Uber, the global ride-sharing transportation company, has named two replacements to recover from the recent firing of Anthony Levandowski who headed their Advanced Technologies Group, their OTTO trucking unit, and their self-driving team. Levandowski was fired May 30th.
SoftBank Group just invested $5 billion in China’s Didi Chuxing, China’s biggest ride-sharing service. Last year Uber sold their China business to Didi resolving (by giving up) all the legal and antitrust investigations it was undergoing in China. In other news, Chris Urmson, CTO of Google’s self-driving car program, left to start a new company and Waymo and Lyft just agreed on a partnership to develop projects and products toward adoption of autonomous vehicle technology.
Waymo (Google) has announced a pilot project in Phoenix offering a full ride service in their new minivans. Members of the public can sign up — the link is sure to be overwhelmed with applicants, but it has videos and more details — and some families are already participating.
The field of transportation is undergoing a seismic shift with the introduction of autonomous driving — or computer-driven cars. Computer vision scientist and Mobileye co-founder Amnon Shashua PhD ’93 described the challenges associated with this technology in a talk last month hosted by MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines (CBMM).
Recently we’ve seen a series of startups arise hoping to make robocars with just computer vision, along with radar. That includes recently unstealthed AutoX, the off-again, on again efforts of comma.ai and at the non-startup end, the dedication of Tesla to not use LIDAR because it wants to sell cars today before LIDARs can be bought at automotive quantities and prices.
If you take humans out of the driving seat, could traffic jams, accidents and high fuel bills become a thing of the past? As cars become more automated and connected, attention is turning to how to best choreograph the interaction between the tens or hundreds of automated vehicles that will one day share the same segment of Europe’s road network.
Intel announced plans to acquire Israel-based Mobileye, a developer of vision technology used in autonomous driving applications, for $15.3 billion. Mobileye share prices jumped from $47 to $61 (the tender offering price is $63.54) on the news, a 30% premium. The purchase marks the largest acquisition of an Israeli hi-tech company ever.
Argo AI, a Pittsburgh startup, has sold a majority share of their company to Ford Motor Co. which has agreed to invest $1 billion over a five-year schedule but will immediately become the majority shareholder. Both companies declined to disclose further details.
Intel is establishing an autonomous driving division; hacker George Hotz is open-sourcing his self-driving software in a bid to become a network company; LiDAR and distancing devices are changing. What does it all mean?
In October, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission released a report, China’s Industrial and Military Robotics Development, prepared by the Defense Group, Inc. at the Commission’s request. The report examines the development of China’s unmanned industrial, service, and military robotics systems, such as drones and driverless cars, and the economic and national security implications of these trends for the United States.