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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Waymo takes its self-driving car ambitions global in partnership with Renault-Nissan

Waymo has locked in an exclusive partnership with Renault and Nissan to research how commercial autonomous vehicles might work for passengers and packages in France and Japan.

This exclusive partnership has a deadline — the public announcement says it will last for “an initial period.” Waymo nor the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance provided details on when it might end.

For now, research is the basis of the partnership. The companies plan to research commercial, legal and regulatory issues. However, Waymo CEO John Krafcik, and by extension the company, sees this as an opening to deploy commercial services in these two countries, and possibly China and other countries.

“This is an ideal opportunity for Waymo to bring our autonomous technology to a global stage, with an innovative partner,” Krafcik said in a statement. “With the Alliance’s international reach and scale, our Waymo Driver can deliver transformational mobility solutions to safely serve riders and commercial deliveries in France, Japan, and other countries.â€�

Renault and Nissan plan to create joint venture Alliance-focused companies in France and Japan dedicated to autonomous vehicle mobility services.

The announcement follows a recent spate of alliances, failed deals and partnerships between a number of autonomous vehicle companies, suppliers and automakers.

In May, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles withdrew its proposal to merge with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, a 50-50 tie-up that was touted as a way to reduce costs and put more capital towards bringing next-generation technologies like self-driving cars to market.

While that merger fizzled, a deal that had been in the works between Fiat Chrysler and self-driving car startup Aurora became public. That announcement was quickly followed by a Financial Times article that reported VW had ended its partnership with Aurora.

All the while, negotiations between VW and Ford-backed Argo AI continue.


Source: TechCrunch

California has let two Chinese startups offer robotaxis to the public

China’s driverless cars are coming for passengers in the United States. AutoX and Pony.ai just became the first Chinese companies allowed to offer self-driving robotaxis in the state of California, according to notices posted on the website of the California Public Utilities Commission this week.

Started in 2016 by Princeton University professor Jianxiong Xiao, called “Professor X” by his students, AutoX is now one of China’s most well-funded autonomous driving startups alongside Pony.ai, which was co-founded in 2016 by two former executives at Baidu’s self-driving department.

AutoX said in January that it was in talks with investors to raise a lofty $100 million. Pony.ai had banked at least $214 million in funding as of April.

While more than 62 companies hold the permits to test autonomous vehicles in California, very few are actually allowed to transport people in those cars. Zoox passed a new milestone when it received the first green light to provide robotaxi services in the state six months ago. Now AutoX and Pony.ai have joined the exclusive club, bringing the number of participants in the pilot program to three.

autonomous driving

Screenshot from the California Public Utilities Commission website

There are a few catches though. The type of permission granted to the three companies is for the “Drivered AV Passenger Service,” which forbids companies to charge passengers for test rides and requires a safety driver behind the wheel. No entity has so far been permitted to run real driverless passenger service in California, a sign that regulators aren’t quite ready to let tech companies transport the public without human oversight.

AutoX, which is already using self-driving vehicles to deliver groceries in San Jose, is getting a headstart by introducing California’s first robotaxi service. People living in north San Jose or Santa Clara can now apply to join its early rider program and give feedback, says an instruction on its website. A spokesperson for Pony.ai told TechCrunch that the company also began offering driverless passenger services as soon as it received the permit.

Alphabet’s Waymo launched a passenger service in Phoenix last December. Like California, Arizona demands a trained test driver to assist with operations if needed. While Waymo is allowed to charge passengers, it can only ferry a vetted group of people, so the program isn’t available to everyone.

These confinements seem sensible given legal and ethical concerns raised by critics. Last year, Uber’s self-driving test vehicle struck and killed a woman in Temple, prompting the transportation giant to suspend its test drives. The incident has become a cautionary tale for startups in the field. Take Momenta, the first Chinese autonomous driving startup to pass $1 billion in valuation. The CEO requires all executives to ride a minimum number of autonomous miles themselves, so the management would put passenger safety first.

Chinese startups covet the California license for a number of reasons. First, self-driving cars are by nature data-hungry. There are only a small handful of cities worldwide which allow robotaxis on public roads, so it always helps to collect more mileages whenever permissible.

Many of these Chinese companies have also set up research and development centers in California to tap the region’s tech talent. Pony.ai, for example, deploys R&D staff and offices across Silicon Valley, Beijing and Guangzhou. AutoX opened an R&D center in Shenzhen earlier this year but still keeps development teams in San Jose.


Source: TechCrunch

Alphabet Shareholders Demand Accountability

Shareholders proposed 14 resolutions, from Google’s conduct in China to conditions for Google workers. Cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t attend.
Source: Wired

Tesla Arcade Let’s You Play a Videogame Right in Your Car

Tesla gives drivers access to games they can play on the center screen, including Beach Buggy Racing 2. The car has to be in park, however.
Source: Wired

Dell drops big discounts on Inspiron 7000 and G5 gaming laptops for grads

Dell has been dropping deals on laptops all summer, and now in time for graduation day, you can score a Dell Inspiron 7000 15 laptop or a G5 15 gaming laptop at deeply discounted prices of just $830 and $900, respectively.
Source: Digital trends

Facebook's Libra Is Already Hitting Turbulence

Officials in Europe and the US worry about user privacy and how Facebook will handle data stemming from its cryptocurrency.
Source: Wired

Slack reference price set at $26 per share – CNET

Messaging startup expected to begin trading Thursday on the NYSE under the ticker symbol WORK.
Source: CNET

Finding stuff on YouTube to get easier, Note 10 pics published video – CNET

A change to Google will make YouTube videos a lot more useful. Meanwhile, images of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 make their way online thanks to a trusted combo. All that and more in this episode of Alphabet City!
Source: CNET

Reddit, Hulu and Xbox Live go down Wednesday afternoon – CNET

Update: Xbox Live says it has identified the issue and is working to fix it.
Source: CNET

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg reiterates that her company needs to be regulated – CNET

No surprise, she wants Facebook to be involved in developing any rules that might affect it.
Source: CNET

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