Latest autonomous news
Baidu deploys world’s first multi-modal autonomous MaaS in Guangzhou.
Chinese internet search service Baidu has deployed a multi-modal autonomous driving MaaS (mobility as a service) platform to provide AI-driven city transportation services in Guangzhou. . Utilizing a fleet of Apollo Robotaxis and Robobuses, along with three other model types of autonomous vehicles, it says the initiative will allow local users to order smart transportation services on demand, starting in the Chinese New Year holiday period.
Toyota and Aurora to develop self-driving taxis. Could the era of the car buyer be coming to an end? Toyota certainly seems to think so, with Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corp, suggesting in a statement that the company should see itself more as a ‘mobility provider’ moving forward, rather than car maker. As a first step in this direction, Toyota and its auto parts subsidiary, Denso, have signed an agreement with Aurora Innovation Inc to build and deploy self-driving cars in volume on a global scale. Link
Vodafone has successfully used new precision positioning technology to remotely track a vehicle to within just 10cm of its location — an improvement of more than 3m compared with current standard satellite-based systems. The test was carried out in partnership with leading global positioning provider Sapcorda, using Vodafone’s global Internet of Things (IoT) platform — the largest in the world with 118 million connections.
Pinpoint accuracy is critical to the acceptance and mass adoption of autonomous vehicles not just on the road but in factories, airports, dockyards and any site where machines are in motion. A matter of centimeters could be crucial to ensuring the safety of passengers on a driverless bus, or knowing the precise location of a medical drone. It will also allow an autonomous truck to mind other road users, including cyclists, whose e-bikes can automatically transmit their position and intended direction of travel. Link
Volkswagen Group teams up with Microsoft to accelerate the development of automated driving. They will build an Automated Driving Platform for the agile development of automated driving functions With the cloud-based platform, Car.Software Organisation will simplify its development processes on Microsoft Azure to bring automated driving solutions to the Group’s cars even faster. Link
Ford and Google to Accelerate Auto Innovation, Reinvent Connected Vehicle Experience. They come together in first-of-its-kind partnership to create unique services and capabilities for Ford and Lincoln customers, and to accelerate Ford’s transformation plan As part of this new, six-year partnership millions of future Ford and Lincoln vehicles at all price points will be powered by Android, with Google apps and services built-in. Link
Companies like Tesla, Uber, Cruise, and Waymo promise a future where cars are essentially mobile robots that can take us anywhere with a few taps on a smartphone. But a new category of vehicles is about to overtake self-driving cars in that leap into the future.
Autonomous trucks have been quietly making just as much, if not more, progress toward commercial deployment, and their impact on the transportation of goods will no doubt be profound.
Among nearly a dozen companies developing autonomous trucking, San Diego–based TuSimple is trying to get ahead by combining unique technology with a series of strategic partnerships. Working with truck manufacturer Navistar as well as shipping giant UPS, TuSimple is already conducting test operations in Arizona and Texas, including depot-to-depot autonomous runs. These are being run under what’s known as “supervised autonomy,” in which somebody rides in the cab and is ready to take the wheel if needed. Sometime in 2021, the startup plans to begin doing away with human supervision, letting the trucks drive themselves from pickup to delivery without anybody on board.
Winner-takes-all effects in autonomous cars
Source: Benedict Evans
There are now several dozen companies trying to make the technology for autonomous cars, across OEMs, their traditional suppliers, existing major tech companies and startups. Clearly, not all of these will succeed, but enough of them have a chance that one wonders what and where the winner-take-all effects could be, and what kinds of leverage there might be. Are there network effects that would allow the top one or two companies to squeeze the rest out, as happened in smartphone or PC operating systems? Or might there be room for five or ten companies to compete indefinitely? And for what layers in the stack does victory give power in other layers?
These kinds of question matter because they point to the balance of power in the car industry of the future. A world in which car manufacturers can buy commodity ‘autonomy in a box’ from any of half a dozen companies (or make it themselves), much as they buy ABS today, is very different from one in which Waymo and perhaps Uber are the only real options, and can set the business model of their choice, as Google did with Android. Microsoft and Intel found choke points in the PC world, and Google did in smartphones — what might those points be in autonomy? link
Autonomous driving pilot gets underway in Norway
Finnish self-driving software company Sensible 4 is undertaking preparations for a new pilot program in Gjesdal, Norway. The company says preliminary work has included test drives in the harsh Norwegian winter and mapping of the proposed pilot route with autonomous Toyota vehicles. The pilot will form part of the field-testing phase of the EU-funded FABULOS (Future Automated Bus Urban Level Operation System) project.
The program is a direct continuation of a previous autonomous driving project in Helsinki, Finland, undertaken in spring 2020. The Gjesdal phase will introduce new Toyota Proace vehicles, a revised version of the company’s autonomous driving software, and updated features for demand-based public transportation. The planned route is 3.3km long and will be driven without passengers on board, as per regulations laid down by the Norwegian Road Authority.
New Flyer of America, an independent bus manufacturer, has unveiled its Xcelsior AV automated transit bus. The launch of the vehicle follows the company’s commencement of its Automated Technology Program in May 2019, and a subsequent partnership with artificial intelligence and automation specialist Robotic Research.
The heavy-duty, automated transit bus uses the company’s Xcelsior Charge battery-electric propulsion system and integrates ADAS technology to achieve SAE Level 4 autonomy.
Chinese autonomous driving developer AutoX has opened its fully driverless RoboTaxi pilot program to the public in the city of Shenzhen, after its vehicles began final testing last month. This development marks the first time that the public will be able to book a completely autonomous RoboTaxi without an accompanying safety driver in China.
According to AutoX, members of the public can sign up for the pilot program through its RoboTaxi registration page and selected users can use membership credits for the RoboTaxi rides. During a trip, passengers can speak to a customer support agent if they have any questions, with support agents also able to check the status of a vehicle in real time to provide assistance if necessary.
Commercial autonomous bus services have been rolled out for the first time in Singapore, running two routes at Singapore Science Park 2 and Jurong Island. They will operate during a three-month trial during which data will be collected to assess the viability of the on-demand service as well as passenger safety and service reliability and efficiency.
Development of the project involved multiple organisations and government agencies, with the aim being to drive and accelerate sustainable deployment of robotics in the country. Led collectively under the Alliance for Action (AfA) on Robotics, the initiative also was facilitated by the Economic Development Board and Land Transport Authority. link
Oxbotica has raised £35 million in a new round of investment to help roll out its autonomous vehicle software globally. Global investors in the round include BGF, BP Ventures, Halma, HostPlus, IP Group,Tencent, Venture Science, and funds advised by Doxa Partners.
Two self-driving road sweepers will go on trial at one-north, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and CleanTech Park, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) in a joint media release on Wednesday (Jan 13). The proof-of-concept trials for two Autonomous Environmental Service Vehicles (AESVs) were launched by NEA and will run until July 2021, said the authorities. Link
Why you’ll hear us saying fully autonomous driving tech from now on, The Waymo Team, link
Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer NIO has launched its first autonomous driving model — the flagship ET7 smart electric sedan. link
Zenzic, a government and industry body formed to accelerate development of autonomous driving in the UK, has launched an update to its UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030.
AB Dynamics recently showcased its unique capability to replicate simulated swarm tests quickly and accurately in the real world and vice-versa. By using a common toolchain, the company claims complex scenario testing can be transferred from one environment to the other with centimetre accuracy. This enables the testing and development of ADAS and autonomous systems to be significantly accelerated whilst also reducing risk and cost.