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News Roundup: A New ‘Language’ for Driverless Cars That Recognizes Hand Signals, Autonomous Buses Help Paris Address Smog, Traffic Problems, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the biggest headlines to come out of the driverless car industry recently:

New ‘language’ for driverless cars helps them recognize pedestrian hand signals

A team of four researchers from Imperial College London and Royal College of Art in the U.K. have developed a new “language” for self-driving cars called “Blink.” They say the language will teach self-driving cars how to recognize pedestrian hand signals. This will make it possible for pedestrians to wave at driverless cars to signal that they want to cross the street in front of the cars, which will trigger the car to stop and display a “green light” on the windshield letting the pedestrian know it’s safe to go. Or, conversely, they can wave the car off, letting the car know it’s safe to keep going. The developers say they hope the technology helps increase humans’ comfort level in interacting with driverless car technology. Read more from Deloitte.

 

Driverless buses arrive in Paris

Two autonomous shuttle buses began transporting passengers between two train stations in Paris in the last few weeks. The buses, built by renowned autonomous bus company EasyMile, can transport 12 passengers each and are completely autonomous, as well as electric. City officials say they are not only excited to try out the EZ10 buses because of their interest in driverless technology, but also because Paris is struggling with problems of smog and traffic congestion, and they are confident this new innovation can help offer solutions to both problems. Read more and see photos from DigitalTrends.com.

 

Ford invests $1 billion in self-driving car company

Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it will invest $1 billion over the next five years in Argo AI, a company that will provide driverless technology for a self-driving car Ford plans to introduce in 2021. Argo AI representative said the company is now looking for a Pittsburgh headquarters, and will hire about 200 people here and in other cities. Ford said the amount of top talent found at Argo AI and in the Pittsburgh auto industry helped solidify the decision for them. Read more from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Photo: An EasyMile EZ10 autonomous shuttle bus / Credit: EasyMile

News Roundup: Dubai Residents Get Free Rides on Driverless Shuttle, Blackberry Expands Partnership with Ford Motor Co., and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the most interesting headlines to come out of the driverless, connected-car world this week:

 

Mercedes exec aims to clarify statement made on whether it would prioritize safety of car occupants over pedestrians in driverless car accidents

It’s an ethics dilemma that has caused controversy for years when it comes to talk of a driverless future–if a driverless car is faced with the choice of plowing ahead into a pedestrian, or veering to avoid the pedestrian but potentially crashing the car into a median and risking the lives of the car’s occupants (or any number of similar no-win traffic situations), which is the right choice? Well, it appeared at a recent public appearance by Christoph von Hugo, Mercedes manager of assistance systems, active safety and ratings, that Mercedes planned to always prioritize the safety of a car’s occupants over a pedestrian when he said, essentially, “save the life you know you can save.” However, Mercedes now appears to be backing away from those comments after backlash from outlets who surveyed consumers and found that many people would be uncomfortable riding in a driverless car programmed to sacrifice the life of the imagined pedestrian. Read more on Mercedes’ position (or lack thereof) from BT.com.

 

Dubai residents treated to sneak-peek rides on driverless shuttle

Dubai pedestrians were treated to a surprise glimpse into the future recently when Road and Transport Authority officials offered them rides in their new driverless shuttle. The vehicle was part of a public transport trial by the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The automated, 12-passenger shuttle bus carried passengers down a 700-metre stretch of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard, between a stop opposite Dubai Opera and the Vida Downtown Dubai hotel. After their ride, officials asked passengers to fill out a survey assessing their confidence in the technology, and whether they thought it was a passing fad. Read more from The National.

 

Blackberry expanding partnership with Ford, Ford will replace Microsoft’s Sync with Blackberry’s QNX platform

Since acquiring the QNX platform in 2010, Blackberry is reportedly focusing on a lucrative partnership with Ford and hoping it will pull them in a profitable new direction since abandoning their smartphone business. As part of a new agreement between Ford and Blackberry, reported by Blackberry recently, Blackberry will dedicate a team of engineers to work with Ford on replacing Ford’s current Sync by Microsoft infotainment system with QNX. Industry analysts say this bodes very well for Blackberry’s future as they transition from a hardware to a software company. Read more about the Ford-Blackberry partnership from TechRepublic.

