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VW, Google Pair Up to Use Quantum Computers

Companies looking to resolve traffic problems, artificial intelligence.

by on Nov.07, 2017

Volkswagen and Google engineers in San Francisco are using quantum computing to attack traffic optimization efforts.

Volkswagen AG and Google announced plans to partner up to use quantum computers to improve traffic flow, develop new materials and create artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles.

The pair will use quantum computing, which is still early in its development, taking advantage of the quirks of quantum physics to perform calculations at far higher speeds than current computers.

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Specialists from each company will work together using Google quantum computers, developing algorithms and simulations. (more…)

Waymo Puts Firefly out to Autonomous Automotive Pasture

Tech giant retires little bubble cars in favor of Chrysler Pacificas.

by on Jun.14, 2017

Waymo is retiring the Firefly in favor of a more real-world vehicle: the Chrysler Pacifica minivan.

As Waymo, formerly known as Google’s autonomous vehicle program, continues to develop its self-driving vehicles, it’s clear that one part of the program won’t carry on: the Firefly, also known as Google’s “little marshmallow car” or a dozen other nicknames.

The company announced it plans to retire its fleet of “Fireflies,” the actual name of the quirky looking cars, instead focusing its fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans for further development.

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The small two-seat egg-shaped car introduced many to the idea of a self-driving car. In fact, the company took a legally blind passenger in Austin, Texas, on what it claimed was the world’s first actual autonomous trip. (more…)

Google, FCA Partnering for Ride-Sharing Service

Two companies expanding existing relationship.

by on Dec.14, 2016

Google and FCA are allegedly partnering up in a ride-sharing outfit featuring autonomous Chrysler Pacificas.

Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, apparently plans to start a ride-sharing service using Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NA’s minivans as part of a reorganization of the tech company’s automotive unit, new reports suggest.

The ride-sharing initiative would signal a deepening of the relationship that was launched last spring, Google will deploy a semi-autonomous version of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan that it’s developing with FCA for a new service as early as the end of 2017. Both Alphabet and Fiat Chrysler declined to comment on their plans, according to Bloomberg.

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Developing ride-sharing services has become a priority for automakers during the past couple of years. (more…)

Google Focusing Solely on Autonomous Technology

Tech giant spins off new unit called WAYMO.

by on Dec.13, 2016

It appears that Google will no longer be producing a full self-driving car instead focusing on developing the technology for other companies.

Google is getting out of the automotive game, well, at least the part of it where it makes actual self-driving cars. The tech giant confirmed today it’s restructuring its auto business to focus on developing autonomous technology alone.

As part of the effort, it will be split off from Google and called WAYMO, according to John Krafcik, who took over Google’s self-driving car project earlier this year. Called “Chauffeur” internally, is focusing exclusively on incorporating its sensors into traditional vehicles.

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“It’s sort of the best of both worlds,” Krafcik said, according to the Detroit News, while announcing the news at the tech giant’s office in San Francisco. (more…)

Google Loses Autonomous Vehicle Guru

Long-time leader moves on to “next adventure.”

by on Aug.08, 2016

The face of Google's autonomous vehicle program, Chris Urmson, just announced he's leaving the technology giant for his "next adventure."

Google’s autonomous vehicle program has taken some big hits in recent days. Two of the project’s top engineers have reportedly left to work on a new start-up, but the biggest setback appears to come with the departure of Chris Urmson, the venture’s technology chief.

A pioneer in autonomous vehicle research at Carnegie Mellon University, Urmson joined Google in 2009 and was heading the program until John Krafcik, the former Hyundai Motor America CEO, took the helm a year ago.

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“I’ve decided the time is right to step down and find my next adventure,” Urmson said in a blog post. “After leading our cars through the human equivalent of 150 years of driving and helping our project make the leap from pure research to developing a product that we hope someday anyone will be able to use, I am ready for a fresh challenge.” (more…)

FCA Open to More Autonomous Partners; Marchionne Talks Product Location

FCA CEO says 200 will live on despite poor sales.

by on May.06, 2016

FCA chief Sergio Marchionne said that he would not limit the company's autonomous vehicle partners to just Google at this point.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could use the re-tooled assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, to build another vehicle now under development, FCA chief executive Sergio Marchionne told reporters after the official launch of the company’s latest version of the minivan, the 2017 Pacifica.

