Autonomous Truck Debuts on Roadways in Colorado (With Video)

Jennifer van der Kleut

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), in partnership with Kratos Defense and Security Solutions Inc., Royal Truck and Equipment and Colas Ltd., has officially launched the first autonomous truck designed to follow behind road workers and protect them from traffic.

They are calling the vehicle the Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle (AIPV), also known as the Autonomous Truck Mounted Attenuator (ATMA).

Officials in Colorado said there have been, over the past four years, an average of seven crashes per year in which a passing motorist has hit a CDOT truck, putting the driver in danger.

“This is a dangerously high number when you consider that in some instances, a CDOT employee is sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle that was hit. By using self-driving technology, we’re able to take the driver out of harm’s way while still effectively shielding roadside workers,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director, in an official statement. “Our partnership with Kratos proves that technology can take transportation safety to a new level and forever improve the way we work.”

Nationwide, according to the Federal Highway Administration, there was a crash every 5.4 minutes, 70 crash-related injuries every day, and 12 crash-related fatalities every week, in work zones in 2015, making this technology “a potentially game-changing solution for improving safety and efficiency in the work zone.”

Kratos originally developed the technology for the U.S. Army, and recently leveraged it for non-military use. Prototypes were tested on the roadways in August.

CDOT posted the following video on YouTube, showing off the truck in action.

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.

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: India Says ‘No’ to Self-Driving Cars, Two Companies Plan Cross-Border Road Test for Driverless Cars, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of recent headlines to come out of the driverless and connected-car industries this past week:

India says No to driverless cars over fear of job losses

India’s transport minister, Nitin Gadkari, told news outlets this past week that driverless cars will not be allowed in India anytime soon, due to the number of job losses it could lead to. Gadkari said India’s unemployment rate is still too high to risk losing jobs to automated vehicles. As it is currently, he said the country is in need of at least 100,000 more commercial drivers and he looks forward to being able to provide the Indian people with so many available jobs. In addition, India officials estimate that the amount of infrastructure changes that would be needed to prepare India for self-driving cars would be far too expensive given the nation’s current economy. Gadkari did say he would not rule out the technology altogether in the future if India’s situation improves. Read more from BBC News.

 

Manhattan proposal wants to transform cross-island highways into roads exclusively for driverless vehicles

Manhattan-based architecture firm Edg has proposed a bold project that they say would reduce urban pollution and congestion in Manhattan and make some major roadways on the island exclusive to driverless cars. The proposal, called “Loop NYC,” wants to take major roadways that cut across the island–namely, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 86th and 110th streets–and turn them into roads that are exclusive to driverless cars. Edg says this could cut down traffic time from the current 40 minutes it takes to drive a loop from Grand Central Station to Lower Manhattan and back down to just 11 minutes, with traffic flowing more smoothly thanks to self-driving vehicles. In addition, Loop NYC wants to create enormous green spaces and pedestrian bridges that would cross over the driverless roadways and would be exclusive to pedestrians and bicyclists, improving beauty while reducing pollution, as well as increasing the city’s walkability. As expected, the proposal is still “largely speculative” in nature, particularly given the fact that the federal government still has not approved a nationwide set of laws and regulations for driverless cars. Read more about Loop NYC on ArchDaily.

 

Two companies plan road test for driverless cars across the border from the U.S. into Canada

Two major companies working on driverless vehicle technology, Continental and Magna, are teaming up for a whopper of a road test. The two companies plan to send self-driving cars across the border from Michigan into Sarnia, in Toronto, Canada. The cars will reportedly cross the border at two locations–through the tunnel from Detroit into Windsor, and crossing the Blue Water Bridge into Sarnia. Reps say the cars’ “driverless mode” will be enabled whenever possible but will likely include a few instances when the driver will take over control. They add, crossing an international border makes for incredibly unique driving conditions, which will allow Continental and Magna to collect a lot of valuable data from the cars’ cameras, LiDAR and radar. In addition, the test will reveal future hurdles when it comes to crossing the borders of two different countries with two different sets of laws and regulations. Read more from TechCrunch.

Image: Loop NYC rendering by Edg

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

News Roundup: A Look at the World’s First Autonomous-Capable Cargo Ship, Apple Creates Buzz With Self-Driving Car News, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Oslo-based company to debut electric, autonomous-capable ship

The company YARA Birkeland out of Oslo, Norway has revealed plans for a zero-emission, remote control-capable and eventually autonomous-capable cargo ship. YARA said the ship will launch in 2019 with the ability to be controlled remotely and deliver cargo unmanned. Within a few years after that, the company said the ship will be capable of operating fully autonomously. The container ship is being built by Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, and many say it will have a huge impact on the maritime industry, which is known for its high amounts of fuel consumption. The container ship will reportedly be used to transport fertilizer. Read more from Bloomberg.

