Baidu CEO Robin Li pulls a Driver-less Car stunt, gets fined

Robin li of Baidu does a driverless car stunt, gets fined in China.

After announcing this week its partnership with 50 companies for launching driverless car project, Robin Li, CEO of Baidu has landed himself in big trouble!

China’s Tech Giant company, Baidu’s CEO on the aspect of doing a stunt landed himself in trouble. Robin Li, CEO of Baidu recently rode a driver-less car on the roads of China and live streamed his ride to an AI developer’s conference quoting them how smooth the ride was, sitting comfortably on the passenger’s seat. Well, this act hasn’t exactly gone down well with the Chinese government, as driverless cars have been banned in China.

 

Robin Li is seen conversing with the developer about his experience in front a thrilled audience.

Though, a person was sitting on the driver’s seat, he didn’t touch the wheel while driving down the busiest Chinese Highway. During the conference he explained how smoothly the car rode on autopilot mode even though there was heavy traffic.

Recommended: UBER’s Driverless truck enters Guinness record, by delivering a ton of beer

Robin Li had already taken out his car for test drive in 2015. The traffic policemen said that it will be investigated and actively verified. China’s policy of “Do first and act later” has taken toll on its policies. They seem to be slow in adopting new technologies and abiding laws.

The stunt didn’t go down well with the police as when the live video footage was checked, it was found that the car was facing issues while changing lanes. It did change lanes when a car was right behind it, and at points it tried changing lanes when a car was next to it. This was not at acceptable, though Robin was seen calmly sitting in his car, but some traffic laws were broken. The car needed some more work to be done on it!

The fine for a driver without a license is 20 euros but for driver-less cars, no such rules has been made. So, for now the car has been confiscated. The laws have still not be constructed for allowing driver-less cars on the roads. Baidu has refused to comment on the matter.

Now, with Robin’s new stunt let’s see how the Chinese government will react to it. Let us know in the comment section what you think about the future of driver-less Cars in China.

UBER’s Driverless truck enters Guinness record, by delivering a ton of beer

Loaded with 51,744 Budweiser beer cans, Otto, driver-less truck made a 132 mile long journey as part of its trial run. It has been recorded as one of the longest journey by a driver-less truck and is therefore awarded the Guinness World Record for the same.

Otto, founded by Anthony Levandowski and acquired by Uber, launched its driver-less trucks in the year 2016 on trial basis. It carried Budweiser beer cans on the truck and drove it to Colorado Springs from Fort Collins. On the record it has been proved that the truck drove almost 131.99  miles which is the longest distance traveled by an autonomous truck, so far.

As seen in the video, The driver-less truck did have Mr. Walter Martin, a driver by profession, where he closely monitored it now and then, but never took the wheel. He was being monitored by a connected camera where he was seen reading in the back seat and meanwhile monitoring from there.

 

James Sembrot, Senior director, logistic strategy at Budweiser was excited to be a part of this development. He said, “Budweiser is one of the largest brewers in the United States, we ship over 1.2 million truck loads each year. We’re always looking for new innovation and technology. OTTO’s trucks are the next area of innovation in transportation technology”.

Recommended: Waymo training self driven cars to drive near Police Vehicles

Out of all the cities, the government of Colorado gave an edge by allowing them to drive and test their driver-less cars on their streets. The government had already set some regulating laws for carrying out the testing on the streets. The vehicles, therefore, need to take care of the laws and abide by them, until and unless that continues to happen they are free to test themselves.

Anthony stated that Otto’s technology was all about making the roads safer, “it’s like having a train on software rails”

Otto was acquired by Uber Advanced Technology Group, a separate division under UBER that specializes in working on driverless technologies, ATG later ran into legal trouble with google over Otto. Where Google, accused the founder of Otto who was a former Google employee for stealing trade secrets. Uber had no choice but to boot out, Anthony Levandowski.

