BYD Company Leads D20 to New High For 2nd Week in a Row

Sixteen price gainers out of the 20 Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) stocks, largely led by BYD Company, ensured this week was a positive one for the D20.

The index jumped 1.7 percent to end the week at 244.4, outpacing the Dow, which rose 0.4 percent, and the S&P 500, which inched up 0.1 percent.

BYD led the D20 for the second week in a row, continuing to ride the rumor wave that the Chinese government is considering phasing out fossil-fuel-based vehicles in some markets in favor of electric vehicles like those that BYD designs and manufacturers.

BYD’s ADR (BYDDY) price jumped 22 percent this week. It has soared 47 percent in value over the past two weeks, moving from $12 per share to $17.60.

Delphi (DLPH) has announced that it will be using Blackberry’s (BBRY) QNX system as the basis for its driverless technology platform. These two D20 companies are working towards a 2019 availability date and will integrate Blackberry’s QNX OS into Delphi’s Centralized Sensing and Location Planning (CSLP).

QNX’s reputation for security was one of the primary reasons Delphi selected it for its driverless operating system.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up-and-Comers:

Baidu, the Chinese search and AI giant, has announced that it has put together a $1.5-billion fund that will focus on driverless technology.

It also announced an upgraded version of its free Apollo driverless operating system, which includes new features like obstacle perception, planning, cloud simulation, high-definition (HD) maps and end-to-end deep learning in this version, numbered 1.5. Who will be Baidu’s first investment?

 

News Roundup: GM and Cruise Automation Announce ‘Mass-Production-Ready’ Autonomous Car, Renault Teases a Driverless Electric Car That Can Power Your Home, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

GM and Cruise Automation announce ‘mass-production-ready’ self-driving car

Cruise Automation and its parent company, General Motors, which acquired the startup last year, announced this week that their latest self-driving car is ready for mass production. Kyle Vogt, CEO of the San Francisco-based Cruise Automation, said that their latest model has “full redundancy” throughout the autonomous system, so that it’s ready mechanically, and from a sensor and software perspective, to “fail operationally and be safe.” The vehicle itself will be based on GM’s Chevrolet Bolt, and will be manufactured at the company’s plant in Orion, Michigan. GM and Cruise are currently getting everything in place at the plant to be prepared to roll out hundreds of thousands of vehicles per year that, from the outside, look like a normal Chevy Bolt, but on the inside, feature a sophisticated system capable of full automation with no help needed from a human driver. Read more from TechCrunch.

 

Renault Symbioz is a driverless car that doubles as an extra room in your connected house

Renault’s latest autonomous concept car is much more than that. The “Symbioz” is a sleek, ultra-modern, autonomous vehicle whose seats can rotate to face each other and form a comfortable lounge of sorts. In addition, Renault has designed a smart home that pairs with the car. The car can pull into an open space in the house and become an extension of the room. Both doors can open outward in opposite directions so the car morphs into a pod or smaller room within the room, with the rotating seats providing extra seating. In addition, as an electric car that stores energy in the floor of the vehicle, the car can also serve as a backup power source for the home, providing power in an electrical outage, or supplementing with extra power during peak hours of power usage. Read more and see photos from Car and Driver.

 

Driverless bus taking passengers around site of 2012 London Olympics

Navya is debuting a self-driving bus in London this week, taking as many as 14 passengers at a time on a loop around the park that was the site of the 2012 Olympics. Though the buses are capable of traveling at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, they will be capped at just 5 miles per hour while operating around Olympic Park. The entire loop around the park takes 12 minutes. Alistair Gordon, CEO of Keolis, the company that is supplying the buses, said the ride is proving to be very smooth and feels like “gliding.” “You’d never know there was no driver in the vehicle,” he told V3. So far, passengers are telling news outlets that they have enjoyed the ride and found it to be “the perfect way to try out an autonomous vehicle” at a slow speed in an environment they found much safer than being on the open road. Read more from V3.

