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Home From the Honeymoon, the Self-Driving Car Industry Faces Reality

WIRED

At the blockbuster plenary sessions, the chairs stretched so far back that even the most youthful Silicon Valley college dropouts-turned VC hoovers had to squint to see the action up in front. A handful of large projection screens hung between the ballroom's chandeliers, displaying loop-de-looping flow charts on vehicle safety systems, sensor alignments, liability law. But despite the best efforts of the downtown San Francisco Hilton's air conditioners, the air shared by the attendees of this year's Automated Vehicles Symposium was thick with secrets and doubt. Eight years after Google first showed its self-driving car to The New York Times, the autonomous vehicle industry is still trying to figure out how to talk about itself. Over the three-day conference, engineers, business buffs, urban planners, government officials, and transportation researchers grappled with how to tell the public that its wonder drug of a transportation solution will have its limitations.


Apple engineer arrested for stealing secret files on tech giant's automated car plans

Daily Mail

An ex-Apple engineer has been charged with stealing secret blueprints for the tech giant's automated car project before trying to flee the US for China. Xiaolang Zhang was arrested by FBI agents at San Jose airport in California on Saturday when he passed through a security checkpoint. He is accused of downloading the plan for a circuit board for the automated car just days before he quit to go to a Chinese self-driving car startup. The charge is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A criminal complaint filed on Monday said Zhang was hired by Apple in December of 2015 to develop software and hardware for the company's autonomous vehicle project, where he designed and tested circuit boards to analyze sensor data.


Tesla goes big in China with Shanghai plant

#artificialintelligence

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on Tuesday landed a deal with Chinese authorities to build a new auto plant in Shanghai, its first factory outside the United States, that would double the size of the electric car maker's global manufacturing. The deal was announced as Tesla raised prices on U.S.-made vehicles it sells in China to offset the cost of new tariffs imposed by the Chinese government in retaliation for U.S. President Donald Trump's heavier duties on Chinese goods. Musk was in Shanghai Tuesday, and the Shanghai government in a statement said it welcomed Tesla's move to invest not only in a new factory in the city, a center of the Chinese auto industry, but in research and development, as well. China has long pushed to capture more of the talent and capital invested by global automakers in advanced electric vehicle technology. Tesla plans to produce the first cars about two years after construction begins on its Shanghai factory, ramping up to as many as 500,000 vehicles a year about two to three years later, the company said.


Ex-Apple engineer accused of stealing driverless car secrets for Chinese firm, busted at San Jose airport

The Japan Times

SAN FRANCISCO – A former Apple Inc. engineer was arrested on charges of stealing driverless car secrets for a Chinese startup after he passed through the security checkpoint at San Jose International Airport to board a flight to China. Xiaolang Zhang was accused by U.S. prosecutors of downloading files containing proprietary information as he prepared to leave the iPhone maker in April and start work for Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng Motors, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose, California. A hardware engineer for Apple's autonomous vehicle development team, Zhang was granted access to confidential company databases, according to the complaint. After he took paternity leave, he told Apple in April he was moving back to China to work at Xmotors. Apple grew more suspicious after seeing his increased network activity and visits to the office before he resigned, according to the complaint.


Ready for liftoff? Two flying taxi startups got Pentagon funding

#artificialintelligence

Two start-ups leading the race to build the first self-flying taxis are using money from the US military. Last year, Kitty Hawk and Joby Aviation received a total of nearly $2m from the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), a Pentagon organization founded to help America's military make faster use of emerging technologies. Neither company, nor the DIUx, disclosed the funding at the time. The website for Cora, Kitty Hawk's experimental air taxi, emphasizes its role in solving urban transportation challenges: "Cora is about the time you could save soaring over traffic. The people you could visit.


Ready for liftoff? Two flying taxi startups got Pentagon funding

The Guardian

Two start-ups leading the race to build the first self-flying taxis are using money from the US military. Last year, Kitty Hawk and Joby Aviation received a total of nearly $2m from the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), a Pentagon organization founded to help America's military make faster use of emerging technologies. Neither company, nor the DIUx, disclosed the funding at the time. The website for Cora, Kitty Hawk's experimental air taxi, emphasizes its role in solving urban transportation challenges: "Cora is about the time you could save soaring over traffic. The people you could visit.


AI Feast at Baidu Create 2018: Level 4 Autonomous Bus, Apollo 3.0, DuerOS 3.0

#artificialintelligence

The second annual Baidu AI Developers Conference, officially known as Baidu Create 2018, opened in Beijing today. Baidu unveiled China's first cloud-to-edge AI chip, Kunlun, and many other upgraded versions of Baidu's AI products this morning on the first day of this two-day event. Li Yanhong, known as Robin Li, the founder and CEO of Baidu, introduced Baidu's latest research achievements in artificial intelligence (AI) field. Started in 2013, the autonomous driving project was mainly lead and developed by the Baidu Research Institute. At the 2017 Baidu World Congress in November last year, Robin Li stated that Baidu's Level 4 self-driving bus "Apolong" would be mass-produced by July 2018.


CCAV plans to invest up to £25 million in up to 4 pilot schemes for self-driving vehicles – TelematicsWire

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Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles has announced that Businesses can apply for a share of up to £25 million to develop, demonstrate and trial technologies for connected and autonomous vehicles in real-world settings. The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) plans to invest up to £25 million in up to 4 pilot schemes for self-driving vehicles. Funding is for pilots of self-driving passenger vehicles which include at least a 6-month trial in a public or semi-controlled setting. Trials should have a clear commercial focus, with potential to become an enduring service, the centre has announced. CCAV was set up by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Transport to help ensure the UK is a world leader in developing and testing connected and autonomous vehicles.


The Smart Road Tech That's Making Driving Faster, Safer, And Just Better

#artificialintelligence

From autonomous cars to flying taxis to electric-powered aircraft, technological innovations in transportation vehicles seem to be moving faster than Elon Musk's express loop underneath Chicago. But when it comes to regular roads and traffic systems, we still seem to be stuck in the far right lane. The US has the worst traffic on the planet, with Los Angeles drivers leading the race to nowhere by spending an average of 102 hours per year in traffic jams. In 2014, the country spent $165 billion on highway construction, operation, and maintenance, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That can buy a lot of asphalt and concrete, but what else?


Police: Backup driver in fatal Uber crash was distracted

Washington Post

The human backup driver in an autonomous Uber SUV was streaming the television show "The Voice" on her phone and looking downward just before fatally striking a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix, according to a police report. The 300-page report released Thursday night by police in Tempe revealed that driver Rafaela Vasquez had been streaming the musical talent show via Hulu in the 43 minutes before the March 18 crash that killed Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a darkened road outside the lines of a crosswalk. The report said the crash, which marks the first fatality involving a self-driving vehicle, wouldn't have happened had the driver not been distracted. Dash camera video shows Vasquez was looking down near her right knee for four or five seconds before the crash. She looked up a half second before striking Herzberg as the Volvo was traveling about 44 miles per hour.