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Free Wheeling #23

  • Taxis and disability
  • Self-driving hospital beds
  • Future of trucking
  • Deepfakes and simulations
Published every Friday

The Conversation

Self-driving taxis could be a setback for those with different needs – unless companies embrace accessible design now

Autonomous vehicles (AVs), like self-driving taxis, continue to garner media attention as industry and political stakeholders claim that they will improve safety and access to transportation for everyone. But for people who have different mobility needs and rely on human drivers for work beyond the task of driving, the prospect of driverless taxis may not sound like progress.

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Editor’s Note:

Self-driving cars hold the promise of convenience, but there is often more work done by a taxi driver than getting someone from A to B. Here John Lunsford at Cornell University talks about wheelchair accessibility and what it means for autonomous vehicles.


Gautam Narang’s self-driving vehicle startup, Gatik, is changing Walmart’s e-commerce economics

For a self-driving vehicle startup, Gatik has an odd mantra: don’t agonize over autonomy, worry about delivery. Specifically, the three-year-old company is focused on so-called middle-mile delivery, the oft-overlooked leg between when, say, a sweater is trucked across the country and when it is ferried over the last few miles and dropped on someone’s porch.

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IT Pro Portal

The role of autonomous technology in the ‘new normal’

As we enter a new phase of the Covid-19 pandemic three ways driverless car research can be used to help the transition to the new normal.

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Daimler and Nvidia team up to close tech gap to Tesla

FRANKFURT – Having pulled ahead in the race to develop a software-based vehicle operating system, U.S. electric car pioneer Tesla faces a new challenge from an alliance of German luxury carmaker Daimler and U.S. computer graphics specialist Nvidia.

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Self-driving hospital beds and social distancing sensors: Covid-19 innovation

Digital Concepts Engineering (DCE) has used its experience in the military, agricultural and nuclear industries to repurpose its tech with the aim of responding to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and the result is self-driving hospital beds designed to safeguard medical staff, and social distancing sensors for unmanned vehicles.

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Editor’s Note:

Self-driving affects not only the roads but also other places, including in this case hospitals. Here Harry Lye talks to Digital Concepts Engineering about hospital porters.


Tesla’s controversial vision-based full self-driving approach is finally paying off

Like many things about Elon Musk, Tesla’s approach to achieving autonomous driving is polarizing. Bucking the map-based trend set by industry veterans such as Waymo, Tesla opted to dedicate its resources in pursuing a vision-based approach to achieve full self-driving instead. This involves a lot of hard, tedious work on Tesla’s part, but today, there are indications that the company’s controversial strategy is finally paying off.

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Transport Topics

Starsky Robotics Founder Discusses Future of Autonomous Trucking

Automated technology developers are shooting for the moon when they could instead be implementing ground-level initiatives in trucking that deploy existing technology, the founder of now-shuttered autonomous driving startup Starsky Robotics said.

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Atlantic Council

Automaker electric vehicle plans ‘progressing at a rapid pace’ despite pandemic, economic downturn

As vehicle production resumes, Ken Morris, GM’s vice president for electric and autonomous vehicles, affirmed on a recent press call that the company still plans to make one million EVs by 2025 and will allocate more than $20 billion in capital and engineering resources to its electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle program over the next five years (but did not provide the investment figure for EVs specifically).

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Press Association

Deepfake technology used to aid autonomous car development

Software is being used to help simulate different road environments.

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Editor’s Note:

This newsletter has previously discussed the use of simulations to train self-driving. Here the Press Association looks at some of the tech behind it, which is similar to that used for “deepfakes.”


BMW and Mercedes cancel tie-up for autonomous car development

German rivals say partnership could resume in future; other collaborations remain unaffected

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