NVIDIA milestone helps keep the D20’s 2018 streak of gains intact

NVIDIA (NVDA) has passed a significant milestone. Since the Driverless Transportation Stock Index (D20) was re-calibrated in August of 2015, NVIDIA has grown its market value a whopping ten times.  A thousand dollars of NVIDIA stock purchased in August of 2015 at $22.73 a share, is now valued at more than ten thousand dollars with a share of its stock price now worth $230.11.  After market analysts continue to praise the stock this week, NVIDIA was up 3.3 percent or $7.35 this week making it, a D20 leading, 26.7 percent of the index.

2018 has only been positive for the D20, as thirteen price gainers out-dueled seven price losers to help the index to its third consecutive week of gains.  The D20’s 0.9 percent gain matched the Dow’s 1.0 percent value bump and the S&P 500’s 0.9 percent climb.

After announcing an agreement to supply driverless buses to Singapore in 2019, Volvo AB’s stock (STO:VOLV-B) jumped 4.5 percent to close at SEK 165.3 and be the D20 leading price percentage leader.  At the other end of the spectrum, Ford (F) dropped, a D20 leading, 9.3 percent this week to close at $12 a share on disappointing earnings guidance.

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

Up-and-Comers:

 One year old Pony.ai, the brain child of James Peng and Tiancheng Lou, has raised $112 million in Series A venture round to build a fully Driverless car.  Peng, who hails from Baidu, got his introduction to driverless vehicles when Baidu, the Chinese Search giant, launched an autonomous project.  Lou got his start in driverless technology unit at Google, before that unit became Waymo.  Their goal is to build and offer a complete driverless vehicle, not just components or sub-systems.

Mapbox absorbs another mapping company to continue its effort in competing with D20 components, Google Maps (GOOG) and TomTom (TOM2), building mapping applications.  Mapbox acquired the developers behind the Mapzen Vahalla Project when that open source project ran into funding difficulties.  Since 2012, Mapbox has raised $227 million dollars in four rounds of venture funding.

CTS and CES 2018: Automotive Tech Innovators Ready to Wow in Las Vegas

In just a few days, Las Vegas will be buzzing with tech innovators from not only the world’s top electronics companies, but also dozens of automakers and firms working on connected and automated driving systems.

It all starts with the 2018 Consumer Telematics Show (CTS), which takes place Monday, Jan. 8 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.

2018 Consumer Telematics Show (CTS)

CTS aims to bring together power players from automakers and technology companies that are working on connected and autonomous driving systems. Attendees can listen to presentations and forums with top executives and engineers from big-name companies, and have the chance to network.

The long list of companies confirmed to attend and/or participate in this year’s event includes Volvo, Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover, NVIDIA, AT&T, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Bose, BMW, Denso, Honda, Ford Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Nissan, and many more.

See an up-to-date list of attendees on the CTS website here.

Highlights from this year’s list of speakers include:

  • Volkswagen of America: Burkhard Huhnke, Senior VP of e-mobility
  • Karma Automotive: Ken Stewart, Chief Business and Technology Officer
  • Hyperloop One: Matt Jones, Senior VP of Software
  • General Motors (GM): Kurt Hoppe, Global Head of Innovation – Connected Cars; and Nick Pudar, Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Mobileye: Uri Tamir, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Continental: Lars Shultheiss, Head of Sales & Portfolio, Business Unit Infotainment & Connectivity
  • Audi: Brad Stertz, Director of Government Affairs
  • IBM: Rajiv Phougat, Chief Technologist – Industry Solutions, AAD

Forums and presentations at this year’s event cover a wide array of relevant topics, including the automotive data revolution, next-generation user experiences, the coming reality of autonomous vehicles, connected vehicle cybersecurity concerns, cities and mobility, electric vehicles and more.

The full agenda and schedule for CTS 2018 is available here. 

2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Later in the week, the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) hits Las Vegas, from Jan. 9-12.

For roughly 50 years, CES has been drawing in technology enthusiasts and producers from all over the world. It is often the place where companies officially unveil their newest products and technologies, with flashy presentations. Many times they also show off lofty concepts that haven’t even been fully developed yet, in a bid to impress.

Two venues–the Venetian’s ballroom and the Monte Carlo’s Park Theater–will play host to a long list of keynote speakers this year, which will hail from companies like Intel, Ford Motor Co., the Huawei Consumer Business Group, Baidu, Qualcomm, Verizon, Comcast, Discovery Communications, YouTube, Hulu, and many more. See a full list of this year’s speakers, as well as videos from many of last year’s speeches, on the CES website here.