Renesas and Cohda Announce Partnership For Autonomous, Connected Systems

Twelve losers and eight gainers helped the Driverless Transportation Index (D20) slide 0.9 percent this week to close slightly above 160, at 160.46.

Both the Dow and S&P also lost ground this week.  The Dow closed down 0.4 percent at 18240.49, while the S&P dipped to 2153.74, a loss of 0.7 percent.

Renesas Electronics (TYO:6732), this week’s D20 price gain percentage leader, jumped 4.2 percent to close at ¥640 per share. Renesas announced its partnership with Cohda Wireless to deliver a V2X platform for autonomous and connected vehicles.

Renesas will provide the V2X R-car system-on-chips (SoCs), while Cohda will add its V2X and CAV software solutions.  The combination will create a V2X reference solution that will support both North American and European communications standards for V2X connected vehicles.

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

 

Up-and-Comers:

Palo Alto, California-based Nauto, Inc., after raising $12 million in Series A funding in April 2016, announced that it has added an undisclosed amount to that round with funding from BMW, Toyota and the insurance company Allianz.

Nauto’s technology combines real-times sensors, forward-looking cameras and cabin-view cameras to understand the driving context in real-time.  Nauto is selling their system and its predictive capabilities to vehicle fleet managers and insurance companies.

How Do You Buy a Million Cars When You Can’t Make a Dime?

Burney Simpson

The summer of 2016 is proving a topsy-turvy time for driverless industry as headwinds buffet ridesharing technology firms Uber and Lyft and auto OEMs foresee fully autonomous vehicles in a few years.

Isn’t this supposed to be a quiet time for business? Take a breather, sit by the water, and eat some Michigan cherry burgers.

Not in transportation technology.

For instance, Ford announced it was working to launch fully autonomous automobiles by 2021. BMW, Intel and Mobileye joined to say they will have vehicles in production for the same target date. Ridesharing titan Uber says it will launch this month driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh, though some employees will be in the car to ensure safety.

Forget the 10 years down the road baloney. We’ll be Level 4 Autonomous in three to five years.

Yet for all the excitement there’s been some downer news.

A number of outlets reported that Lyft was seeking a buyer, despite the $500 million that GM pumped into it earlier this year. (Lyft later denied the buyer story, blaming it on archrival Uber). Earlier this year Lyft pledged to its investors to keep its U.S. losses under $50 million a month.

And Bloomberg reported that Uber told its investors it lost $520 million in the first quarter, and more than $750 million in the second. This after losing about $2 billion in 2015. That must have played a part in Uber’s decision to sell its China operations to competitor Didi Chuxing.

SHAKY FOUNDATIONS

It’s valuable to keep in mind the shaky foundations of Uber and Lyft because the two have been touted as an important foundation for the growth of autonomous vehicles.

Supposedly car owners are going to shift to ridesharing to get around, abandon their cars, and start trying out all kinds of shared transportation options. That means mass transit, bike share, car share, semi-customized bus lines, even walking for crying out loud.

No more Single Occupancy Vehicles. American commuters unite. You have nothing to lose but your fat guts and bubbly butts.

The theory is that Uber, Lyft and other transportation providers will buy hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of autonomous vehicles from BMW, GM, Ford, etc.

They’ll phase out their human drivers, the most expensive part of their operations, and offer driverless vehicles that get you to work. For the ride home you’ll be allowed to drink and not drive. Just in time for legal marijuana baby!

Moovel2But if these guys can’t make money now, how do they buy/lease a million high-tech autonomous cars? Does Uber go back to investors like Goldman Sachs and Benchmark Capital for another $16 billion? It sounds like investors have told Lyft to stop the losses, despite whatever it denies.

Look, there’s been some great news for the ride sharers too. Lyft provided nearly 14 million rides in July, while Uber churned out 62 million.

Lyft President John Zimmer told Business Insider his company is on its way to providing $2 billion worth of rides. Uber, valued at $69 billion, will use the $1 billion it received from Didi to get out of China to grow in Southeast Asia or battle Lyft in the U.S.

But consider this – investors can be fickle, as proven by several tech bubbles already this century; Lehman Brothers is just the latest giant to have a huge valuation before it crumbled; and the stock market is hitting record levels.

