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

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

Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

Alphabet’s Waymo, once a Google unit, has begun a campaign assisted by Intel to educate the public, even as it prepares to debut its first commercial ride-hailing service with Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Dubbed “Let’s Talk Self-Driving,” the campaign includes safety and disability advocacy groups, promotes its self-driving car pilot program in Arizona and seeks to educate the public about the technology behind autonomous vehicles. Intel will run an ad with LeBron James about self-driving cars. Continue reading Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

Uber Is Expected to Name Expedia’s Khosrowshahi as CEO

The Uber board has settled on Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi as the ride-hailing giant’s next chief exec. Khosrowshahi was the third candidate behind Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman and former GE chief Jeff Immelt. “Called the ‘truce’ candidate by one person close to the board and the ‘compromise’ choice by another — due to extensive infighting between ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber’s big investor Benchmark,” reports Recode, “Khosrowshahi will now try to settle the turbulent waters at the company riven by” numerous issues including a report from former Attorney General Eric Holder regarding a sexist company culture; allegations of regulatory wrongdoings, a lawsuit filed by Waymo, its publicized management shakeup, and declining employee morale. Continue reading Uber Is Expected to Name Expedia’s Khosrowshahi as CEO

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

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

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

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

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

Waymo Shifts Gears to Become a Supplier, GM Releases SDK

Alphabet has recalibrated its strategy with autonomous vehicle division Waymo. After spinning it off into a separate company, Alphabet is now focusing on Waymo’s ability to provide a complete hardware/software technological platform to manufacturers making self-driving cars. This new goal is in line with company CFO Ruth Porat’s directive that its moonshot initiatives actually meet specific financial targets. By doing so, Waymo becomes a direct competitor with companies such as Mobileye and Delphi. Continue reading Waymo Shifts Gears to Become a Supplier, GM Releases SDK

Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

Alphabet’s Q4 revenue increased almost three times faster than profit, leading the tech titan to look for new growth areas. The company says that a one-time tax adjustment accounted for the missed Wall Street expectation. Google’s largest global advertising business and the very popular YouTube account for most of the revenue, but Alphabet is looking to mobile search, YouTube and automated ad buying as newer forms of advertising; its new smartphone Pixel and digital assistant-powered Google Home also show promise. Continue reading Alphabet: Search is Strong, Future Bets on YouTube, Pixel, IoT

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

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