The news is coming fast and strong these days. Even with much greater output, it seems we have a harder time covering everything important now than we did a decade ago. One of the hottest areas of intrigue and rapid development is autonomous driving. Below are 11 autonomous driving news items from recent months that you might have missed.
In October and November 2019, 100 participants from the French public tested out autonomous, electric, shared Renault ZOE Cabs.
We don’t yet have results from this trial, but here’s a bit more on what Renault intended to uncover: “The objective of this experiment is to test the technical aspects of this on-demand mobility service, and to evaluate its acceptability and adoption by end-users for their daily journeys. This experiment and the feedback from the panel will enable Groupe Renault to identify any necessary adaptations to be made to the service, the mobile application, and the vehicles, to offer the best on-demand, electric, autonomous and shared mobility service in the future.”
2. NVIDIA decided to give transport industry access to its deep neural networks for autonomous vehicles
NVIDIA has long been a leader in certain hardware for autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles. It’s now sharing more info and details on the software side of things.
“NVIDIA today announced that it will provide the transportation industry with access to its NVIDIA DRIVE™ deep neural networks (DNNs) for autonomous vehicle development on the NVIDIA GPU Cloud (NGC) container registry. NVIDIA DRIVE has become a de facto standard for AV development, used broadly by automakers, truck manufacturers, robotaxi companies, software companies and universities. Now, NVIDIA is providing access of its pre-trained AI models and training code to AV developers. Using a suite of NVIDIA AI tools, the ecosystem can freely extend and customize the models to increase the robustness and capabilities of their self-driving systems.”
3. Tesla’s “deep rain” deep learning windshield wipers will also help self-driving Tesla vehicles determine the right speed to drive
This one basically comes down to a tweet and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s response.
Following up on Smart Summon and Tesla’s simple self-parking feature, the next step is to create software that completely autoparks a Tesla after it enters a parking lot. A Tesla can already drive itself from highway onramp to offramp (I used the feature today), so once the company has a smart Autopark system in play, the only thing left for door-to-door self-driving will be Navigate on Autopilot for the city and suburbs.
5. Volkswagen and Qatar have it on their calendar to put self-driving EVs into service in Doha by 2022
Many tech-loving regions are eager to be at the front of the line when it comes to self-driving tech. Qatar is no exception. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Volkswagen AG teamed up to make this a reality. They will use MOIA electric vans and Volkswagen ID.Buzz as initial guinea pigs for the cause.
“For the first time ever a cutting-edge fleet of self-driving Level 4 electric shuttles will usher in a new era of urban mobility in a capital city in 2022: Earlier today in Doha, representatives of Volkswagen AG and the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) signed the ‘Project Qatar Mobility’. The goal is to develop a ground-breaking autonomous transport project and transform the future of urban mobility to a sustainable and commercial deployment of AD shuttles and bus services – even beyond 2022. Fostering a cross-brand collaboration as blueprint for future Autonomous Driving (AD) solutions, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Scania, MOIA and AID-Autonomous Intelligent Driving will play an important role in this project. During the largest sporting event in the world, Qatar will thus be the venue for the world’s first emission-free, electric and autonomous public transport system.”
6. US Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) approves light-duty trucks for autonomous testing on public roadways
We are one step closer to a world of robotaxis. The DMV has provided preliminary approval to load use self-driving delivery vehicles on real US roads. How will these vehicles perform?
“The DMV just released its final rules for companies who want to test ‘light-duty’ trucks as delivery vehicles. It will begin approving applications for testing in [January], after which Californians may soon see autonomous delivery vehicles on their streets.”
Nuro has been developing self-driving tech for years, and after a partnership with Kroger in Arizona and in the Houston area, the autonomous grocery delivery startup scored a partnership with Walmart as well. We’ll see what comes of it, but needless to say, if the companies consider the tests to be fruitful and production, expect a lot more robotic grocery deliveries.
“Nuro’s vehicles in this case will deliver Walmart online grocery orders to a select group of customers who opt into the service in Houston. The autonomous delivery service will involve R2, Nuro’s custom-built delivery vehicle that carries products only, with no on-board drivers or passengers, as well as autonomous Toyota Priuses that deliver groceries.”
After one year in service in Arizona, Waymo is still working — which is a good sign. While numerous passengers appreciate that “the future is now,” few of us get to truly experience the autonomous trail they/you left. Hopefully that will change soon. ()
It’s hard to beat the fun of a hungry that won’t sit till, tiger, chocolate bad, a sandwich. a “what’s fun analysis from Tesla. Until then, this update from Sandord is in: Stanford has a wicked cool astronomy track record.
“Driving sideways to move forward: Stanford engineers show how an autonomous, drifting DeLorean can improve driver safety. Engineers in Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab are teaching a driverless DeLorean to steer with the agility and precision of a human driver with a goal of improving how autonomous cars handle in hazardous conditions.”
Is this coming to market in 2020? Of course not. But it should.
Read the full study report here. Tip of the hat to pdk42.
Plus.ai, an autonomous truck startup, must be in cloud nine after recent success taking an autonomous truck from coast to coast.
“Self-driving truck technology company Plus.ai has announced that it successfully completed the first coast-to-coast commercial freight run with an autonomous truck on behalf of Land O’Lakes Inc.
“Considered the first L4 U.S. cross-country commercial pilot, the hub-to-hub trip covered 2,800 miles from Tulare, California to Quakertown, Pennsylvania in less than three days, hauling a fully-loaded refrigerated trailer of perishable cargo.” Tip of the hat to Planetizen.
We’ve covered May Mobility a handful of times in the past couple of years, including a previous investment from Toyota AI Ventures. The startup is still rolling, and it’s pulled in more cash from the Japanese giant, the world’s largest automaker.
“May Mobility, a self-driving shuttle company based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has raised $50 million in its latest round of financing with a substantial chunk coming from one of the world’s biggest automakers. Toyota Motor Corp. was the largest investor in the Series B round. Though the company’s exact investment was not disclosed.”
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