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Audi self-driving unit taps newcomer Aeva for its unique lidar

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in Aeva, Apple, Audi, Automotive, automotive industry, Canaan Partners, Emerging-Technologies, Lidar, lux capital, Nikon, self driving cars, Transportation, Velodyne | 0 comments

Audi’s self-driving unit has tapped a startup with a unique approach to lidar as it ramps up testing in Munich using a fleet of autonomous electric e-tron crossover vehicles.

Audi subsidiary Autonomous Intelligent Driving, or AID, said Wednesday it’s using lidar sensors developed by Aeva, a startup founded just two years ago by veterans of Apple and Nikon.

Aeva, a Mountain View, Calif.-based company started by Soroush Salehian and Mina Rezk, has developed what it describes as “4D lidar” that can measure distance as well as instant velocity without losing range, all while preventing interference from the sun or other sensors. Move past the 4D branding-speak, and the tech is compelling.

Lidar, or light detection and ranging radar, measures distance. It’s considered by many (with Tesla as one exception) in the emerging automated driving industry as a critical and necessary sensor. And for years, that industry has been dominated by Velodyne.

Today, there are dozens of lidar startups that have popped up with promises of technological breakthroughs that will offer lower-cost sensors with better resolution and accuracy than Velodyne. It’s a promise that is fraught with challenges, notably the ability to scale up manufacturing.

Traditional lidar sensors are able to determine distance by sending out high-power pulses of light outside the visible spectrum and then tracking how long it takes for each of those pulses to return. As they come back, the direction of, and distance to, whatever those pulses hit are recorded as a point and eventually forms a 3D map.

Aeva’s sensors emit a continuous low-power laser, which allows them to sense instant velocity of every point in the frame at ranges up to 300 meters, the company says. In other words, Aeva’s sensors can determine distance and direction, as well as speed of the objects coming to or moving away from them.

This is a handy perception feature for autonomous vehicles operating in an environment of objects that travel at different speeds, like pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles.

Aeva, backed by investors including Lux Capital and Canaan Partners, says its sensors are also unique because they’re “free” from interference from other sensors or sunlight.

It was this combination of long-range perception, instantaneous velocity measurements at cm/s precision and robustness to interferences that sold AID CTO Alexandre Haag on the Aeva sensors.

Aeva spent the past 18 months going through a validation process with Audi and parent company Volkswagen. This announcement confirms that Aeva has made it past a critical hurdle in Audi’s AV plans. Aeva’s sensors are already on Audi e-tron development vehicles in Munich. The automaker plans to bring autonomous driving to urban mobility services within the next few years.

Interference is possible and can cause a stream of random points on a 3D map if the lidar is pointed directly at the sun or if there are multiple sensors on the same vehicle. Lidar companies have instituted various techniques to prevent interference patterns; autonomous vehicle developers also account for potential interference problems from the sun and snow by creating algorithms to reject these kinds of outliers.

Still, Salehian argues that interference is a significant challenge.

When you talk about the challenge of building to scale and designing for mass scale, it’s not just about how easily they can be manufactured, Salehian contends. “It’s also about having these things work in unison together on a row. So when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of these cars, that’s a big deal.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Aptiv takes its self-driving car ambitions (and tech) to China

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in Aptiv, Automation, Automotive, automotive industry, boston, China, Co-founder, Delphi, Emerging-Technologies, Karl Iagnemma, Las Vegas, Lyft, manufacturing, NuTonomy, pittsburgh, president, Robotics, self driving cars, shanghai, Singapore, transport, Transportation, United States | 0 comments

Aptiv, the U.S. auto supplier and self-driving software company, is opening an autonomous mobility center in Shanghai to focus on the development and eventual deployment of its technology on public roads.

The expansion marks the fifth market where Aptiv has set up R&D, testing or operational facilities. Aptiv has autonomous driving operations in Boston, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh and Singapore. But China is perhaps its most ambitious endeavor yet.

