ground transportation


Punny SUVs at the NY Auto Show and More Car News This Week

WIRED

On the floor of the New York Auto Show this week, Genesis showed off its sweet little Mint concept, an electric two-seater with a very abbreviated sedan body. The Hyundai luxury arm does not, however, have any plans to put the adorable thing into production--perhaps because, as we learned this week, getting world-changing tech into the market takes a fair amount of elbow grease. Elon Musk's Boring Company is slowly making its way through the necessary paperwork to make its DC to Baltimore Loop concept a real, live thing. Uber is rounding up the oodles of cash it needs to develop self-driving vehicles. "Flying taxi" engineers are trying to get their concepts past now-nervous aviation regulators.


Singapore talking with more electric car companies after Dyson, but Tesla apparently not among them

Japan Times >> News

LOS ANGELES - Following Dyson Ltd.'s plans late last year to manufacture its first electric car in Singapore, the city-state is now in talks with other makers of green vehicles to set up shop on the island. Singapore is pitching its connectivity to global markets through free-trade agreements, its high-skilled workforce and stringent protection of intellectual property, which is critical for the industry, according to the government agency set up to attract investments to the country. "Hopefully they won't be the only one we land," Chng Kai Fong, managing director of the Singapore Economic Development Board, said in an interview, referring to Dyson's plans. The whole idea is to build clusters." Bringing in other electric car manufacturers will create scale for the sector in Singapore, which is also spurring the development of autonomous vehicles in the country. The use of high-tech robotics and automation, as well as supply chain management and connectivity, could help dispel concerns on the high labor costs in Singapore. "It's much more of a capital game than a labor game," Chng said in San Francisco, where his agency hosted two technology-related conferences, including the Bridge Forum. "That plays to our strength." Dyson, the closely held manufacturer of hand dryers and vacuum cleaners, said in October it plans to complete its factory by 2020 with the goal of rolling out its first model by 2021 as part of a £2 billion ($2.6 billion) effort to expand into automobiles. Earlier this year, billionaire inventor James Dyson raised the stakes by announcing plans to relocate his company's head office to Singapore from the U.K. with the growing importance of Asia to its business. Singapore doesn't have a single car-manufacturing plant and is one of the costliest places in the world to buy an automobile. And not every electric carmaker is a fan. Elon Musk tweeted in January that Singapore has been unwelcoming to Tesla Inc., adding to his previous assertions that the government doesn't support electric vehicles. The billionaire chief executive officer was responding to a tweet inquiring why Tesla wasn't in the Southeast Asian nation. Musk had said in May that Tesla tried to bring its cars to Singapore but was unsuccessful because the government was "not supportive" of electric vehicles. Singapore is also getting pushback from some companies for introducing a carbon tax. The government says it's to help meet its Paris Agreement obligations, but it would also in turn drive up costs compared with other Asian markets. "Increasingly, carbon will be a constraint," Chng said. "But we have to do it.


From '12345' to 'blink182', the most hacked passwords revealed in warning over cyber-security

The Independent

Using easily guessed passwords across multiple accounts is a major gap in the online security habits of British people, a government study has found. The survey by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) found that many internet users did not know the best ways to protect themselves from cybercrime, with 42 per cent expecting to lose money to online fraud. Only 15 per cent of the survey's 2,500 respondents said they knew "a great deal" about how to protect themselves from harmful activity online, while fewer than half of respondents said they do not always use a strong, separate password for their main email account. We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.


Uber's self-driving cars are still a 'science experiment,' report says

Mashable

Business Insider reports that Uber's self-driving tech is still far behind competitors like Waymo. The report, which cites interviews with employees in Uber's Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), compares the self-driving cars project to a "science experiment," and says that the cars "perform reliably only on limited well-mapped routes, and aren't making much progress on handling more." That may sound like a harsh assessment, but as BI points out, Uber has had other priorities besides autonomous driving alone. Since the company resumed testing its self-driving cars in December following a fatal accident in Arizona, Uber has been progressing much more slowly. It's possible the cautious approach is frustrating to some employees, who may want to see more rapid improvements in the underlying technology rather than safety-related updates alone.