 

Apple’s Tim Cook creates a buzz, offering details of self-driving plans

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave an interview with Bloomberg News last week week, creating quite a buzz as he addressed the company’s work on autonomous car systems. Those are the exact words he used — autonomous systems. Cook made it clear that Apple is no longer working on attempting to build a vehicle, but is instead working on developing the system that would power one. The project has long been called Project Titan internally. Just a couple of months ago, Bloomberg published photos of Lexus SUVs outfitted with Apple’s autonomous technology being tested on San Francisco Bay Area roads. Since Apple veteran Bob Mansfield took over control of Project Titan, engineers have been cut and costs streamlined, but Cook made it clear the project is moving full-speed ahead. Read more from Bloomberg.

 

Bye-bye, Google self-driving bubble car

Google self-driving spin-off company Waymo announced this week it is retiring its famous, signature “bubble” cars. For years the rounded pod cars have been traveling millions of miles around Silicon Valley as the company has been testing and gathering data for its self-driving car system. However, the company has been advancing partnerships with established vehicle manufacturers and says it will now focus on installing its systems into other cars rather than manufacturing any more of the bubble cars. In particular, Waymo’s blog indicates the company is working on outfitting a fleet of 600 Chrysler Pacifica mini-vans. Whereas the “Firefly” bubble-shaped pod car maxes out at a top speed of 25 miles per hour, the mini-vans will be capable of traveling at full speed. Read more from BBC News.

 

Image: Courtesy rendering of YARA Birkeland ship

News Roundup: China’s New Driverless Transit Doesn’t Need Tracks, Trump Administration Addresses Driverless Vehicle Guidelines, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of some of the most interesting driverless industry headlines of the past week:

China shows off new train-bus-tram hybrid that doesn’t even need tracks

Rail transit firm CRRC recently showed off the future of transportation for China. It’s called a “smart bus,” but the industry is describing it as a train-bus-tram hybrid that doesn’t even need tracks. The smart bus can navigate itself without a driver, and needs only lines painted on the ground–no tracks necessary. The prototype vehicle is 32 meters long and can hold a whopping 307 passengers over three connected rail cars, and engineers say rail cars can be added or subtracted as needed. The vehicle can travel at speeds of up to 70km (43.5 miles) per hour and can go a distance of up to 25km (15.53 miles) after charging its lithium battery for just 10 minutes. The official name of the system will be called ART – short for Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit — and government officials say it will debut on a 6.5-km track painted through the city of Zhuzhou beginning in 2018. Officials say it will bring down the costs of public transportation from more than $100 million per km for the existing subway system, to just over $2 million per km for an ART line. Read more from Mashable.

 

Trump administration promises new driverless guidelines by end of year

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao met with automakers in Detroit Monday and spoke briefly about the Trump administration’s plans for driverless cars. Chao promised a revised set of guidelines, different from those released near the end of former President Obama’s second term in September, by the end of this year. Many expect guidelines under President Trump to have a “lighter touch.” Chao pointed to cases such as California, where the number of companies testing the technology is up from just four in 2014 to 30 today, seemingly as proof that looser regulations are helping the technology to progress faster. However, Chao addressed Silicon Valley directly and encouraged more companies to be willing to share data, to help the government learn more about the technology as they work to create the best guidelines for the country. Read more from The Detroit News and The Hill.

 

Lyft adds Boston-based nuTonomy to its list of high-profile driverless car partners

Not long after just announcing a driverless car partnership with Google’s Waymo, ridesharing company Lyft has announced another lucrative project, this time with Boston-based tech firm nuTonomy, for another pilot project. The project will reportedly kick off in the coming months and the first item on its to-do list will be “R&D into the passenger experience,” Lyft CEO and co-founder Logan Green reportedly said in a conference call. Green added, if all goes well, the partnership “could lead to thousands of nuTonomy cars on the Lyft platform.” nuTonomy is known for piloting the world’s first driverless car ridesharing program in Singapore, and recently started testing driverless cars in Boston, where the company is based. Read more from Forbes.

 

Image: Still of Chinese ART rail car from YouTube video by CGTN

News Roundup: Driverless EZ10 Shuttle Scheduled to Debut in Taiwan This Summer, Industry Predictions From Australia, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

The latest driverless transportation headlines from the past week, summed up for you:

Driverless shuttle will launch in Taiwan this summer

A new EZ10 autonomous shuttle is scheduled to launch in Taiwan on various campuses of National Taiwan University (NTU) this summer. The vehicle itself was manufactured by French lightweight automobile manufacturer Ligier, and the self-driving technology is the product of another French company, EasyMile–original developer of the EZ10–together with Taiwanese firm 7Starlake. The shuttle has no back or front and can easily change direction at any point on its route. The shuttle can cruise at up to 20 miles per hour, and can carry up to 12 passengers, six sitting and six standing. It is also equipped to carry handicapped passengers. The shuttle is expected to debut first with a single route at the NTU Shuiyuan Campus in July, and will expand to additional routes later. Read more from Euro Transport Magazine.