Aptiv has never had any AV operations in China, but it does have a long history in the country including manufacturing and engineering facilities. The company, in its earlier forms as Delphi and Delco has been in China since 1993 — experience that will be invaluable as it tries to bring its autonomous vehicle efforts into a new market, Aptiv Autonomous Mobility President Karl Iagnemma told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

“The long-term opportunity in China is off the charts,” Iagnemma said, noting a recent McKinsey study that claims the country will host two-thirds of the world’s autonomous driven miles by 2040 and be trillion-dollar mobility service opportunity.

“For Aptiv, it’s always been a question of not ‘if’, but when we’re going to enter the Chinese market,” he added.

Aptiv will have self-driving cars testing on public roads by the second half of 2019.

“Our experience in other markets has shown that in this industry, you learn by doing,” Iagnemma explained.

And it’s remark that Iagnemma can stand by. Iagnemma is the co-founder of self-driving car startup nuTonomy, one of the first to launch a robotaxi service in 2016 in Singapore that the public—along with human safety drivers — could use.

NuTonomy was acquired by Delphi in 2017 for $450 million. NuTonomy became part of Aptiv after its spinoff from Delphi was complete.

Aptiv is also in discussions with potential partners for mapping and commercial deployment of Aptiv’s vehicles in China.

Some of those partnerships will likely mimic the types of relationships Aptiv has created here in the U.S., notably with Lyft . Aptiv’s self-driving vehicles operate on Lyft’s ride-hailing platform in Las Vegas and have provided more than 40,000 paid autonomous rides in Las Vegas via the Lyft app.

Aptiv will also have to create new kinds of partnerships unlike those it has in the U.S. due to restrictions and rules in China around data collection, intellectual property and creating high resolution map data.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Ford is expanding its self-driving vehicle program to Austin

Posted by on Mar 13, 2019 in austin, Automotive, Ford, self driving cars, TC, Transportation | 0 comments

Ford is preparing to open an autonomous vehicle program in Austin as the automaker continues to ramp up testing ahead of launching a self-driving taxi and delivery service in 2021, according to sources familiar with the development.

A new job listing for an autonomous vehicles “market specialist” based in Austin validates the information. Austin is the fifth city to join the automaker’s testing program, which already includes Detroit, Miami, Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

Ford didn’t confirm or deny that Austin was the next city.

“We are on track to announce the next deployment city in which we plan to expand our self-driving technology and business testing efforts by the end of this year. We will provide more details at the appropriate time,” a Ford spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The job posting for an “autonomous vehicles market specialist” in Austin reads:

We are seeking exceptional candidates to join our growing Autonomous Vehicle (AV) business team! AVs are an important part of Ford’s future and we’re looking for the best and brightest. The role will require critical thinking, problem solving capabilities, and a “get it done” attitude to help make strategic decisions that will enable Ford to be a leader in autonomy, connectivity, mobility, analytics and customer experience.

Ford is a bit different from other companies that have launched autonomous vehicle pilots in the United States. The automaker is pursuing two parallel tracks that will eventually combine ahead of its commercial launch in 2021. The automaker is testing and homing in on what its AV business model might look like, while separately developing autonomous-vehicle technology.

Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based company into which Ford invested $1 billion in 2017, is developing the virtual driver system and high-definition maps designed for Ford’s self-driving vehicles. Meanwhile, Ford is testing its go-to-market strategy through pilot programs with partners like Walmart, Domino’s and Postmates, and even some local businesses.

Ford will likely institute a similar rollout plan for Austin as it has in its previous cities. Argo AI first uses its AV vehicles to map the city. Meanwhile, Ford uses research vehicles to test various business cases, many of which have historically involved local companies.

Ford also opens terminals in each of the autonomous vehicle test program cities. These terminals, or operations centers, are where the AV test fleet vehicles will be stored. It also acts as a light maintenance facility and data center.

In the past, Ford has launched its mapping and testing before the terminal has been completed. It’s possible Ford will try to establish the autonomous vehicle operations terminal first, a slight departure from previous launches.

Ford has spent the past year ramping up its autonomous-vehicle program and plans to spend $4 billion through 2023 under an LLC created last year that’s dedicated to building out an autonomous-vehicles business.

Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC will house the company’s self-driving systems integration, autonomous-vehicle research and advanced engineering, AV transportation-as-a-service network development, user experience, business strategy and business development teams. The $4 billion spending plan includes a $1 billion investment in startup Argo AI.

The new LLC is primarily based at Ford’s Corktown campus in Detroit and will hold Ford’s ownership stake in Argo AI, the company’s Pittsburgh-based partner for self-driving system development.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Transportation Weekly: Amazon’s secret acquisition and all the AV feels

Posted by on Feb 8, 2019 in Amazon, Anthony Levandowski, Argo AI, aurora, Automotive, carsharing, Chris Urmson, Craft Ventures, Daimler, david sacks, Elon Musk, Google, Kirsten Korosec, Lead Edge Capital, Maxwell Technologies, Megan Rose Dickey, mike volpi, myTaxi, self driving cars, Sequoia, starship technologies, t.rowe price, TC, TechCrunch, Tesla, Transportation, Tusk Ventures, Uber, valor equity partners, waymo | 0 comments

Welcome to Transportation Weekly; I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. I cover all the ways people and goods move from Point A to Point B — today and in the future — whether it’s by bike, bus, scooter, car, train, truck, robotaxi or rocket. Sure, let’s include hyperloop and eVTOLs, or air taxis, too.

Yup, another transportation newsletter. But I promise this one will be different. Here’s how.

Newsletters can be great mediums for curated news — a place that rounds up all the important articles a reader might have missed in any given week. We want to do a bit more.

We’re doubling down on the analysis and adding a heaping scoop of original reporting and well, scoops. You can expect Q&As with the most interesting people in transportation, insider tips, and data from that white paper you didn’t have time to read. This isn’t a lone effort either. TechCrunch senior reporter Megan Rose Dickey, who has been writing about micro mobility since before the scooter boom times of 2017, will be weighing in each week in our “Tiny But Mighty Mobility” section below. Follow her @meganrosedickey.

Consider this a soft launch. There might be content you like or something you hate. Feel free to reach out to me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share those thoughts, opinions, or tips.

Eventually, we’ll have a way for readers to sign up and have Transportation Weekly delivered each week via email. For now, follow me on Twitter @kirstenkorosec to ensure you see it each week.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff.


ONM …

There are OEMs in the automotive world. And here, (wait for it) there are ONMs — original news manufacturers.


This is where investigative reporting, enterprise pieces and analysis on transportation will live.

We promised scoops in Transportation Weekly and here is one. If you don’t know journalist Mark Harris, you should. He’s an intrepid gumshoeing reporter who TechCrunch has been lucky enough to hire as a freelancer. Follow him @meharris.

Amazon quietly acquired robotics company Dispatch to build Scout

dispatch-amazon-scout
Remember way back in January when Amazon introduced Scout, their autonomous delivery bot? There was speculation at the time that Amazon had bought the Estonian-based company Starship Technologies. Harris did some investigating and discovered some of the intellectual property and technology behind Scout likely came from a small San Francisco startup called Dispatch that Amazon stealthily acquired in 2017.

It’s time to stop thinking about Amazon as just an e-commerce company. It’s a gigantic logistics company, probably the biggest on the planet, with a keen interest — and the cash to pursue those interests — in automation. Think beyond Scout. In fact, wander on down this post to the deal of the week.


Dig In

Each week, transportation weekly will spend a little extra time on an approach, policy, tech or the people behind it in our ‘Dig In” section. We’ll run the occasional column here, too.

This week features a conversation with Dmitri Dolgov, the CTO and VP of engineering at Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that spun out to become a business under Alphabet.

waymo-google-10-years

Ten years ago, right around now, about a dozen engineers started working on Project Chauffeur, which would turn into the Google self-driving project and eventually become an official company called Waymo. Along the way, the project would give rise to a number of high-profile engineers who would go on to create their own companies. It’s a list that includes Aurora co-founder Chris Urmson, Argo AI co-founder Bryan Salesky and Anthony Levandowski, who helped launch Otto and more recently Pronto.ai.

