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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.

News Roundup: Ford Teases All-New Hybrid-Electric Self-Driving Car, Ouster Puts Its Autonomous Drive Sensor Up For Sale Online, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Ford teases all-new hybrid-electric car designed specifically as a self-driving model

Ford Motors’s executive vice-president of global products, Jim Farley, gave a small sneak-peek this week as to the company’s plans for a self-driving car. In a blog post posted on Medium, Farley said the company has been hard at work behind the scenes designing an entirely new hybrid-electric model to serve as the company’s flagship driverless car. Farley says it will be suited for commercial deployment in both ride-hailing and delivery fleets. Ford representatives plan to start testing these vehicles in 2018, and said they are currently on track for commercial deployment in 2021. The cars will reportedly be manufactured at the company’s Flat Rock Assembly Plant in southeastern Michigan. Read more from Car and Driver.

 

Ouster: Our self-driving Lidar sensor is better, cheaper, and you can buy it now

It’s no secret that there is intense competition in the driverless transportation industry for the software, hardware and sensors that allow vehicles to navigate without needing human drivers. One startup, Ouster, is making waves this week by announcing to the world that their Lidar sensor is better than anything else currently on the market, is less expensive, and, most notably, it’s available for purchase now. The San Francisco-based firm has put its spinning, 64-laser OS1 Lidar sensor up for sale on its website at a price of $12,000. What’s more, the startup said it has raised $27 million from investors like Ford Motors’s Bill Ford and Cox Enterprises to boost production in anticipation of orders. In comparison, one of the most popular sensors on the market today, Velodyne’s HDL-64 sells for $75,000, and Ouster says its sensor is lighter, smaller and more efficient. Some compare the size of Velodyne’s sensor to a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, whereas Ouster’s sensor is half the size of a standard coffee mug. Read more about Ouster and its sensor from Forbes.

 

Apple exec shows off self-driving technology to large group of researchers

The usually secretive Apple gave a rare glimpse into its work on machine learning last week when the company’s director of artificial intelligence, Ruslan Salakhutdinov, entertained a large group of AI researchers during a conference. Salakhutdinov demonstrated how Apple uses machine learning as a technique for analyzing large stockpiles of data, and how it can be beneficial to self-driving vehicles. VoxelNet, Apple’s machine learning project that pertains to self-driving cars, can reportedly detect obstacles such as pedestrians and cyclists efficiently using 3D scans taken by lidar sensors, as well as cameras that can effectively track a car’s location in real-time. Salakhutdinov demonstrated how the VoxelNet software can detect pedestrians even when they are partially hidden behind parked cars, and during inclement weather when raindrops fell on the sensors. Read more from WIRED.

Image: Ouster sensor on a self-driving car navigating in the rain. / Credit: Ouster

News Roundup: Waymo Gets Patent For Exterior Airbags On Self-Driving Cars, Ford to Test ‘Cellular-V2X’ Tech in San Diego and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

 

Waymo granted patent for exterior airbags

Google’s self-driving car spinoff company, Waymo, has been granted a patent for an airbag system that would be located on the outside of a car. Since self-driving cars are outfitted with sensors, cameras, radar and lidar on the outside of the car, Waymo engineers argue that the car itself can predict an accident even sooner than a human driver can (or can’t, if he or she is distracted). The concept of exterior airbags could protect passengers in the vehicle from an impact, as well as “reduce the likelihood of severe injuries or damage to objects such as pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, other vehicles, or simply inanimate objects.” Read more from Silicon Beat.

 

Mcity autonomous vehicle testing ground gets big investment from automakers, corporations

Mcity, the University of Michigan’s testing ground for autonomous vehicles, has received a total of $11 million in funding from 11 different companies, both corporations and automakers. Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Honda all contributed about $1 million each, and other corporations like State Farm Insurance, Verizon, LG and others. Mcity is a 32-acre man-made “city” where companies can conduct research and test autonomous vehicles. The hub offers a number of varied conditions for vehicles to test in, such as different road conditions, four-lane highways, high-pedestrian streets featuring fake, mechanical pedestrians, and much more. Read more from HybridCars.com.

 

Ford partnering with AT&T, Qualcomm and Nokia to test ‘cellular-V2X’ technology

Ford Motor Co. announced this week that it has formed a partnership with Qualcomm, AT&T and Nokia to test cellular modems that can connect vehicles to each other and to roadside infrastructure to help better navigate in bad weather or construction zones. “Cellular-V2X” technology, as it is called, aims to connect vehicles with traffic lights, roadside beacons and other vehicles on the road to share real-time information about driving conditions. It’s meant to improve safety, as well as help speed up the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Testing is scheduled to take place in San Diego, California before the end of the year. For testing, Ford vehicles will be outfitted with Qualcomm hardware powered by AT&T’s 4G LTE cellular network and Nokia’s computing technology. Read more from Automotive News.

