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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

News Roundup: Uber Self-Driving Car Arm Nearly Shut Down, New Partnerships For Delphi, Waymo, Lyft, BMW and Intel

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

Google’s Waymo teams up with Lyft

Google’s driverless company, Waymo, announced it is teaming up with ride-hailing company Lyft to develop self-driving car technology. The two companies have agreed to work together on “pilot projects” with the aim of bringing driverless vehicles into the mainstream. Working with Waymo will give Lyft access to loads of data, and working with Lyft will allow Waymo to expand its testing and open doors to new areas. Read more from The Telegraph.

 

Uber narrowly avoids shut-down of self-driving car work over lawsuit

A federal judge stopped just short of shutting down Uber’s self-driving car operations due to Waymo’s lawsuit against the company for allegedly stealing its technology. Instead, the judge has banned Anthony Levandowski from having anything to do with Uber’s self-driving car work. Levandowski used to be the head of Google’s self-driving car division (later spun off into the separate company called Waymo) until he left for a similar job at Uber. Waymo alleged Levandowski stole the company’s technology secrets and took them to Uber. A federal judge this week barred Levandowski from working on Uber’s self-driving car technology. The move is likely to cause significant delays in Uber’s progress toward developing its own fleet of autonomous cars. Read more from the New York Times.

 

Delphi partners up with BMW and Intel

Delphi has announced that it is joining into a partnership with BMW and Intel to develop self-driving technology. In particular, the three companies said they will be collaborating on “perception, sensor fusion and high-performance automated driving computing.” In addition, an executive from BMW said other companies could be joining the multi-company partnership very soon. Delphi is seen as being very lucrative to the partnership because of the company’s expertise in “data analysis and electrical architecture,” which are viewed as critical to the development of autonomous cars. Read more from USA Today.

 

Delphi Drives the D20 with Spin-off News

Delphi was among thirteen price gainers that beat out seven price losers to help the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index (D20) gain 0.7 percent and close at 198.09 to clinch its third consecutive “up” week.

The D20 just outpaced the S&P 500 Index, which rose 0.6 percent and closed just under 2,400 at 2,399.29.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 21,000 mark at 21,006.94 for a 0.3-percent gain, but was still doubled up by the D20.

Delphi (DLPH) led the D20 with its commitment to spin off the combustion engine part of its business to focus on electric and connected vehicles. The market cheered as Delphi gained $7.30 per share, or 9.5 percent, to close at $87.70 a share.

French parts maker, Valeo SA (VLEEY) and Japanese electronics and chip manufacturer, Renesas (TYO:6723) both enjoyed good weeks as well.  Valeo’s ADR rose 3.5 percent to close at $37.20 and Renesas, which is listed on the Tokyo exchange, jumped 3.8 percent to end the week at ¥1101.

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

 

Up-and-Comers:

The Campbell, California startup, Renovo has taken money from Verizon among others in a $10-million venture round.  Renovo is taking that money to become a driverless operating system provider to automakers and fleet operators. Verizon’s investment is an attempt to insert itself into the driverless space, where its network and services will play a huge role.

News Roundup: Serious Crash Involving Self-Driving Uber Car Under Investigation, Why Driverless Crash Liability Should Be Modeled After Vaccine Laws, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

Uber’s self-driving test cars return to the roads after 3-day halt following serious crash

Uber’s fleet of self-driving test cars returned to the roads in San Francisco Monday after the entire program was halted for three days following a serious crash in Arizona Saturday. Testing in Tempe, Arizona and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania remains halted as the investigation into the crash continues. Police in Tempe, Arizona said the accident occurred when a normal human-driven vehicle failed to yield to the driverless Uber car in an intersection. The two cars collided, causing the Uber car to roll over. Tempe police reported that the driver of the normal car was cited for the accident. An Uber employee was sitting behind the wheel of the Uber car, and fortunately was not injured. Uber representatives say a more detailed report will be released after the investigation concludes. Read more from TechCrunch. See photos and video from the accident on ABC15 Arizona.

 

What if driverless vehicle legislation were modeled after vaccine compensation cases?