What might be less known is that many of those in the original dozen are still at Waymo, including Dolgov, Andrew Chatham, Dirk Haehnel, Nathaniel Fairfield and Mike Montemerlo.

Dolgov and I talked about the early days, challenges and what’s next. A couple of things that stood out during our chat.

There is a huge difference between having a prototype that can do something once or twice or four times versus building a product that people can start using in their daily lives. And it is, especially in this field, very easy to make progress on these kinds of one-off challenges.

Dolgov’s take on how engineers viewed the potential of the project 10 years ago …

I also use our cars every day to get around, this is how I got to work today. This is how I run errands around here in Mountain View and Palo Alto.


A little bird …

We hear a lot. But we’re not selfish. Let’s share.
blinky-cat-birdAn early investor, or investors, in Bird appear to be selling some of their shares in the scooter company, per a tip backed up by data over at secondary trading platform EquityZen. That’s not crazy considering the company is valued at $2 billion-ish. Seed investors should take some money off the table once a company reaches that valuation.

We’ve heard that David Sacks at Craft Ventures hasn’t sold a single Bird share. We hear Tusk Ventures hasn’t sold, either. That leaves a few others, including Goldcrest Capital, which was the lone seed investor, and then Series A participants Lead Edge Capital, M13, and Valor Equity Partners.

Got a tip or overheard something in the world of transportation? Email me or send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec.

While you’re over at Twitter, check out this cheeky account @SDElevator. We can’t guarantee how much of the content is actually “overheard” and how much is manufactured for the laughs, but it’s a fun account to peruse from time to time.

Another new entrant to the mobility parody genre is @HeardinMobilty.


Deal of the week

There’s so much to choose from this week, but Aurora’s more than $530 million Series B funding round announced Thursday morning is the winner.

The upshot? It’s not just that Aurora is now valued at more than $2.5 billion. The primary investors in the round — Sequoia as lead and “significant” investments from Amazon and T. Rowe Price — suggests Aurora’s full self-driving stack is headed for other uses beyond shuttling people around in autonomous vehicles. Perhaps delivery is next.

And believe it or not, the type of investor in this round tells me that we can expect another capital raise. Yes, Aurora has lots of runway now as well as three publicly named customers. But investors like Sequoia, which led the round and whose partner Carl Eschenbach is joining Aurora’s board, T. Rowe Price and Amazon along with repeaters like Index Ventures (general partner Mike Volpi is also on the board) have patience, access to cash and long-term strategic thinking. Expect more from them.

Other deals that got our attention this week:


Snapshot

Speaking of deals and Tesla … the automaker’s $218 million acquisition this month of Maxwell Technologies got me thinking about companies it has targeted in the past.

So, we went ahead and built a handy chart to provide a snapshot view of some of Tesla’s noteworthy acquisitions. tesla-acquisitions-chart1

One note: Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted in 2018 that the company had acquired trucking carrier companies to help improve its delivery logistics. We’ve dug in and have yet to land on the company, or companies, Tesla acquired.

The deals that got away are just as interesting. That list includes a reported $325 million offer to buy Simbol Materials, the startup that was extracting small amounts of lithium near the Salton Sea east of San Diego.


Tiny but mighty mobility

Between Lime’s $310 million Series D round and the seemingly never-ending battle to operate electric scooters in San Francisco, it’s clear that micro mobility is not so micro.

Lime, a shared electric scooter and bikeshare startup, has now raised north of $800 million in total funding, surpassing key competitor Bird’s total funding of $415 million. Thanks to this week’s round of funding, Lime’s micromobility business is now worth $2.4 billion.

Lime currently operates its bikes and scooters in more than 100 cities worldwide. Over in San Francisco, however, Lime has yet to deploy any of its modes of transportation. Since last March, there’s been an ongoing battle among scooter operators to deploy their services in the city. The city ultimately selected Skip and Scoot for the pilot programs, leaving the likes of Lime, Uber’s JUMP and Spin to appeal the decision.