IBM Brings AI and Advanced Analytics to the Industrial World

#artificialintelligence

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a new portfolio of Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that team artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics to help asset intensive organizations, such as the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), to improve maintenance strategies. The solution is designed to help organizations to lower costs and reduce the risk of failure from physical assets such as vehicles, manufacturing robots, turbines, mining equipment, elevators, and electrical transformers. IBM Maximo Asset Performance Management (APM) solutions collect data from physical assets in near real-time and provide insights on current operating conditions, predict potential issues, identify problems and offer repair recommendations. Organizations in asset-intensive industries like energy and utilities, chemicals, oil and gas, manufacturing, and transportation, can have thousands of assets that are critical to operations. These assets are increasingly producing enormous amounts of data on their operating conditions.


Slow burn? The long road to a zero-emissions UK

Guardian Energy

It is the near future. You wake in a house warmed by a heat pump that extracts energy from deep below the ground and delivers it to your home. You rise and make yourself a cup of tea – from water boiled on a hydrogen-burning kitchen stove. Then you head to work – in a robot-driven electric car directed by central control network to avoid traffic jams. At midday, you pause for lunch: a sandwich made of meat grown in a laboratory.


Uber's self-driving car unit valued at $7.3bn as it gears up for IPO

The Guardian

Uber's self-driving car unit has been valued at $7.3bn (£5.6bn), after receiving $1bn of investment by a consortium including Toyota and Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund. With weeks to go until the loss-making San Francisco firm's stock market float, expected to value the company at up to $100bn, Uber said it had secured new financial backing for its plans to develop autonomous vehicles. Japanese carmakers Toyota and its compatriot Denso, a car parts supplier, will invest a combined $667m in Uber's Advanced Technologies Group (ATG). The remainder will come from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank's $100bn Vision Fund, whose largest investor is Saudi Arabia. Toyota and SoftBank are already major investors in Uber, with the latter owning 16%.


Coming soon to China: the car of the future -- hyper-connected, autonomous and shared

The Japan Times

SHANGHAI - Global automakers are positioning themselves for a brave new world of on-demand transport that will require a car of the future -- hyper-connected, autonomous and shared -- and China may become the concept's laboratory. With ride-hailing services booming and car-sharing not far behind, the need for vehicles tailored to these and other evolving mobility solutions is one of the hottest topics among global automakers gathered for this week's Shanghai Auto Show. Nearly all agree that there is no better proving ground than China: Its gigantic cities are desperate for answers to gridlock and its population is noted for its ready embrace of new high-tech services. To take advantage of this, manufacturers are competing not only to sell conventional and electric vehicles in the world's biggest auto market, but also to develop new technologies and even specific interiors designed for the on-demand world. "We cannot just develop electric cars. They will have to be smart, interconnected and of course shared," Zhao Guoqing, vice president of Chinese auto giant Great Wall Motors, said on the auto show's sidelines.


Uber's self-driving unit gets its own CEO and a $1 billion investment

Engadget

As Uber finally closes in on its IPO, its self-driving car unit is getting a big cash infusion and some independence. The company announced tonight that Toyota, Denso and Softbank are investing a total of $1 billion in its Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG), in a deal that values that part of the company at $7.25 billion. This adds onto Toyota's $500 million investment last year, which the two said would lead to the creation of an autonomous fleet based on Toyota's Sienna minivan. So far, many of the big car companies are teaming up to develop autonomous tech combined with ridesharing angles as it's expected to be a huge market in the next few years. According to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, "The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more livable. Today's announcement, along with our ongoing OEM and supplier relationships, will help maintain Uber's position at the forefront of that transformation."


Rivian turned down GM investment so it could build EVs for others

Engadget

Reports emerged last week that GM would not join Amazon in investing in electric vehicle startup Rivian, and now we have a little more clarity on why talks broke down. It seems GM wanted some exclusivity, but Rivian plans to build vehicles for other companies, as well as release up to six models under its own branding by 2025. Founder RJ Scaringe said Rivian is working on something related to the Amazon investment, but hinted to Bloomberg that it may not be a vehicle. He's open to selling his company's technology (it has developed long-lasting batteries) to other businesses for various products, including stationary batteries. So perhaps Amazon is interested in using Rivian's know-how for something other than vehicles, though it has also invested in a self-driving car startup.