Though CES initially started out as an event mostly focused on the latest consumer gadgets, it has come to be quite the showcase for the latest in automotive innovation as well. Specifically, in the last decade, many automakers are choosing to show off the progress they are making toward connected and self-driving vehicles. In fact, it was named one of the 10 best automotive shows worldwide by USA Today recently.

This year, forums on topics such as “Autonomous Vehicles in the Cities of Tomorrow,” “The Future of Mobility and Autonomy” and “Cybersecurity and the Auto Industry” are scheduled to take place this year, with panelists from power players like Deloitte, Mobileye, General Motors, Renesas Electronics, Harman and Movement.ai are scheduled to take part.

Major media outlets like TechCrunch and The Verge predict that the automotive portion of this year’s show will be significant.

“Once again, a number of top car companies will be present, including Ford and Toyota. My guess is you’ll be seeing A LOT of self-driving car demo videos out of this year’s show,” TechCrunch said in an advance article.

“The auto industry is flush with [electric vehicle] and smart mobility startups these days. Tesla is still the most sound competitor to any of the big three automakers, but there’s a CVS receipt-sized list of others trying to fill the space between ‘tech company’ and ‘car company,'” said The Verge in their own preview article. “Many of them will be at CES showing off autonomous shuttles, self-driving technologies, electric scooters, and other futuristic transportation ideas — all things that companies like Ford (or Google, Intel, GM, you name it) are also working on in different capacities.”

In fact, The Verge reports that Byton, a Chinese automaker that has poached a lot of talent from Faraday Future, will be at CES showing off their first car — an all-electric SUV that it’s referring to as a “Smart Intuitive Vehicle.”

Get all the information you could ever need about 2018 CES on the official event page here.

Image: Toyota unveils a concept car at 2017 CES / Credit: CES Photo Gallery

News Roundup: Driverless Trucks by Embark Will Create Jobs for Truckers Rather Than Eliminate Them, GM Plans to Launch Self-Driving Cars in Major Cities in 2019, and More

Embark plans to create jobs with its driverless truck program, not eliminate them

The unique driverless truck company Embark, which is headed by 22-year-old Alex Rodrigues, says if everything goes to plan, their company will create jobs for truckers, rather than eliminate them. Embark’s driverless trucks can currently operate autonomously on highways, but things get trickier when they exit the highway and have to drive the last few miles of a delivery trip on city streets. Rodrigues says the company’s plan is to operate “hand-off depots” where autonomous trucks can exit the highway and a human driver will take over from there, driving the truck the last few miles to its destination. In early days, the company also plans to have two human drivers in their trucks even on highway miles to take turns overseeing operations, to ensure they are rested and focused, plus an additional engineer. Eventually though, those three humans will not be needed for highway miles. Read more about Embark on FastCompany.

 

GM announces planned release of self-driving cars in major U.S. cities in 2019

On an investor call earlier this week, execs from General Motors announced their plan to release self-driving cars on public roads in major U.S. cities by 2019. The proposed timeline indicated they will start with “dense, urban environments” within two years. GM and its newly acquired company Cruise Automation currently test self-driving cars in San Francisco, Detroit and Phoenix, and have already announced plans to start in Manhattan thanks to legislation recently signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. GM’s plan is to reportedly launch a self-driving taxi service similar to Lyft and Uber. Read more from Geek.

 

California vetoes law that would protect autonomous vehicle makers if equipment is not maintained properly

Consumer advocates are praising the most recent action regarding autonomous vehicles taken by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Earlier this week, the CA DMV vetoed a prop0sed law that would have protected autonomous vehicle manufacturers from being held liable if a vehicle malfunctions because its equipment was not maintained up to proper standards. The rule was originally suggested to the state by General Motors, and if adopted, would have held the vehicle owner responsible if they did not clean the car’s sensors according to instructions. Statewide regulations regarding self-driving vehicles are expected to be enacted in 2018, and the public comment period ends soon on Dec. 15. Read more from StateScoop.

Image: Embark driverless truck / Credit: Embark

 

eTrans Systems, George Mason University Win Fairfax County Transportation and Mobility Hackathon

Jennifer van der Kleut

Teams from Fairfax, Virginia’s eTrans Systems and students from George Mason University’s College of Science led the winners of the Fairfax County Government’s first Transportation and Mobility Hackathon.

