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Archive for the ‘Waymo’ Category

Apple Raises Profile in Race for Autonomous Vehicles with Waymo Exec Hire

Hiring Waydo signals company's intentions.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Former Waymo engineer has moved over to Apple and Project Titan.

Apple has hired one of Waymo’s top engineers, Jamie Waydo, to work on its secretive self-driving car program named Project Titan.

According to Silicon Valley news site, The Information, the tech giant Waydo, who was focused on making sure software and hardware worked together in the name of safety. The question is whether or not Waymo will fight back.

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Waymo sued Uber after the ride-sharing company acquired a company founded by an engineer who had left Google to launch his own start up. The $1.8 billion lawsuit was ultimately settled for less than $275 million after several bitter exchanges in federal court. (more…)

FCA Maps Out a Self-Driving Strategy

Automaker teams up with Waymo, BMW and Aptiv, but carves out its own path.

by on Jun.01, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

While there are a growing number of autonomous vehicle prototypes on the road these days, Waymo and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made headlines when they announced, earlier this week, plans to direct as many as 62,000 Pacifica Hybrid minivans into the self-driving ride-sharing service the Google spin-off will launch later this year.

By some estimates, 20% or more of the miles Americans clock on the road will be in driverless vehicles operated by ride-sharing services like Waymo, Uber and Lyft by the end of the coming decade. Millions of motorists may opt to give up their personal vehicles and switch to those services. Millions more are expected to own their own autonomous vehicles.

The Last Word!

Until recently considered a laggard in the self-driving field, FCA has jumped in big, relying on partnerships with not only Waymo, but BMW and mega-supplier Aptiv. And that approach will not only help it to make up for lost time but give FCA several alternative paths to follow.

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SoftBank Investment Triggers GM Best Share Gain Ever

Cruise Automation could be floated in IPO.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Chevy Bolt will be General Motors first fully autonomous car when it brings a self-driver to the market in the future.

Shares of General Motors posted their biggest gain in years, rising nearly 13% Thursday on news that Japanese tech investment fund SoftBank was investing $2.25 billion in GM’s autonomous vehicle development subsidiary, Cruise Automation.

SoftBank’s big investment was one of several major announcements yesterday that underscored the growing interest in self-driving vehicles. Waymo, the spinoff of Google, said it would purchase as many as 62,000 Chrysler Pacific Hybrid minivans for use in its planned self-driving ride-sharing service. Currently in a pilot program, it intends to begin commercial operations in Phoenix later this year and then begin a national rollout.

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GM plans to launch a similar ride-sharing operation through another subsidiary, Maven, using versions of its all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV modified by Cruise. Mary Barra, the automaker’s CEO, said GM will look at “other opportunities” for Cruise that could involve alliances with other companies SoftBank has funded, including Uber and China’s Didi Chuxing. (more…)

Waymo Set to Purchase 62k Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Minivans for Autonomous Ride-Share Service

Announcement follows news of a major investment in GM Cruise self-driving car program.

by on May.31, 2018

An early version of a Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan roams the streets of Phoenix.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Waymo will radically accelerate their alliance, FCA announcing it will supply as many as 62,000 more Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to the autonomous vehicle spin-off of Google.

FCA previously committed to providing several thousand of the plug-in people-movers. Waymo has also committed to purchasing up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace battery-electric SUVs, and CEO John Krafcik has told TheDetroitBureau.com that it expects to add still other models for use in the planned self-driving ride-share service that is currently in pilot testing in Phoenix. Commercial service will launch in that city later this year, Krafcik announced in March, and will eventually expand to “other” cities across the U.S.

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The FCA-Waymo announcement comes just hours after General Motors revealed that Japanese venture capital fund SoftBank is investing $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings, the carmaker’s autonomous vehicle unit. That news quickly sent shares of GM surging by 10% in early Thursday morning trading.

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Three Quarters of Americans “Too Afraid to Ride” in Self-Driving Vehicles

As more problems reported, acceptance declines, finds new AAA study.

by on May.23, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

They’re expected to flood our roads by the millions over the next decade, and Congress is currently working on legislation that would expand testing on public roads – but a new AAA study reveals that the American public is, if anything, growing more concerned about the safety of autonomous and fully driverless vehicles.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. drivers would be “afraid” to ride in one today, up from 63% when the AAA last polled American motorists in late 2017. The decline in confidence appears to follow an array of incidents involving prototype autonomous vehicles, including the first-known fatal crash near Phoenix when a hands-free SUV being tested by Uber slammed into a pedestrian.

