#19
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  • Amazon and Zoox (#1)
  • Dealing with phantoms (#18)
  • Testing under lockdown (#13)
  • Baidu’s massive center (#20)


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Wall Street Journal ($!)

Amazon. com Inc. is in advanced talks to buy Zoox Inc. in a move that would expand the e-commerce giant’s reach in autonomous-vehicle technology. The companies are discussing a deal that would value Zoox at less than the $3.2 billion it achieved in a funding round in 2018, according to people familiar with the matter.


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MIT Technology Review

With fleets out of commission, covid-19 left self-driving car and truck companies frozen in time. Now they’re finding new life in old data.


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Readers of this newsletters will be familiar with the way that simulators are used for self-driving cars when they aren’t on the road. Here Hayden Field explores how these are even more important as many cars sit parked during the pandemic.

The Globe and Mail ($)

When the Quayside project got scuttled earlier this month, it was the final blow in a years-long conflict among urban designers, their Silicon Valley bosses and multiple levels of government. Insiders tell the story of how it all went wrong.


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Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc.’s talks to buy driverless vehicle startup Zoox Inc. has analysts speculating the deal could save the e-commerce giant tens of billions a year and put auto, parcel and ride-hailing companies on their heels.


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Detroit News

Detroit — The coronavirus pandemic is proving to be yet another obstacle for the self-driving and ride-sharing movement, delaying the widely touted arrival of next-generation automotive technology.


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Wall Street Journal ($)

On May 12, Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Waymo announced it had scored an additional $750 million to make self-driving cars a commercial reality, bringing its total external fundraising to $3 billion inside two months. Then, on the 18th, The Wall Street Journal reported that Uber Technologies Inc. is cutting $1 billion in fixed costs. This included laying off roughly a quarter of its workforce and rethinking big, expensive bets—such as its own work on self-driving vehicles.


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Vice

The AI-generated version of ‘Pac-Man’ is fuzzy, and is biased against the player dying, but chipmaker Nvidia says it works even without a game engine.


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Associated Press

PARIS — France’s government is injecting more than 8 billion euros ($8.8 billion) to save the country’s car industry from huge losses wrought by virus lockdowns, and wants to use the crisis to make France the No. 1 producer of electric vehicles in Europe.


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Coventry Telegraph

Work has begun on a key test route for real world driving trials of self-driving cars in the Midlands.


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Freight Waves

Amazon.com Inc is under discussion with self-driving technology startup Zoox in an acquisition attempt that would value the company at less than the $3.2 billion it had when it raised funding in 2018. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the companies are still in talks, and a finalized agreement might not be reached for several weeks.


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C Tech

Futurists have been predicting the coming of autonomous driving for many decades now. But while billions of dollars have been invested in the dream, it has yet to be realized. There is, however, no doubt that we are closer than ever to being chauffeured around by a computer-controlled car, with Amnon Shashua, CEO and founding partner of Mobileye and senior vice president of Intel, declaring earlier this week the companies’ intention to offer a robotaxi service, with no safety drivers, in early 2022.


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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Most autonomous vehicle companies parked the cars and paused testing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. For safety reasons, companies typically have two people in self-driving cars when they are operating autonomously, making social distancing nearly impossible. Now, as Pennsylvania moves forward with phased reopening plans, some are revving their engines again.


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Speaking of cars standing idle, here Lauren Rosenblatt explores what is happening for driverless cars in U.S. states such as Pennsylvania as they get rolling again. She also mentions another method of testing cars when confined, having security guards walk back and forth in front of them.

AI Business

It’s fair to say we live in transformative times. History has shown us that periods of difficulty bring about the acceleration of innovation. We can look to the rise of fintech following the financial crisis of 07/08, as the status quo of trusting large global financial institutions with our hard-earned money suddenly became a lot less appealing.


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Autoweek

Given how much the tech giant would save on delivery costs if robocars work, you can argue that Amazon can’t afford not to bet on autonomy.


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Venture Beat

Mobileye, Intel’s driverless vehicle R&D division, today published a 40-minute video of one of its cars navigating a 160-mile stretch of Jerusalem streets. The video features top-down footage captured by a drone, as well as an in-cabin cam recording, parallel to an overlay showing the perception system’s input and predictions. The perception system was introduced at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show and features 12 cameras, but not radar, lidar, or other sensors. Eight of those cameras have long-range lenses, while four serve as “parking cameras” and all 12 feed into a compute system built atop dual 7-nanometer data-fusing, decision-making Mobileye EyeQ5 chips.


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New York Times

Fleets of vehicles roaming streets waiting to be hailed are more efficient. But the coronavirus has made people think twice about the future of car ownership even when autonomous tech arrives.


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The National (UAE)

Companies are speeding up development of products that recognise faces and hand signals


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Jerusalem Post

The researchers explained that advanced driving assistance systems consider depthless projections of objects as real objects. Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s Cyber Security Research Center have found that a phantom image projected on the road in front of a semi-autonomous vehicle can cause its autopilot to brake suddenly, endangering the lives of drivers and passengers.”


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You may remember Ben Nassi from the early editions of Free Wheeling, when he tricked a self-driving car with projections. Here the Jerusalem Post writes about a new effort at Ben Gurion University trying to prevent that from happening.

Reuters

But the company has also nixed free Supercharger access for Model S and X buyers, which is something it’s eliminated and brought back before.


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Nikkei Asian Review

BEIJING — Chinese search engine company Baidu has completed a new research and development base for autonomous-driving technology in Beijing, as it races to build up another profit driver to supplement its slumping mainstay business.


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Engineering & Technology

Britain is one of the leaders in establishing a legal framework that would allow driverless cars to use the country’s roads, but important questions remain.


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Venture Beat

Nvidia posted big earnings gains and unveiled its 54-billion transistor A100 artificial intelligence chip in the past couple of weeks. We talked with CEO Jensen Huang about that.


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Tech Node

China’s biggest automaker SAIC Motor has proposed supportive regulations for highly autonomous vehicles among other rules on the sidelines of the country’s annual political event in Beijing on Wednesday.


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Electrek

Tesla is already accusing Xpeng, a Chinese EV startup, to have stolen some of its intellectual property, but it’s not stopping the company from straight-up copying its website design.


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Forbes

WeRide, a Chinese robotaxi startup, recently compared its results testing self-driving cars in both Silicon Valley and Guangzhou, China. The report trumpets, “Test Mileage in Guangzhou 30X More Efficient Than in Silicon Valley.”


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