Yandex and Uber to Create New Self-Driving Auto Company

Uber and Yandex are turning the autonomous vehicle portion of their joint venture into a new company which will give Yandex more control over the business and allow for new investors.

Yandex, the largest internet company in Russia, will be investing $150 million in this new company, according to Yandex. That company supposedly buying part of Uber’s stake as well. The Moscow based company will then own 73% of the new company, leaving 19% to Uber and the rest to the new company’s management.

Yandex is also giving over its own ride share business, MLU BV, that includes ride-hailing and food delivery.

These changes provide Yandex more wiggle room to develop technology.

Last year Uber separated its self-driving unit to seek new investors.

Yandex declined to comment further.



Volkswagen Announces an “Open-Source” Approach to Creating Autonomous Car OS

Volkswagen will be using the so-called “open-source” model to refine parts of its software operating system for its future vehicles. “Open-source” meaning collaborators outside of VW would help them create standards for vehicle operation systems. Perhaps they would come from other car companies or even from completely outside the auto industry.

With the gathering ubiquity of autonomous driving, any carmaker attempting to create a self-driving vehicle has to create thousands of lines of code to collect and analyze data from radar, cameras, sonic sensors etc and then the operation system must use this analyzed data to control the brakes and steering at the least.

VW, by 2025, wants to increase its involvement with developing its own software to 60%. Current VW is involved in only about 10% of the design. They’d also like to get more involved in electronics and vehicle architecture design.

VW stated the believe in the future, because of the use of open-source software, there will likely be fewer operating systems than there are car makers. Like with home computers and smart phones there are basically two choices Windows or Macintosh, Android or iOS.

VW wants to define the core operating system but is interested in collaborators to refine other elements of its functionality. All of this in the hopes of creating standards that could be used in a circle wider than just VW vehicles.

UPS Invests in EV Trucks and Will Test Autonomous Vehicle with Waymo

UPS has made to recent moves to cut both emissions and delivery costs—they put in an order for 10,000 trucks with United Kingdom company Arrival Ltd and is set to test Waymo self-driving vehicles to haul packages.

The UPS Arrival team up equates to a minority investment from the biggest package delivery service in the world. And comes soon after former customer, no rival Amazon put in an order to Rivian for 100k electric vans. Rivian is a Michigan startup partially funded by Amazon.

The Waymo test will run for six months according to UPS. UPS will pay Waymo for use of their self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans to curry packages from Phoenix area UPS stores to a near-by UPS sorting center.

UPS is confident this move help bring their delivery models into the future and will help compliment how their human drivers work.


When Will I Be Able to Buy Real Autonomous Vehicle?

While autonomous vehicles account for much of the automotive news’ headlines, you won’t see a “true” self-driving car in anyone’s driveway in the next couple of years (at the least).

SAE international standards rate the cars on a five-point scale in which a 0 rating means a vehicle is 100% human controlled and a 5 rating means the vehicle would never need intervention on the part of human driver.

Lots of people are driving cars with a rating of 1—these cars feature things like cruise control and backup cameras. Cars with ratings of 2 and 3 do exist, like many Tesla models, or Benz E-Class, a Volvo S90 and a Cadi CT6. Vehicles that fall under these ratings have features that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel, the cars may even change lanes or park themselves.

Cars rated at a 4 or 5 aren’t on the consumer market yet. Vehicles rated at a 4 are good at navigating familiar places and probably wouldn’t ever leave their city or state. They are being developed for ride sharing and delivery purposes and are currently being tested in the real world. Cars rated at a 5 would mimic a human’s ability to drive—though hopefully they would be much safer drivers than many human drivers are! These cars, in theory, would be able to make quick decisions and navigate anywhere on their own.

Waymo Autonomous Taxi Fleet Looking into Commercialization

Waymo’s self-driving fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids, so far, has had about 400 people sign up and use the service. So far these rides have been free. Soon, however, Waymo may start charging for those trips that Phoenix area customers have been taking.

During an investor’s call Ruth Porat, CEO of parent company Alphabet, said that the company was looking into commercialization and that some customers are now paying for rides. But there weren’t many other details.

Waymo has gone outside the box and thought about ways to keep the service free—to the riders anyway. The trips would probably cost the same as Uber or Lyft according to Waymo. But Waymo is looking into a somewhat unconventional idea—getting your destination to pay for the trip.

Ford and Lyft Team Up For Autonomous Car Venture

Ford recently announced it will partner with Lyft to provide self-driving cars, in large numbers, to the ride-services fleet by 2021. Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.

The company has said it will invest $700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self-driving vehicles.

Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft’s network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them. Ford will put human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network.

Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing $1 billion over the next five years.

Autonomous truck: Freightliner Inspiration

We’ve talked about autonomous cars a few times here. Well now there are autonomous trucks being developed by Freightliner. The Freightliner Inspiration truck is using this technology to help reduce accidents, improve fuel efficiency, cut down on highway congestion. It is the first to be licenses for commercial trucks on open public highways in the United States.
Freightliner Inspiration
Freightliner continues their development with the concepts of Freightliner Cascadia Innovation Truck, Revolution Innovation Truck and SuperTruck.

Look out … here they come!

Joe Victor

Delphi Autonomous car makes it across country

Delphi Car crosses bridge to NYC
It took nine days for the Delphi autonomous car to make it from San Fran to the NY International Auto Show. It crossed 15 states and drove 3,400 miles. The car drove itself 99 percent of the time on its own.

Delphi is known for their innovation from the first electric starter in 1911, first car radio in 1936, first radio navigation system in 1994.

Delphi can now use all the data it captured on this trip to continue the advance toward autonomous cars.

Joe Victor


Cars and Trucks of the Future: Driverless?

Computer pilots are no longer limited to the realm of science fiction—as seen in military use of drone technology. Sail boats can be navigated by GPS. But up until just recently the idea of self-driving passenger vehicles and trucks has been the stuff of eccentric World’s Fair exhibits (probably down the aisle from the flying cars).

A plan to put self-driving trucks on the road from Rotterdam to other cities in the course of a few years was recently released by Dutch officials. They reviled steps that involve computer simulations and truck tests on closed tracks.

Infrastructure and Environment Minister Melaine Schultz van Haegen, in a letter discussing the proposal, said the Netherlands is analyzing traffic laws to pave the way for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads. Van Haegen is planning to submit a law early next year to allow self-driving vehicles to be tested and plans to outline specific roads and conditions appropriate for testing sometime next year.

The five-year plan was submitted to parliament by a collective of several industry and research groups, including Transport and Logistics Netherlands, DAF Trucks, Rotterdam Port and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

“We want to do the first demonstrations in the beginning of next year and roll out the trial in a controlled environment as soon as possible,” said Bastiaan Krosse, a spokesman for TNO.
Self-driving trucks would be used to deliver goods from Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port. While other European nations have launched similar projects, the Dutch proposal is unique since “no other project has a hard target of bringing this to market within five years, with the backing of the government,” Krosse said.

“There are countless benefits to switching to autonomous trucks,” said Marianne Wuite, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. “Self-driving cars need less space and therefore use asphalt more efficiently; they avert traffic jams and reduce accidents. They are also more environmentally friendly.”

It seems over the next five years we will see whether or not autonomous road vehicles will remain the fodder of science fiction a little longer or become a common site on the roads out of Rotterdam.

Joe Victor