered Fine-Comfort Ride, its latest fuel-cell vehicle model.
TORONTO – Having built an impressive lead in artificial intelligence, Canada is keen to do the same in driverless cars -- specifically the lidar (laser radar) technology that lets these vehicles see where they're going. The Quebec City-based company makes solid-state technology it says is better and cheaper than earlier versions of lidar and sells it to parts makers, which in turn bake it into their hardware. LeddarTech has attracted big-name industry backers including Delphi Automotive, Germany's Osram Licht and Fiat Chrysler's parts division, which last month participated in a $101 million fundraising round. There's a race on to get self-driving cars on the road over the next four years and lidar is a key component in making that possible. The market for the technology will grow tenfold to $2.5 billion by 2027, according to Akhilesh Kona, a senior analyst at IHS Markit, and become much bigger as cars become increasingly autonomous.
The transport ministry will speed up work to develop snow removal vehicles with self-driving technology so trials can be carried out on expressways starting this winter, officials have said. The ministry plans to test the vehicles on other public roads from fiscal 2018, using data from the Michibiki quasi-zenith satellite network behind Japan's version of the Global Positioning System set to debut in April. The use of snow removal vehicles requires skilled drivers, but most are getting too old, and the shortage is generating concerns. In fiscal 2015, people over 61 accounted for 19 percent of the drivers, up from 3 percent in 1998. Snow removal vehicles with self-driving technology will detect obstacles with sensors and warn drivers when they deviate from lanes or approach guardrails.
Toyota Motor Corp. is set to unveil a fuel cell concept car that aims to offer 50 percent more driving range than its current hydrogen-powered sedan in a technology push that defies a rising wave of battery-powered vehicles. The nation's biggest auto manufacturer is targeting a 1,000-km (620-mile) range for the Fine-Comfort Ride concept saloon under local standards, compared with about 650 km for the current Mirai fuel cell vehicle, according to a statement Wednesday. The concept car, to be introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show next week, will include artificial intelligence and automated driving features. Toyota is continuing to champion fuel cell vehicles as the ultimate zero-emission cars, even as the falling cost of lithium-ion batteries have lured a majority of automakers to plug-in technology in the face of ever more stringent environmental standards worldwide. China, the world's largest market, said last month that it was working on a timeline to end the sale of internal-combustion vehicles, joining countries including France, India and the U.K. While Japan has created a Hydrogen Society Roadmap to increase the number of fuel cell vehicles on its roads to 40,000 by 2020, there are currently just 2,200 or so.