HYPR is testing its self-learning autonomous driving system in a modified Daimler Smart Car. As Zoox, the secretive robotaxi developer recently acquired by Amazon, gets ready to unveil its futuristic fleet vehicle, its former CEO who dreamed up the company is re-emerging with a new startup that's designing AI-enabled software he hopes will allow cars to "teach themselves" to drive. Early-stage HYPR, created by Zoox cofounder Tim Kentley Klay, says it's using reinforcement learning, a branch of machine learning that utilizes a reward-based approach, to train driving algorithms dynamically–ideally with no need for direct human instruction or supervision. The Alameda, California-based startup has raised a $10 million seed round and begun testing its approach with a modified Daimler Smart Car. Backers include R7 Ventures and Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest.
More than a dozen companies have long been approved to test out self-driving cars in California. Now, they can also charge passengers if they launch a robotaxi service. On Thursday, November 19, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved both the ability to launch robotaxi services and charge for them after many months of these companies -- such as Cruise, Waymo, Aurora Innovation, Pony.ai, and Zoox -- lobbying for such policies. Of course, the companies still have to jump through various stacks of paperwork in order to be granted such approvals, but all in time. Waymo has been operating such a service in Arizona, Waymo One, for more than a year.
The ballots aren't all counted yet, but predictably, the president's social media posts have already managed to cross a line with Twitter when it comes to including "potentially misleading" information. Facebook and Instagram are including a label about the facts on each candidate's posts but aren't restricting sharing or hiding them behind a sticker. In California, Uber and Lyft spent hundreds of millions to push Proposition 22, which would exempt them from treating drivers as employees, and it appears the measure has passed. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, voters pushed back against the auto industry, approving Question 1, an expansion of their Right to Repair law, which ensures car owners and independent mechanics can access performance data collected by a car's sensors. NASA revealed it sent commands to the probe on October 29th, using the recently upgraded Deep Space Station 43 dish in Canberra, Australia.
Continental AG is taking a minority stake in AEye Inc., a Dublin, California-based developer of LiDAR technology, in order to bring its autonomous vehicle technology to commercial vehicles sooner. Specifically, AEye, founded in 2013, has developed a long-range LiDAR system that can detect vehicles at a distance of more than 300 meters and pedestrians at more than 200 meters. Continental hopes the investment will enhance its current short-range LiDAR technology that is slated to go into production by the end of 2020. Then the AEye system would be deployed in a automotive passenger or commercial vehicle later this decade. "We now have optimum short-range and long-range LiDAR technologies with their complimentary sets of benefits under one roof," said Frank Petznick, head of Continental's advanced driver assistance systems, in a statement.
Waymo conducted 1.45 million miles' worth of autonomous vehicle testing in California last year, the company reported to the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Tesla vehicles drove a total of 12.2 autonomous miles, to record what it called a "demo run" around its Palo Alto headquarters. Tesla has argued that it "has a fleet of hundreds of thousands of customer-owned vehicles that test autonomous technology in'shadow-mode' during their normal operation," constantly improving through billions of miles of real-world driving. Shadow Mode allows it to test some of those automated features without actually activating them in the real world.
"So that's a step or two beyond what we'll be doing initially with this permit," said Dan Ammann, Cruise's chief executive. "It's not too far down the road," he said, but declined to share a timeline. In a blog post, he added, "We're not the first company to receive this permit, but we're going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major U.S. city." It will be an important step for Cruise to charge customers. For any of the companies to start making money in California, a separate permit is required, state officials said.
Self-driving cars will start rolling on the streets of San Francisco without a human on board by the end of this year, according to Cruise, a General Motors-owned autonomous vehicle company that received a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles this week. Cruise is now one of five companies to hold a permit to test self-driving cars in California without a person in the vehicle, along with the Alphabet-owned Waymo and several others, though dozens of companies have been permitted by the California DMV to test self-driving cars with a human operator in the vehicle. GM President Dan Ammann confirmed in blog post on Thursday that the company will rapidly deploy its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco by the end of this year, citing the potential safety and environmental benefits the technology could have for city residents. "And while it would be easier to do this in the suburbs, where driving is 30–40 times less complex, our cities are ground zero for the world's transportation crisis," Ammann wrote. "This is where accidents, pollution, congestion, and lack of accessibility collide.
Cruise, a majority-owned subsidiary of General Motors, plans to begin testing unmanned autonomous vehicles by the end of this year in San Francisco. The company said Thursday it has received a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to remove the human backup drivers from its self-driving cars. The state also confirmed the permit on its website. "Before the end of the year, we'll be sending cars out onto the streets of SF -- without gasoline and without anyone at the wheel," Cruise CEO Dan Ammann wrote in a Medium post. "Because safely removing the driver is the true benchmark of a self-driving car, and because burning fossil fuels is no way to build the future of transportation."
Last week, Waymo, the self-driving vehicle developer owned by Alphabet, expanded a first-of-its-kind service offering rides to paying passengers around Phoenix--with no one behind the wheel. Videos shared by Waymo and others show its minivans navigating wide, sunny streets with ease. Now rival Cruise, a General Motors subsidiary, has taken a step towards running its own self-driving taxi service--on the hilly, winding, pedestrian-swarmed streets of San Francisco. On Thursday, Cruise said the California Department of Motor Vehicles had granted it a permit to test up to five of its modified Chevy Bolts without anyone behind the wheel. In a blog post, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said truly driverless cars would operate in the city before the end of the year.
General Motors and its self-driving car unit Cruise say they'll start testing unmanned autonomous vehicles in San Francisco by the end of 2020 (via NBC News). On Thursday, the subsidiary said it received a permit from California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that allows its autonomous vehicles to operate in the state without a backup human driver at the wheel. In the past, the DMV has granted similar permits to Waymo and Amazon's Zoox. "We're not the first company to receive this permit, but we're going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major US city," Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said in a Medium post. That claim is likely to irk Waymo and the residents of Phoenix.