Despite all the issues that Otto is surrounded with, this achievement would be a positive leap for Otto. Let’s see how soon driver-less trucks throng the roads!

Waymo training self driven cars to drive near Police Vehicles

Waymo driver less cars police

Driver-less cars is the new tech notion we can hear everyone murmuring around us, recently. Isn’t it? Taking a notch ahead Waymo, the self driving project by Google, has made its way by testing the cars during various situations.

The local government of Chandler city in Arizona, put a step forward and helped Waymo to create a space for testing out their cars. The journey wasn’t easy to try and test out driver-less cars for their purpose on roads but with the government’s help, they were able to close down a street for Waymo’s driver-less minivans to test. Waymo team taught the driver-less cars to react on the sound and the light of sirens of various emergency vehicles like Police vans, Fire trucks and Ambulances.

Waymo driver less cars police
image credit: Markettamer com

We all know, an important aspect of driving a car is spotting the emergency vehicle in vicinity and reacting in an ethical way. Similarly, with the help of artificial intelligence, driver-less cars are meant to be trained to park their vehicle on the sides of road, when they sense an ambulance passing by.

How is that done?

Driver-less cars identify sirens of various vehicles, with the help of the installed cameras and microphones on the car itself. All the vehicles are made to pass on the street past the car. The people will test it either by sitting in the car or by driving behind the car. The sound of the siren varies depending on whether the wind is blowing or not as the sound may vary accordingly. The tests are carried out on similar basis. This is not the only sufficient test, because driving in day time and at night time also plays an important role. So, the cars are also tested during night time to exit any possibility of trouble in that time of the day. The reactions and the way they learn depends a lot on artificial intelligence by feeding commands to which the cars react.

Why is this done?

This involves to take a lot of safety and security measures into consideration. Reacting on arrival of emergency vehicles is utmost important to a driver. Artificial Intelligence plays a big role in designing the scenario for instances like these: when a emergency vehicle passes by, when something comes in front of the car, how to park and many such instances. The car is prepared for all such scenarios.

Once this will be done, Waymo has planned to try this out in Phoenix city, Arizona for their first public trial under their self driving program “Waymo’s Early Riding Program”.

This could not have been done without the support from one of the cities to try and test before going live. Waymo needed a street exposure for itself to try it out. The local government of Chandler has proved their mettle by helping out the testing sessions and gaining all attention and limelight for the launch of driver-less cars!

Let’s see how long driver-less cars are going to make their mark!

Interesting Startups in the Autonomous Self-Driving vehicle space.

Driver less cars startups

This is the age of AI ( Artificial Intelligence ). One area where AI is creating real disruption is the Automobile space. AI powered Self-driving is the talk of the town. Lets take a look at the top 10 interesting startups working in the Autonomous Self-driving vehicle space.

Drive.ai

This is one of the most talked about startup in the Autonomous Self-driving space. Drive.ai initially raised around $12 Million in funding and is founded by Sameep Tandon. Adding to it recently the company raised another $50 Million in funding. The founders of the startup has good expertise in the Deep learning vertical and are trying to solve a lot of Driver-less car issues via. extreme Machine learning. The startup has an ambitious goal of connecting all the dots in the self-driving vehicle space ( Sensors, Camera, Human to Car communication, Car to car communication etc. ) via. deep learning techniques.

Recently Sameep Tandon quoted saying: “What we are building at Drive.ai is the brains for self-driving cars, We think self-driving cars are going to make roads safer, give us our time back, and re-imagine our cities.”

Drive.ai also creates the Roof top kits that can turn any existing vehicles into Self-driving Autonomous vehicles. The startup has recently bought in Andrew Ng ( who headed the AI divisions in Baidu and Google ).

The startup which has been in stealth mode for so long has just come out to the public to show case its capabilities. Still there is not much information mentioned on their website or their press releases. We will keep this post updated on more info.

