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Apple Cuts Over 200 Jobs at Autonomous Vehicle Project

Move raises questions about what will remain of Project Titan.

by on Jan.24, 2019

Apple Tim Cook had called self-driving vehicles "the mother of all AI projects."

Apple has cut at least 200 jobs at Project Titan, its autonomous vehicle project, sources told TheDetroitBureau.com, a report now confirmed by CNBC.

The operation has been underway in near secrecy for several years and had previously gone through several upheavals, according to sources, as the tech giant tried to figure out exactly what its long-term goals would be. While it appeared committed to the idea of developing self-driving vehicle technology, the big question was whether Apple should also build the cars that would use that technology and, if so, how they would be used.

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“We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple,” a company spokesperson told CNBC overnight. “As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple.”

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Waymo to Build Self-Driving Cars in Michigan

Company in the market for a used auto plant.

by on Jan.22, 2019

Waymo is moving east to Michigan to build Level 4 autonomous vehicles in metro Detroit.

More and more automakers looking to develop their autonomous vehicles are finding their way to Michigan, and now add Waymo to the list. The Google spinoff plans to produce robot cars at a to-be-determined location in southeast Michigan.

The company has been testing its self-driving vehicles largely in the southwest, and had planned to find a cold weather state (i.e. a state with snow) to continue testing. However, this plant will be the first-ever site to churn out Level 4 autonomous vehicles.

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“Waymo will first identify a facility in Southeast Michigan and, over the next few years, aim to create hundreds of local jobs in the community,” the company said in a statement. “We’ll be looking for engineers, operations experts and fleet coordinators to join our team and help assemble and deploy our self-driving cars.”  (more…)

Waymo Kicks Off Autonomous Taxi and Ride Sharing Service

Autonomous service starts in Phoenix.

by on Dec.05, 2018

This scene may become more common as Waymo One kicks off service in Arizona.

Self-driving ride-sharing service is here. Well, it’s in Arizona, technically, but the day that Uber, Lyft and others have waiting for has arrived with the debut of Waymo One, Waymo’s autonomous taxi and ride-sharing service.

The service operates in a 100-square-mile zone covering four Phoenix suburbs: Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert. The company has been testing its vehicles in the area since 2016, including offering free rides earlier this year to generate some goodwill for autonomous vehicles.

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“Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public,” John Krafcik, Waymo’s CEO wrote in a blog post. “Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully.” (more…)

Daimler, Bosch Partner as Latest to Offer Self-Driving Ride-Sharing Service

Pilot set to launch in San Jose in late 2019.

by on Nov.09, 2018

Daimler and Bosch will led pilot users ride in comfort, in modified Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans.

Daimler AG, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program in San Jose, California starting late next year.

The carmaker, along with one of its lead technology suppliers, becomes the latest to enter a space that is expected to account for a significant share of the miles Americans clock on the roads each year by the end of the next decade. Waymo, the Google spin-off, is set to transition its own pilot program to a commercial venture this year, while General Motors is looking to launch a similar service.

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“The pilot project is an opportunity to explore how autonomous vehicles can help us better meet future transportation needs,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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Uber Aiming to Relaunch Autonomous Testing on Public Roads

After fatal crash, ride-sharing service plans to redouble steps to ensure safety.

by on Nov.05, 2018

In the wake of a fatal collision with a pedestrian in Arizona, Uber suspended all of its autonomous vehicle testing. Now it wants to resume in Pittsburgh.

Uber plans to relaunch the autonomous vehicle testing program it suspended following a fatal crash in Arizona last March, but it has advised regulators in Pennsylvania that it will take additional steps to ensure the safety of its vehicles.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service has been betting heavily on fully driverless technology, hoping it will lower costs to the point where many Americans won’t even feel the need to own a private vehicle anymore. But that effort was put on hold after a modified Volvo struck and killed Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a road in a Phoenix suburb.

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It was initially unclear why the Volvo hit the 49-year-old Herzberg, as its system spotted her six seconds before impact. It was subsequently revealed during a police investigation that the backup driver charged with taking control in an emergency was actually streaming the TV show, “The Voice,” rather than watching the road. She failed to intervene when the car’s brakes weren’t automatically applied because of improper modifications made to the vehicle. (more…)

FCA Upgrades Proving Grounds for Self-Driving Vehicle Testing

Late to the game, FCA races to make up lost time with $30 mil project.

by on Sep.05, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has invested $30 million to upgrade its sprawling Chelsea Proving Grounds, an hour west of Detroit to expand its ability to develop and test both autonomous vehicles advanced driver assist system technologies.