In this article, Automotive News writer Katie Burke presents an interesting theory, in which legislation regarding liability in driverless vehicle collisions were modeled after the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986. That law created the Office of Special Masters within the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, with the sole purpose of hearing cases in which a family claims their child was injured as a result of a vaccine. The law also created a special fund from which families who prove their child’s injury was caused by a vaccine are compensated. The act marked a turning point for U.S. pharmaceutical companies, allowing them to confidently continue researching and creating new vaccines without fear of losing billions in injury lawsuits. Burke thinks modeling legislation regarding liability in driverless car crashes in a similar way will encourage automakers working on developing the technology to continue their work without similar fears. What do you think of the idea? Read more from TheTruthAboutCars.com.

 

North Dakota Senate unanimously passes law requiring full study of autonomous vehicles

On Monday, the North Dakota Senate passed a new law 45-0 requiring the Department of Transportation (DOT) to work with the technology industry to conduct a study of the use of autonomous vehicles on the state’s highways. In addition, the study will focus on laws surrounding self-driving vehicles, including licensing, registration, insurance, ownership of data, and inspections. Results of the study must be presented at the next general assembly. In the same session, the Senate rejected a related bill that would have made the owner of a driverless vehicle the owner of any data gathered by or stored within the vehicle. Presumably, lawmakers want to encourage driverless vehicle manufacturers to share data collected by the vehicles with transportation agencies to allow for continued improvement of systems. Read more from InForum.

 

Photo Credit: Uber

News Roundup: California DMV’s New Proposed Driverless Car Regulations, How Alexa and Cortana May Soon Take Over Your Car, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

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

Many applaud California DMV’s newly proposed regulations for testing driverless cars

This past Friday, March 10, the California Department of Motor Vehicles released new proposed regulations for the testing of driverless cars in public, which look remarkably like laws recently passed in Michigan. Many are applauding all the changes made since releasing a significantly stricter version back in September. DMV reps say they listened closely to a wealth of feedback from stakeholders after the September draft and implemented many of them. In particular, the new regulations reverse their previous requirements that driverless test cars must have a human driver in the car while testing in public, and that prototype vehicles must include a steering wheel and pedals (which reportedly made Google/Waymo executives very happy). However, if the vehicle does not include those conventional features, the manufacturer must show the DMV they have approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A mandatory 45-day comment period is currently in effect, ending April 24, after which a public hearing will take place. DMV representatives said they hope the regulations will officially go into effect by the end of the year. Read more from Bloomberg Technology.

 

Automakers turn to personal assistance tech like Cortana, Alexa to develop better connected-car voice commands

While systems like Ford’s Sync are already appearing in cars on the market today, many industry analysts say the technology still contains many flaws, with limited available commands and continuous voice recognition difficulties. As connected-car technology becomes more and more in demand, automakers like Ford, Volkswagen and Nissan are turning to personal assistant apps like Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana to improve in-car voice command systems. VW announced they are trying to combine Alexa with their Car-Net system and apps so that, while driving, you can ask Alexa to do things like add items to your ongoing shopping list that is synced between your car and your personal device. Reps say you’ll even be able to ask Alexa through your Amazon Echo at home to tell you how much gas your car has in it. Ford said it is integrating Alexa into its current Sync system, with some paired features debuting this summer. Nissan said they are partnering with Microsoft, but have not announced a launch date yet. Read more from CAR magazine.

 

Whoa! Intel buys Mobileye for more than $15 billion

In the biggest acquisition of an Israeli tech company to date, Intel announced this week that is acquiring Mobileye for an astounding $15.3 billion, after partnering with them since late last year. Mobileye is known for its computer vision systems for autonomous cars, including sensor fusion, mapping and front- and rear-facing camera technology. They are also working on crowdsourcing data for high-definition maps, as well as getting involved in policies and regulations surrounding autonomous driving. Intel has been getting involved with driverless technology as of late, most recently partnering with Mobileye and BMW and pledging $250 million to invest in the technology, particularly how much data autonomous cars can generate. The sale of Mobileye to Intel is expected to take about nine months to close. Read more from TechCrunch.

