Also in the news this week are Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover, SoftBank, Alibaba, RoboSense, and the Toyota Mobility Foundation.
Waymo looks to rapidly expand its fleet of self-driving cars while GM’s Cruise rakes in a multi-billion-dollar investment to keep pace. Andrew Tolve reports.
With Uber’s driverless taxi programme shut down in Arizona and in disarray across the US, the race to commercialise self-driving cars has narrowed to a handful of tech companies and traditional carmakers, none of whom are standing idly by.
Last week Waymo revealed that it’s planning to add 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to its self-driving fleet, up from the existing 600. It’s the latest sign that Waymo is serious about launching the world's first autonomous taxiservice this year, and on a large scale, with members of the general public able to request these taxis through the Waymo app. The Waymo fleet will also includeup to 20,000 Jaguar Land Rover electric vehicles. Official launch is expected in the US in late 2018.
Meanwhile General Motors announced that Japan’s SoftBank will pump $2.25Bn (£1.92Bn) into GM’s self-driving unit Cruise, marking one of the largest ever investments in the autonomous vehicle space. GM will invest an additional $1.1Bn in Cruise as well – an inflow of capital that Cruise will use to commercialise its fleet in 2019. SoftBank will make the investment out of its $100Bn Vision Fund, through which it has also invested in Uber. GM’s shares surged 13% after the announcement.
Alibaba is partnering with a Chinese robotics firm, RoboSense, to develop an unmanned delivery vehicle for packages and food. The vehicle, dubbed the G Plus, comes with a package locker to safely store deliverables and a suite of solid-state LiDAR tech to navigate its surroundings. Facial recognition tech helps identify recipients before the G Plus pops open its locker. Alibaba says the vehicles can be mass-produced, allowing rapid expansion of unmanned logistics vehicles and streamlining mass market logistics.
Along the same vein, artificial intelligence firm Aitheon is working with CarSmartt to roll out an autonomous vehicle delivery solution in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Miami, Florida, in 2018.Aitheon's technology platform will power the driverless cars en routeto the delivery location. Upon arrival, users will be notified via text with the location of the parked vehicle. When a user arrives at the vehicle to receive their package their identification will be verified, the car will unlock and they can retrieve their package.
Bosch is opening a €36M(£31M) plant in China to develop infotainment systems for the Chinese market. The plant will focus on new digital displays, voice support, haptic feedback, and other HMI technologies. In March, the Bosch Group signed a strategic alliance with the infotainment start-up Banma, a joint venture between Alibabaand the Chinese automaker SAIC.
Finally, the Toyota Mobility Foundation is partnering with The Alan Turing Institute to explore how artificial intelligence can improve traffic management in the city of the future. The 18-month collaboration will seek to build an AI system for traffic light and signals control and a platform for interactive data manipulation to monitor and predict traffic behaviour. It also will explore how fleet operators and cities can work together, for example by sharing data about congestion or pollution hotspots and rerouting around the problem before it becomes serious.Theproject will include experts and engineers from the Greater London Authority and the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU-Automotive analysis with information from industry sources.
12 Jun 2018 - 14 Jun 2018, London, UK
Innovations in autonomous vehicles, data & AI, electric vehicles and shared mobility are set to revolutionise the transportation sector. However, before sustainable, seamless, intermodal transportation can be realised, a brand new ecosystem of cities, automakers, tech & infrastructure companies and MasS providers needs to develop.