The automaker has been slow to embrace self-driving vehicle technology, though it has been able to leapfrog some of its competitors with an expanding tie-up with Waymo, the self-driving spin-off of Google. The new project will allow FCA to test technology from Waymo and other potential partners, as well as systems it may develop in-house.

Tech News!

“The all-new facility at Chelsea Proving Grounds will help support and enable the successful rollout of the company’s five-year plan laid out earlier this year,” said Mike Manley, who took over as FCA’s CEO just two months ago. “Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables FCA to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio.”

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Toyota Investing $500 Mil in Uber, Will Aid in Autonomous Vehicle Efforts

Move could help ride-sharing service in anticipated IPO plan.

by on Aug.28, 2018

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO and Toyota EVP Shigeki Tomoyama shake over their new alliance.

Toyota confirmed  reports it will invest $500 million in Uber and partner with the nation’s largest ride-sharing service on the development of the autonomous and fully driverless vehicles Uber believes will slash its costs and make it a viable alternative to personal vehicle ownership.

The announcement comes barely a week after Uber wrapped up its search for a new chief financial officer, something that, along with the new Toyota alliance, could help move closer to a widely anticipated IPO. The Japanese maker’s investment puts a value of $72 million on Uber.

Tech News!

“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president, TMC, and president, Toyota Connected Company. “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving R&D companies, could further advance future mobility.”

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Kroger Launches Driverless Delivery Pilot in Scottsdale

Debut echoes Waymo/Walmart partnership.

by on Aug.16, 2018

The Kroger project won't completely solve the "last mile" challenge. Customers still will have to go out and grab their bags from the delivery vehicle.

While it may take some time before you can hail a driverless ride-sharing vehicle, you may soon be able to have your groceries delivered autonomously – at least if you live in certain parts of greater Phoenix.

Kroger has teamed up with Nuro, a self-driving tech firm to launch a trial grocery delivery program in one part of the Southwest community, and could roll it out to other parts of the country if it proves successful. The move comes shortly after rival Walmart announced a similar pilot program pairing it with Google’s autonomous vehicle spin-off Waymo.

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“Kroger wants to bring more customers the convenience of affordable grocery delivery,” Kroger Chief Digital Officer Yael Cosset said in a statement.

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Rental Car Business Being Squeezed by Ride Sharing

Autonomous vehicles present major change in prices.

by on Jul.31, 2018

Fully driverless vehicles, like the ones Ford plans to build for Lyft, may be the death knelll for some rental car companies.

The rental-car business faces a growing threat to its future from ride-sharing companies, according to a new survey from AlixPartners.

“Results from our survey suggest that the $30-billion U.S. car-rental industry is already undergoing a tectonic shift, with boundaries not just blurring but being obliterated between car-rental and ride-hailing and other forms of new mobility,” said Arun Kumar, a director in the Automotive and Industrial Practice at AlixPartners and a co-author of a new report focusing on the rental-car business.

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“The companies that survive this shift will be those that act now to transform themselves to be relevant in a world which seems to much prefer simply clicking on an app than standing in line at the rental counter,” Kumar said. (more…)

Uber Shuts Down Otto Autonomous Truck Division

Ride-sharing service puts emphasis on self-driving cars.

by on Jul.31, 2018

An autonomous Otto truck like the one that hauled 45,000 cans of beer across Colorado last year.

Just a week after it restarted its autonomous passenger car program, Uber has shuttered Otto, the division that was charged with developing self-driving trucks.

The ride-sharing company says it wants to concentrate on developing the driverless cars and SUVs that could eventually lower the cost of using its services. But the decision to shelf Otto comes as Uber struggles with a series of setbacks, including not only the death of a pedestrian hit by one of its self-driving prototypes but also a legal battle with Google spinoff Waymo that saw a key employee accused of stealing critical intellectual property.

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“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement referencing the company’s decision to restart its self-driving program after the fatal crash near Phoenix back in March. “As we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on (the passenger car) effort is the best path forward.” (more…)