Transportation technology offers an intriguing mix of glamour and grease that the VC geniuses love. For the rest of us it’s vital to see through the glamourous front so we don’t slip on the grease.

Graphics from Ford, Car2Go.

Europe Plans Autonomous Track Days

Burney Simpson

Europe plans to hold a series of autonomous vehicle track days starting this November 15-16 at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire in the United Kingdom.

The Self Driving Track Days (SDTD) are the first of their kind in Europe, according to event organizer Sense Media Events.

The first four track days are scheduled for tracks in the UK, Austria and France. Plans call for them to continue every quarter across the Continent.

The track days offer a public venue where developers, mechanics, engineers, manufacturers, and hobbyists can gather and test their technology on safe grounds away from the office or garage. The events are open to researchers but not to spectators.

“Teams at commercial, academic or hobbyist level can explore autonomous vehicle technology in a safe, affordable and collaborative environment, and have access to specialist training that only experienced industry professionals can deliver,” Alex Lawrence-Berkeley, co-founder of the SDTD and a Sense Media marketing manager said in a release.

NO RACING

Organizers have set safety standards for the events. All vehicles must have a ‘kill switch’ that can be operated remotely; drivers and passengers must wear helmets, gloves and boots; the event “will not at any time, include any element of racing,” are a few of the listed rules.

The European track days follows an Autonomous Track Day held last May at the Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California (See “Driverless Innovators Gather at Autonomous Track Day”).

Joshua Schachter and leaders from Harbrick (now PolySync), Renovo, and Innovect organized the Thunderhill event. It brought in firms active in autonomous vehicles, drivetrain innovation, sensors and cameras, software and algorithms, and connected cars.

The schedule for Self Driving Track Days includes:

  • Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire, UK, November 15-16; includes 1.6 km multilane motorway straight;
  • Driving Center Castellet, Provence, France, February 21-22, 2017; racing circuit with separate handling areas;
  • Longcross Test Track, Surrey, UK, May 10-11, 2017; surfaced and unsurfaced test circuits;
  • Zentrum Teesdorf, Vienna, Austria, July 28-29, 2017; flagship event with four circuits, including a road-training center, handling circuit, off-road area and others, plus multiple face-to-face training workshops, networking.

Organizers are also holding free meet-ups on the SDTD September 16 at Google Campus London and September 20 at AutoWorld Brussels.

Sense Media is the organizer of the AutoSens Conference being held September 20-22 in Brussels.

Photo: Zentrum Teesdorf track.

Blind Don’t Have a Seat at Driverless Planning Table – Advocate

Burney Simpson

The blind and others with disabilities are being shut out as self-driving vehicle developers like Google design the car interior and interface with users, the president of the  National Federation of the Blind said this week.

Instead, it appears as if the developers intend to unveil the completed product and just move on, said Mark Riccobono at the Federation’s Baltimore headquarters.

“Google says they are still developing the inside of its car. But they want to be done by 2020. That’s soon,” said Riccobono. “My fear is we come to that end and they say ‘What do you think?’ We think we should provide input now.”

The blind should be part of a group “that forges what the interface looks like. These vehicles present an opportunity for everybody, not a select few,” Riccobono said.

There were more than 7.3 million U.S. adults with visual disabilities in 2013, according to the Federation.

Google has said its self-driving cars could provide mobility to millions of people with disabilities who now rely on public transit or friends and relatives to get them around.

One of the first non-Googlites to ‘drive’ the test Koala car was Steve Mahan, a blind man from Morgan Hill, Calif. A Google video of Mahan’s ride around town in 2012 has had nearly 7.6 million views on YouTube.

Riccobono spoke Wednesday to Maryland’s Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Working Group as it plans policy recommendations for the operation of the vehicles in the state. The Federation hosted the group.

BLIND DRIVER CHALLENGE

Riccobono has some driving experience even though he was declared legally blind when he was five.

BlindGloves1In 2011, he completed the Blind Driver Challenge at the Daytona International Speedway (click for video) in Florida driving a Ford Escape. He drove the 3.6 mile course solo, turning the SUV, switching lanes, avoiding obstacles placed in the road, and passing another vehicle.

The Escape was equipped with sensors and other self-driving technology. Riccobono used a tactile signaling system that the Federation designed with the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. 

Riccobono wore gloves that sent vibrating signals to his right or left hand to indicate steering direction and the degree of a turn. His seat cushion vibrated at different levels to suggest accelerating or braking.

