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

Google Hopeful for Chinese Re-Entry With TensorFlow for AI

Google exited China in 2010, but is now making another pitch to re-enter by promoting its TensorFlow software for building artificial intelligence solutions. Sources say that parent company Alphabet has added staff to look for potential AI investments among Chinese companies. The online Chinese market is the biggest in the world, but Google faces challenges there, not just with homegrown rivals such as Baidu, but the fact that China’s firewall keeps domestic developers from accessing Google’s cloud computing services. Continue reading Google Hopeful for Chinese Re-Entry With TensorFlow for AI

Tech Demand for AI Talent Generates Major League Salaries

As tech companies continue to bet on artificial intelligence powering next generation smartphones, autonomous vehicles, virtual assistants, smart home gadgets and much more, the demand for top AI talent is also on the rise. “Typical AI specialists, including both PhDs fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock,” reports The New York Times. Leading names in AI are often earning in the millions from tech titans and negotiating for new contracts in a time frame that rivals professional athletes. In fact, some in Silicon Valley have joked of creating an NFL-like salary cap. Continue reading Tech Demand for AI Talent Generates Major League Salaries

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt has always wondered what it would be like to apply all his company’s technology to a city. The company’s founders got excited about the idea, and now it’s about to become a reality. Plucked out of half a dozen proposals, Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet subsidiary, will work with Canadian government officials and other technologists to develop 800 acres of waterfront property in Toronto, creating a potential model of the smart city and licensing its technologies to other cities. Continue reading Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to Develop a Smart City in Toronto

London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

London cut Uber’s license to operate, which will expire September 30. London said that Uber lacked corporate responsibility and was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire licenses. Uber has 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users in London. Transport for London (TfL), the agency that oversees the city’s cabs, buses and subways, said it would allow Uber to operate until the conclusion of the appeals process. TfL also cited Uber’s background checks on drivers, its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and Greyball, a software that could block regulators from accessing the app. Continue reading London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate, Uber Appeals Ruling

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

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

SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

SenseTime Co., a Beijing-based startup founded in 2014 that sells its facial recognition systems to the Chinese police, just scored $410 million in new venture capital funding that values the company at more than $1.5 billion. The valuation, which makes the company a unicorn, underscores how such surveillance technologies are increasing in importance. Facial recognition breaks down a face into measurements that create a template, and SenseTime uses artificial intelligence to match faces against those in an image database. Continue reading SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

Travis Kalanick stepped down from his chief exec position of ride-hailing service Uber yesterday. Kalanick helped found the company in 2009, but months of scrutiny regarding charges of harassment and discrimination, followed by a recent shareholder revolt resulted in his departure. “Five of Uber’s major investors demanded that [he] resign immediately,” according to The New York Times. “The investors included one of Uber’s biggest shareholders, the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on Uber’s board.” The company will seek new leadership, although Kalanick will remain on Uber’s board of directors. Continue reading Uber CEO Considers Investor Concerns and Resigns Position

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

Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick announced his plans to take a leave of absence as chief exec while the company works to salvage its brand and launches a reorganization that includes closer supervision by its board of directors. “At a packed meeting with employees on Tuesday morning,” reports The New York Times, “Uber released 13 pages of recommendations compiled as part of an investigation into sexual harassment and other wrongdoing conducted by the former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and his law firm, Covington & Burlington.” Continue reading Uber CEO Steps Away as Company Initiates Major Changes

Toyota and MIT Media Lab Partner on Blockchain for Vehicles

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI), with MIT Media Lab, is exploring how to use the blockchain technology behind bitcoin in the automotive industry. The company unveiled several projects focused on how to use software to gather information about individual autonomous vehicles and distribute information about their safety. The first research aims to share data on every trip, develop tools to make ridesharing easier and create usage-based insurance products. TRI is also working with several startups in its efforts. Continue reading Toyota and MIT Media Lab Partner on Blockchain for Vehicles

HP Introduces Memory-Driven Computing With ‘The Machine’

Hewlett Packard Enterprise introduced a prototype computer dubbed The Machine, which has a single 160-terabyte memory bank that can simultaneously process the data found in 160 million books. This never-before-accomplished feat reveals the potential of what’s called Memory-Driven Computing. The custom-built computer is, says HPE, the world’s largest single-memory computer, based on the largest R&D program in HPE’s history. The Machine, it adds, and its capabilities will be transformational. Continue reading HP Introduces Memory-Driven Computing With ‘The Machine’

U.S. District Judge Orders Uber to Return Waymo Documents

Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle unit Waymo accused Uber Technologies of conspiring with former Waymo executive Anthony Levandowski to steal 14,000 files related to its program, subject of a lawsuit that has been ongoing for three months. Now, U.S. District Judge William Alsup has ordered Uber to return the files and provide an accounting of employee contact with these files, including all relevant communication with Levandowski. Although the judge did not shut down Uber’s self-driving program, it barred Levandowski from working on it. Continue reading U.S. District Judge Orders Uber to Return Waymo Documents

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

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