News Roundup: Trump Administration Reviews Federal Self-Driving Car Guidelines, Roborace Shows Off New Driverless Race Car, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of headlines to come out of the driverless transportation industry the past week:

Roborace and NVIDIA show off electric driverless race car

Roborace is creating some buzz with previews of its new electric, driverless race car, powered by a “brain” created by NVIDIA. According to Engadget, the car features a 540kW battery and four 300kW motors, which the Roborace team says can push the car up to 320 km per hour, or 199 miles per hour. The car is outfitted by a wealth of sensors, including two radars, five LIDARs, 18 ultrasonic sensors, two optical speed sensors and six AI-driven cameras, all feeding into NVIDIA’s “brain.” The car’s ultra-futuristic styling comes from chief designer Daniel Simon, who has worked on such science-fiction blockbusters as Tron: Legacy and Captain America: The First Avenger. No word yet on when the car will first race on a real racetrack, but the team promises more demonstrations this year. Read more and see photos from Engadget.

 

New Transportation Secretary ‘reviewing’ federal driverless car guidelines released under Obama administration

Brand-new U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told the National Governor’s Association this past weekend that the Trump administration is “reviewing” federal guidelines regarding driverless vehicles, released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) late last year. Automakers, tech companies and transportation officials across the globe have been holding their breath since the new president took office, wondering if President Trump would scrap the progress made during the final months of President’s Obama’s second term, or would embrace it and press ahead. Positively, though, Chao said the new administration wanted to be “a catalyst for safe, efficient technologies, not an impediment.” Read more from The Hill.

 

Renault-Nissan, Transdev partner up to start on-demand driverless car service

Renault-Nissan and Transdev have signed a research contract to develop an on-demand service that connects people to driverless cars to get around. Transdev consults and helps manage public transportation operations in Asia, Europe and North America, and is involved in a number of pilot autonomous vehicle tests in France. The app the two companies plan to build will assist both sides of the business–the consumers that hail the driverless cars for rides, and the operators of the fleet companies. The Renault-Nissan Alliance says it plans to launch cars that can navigate city intersections and heavy urban traffic without driver intervention by 2020. Read more from Fortune.

 

Survey: The More Familiar People Become With Driverless Cars, The More They Accept Them

Bobatoo.co.uk

A new survey by insurance advice website Bobatoo.co.uk has found that the attitudes of UK drivers toward driverless cars is beginning to improve.

Bobatoo ran the same survey 18 months ago and found that UK motorists were not too keen on the idea of self-driving cars taking to the roads.

It would seem attitudes are beginning to soften though, as the new survey results show that more UK drivers are looking forward to the prospect of driverless cars.

Of the 2,109 respondents to this latest survey, 34 percent admitted to being “excited” about self-driving cars, a significant increase from the 2015 survey when just 26 percent of respondents said they were “excited.”

A similar change in opinion was evident when respondents were asked if they would prefer a self-driving car over their current car. In 2015, 28 percent said they would rather have a driverless car. That figure has now jumped to 37 percent.

One of the reasons for this apparent change in attitude could be the increase in awareness of self-driving cars among the UK public as a whole. In 2015, more than a third of respondents were not aware that companies like Google and Uber were working on driverless car technology. That figure is down to just 24 percent now, suggesting that the more familiar we become with the technology, the more we accept it.

Revealing the results of the new survey, a spokesman for Bobatoo said, “When the idea of self-driving cars was first mooted by the likes of Google, the main concern among the public was about safety.

“The results of our new survey show that, whilst there is still a long way to go, it would seem that the general public is not only warming to the idea of self-driving cars, they are actively looking forward to them.”

By The Numbers:

A total of 2,109 UK residents were surveyed.

Gender:

Male – 53%

Female – 47%

Age:

17-24 – 12%

25-35 – 28%

35-45 – 21%

45-55 – 27%

55-65 – 8%

65+ – 4%

Do you have a valid U.K. driving license?

Yes – 72%

No – 28%

Are you aware that companies such as Google are currently developing self-driving cars?

Yes – 76%

No – 24%

How do you feel about the development of self-driving cars?

Excited – 34%

Concerned – 28%

Not bothered – 38%

Would you prefer to have a self-driving car instead of your current car?