 

Australia association insists all cars will be driverless, all highways will have dedicated lanes, within 10 years

One major association in Australia is getting mightly confident about the nation’s progress toward driverless cars. A new report from Roads Australia, one of the biggest associations for the nation’s roads, predicts that all new manufactured cars will be driverless within 10 years, and that all Australian roads will feature dedicated lanes for driverless cars within 5 to 10 years. The report also refers to American ridesharing company Lyft in stating that by the year 2025, it will be cheaper to pay to ride in a driverless car than to own and maintain one’s own vehicle, and that vehicle ownership will be all but nonexistent. While many say they are encouraged by Roads Australia’s report, however, plenty of others are calling it “ambitious” and “unrealistic,” including David McCarthy, an executive from Mercedes Benz in Australia. McCarthy said he is more inclined to believe that increasing levels of driving autonomy will happen over the next many years, but that reaching full autonomy across the board within 10 years is unlikely, in his opinion, not only due to the technology’s progress, but also lags in legislation. Read more from Drive.

 

Uber fires head of its self-driving car division

Presumably yielding to mounting pressure during their court battle with Google’s Waymo, Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the head of its self-driving car development division. Levandowski was previously the head of Google’s self-driving division, and Waymo alleges that when he left the company to accept the job with Uber, that he downloaded as many as 14,000 files, many relating to Waymo’s Lidar system, which is the key component to its self-driving car technology. Previously, a judge ordered that Levandowski halt working on any driverless car technology until the lawsuit was settled, but this week, Uber opted instead to fire Levandowski, who is still required to cooperate in the court battle and investigation. Uber has replaced Levandowski with self-driving car engineer Eric Meyhofer. Read more from Bloomberg.

TU-Automotive Detroit Set to Bring Together Driverless, Connected-Car Experts, Transportation Officials and More

TU-Automotive Detroit is the world’s largest annual conference and exhibition dedicated to automotive technology, covering connected cars, autonomous vehicles and overall mobility solutions.

TU-Automotive Detroit 2017 will take place June 7 and 8 in Novi, Michigan at the Suburban Collective Showplace.

For these two days, industry leaders and disruptors from major auto manufacturers like General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, BMW, along with cutting-edge technology companies like Lyft, car2go, Fontinalis Partners and more will lay out their visions for the future of personalized mobility.

The program can be viewed here: www.tu-auto.com/detroit

Organizers say, the message of this year’s conference revolves around the clear need for agile technological innovation and a “laser-like focus” on putting the customer first, whether in terms of user experience or new business models.

“For the first time, rapid developments in AI (artificial intelligence) and data analytics make the promise of a truly personalized mobility experience closer to a reality,” organizers say on the event’s website.

Gareth Ragg, managing director of TU-Automotive, said, “Since the turn of the century, TU-Automotive Detroit has united the worlds of automotive and digital. It’s the annual event around which the connected vehicle developed from exciting but niche technology into something that is shaping the entire future of mobility.”

Ragg added that several new features are being added to the event this year, including several round-table discussions and even speed networking.

“In the self-learning era for auto, no one company or single part of the value chain can do this alone. We are proud to offer the forum for everyone to unite together,” he said, adding that he promises this year’s event will address every pressing question facing the industry today, including automation, business strategy, HMI, cybersecurity, data exchange, smart cities and more.

Key topics to be addressed this year include:

Pivoting from Metal to Mobility: Creating customer-first products and services, such as dynamic leasing and in-car payments. Engaging consumers and diversifying revenue streams to unlock the ‘new auto business.’
• Test Track or Highway? From technology development (perception and AI) to overcoming societal barriers (regulation and trust), map out the billions of miles required to validate autonomous vehicles. What’s the risk/reward ratio?
• Cybersecurity Never Sleeps: With auto attack surfaces proliferating, collaborate with regulators, associations and partners to create best practices for end-to-end cybersecurity.
• Next-Gen Wireless Infrastructure: Evaluate 5G vs. LTE vs. DSRC for the rollout of data-thirsty IVI, critical OTA services and future-proofed ADAS. Which spectrums deliver on speed, safety and security?
• Build the Smart Urban Ecosystem: Think beyond the car and transportation silos in a data-sharing urban mobility mix. Keep auto brands relevant as cities invest millions to become sustainable and smart.

Among the more than 150 leading experts scheduled to attend the event are:

• Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Business Models, BMW
• Burkhard Huhnke, Senior Vice President, E-Mobility, Volkswagen of America
• Jeffrey Massimilla, Chief Product Cybersecurity Officer, General Motors
• Kirk Steudle, Director, Michigan DoT
• Mircea Gradu, Executive Director, Engineering and Quality, Hyundai Motor America
• Robert Grant, Director of Government Relations, Lyft
• Ken Stewart, Chief Business & Technology Officer, Karma Automotive
• Paul DeLong, CEO, car2go N.A.
• James Fish, Chief Innovation Officer, Bosch

The event’s full program can be viewed here.

Register to attend this year’s event online. Automaker and government passes are complimentary.

DRIVERLESSTRANSPORTATION.COM READERS CAN GET A $150 DISCOUNT PER PASS WITH THE PROMO CODE “TUDDT.”

Follow the conversation at #TUDetroit.