#15
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  • Tesla’s “full self-driving” (#9)
  • Fleet of tractors (#19)
  • Trade secret lawsuit (#12+16)
  • VW’s Tesla worries (#21)


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Venture Beat

In the months since the coronavirus prompted shelter-in-place orders around the world, entire companies, industries, and economies have been decimated. One market that appeared poised to escape the impact was autonomous vehicles, particularly in the case of companies whose cars can be used to transport supplies to health care workers. But it seems even they aren’t immune.


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Verdict

With new technology constantly emerging and becoming one of the latest trends or must-haves, people can be forgiven for forgetting the real-life applications of the technology. Autonomous cars have long been a staple in science fiction but in the last decade, they have moved closer to general availability as more and more companies start developing their own offerings. Tesla, Google’s Waymo and GM Cruise are some of the leaders in this industry, driving the advancement in self-driving vehicles.


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Edmunds

Distracted driving puts not only drivers on the road at risk but also passengers, cyclists and pedestrians. In 2018, it led to the deaths of 2,841 people, according to the most current data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


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Detroit Free Press

Ford Motor Co. posted a $2 billion first-quarter net loss, blaming nearly all of it on the negative effects of the coronavirus. The automaker said Tuesday that its revenue from January through March fell nearly 15% to $34.3 billion as most of its factories were shut down for the final week of the quarter.


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Automotive News ($)

Velodyne is a pioneer in lidar, which helps self-driving vehicles detect obstacles ahead.


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Forbes

Over the past month as much of the world has hunkered down trying to limit the spread of the coronavirus, one of the most frequent questions that comes up is the fate of the all the big ticket product plans that automakers had committed to. Top of the list are all the electric and automated vehicles (AV) that were supposed to start rolling out imminently. During its first quarter earnings call, where it reported a net loss of $2 billion, Ford chief operating officer Jim Farley provided some insight into his company’s thinking with the revelation that the commercial launch of its AVs would be pushed back into 2022.


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Bloomberg

SoftBank Corp.’s fifth-generation wireless service in Japan is living up to the hype in at least one respect — internet speeds that are blazingly fast even by the standards of one of the most connected countries in the world.


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The Hindu Business Line

Over the past five years, the auto industry has been busy transforming its tired image into that of a tech-oriented sector, engaged with smart, connected and electrified vehicles and mobility services. Mid-stride through this capital intensive transition, Covid-19 has dealt a blow, leading to a simultaneous collapse of both supply and demand.


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Engadget

During the Q1 2020 earnings call on Wednesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed that the company’s “Full Self-Driving” system will become available as a monthly subscription later this year.


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“Full self-driving” isn’t here yet, though companies are already planning for it. Here Engadget reports on Tesla’s earning call, including news about what “FSD” might look like as a service.

Reuters

China’s Inceptio Technology, a startup developing self-driving trucks, has raised $100 million in its latest funding round from logistics firm GLP, its key strategic investor G7 and other investors, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.


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Clean Technica

Tesla’s progress with artificial intelligence and neural nets has propelled its Autopilot and Full Self Driving solutions to the front of the pack. This is the result of the brilliant work of a large team of Autopilot directors and staff, including Tesla’s Senior Director of AI, Andrej Karpathy. Karpathy presented Tesla’s methods for training its AI at the Scaled ML Conference in February. Along the way, he shared specific insights into Tesla’s methods for achieving the accuracy of traditional laser-based lidar with just a handful of cameras.


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Bloomberg

More than a year after the billionaire chairman of Xpeng Motors labeled as “questionable” Tesla Inc.’s allegations that an engineer stole Autopilot secrets before bolting to the Chinese startup, the questions from Elon Musk’s company keep coming.


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Input Mag

Uber is also considering big cuts to keep profit margins in order. It’s going to be a long time before these companies fully recover (if ever).


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Deseret News

Newer Tesla vehicles recently received an autopilot update allowing them to recognize and respond to stop signs and traffic lights, TechCrunch reports.


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Teslarati

The updated timing follows a communication to Tesla Semi customers from early January, outlining the company’s plans for limited production of the Semi in the second half of 2020. “We are on track to produce limited volumes of the Tesla Semi in the second half of 2020,” the email from Tesla’s Truck Team said.


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Nikkei

Chinese electric vehicle startup Xpeng Motors accused Tesla Inc. of being a bully, firing the latest legal salvo in the companies’ ongoing battle over alleged intellectual property theft.


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People who have been following this newsletter know that trade secrets in the world of self-driving cars are serious business. Here Nikkei covers Xpeng’s response to a lawsuit also mentioned in the Bloomberg piece above.

Mashable

Waymo, the self-driving car company spun off from Google, shut down its robo-taxi service in Arizona and stopped testing its vehicles on public roads because of the coronavirus pandemic. But that doesn’t mean driverless car testing isn’t still happening.


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CarScoops

In early 2009, the Google Self-Driving Car Project was born, evolving over the years into what we now know as Waymo.


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Geospatial World

The US-based lidar technology company Velodyne Lidar, Inc. has announced a three-year agreement with TLD, a global leader in ground support equipment. TLD uses Velodyne lidar sensors in production of its TractEasy autonomous electric baggage tractor that enables a significant increase in productivity, efficiency and labor savings in airport and industrial operations.


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The Verge

Cruise, the self-driving subsidiary of General Motors, has brought some of its autonomous vehicles out of their coronavirus-imposed dormancy to make deliveries for a pair of food banks in San Francisco, the company announced today.


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Electrek

Volkswagen CEO Hebert Diess has admitted that Tesla has a significant lead when it comes to software and its use in its self-driving program, according to leaked internal communications.


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Consumers don’t really have to pick sides, but like the trade secrets show, the world of self-driving is a competition. Here Electrek reports on a scoop from the German magazine Automobilwoche.

TechCrunch

Properly equipped Tesla vehicles can now recognize and respond to traffic lights and stop signs thanks to a software update the company started pushing out to owners over the weekend.


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Transport Topics

Investor-funded startups competing hard to commercialize highly automated heavy-duty trucks found themselves having to deal with unfamiliar territory in late March given the uncertainties and disruptions from the spread of the novel coronavirus — just like the rest of the trucking industry.


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IEEE Spectrum

Jet fighters can’t carry a huge tank of fuel because it would slow them down. Instead they have recourse to air-to-air refueling, using massive tanker planes as their gas stations.


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Reuters

MOSCOW – Yandex.Taxi, the ride-hailing arm of Russian internet giant Yandex (YNDX.O), is hoping to remain profitable in the second half of this year despite a sharp drop in sales as coronavirus restrictions keep people across the country at home.


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