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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

Lexus: Enjoy Driving While We Still Can?

The latest commercial from Lexus for its new 2017 Lexus IS luxury sedan has raised some interesting questions among car enthusiasts: Could the thrill of driving be on its way out? Should we take advantage and enjoy it while we still can?

Obviously, that’s the premise of the commercial — that driving the new 2017 Lexus IS is so thrilling, you should savor every moment, while drivers still have the ability or choice to drive. In the last few seconds of the commercial, the car morphs into a self-driving car, and the driver is left to ponder those times when he could enjoy the power of the car’s controls in his hands.

However, one interesting note — the driver’s hair goes from youthful and dark to gray during the morph, suggesting that, while Lexus is all but promising to deliver a self-driving car in the future, it’s not just around the corner — it’s long enough away to age a man considerably.

Image and video by Lexus

News Roundup: A Look at the World’s First Autonomous-Capable Cargo Ship, Apple Creates Buzz With Self-Driving Car News, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

Oslo-based company to debut electric, autonomous-capable ship

The company YARA Birkeland out of Oslo, Norway has revealed plans for a zero-emission, remote control-capable and eventually autonomous-capable cargo ship. YARA said the ship will launch in 2019 with the ability to be controlled remotely and deliver cargo unmanned. Within a few years after that, the company said the ship will be capable of operating fully autonomously. The container ship is being built by Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, and many say it will have a huge impact on the maritime industry, which is known for its high amounts of fuel consumption. The container ship will reportedly be used to transport fertilizer. Read more from Bloomberg.

 

Apple’s Tim Cook creates a buzz, offering details of self-driving plans

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave an interview with Bloomberg News last week week, creating quite a buzz as he addressed the company’s work on autonomous car systems. Those are the exact words he used — autonomous systems. Cook made it clear that Apple is no longer working on attempting to build a vehicle, but is instead working on developing the system that would power one. The project has long been called Project Titan internally. Just a couple of months ago, Bloomberg published photos of Lexus SUVs outfitted with Apple’s autonomous technology being tested on San Francisco Bay Area roads. Since Apple veteran Bob Mansfield took over control of Project Titan, engineers have been cut and costs streamlined, but Cook made it clear the project is moving full-speed ahead. Read more from Bloomberg.

 

Bye-bye, Google self-driving bubble car

Google self-driving spin-off company Waymo announced this week it is retiring its famous, signature “bubble” cars. For years the rounded pod cars have been traveling millions of miles around Silicon Valley as the company has been testing and gathering data for its self-driving car system. However, the company has been advancing partnerships with established vehicle manufacturers and says it will now focus on installing its systems into other cars rather than manufacturing any more of the bubble cars. In particular, Waymo’s blog indicates the company is working on outfitting a fleet of 600 Chrysler Pacifica mini-vans. Whereas the “Firefly” bubble-shaped pod car maxes out at a top speed of 25 miles per hour, the mini-vans will be capable of traveling at full speed. Read more from BBC News.

 

Image: Courtesy rendering of YARA Birkeland ship

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.