Image: The interior of a Renault Symbioz car, inside a Renault Symbioz smart home. Credit: Renault

News Roundup: U.S. Federal Government Passes Self Drive Act, Startup Uses CCTV Footage to Improve Driverless AI Systems, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the biggest headlines to come out of the driverless, connected-vehicle world this past week:

U.S. Houses passes Self Drive Act with bipartisan support

There’s a lot of division in American politics these days, but there appears to be one area where both sides of the aisle can come together–and that is the importance of advancing autonomous vehicles. The federal government on Wednesday passed a bill that takes safety regulations and guidelines of non-commercial, driverless vehicles out of individual states’ hands and makes it a federal issue. The bill blocks states from regulating “the design, construction, or performance” of automated vehicles, arguing that too many individual states have been passing contradictory laws that, together, are hindering the technology’s progress and prevent vehicles from traveling over state lines. The bill does allow technology and vehicle companies to seek exemption from federal safety standards for up to tens of thousands of vehicles at a time, provided that “safety is not downgraded.” For example, if Google’s Waymo doesn’t want to put steering wheels in their self-driving cars (as they have been known not to do), they can apply for an exemption if they can prove it does not diminish the car’s safety. The Self Drive Act does not apply to commercial trucks bigger than 10,000 pounds, or vehicles meant to carry more than 10 passengers or hazardous materials. The trucking industry is a sensitive area for the federal government as it relates so much to the economy, particularly when job losses for human drivers are considered. Read more about the Self Drive Act from the Washington Post.

 

FiveAI using CCTV footage to study intersections to improve driverless car software

UK-based startup FiveAI is using the City of London’s existing CCTV footage of certain intersections and street junctions to study car and driver behavior to create better simulations for improving self-driving car software. In particular, FiveAI’s engineers want to study how human drivers, cyclists and pedestrians react differently to traffic lights from country to country. For example, in one country, cyclists may tend to obey all traffic lights as though they were driving a car, such as by stopping at a red light or observing a stop sign, but in another country where cyclists are more bold, they may breeze right through a similar intersection. Engineers say that by studying this behavior, they can better train artificial intelligence (AI) systems to better predict human behavior in different situations. That encompasses one of the company’s two main focuses currently–prediction. The other focus is perception. FiveAI is working to train AI systems to better sense how far away an object or obstacle is, and overall to create a “dynamic model of the world around it,” to help build a more detailed navigational map of the world. Read more about FiveAI from WIRED.

 

Honolulu to begin testing driverless rail cars

Honolulu rail officials have partnered with Ansaldo Hawaii Joint Venture to build driverless rail cars. Testing of the rail cars was set to begin this week in a short circuit loop on a section of elevated railway in Wapiahu. A human operator will be on board during the testing. In addition, lawmakers approved a bill that would increase the city’s hotel tax by one percentage point to raise another $2.4 billion for the project. The governor is expected to sign the bill. Read more from the Business Journal.

Ford and Domino’s Team Up to Autonomously Deliver Pizza, Uber Promises Self-Driving Taxis in Toronto By the End of the Year, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Ford and Domino’s team up to deliver pizzas in autonomous cars (sort of)

Ann Arbor, Michigan residents have a chance to get their pizza delivered in a driverless car–sort of. Domino’s teamed up with Ford Motor Co. for a special pilot program to test people’s reactions to receiving their pizza from a robot. However, though the car is fully capable of driving itself, a Ford engineer will still be behind the wheel, just in case. Customers who order pizza in Ann Arbor will be notified when their pizza has arrived and will have to go outside to meet the car and remove their pizza from a warming oven slot in the outside of the car. Both Ford and Domino’s want to gauge people’s reactions to the technology as well as to having to walk outside to get their pizza themselves, rather than have a delivery employee ring their doorbell. Ford said this is the first step toward many autonomous plans they hope to realize in the future, including robot taxis and delivering groceries via self-driving cars. Read more from Bloomberg News.