Smart Car Tech

While a lot many Self-driving Autonomous vehicle startups concentrate on solving or improving the vehicles itself, Smart Car tech works on building an AI powered ‘Car Rental Software’ for Car Rental businesses. Based out of Bangalore India, the startup is completely Bootstrapped with many Car Rental companies around the world already using their software suite.

One of the areas which is going to be deeply impacted by the Driver-less cars is the Car Rental Space. Existing companies like AVIS, HERTZ and thousands of Small, Medium vehicle rental companies run of software and mobile apps using which they manage their fleet, Take bookings, payment etc,. When Driver-less vehicle’s come into picture, they would surely need to upgrade their existing software to ones that support Driver-less cars. This is where Smart Car Tech is focusing on.

Apart form creating Car Rental Software for these businesses, the startup also is working on technologies to easily implement Smart contracts for Automobile insurance and accident management algorithms for the Self-driving vehicles era.

nuTonomy

nuTonomy is a hot startup focused primarily on supplying Autonomous Self-driving technology and mobile robots to businesses. The Startup is based out of Singapore and US. Doug Parker is the COO of the startup that has raised near $20 Million. Nutonomy is considered the official partner of the Singapore government for all Self Driving related research and progress in the region. The company has landed an impressive deal with the ride-hailing business “Grab” to supply autonomous self-driving vehicles and related technology.

Note: GRAB Taxi has recently raised near $750 Million in funding.

In a statement Mr Karl Iagnemma, the CEO of Nutonomy said, “Partnering with Grab to expand our public trial in Singapore will yield valuable feedback and consumer insights as nuTonomy readies our on-demand self-driving car service for commercial launch in 2018”

Nutonomy is currently involved in testing its fleet of self-driving vehicles at 1 North district of Singapore. The company has plans to launch at-least 1000 such driver-less vehicles by 2018. Nutonomy has fitted 6 cars( Renault Zoe, Mitsubishi i-MiEV ) with the Autonomous driving kits to test drive them on road.

Embark

This is an interesting Autonomous Self-driving startup particularly focused on the Logistics space. As they have rightly mentioned on the site: While most of the companies, startups and billions are spent on the passenger vehicles ie. Cars, Van, GPs etc. Embark focuses on commercial trucking.

This is interesting owing to the fact that UBER is also bullish on the driver-less commercial trucking vertical with its acquisition of OTTO & Google Waymo’s latest interest in Self-driving Trucks.

Embark is a startup spun off from Y-Combinator and is recently funded with $4.5 Million dollars, by Maven ventures  ( YC & Maven were also the investors the Cruise which was a Billion dollar exit ).  Founded by Michael Skupien and Alex Rodrigues, the team is backed by engineers with steep expertise in Robotics, Machine Learning, AI etc.

Autonomous Self-Driving Trucks can reduce a lot of human error due to stress, long hauls, drowsiness etc,. It is a big and incredible market to address 🙂

Amber Mobility

An interesting Netherlands based startup that works on creating the Autonomous Self-Driving vehicles as well as a car sharing platform that dispenses Driver-less cars on-demand. The Dutch government is very bullish on promoting and implementing Driver-less Autonomous vehicles by 2019.

Amber is a startup founded by Steven Nelemans and Joep Sloot. The company has already been testing their Self-Driving BMW i3 cars for sometime now and they also have ABN AMRO bank already using their mobility platform.Amber has also managed to design its own self driving Autonomous car and its called the Amber one ( a futuristic looking model that is light weight, can be used to travel long ranges, customizable and has a long life span.

Autonomous self-driving driver less startups

Amber mobility plans to offer its services as an on-demand cab dispatch service for employees of businesses & as a personal on-demand car for private users.

7 Things You Need To Know About Self-Driving / Driver-Less Cars

Driver less cars

Traffic woes are not something new to anyone who has ever commuted via. roads. Needless to say, after a long day at work you don’t want to be bothered by these listless honking and other hassles. A safe free ride without any tension is what we all desire. Well the concept of Self Driving / Driver Less Cars are not something new, but in this post we take a look at a couple of things that would be handy if you’re looking to maximize the autonomous capabilities of your next car.