Yes – 37%

No – 45%

Don’t know – 18%

 

Image: Rendering of Google driverless car / Credit: Google

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: Daimler to Build Driverless Cars for Uber, France Gets More Autonomous Metro Lines, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A look at some of the most interesting headlines to come out of the driverless and connected-vehicle industries this week:

Daimler to manufacture self-driving cars for Uber

This week, German auto manufacturer Daimler and ride-hailing giant Uber announced a new partnership in which Daimler will manufacture a self-driving car for Uber. Uber spokespersons said they expect their new driverless cars to be added to their ride-hailing fleets in the next few years. The partnership is not exclusive, however–Uber remains free to work with other auto manufacturers, and Daimler reportedly remains free to build self-driving cars for other companies as well. Read more from the New York Times.

 

French transport authority signs contract to make two metro lines driverless

The city of Lyon, France is ready to embrace driverless technology. Lyon transport authority Sytral has awarded the firm Alstom a contract worth 91 million Euros to upgrade signalling for driverless operation on two lines of the Lyon metro. At the same time, Sytral will also equip the already driverless Line D with the new signalling, which is due to go live in 2023. The upgrade is part of Sytral’s Future Metro 2020 program, which aims to increase rider capacity on metro lines A, B and D in response to a predicted 30-percent increase in ridership. Read more from Metro-Report International.

 

EasyMile EZ10 shuttle bus takes mayor, passengers for test ride in New Orleans

On the second stop of its U.S. tour, after wowing passengers in Atlanta, the EasyMile EZ10 driverless shuttle took the mayor of New Orleans along with a number of members of the public for a ride down Convention Center Boulevard. The shuttle bus can transport up to 12 passengers at a time and can go at speeds of up to 40 km per hour. The free rides were presented by Easy Mile, the startup company that engineered the shuttles, and Transdev, the private company that runs the operations of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority. Read more and see a video from The New Orleans Advocate.

 

Photo: Autonomous metro trains in Lyon, France/Credit: Wikipedia

News Roundup: Mass. State Senator Introduces Bill to Allow Zero-Emission Driverless Cars, Skipping Driverless Cars and Going Straight to Passenger Drones, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

A roundup of headlines to come out of the driverless, connected-car industry in the past week:

Massachusetts Introduces Bill to Self-Driving Cars on Public Streets — As Long As They’re Electric

A new bill has been introduced at the state level in Massachusetts that would provide regulations for autonomous cars on public streets–as long as they’re electric. Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) is preparing to file the bill with the State Senate, and says mandating that self-driving cars be zero-emission will help encourage automakers to be more environmentally friendly, which is line with Massachusetts’s priorities. Lewis said the bill would come with a tax of 2.5 cents per mile, to help offset lost state revenue from gas taxes. He said he welcomes ideas and suggestions and hopes the bill’s introduction will prompt “robust debate.” Read more from The Valley Dispatch.

 

Op-Ed: Forget Driverless Cars — The Future is Driverless Passenger Drones

Check out this opinion piece from Adam Singola. Singola argues almost suggests that simply making cars driverless is a waste of time, when we can take it one step further and make them flying, too. Singola said the future of transportation is flying passenger drones. He points out that one thing that makes human-driven cars so dangerous is the fact that they have to share the road with passengers, cyclists, unexpected objects and poor road quality, not to mention other cars. Therefore, he says driverless passenger drones will be safer, and will render things like parking problems, traffic congestion, and road construction obsolete. He also describes a ride he recently took in an actual passenger drone. Read more on TechCrunch.

 

U.S. Department of Transportation Identifies 10 ‘Proving Grounds’ for Testing Autonomous Vehicle Technology

In a move that many say will help the U.S. keep up with its Asian and European rivals, the U.S. Department of Transportation this week officially designated 10 sites across the country that officials say will act as “official sites for validating the technology,” as run by top organizations working on the technology. Automakers will be able to share the facilities to test their autonomous prototypes, and officials said they hope working in “close proximity” to others working on the same technology will allow them to share best practices and data. The 10 sites are run by the following organizations across the country: Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute; the Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership; Maryland’s U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center; California’s Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and GoMentum Station in Concord, California; the San Diego Association of Governments in California; Michigan’s American Center for Mobility (ACM) at Willow Run; the Iowa City Area Development Group; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners; and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority. Read more from Bloomberg Technology.

Photo: Acura driverless car being tested at GoMentum Station in Concord, California.