Safety First!

“Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Our results show that any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.”

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Apple’s Mysterious Autonomous Vehicle Program is Rapidly Expanding

Records show permits for more than 55 self-driving cars.

by on May.16, 2018

CEO Tim Cook has finally begun to offer some hints as to Apple's self-driving car program.

While Apple has yet to say much about its long-rumored car program, some intriguing information has come out thanks to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the DMV revealing that the tech giant now has permits to test up to 55 self-driving vehicles in the state.

That would actually give Apple the ability to test even more vehicles than Waymo, the Google spinoff that has been far more open about its own autonomous ambitions – though less than General Motors, its San Francisco-based Cruise Automotive now holding permits for 104 test vehicles.

News You Can Trust!

And the DMV report does not cover other states where Apple might be testing, notably Nevada and Arizona, the two Southwest states that have positioned themselves as particularly friendly to autonomous vehicle researchers. Waymo, for example, is known to be running large fleet tests that may run into the hundreds of vehicles in Arizona, including both autonomous models requiring human backup “operators” and the first of its completely driverless prototypes. (more…)

NY Auto Show’s Dozen Best

Our favorites from an extensive assortment of cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts.

by on Apr.02, 2018

The turnstiles are spinning at the Javits Convention Center and for good reason. The 2018 New York International Auto Show is winning raves as the year’s most significant North American event, with dozens of significant debuts.

This year’s NAIAS covered plenty of ground: from long-range electric vehicles to high-powered performance cars – even some high-performance electric vehicles. Followers of automotive design will have plenty to talk about, too. The show underscores all the dramatic changes sweeping through the auto industry, even on the retail side, as more manufacturers announce new subscription programs.

Auto Show News!

Whether you’re heading down to the show or simply trying to check out from a distance the most significant, intriguing and unusual cars, trucks, crossovers and concepts on display, here’s a handy guide to our dozen favorites.

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Waymo Putting 20k Jaguar I-Pace EVs into New Driverless Ride-Share Service

Moving from “R&D to deployment,” despite cloud form fatal Uber crash.

by on Mar.27, 2018

Waymo and Jaguar are partnering to produce 20,000 I-Pace SUVs for next few years.

Despite a cloud created by this month’s fatal crash of an Uber autonomous vehicle prototype, Waymo today announced it will be full speed ahead as it launches what is expected to become a nationwide driverless ride-sharing service.

During a New York news conference, Waymo CEO John Krafcik revealed the Google spinoff will begin adding as many as 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace SUVs to its fleet, the battery-electric vehicles joining thousands of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans Waymo had already committed to purchase.

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Waymo has spent nearly a decade developing what many experts call the most sophisticated self-driving technology on the road, but Krafcik said his company has now “shifted our focus from research and development to operations and deployment.” (more…)

Uber Fatality Investigation Produces More Questions Than Answers

NTSB, NHTSA assisting in accident query.

by on Mar.22, 2018

The Tempe (Arizona) Police Department released the video footage of Uber's collision with a pedestrian.

The video chronicling the fatal accident between an Uber vehicle in autonomous test mode and a woman crossing a street with her bike has opened up a Pandora’s Box of questions for the ride-sharing giant and other companies looking to develop self-driving vehicles.

The first is, of course, how did the system not recognize her and take action to avoid the problem? The vehicle’s system had plenty of time to take action, but did nothing, eventually running over Elaine Herzberg, as she walked her bike across four lanes of traffic at night in Tempe, Arizona.

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“The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones,” Uber said in a statement. “Our cars remain grounded, and we’re assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can.” (more…)

California Okays Testing of Completely Driverless Vehicles

“Lives will be at stake,” warns consumer group.

by on Feb.27, 2018

Waymo is already testing autonomous ride-sharing vehicles and will soon add fully driverless ones.

Barely a week after Arizona regulators authorized Waymo to begin a drive-sharing service that will depend on completely driverless vehicles, California has given the green light to companies like the Google spinoff to begin operating driverless vehicles on its roads, as well.

But, for the moment at least, the Golden State is only authorizing companies like Google, Uber and General Motors to simply test vehicles that have no backup drivers onboard. It is not clear if or when it will allow them to begin commercial operation.

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Proponents say such tests are critical to prove the technology can operate safely and seamlessly on the same roads as human drivers, but not everyone is convinced the time is right. “It will be just like playing a video game, except lives will be at stake, said John Simpson, director of California-based non-profit group Consumer Watchdog. (more…)