Ex Google engineers resent Nuro auto-delivery vehicle

Silicon Valley startup Nuro.ai raised $92 million to create a working prototype of its ‘R1’ vehicle, which the company says will never seat a human inside. The low-speed car is fitted with panels in its side that open via an app to reveal its cargo, and Nuro claims it could have a road-legal fleet ready by 2022.

The smartphone app will give a code that pops open the vehicle’s side hatches, so customers can fetch their items. It will also let customers know when the vehicle is nearby, so people know when to head outside for collection.

Nuro said it is even considering using facial-recognition cameras as part of its delivery process.

Based in Los Angeles, the firm has already received a testing permit from the California DMV and plans to start public road trials later this year. The R1 is around the height of a saloon but only half as wide, stretching about as long as a Smart car to give it a boxed shape. Its skinny size gives it a 3 to 4-foot (90-120cm) ‘buffer’ so other vehicles and pedestrians can maneuver safely around it, according to Nuro. The R1 is a ‘Level Four’ fully autonomous vehicle, meaning it does not require human instruction for most situations, relying instead on high-definition mapping.

It navigates the roads using self-driving sensors including cameras, radars, and a spinning ‘lidar’ unit on its roof.

Founded by ex-Google engineers Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, the software for the vehicle was built from scratch over the past year-and-a-half.

Source:
https://www.theverge.com/

Google’s Waymo Unleashed—Driverless—in Phoenix

The first truly autonomous cars — vehicles that cruise the public streets with no one sitting behind the wheel to take over in case of emergency — have finally arrived. Wired.com reports that Waymo, which began life as Google’s self-driving car project, disclosed that it had let its driverless cars loose in parts of Phoenix, Arizona, with nobody in the front seats.

Members of the public taking part in a Waymo trial in the desert city in the US south-west will be able to summon the vehicles through a ride-hailing app “in the next few months”, the company said. Potentially one of the most disruptive new technologies, as well as one of the most hyped, driverless cars have been at the center of a race between big automakers and technology companies in the US, China and Europe. But while a number of groups are testing the technology on the streets with back-up drivers behind the wheel, most believe the advent of full autonomy is at least two years away.

Company employees have been climbing into the backs of its cars, choosing between three different routes, and letting the vehicle do the rest. The test, while limited to an unspecified area, is not a one-time ride or a demo but the start of a new phase for Waymo and the history of this technology. The company planned to expand it to the entire 600 sq m Phoenix region, he added, without giving a specific timeframe.

Google Search Leader to Lead Uber Self-Driving Division

Uber Technologies, the popular ride-hailing company, has announced they hired Amit Singhal, the man behind Google search, to work closely with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to help grow the Uber self-driving car program.

Singhal announced on his personal blog that after 15 years leading Google’s search division, Alphabet, Inc., he will take on the role as senior VP of engineering at Uber and act as adviser to Kalanick as well as Anthony Levandowski who leads the Uber’s self-driving division. In his blog Singhal noted that he was excited and lovingly called Uber a “geeks candy store.”

Uber debuted its self-driving car pilot in Pittsburgh, PA, in September. It launched a second fleet in San Francisco last month, but a feud with California regulators over Uber’s failure to obtain proper permitting compelled the company to take its autonomous testing cars off the streets.

Uber then packed up its cars and brought them to Arizona, where there are no special regulations for autonomous testing.
Singhal announced his intentions to leave Google a year ago.

Google’s First Accident

You’ve probably heard by now that Google’s autonomous vehicle had its first accident where it was totally to blame. It happened February 14, 2016 between Google’s self driving Lexus with sensors and software, and a public bus in Silicon Valley. There were no injuries. It’s not readily available in the video but the car hit bus while moving and the bus kept going. The passengers seem unbothered by the incident. The Google car needed to get around some sandbags and was going 2 mph while the bus was going 15 mph.

Here is the Associated Press YouTube video:

The Victor Crew

Android Driving Mode

Google maps driving modeHere is a neat little trick from the Victor crew:

If you have an Android phone, Google added a driving feature earlier this year. It is called Driving mode. You need to have your work and home preset in your Google map, it will give you ETAs to get to those destinations. It will give you traffic updates, quickest routes, and even gas prices.

To add a driving shortcut, add the driving shortcut found in widgets. You can also access it through the sidebar menu of Google maps by selecting the “start driving” option. To add a shortcut, hold you finger on the screen, then go to Widgets. Scroll until you see Maps and you will have a choice of a Directions or Driving Mode widget. Move the widget to one of the homescreens and enter the information you want. This will remain until you change the information, so anytime you are on a trip, if you set your widget to your home address, you can just turn on your GPS and click this widget. It will always be ready for you!

See the image of the icon it leaves for you. This is from an Galaxy S5.

Joe tells Jody about a new way to ride.

Imagine getting the family all packed in the car ready to drive to your vacation destination. Imagine everyone sitting in their seats reading their email, watching a dvd, or even Netflix. Everyone. Even you the “driver.” How can this be?

Imagine you arrive at the airport. You call for a car. No one is in it. It takes you to your hotel.

Imagine the car of the future. Driverless.

That may be sooner rather than later. Google has been commissioned by Uber to produce 2500 driverless cars. The cars will have wi-fi connectivity.

The future is here, Jody.

~ Joe Victor