Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG are extending their seven-month-old alliance to include collaborating on self-driving and electric car technology. In a joint statement today, the companies announced that Volkswagen would invest $2.6 billion in Ford’s autonomous-vehicle partner Argo AI by providing $1 billion in funding and contributing its Audi $1.6 billion Autonomous Intelligent Driving unit, based in Munich. In 2017, Ford invested $1 billion in Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle startup Argo. Once the Ford-VW deal is finalized, Argo’s value is expected to reach $7 billion. Continue reading Ford, VW Collaborate on Autonomous and Electric Vehicles

Apple Reveals Plans for Texas Campus and Major Expansion

Apple announced yesterday that it plans to spend $1 billion on a new campus in Austin, Texas to accommodate up to 15,000 employees. Over the next three years, the company also plans to add hundreds of workers to its offices in Boulder, Colorado; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and New York, while opening 1,000-worker operations in Culver City, California; Seattle, Washington and San Diego, California. Major tech players such as Apple, Amazon and Google are increasingly moving beyond Silicon Valley as part of strategic expansion plans and the ongoing search for new tech talent. Continue reading Apple Reveals Plans for Texas Campus and Major Expansion

Amazon Invites Long-Shot Cities to Make Their Case for HQ

Amazon’s invitation for U.S. cities and states to submit proposals for its second headquarters has ignited a frenzy of interest. The new headquarters is estimated to bring a $5 billion investment and 50,000 jobs, which led governors, mayors and other officials to invest in everything from professionally produced promotional packets to PR stunts to attract attention. In the process, some cities may be spending more than they should on what is essentially a long shot. The initial bidding process ends on October 19. Continue reading Amazon Invites Long-Shot Cities to Make Their Case for HQ

Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Google just set aside $1 billion for a new program dubbed “Grow with Google,” which will fund education and professional training nonprofits to help prepare Americans for technology jobs. The program will offer a website that will help people looking for jobs to get training and professional certificates, and for businesses to improve their online presences. Google says the goal is to allow anyone with an Internet connection to become tech-proficient and eligible for jobs from app development to IT support. Continue reading Google Earmarks $1 Billion for Tech Education via Nonprofits

Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

Disney recently submitted a patent application for “a robot that will move and physically interact like an animated character.” The prototype sketch with the application shows a round body similar to the soft-robot character in Disney’s 2014 “Big Hero 6.” Before soft-body robots can be employed at Disney theme parks, the company will have to deal with the issue of robotic interaction safety, since the patent application implies that theme park guests will be able to hug the soft-body characters. Continue reading Disney Tests Prototype, Pursues Patent for Soft-Bodied Robot

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

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

Target Aims to Enhance Shopping Experience with Beacon Tech

Target will start using Bluetooth beacon technology to send recommendations about product deals directly to the smartphones of customers who opt-in for alerts. Users with the latest version of the Target iPhone app on their phones will receive in-app updates and two push notifications per shopping trip. Target is testing beacon tech in 50 of its stores around the country, and plans to use consumer feedback to adapt the service, and release it nationwide by the holiday shopping season. Continue reading Target Aims to Enhance Shopping Experience with Beacon Tech

Facebook to Acquire Developer of Speech Translation Tools

Facebook has agreed to acquire Pittsburgh-based Mobile Technologies, a developer of voice-recognition and speech translation tools. Founded in 2001, Mobile Technologies offers an automatic interpretation service for lectures and developed Jibbigo, a speech-to-speech translator app for iPhone and Android. The company’s goal has been to break “through language barriers to open up communication between the people of the world.” Continue reading Facebook to Acquire Developer of Speech Translation Tools

SIGGRAPH: Disney Uses 3D Printing to Create Expressive Eyes

Disney Research is using 3D printing to create components to build expressive eyes for robots. However, rather than mimic human eyes, which can appear strange to some, the robot eyes have a cartoonish look. The technology may have future applications for interactive toys, video game characters and possibly even human prosthetic eyes. The research team demonstrated the technology at the ACM SIGGRAPH Conference in Anaheim last week. Continue reading SIGGRAPH: Disney Uses 3D Printing to Create Expressive Eyes