Make sure it has some or all of the features on our list 🙂

1. Cruise Control

Perhaps one of the most common feature on our list. Adaptive cruise control is not something new to most of us. It has been available on some vehicles, in varying forms – for over a decade. Improving upon the first autonomous driving feature ever (cruise control), adaptive cruise control can adjust your vehicle’s speed based on the speed of cars on the road in front you. In many cases, it can even set and maintain a desired following distance. And while some adaptive cruise control systems require vehicles to be traveling at a certain speed before they’ll kick in, the best systems can bring a car to a complete stop and get it started again once traffic in front begins moving.

2. Automatic Collision Braking

Automatic forward-collision braking is perhaps the most rapidly happening feature on our list. While it was considered as an unusual feature until a few years back, it’s now offered in an enormous range of cars, including some compact and subcompact models with highly affordable price tags. So, how does it work? Although the braking systems vary from automaker to automaker, the most advanced collision systems detect an explicit frontal collision, alert the driver to a possible accident ahead and quickly apply the brakes in order to ensure the car stops in time. Don’t be fooled by forward-collision “warning” systems: Drivers who want the most autonomous technology possible will want a system that automatically applies the brakes.

3. Automatic Parking

Automatic parking is the latest exciting self-driving feature to find its way into a wide range of vehicles. Like other technologies on this list, the actual workings of automatic parking systems vary from model to model and automaker to automaker, but the general gist is that these systems can decide whether a vehicle is large enough to fit in a certain parking spot and then automatically steer the car into the spot. While some versions only control the steering and require drivers to work the brake and gas pedals, other systems do it all for you — and some even work in perpendicular parking spots, in addition to parallel ones.

4. Autopilot

Tesla’s Autopilot system is possibly the most advanced autonomous system on the market today. While many automakers are focusing on making sure vehicles remain in their lanes, avoid collisions or slow down and speed up based on traffic. Tesla has put together every piece of the puzzle in the best and most useful way possible. The result is near-full autonomous driving — though the system won’t work in some conditions, and Tesla reminds drivers to always keep their hands on the wheel. Still, Tesla’s Autopilot system is as close to autonomous driving as you’re going to get for the time being.

5. Lane-Keep Assist

More and more automakers are rolling out lane-keep assist, a new feature that builds on lane-departure warning systems in older models. While lane-departure warning would sound an alert or flash a light to let you know you’re drifting from your lane (if you’re distracted, for example), lane-keep assist will automatically steer you back into your lane should you start to drift out. While there are a few limitations to lane-keep assist systems — they won’t work if lane lines aren’t easily visible, for example — the technology is an excellent example of increasing autonomous technology in modern vehicles.

6.Sign Recognition

Quiet a fascinating tech isn’t it? Now if you ever wondered what this feature was even, then here’s something for you Road-sign recognition is a tool that automatically views signs on the side of the road and relays that information to the driver. If you have ever wondered what the speed limit is as you drive down the road, fret no more! A car with a good sign-recognition tool will automatically capture the speed limit and display it for you, so you never have to wonder again.

7. Steering Assist

Several high-end luxury cars — like the BMW 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the Volvo S90 — offer full steering-assist systems in addition to more common autonomous technologies like lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. While steering-assist systems from these more traditional luxury brands aren’t as comprehensive as Tesla’s Autopilot system, and they usually only last a few seconds or a minute before handing control back to the driver, the idea is similar: The car uses all of its sensors and cameras to steer for itself for a certain period of time. While this feature is currently only offered on top-level luxury cars, we suspect it’ll trickle down to lesser models in the next few years.

