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SAIC Motor says it will put Robotaxis capable of L4 self-driving on roads in China this year

SAIC Robotaxis

Chinese automotive design and manufacturing company SAIC Motor says it will launch 40 to 60 Robotaxis capable of Level 4 self-driving throughout Shanghai and Suzhou before the end of 2021. The bold statement was made by Zu Sijie, vice president and chief engineer of the company, during this year’s World Artificial Intelligence Conference.

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Companies have invested ~$80 billion in self-driving tech with no clear leader

There are so many companies investing in self-driving technology that it’s hard to keep track of them all. The Brookings institute tried anyway with their latest report on the industry.

After tracking deals and investments, they estimate that ~$80 billion has been invested in the race to bring the technology to market. Yet, there’s still no clear leader in that race.

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Waymo’s self-driving cars needed far fewer safety-related disengages in 2016

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles published its Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports for 2016 today, which include statistics on disengagements for all of the companies currently testing self-driving cars in the Golden State. Importantly, Alphabet’s Waymo reported far fewer safety-related disengages and far more miles driven in 2016 compared to 2015, signaling that the company’s system is — as it should — continually getting safer…



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Google has reportedly backed off plans for radical self-driving cars in run-up to launch

An electric self-driving Chrysler Pacifica is Google's first confirmed partnership

Google has long said that it has no plans to manufacture self-driving cars itself, instead partnering with automakers, but it had been thought that it might press ahead with cars without steering wheels or pedals. However, a new report from The Information suggests that parent company Alphabet has now ‘backed off’ these plans in favor of something more conventional.

The report also echoes a much earlier one on the company’s intentions for the self-driving car project …



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Google self-driving car prototype involved in serious crash with van in Mountain View, no injury

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We have been reporting quite often on accidents involving Tesla’s Autopilot program so it’s just fair that we also let you know about accidents involving other autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle programs.

We learned that one of Google’s self-driving prototype was involved in a serious crash with a commercial van in Mountain View today.

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Here’s the federal plan to accelerate the self-driving car revolution

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After several delays, it’s finally here. The US government released today its plan to accelerate the implementation of self-driving cars with guidelines for automakers and tech companies developing the technology.

The 116-page document (embedded below) offers a framework for the so-far confusedly regulated industry.

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All-electric self-driving cars are hitting the streets of Singapore for nuTonomy’s robotaxi project

nutonomy

It’s an exciting time in the autonomous driving space. While companies are making announcements about upcoming systems available in 2019, like Mobileye and Delphi, and in 2021, like Ford, some are already having trial projects with customers in public streets, like Uber in Pittsburgh.

Today, nuTonomy announced the start of its own public self-driving car trial in the streets of Singapore, and EV enthusiasts will be happy to know that they are using all-electric vehicles.

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Uber reveals a fleet of human-supervised self-driving cars available to customers in Pittsburgh

uber self-driving volvo

Only 3 months after its test fleet started hitting the streets of Pittsburgh, Uber announced today that it is rolling out a fleet of human-supervised self-driving cars available to customers by the end of the month. The company unveiled its modified Volvo XC90 SUV equipped with cameras, lidar, radar and GPS (pictured above).

A few will be in operation by the end of the month and a fleet of 100 by the end of the year.

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Elon Musk on Tesla fully autonomous car: ‘What we’ve got will blow people’s minds, it blows my mind… it’ll come sooner than people think’

A member of the media test drives a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S car equipped with Autopilot in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Tesla Motors Inc. will begin rolling out the first version of its highly anticipated "autopilot" features to owners of its all-electric Model S sedan Thursday. Autopilot is a step toward the vision of autonomous or self-driving cars, and includes features like automatic lane changing and the ability of the Model S to parallel park for you. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

During a conference call today, Elon Musk talked about Tesla’s progress in level 4 fully autonomous driving and while he didn’t want to make an announcement on the call, he said that it is coming sooner than people think:

“What we’ve got will blow people’s minds, it blows my mind …it’ll come sooner than people think.”

Musk’s most recent prediction placed the technology being ready in Q4 2017, around the time Model 3 will enter production.

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Report: Google’s self-driving car partnership with Fiat is inconsequential

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According to a report today out of The Information, Google’s recently-formed partnership with Fiat Crysler to make 100 self-driving minivans is nothing more than the automobile company getting “a seat at the table” with Google. This comes as the Mountain View company struggles to find a path to actually market its self-driving technology, juggling a variety of not-so-great options that include licensing the tech to struggling automakers and entering the ridesharing business…



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Faraday Future to start testing self-driving cars in California

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The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) confirmed that Faraday Future submitted an application to start testing self-driving cars in the state and that the application has been approved for public roads on June 17. The news comes just weeks after we learned that the electric vehicle startup applied for 3 licenses to test self-driving cars in Michigan

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Faraday Future to start testing self-driving car prototypes in Michigan

FF potential production car

Earlier this year, we revealed that electric car startup Faraday Future (FF) hired Bosch engineering director and leading automated driving expert, Jan Becker, to lead its own self-driving effort. The company has been building an impressive team of automated driving experts under Becker, including experts from Ford and more recently, the startup hired computer vision expert, Sangmin Oh, from Nvidia.