Held just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the contest encouraged teams to present innovative solutions to pressing problems such as traffic, congestion, public safety, advancing of connected and automated vehicle technology, and increasing mobility for senior and disabled citizens.

Submissions were judged over many criteria, including potential for scalability and widespread adoption, use of a diverse set of data in its design and approach, the potential for the biggest impact on local safety and quality of life, and how easily organizations could partner to implement the process.

eTrans Systems presented the idea for the E-Walk smartphone application, which would connect the user to traffic infrastructure and nearby connected vehicles in real time. The application would not only help the average cyclist or pedestrian as they approach traffic intersections, but would significantly improve safety for the disabled and visually impaired, who have a tough time finding that crosswalk button or being able to tell if vehicles or other humans are coming in their direction.

As the first-place winner of the Hackathon, eTrans Systems was awarded $3,000 by the Fairfax County Government for further work in developing the E-Walk app.

Runners-up included second-place winners All Traffic Solutions and third-place winners Qlarion.

The top winners in the student category, the team from George Mason University (GMU), presented their artificial-intelligence-driven early crash warning system, which won them a $1,500 prize.

Other entrants included Go Together, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Tech, Fluxity, Edge360 and Old Dominion University.

See video of many of the pitch presentations on the Fairfax County Government’s Hackathon web page.

Image via Pixabay

Tesla Unveils Electric Semi-Truck and ‘Surprise’ Roadster

Jennifer van der Kleut

Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk made two huge unveilings this week, revealing a new electric semi-truck that can reportedly travel up to 500 miles on a single charge, and an electric sports car.

The big-rig, named the Tesla Semi, can reportedly go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about five seconds. According to the Washington Post, it puts the driver at the center of the cab, much like a race car, and features touchscreens like the company’s Model 3.

Musk told the crowd at Thursday night’s event that the truck’s design makes for a simple, smooth ride, even if one is not trained to drive a large commercial truck.

“What does it feel like to drive this truck? It’s amazing! It’s smooth, just like driving a Tesla,” he said. “I can drive this thing, and I have no idea how to drive a semi.”

Musk touted the benefits of the Tesla Semi and how it will not only be kinder to the environment, but will also be at least 20 cents a mile cheaper to operate than diesel trucks, which he compared to “economic suicide.”

Musk promised the Tesla Semi will be available for purchase beginning in 2019.

While news outlets were prepared for the unveiling of the semi-truck Thursday night, Musk shocked many when he said during the event that he also had “one more thing” to show them, and brought out the new electric Tesla Roadster.

Fortune Magazine said even a majority of Tesla Motors’ roughly 30,000 employees weren’t aware of the surprise reveal.

Chief designer Franz von Holzhausen and a team of employees reportedly worked on the roadster in secret in a facility in Hawthorne, California, near where Musk’s other company, SpaceX, is headquartered.

Von Holzhausen drove the roadster prototype out of the back of one of the Tesla Semi trucks at the end of the big reveal event Thursday.

According to Fortune reporters who were at the event, the new iteration of the roadster “is roomier at four seats, comes with a removable top, and is faster. A lot faster. The car will travel a whopping 0 to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds [with] a top speed of 250 mph (or even more, Musk said).”

The roadster will reportedly be able to go up to 620 miles on a single charge, which is double the distance all of Tesla’s other vehicles can currently travel.

The roadster will be available in 2020, but the company is already taking reservations. The sports car will have a base price of $200,000, and those interested will have to put down $50,000 as a deposit to reserve one.

Meanwhile, as Tesla continues to unveil these “surprise” new inventions, one can’t help but wonder why the company continues to add new products to its already-overwhelmed line when it is so behind in delivering vehicles people have already reserved and are still waiting for.

Barely a week or two ago, Musk was lamenting the company’s “production hell” on the Model 3, which was released in July. In the first quarter following the Model 3’s release, the company had expected to deliver 1,500 of the vehicles, and only managed to produce 260.

Musk blamed the production lag on challenges with “robot callibration” and battery packs at the company’s Gigafactory production facility in Nevada, according to the Washington Post.

Musk describes the process of building a Model 3 car as “intensely automated,” pointing out that each car is assembled from scratch and includes more than 10,000 separate parts.

