ground transportation

Boeing invests in autonomous flight technology maker Near Earth Autonomy


Boeing's venture capital unit HorizonX is continuing its investment in autonomous technologies, recently backing Near Earth Autonomy, a Pittsburgh-based company that develops technologies to enable safe and reliable autonomous flights. The aerospace giant announced the investment on Thursday, but did not disclose the amount it has invested in the company. Near Earth Autonomy, which was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, develops software and sensor technology for three-dimensional mapping and survey, motion planning, and landing zone assessment, among others. Its products are aimed at enabling aircraft to operate autonomously. According to a Washington Post report, the company has developed self-piloting surveillance drones that can navigate underground pathways, and is exploring ways for autonomous planes to navigate without reliance on GPS satellites.

Baidu Plans Fully Self-Driving Bus in China Next Year

Wall Street Journal

But first, Baidu aims to complete a fully self-driving bus--running on a designated route--with a Chinese bus maker by next year. Baidu is hoping its open-source software is more appealing to car makers wary of joining with Waymo, the driverless-car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL -1.08% Mr. Li said he pitches car makers that Apollo will give them more control of their data and user experience than a closed system like Waymo's. "You have much better control over your destiny," he said. Most industry experts agree, however, that Waymo has the most advanced self-driving technology, which it began developing in 2009.


Wall Street Journal

"The approach that we are taking to that is to control a lot of that system ourselves because it allows us to move more quickly," Mr. Ammann said at The Wall Street Journal's WSJD.Live technology conference here. At first, GM seemed eager to team up. In early 2016, for example, GM announced a $500 million investment in Lyft Inc., where Mr. Ammann sits on the board of directors, and a partnership with the ride-sharing company to develop self-driving vehicles. But now the two companies appear more interested in going it alone. In July, Lyft said it was creating its own autonomous-car development division, and in August, GM said it had begun testing its own ride-hailing app for self-driving cars.

Lyft Raises $1 Billion in Round Led by Alphabet's CapitalG

Wall Street Journal

Over the past year, Lyft has picked up market share in some key cities while into pushing into dozens of new U.S. markets, driven in part by carefully-crafted marketing that casts it as the friendlier alternative to Uber. Uber, meanwhile, has been beset by a series of troubling events, including sexual-harassment allegations, the resignation of longtime chief executive Travis Kalanick, a lawsuit between board members and several federal probes into its business operations. It only recently hired a new chief, former Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who is tasked with filing the company's depleted executive ranks and is already dealing with a regulatory spat in London, one of its biggest markets. Uber is working to nail down a proposed investment from SoftBank that could total as much as $10 billion, including a direct investment of as much as $1.25 billion. On Monday at The Wall Street Journal's WSJD.Live conference, Uber board member Arianna Huffington said she expects the company will resolve the weekslong talks within days.

To Survive the Streets, Self-Driving Cars Have to Start Thinking Like Humans


Next time you're driving down the road or walking down the street, pause to consider how you read your surroundings. How you pay extra attention to the kid kicking a soccer ball around her front lawn and the slightly wobbly, nervous looking cyclist. How you deprioritize the woman striding toward the street, knowing she's heading for the group of friends waving to her from the sidewalk. You make these calls by drawing on a lifetime of social and cultural experience so ingrained you hardly need to think about it. But imagine you're an autonomous car trying to do the same thing, without that accumulated knowledge or the shared humanity that lets you read others' nuanced behavioral cues.

More Than Uber


Google has been working on self-driving car technology since 2009, but it wasn't until 2016 that Alphabet spun off the project as its own entity. Around the same time, a member of Google's self-driving car team departed to form his own self-driving vehicle startup, Otto, which Uber then acquired to advance its own self-driving car efforts. Now, Uber and Waymo are embroiled in a heated intellectual property battle as Waymo alleges Otto's co-founder, Anthony Levandowski, stole proprietary information and used it while heading up Uber's self-driving car project. Uber fired Levandowski in May after he refused to cooperate with the lawsuit.

Lyft gets $1bn from Google to rev up challenge to Uber

Daily Mail

US ridesharing giant Lyft announced Thursday it has received a $1 billion investment led by the venture arm of Google parent Alphabet, to help ramp up its challenge to market leader Uber. Lyft said the new funding gives it a valuation of $11 billion as it steps up competition against Uber, reeling from a series of missteps and scandals which have forced out its founder and chief executive. A Lyft blog post said the new funding round was led by CapitalG, formerly known as Google Capital, which invests in emerging tech firms. Lyft's latest capital injection of $1 billion led by Google parent Alphabet boosts the valuation of the ridesharing firm to $11 billion Lyft and Alphabet already have a relationship through a partnership Lyft struck with Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car unit, in May. The two companies are collaborating on bringing autonomous vehicle technology to market, but have not provided many details.

Apple's latest self driving car prototype revealed:

Daily Mail

Apple's self driving car project has been shrouded in secrecy - but its latest vehicle has been spotted by an arch rival. Dubbed'The Thing', it looks like an ordinary SUV - apart from a giant white'Star Wars' rack of sensors strapped to its roof. The video was captured by MacCallister Higgins, co-founder of self-driving startup Voyage, which is testing its own vehicles in a San Jose retirement community. He refers to it as'The Thing,' due to the bulkiness of its sensor array. He told CNET he took the video at the intersection of De La Cruz and the Central Expressway in Sunnyvale, and he is convinced that it was one of Apple's cars.

General Motors will soon test self-driving cars in New York City


Cruise Automation wants to make self-driving cars in New York City a reality as soon as 2018. The self-driving car wing of General Motors has announced plans to test Chevy Bolts in an area of Manhattan spanning five square miles, beginning as early as next year. Previously, the company has evaluated how its vehicles perform in an urban setting by testing them out on the streets of San Francisco. In May 2017, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo detailed a one-year pilot program that would give automakers the opportunity to apply for permission to test self-driving cars in New York starting in 2018. Cruise Automation has submitted a request, which is expected to be granted, according to a report from CNN. Pedestrians will likely pose the greatest challenge for the Bolts let loose on the streets of Manhattan.

Is technology really going to destroy more jobs than ever before?


You've probably heard that a robot is going to take your job. It's an oft-repeated refrain, heralded in article headlines and speeches from luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. Some experts predict that anywhere from 38 to 57 percent of jobs could be automated in the next few decades, depending on who you ask, and the jobs aren't limited to any one industry. Automation threatens to eliminate or limit jobs such as waitstaff, truck drivers, factory workers, accountants, cashiers, and retail employees, according to a recent report from PBS. But to other experts, these apocalyptic predictions are overblown.