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NVIDIA Loss Leads to D20 Drop

Even though price gainers outnumbered price losers 11 to nine, a 4-percent drop by NVIDIA (NVDA) led to an overall drop for the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) this week.

The D20 stepped back from an all-time high after three consecutive weeks of gains by losing 0.2 percent of its value, closing at 226.18. The Dow and S&P 500 followed suit by losing ground as well. The Dow lost 0.9 percent and the S&P 500 gave back 0.6 percent to close at 2461.43.

NVIDIA’s 4-percent share price drop was the primary reason the D20 lost ground this week.  Now at 23.7 percent of the D20’s total value due to its 560-percent rise over the past 18 months, NVIDIA lost $6.77 per share and closed at $163.69 this week.  Even small movements in NVIDIA’s share price seem to move the D20 value considerably.

Daimler AG (DDAIF), the parent of Mercedes-Benz, was the D20’s price percentage gain leader this week. Its share price jumped 6.1 percent as rumors swirled that it is considering a structural organization change that would separate its truck and bus unit.

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

Up-and-Comers:

LiDAR maker Innoviz has secured a $65-million Series B investment, led by D20 components Delphi Automotive (DLPH) and Magna International (MGA). The money will reportedly be used to prepare for large-scale production planned for 2019.  Innoviz’s LiDAR designs use solid-state components and no moving parts, which should make their systems less costly and more reliable than current systems on the market from companies like Velodyne.

Lyft and Drive.ai have teamed up for a pilot of self-driving cars in San Francisco. Founded in 2015, Drive.ai is a Bay Area-based developer of artificial intelligence software for driverless vehicles that uses deep learning algorithms.

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

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Honolulu to begin testing driverless rail cars

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

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

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

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

 

Tesla releases Autopilot update

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

 

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

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

News Roundup: Waymo Gives Driverless Cars Ears As Well As Eyes, Russia Debuts Autonomous Grain Harvesters, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

New self-driving technology by Google’s Waymo gives cars ears as well as eyes

Company representatives from Waymo say new technology they have developed checks off yet another box in the efficiency of driverless cars — being able to sense sound as well as physical objects in the car’s surroundings. Up until now, cars like those developed by Waymo have featured a series of cameras and Lidar and radar sensors to help visually detect obstacles in the car’s way, such as pedestrians, animals, changes in road conditions and the like; but then there’s the matter of sound. For example, human drivers usually hear disturbances like sirens from emergency vehicles or the screeching of tires that can signal a collision may be about to happen, before they see it. Waymo engineers said they felt being able to “hear” obstacles is almost as important as being able to see or sense them, so they have designed a stereoscopic microphone that can pick up sound from twice as far away as their previous cameras and sensors, and can also detect in which direction the sound is coming from, to help pinpoint the source. Test cars featuring the new microphone technology have already been deployed in Chandler, Arizona, and are already showing promise. The cars are already collecting a vast database of sounds from a variety of sources to help future vehicles recognize sounds even faster. Read more from WIRED magazine.

 

Autonomous trucks designed to protect road workers debut in Colorado

According to reports, being a road worker is one of the most dangerous jobs there is. Countless workers are injured or lose their lives every year as they are hit by vehicles in passing traffic while they perform maintenance or repair work on the side of the road. In Colorado last week, autonomous trucks debuted that are designed to follow behind road workers and act as a barrier to protect them. Typically, these types of trucks are driven by other workers, but even that proves dangerous as the trucks are often hit by cars, injuring or killing the drivers. The autonomous trucks now being tested in Colorado are electronically “tethered” to another truck in front of them, and are programmed to immediately pull over if that electronic tether is broken or disconnects. The trucks and their underlying technology were developed by Pennsylvania-based Royal Truck & Equipment, in partnership with Colas UK out of Britain. Read more and see video footage from KGWN-TV.

 

Autonomous grain harvesters debut in Russia

Russia has debuted what is believed to be the world’s first autonomous grain harvester. The machine was designed by Cognitive Technologies and drives itself through a field, pulling up grain–a task that used to be controlled by a human driver/operator. The debut of the machine, called the Rostselmash RSM 181 Torum, took place in Rostov in southeastern Russia. Company spokesperson Andrey Zuev said the machine took five years to develop and is much lower cost than other types of driverless vehicles to build and operate, mostly due to the fact that it only requires a single video camera to detect obstacles and seek out grain to harvest. The machine’s single video camera can sense all five types of obstacles needed to do its job – grain (even as short as 30cm), edges and rows, sloping ground, parts of the machine that are in the path of the camera, and all other objects such as other machines, trees, non-grain plants and more. Cognitive Technologies expects its Rostselmash autonomous grain harvester to be ready for mass production by 2023-24. Read more from Grain Central.

Image: Autonomous trucks follow and protect road workers in Colorado / Credit: CBS

NVIDIA rebound lifts D20

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

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

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

Up and Comers:

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

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

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: Much Ado About Tesla Motors, Elon Musk

Jennifer van der Kleut

It’s been a week of big news surrounding Tesla Motors Inc. — both the cars themselves, as well as the company’s famous inventor and CEO, Elon Musk.

First, last week, Musk tweeted what he called an exciting announcement, claiming that had received “verbal government approval” for his company, The Boring Company, to design and build an underground train and network of tunnels that would carry vehicles at high speeds between New York City and Washington, D.C. in an unbelievable 29 minutes, with stops possible in other locations like Philadelphia and Boston.

The reports have been disputed, though some government officials have said “positive conversations” did take place.

This week, Musk showed off early testing of the concept of the tunnel. He explained that it begins with a car being loaded onto an “elevator” at a “collection point,” which is then lowered into the tunnel on a type of “sled on wheels,” capable of transporting the cars through a network of tunnels at high speeds.

In other Tesla news, it was announced today that the forthcoming Model 3 has once again landed itself the top spot as Consumer Reports magazine’s top-rated luxury sedan. This came about after Tesla promised that automatic emergency braking would be standard in all cars, and would work at highway speeds as well as lower speeds.

Deliveries of the Model 3 will reportedly begin rolling out this week to customers who pre-ordered the car. Priced competitively at $35,000, buyers in California will again be able to take advantage of federal tax credits and rebates that could bring the price down to around $25,000.

Of course, Musk reports that the company is still fervently working on self-driving cars as well.

Image of Model 3 by Tesla Motors

Legal Victory for Renesas Leads D20 Stock Index to Gain

A legal victory for Renesas Electronics led the way as 11 propelled the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock (D20) up this past week.

The D20 gained 1.64 points to close at 224.97, beating the Dow, which lost 0.3 percent, and the S&P 500, which rose 0.5 percent and closed the week at 2472.54.

Renesas Electronics Corp. (TSE:6723) gained 7.6 percent to close at ¥1090 per share.  Renesas announced that it won a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Zond LLC, and that it has developed a kit for its R-Car system that supports cocoro SB’s “Emotion Engine.”

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

Up-and-Comers:

Lyft is launching a driverless division.  It announced that it just signed a lease for a large facility in Palo Alto and expects to hire hundreds of people to fill it. Lyft will continue to work with its major investor, General Motors and partners Waymo, JLR and Nutonomy.

Driverless truck startup, Embark, has raised $15 million in an initial round of funding. Its funding announcement coincides with an announcement of a partnership with heavy truck manufacturer, Peterbilt.  Embark has prototyped its neural, net-based deep learning approach on a Peterbilt 579 Truck.

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

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

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

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

 

Lyft forms autonomous vehicle division in Palo Alto, California

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

 

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

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

Image by Lyft

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

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Image by Waymo & Avis Budget Group