 

Tesla releases Autopilot update

Earlier this month, Tesla Motors released a new update to the Autopilot software, namely the “2017.32” update, to all vehicles equipped with the second-generation hardware. The sole new feature introduced was Automatic High Beams, which automatically switch back to low beams when oncoming traffic is detected. Other than that, the only changes with the update were general improvements to the Autopilot software. Founder and CEO Elon Musk famously announced in October that a new update would make all cars worldwide fully capable of driving themselves, but it appears that update is still coming. Reports have detailed clashes between Musk and his engineers over the announcement, claiming they were not told the announcement was coming and were unsure of the technology’s safety and reliability, particularly after a July 2016 crash in which a driver utilizing Autopilot was killed in a crash. It remains to be seen when Musk’s promise of a fully autonomous Tesla will come to fruition. Read more from Elektrek here and here, and read more from Inc. Magazine here.

 

Uber promises self-driving taxis in Toronto by the end of the year

Seemingly bouncing back from a hiatus following a crash involving one of their self-driving test cars in March, Uber is getting self-driving cars back on the roads of Toronto. The rollout is starting small with only two vehicles doing mapping and data gathering on the University of Toronto campus to improve efficiency and accuracy, but Uber promises the vehicles will be fully operational and able to pick up passengers by the end of this year. Read more and see a video from Complex Canada.

NVIDIA rebound lifts D20

After a down week last week NVIDIA (NVDA) returned to its winning ways, leading the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index to an unlikely rebound. Eight D20 price gainers overcame twelve price losers and forced the improbable bounce as the D20 added 1.3 points or 0.6 percent while both the Dow and S&P lost value.  With the markets jittery about the events in Charlottesville, the Dow dropped 183.81 points to close down 0.8 percent at 21674.51 and the S&P lost 0.6 percent and closed at 2425.55.

NVIDIA was the D20 percentage price gainer adding 3.6 percent to its stock value and closing at $161.50.  Last week’s sell-off despite good news about over achieving on quarterly earnings and sales seems to finally have reversed itself.  In other NVIDIA news, it has invested in Chinese autonomous trucking startup, TuSimple.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up and Comers:

Rumors are that Uber is close to naming GE’s ex-CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, to its recently vacated CEO position.  Uber has gone through a gauntlet of issues starting with sexual harassment accusations of a toxic work environment, to Waymo’s lawsuits claiming that Otto, which Uber acquired last summer, stole trade secrets, and now with a fired CEO founder, Travis Kalanick, and a Board of Directors in open dispute.  If Immelt takes the position he will have the fall-out of those issues and a competitor, Lyft, which has taken advantage of Uber’s public missteps to grow its market share from 15.2 percent last year to 22.9 percent in July, according to Second Measure.

Innoviz, Israeli start-up, has been selected by automotive supplier and D20 constituent, Delphi (DLPH), to be its LiDAR supplier. Delphi has recently declared a shift in focus emphasizing supplying the auto parts market with high tech and driverless solutions.

D20 Drops 2.3 percent as Dow and S&P also decline

Fourteen stock price losers easily overcame six price gainers to drive the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) to a 2.34 percent drop this week.  None of the indexes fared well as the Dow slumped 1.1 percent and the S&P 500 lost 1.4 percent to close at 2441.32.

Leading D20 price percentage gainer, Renesas Electronics Corp (TSE:6723) of Japan, jumped 5.6 percent as it announced volume shipment of its R-Car system-on-chip (SoC).

Two thirds of the D20’s 2.34 percent decrease was caused by NVIDIA’s (NVDA) 6.7 percent tumble.  NVIDIA lost $11.25 per share in this week’s trading despite announcing better than expected fiscal 2Q2018 earnings.  NVIDIA’s revenue jumped 56% year over year and earnings more than doubled, yet its stock price dropped significantly.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up and Comers:

Oryx, an Israeli LiDAR start-up, has raised $50 million in a Series B round.  Oryx’s approach to LiDAR differs from its established competitors, like Velodyne LiDAR, in that it has no moving parts and uses antennas instead of photo-receptors. This approach should make the devices less costly and more reliable.  It has plans to ship units for testing on vehicles in the second half of 2018.

Faraday Future announced that it signed a lease on an existing automotive plant in Hanford, CA signaling the end of its plans to build its own plant from scratch in Nevada.  It plans to move into the plant in November 2017 to be able to deliver its FF91 vehicles to customers by the end of 2018.  Faraday Future continues to seek additional funding to continue its development and production plans.

