Waymo’s Autonomous Cars Drive With Humans in Backseat

Waymo began testing its first autonomous vehicles on public roads on October 19 in the Phoenix area. The Chrysler Pacifica minivans still had employees in the car, but in the backseat, where they could push a button to pull over the vehicle. Waymo, whose vision is to deploy its self-driving vehicles via a taxi service, plans to let passengers ride in the back, possibly without an employee, in the coming months. It began its work eight years ago, followed by similar efforts by General Motors, Ford Motor, Apple and Uber. Continue reading Waymo’s Autonomous Cars Drive With Humans in Backseat

General Motors Promises an All-Electric Future for its Vehicles

While autonomous and connected vehicles have been getting much of the press attention this year, there has also been a push toward electric cars. General Motors recently announced that it is ending its gas and diesel efforts to focus on an all-electric, zero-emissions future. The American automotive icon plans to roll out two new fully electric vehicles in 2017 and at least 18 more electric models by 2023. GM is not alone in this pursuit. Aston Martin, Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo are among the auto manufacturers that have made similar announcements in recent months to eventually phase out gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. GM, which sold 10 million vehicles in 2016, is one of the world’s largest automakers.

Continue reading General Motors Promises an All-Electric Future for its Vehicles

SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

SoftBank Group wants to buy 17 percent to 22 percent of Uber Technologies, via a combination of share purchases from the company and a tender offer to employees and investors. The deal would only work if SoftBank can convince Uber’s shareholders to sell their stock at a discount. According to sources, the bank’s investment could total as much as $10 billion, which would make it the largest-ever single investment in a private venture-backed startup. SoftBank also wants two board seats, adding to Uber’s nine current directors. Continue reading SoftBank Leads Investment In Uber That Could Hit $10 Billion

Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Despite an overall slowdown in U.S. productivity, tech companies currently lead the charge in overall spending on research and development, a key factor in measuring productivity of an economy. According to data about companies in the S&P 500 collected by analytic software firm FactSet, Amazon spends more on R&D than any other company in the U.S., followed by Alphabet, Intel, Microsoft and Apple. Other tech companies on the Top 20 list include Oracle, Cisco, Facebook, IBM and Qualcomm. Continue reading Amazon Now Spends More on R&D Than Other Companies

Intel Buys Mobileye, Marking Commitment to Driverless Cars

Intel has purchased Mobileye for $15.3 billion, a strong statement that it is pursuing the autonomous vehicle market sector. The Israeli-based Mobileye, which supplies its technologies to most major car manufacturers, makes cameras, sensors and software that alert vehicles to obstacles in their paths and has become a leader in digital mapping and sensors. Mobileye co-founder Amnon Shashua will head Intel’s self-driving car initiative as an Intel senior vice president, and his company will continue to be based in Israel. Continue reading Intel Buys Mobileye, Marking Commitment to Driverless Cars

Google Ad Sales Growing, But Per-Click Revenue Declines

According to Alphabet, advertising on Google is doing well — but it’s changing. Google, the world’s biggest advertiser, has seen its advertising business grow 52 percent in Q2, compared to the same quarter last year, but it’s actually earning less per click. That’s because the two fastest growing sectors are mobile and YouTube, both of which earn less money per ad than the targeted ads that appear on top of search results on desktop computers. As a result, revenue per click plummeted 23 percent in the same quarter. Continue reading Google Ad Sales Growing, But Per-Click Revenue Declines

Tim Cook Reveals Details of Apple’s Autonomous Car Plans

Apple chief executive Tim Cook is revealing the company’s plans in autonomous vehicles, which he states is a very important core technology. With this admission, Apple now joins numerous tech and auto companies that are pursuing a future in self-driving cars. Among those companies are BMW, GM, and Alphabet’s Waymo division, which has inked partnerships with Fiat Chrysler. Apple originally wanted to build its own car, but scaled back its plans to focus on the technology powering autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Tim Cook Reveals Details of Apple’s Autonomous Car Plans

Waymo and Lyft Partner to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Tech

Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo has signed an agreement with ride-hailing startup Lyft to collaborate on autonomous vehicle tech including development and pilot projects. “The deal between Waymo and Lyft has competitive implications for Uber, the world’s biggest ride-hailing company, which has recently had to confront a spate of workplace and legal problems,” reports The New York Times. “Waymo is also competing fiercely with Uber in the creation of technology for autonomous cars and is embroiled in a lawsuit over what it says is Uber’s use of stolen Waymo trade secrets to develop such technology.” Continue reading Waymo and Lyft Partner to Develop Self-Driving Vehicle Tech

Apple Will Test Its Autonomous Vehicles on California Roads

Apple received a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to test ​​autonomous vehicles, a project thus far shrouded in secrecy. The company now joins Alphabet and Tesla on the public roads of California, the largest state by population. Moving off of private roads to public ones is the next step towards fine-tuning the AI systems that interact with the real world. The permit specifically covers three 2015 Lexus sport-utility vehicles and six operators who must sit behind the wheel, to take over driving if necessary. Continue reading Apple Will Test Its Autonomous Vehicles on California Roads

Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

The Ford Motor Company is extending its foray into self-driving car technology with a $1 billion investment in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence startup. The newly formed startup, led by former Google and Uber self-driving experts, will initially develop the technology for Ford before licensing it to other companies. The move is part of Ford’s strategy to rebrand itself as more than a car manufacturer. The billion-dollar investment will roll out over the next five years. Argo AI will become a subsidiary of Ford that operates out of Pittsburgh, one of the main hubs of autonomous driving research. Continue reading Ford Pursues Self-Driving Tech, Invests $1 Billion in AI Startup

California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

The California Department of Motor Vehicles released its annual report from the 11 companies with state permits to test autonomous vehicles as of end of 2015, and they have all made rapid progress. The report, which covers December 2015 to November 2016, recounts how many times humans had to take over driving tasks. Google and General Motors in particular have excelled, with cars that can drive hundreds of miles at a stretch without a hitch. Nissan has gone from needing intervention every 14 miles — to assistance needed after 247 miles. Continue reading California DMV’s Report on Self-Driving Cars Shows Progress

Fiat Chrysler/Waymo Self-Driving Vehicle a Collaborative First

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Google unveiled a self-driving minivan built by Fiat Chrysler and featuring sensors and vision systems from Waymo, the company that spun off from Google parent Alphabet. The van is the first major collaboration between a Detroit car manufacturer and a Silicon Valley behemoth, and is an example of Waymo’s strategy of partnering with automakers that may not want to fully shoulder the financial burden of building a self-driving car from scratch. General Motors and Ford Motor are building their own autonomous cars. Continue reading Fiat Chrysler/Waymo Self-Driving Vehicle a Collaborative First

CES: Future of Transportation Drives Innovation, Investments

The decision by automakers such as General Motors in 2016, Fiat Chrysler and the conceptualist Faraday Future this year to debut new cars at CES instead of the traditional Detroit Auto Show the following week is about more than making headlines. Rather, it is indicative of how much the future of transportation is connected to so many other moving parts and innovations across the massive consumer electronics landscape. Driverless cars won’t widen eyes this year as much as it will be what we can do in and with this massive shift. Continue reading CES: Future of Transportation Drives Innovation, Investments

Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

Alphabet just spun off its research lab X’s autonomous vehicle project into a separate company named Waymo, to be led by chief executive John Krafcik. The move means the company believes its driverless car technology is nearing readiness for commercialization, due to advancements in sensor technology and breakthroughs in machine learning. Although Alphabet was an early leader in this field, the company has struggled to build a business around the technology, as Tesla, Uber and GM have moved forward. Alphabet is working with Fiat Chrysler on a ride-sharing service to launch next year. Continue reading Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

IBM’s Watson Predicted to Reach 1 Billion People by Q4 2017

According to IBM chief executive Virginia Rometty, a billion people will, in some form, use the company’s Watson artificial intelligence tech by the end of 2017. For example, Watson is now integrated with General Motors’ OnStar system in automobiles; Rometty says IBM is working on numerous similar contracts. Watson, one of IBM’s “strategic imperatives,” is a bundle of artificial-intelligence software that is delivered by cloud computing. As IBM’s total revenue slumped for the 18th straight quarter, its servers, software and computing services grew 15 percent in Q3. Continue reading IBM’s Watson Predicted to Reach 1 Billion People by Q4 2017

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