Image: Rendering of self-driving minivan with exterior airbags by Waymo

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.

Blackberry Royalty Settlement Helps Stock Rise Again, Bringing D20 to a New High

With 10 price gainers and 10 price losers this week, one would expect the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) to take a week off and end its consecutive gain streak, but the D20 defied convention and rose for the sixth straight week. Led by Blackberry once again, the D20 added 2.83 points, or 1.4 percent, to end the week at 210.16, which is a new high.

The Dow and S&P 500 kept pace with the D20 this week as the S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent and the Dow gained 1.3 percent to close over 21,000 at 21,080.28.

For the second week in a row, Blackberry (BBRY) was the leading percentage price gainer, jumping 7 percent to close at $11.11 a share on news that its settlement from a royalty dispute with Qualcomm was significantly higher than originally expected.

This week, Ford Motor Co. (F) shook up the industry by replacing its CEO with the head of its new mobility division.  By losing more than 20 percent of its value, Ford’s stock has had the worst record of any D20 stock since August of 2015, and may finally be getting serious about changes to the 114-year-old enterprise.

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

Up-and-Comers:

Innoviz, an Israeli start-up, has announced a solid state after-market LiDAR unit aimed at the prototyping and testing market for automakers and Tier-1 auto parts suppliers. The unit, called InnovizPro, is squarely aimed at the market where driverless car companies are spending near $70,000 a unit for Velodyne LiDAR systems for their prototypes and testing units.

News Roundup: Volvo’s Autonomous Garbage Truck, Paris’s Driverless Race Car, and More

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

Volvo shows off its new autonomous garbage truck

This week Volvo debuted a video that shows its new prototype autonomous garbage truck in action. The concept is being hailed as the future of waste management. It will reportedly save money on personnel as it only requires one employee to manage, versus a team of two to three employees currently (one to drive, and at least one to load and unload garbage cans) and it will streamline refuse collection by doing it faster and more efficiently. The way it works is this: one employee walks on foot and follows the garbage truck, which drives itself. With each stop, the employee pushes a button and loads garbage cans into the machine and then takes them out after they have been emptied. The truck features sensors and software that is identical to that in Volvo’s prototype self-driving passenger cars, which Volvo gets from its partner, Uber. Uber’s mapping capabilities allows the route to be pre-programmed into the system so the truck knows exactly where to go. Read more, see photos and videos from Motoring.com.

 

Autonomous race car debuts in Paris

The French city of Paris saw its first autonomous vehicle hits its streets recently when the self-driving Robocar wowed crowds in Formula E’s Paris ePrix. The car completed 14 turns of a 1.9-kilometer track, negotiating completely by itself without a driver. “The team has worked so hard to get us to this point in a short amount of time. The car is alive and it has emotion and its own personality already. Roborace is the only company in the world right now testing driverless technologies on city streets without a human in the car – this is something truly unique,” Robocar CEO Denis Sverdlov told media. Robocar is capable of speeds over 200mph.  The car uses a number of technologies to drive itself including five lidar sensors, two radar sensors, 18 ultrasonic sensors, two optical speed sensors, six A.I. cameras, GNSS positioning, and is powered by NVIDIA’s Drive PX2 brain, which is capable of up to 24 trillion A.I. operations per second, to be programmed by teams’ software engineers. Read more from Gadget.

 

Ford CEO Mark Fields being replaced by director of self-driving car division

Earlier this week the news broke that Ford’s CEO Mark Fields had been ousted, largely due to the fact that the company’s stock has dropped roughly 40 percent in the few years since he took over the company. Today, the New York Times reports that the executive to take Fields’s place as CEO is none other than Jim Hackett. Hackett previously served as the CEO of the office furniture giant Steelcase, and had recently joined Ford as the director of the company’s smart mobility division, which includes the research and development of self-driving cars. Though Ford has been working on self-driving car technology for a few years now, Fields reportedly had been criticized for not advancing the technology quickly enough. Read more from the New York Times.

Image: Still photo from Volvo video

Ford is Week’s Biggest D20 Loser Due to More Quarterly Sales Declines

With 11 price losers, led by Ford Motor Co., and nine gainers, led once again by Renesas, the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) slipped 0.5 percent to end the week at 190.35.

Both the Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 stepped back this week as well.  The Dow lost 1.5 percent to close at 20596.72 while the S&P 500 closed at 2343.98, down 1.4 percent.

The fourth quarterly sales decline in the last six quarters pushed Ford (F) to a 6.9-percent loss last week making it the largest price percentage loser for the D20. Ford closed the week at $11.62 a share.

