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Walmart Joins A Multibillion-Dollar Investment In Self-Driving Cars

International Business Times

Declaring "it's no longer a question of if...but when" autonomous vehicles are used in retail, President and CEO of Walmart (NYSE:WMT) U.S. John Furner announced the retail titan's intention to invest in General Motors' (NYSE:GM) Cruise self-driving car company in a press release today. Furner said the move will "aid our work toward developing a last mile delivery ecosystem that's fast, low-cost and scalable." The Walmart investment brings the total of Cruise's most recent funding round to $2.75 billion, though neither GM nor Cruise provides specifics on how much each individual company contributes to the whole, CNBC reports. Other investors in the subsidiary include GM itself, Microsoft, Honda Motor, and institutional investors. Among other projects, Cruise intends to roll out self-driving taxis in Dubai within the next two years.


Walmart invests in GM-owned autonomous car startup Cruise

Engadget

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.


Computer program has near-perfect record spotting deepfakes by examining reflection in the eyes

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Computer scientists have developed a tool that detects deepfake photos with near-perfect accuracy. The system, which analyzes light reflections in a subject's eyes, proved 94 percent effective in experiments. In real portraits, the light reflected in our eyes is generally in the same shape and color, because both eyes are looking at the same thing. Since deepfakes are composites made from many different photos, most omit this crucial detail. Deepfakes became a particular concern during the 2020 US presidential election, raising concerns they'd be use to discredit candidates and spread disinformation.


GM-backed Cruise acquires self-driving startup Voyage

Engadget

Cruise, a self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, announced today that it is acquiring Voyage, a self-driving startup. "The self-driving industry is consolidating, and the leaders of a trillion-dollar market are fast emerging," said Voyager co-founder and CEO Oliver Cameron in a blog post. "After being intimately involved with the AV (autonomous vehicle) industry for the last five years, I can say with certainty that Cruise -- with its advanced self-driving technology, unique auto-maker partnerships, and all-electric purpose-built vehicle with no human controls -- is posed to be the clear leader." GM-backed Cruise is relatively well-funded compared to Voyage. It operates its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco -- it began testing fully driverless cars late last year -- while Voyage has been testing mostly in smaller retirement communities like in San Jose, California and The Villages, Florida.


'Deepfake' Tom Cruise takes over TikTok with some 11 million views but raises alarms with experts

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Tom Cruise has gone viral on the popular video-sharing app TikTok, but the clips featuring the'Mission Impossible' star are deepfakes that experts are calling the'most alarmingly lifelike examples' of the technology. An account appeared on the app last week, dubbed'deeptomcruise,' which shows a number of videos depicting Cruise doing a magic trick, playing golf and reminiscing about the time he met the former President of the Soviet Union. The series of clips have been seen more than 11 million times on TikTok as of Tuesday, with many millions more on other social media platforms. Although the clips are for entertainment, experts warn that such content'should worry us'. 'Seeing is no longer believing' rhetoric undermines real video.' An account appeared on the app last week, dubbed'deeptomcruise,' which shows a number of videos that have been viewed more than 11 million times.


Shockingly Real Tom Cruise Deepfakes Are Invading TikTok

#artificialintelligence

Three days ago, a TikTok account going by @deeptomcruise began posting video clips of the Hollywood actor Tom Cruise doing everything from golfing, to tripping and telling a joke in what appears to be a men's clothing store in Italy, to performing a magic trick with a coin. In each of the three videos, Cruise delivers his signature maniacal laugh--you know, the one he repeatedly unleashed in that batty Scientology recruitment video years back--before launching into some sort of bit, and in all of them, it looks just like Cruise. There are a few giveaways, of course. Also, his voice is hollow and scratchy, a la that scene in Face/Off where John Travolta-as-Nicolas Cage is trying to adjust his vocals to that Cage-ian timbre. Still, the Cruise TikToks managed to bewilder and horrify a number of people.


Why Microsoft's self-driving car strategy will work

#artificialintelligence

Self-driving car startup Cruise has received more than $2 billion in a new round of investment from Microsoft, General Motors, Honda, and institutional investors, according to a joint statement by Cruise, its owner GM, and Microsoft on Tuesday. The investment will bring the valuation of Cruise to $30 billion and make Microsoft an official partner. Per Tuesday's announcement: "To unlock the potential of cloud computing for self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Azure, Microsoft's cloud and edge computing platform, to commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale. Microsoft, as Cruise's preferred cloud provider, will also tap into Cruise's deep industry expertise [emphasis mine] to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transportation companies across the globe [emphasis mine] through continued investment in Azure." So, Cruise will get the much-needed funds to conduct research and (possibly discounted) access to Microsoft's cloud computing resources and move closer toward its goal of launching a purpose-built self-driving car.


Aurora Partners With Toyota on Self-Driving Sienna Taxis

WIRED

Autonomous driving startup Aurora announced on Tuesday that it has scored a partnership with Toyota to build self-driving taxis based on the Toyota Sienna minivan. Aurora says it's aiming to have a fleet of Sienna prototypes ready for testing on public roads by the end of the year. Denso, a major Japanese auto parts manufacturer, will also contribute to the project. This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast.


GM's Super Cruise feels like it's self-driving, but it's not

Mashable

Earlier this month, I was changing lanes on Bay Area highways with just the push of a turn signal in a Cadillac Escalade with the latest version of Super Cruise. I didn't have to check my blind spot or quickly accelerate to get over. The massive SUV did all that for me once its cameras, radars, and sensing equipment determined it was safe to do so. Once centered in the new lane I turned the indicator off, put my hands back in my lap, and the car continued to drive me along. Super Cruise is a driver assistance technology that's been available in certain Cadillac models since 2017 and is coming to more GM cars in the future, with 22 vehicle types slated to be equipped with the hands-free driving system by 2023.


Honda to collaborate with GM over self-driving service in Japan

The Japan Times

Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it will collaborate with General Motors Co. and its unit Cruise LLC on launching a service using self-driving vehicles in Japan and start feasibility tests later this year. Automakers are scrambling to develop next-generation autonomous vehicles, with IT firms also joining the race. Honda and major U.S. carmaker GM agreed in 2018 to join hands in developing self-driving vehicles. Honda said it plans to start a mobility business using the Cruise Origin, a self-driving vehicle being developed by the three companies, with an eye to offering new transportation solutions in potential collaboration with local governments in Japan. "Through active collaboration with partners who share the same interests and aspirations, Honda will continue to accelerate the realization of our autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan," Honda President Takahiro Hachigo said in a statement, referring to its mobility service.