Robots


Razer's mobile chief is leaving to join drone company Skydio

Engadget

Razer's senior vice president and general manager Tom Moss is leaving the company for the role of COO at Skydio, a company that focuses on autonomous drones. The announcement, which Moss made via a Medium post, comes right after the mobile company launched the Razer Phone 2, the successor to its first large, gaming-optimized device which launched last year. Moss has played an integral role in the development of smartphones as we know them, working with the early Android team at Google and then starting Nextbit, where he helped develop Baton, the precursor to the many device continuity features we take for granted nowadays. But after 12 years in smartphones, Moss says it's time to "take another leap" and says of autonomous drones that he's "seeing a moment in time where a new technology is going to change so much of our daily lives, and [I'm] damned if I don't want a front row seat this time as well." According to Moss, Skydio is helping propel drones out of the "dumb stage" and into an era of "flying computers."


Lyft buys an AR company to bolster its self-driving car efforts

Engadget

Lyft is ramping up it self-driving car strategy on two fronts. To start, the ridesharing mainstay has acquired Blue Vision Labs, a UK-based augmented reality firm whose underlying technology helps cars both know their location and understand their surroundings. The startup will join Lyft's Level 5 team (that is, working on complete autonomy) to contribute its knowledge. TechCrunch has also learned that Blue Vision will serve as the "anchor" for a London research and development wing. This is Lyft's first buyout in the self-driving world, although it's not clear if this will be the last.


Ford is the first company to test self-driving cars in Washington, DC

Engadget

Washington, DC has taken some steps to govern self-driving cars, but now it's finally going to see those cars in action. Ford and its partner Argo AI have unveiled plans to test their autonomous vehicles in the US capital with an eye toward commercial service in 2021. The duo already has cars on the road, and will spend the next year expanding its test fleet until it's operating in all eight wards. Yes, you might just see one of these vehicles roaming near the National Mall. The automaker is collaborating with local officials and hopes to create jobs in the area.


US DOT tells self-driving shuttle company to stop transporting kids

Engadget

Sorry kids, neither you nor robots can be trusted. The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has told Transdev North America to stop hauling children around in its EZ10 Generation II autonomous shuttles in Babcock Ranch -- a community in Southwest Florida. It seems that the NHTSA has some safety concerns. "Using a non-compliant test vehicle to transport children is irresponsible, inappropriate, and in direct violation of the terms of Transdev's approved test project," NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King said in a press release. Earlier this March, NHTSA approved Transdev to test and demonstrate its autonomous shuttles.


Uber's drone-based food delivery could begin in 2021

Engadget

At this year's Uber Elevate Summit in May, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi discussed the possibility of a drone-based food delivery service. Now, it looks like a job posting has hinted that the company is looking to launch the service by 2021. According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber is looking to hire someone with "flight standards and training" experience, who can "enable safe, legal, efficient and scalable flight operations." If the info is legit, It looks like Uber is looking to keep development of the program under wraps as the job posting is no longer listed on its website. According to the Wall Street Journal's report, the drone-based delivery service has been dubbed "UberExpress," and will exist under the umbrella of Uber Eats.


Drive.ai launches second autonomous ride-hailing pilot in Texas

Engadget

Drive.ai's autonomous ride-hailing pilot is now available beyond one town, if only just. The startup has launched its promised second pilot in Arlington, Texas, a short distance away from Frisco. If you're in the downtown area, you can hop in one of the company's self-driving vans (complete with displays to signal their intent) along fixed routes. This might be your choice if you're a sports fan -- the routes can take you to and from Dallas Cowboys games at AT&T Stadium, and Texas Rangers games at Globe Life Park. The pilot has "no cost," Drive.ai said.


Addison Lee's self-driving taxis could hit London by 2021

Engadget

Private hire taxi company Addison Lee has announced plans to place autonomous cabs on the streets of London by 2021. To help it get there, it's teaming up with Oxbotica, a company that specializes in self-driving software. The pair will work together on developing, launching and operating the vehicles. They'll also create detailed maps of London and the surrounding area that account for factors such as road signs and traffic lights. There are plans afoot to offer shared, self-driving minibuses to help people get to work or the airport too.


Uber, Google, Facebook: Your experiments have gone too far

Engadget

It was 2014, around the time when Travis Kalanick referred to Uber as his chick-magnet "Boober" in a GQ article, that I'd realized congestion in San Francisco had gone insane. Before there was Uber, getting across town took about ten minutes by car and there was nowhere to park, ever. With Boober in play, there was parking in places there never were spaces, but the streets were so jammed with empty, one-person "gig economy" cars circling, sitting in bus zones, mowing down bicyclists whilst fussing with their phones, still endlessly going nowhere, alone, that walking across the city was faster. To be fair, you wouldn't know there were 5,700 more vehicles a day on our roads if you'd just moved here. Nor if you were pouring Uber-delivered champagne over yourself in a tub of stock options while complaining about San Francisco's homeless from the comfort of your company-rental Airbnb where artists or Mexican families once lived.


Tesla shelves the full self-driving option you couldn't use

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Ever since Tesla hinted at its autonomous future, there's been a "Full Self-Driving Capability" checkbox on the order page for its cars -- spend several grand and your car would one day steer itself. It has yet to materialize, though, and now Tesla has removed the option from its site. You can still order it "off menu" for a week as of Musk's tweet (approximately October 25th) or add it to your existing car for $5,000, but new customers will have to'settle' for Enhanced Autopilot. The option was "causing too much confusion," Elon Musk said. Of course, it doesn't help that Tesla has also been facing lawsuits over the phantom nature of the feature, not to mention advocacy groups claiming the Autopilot name was misleading.


Nat Geo and OpenROV are giving away 1000 robot submarines

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Despite having lived in close proximity to it for hundreds of thousands of years, humanity has yet to explore even a fraction of the Earth's ocean. We have more thoroughly mapped the surfaces of moon and Mars than we have the seafloor. National Geographic and OpenROV hope to change that next year with the Science Exploration Education (SEE) initiative. The organizations are teaming up to give away 1,000 remotely operated underwater drones to any research organization or citizen scientist who wants one (and, obviously, asks while there are still some in stock). "One of the limiting factors for understanding the ocean is the risks, costs, and accessibility issues of experiencing these underwater ecosystems," David Lang, co-founder of OpenROV, said in a statement.