Marchionne said the new vehicle would require additional investment in Windsor, but said the platform underneath the new Pacifica was versatile enough to support other vehicles.

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“It was designed that way,” said Marchionne, who declined to add further details, but noted. “Just to clarify, this plant and this architecture is capable of making the successor front wheel drive – all-wheel drive replacement for the Chrysler 300.” (more…)

Fiat-Chrysler Reportedly Talking Autonomous Car Deal with Google

But prior rumors of Google-Ford deal failed to materialize.

by on Apr.29, 2016

Google is already testing its bubble-shaped prototype in California, Texas and Nevada.

Two partners in search of mates? Both Google and Fiat Chrysler have been open in their need to form alliances, and the two companies just might be ready to team up.

According to several online reports, they’re in advanced talks that could lead to Fiat Chrysler putting Google’s self-driving vehicle technology into production. The Silicon Valley firm is already testing its autonomous car software with a fleet of prototypes, but Google officials have repeatedly said they want to find a partner within the auto industry, rather than setting up their own manufacturing operation.

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The talks have reportedly been underway for several months, according to the Wall Street Journal, while a separate online report on autoextremist claims negotiations are in late stages and could see Google’s autonomous technology used on a variety of different Fiat-Chrysler products.


Google, Volvo Expand Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Swedish maker looks to China, while tech giant goes to Arizona.

by on Apr.07, 2016

Google is expanding its testing areas to Phoenix, Arizona, and its suburbs.

As the proponents of autonomous vehicles in Washington D.C. gird themselves for an onslaught of dissension at public hearings later this week, the automakers developing the vehicles continue about the work of improving them.

Google’s just been cleared to run a fleet of self-driving cars in Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding suburbs while Volvo is preparing a gaggle of as many as 100 vehicles to test in China.

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The tech giant has been expanding its test environments in recent months, including adding Austin, Texas, and Kirkland, Washington, to its home base of Mountain View, California. Google is already mapping the Phoenix area in anticipation of the self-driving testing. (more…)

Latest Google Crash Could Set Back Autonomous Project

Effort to humanize autonomous tech could be a factor.

by on Mar.02, 2016

The latest accident involved a Google-modified Lexus.

There have been more than a dozen crashes involving Google’s autonomous vehicles since testing began on public roads in 2014, but for the first time, a collision has been blamed directly on one of the self-driving vehicles and it could prove a setback for the technology many had hoped would soon revolutionize the automotive world.

An investigation is still underway involving the February 14th incident, though Google has posted a blog note saying “We clearly bear some responsibility.” It occurred when a stopped autonomous prototype attempted to nudge into traffic striking a public transit bus moving at about 15 mph on a road near Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

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Ironically, the crash may have been at least partly the result of efforts to make Google’s autonomous vehicles think more like human drivers. A number of earlier crashes were blamed on drivers trying to do things like race through a yellow light while Google car prototypes strictly obeyed the law, jamming on the brakes the moment the lights turned yellow.


Google on Hiring Spree for Autonomous Vehicle Program

Will it build cars, after all?

by on Feb.12, 2016

Google plans to expand the range of places it is testing its autonomous prototypes.

Google is putting out the “Help Wanted” sign, and it could signal a major shift in plans for its Google X autonomous vehicle program.

For the last several years, the high-tech firm has said it doesn’t want to produce its own vehicles but would rather find partners – a term used by Google X CEO John Krafcik during a visit to Detroit last month. But among the dozens of jobs being advertised, at least some put a focus on manufacturing skills.

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That includes one for a manufacturing process engineer who would be responsible for “designing factory assembly stations, optimizing production floor layout, automating critical manufacturing processes and approving fixture designs used in the assembly of electronic modules for the self-driving car.”