Although there are major concerns in the market with the susceptibility of these models and systems, the trend is soon catching up and more or less within a decade we will witness one of the most unique and efficient systems the automobile industry has ever seen. Hope we broadened your knowledge on Self Drive / Driver less Cars.

Do post your comments and views in the section below. Also shoot us your queries for further details!

Happy Driver Less Driving!

Apple Inc. partners with HERTZ for Driver-less cars testing.

Apple Hertz self driving car

Tip: HERTZ as we all know is one of the leading Car Rental providers in the world. From Airports to Malls, there are thousands of HERTZ outlets in all the leading cities in the world. Due to declining profits and market speculations on what will happen to the CAR RENTAL industry once DRIVER-LESS cars hit the road, the stocks of Hertz holdings have taken a lot of beating. The price has reduced nearly 75% over the past 12 months.

Apple Inc. has always been known to be the forerunner and innovator in any new vertical. From revolutionizing the way you hear music to how you use your mobile phone, they have always been the pioneers of innovation. But this time with the upcoming DRIVER-LESS cars, they are lagging behind Goolge’s WAYMO and TESLA. But this has not stopped the technology giant from proceeding. Apple Inc. has also been silently testing its Driver-less cars technology for the past couple of years ( partnering with a variety of providers ). Many have sighted Apple testing a fleet of Self-driving vehicles powered by tis technology in and around SFO. But now, they have announced this interesting partnership with the Car Rental major Hertz to test their Autonomous technology.

Apple Hertz self driving car

Apple will be leasing the Lexus RX 450h sports vehicle from Hertz ( at their Donlen fleet management unit ). When Apple announced its Car project some years ago, there were huge speculations if APPLE was getting into manufacturing cars. But Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc. has made it very clear that the company will focus more on developing a fantastic technology that would power any Self-driving car than manufacturing the entire car itself. The project is called ‘Titan’ and is headed by Mr. Bob Mansfield.

Apple’s partnership with Car Rental provider Hertz is very interesting as recently Google’s Waymo has partnered with another Rental giant AVIS. This has bought some good hope in the mind’s of investors ( who were worried about the Car rental market ). The shares of Hertz spiked a whooping 13% on release of this news.

What we see is there are 2 sides to this entire Driver-less cars equation. On one side are the Car manufacturers trying to get their vehicles ready for the Autonomous revolution. On the other side are core technology companies that are using the opportunity to develop Software and algorithms required for this market. Jumping into this band wagon are also the good old Microprocessor and chip making companies like Nvidia, Intel etc. As more and more of the game un-folds we will see the raise and change of many industries.

Volvo Joins hands with Nvidia for its Driver-less cars.

Volvo driver-less car

Tit Bits: In CES 2016, CEO of Nvidia Mr. Jen-Hsun Huang revealed the Drive PX2. This is nothing but a supercomputer developed exclusively for the upcoming Driver-less cars. The Drive PX2 comes with the power of 150 Mac Book Pro’s and 12 CPU cores. Nvidia believes that the cars of tomorrow need extensive processing power under its hoods to instantly process inputs from the numerous sensors and cameras that would be equipped in the self-driving cars. Such super powered processors can help Autonomous vehicles even detect things in heavy snow!

The more interesting news is that VOLVO is partnering with NVIDIA to make use of this tremendous computing power. On the other hand Volvo is working with AutoLiv to power the Artificial Intelligence in its own Driver-less cars. VOLVO as we know is the leader in manufacturing safety first cars. They are now bullish in bringing out the most fascinating Driver-less cars by 2021. With such strong partnership and technology, there is no question that VOLVO is going to manufacture a truly amazing and safe Autonomous car.

Nvidia Drive px2 self driving

Volvo and Autoliv have created a joint venture under the name Zenuity. NVIDIA along with Zenuity is hoping to create next generation Machine Learning and deep learning systems that will power the underlying AI to be super aware of any objects, movements and safety threats around the Driver-less cars. It is expected that AutoLiv will also sell this product to other OEMs via. its existing network.

