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Two die in Tesla car crash in Texas with 'no one' in driver's seat – police

The Guardian

Two men died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver's seat, crashed into a tree north of Houston, authorities said. "There was no one in the driver's seat," Sgt Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said of the crash on Saturday night. The 2019 Tesla Model S was traveling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the roadway, crashing to a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said. After the fire was extinguished, authorities located two passengers, with one in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat of the Tesla, the report said, citing Harris County Precinct 4 police officer Mark Herman. Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This Week's Awesome Tech Stories From Around the Web (Through April 17)


The massive document, produced by the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, is packed full of data and graphs, and we've plucked out 15 that provide a snapshot of the current state of AI." Geoffrey Hinton Has a Hunch About What's Next for Artificial Intelligence Siobhan Roberts MIT Technology Review "Back in November, the computer scientist and cognitive psychologist Geoffrey Hinton had a hunch. After a half-century's worth of attempts--some wildly successful--he'd arrived at another promising insight into how the brain works and how to replicate its circuitry in a computer." Robotic Exoskeletons Could One Day Walk by Themselves Charles Q. Choi IEEE Spectrum "Ultimately, the ExoNet researchers want to explore how AI software can transmit commands to exoskeletons so they can perform tasks such as climbing stairs or avoiding obstacles based on a system's analysis of a user's current movements and the upcoming terrain. With autonomous cars as inspiration, they are seeking to develop autonomous exoskeletons that can handle the walking task without human input, Laschowski says." Microsoft Buys AI Speech Tech Company Nuance for $19.7 Billion James Vincent The Verge "The $19.7 billion acquisition of Nuance is Microsoft's second-largest behind its purchase of LinkedIn in 2016 for $26 billion.

Connected cars: How 5G and IoT will affect the auto industry


This ebook, based on the latest ZDNet / TechRepublic special feature, examines how 5G connectivity will underpin the next generation of IoT devices. Autonomous cars (and other vehicles, such as trucks) may still be years away from widespread deployment, but connected cars are very much with us. The modern automobile is fast becoming a sensor-laden mobile Internet of Things device, with considerable on-board computing power and communication systems devoted to three broad areas: vehicle location, driver behaviour, engine diagnostics and vehicle activity (telematics); the surrounding environment (vehicle-to-everything or V2X communication); and the vehicle's occupants (infotainment). All of these systems use cellular -- and increasingly 5G -- technology, among others. Although 5G networks are still a work in progress for mobile operators, the pace of deployment and launches is picking up.

Walmart invests in GM-owned autonomous car startup Cruise


Walmart is signaling its commitment to autonomous deliveries with a new investment in self-driving company Cruise. The two already have a cozy relationship, having recently worked together on a delivery pilot in Scottsdale, Arizona. Walmart was so impressed with Cruise's "differentiated business, unique tech and unmatched driverless testing" that it decided to take part in the GM subsidiary's $2.75 billion funding round. The investment will see Cruise become an important part of the retailer's "last mile delivery ecosystem" -- industry parlance for the final journey from warehouse to customer. Walmart has struck additional partnerships on driverless deliveries with companies including Google's Waymo, Ford and Udelv.

Honda's Now Selling the World's First Production Car with Level 3 Self-Driving Tech


Such freedom is granted under the Honda Sensing Elite's Traffic Jam Pilot function, which gives the car control over its own brakes, steering and throttle in that eponymous scenario. This lets the car maintain its following distance, speed and lane position. It does all this with zero input from the driver, who Honda says can "watch television/DVD on the navigation screen or operate the navigation system to search for a destination address." Outside of traffic jams, Honda Sensing Elite functions like the best ADAS technology currently offered from its electric vehicle partner GM, Cadillac's newly updated Super Cruise. With Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist and Low-Speed Follow active on the highway as well as "certain conditions" fulfilled, a Honda Sensing Elite-equipped car can drive behind another vehicle at a preset speed and a safe distance while staying centered in its lane. If the system notices the car ahead is lagging below the set speed, "the system notifies the driver and then assists [with] passing and returning to the original lane."

Visualizing Tech Giants' Artificial Intelligence Ambitions


Artificial intelligence is evolving unprecedently. From smart digital assistants to autonomous cars, this technology is touching every aspect of life and work. Extending beyond a science-fiction anecdote, AI is prevalent today and can encompass anything from Google's search algorithms to IBM's Watson and autonomous weapons. Many big tech giants are making big leaps toward artificial intelligence by acquiring and merging with AI companies and startups. Here, we will look at the tech giants' AI ambitions.

Toyota's new Mirai and Lexus LS models come with Advanced Drive assistance tech


Toyota has launched Advanced Drive, a new driver assistance technology, with the latest Toyota Mirai and Lexus LS vehicles. Advanced Drive is capable of Level 2 autonomy and can free the driver from operating the accelerator, brakes and even the steering wheel -- under certain traffic conditions and with the driver's supervision, that is. It was designed for highway driving only, and like other available assistance technologies today, it doesn't have full self-driving capabilities yet. Advanced Drive uses data from the vehicle's telescopic camera and LiDAR, as well as information from high-precision maps to detect other vehicles in the same lane. So long as a driver sets the destination in the navigation system, the technology will be able to assess situations and make decisions when it comes to changing lanes, maintaining distance from other vehicles, navigating lane splits and overtaking other vehicles.

QUT calls for industry-government alliances to make autonomous cars a reality


Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have touted the use of artificial intelligence to determine the feasibility of autonomous cars on Australian roads. The QUT Centre for Robotics has conducted research projects into mapping for autonomous cars using AI. The centre's acting director Professor Michael Milford said map updating is a major challenge for autonomous vehicle adoption. Milford said given mapping isn't a globally mature field, there are opportunities for Australia to catch up quickly. "Current out-of-the-box European mapping solutions don't recognise unique Australian signs or infrastructure and require customisation," he said.

Measuring the effects of Shared and Electric Autonomous Vehicles (SAEV) on urban mobility.


Autonomous driving, connectivity, car sharing, electric vehicles, and the rise of renewable energy will all have powerful mutually reinforcing effects. For example, the introduction of self-driving cars in the 2020s will increase the use of EVs in high-use services such as ride-hailing because lower operating costs will offset the higher initial costs of these vehicles. The movement of people and goods is central to our society and economic activities. According to a BNEF-McKinsey & Company study, the change in how people move around cities will put the automotive and energy industries, as well as governments, under pressure. Light-duty vehicle fuel consumption could drop by up to 75% in some cities by 2030, prompting governments to look for new ways to recoup lost fuel taxes.

Global Big Data Conference


There's no denying that data is the backbone on which modern companies operate. Organizations, big and small, use it to make critical decisions and drive business forward. Whether it's self-driving cars, social networking, entertainment, music, health care or something else, every industry today is data-enabled, contributing to the generation of diverse data sets. Real-time and batch updates from sensors, software and hardware contribute to the speed at which data is generated. Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated worldwide thanks to an always-on culture with billions of connected consumers and IoT devices.