Images by Tesla Motors

Navya Self-Driving Shuttle Hit By Semi-Truck

Jennifer van der Kleut

Just two hours after officials celebrated the launch of a new self-driving shuttle service in downtown Las Vegas, the shuttle was in a crash with a semi-truck.

The eight-passenger, electric shuttle, built by Navya and operated by Keolis, was launched as part of a study on the efficiency of Level 4 autonomous vehicle technology and the public’s response to it, sponsored by AAA, Keolis North America, the city of Las Vegas, and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada. It is reportedly the first Level 4 autonomous vehicle to be launched on public roads in the U.S.

Early reports of the crash suggest that the fault lies with the other vehicle, however.

According to statements quoted by Car And Driver and the Associated Press, the Navya shuttle was cruising along down the street when a semi-truck began backing out of a driveway. As it was supposed to, the shuttle’s technology detected the obstacle and came to a complete stop. However, the semi-truck continued to back up, and eventually it struck the shuttle on the left-front driver’s side.

“If only the truck had the autonomous technology, this would likely not have occurred,” John Moreno, manager of AAA’s Northern California, Nevada and Utah office, told Car and Driver.

Moreno also told Car and Driver and the Associated Press that police told him they have issued a citation to the driver of the semi-truck.

Within days of the crash, which many are describing as a mere “fender-bender” with no injuries or significant damage, the shuttle was back in business, returning to its route downtown. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plans to investigate the crash further, Car and Driver reports.

The shuttle is set to operate on a 0.6-mile fixed route that includes three pick-up/drop-off spots along Fremont East, located in downtown but separate from the bustle of the main Las Vegas strip. Over the next year, sponsors expect at least 250,000 passengers to take a ride in the shuttle, with each one being asked to complete a public perception survey after their ride. AAA plans to donate $1 for each passenger that rides the shuttle during the study, to benefit victims of the mass shooting that took place in Las Vegas on Oct. 1.

Image Credit: Navya

Will Driverless Cars Usher in a Real Estate Building Boom?

Jennifer van der Kleut

The Center for Real Estate Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) released a report this week that has industry analysts and media outlets buzzing. Will a shift toward autonomous vehicles over the next decade or two spur a real estate boom, as garages are leveled to make way for more housing and office buildings, and sidewalks are widened to encourage more walking?

The report, entitled “Real Estate Trends: The Future of Real Estate in the United States,” which was sponsored by Capital One Bank, features research on a number of trends relevant to the advent of the technology and its potential impact on real estate across the nation, including housing affordability and inventory, fluctuations in home values, demographics and more, as well as the current boom taking place in the Internet of Things (IoT) industry.

As industry analysts predict that the advent of autonomous cars will bring about a decline in personal car ownership and a subsequent rise in fleet companies that offer ride-hailing services in driverless cars (which a number of companies are currently working on, including General Motors, Uber and others), they predict it will dramatically change the shape of both urban and suburban landscapes.

With less of a need for parking garages–as, presumably, autonomous fleets will pretty much run rides 24/7–the report predicts many inner-city parking garages will become obsolete, and perhaps actually be demolished to make way for much-needed additional housing.

They also predict sidewalks will be widened; with less of a need for on-street parking, designated “drop-off zones” for autonomous fleet cars will be created instead. Widened sidewalks will encourage more walking by pedestrians who can now live in the increased downtown housing and walk to work or to shopping and restaurants.

“Developers are already starting to target parking structures, gas stations and auto dealerships, betting that they’ll be able to redevelop the sites as car ownership becomes obsolete, said Rick Palacios, director of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting,” reporters at Bloomberg News quoted this week, in response to the report.

Suburbs won’t go away, though–if they don’t have to fight traffic driving into the city themselves anymore, the MIT report predicts that people will still enjoy living in quieter residential neighborhoods and enjoying a relaxing commute to work every day in an autonomous car, when they can nap, get a jump-start on work or watch TV while their robot taxi keeps an eye on the road.

Rick Palacios authored an article in September that expanded on some of the predictions about how autonomous cars will reshape cities and affect real estate.

He pointed out that increased availability of autonomous ride-hailing would also allow senior citizens and the disabled to age at home longer, which would slow home sales to a certain point, but would then be off-set by the building boom of new housing he mentioned to Bloomberg. In addition, he predicts industries like general contracting and home remodeling may get a boost as people retrofit homes to accommodate seniors and disabled persons living at home longer.