A neutral hearing officer has since determined SF’s process for determining scooter operators was fair, but the silver lining for the likes of JUMP, Spin and most likely, Lime, is that the city may open up its pilot program to allow additional operators beginning in April.


Notable reads

Two recent studies got my attention.

The first is from Bike Pittsburgh, an advocacy group and partner of Uber, that published the findings from its latest AV survey based on responses from local residents. The last time they conducted a similar survey was in 2017.

The takeaway: people there, who are among the most exposed to autonomous vehicles due to all the AV testing on public roads, are getting used to it. A bit more than 48 percent of respondents said they approve of public AV testing in Pittsburgh, down slightly from 49 percent approval rating in 2017. 

  • 21.21% somewhat approve
  • 11.62% neutral
  • 10.73% somewhat disapprove
  • 8.73% disapprove

One standout result was surrounding responses about the fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona involving a self-driving Uber that struck and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in March 2018. Survey participants were asked “As a pedestrian or a bicyclist how did this change event and it’s outcome change your opinion about sharing the road with AVs?”

Some 60 percent of respondents claimed no change in their opinion, with another 37 percent claiming that it negatively changed their opinion. Nearly 3 percent claimed their opinion changed positively toward the technology.

Bike Pittsburgh noted that the survey elicited passionate open-ended responses. 

“The incident did not turn too many people off of AV technology in general,” according to Bike Pittsburgh. “Rather it did lead to a growing distrust of the companies themselves, specifically with Uber and how they handled the fatality.”

The other study, Securing the Modern Vehicle: A Study of Automotive Industry Cybersecurity Practices, was released by Synopsys, Inc.and SAE International.

The results, based on a survey of global automotive manufacturers and suppliers conducted by Ponemon Institute, doesn’t assuage my concerns. If anything, it puts me on alert.

  • 84% of automotive professionals have concerns that their organizations’ cybersecurity practices are not keeping pace with evolving technologies
  • 30% of organizations don’t have an established cybersecurity program or team
  • 63% test less than half of the automotive technology they develop for security vulnerabilities.

Testing and deployments

Pilots, pilots everywhere. A couple of interesting mobility pilots and deployments stand out.

Optimus Ride, the Boston-based MIT spinoff, has made a deal with Brookfield Properties to provide rides in its small self-driving vehicles at Halley Rise – a new $1.4 billion mixed-use development in Virginia. 

This is an example of where we see self-driving vehicles headed — for now. Small deployments that are narrowly focused in geography with a predictable customer base are the emerging trend of 2019. Expect more of them.

And there’s a reason why, these are the kinds of pilots that will deliver the data needed to improve their technology, as well as test out business models —gotta figure out how to money with AVs eventually — hone in fleet operational efficiency, placate existing investors while attracting new ones, and recruit talent.

Another deployment in the more conventional ride-hailing side of mobility is with Beat, the startup that has focused its efforts on Latin America.

Beat was founded by Nikos Drandakis in 2011 initially as Taxibeat. The startup acquired by Daimler’s mytaxi in February 2017 and Drandakis still runs the show. The company was focused on Europe but shifted to Latin America, and it’s made all the difference. (Beat is still available in Athens, Greece.) Beat has launched in Lima, Peru, Santiago, Chile and Bogota, Colombia and now boasts 200,000 registered drivers. 

Now it’s moving into Mexico, where more competitors exist. The company just started registering and screening drivers in Mexico City as it prepares to offer rides for passengers this month. 

TechCrunch spoke at length with Drandakis. Look out for a deeper dive soon.

Until next week, nos vemos.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Argo.AI acquires permit to test autonomous vehicles in California

Posted by on Jan 29, 2019 in Automation, Automotive, California, car, dc, driver, Emerging-Technologies, Ford, Google, miami, pittsburgh, Robotics, self driving cars, self-driving car, Technology, transport, Uber | 0 comments

Argo.AI, the self-driving car startup that burst onto the scene in 2017 with $1 billion in backing from Ford, has obtained a permit to test its autonomous vehicles in California.