Now we learn that just months after starting the project, Faraday Future is about to start testing self-driving car prototypes in Michigan.

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May’s self-driving car report details how Google teaches its cars to honk

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Every month, Google puts out a report for its self-driving car project. There’s not that much new this month besides the usual updated running totals (miles driven, number of vehicles on the road, etc.), but the Mountain View company did take some time to detail something that many may not have thought about yet: how it’s teaching the cars to honk…



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Tesla’s former Head of User Experience joins Uber on a secret project

tesla UI

Tesla’s user interface is quite unique in the auto industry. Most of the controls are activated through the 17-in touchscreen, which as often been compared to an iPad, so it wasn’t too surprising when Tesla hired a senior designer from Apple to lead its user interface design.

Brennan Boblett was working on the design team of the iTunes Store when he joined Tesla back in 2010 to “create the most visually stunning and exciting large screen interface the automotive world has ever seen”, as he described at the time.

He worked under Tesla’s Chief Designer, Franz von Holzhausen, but as the company grew, he was quickly promoted and ended up managing both the UI and UX teams in 2012. Boblett stayed with Tesla for over 5 years and led the user experience development of the Model S, Model X and even the early work of the Model 3.

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California DMV tells legislature it can easily comply with NHTSA’s model policy on self-driving cars

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The California legislature is worried that the CA DMV is running off potential business from the state with its draft rules on self-driving cars.  A bill was proposed to force the CA DMV to allow driverless operations and testing of cars like the ones Google has created with no steering wheel or pedals. The bill recently was approved in the transportation committee 14-0 to move to the appropriations committee. Now, assembly member Mike Gatto of Los Angeles — sponsor of the legislation — has provided comments on the legislation:



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Baidu opens self-driving car R&D center in Silicon Valley, hires Tesla Autopilot engineer

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Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, like its US-based counterpart Google, is heavily investing in autonomous driving technologies and today it officially announced the launch of a self-driving car R&D center in Silicon Valley, right in Google’s backyard.

The company expects its team will grow to over 100 researchers and engineers by the end of the year. The company already moved several of its staff from its newly-created Autonomous Driving Unit (ADU) to Sunnyvale and recently hired a Tesla Autopilot software engineer.

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Proposed CA bill hopes to put Google’s driverless prototype cars in the regulatory clear

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Truly autonomous vehicles are poised to be an exciting technology, but as with any other technology, there are always regulatory hurdles to be cleared. As first spotted by public records sleuth Mark Harris, a bill working its way through the California legislature would require the state’s DMV to effectively legalize Google’s ambitions of having a driverless fleet of self-driving Koala cars…



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Google’s self-driving cars headed to Phoenix to see how they handle ‘extreme temperatures and dust’

phoenix

‘Extreme temperatures and dust’ may not be the most flattering description of Phoenix, Arizona, but it’s the reason Google cites for naming the city as its fourth testing ground for its fleet of self-driving cars.

Reuters reports that Google is currently using four Lexus RX450h SUVs to create the detailed map of “streets, lane markers, traffic signals and curb heights” needed to allow the self-driving cars to operate.

‘The Phoenix area has distinct desert conditions, which will help us better understand how our sensors and cars handle extreme temperatures and dust in the air,’ said the project’s head of business operations Jennifer Haroon.

There is, though, a second – and more flattering – reason for the choice …



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Google’s March self-driving car report details mapping system, a boring accident in Austin

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Google/Alphabet published its self-driving car report for March over the weekend, and besides of course the latest numbers (including the number of cars in each city, the total number of autonomous and manual driven miles, etc.), there are also some new details on the system the company uses to map the cars’ surroundings, and mention of a mundane accident that happened in Austin, Texas involving one of the company’s Lexus vehicles…



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Google self-driving car strikes public transit bus in its first at-fault accident

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Update: Video of the damage has surfaced on YouTube, see below.

In what is likely to become its first accident to be officially documented as at the fault of Google, one of the Mountain View company’s self-driving cars struck a public transit bus earlier this month while trying to get around a sandbag in the road. According to the accident report filed with the California DMV, the car was “traveling at less than 2 mph”  and struck the bus as it passed on its left side…



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Report: Alphabet seeking an R&D site for its self-driving cars near Ann Arbor, Michigan

self-driving car

According to a report over the weekend from Crain’s Detroit Business, Google/Alphabet is seeking an R&D site for its self-driving cars near Ann Arbor, Michigan. This report comes as FCC documents last month revealed that the Mountain View company was planning to bring the cars to four new cities. Kirkland, Washington officially became one of those locations two weeks ago, and as we noted, a location near Ann Arbor makes perfect sense to be one of the next bunch…

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