Palacios even suggests that home contracting prices may go down, as transportation costs for shipping materials are reduced. He predicts humans will also enjoy lower personal transportation costs, as hailing robot taxis will cost much less than the regular maintenance and up-keep of owning a car, paying for the insurance on it and filling it with gas (especially if a shift toward autonomous cars also means a shift toward electric cars).

Read the entire report from MIT’s Center for Real Estate Research here.

Image: Pixabay

News Roundup: Alphabet Gets Approval for Its Dream ‘Digital District,’ Two States Push Forward With Driverless Car Testing, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Google’s Alphabet gets a green light to create a ‘digital district’ in Toronto, that includes driverless taxis

One of Alphabet’s spin-off companies, Sidewalk Labs LLC, has signed a major deal with Canada’s Waterfront Toronto to create a miniature “digital city” within the bustling metropolis, in the Quayside area of the Eastern waterfront. The district will take a stab at what the future of transportation looks like by featuring all manner of robotic mobility, including robot taxis, “driverless bike-like vehicles,” robotic delivery vehicles and even autonomous trash collection. Read more about Alphabet and Toronto’s plans from Bloomberg News.

 

GM, Cruise Automation to become the first to test self-driving cars in Manhattan

Officials announced this week that together, General Motors and their newly acquired partner Cruise Automation will be the first to test self-driving cars on public roads in the state of New York. The tests will begin in early 2018. Each test car — a Chevrolet Bolt — will have a pair of humans on board to ensure safety, and will employ Level 4 autonomous technology within a geofenced location. As the editorial staff of Ars Technica put it, GM and Cruise will have their work cut out for them, surely–“Manhattan’s roads are a hellish agglomeration of potholes, double- and even triple-parking, and pedestrian and vehicle traffic unlike anywhere else in the country. Gridlock is routine, and few quarters are given by other drivers before slamming on the horn in displeasure and disgust.” I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Read more from Ars Technica.

 

California may allow self-driving cars to be tested without humans in them by 2018

The Golden State is considering allowing self-driving cars to be tested on roads without humans inside them by the middle of next year, officials announced last week. Officials from the Department of Motor Vehicles proposed a new streamlined timeline for the regulations on Oct. 11, allowing a 15-day comment period from the public. The proposal is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, and approved by the beginning of next year. Then, human-less test cars could be hitting the roads by June 2018 or possibly even sooner, reports indicate. Read more from the Los Angeles Times. 

Image: A line of self-driving Chevy Bolt test cars / Credit: General Motors

Smart Traffic App ‘ThruGreen’ Aims to Make Every Light Green For You

Jennifer van der Kleut

Aside from being able to nap–without the fear of crashing, of course–during the entire ride to and from work each day, what’s one of the biggest dreams most drivers have about their daily commute?

We’d have to guess, it would be green lights all the way.

Well, if the Washington, D.C.-based startup ThruGreen has its way, that won’t be a dream, it will be a mere tap of an app away.

David Nguyen, founder of ThruGreen, describes himself as “obsessed” with the challenge of finding ways to reduce congestion, particularly as someone who lives in one of the most congested areas of the country. Nguyen said he often marvels at the fact that we still rely on decades-old, analog traffic systems that can’t think intelligently in ways to more efficiently process commuters through intersections and down highways without huge backups.

“There are ways we can work on improving this, and that’s largely what we’re focused on,” he said. “Basically, traffic lights nowadays just don’t have enough info, so the lights never seem to match up with real conditions.”

Nguyen compared the situation to how connected and self-driving prototype cars need to gather a lot of user data to learn and improve their software–but today’s traffic lights aren’t built to gather and learn from data.

“Plus, human drivers are very unpredictable. And then, add on top of that the sheer number of cars on the roads during peak hours in the D.C. area,” he added. “We’ve got so much more capability now. So that’s what I’m working on – applying modern technology to something that’s been relatively unchanged for 40 to 50 years.”

ThruGreen is working on an app that is basically like registering one’s trip with all the traffic lights on the way ahead of time, Nguyen explained.

“The vision is, you get into your car, tell your phone or car where you’re going, and all the traffic signals on your way will be green for you,” he said.

“The app communicates your route and destination to a server, and that server collects [route information like that] from multiple people using the app, and works out logistics and figures out the best way to route everyone so that the lights turn green for everyone as they are approaching,” he said.

