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Intel: auto drive cars will lead to safer roads

Intel says autonomous driving will end human driving errors and lead to safer roads for everyone.

Brian Krzanich, chief executive officer of Intel Corporation, has discussed his company’s collaboration with Google company Waymo, and says he sees the venture helping to achieve these goals.

“Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes worldwide every year – an average 3,287 deaths a day. Nearly 90 per cent of those collisions are caused by human error,” Krzanich says.

“Self-driving technology can help prevent these errors by giving autonomous vehicles the capacity to learn from the collective experience of millions of cars – avoiding the mistakes of others and creating a safer driving environment.”

Waymo’s newest vehicles, the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans, feature Intel-based technologies that offer Waymo’s fleet the processing power required for high-level to fully autonomous driving.

Krzanich says that at the pace autonomous technology is developing, he expects his children to be using the tech exclusively.

“That’s an astounding thought: Something almost 90 per cent of Americans do every day will end within a generation. With so much life-saving potential, it’s a rapid transformation that Intel is excited to be at the forefront of along with other industry leaders like Waymo.”

Autonomous vehicle manufacturers are moving into the Pacific. Last week Auckland company Ohmio Automation announced it will establish a production facility to build autonomous vehicles in Christchurch, and French company Navya stated its intention to build a production facility in Adelaide, Australia.



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Flying cars on the horizon

A flying car start up that hopes to bring “urban air taxis” to market has attracted over $100 million USD worth of investment, and has just finished its second round of funding. And it’s not the only flying car manufacturer that is attracting interest.

The German company, Lilium Aviation said Tuesday the investment will be used for the development of its five-seat Lilium Jet and for the development of its current team.

In December 2016, the company said it had completed a Series A funding round worth more than $10.7 million.

A US company, XTI Aircraft Company has resumed its equity crowdfunding campaign for its TriFan 600, having secured $20 million USD from New York investment bank Primary Capital last September.

Image courtesy of XTI Aircraft Corp.

In April at Uber’s Elevate Summit, finance executives announced their intention to increase investment in vertical landing and take-off technologies, with one financier announcing they would create a new company specifically to fund the technologies.

Lilium’s two-seat Eagle Lilium Jet prototype took its maiden flight in April. The company’s CEO Robert LaBelle said XTI plans to have a one-third mockup of its six-seat TriFan 600 ready by October.

“We’re expecting to book orders and make announcements,” he said.

Lilium said its Series B funding group consists of Tencent; LGT, the international private banking and asset management group; Atomico, a Series A backer founded by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström; and Obvious Ventures, whose co-founder Ev Williams is Twitter’s co-founder and former CEO.

The jet would be able to travel at about 300kph for one hour on a single charge.

Google, Uber, Airbus are also among those developing flying car technologies.

Uber has hired a long-serving Nasa researcher to develop flying car technologies.


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Volvo to include Android in next-gen console

Google Maps is one of the new apps available to Volvo drivers

Volvo and Google have announced a new partnership to develop a new next-generation in-car infotainment system based on existing Android software, which will offer drivers access to a range of apps and services.

The new technology is expected to be available for new Volvo models within two years.

“We are making an important strategic step with the Google partnership. Google’s platform and services will enhance the user experience by enabling more personalisation possibilities, while Android will offer increased flexibility from a development perspective,” says Henrik Green, senior vice president of research & development at Volvo Car Group.

The partnership comes as more car makers are trying their hand at developing in-car technology. Many new cars now come with some form of touch-screen entertainment system in the driver cabin.

Google’s involvement means Android, the operating system used across an estimated 88 per cent of smartphones worldwide, will feature the Volvo in-car system, which will better facilitate the development of third-party apps already developed for Android software.

“With the advent of Android we will embrace a rich ecosystem while keeping our iconic Volvo user interface. We will offer hundreds of popular apps and the best integrated experience in this broad, connected environment,” says Green.

Volvo will also updated recent models to include Google Local Search as part of the collaboration. The location-based application will be released to drivers via a system update to existing Sensus Navigation technology.

More details on the partnership will be announced at Google’s annual technology show, Google I/O, later this week.

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500 Chrysler minivans join AV trial

Local residents can test the self-driving cars

Google’s self-driving car project, recently renamed Waymo, is set to expand in Phoenix, Arizona, with Fiat Chrysler confirming an extra 500 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans will join the 100 already on American roads fitted out with Waymo’s autonomous technology.

Waymo has also announced that members of the public can use the fleet of self-driving cars for everyday travel, and is taking applications from Phoenix residence who want to use the service.

“The collaboration between FCA and Waymo has been advantageous for both companies as we continue to work together to fully understand the steps needed to bring self-driving vehicles to market,” says Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

“The addition of 500 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans is a further acknowledgement of the hard work put forth by both engineering teams.”

Waymo CEO John Krafcik says the collaboration is “helping both companies learn how to bring self-driving cars to market, and realise the safety and mobility benefits of this technology.”

The Chrysler minivan’s electrical systems, powertrain and chassis has been modified to accommodate Waymo’s hardware, which has racked up nearly 3 million miles on on-road testing.

With self-driving technology shifting from simulation software to the roads, traditional car companies are teaming up with tech firms to ensure their stake in the rapidly growing business.

Uber’s self-driving trial in partnership with Volvo began in December last year, and stole headlines after an SUV crashed while in autonomous mode. The vehicle was found not to be at fault, and the trial quickly resumed two days later.

Ford teamed up with start-up Argo in February, and plans to begin testing AVs in Europe this year. General Motors bought out Cruise automation in 2016 to bolster their self-driving ambitions, and recently partnered with Lyft to launch self-driving Chevrolet Bolts on the road, currently planned for 2018.

Despite some public unease around self-driving cars, experts are confident autonomous technology is a safer option than human drivers – of the 1.2 million deaths that occur on roads every year, 94 per cent are attributed to human error.  

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Google reveals self-driving car

Google unveiled the latest version of its self-driving car, which can navigate by itself and does not have a steering wheel, breaks or accelerator pedal. (more…)

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