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  • NTSB versus Tesla
  • Pony.ai giddy up
  • MIT tackles driving in snow
  • Fear not the swarming robots
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The Conversation
Over the past decade almost US$200 billion has been invested globally in mobility technology that promises to improve our ability to get around. More than US$33 billion was invested last year alone. Another measure of interest in this area is the number of unicorns, which has doubled in the past two years.

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Venture Beat
This morning the California Department of Motor Vehicles released a batch of 2019 reports from the companies piloting self-driving vehicles in the state. By law, all companies actively testing autonomous cars on public roads in California are required to disclose the number of miles driven and how often human drivers were forced to take control of their vehicles, otherwise known as a “disengagement.”

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Freight Waves
Starsky Robotics’ main competitors have snapped up nearly 85% of its engineers.

Editor’s Note: One promising area of self-driving is in trucks, though not all companies have found success. Here Freight Waves has the story on Starsky Robotics.

Fleet News
An investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model X being driven on autopilot in Mountain View, Calfornia, has found that the driver was distracted using his mobile phone.

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USA Today
You’ll sit at tables, under ambient lighting, getting help from voice assistants as you stretch out your legs in reclining seats. And that’s appealing to many Americans who already know they want to sleep, send emails or play video games as they zip down the road in a car that operates itself.

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The Next Web
As it happens, the industry (Society of Automotive Engineers, SAE) has settled on separating self-driving cars into five classes or levels — six if you include cars that have no automation at all.

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Forbes
Do you think that men are better drivers than women, or do you believe that women are better drivers than men?

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Inverse
Autonomous cars may seem cool, but when the temperatures really drop they can start to suffer.

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Bloomberg
Waymo and Cruise needed less help from safety drivers in 2019 road testing.

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Venture Beat
Inclement weather — particularly rain and snow — threaten to stop autonomous vehicles in their tracks. That’s because precipitation covers cameras critical to the cars’ self-awareness and tricks sensors into perceiving obstacles that aren’t there. Plus, bad weather has a tendency to obscure road signage and structures that normally serve as navigational landmarks.

Editor’s Note: Readers of this newsletter will likely be familiar with the Lidar system that helps cars “see.” But it has its problems. Here is a look at a new strategy from scientists at MIT, called Ground Penetrating Radar.

The Spoon
With these technological developments come novel legal questions that potential acquirers or investors that develop and manufacture delivery robots and that use robotic systems in warehouses need to consider. Such legal considerations include tort liability, privacy and data protection issues and regulatory concerns regarding traffic and motorized vehicle laws.

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National Interest
It’s winter 2030, and your fully autonomous full-size SUV is cruising down a snowy country road. Unlike today’s autopilot Teslas, your car doesn’t have a gas pedal, breaks, steering wheel, or even a front windshield. The car is truly, fully autonomous, reflecting Level 5 automation, in the term of art. For safety, you’re in a rear-facing seat, and to pass the time, you’re watching Avengers: Endgame in classic 2D on your car’s rear holoscreen. Sit back, relax, and leave the driving to AI.

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Reuters
HONG KONG/BEIJING — Autonomous driving firm Pony.ai has raised around $500 million in its latest funding round, led by an investment by Japan’s largest automaker Toyota Motor Corp, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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CNET
EasyMile’s autonomous shuttles can still operate on public roads in the US, but NHTSA won’t allow passengers onboard for now.

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Electrek
Tesla has reported some fully autonomous test miles for the first time in years in the California DMV disengagement report, but it’s nothing to get too excited about.

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AP
LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday that Michigan will have a mobility officer to coordinate all initiatives related to self-driving and connected cars, an effort she said will ensure the state is the go-to place for testing and producing vehicles of the future.

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Bloomberg
Carmaker hasn’t filed formal reply to agency recommendations.

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Digital Trends
In the summer of 2014, Ahti Heinla, one of the software engineers who helped develop Skype, started taking photos of his house.

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Northwestern University
For self-driving vehicles to become an everyday reality, they need to safely and flawlessly navigate one another without crashing or causing unnecessary traffic jams. To help make this possible, Northwestern University researchers have developed the first decentralized algorithm with a collision-free, deadlock-free guarantee.

Editor’s Note: A frequent subject in Free Wheeling is traffic, which we hate now and could continue to hate in the future. Here researchers at Northwestern look at how to get robots to cooperate.

CNBC
An employee drives a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S electric automobile, equipped with Autopilot hardware and software, hands-free on a highway.

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Automotive News
General Motors’ Cruise Automation unit now can carry passengers in California.

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Freight Waves
“They don’t need to sleep in a vehicle. They can work in an office environment and then go home.”

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International Business Times
Apple has a patent for an advanced car seat system. It allows the chair to be more adaptable to its seater. Apple is silent about their progress with the Project Titan car

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Reuters
MOSCOW – Russian technology start-up Cognitive Pilot, which makes components for driverless vehicles, is considering an initial public offering (IPO) after 2023, its chief executive told Reuters.

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Fleet News
Driverless cars are coming to Britain’s roads, according to many in Government circles. The big question is when.

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