The permit, issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, is for one vehicle and two drivers.

Unlike other self-driving car companies, California isn’t the first, or even third, market where Argo.AI is testing its tech.

The company, which founded by former Google self-driving project veteran Bryan Salesky and Uber Advanced Technologies Group’s former engineering lead Peter Rander, has been busy in its short life, including acquiring LiDAR company Princeton Lightwave.

Argo.AI does much of its testing in Pittsburgh, where it’s based. The company is also testing its autonomous vehicle technology in Miami, Detroit, and soon Washington D.C. as part of its relationship with Ford. Argo AI has had vehicles on DC’s streets for months now, mapping roads in the first step toward testing in autonomous mode. Ford said last year that the self-driving vehicles would begin testing on public roads in the first quarter of 2019.

Argo.AI is an independent company, although Ford is a major backer and has seats on its board. Ford is also Argo.AI’s only customer — at least for the moment. Argo.AI is developing the virtual driver system and high-definition maps designed for Ford’s self-driving vehicles. Ford has said it plans to launch a self-driving taxi and delivery service in 2021.

It’s not clear, if Argo.AI’s plans to test in California are part of its relationship with Ford, related to a new customer, or part of its testing program. TechCrunch will update the story when it learns more.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Will self-driving cars kill parking?

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in Column, Logistics, parking, self driving cars, Transportation | 0 comments

Some people have postulated that autonomous ridesharing cars will never need to park and cities of the future will not need street parking, parking lots or parking garages. But parking is far from dead. In fact, the $100 billion market may be poised to grow.

We’ve heard from parking startup founders that many Silicon Valley investors have rejected parking as a thing of the past, rallying around alternatives — for example, investing more than $100 million in valet parking startups that didn’t pan out. Even these parking investments are a drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $80 billion invested in autonomous vehicles in just the past three years.

In these peoples’ minds, autonomous cars will simply whisk us off to our destination, then pick up another passenger, collect their groceries from Draeger’s, or simply spin around in circles waiting to pick them up again. “Autonomy is nigh, and the opportunities are endless, but parking is not one of them,” they ponder as they wait for their Tesla Model 3 to be delivered.

Sarcasm aside, parking can play a positive role in our cities today and tomorrow.

Reducing street parking for good

Parking is not dead, but maybe on-street parking should be. Dockless, free-floating, shared personal mobility devices (scooters, bicycles and more) have been dumped on cities by the likes of Bird, LimeBike and Spin. San Francisco has taken actions to “clean up” these eyesores that crowd sidewalks, with City Attorney Dennis Herrera issuing these companies cease-and-desist orders for “creating a public nuisance on the city’s streets and sidewalks.”

Voices from the transportation community were quick to point out the irony of these actions. They were quick to describe personal vehicles as dockless, free-floating, unshared personal mobility devices that are perfectly acceptable eyesores that crowd already congesting roadways.

And maybe they have a point. Off-street parking is widely available in cities, but largely underutilized. So why do we still have on-street parking? Part of the reason has been a lack of information, and at great cost. An IBM survey suggests that parking searches take between 13-32 minutes, account for up to 30 percent of traffic and produce harmful emissions. And think of the wasted gas. In today’s information age, is information a good excuse?

Between parking, ridesharing and additional lanes, some folks have cited an impending battleground for the curb.

Admittedly less sexy than autonomous cars, parking technology companies that provide real-time parking availability in off-street garages are solving these costly search problems. For scale, MIT professor Eran Ben-Joseph estimates there are 800 million surface parking spaces in the United States and cover up to one-third of downtown land area in some cities. Increased utilization of private and municipal garages should push local governments to start removing on-street parking. This opportunity is huge for many densely populated cities.

As long as on-street parking is available, people will use it. If governments move to abandon on-street parking, then they — alongside entrepreneurs and innovators — can use the new space for more productive uses.

