Early in February, rumor had it that Apple is once again eyeing the smart car market, both electric and self-driving. Improved batteries and new environment regulations might make smart cars a promising new business area. According to USA Today, the "iCar" is certain to be an electric vehicle costing over $40,000. But a self-driving car could introduce a "longer timeframe" in part due to Apple CEO Tim Cook's cautious approach to unveiling new products, Ives said. Automakers and tech companies have yet to solve the thorniest challenges associated with autonomous driving.
San Francisco, March 3, 2021 -- BrainChip Holdings Ltd. (ASX: BRN), a leading provider of ultra-low-power, high-performance AI technology, ended the 2020 calendar year having made significant strides in the development of its technology backed by the launch of its Early Access Program (EAP), availability of Akida evaluation boards, new partnerships, and expansion of its executive leadership and global facilities. The Company's EAP was launched in June targeting specific customers in a diverse set of end markets in order to ensure availability of initial devices and evaluation systems for key applications. Multiple customers have committed to the advanced purchase of evaluation systems for a range of strategic Edge applications including Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and Autonomous Vehicles (AV), Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Edge vision systems and factory automation. Among those joining the EAP include VORAGO Technologies in a collaboration intended to support a Phase I NASA program for a neuromorphic processor that meets spaceflight requirements. BrainChip is also collaborating with Tier-1 Automotive Supplier Valeo Corporation to develop neural network processing solutions for ADAS and AV.
Austin Russell is the 25-year-old founder and CEO of Luminar, a startup in Silicon Valley that makes LIDAR sensors for self-driving cars. LIDAR technology had been used for short-distance mapping, but Luminar claims to have a functioning LIDAR that works at 250 meters, which is a breakthrough. Luminar recently went public, making Austin today's youngest self-made billionaire. And when it comes to self-driving cars, youth is definitely an advantage -- Austin told me we're still years if not decades away from fully self-driving cars, and there's a lot of work to be done to make them safe, effective, and ubiquitous. That work is racing ahead -- Luminar has deals with Volvo, Audi, Toyota, and others -- but building a complete self-driving car is still a long-term project. This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity. I'm very excited to talk to you. You are, as far as the last thing I read, the youngest self-made billionaire in America, your company just went public in a SPAC [special purpose acquisitions company]. And come Pi Day, 26. You were born on Pi Day? So, Luminar, it's a company that makes LIDAR sensors. You have a number of deals to supply LIDAR sensors to major automakers. I want to talk about all of that. One thing that I always get frustrated by in origin stories is no one ever really talks about act two. In 2012 you were at Stanford, you had this idea to do LIDAR sensors. I want to talk about act two for a little bit. Just that middle part of going from "I've got a great idea," to "This company is actually up and running and functional." So give me a sense of, at the beginning you were a student at Stanford, you got a Thiel Fellowship from Peter Thiel. What was the next step? Did you sit down and build a LIDAR sensor?
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.