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Uber Sees Gold in Autonomous Vehicle Field
December 7, 2016
Uber has announced the acquisition of startup Geometric Intelligence, a move designed to increase its presence in the autonomous vehicle technology field. Geometric CEO Gary Marcus will become the chief of Uber's new artificial intelligence business. He will lead the newly formed Uber AI Labs, which will be dedicated to conducting research into artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Apple Drone Fleet to Gather Maps Data
December 2, 2016
Apple reportedly has assembled a group of robotics and data-collection experts who will use drones to obtain data for updates to its Maps app. Apple, Google and others in the cartography space currently collect a lot of their data using motor vehicles equipped with high-tech gear. "That's a very expensive and time-consuming process," said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research.
One of the Best New VR Things: Buying a Car
November 21, 2016
I had a fascinating experience last week. I got to see and experience the new Jaguar I-Pace, the company's electric answer to the as-yet-unannounced Tesla Y SUV. I didn't just get to see the car -- I got to understand intimately why the car was created and what went into its design. I got to experience aspects of the vehicle viscerally, without actually getting into it.
First Hyperloop Could Blaze a Trail Between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
November 12, 2016
Hyperloop One, which aims to fulfill the vision of high-speed transportation promoted by Elon Musk, has signed a deal to develop a line between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. The project reportedly will have several stations throughout Dubai connecting the hyperloop system to Abu Dhabi. Pods will carry passengers and cargo between the two.
Tesla: Everyone Gets a Self-Driving Car
October 21, 2016
Tesla on Wednesday announced plans to install hardware that will allow all of its cars to become driverless. The equipment will enable self-driving at a safety level substantially greater than human-driven cars, according to the company. The hardware includes eight cameras to provide 360-degree visibility; 12 ultrasonic sensors to detect hard and soft objects; and forward-facing radar.
Samsung Bows Under Note7 Fallout
October 20, 2016
Three owners of Galaxy Note7 smartphones this week filed a complaint in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey, that could become a class action lawsuit against Samsung. "Plaintiffs and the Class have suffered injury in fact, incurred millions of dollars in fees, and have otherwise been harmed by Samsung's conduct," the complaint states. Samsung has recalled the phones and stopped producing them.
Apple Downshifts Driverless Vehicle Plans
October 18, 2016
Apple appears to be shifting its driverless car ambitions into a lower gear. Changes in the company's automotive strategy reportedly have resulted in hundreds of job cuts and the shelving of plans to build a car of its own. Project Titan's shift in direction follows months of disagreements, leadership uncertainty, and supply chain problems within the project.
Nevada Issues Historic License to Paralyzed Race Car Driver
October 7, 2016
The state of Nevada last week issued paralyzed former Indy driver Sam Schmidt a license to drive a specially made autonomous vehicle, equipped with a series of high-tech sensors and other equipment that will allow him to operate it with head motions, voice commands and breathing techniques. The license allows Schmidt to operate the Arrow SAM car alongside regular passenger traffic.
Toyota Positions Kirobo Mini as Tiny Traveling Companion
October 3, 2016
Gearing up for this week's CEATEC trade show in Tokyo, Toyota on Monday announced that its compact-sized Kirobo Mini, pitched as a "communication partner," will go on sale early next year in Japan. The Mini is a smaller version of the astronaut robot Kirobo, which visited the International Space Station in 2013. The Kirobo Mini is meant to take part in more down-to-earth affairs.
Apple Steers Its Car Project All Over the Map
September 29, 2016
McLaren Technology Group, which manufactures Formula One and luxury supercars, has denied rumors that it was engaging in discussions with Apple regarding a possible purchase or strategic investment. Apple has been pursing a highly secretive project to develop its own venture in the electric and autonomous vehicle space, and it reportedly has entered negotiations with McLaren on a potential deal.
Gadget Ogling: Driving Partner, Hydration Station, and Flying Grabbers
September 24, 2016
After a bad experience when I was first behind the wheel as a teenager, I'm only just now learning to drive, more than a decade later. My partner and I are going through the school together, and when asked about our dream vehicles in class, she replied that she'd love a self-driving RV. Her wish eventually might turn true with a device that grants vehicles more autonomy.
DoT Refreshes Rule Book to Include Self-Driving Cars
September 20, 2016
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has introduced new federal guidelines for the emerging highly automated vehicle industry -- including self-driving and semi-autonomous vehicles -- creating a framework that will help drive one of the most important new sectors in the national economy. Foxx was joined by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Udacity Fuels Autonomous Vehicle Engineering Dreams
September 15, 2016
Online education company Udacity on Tuesday introduced a new "nanodegree" program in self-driving auto engineering. President Sebastian Thrun made the announcement. The goal is to build a crowdsourced, open source self-driving car, he said. Students will learn the skills and techniques used by self-driving car teams at the most innovative companies in the world, Udacity has promised.
How China Could Take Over the World's Tech and Automotive Markets
September 12, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu recently made an announcement with regard to self-driving cars that deserves closer attention. China currently is behind the U.S. in automotive technology, but it has passed the U.S. and Japan in automobile production -- I actually thought Japan was still ahead. China is producing twice the number of cars the U.S. is producing right now.
Nvidia, Baidu Team on Cloud-to-Car AI Platform
September 1, 2016
Nvidia and Baidu have agreed to collaborate on the incorporation of artificial intelligence in a cloud-to-car autonomous vehicle platform, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said Wednesday. The companies plan to integrate Baidu's cloud platform and mapping technology with Nvidia's self-driving computing platform. They also will work together to create solutions for high-definition maps.