News Roundup: Self-Driving Car Systems ‘Tricked’ By Vandalized Road Signs, Ultra-Modern Driverless Pods to Debut in Dubai, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Some of the most interesting headlines to come out of the driverless and connected-vehicle industries over the past week:

U.K. government: Car sellers will be held responsible if cars are hacked

In a surprising and bold move, the British government’s Department of Transport on Sunday, Aug. 6 released new guidelines regarding cybersecurity of connected vehicles. In particular, the guidelines state that in cases where a connected vehicle’s system is hacked, the board members of the company that sold the breached vehicle will be held accountable. Furthermore, the guidelines state that “companies should build in-house knowledge of security threats, while getting help from third parties where appropriate,” such as by utilizing open-source platforms and peer-reviewed code when appropriate. The companies “need to be able to support data forensics if something goes wrong,” the department stated. Read more from Fortune Magazine.

 

Researchers discover that graffiti on road signs can trick self-driving cars into driving dangerously

In a rather disturbing new discovery, researchers announced this week that many self-driving car systems can be fooled by simple graffiti on road signs. “Placing stickers or posters over part or the whole of a road sign could be used to trick the smart car into ignoring stop signs, even if visually they appear the same to the human drivers,” said a team of researchers at the University of Washington. In particular, the study revealed that stickers added to a stop sign tricked a self-driving car’s software into thinking it was a speed limit sign for 45, so the car drove right through the stop sign. In another example, by simply altering the color of a right-turn arrow on a road sign, the self-driving car’s software misinterpreted the sign to be a stop sign, and stopped in the middle of traffic. The team said they hope the results of their study help developers to build better defense systems in autonomous vehicles. Read more from The Telegraph

 

Careem’s ultra-modern driverless pods to hit Dubai streets soon

The Middle East is fast becoming a transportation innovation powerhouse. Careem, the Middle East-based tech company behind the highly successful car-booking app of the same name, announced that their sleek, ultra-modern driverless pods will soon be hitting the streets of Dubai. Overall, Careem says they aim to have at least one-quarter of all vehicle trips in the emirate to take place in a driverless vehicle by the year 2030. Careem recently announced the wrapping up of the company’s Series E funding, bringing the company’s total valuation to around $1 billion. Significant recent investors hail from the U.S., Germany and Saudi Arabia. In addition, Careem’s self-driving software was created in partnership with California-based NEXT Future Transportation, and Careem’s navigation system now integrates with Google Maps. In another impressive innovation, Careem contracted with Digital Barriers for its new driver facial recognition system, which will virtually eliminate cases of car theft by preventing cars from operating for anyone other than the car’s owner or other approved users. Careem’s car-booking app operates in 80 cities worldwide, and boasts roughly 6 million users. Read more about Careem from ZDNet.

Image: Rendering of Careem’s driverless pods that will soon hit the streets of Dubai. Credit: Careem

News Roundup: GM Opens Network to Infotainment App Developers, Lyft Announces Plans for Its Own Self-Driving Car Division in Palo Alto, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at major headlines to come out of the driverless and connected car industries over the past week:

GM opens network, allows app developers to test infotainment apps in real vehicle environment

General Motors (GM) has announced a move to make it easier for app developers to test their infotainment apps in a real test vehicle environment. GM announced that it is offering up its next-generation infotainment software development kit–NGI SDK–to the general development community. This will give developers access to GM’s Dev Client, and allow them to test their creations in a real-life test vehicle early in the process, which GM claims is the first time an automaker has done so. Mashable explains, once a developer is ready to make something, “they can download the new SDK, which has been available since January, to build out their app and begin emulating the in-car environment to kick things off.” GM says the open developers network is ready and open for new applicants. Read more from Mashable.