Nguyen’s startup, ThruGreen, is just one example of a life that largely centers around all things transportation. Nguyen has already had a long career in the industry, having worked in regulatory affairs in the trucking and auto industries for many years.

As a self-proclaimed transportation nut, Nguyen and his buddies, Greg Rogers from the ENO Center for Transportation, also based in D.C., love to talk about transportation issues. So they started what they like to call Connected CarTalk mobility-themed happy hours earlier this year through the site Meetup.com.

Those who join the group on Meetup meet for happy hour at various locations in D.C., network, and talk about all things to do with traffic, transportation, and the advent of connected-car technology. Nguyen said the group has been thriving since it sprouted.

“We’ve had pretty consistent attendance, with around 40 people at each event, and it seems people are making good connections at these events,” he described.

In fact, the meetups have been so successful, yet another idea came out of them.

“Eventually Greg and I thought, why don’t we have a podcast so we can have some really good conversations?”

Thus, The Mobility Podcast was born. Rogers and Nguyen, together with Greg Rodriguez and Pete Gould, have been broadcasting 30- to 60-minute conversations rounding up industry news, trading opinions on legal issues and ideas for dealing with traffic, and more, for a few months now.

Last month, the group even welcomed their first on-air interview, with Courtney Erlichman of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University and Roadbotics.

Nguyen said he, Gould, Rodriguez and Rogers are encouraged by the response they are getting to The Mobility Podcast so far, and are working toward making their broadcast a regular affair, with a 30-minute show being uploaded to their website every two weeks.

In the meantime, Nguyen said ThruGreen is plugging away, working hard, and hopes to have its first pilot project in a number of intersections up and running in a U.S. city within the next few months. ThruGreen has been working in partnership with eTrans Systems.

“We’re really excited about it,” he said.

See a demo video of the ThruGreen smart traffic app on their website.

Check out the Mobility Podcast online.

Learn more about eTrans Systems online.

 

 

News Roundup: U.S. Senate Approves Driverless Car Bill, Federal Government Gives State Millions For Automated Taxi Service, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Driverless car bill passes in the U.S. Senate

Members of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a bill similar to one already passed in the House of Representatives that will presumably help clear the way for driverless car technology to move forward. The bill keeps approval of driver’s licenses, regulation of insurance and enforcement of traffic laws within the states’ purview, but places oversight of the design and manufacture of driverless vehicles in the hands of the federal government–specifically the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Like the House bill, the Senate bill also permits Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to hand individual auto manufacturers exemptions from federal safety standards for up to 100,000 vehicles per year while they are fine-tuning their technology; and it also places responsibility with tech designers to protect their vehicles from cyber attacks. Read more from the Washington Post. 

 

Federal government giving South Carolina county millions for driverless taxis?

According to a news report from a USA Today-affiliated regional newspaper, the federal government has pledged millions of dollars toward the development of a driverless taxi service in Greenville, South Carolina. Greenville Online says $4 million has been pledged to help develop the nation’s first automated taxi service in Greenville County. In a news conference Thursday, county officials announced the first test vehicle will be deployed on the Clemson University campus, in connection with the college’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). While the test vehicle is only the size of a golf cart, officials said the program’s expansion will feature typical-size vehicles, as well as possible non-emergency medical vehicles for senior and disabled residents. A group called the Global Autonomous Vehicle Partnership is matching funds to help the development of the autonomous vehicles. Read more from Greenville Online.

 

Driverless startup hires execs away from Google’s Waymo, Microsoft

Driverless vehicle startup Nauto is fresh off a monster round of funding, and is already looking to expand its business both locally and globally. In a first step toward that goal, the startup announced this week that it has hired executives from Microsoft, and Google Alphabet’s self-driving car spinoff, Waymo. Waymo’s former head of business, Jennifer Haroon, has joined Nauto as its new vice-president of corporate development and business operations. Microsoft’s former vice-president of global enterprise sales, Sanket Akerkar, joins Nauto as its new senior vice-president of global fleets and insurance. Nauto most recently raised $159 million in funding from a number of major firms, and already has several lucrative partnerships in place with auto manufacturers such as General Motors, BMW and Toyota. The company currently outfits commercial fleets with accident detection devices (shown in image), and is looking to scale out its geographic operations and commercial business. Read more from Recode.

Image: Nauto accident detection device / Credit: Nauto Inc.