Riccobono said he never considered that the blind could drive until he learned about the autonomous technology being developed out of DARPA challenges a decade ago. The Federation began researching the idea and eventually partnered with VaTech.

The National Federation of the Blind is a 76-year-old not-for-profit with chapters in 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. It operates training and service programs, provides scholarships, advocates on Capitol Hill and at the state level, and offers an audio news service. The Federation claims about 50,000 active members, according to Wikipedia.

Maryland’s autonomous vehicle working group includes representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation and its divisions, state police, various agencies sure to be impacted by self-driving vehicles, trade organizations from the auto OEMs and trucking groups, and others.

It plans to present its recommendations to the state’s Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn before the next session of the Maryland legislature in January, 2017.

MDOT formed the Working Group when the state legislature twice shot down proposals to create and fund its own working group.

Photo from Google video of blind driver test. Photo of tactile equipment at Blind Driver Challenge by National Federation of the Blind Kentucky chapter.

 

Silicon Valley Takes On Smart Mobility

Burney Simpson

Silicon Valley is in the middle of changing the way workers get to work. Then again, maybe not.

The Smart Mobility office of Joint Venture Silicon Valley (JVSV) seeks to implement several new transportation systems that will get people out of their cars, use public transit and bikes, and spew fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

This massive change relies in part on new technology developed by the growing autonomous driving industry.

The problem is that the Smart Mobility group doesn’t have the authority to force commuters to change. Further, the new technology is still being tested or has yet to find a large group of users to make it commercially viable.

SERIOUS TRAFFIC ISSUES

Instead, Smart Mobility must rely on employers and staff to make the effort to get off their butts and make a difference. Employers have to see savings, or even revenue generation, while employees must be rewarded in some way.

No doubt the Bay Area has some serious traffic issues.

Congestion around San Francisco is ranked by Inrix as second worst in the nation, behind only Los Angeles and tied with Washington, D.C. San Francisco commuters wasted 75 hours sitting in traffic in 2015.

Steve Raney, executive director of the mobility group, believes that the best way to cut congestion and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions is to reduce Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) travel from 75 percent of travel in the Bay to 50 percent of travel.

Moovel2

Image by ridetap.io.

That would mean cutting 1 million car trips a day from the current 3 million. If that happened it would eliminate 1.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, according to a white paper from the mobility group.

Raney points to work done with Stanford University as one path to cutting SOV commutes.

Stanford began by charging its SOV commuters $3 a day to park at the school, a benefit it had previously offered for free. It then ‘feebated’ that revenue to its commuters that walked, biked, took a shuttle bus, used the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA), or CalTrans, or the ride.com on-demand rideshare.

(A feebate is a system of charges and rebates designed to reward or penalize energy-efficient practices.)

As a result, Stanford reduced its SOV numbers from 75 percent of commutes to 49 percent, according to Raney. The school then saved the $107 million it had planned to spend on new parking facilities, he says.

In essence, Stanford replaced free parking with a shared travel benefit.

“Free parking for employees is a tradition,” says Raney. “(Employers) can phase in a charge of $3 for driving alone, or make it free to bike or walk. Just shift the dollar around for vehicles.”

The feebate concept was the most viable way to implement change when compared to such proposals as increasing the gas tax or imposing road user charges or implementing workplace parking charges, according to Raney’s research.

Feebates is just one aspect of the ‘Reducing Bay Area Commuting by 25%’ white paper from the JVSV mobility group.

smartMobility2

Its Fair Value Commuting solution includes another four components, much of it relying on new technology associated with the developing autonomous driving industry:

  • The Enterprise Commute Trip Reduction (ECTR) is software from such firms as Luum and RideAmigos that allow employers to track staff commutes, and offer commute incents/de-cents.
  • Mobility Aggregation (MobAg) apps track and display multiple travel options – public/private transit, rideshare, carshare, bikeshare, van pool, etc. Vendors include Moovit, Transit App, Urban Engines, TripGo, Swiftly, Moovel, and Siemens. (In a perfect world, MobAg apps will also offer payment capabilities and update the ECTR so the employer can track employee activity).
  • Gap Filling is a catchall term for more transportation options and payment ideas, with a focus on first mile/last mile challenges. Gap fillers can range from low-income transit subsidies to Lyft/Uber peer-to-peer rideshare, escooters, public microtransit (VTA Flex3), private microtransit (Bridj, Chariot), private motorcoach (RidePal), telecommuting, and autonomous microtransit (EasyMile).
  • Systemic Obstacles refers to developing uniform payment systems and integrated routes by multiple transit agencies; developing an interoperable mobility software system.