Ridesharing

What are those more productive use cases? One is obviously more traffic lanes to improve throughput in our congested cities. Another would be to expand bike (or shall I say, personal mobility device) lanes or even sidewalks to encourage safe pedestrian traffic. Another would be dedicated pick-up and drop-off lanes for ridesharing companies. A dedicated pick-up and drop-off curbside for ridesharing could reduce some of the congestion it may be creating in cities through ad hoc methods today. Lyft* has even proposed what a walkable, lower-congestion Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles could look like in the future.

Perhaps the cities could even make up for lost parking revenue by introducing usage fees for personal mobility devices that are free floating, or ridesharing companies that use the curbside lane.

Between parking, ridesharing and additional lanes, some folks have cited an impending battleground for the curb. It is a battle that parking should probably lose.

Autonomy

Although I would argue that billionaire investors have the picture wrong in their head, autonomous vehicles will arrive — eventually. The idea here is that autonomous cars will operate constantly, delivering passengers here, there and everywhere all day, and that the need for parking will diminish. Maybe so.

However, returning to the valet parking companies mentioned above, Zirx pivoted to Stratim Systems because they saw that there was a need to provide fleet management service for these free-floating car-share services. The same need will exist for autonomous vehicles. They will need to be refueled and/or recharged. They will need to have their interiors cleaned. They will need to have their sensors calibrated and cleaned. They will need to be repaired and maintained. Where will this happen?

Perhaps that is the future of off-street garages, and these new revenue streams are where the $100 billion market may be poised to grow. The technology-forward garages that can attract these new mobility business models by providing value-added services will be well-positioned for the ridesharing and car-sharing fleets of today and the autonomous fleets tomorrow.

The road ahead

Technology companies working with automakers, transportation network companies and fleet managers make it easy to reserve off-street parking today. They are also positioned for the future of autonomous driving tomorrow. An increase in garage utilization should diminish the need to have on-street parking, which would open up real estate for more productive use. Eventually ridesharing and autonomous fleets may cut into the parking market, but those technology-forward parking garages, and even refueling stations of today, will be able to deliver value-added services, like cashless payment, charging stations and fleet management, to their business models.

*Disclosure: Autotech Ventures is an investor in Lyft.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Daimler can now test self-driving cars on public roads in Beijing

Posted by on Jul 6, 2018 in Asia, Automotive, Baidu, China, Daimler, self driving cars, TC, Transportation | 0 comments

Daimler has been granted a license to test self-driving vehicles on public roads in Beijing, making it the first international automaker to receive such permission.

The owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand was given the test permit by the Chinese government after extensive closed-course testing, the company said in a statement, adding that it marks a milestone in its research and development efforts in China.

Daimler, which also has licenses in Germany and the U.S., said it will now begin road tests in Beijing.

There are other companies testing autonomous vehicles in China, notably Baidu, which has been on public roads since at least 2016. For Daimler to qualify, the company said it had to add to its Mercedes-Benz test vehicles technical applications from Baidu’s Apollo platform. Daimler had to undergo testing at the National Pilot Zone (Beijing and Hebei) for Intelligent Mobility, with test drivers receiving rigorous automated driving training.

Daimler has also deepened its relationship with Baidu, specifically in R&D efforts focused on safety and autonomous driving. The goal is to understand the special requirements for automated driving in China, and to develop an early intuition regarding local technical trends, Daimler said.

Earlier this week, Baidu announced an update to its Apollo autonomous driving system, which is capable of Level 4 operations, a designation by automotive engineering association SAE International that means the vehicles take over all driving in certain conditions.

The Apollo program is an open-source autonomous driving platform that has been under development for years. Baidu isn’t interested in making the actual car — just the software that drives it. And it wants as many companies as possible to use its Apollo platform. Some 116 partners are now on the Apollo platform, including new partners Jaguar Land Rover, Valeo, Byton, Leopard Imaging and Suning Logistics.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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As Uber and Tesla struggle with driverless cars, Waymo moves forward

Posted by on Jun 1, 2018 in Cars, cruise, self driving cars, Uber, waymo | 0 comments

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments


Source: Ars Technica

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