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Autonomous Trucking Startup TuSimple Plans to Go Public in March

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Autonomous trucking company TuSimple Inc., which gained momentum with hundreds of millions of dollars in financing from Chinese investors and U.S. freight-hauling companies, has filed paperwork to go public and plans to join the U.S. stock market as early as next month, according to people familiar with the matter. The company, which has offices in San Diego and China, has filed confidentially for an IPO and plans to make that filing public in early March and will list its shares for trading a few weeks later, the people said. That schedule is subject to change and market conditions could alter TuSimple's plans. Morgan Stanley is the lead banker on the IPO, the people said. TuSimple said it raised $215 million in a 2019 financing round that valued it at $1.2 billion.


To the list of places testing driverless cars, add Las Vegas

Washington Post - Technology News

Motional did not say how many cars had participated in the Las Vegas tests, but said in its statement that "multiple" autonomous vehicles had been used on routes that included public roads and closed courses. During the tests, the vehicles sensed and responded to human-driven vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, the company said. Some tests were completed with a safety operator in the car; others were completed without one.


Hyundai's New Chairman Charts High-Tech Future---Without Apple, for Now

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

When Hyundai Motor Group's new chairman Chung Eui-sun took over last fall, he outlined a bold road map for a future where flying vehicles and robots make up as much business as typical gas-guzzling cars. A few months later, he would get a big opportunity to reshape the company along his stated design: a potential deal with Apple Inc. to build driverless cars. Investors cheered a promising union between Apple, the world's most valuable company, and a new Hyundai with Mr. Chung at the helm. Groomed his entire life to run the auto empire, Mr. Chung, the 50-year-old grandson of Hyundai's founder, has shirked convention, down to often changing the color on his company car--occasionally opting for gold or navy blue--instead of keeping the standard-issue black. He earned his M.B.A. in San Francisco during the 1990s dot-com boom and has become one of the auto industry's most outspoken technologists.


Hitting the Books: Why Travis Kalanick got Uber into the self-driving car game

Engadget

If you thought rocket science was hard, try training a computer to safely change lanes while behind the wheel of a full-size SUV in heavy drivetime traffic. Autonomous vehicle developers have faced myriad similar challenged over the past three decades but nothing, it seems, turns the wheels of innovation quite like a bit of good, old-fashioned competition -- one which DARPA was only more than happy to provide. In Driven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car, Insider senior editor and former Wired Transportation editor, Alex Davies takes the reader on an immersive tour of DARPA's "Grand Challenges" -- the agency's autonomous vehicle trials which drew top talents from across academia and the private sector in effort to spur on the state of autonomous vehicle technology -- as well as profiles many of the elite engineers that took place in the competitions. In the excerpt below however Davies recalls how, back in 2014, then-CEO Travis Kalanick steered Uber into the murky waters of autonomous vehicle technology, setting off a flurry of acquihires, buyouts, furious R&D efforts, and one fatal accident -- only to end up selling off the division this past December. Excerpt from Driven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car by Alex Davies.


Self-Driving Trucking Startup Taps U.S., Chinese Investors

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Self-driving trucking startup PlusAI Inc. raised $200 million in fresh capital from investors including several top-tier Silicon Valley venture-capital firms as well as a Chinese investment firm and automotive companies. The funding will help the Cupertino, Calif.-based startup as it begins mass production of its self-driving systems this year and aims to fill thousands of preorders from Chinese fleets in a joint effort with Chinese truck manufacturer FAW Jiefang, part of state-owned FAW Group, Plus Chief Executive and co-founder David Liu said. Plus will also use the capital to increase production for commercial shipments this year in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. The funding comes as investors have fueled competitors in the autonomous vehicle sector while a crop of smaller self-driving startups stumbled last year amid the pandemic. Financing for the capital intensive sector has increasingly consolidated behind a select few as timelines for mass commercial implementation of the technology have been pushed out in recent years.


This is how self-driving cars are becoming blueprints for smarter surgeries

ZDNet

A startup is exploring how the artificial intelligence (AI) technologies used in self-driving cars could act as a "blueprint" for smarter surgeries. Theator, based in Palo Alto, Calif., is the developer of a "surgical intelligence" platform designed to improve the decision-making of surgeons and, therefore, potentially boost patient outcomes. The startup's platform provides lists of steps during procedures, visual content at "crossroads" points for medical professionals to better decide which direction to take, milestone recommendations to adhere to best practices, and more. However, Theator wants to go further and utilize AI in its quest to "become the brain behind autonomous surgery." Theator is a member of NVIDIA Inception, an AI incubator.


This AI Could Go From 'Art' to Steering a Self-Driving Car

WIRED

You've probably never wondered what a knight made of spaghetti would look like, but here's the answer anyway--courtesy of a clever new artificial intelligence program from OpenAI, a company in San Francisco. The program, DALL-E, released earlier this month, can concoct images of all sorts of weird things that don't exist, like avocado armchairs, robot giraffes, or radishes wearing tutus. OpenAI generated several images, including the spaghetti knight, at WIRED's request. DALL-E is a version of GPT-3, an AI model trained on text scraped from the web that's capable of producing surprisingly coherent text. DALL-E was fed images and accompanying descriptions; in response, it can generate a decent mashup image.


Ex-Google engineer among those pardoned by Donald Trump

BBC News - Technology

As an employee, he downloaded more than 14,000 files containing the intellectual property of Google's former self-driving car division, Waymo, before leaving to found Otto, which was soon acquired by Uber.


The Morning After: LG might get out of the smartphone business

Engadget

In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it's worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the "most tech-savvy" president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn't tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google's subsidiary Waymo.


Trump pardons Anthony Levandowski, who stole trade secrets from Google

Mashable

Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.