The white paper concedes that much of this infrastructure is not in place. The MobAg apps are still gestating, the ECTR software needs to add features, and the public is catching up with all the gapfillers.

For example, payment apps do not allow for interoperability between the two dozen transit systems in the Bay area alone.

The Daimler purchase of smartphone e-ticketing firm Globe Sherpa might address this when its capabilities are combined with Daimler-owned RideScout. Still, this is a work in progress.

FEBATE FIGHTBACK

And even the feebate concept gets pushback despite its proven benefits. One Joint Venture collaborator notes that many employers don’t do feebates even when it may be in their best interest.

Raney is moving forward, saying that in September he will get an answer on four grant proposals that would allow him to expand his research and membership.

Meanwhile, he has drafted a proposal for the California legislature that would put a cap on free parking benefits an employer could provide to staff that commute in Single Occupancy Vehicles. The employer starts paying a fee when the percent of its SOV commuters tops a defined threshold.

America’s SOV mode of commuting once sold cars and built the wide-open freeways that took us to suburbia. Today it means congested highways filled with greenhouse gas delivery devices. It could take decades for the nation to break its SOV habit.

 

Photo by Coolcaeser.

French Shuttle Toddles to Tokyo (Video)

Burney Simpson

About as exciting as French rock and roll.

EasyMile scored another victory in the driverless-shuttle sector, partnering with Japan’s DeNA to announce an August launch of its bus service in a shopping center in the Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo.

The Robot Shuttle will use EasyMile’s EZ10 electric-powered, driverless shuttle that carries up to 12 passengers and tops out around 25 mph.

Here is a video the companies released that is somewhat like watching paint dry or viewing a major golf tournament.

DeNA is an app maker that has made a name for itself in mobile gaming. Its data-processing expertise could prove valuable as it works to expand into driverless transportation. The company reported revenues of $1.4 billion in its fiscal year ending March 2015, according to The Wall Street Journal.

DeNA has teamed with wireless carrier NTT Docomo with plans to take the EZ10 to public roads in the Japanese city of Fukuoka. That could be a gamechanger for Robot Shuttle as it has been used on private roads or in controlled traffic areas like resort communities.

Nikkei Asian Review reports that Docomo’s “fifth-generation mobile communications network (is) 100 times faster than the current standard. … (and it) aims to have a working 5G service by 2020.”

EasyMile is a joint partnership of two French firms, vehicle manufacturer Ligier Group and robotics experts Robosoft.

Robosoft says it has deployed more than 1,000 robots in business applications in the last three decades.

EasyMile driverless shuttles were used this year during the European Project CityMobil2 conference in San Sebastian in the Basque region of Spain. They have also been demonstrated in Finland, France, Greece, Italy, and Switzerland.

EasyMile reports that more than 1.5 million passengers have been transported since 2008 in its autonomous shuttle models. The firm claims expertise in multi-sensor localization, obstacle detection, navigation, V2I and V2V connectivity, fleet management, and cybersecurity.

Video courtesy of Impress Watch.

Hype-less AVS 2016 Asks the Right Research Questions

Burney Simpson

Is this the show for autonomous driving nerds? No, that’s not quite fair. The Automated Vehicles Symposium 2016 is for the research types, the folks that dig deep to develop the systems that are going to bring driverless cars to fruition.

If that’s a nerd, wear the name proudly.

The AVS organizers must be doing something right. Last year it drew 870 attendees, a 50 percent rise from 2014. This year it looks to bring more than 1,000 academics, researchers and government staff to the San Francisco Hilton at Union Square on July 19-21, with ancillary meetings on the 18th and 22nd.

The conference is managed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a division of the National Research Council.

The Symposium calls itself the “largest gathering in the world of professionals involved with making automated vehicles a reality.”

Jim Misener acknowledges there’s a certain nerd factor to the show, but that’s because it is heavily weighted to engineers, scientists and deep thinkers.