American Breaks People
August 30, 2016
It's easy to lose sight of people in a CRM discussion, focusing instead on the great technology and what it does under optimum circumstances. We should keep the customer in mind at all times, however, for without them what are we? Forgetting the customer is dangerous both for customers and vendors in this social age. Far from being a universal good, automation can obstruct human interactions.
Amazon Sets Up New Auto Research Shop
August 25, 2016
Amazon on Thursday launched Amazon Vehicles, a research and community site that will let users compare new and used cars, and shop for auto parts, among other things. The site will let customers view everything from specs, images, videos and customer reviews of thousands of brand new to classic vehicles, potentially offering stiff competition to Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader.com.
From the Olympic Non-Robbery to Ford Getting Out of Cars, to Evil NSA: A Strange Week
August 22, 2016
There were three stories that caught my eye last week that I think deserve some additional discussion. One is the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympians followed by questions of whether it really happened because their phones weren't stolen. There may be a legitimate reason for that, and it's one that suggests a lot of folks will be getting huge cellphone bills next month.
Uber Revs Engine in Self-Driving Race
August 18, 2016
Uber on Thursday announced plans to begin testing semi-autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh later this month. Its first partially self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles reportedly will be assigned at random to customers who use the company's app. Each of the prototype cars will have an actual human on board to act as copilot and monitor the vehicle's performance from the driver's seat.
Hackability of Volkswagen's Keyless Entry System Exposed
August 12, 2016
Hackers using cheap wireless devices pose a threat to millions of cars equipped with Volkswagen's keyless entry system, according to a study from the University of Birmingham. Scheduled for presentation Friday at the USENIX security conference in Austin, Texas, the study shows that thieves can use a simple wireless device to unlock the doors of millions of cars remotely.
Amazon's Prime Air Brand Takes Flight
August 10, 2016
Amazon last week unveiled its first Prime Air plane during the Boeing Seafair Air Show in Seattle. The company has undertaken an ambitious effort to gain control of its massive distribution network for delivery of goods to its retail customers. The plane, dubbed "Amazon One," is a Boeing 767-300 operated by Atlas Air. Atlas and ATSG have partnered with Amazon to fly a total of 40 cargo planes.
Delta's Tech Glitches Cause More Cancellations, Delays
August 9, 2016
Delta Air Lines reportedly canceled 300 flights Tuesday morning, a day after a mammoth outage that forced it to temporarily ground thousands of flights worldwide and ultimately cancel more than 400 of them. Although an update posted at 10:00 p.m. ET Monday night warned that there would be more than 100 flight cancellations and roughly 200 delays Tuesday morning, the actual numbers were worse.
Uber's China Strategy Shifts Into Reverse
August 3, 2016
Didi Chuxing on Monday announced a historic deal to acquire the Chinese ride-sharing operations of rival Uber, which threw in the towel after years of unsuccessful efforts to grow its business in what may prove to be the world's most challenging technology market. Under the agreement, Didi Chuxing acquired all of Uber China's assets, including its brand, data and business operations.
UK Greenlights Amazon's Drone Delivery Tests
August 2, 2016
Amazon, which has appealed to U.S. regulators for years for permission to test package delivery with aerial drones, last week announced a new partnership with the UK government to launch a pilot program there. A cross-government team, supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, has granted Amazon permission to begin testing three critical performance factors.
Uber Sees the Cartography on the Wall
August 1, 2016
With an eye on its future, Uber last week announced it was increasing its investment in mapping. "The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we're doubling down on our investment in mapping," said Brian McClendon, Uber's vice president of advanced technologies. Uber has committed to investing $500 million in the mapping initiative, according to news reports.
Aquila Test Flight Carries Facebook's Internet Ambitions Aloft
July 26, 2016
Facebook has carried out the first full-scale test flight of Aquila, a high-altitude solar-powered unmanned aircraft designed to provide Internet access to remote regions. The company had flown a one-fifth scale version of the airplane for several months. The full-sized craft has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 -- 46 yards -- but reportedly weighs less than 900 pounds fully laden.
Musk Plots Out Tesla's Next 10 Years
July 22, 2016
Elon Musk has unveiled a second master plan for Tesla, a follow-up to the vision he shared 10 years ago. The original master plan is now in the final stages of execution. The refresh sketches out a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that is about more than vehicles. Musk also plans to advance an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product and create a ride-sharing program, among other things.
Teal Pushes Drone Speed Limits
July 21, 2016
Teal Drones on Wednesday introduced what it billed as the world's fastest production drone. Aside from its drone's capabilities, the company is drawing attention because George Matus Jr., its founder and CEO, is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. The drone can fly at 70 mph in all weather conditions and has reached a top speed of 85 mph. It can withstand 40 mph winds.
Uber by the Billions
July 20, 2016
Uber just celebrated its two-billionth trip in a 147-way tie, CEO Travis Kalanick announced Monday. Each of the drivers and riders who began their trip at 4:16 a.m. GMT on Saturday, June 18, got a $450 gift from Uber -- the number is significant because Uber now operates in 450 cities across the globe, Kalanick said. The company's growth trajectory is impressive.
Reading Between the Lines: Musk's Folly, Trump's Plan
July 18, 2016
Something like 90 percent of CEOs are planning to put their companies out of business accidentally, based on a KPMG report I just reviewed. After watching Tesla of late, I think Musk is on the fast track to lead this effort, and since I'm a Tesla fan, and I know a lot of you drive Teslas, I thought that might be an interesting, if scary, topic for this week.
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