 

Lyft forms autonomous vehicle division in Palo Alto, California

Ride-hailing app Lyft announced it is setting up its own division dedicated to self-driving cars in Palo Alto, California. Reports indicate Lyft will focus on developing its own software network, including a navigation system, with plans to open up the network to the general public, allowing other tech companies and automakers to use the network, and potentially even share data. Industry analysts believe Lyft will likely monetize the program by taking a cut of ride-sharing fees collected by companies using their network. A Lyft spokesperson said a big motivation for the move is to help bring the environmental and safety benefits of autonomous vehicles to the world sooner. Read more from SFGate.

 

Microsoft joins Baidu’s driverless-car alliance, ‘Project Apollo’

Chinese tech giant Baidu and Microsoft have announced that they will be working together on driverless cars. Microsoft has reportedly joined Baidu’s Project Apollo. “Our goal with Apollo is to provide an open and powerful platform to the automotive industry to further the goal of autonomous vehicles,” said the president of Baidu, Zhang Yaqin, in news reports. Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Azure, will reportedly be “instrumental” in the Apollo initiative. As much as 50 other famous firms and automakers, including Ford, Daimler, 13 car manufacturers from China, and many ride-sharing operators, component providers and suppliers have also announced plans to join Project Apollo. Read more from Investor NewsWire.

Image by Lyft

Waymo Taps Rental-Car Giant Avis as a New Self-Driving Car Partner, Russia Enters the Driverless Game, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Our roundup of recent news to come out of the driverless, connected-vehicle industries:

U.S. Congress appears to enjoy bipartisan support for driverless vehicle legislation

News outlets are reporting that discussion of driverless vehicle legislation that would propel forward adoption of the technology was received positively in Congress last week, and that there is a chance some bills could be voted on before the end of the month. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle appear eager to progress the advent of self-driving vehicles, and make it easier for car manufacturers and tech firms like Ford, Tesla Motors, Google’s Waymo and NVIDIA to bring their products into the market through loosening restrictive laws. They also seek to create a level of consistency from state to state, many of which have widely varying laws for self-driving vehicles. Read more from The Motley Fool.

 

Russia moves full speed ahead toward driverless vehicles, will soon debut bus

Russia will not see itself fall behind the west, and has announced it will be debuting a fully autonomous shuttle bus at the upcoming third Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok in September. The debut ride will be jointly hosted by the companies behind the project — Bakulin Motors Group (BMG) and the Skolkovo innovation center. The bus is called Matryoshka, and can carry 8 to 12 passengers, carry cargo, or be used as a public utility vehicle. The bus is electric and its battery will allow it to travel a distance of up to 80 miles at speeds of up to 18 miles per hour. Passengers can even call the operator via video call from their seats. Russia does not yet have laws allowing for driverless vehicles on public roads, so all testing thus far has been done on closed courses. Read more from RBTH.

 

Waymo enters agreement with Avis Budget Group to manage its fleet of driverless cars in Phoenix

Avis Budget Group, which owns the rental-car brands Avis and Budget, as well as car-sharing company Zipcar, has been tapped by Google’s Waymo to manage its fleet of self-driving cars in Phoenix. The fleet recently started allowing members of the public to test its vehicles in April of this year through its “early rider program.” The program aims to discover where people most want to be able to use self-driving cars, and has been picking up and dropping off passengers for the past few months. As per the deal, Avis will clean the cars and perform regular maintenance and minor repairs as needed. Read more from the Washington Post.

 

Image by Waymo & Avis Budget Group

Lexus: Enjoy Driving While We Still Can?

The latest commercial from Lexus for its new 2017 Lexus IS luxury sedan has raised some interesting questions among car enthusiasts: Could the thrill of driving be on its way out? Should we take advantage and enjoy it while we still can?

Obviously, that’s the premise of the commercial — that driving the new 2017 Lexus IS is so thrilling, you should savor every moment, while drivers still have the ability or choice to drive. In the last few seconds of the commercial, the car morphs into a self-driving car, and the driver is left to ponder those times when he could enjoy the power of the car’s controls in his hands.

However, one interesting note — the driver’s hair goes from youthful and dark to gray during the morph, suggesting that, while Lexus is all but promising to deliver a self-driving car in the future, it’s not just around the corner — it’s long enough away to age a man considerably.

Image and video by Lexus