“This show is less about the hype, and more about understanding what the research questions are,” said Misener, a director of technical standards with Qualcomm Technologies, the telecom giant’s chip design and R&D arm.

IMPORTANT MATTERS

There are two parts to the AVS, notes Misener.

In the morning there are short speeches on big topics by the likes of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and reps from Ford and Nissan. Speakers cover ‘important matters’ like ethics, regulations, and autonomous activities around the globe.

After lunch you get the real action with 4-hour multipart breakout sessions that include presentations, Q&As, panels, videos, the ubiquitous PowerPoints, and general discussion. These sessions are designed to encourage frank interaction, and are closed to the media.

Misener helped to organize two of the 22 breakouts.

Enabling Technologies focuses on the foundational technology for driverless vehicles – mapping, algorithms, communications, sensing (sensors), and data.

In brief, the seminar is designed to educate on the strengths and limitations of each of these five technologies in 2016, and how they might work together in successful autonomous vehicle deployments. The discussion can lead to an understanding of technology gaps, and the research needed to close the gaps.

The ultimate goal is to define state of the art driverless technology, and determine how we can advance to that, said Misener.

He also helped organize a workshop on the aftermarket technology for autonomous vehicles.

AUVSI14aThe average car in the US is 11 years old, making aftermarket devices an important way to get autonomous technology into vehicles already on the roads.

“There could be a market for these devices. They could usher in safety and mobility services that get us to automated vehicles,” said Misener.

Other breakouts will address such topics as sustainability, cybersecurity, shared mobility, you get the drill, the usual.

Many attendees will come early for the Monday, July 18 ancillary meeting of the engineering organization SAE On-Road Automated Vehicle Standards Committee. The second ancillary meeting is on Friday, July 22, with the EU-US-Japan Automation in Road Transportation Working Group.

In addition, the AUVSI is holding on July 18 the Startup Connection at the Hilton. It offers demonstrations, presentations and networking for firms in unmanned systems and robotics, and investors looking for new companies.

Aftermarket RearVision Could Cut Back-Up Accidents

Burney Simpson

An autonomous aftermarket product called Pearl RearVision offers a strong focus on safety and could be on cars before the end of the year.

The camera system from Pearl Automation was officially launched in June, the brainchild of three former Apple executives.

Pearl RearVision is a backup camera and alert system that offers a 175 degree HD view in both day and night. It streams a video to the driver’s smartphone that is mounted at eye-level. New features to the system are sent automatically.

RearVision retails for $499 and includes three parts — a camera frame with two cameras, a car adapter and a phone mount. Users also have to download an app.

The camera frame is uni-body aluminum and fits standards license plate frames. It has two HD cameras installed, one for daytime, and one for night.

The adapter weighs 1.5 ounces and is about half the size of a cigarette pack. It plugs in the car’s on-board diagnostic port and sends both visual and multi-tone alerts when it senses an obstacle.

The driver’s phone provides the visual feed. The phone mount means it’s hands-free.

The RearVision can be installed in minutes, according to its makers. A short video provides a step-by-step description.

However, the product won’t be shipped until September and is only available in the US.

Users need to have a car that is 1996 or newer. The user will have to download the app, and have an iPhone 5 or newer, with iOS 9 or newer. Select Android phones work but must have Bluetooth 4.0 and Lollypop 5.0 or newer.

THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY

The Pearl RearVision addresses a major safety problem – backing up, especially in driveways and parking lots.

Nearly 18,000 people are injured annually in back-up crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Back-up collisions are the leading cause of non-traffic fatalities for children, according to kidsandcars.org.

All new vehicles under 10,000 pounds must have backup cameras by May 2018 (the 2019 model year), under National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rules.

Pearl Automation says it wants to get autonomous technology into vehicles now.

“While much of the industry is focused on bringing new car features to new cars, we believe everyone deserves access to the latest technology, especially those features that make the driving experience more enjoyable, less stressful and safer for everyone on the road,” according to a blog from CEO Bryson Gardner.

Pearl raised $50 million in Series A & B funding from Accel, Shasta Ventures, Venrock, and Wellcome Trust, according to Santa Cruz Tech Beat.

The three co-founders include Gardner, COO Brian Sander and VP of Engineering Joseph Fisher.

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