Up 22 percent during the last four weeks, Renesas Electronics (TYO:6723) was the leading price percentage gainer again last week, moving up 3.5 percent to close at ¥1140. Renesas continues to benefit from good reviews of its recently completed acquisition of Intersil, as well as corporate restructuring.

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

Up-and-Comers: 

Uber continues its string of bad news with an announcement that one of its driverless vehicles was involved in a high-speed accident in Arizona.  Although the vehicle had no backseat passengers at the time of the accident, Uber has suspended all autonomous driving in the U.S. as it investigates the incident.

DeepScale, based in Mountain View, California, raised $3 million in seed funding to help driverless automakers use standard low-wattage processors to build more perceptive autonomous systems. DeepScale was founded by UC-Berkeley alumni, Forrest Iandola. His goal is to reduce both the cost of the processors required and the time it takes to “train” to neural nets that run on those processors to get affordable and safe driverless vehicles to market quickly.

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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

TomTom’s Drop Brings the D20 Stock Index Down After 5 Weeks of Gains

After five weeks of consecutive gains, a drop by TomTom led the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) to take a slight step back this week, losing 0.18 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 185.64.

With an evenly divided 10 stock price gainers and 10 stock price losers, this time the D20 was no match for the Dow, which rose 1 percent, or the S&P 500, which added 0.8 percent.

Tesla Motors (TLSA) was the D20 price-percentage gainer, adding 7.1 percent to close at $269.23.  Tesla’s jump in price was likely caused by a combination of CEO Elon Musk’s access to President Trump and the NHTSA’s decision to close the investigation into a fatal accident that involved a Tesla with its Autopilot engaged.

After posting a Q4 loss with revenue down 6 percent, TomTom (TOM2) was the D20’s price-percentage loser.  TomTom lost 9.6 percent last week, closing at €7.79. Without TomTom’s loss the D20 would have been easily in the black this week.

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

 

Up-and-Comers:

Ford, looking to add muscle to its driverless car program, invests in Argo AI.  Ford is committing to spend $1 billion on the start-up and operate it as an independent subsidiary. Argo AI was founded by the former head of Google’s car division, Waymo, and a former top engineer for Uber’s self-driving division. It appears Ford, like many of the other automotive manufacturers, felt the need to buy technology as opposed to developing it in house with the race to deliver driverless cars heating up.

Otto won Hot New Startup at the Chrunchies.  The Chrunchies Awards are an annual event in its tenth year, sponsored by TechCrunch and devoted to celebrating start-up technology companies.  Otto has plans to develop technology for self-driving trucks. Otto demonstrated its technology in October with an Otto-powered truck delivering 50,000 Budweiser cans to Colorado Springs from Fort Collins, Colorado.

News Roundup: Ford Introduces ‘SmartLink’ Connected-Car Plug-In For Older Vehicles, U.S. Lawmakers Consider Car Cybersecurity Bill, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of interesting headlines from the driverless and connected-car worlds over the past week:

Ford designs new device to turn older cars into connected cars

Ford Motor Co. has created a new device called SmartLink that can plug into older cars through the OBD link II and turn them into fully connected cars. The SmartLink includes a 4G LTE modem on board, letting it act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 8 devices in the vehicle. It also enables remote start, lock and unlock functions, and can send alerts to a car owner via a companion web and mobile app to let them check the car’s diagnostic health, and get alerts related to security and service requirements. SmartLink was designed to work with Ford and Lincoln cars built between 2010 and 2016. Read more from TechCrunch.

 

Driverless bus debuts in Atlanta before embarking on U.S. tour

The Alliance for Transportation Authority offered rides in an autonomous, 12-passenger bus in Atlanta on Thursday to kick off a U.S. tour. The tour, which will take the bus to other major cities in states such as Texas and California. Representatives of the Alliance hope the tour, and free rides on the shuttle, will improve public perception of self-driving cars, which they see as one of the biggest barriers to the implementation of the technology. Read more from the Albuquerque Journal.

 

U.S. lawmakers introduce bill to study cybersecurity in connected cars

With at least 90 percent of cars on U.S. roads expected to have connected-car features by 2020, U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to study cybersecurity in vehicles. Named “The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act,” the bill requires the NHTSA to work with the Defense Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Automotive Information Sharing and Analysis Center, SAE International, and academics and manufacturers in the automotive industry to set a standard for safety in all connected cars. Together, the group will study how to isolate software systems in vehicles, create a system to prevent and detect hacks, determine best practices for storing data and create a timeline for how to implement these standards. Read more from GeekWire.

Photo: Ford SmartLink plug-in / Credit: Ford Motor Co.