In a statement, the CEO of Autoliv Mr. Jan Carlson said: “We now have full access to the leading computing platform for autonomous driving. Autoliv, Volvo Cars and NVIDIA share the same vision for safe, autonomous driving. This cooperation will further advance our leading ADAS and autonomous driving product and solution offerings to the market.”

Note: VOLVO is known for inventing the SEAT BELT. They made the patent open source so any automobile company can use it for the safety of the passengers.

Volvo driver-less car

The race to create the most intelligent and flawless Driver-less car is getting heat day by day. More and more Car manufacturers ( in fact All ) are jumping into the bandwagon and spending billions of dollars to get their technology ready for this autonomous revolution. We will soon see more and more of partnerships among companies to share and utilize the expertise of each other.

While Tesla and Waymo are leading the run in the Self-driving car space, other Automobile giants like Mercedes, Fiat, Ford, Volkswagon, Volvo are catching up fast. The Driver-less car space has reached extreme maturity and any player not willing to participate can cease to exist in the near future. This has created a lot of heat in the automobile space and every player is spending huge budgets in getting their play right.

What does the Google Waymo deal with AVIS Budget mean?

Driver less cars Waymo Avis

Ok, there are 3 parts to this story.

  1. AVIS Budget: One of the biggest Car Rental companies in the world with thousands of branches word wide.
  2. Google Waymo: Pioneer in developing Driver-less cars software and hardware. Been testing its technology on road for many years now & trying partnership with companies like UBER, LYFT etc. to bring its technology to the roads.
  3. Driver-Less Cars: The hot and happening trend across the globe ( or at-least in leading cities ). Nearly all research firms have unanimously agreed that this is going to be a multi-trillion dollar industry in the very near future.

WAYMO ( the self driving unit inside Google ), has been into Driver-less cars research for many many years. But in the recent years the tech giant seem to slip slightly behind TESLA in being the leader in this Self-Driving cars space. Thanks to the vertically integrated approach by TESLA, they are able to stand out in the Autonomous vehicle race ( as they own both the hardware & the software piece ). Being a car manufacturing company, TESLA was able to go ahead and integrate its Driver-less cars technology into its own cars without any process over-heads and complexities. This led to TESLA to quickly bring the commercial cars on the road with the technology built-in.

Now, its WAYMO’s move & they are doing what they have been doing good historically. ie. Make partnerships with leaders in the space to integrate its technology and hot the road running.

AVIS Budget as we all now does a fabulous job in its niche ie. Car Rentals & can easily be said as the leader in the industry. They have millions of vehicles under their belt serving millions of customers worldwide. With this deal, Waymo an easily get the much wanted advantage to take its Self-Driving technology to the roads in real-time.

Driver less cars Waymo Avis

As of now the deal allows Waymo to deploy its Driver-less cars for testing in Phoenix AVIS facilities. If this works out fine, they can roll it out in more AVIS locations. For AVIS Budget group, its a very important step, as it gives them an early foothold in the Driver-less car rental space ( which is obviously the future of Car Rentals ).

On Monday, Avis officially announced that it would provide the required ” Fleet support and maintenance services ” to the self-driving Waymo cars in the city of Phoenix. And much the amusement of the people in the city, Waymo is offering free rides 🙂

John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo earlier said, “Avis Budget Group is an ideal partner to provide fleet support and maintenance. With thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places.“.

The entire Car Rental industry stocks have been going down steep on speculations about “What will happen to this industry once Driver-less cars comes into scene”. This new deal between Google Waymo & Avis Budget group has bought in positive sentiments & clarity to investors. Avis stock has raised a whooping 14% as a reaction to this partnership.

But still the big question remains. What will happen to the thousands of other small & medium Car rental businesses around the globe. Would they need to create partnerships with such giants to survive? Or is there an alternate solution coming up? Lets wait and see.