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U.S. Transportation Dept To Release Revised Self-driving Guidelines

January 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The US government plans to unveil revised self-driving car guidelines this summer as the government sets out to rewrite regulations that pose legal barriers to robot vehicles, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

Chao told a Detroit auto show forum that the revised voluntary guidelines would address not only self-driving automobiles but “barriers to the safe integration of autonomous technology for motor carriers, transit, trucks, infrastructure and other modes.”

Chao said in a Reuters interview the department was preparing for autonomous technology coming rapidly to all transportation modes. “The technology is there, the question is how do we regulate it, how do we continue to promote innovation but also safeguard safety.” Chao said.

General Motors Co, Alphabet Inc, Toyota Motor Corp and many other companies are aggressively pursuing self-driving car technologies and want Congress and regulators to remove barriers to the vehicles.

Bills in Congress to speed the introduction of self-driving cars do not include commercial trucks. In September, Chao announced the first set of revisions to the guidelines that were unveiled by the Obama administration and now plans a revised version by summer.

 Chao said her goal was to eliminate “unnecessary obstacles to the development and integration of new technology. Our approach will be tech-neutral and flexible — not top-down, or command and control.” She added the government would “not be in the business of picking winners or losers, or favoring one form of technology over another.”

In October, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, said it was looking for input on how to remove regulatory roadblocks to self-driving cars.

NHTSA said in a report that it wanted to find any “unnecessary regulatory barriers” to self-driving cars “particularly those that are not equipped with controls for a human driver.”

The agency also wants comments on what research it needs to conduct before deciding whether to eliminate or rewrite regulations. But it could take the agency years to complete the research and finalize rule changes.

Automakers must meet nearly 75 auto safety standards, many written with the assumption that a licensed driver will be in control of the vehicle. The agency said in 2016 that current regulations posed “significant” regulatory hurdles to vehicles without human controls.

Earlier this month, the Transportation Department published notices requesting comments to identify barriers to innovation including one from NHTSA, two from the Federal Transit Administration to address autonomous bus technology and barriers and one from the Federal Highway Administration to address autonomous infrastructure technology. Chao said more were planned.

Last week, GM filed a petition with NHTSA requesting an exemption to have a small number of autonomous vehicles operate in a ride-share program without steering wheels or human drivers.

 Chao said the “department will review this petition, and give it responsible and careful consideration.”

Intel’s Mobileye Software Going In Millions Of Vehicles

January 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Intel Corp Chief Executive Brian Krzanich announced 2 million vehicles from BMW, Nissan Motor Co Ltd and Volkswagen AG would use its unit Mobileye’s autonomous vehicle technology to crowdsource data for building maps that enable autonomous driving.

The world’s largest chipmaker bought Israeli firm Mobileye last year to compete with peers such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp and tap the fast-growing market of driverless cars.

Intel will also tie up with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, which will use Mobileye technology to develop cars in China, the chipmaker said.

Krzanich also said Intel had not received any information of customer data being compromised so far after the company confirmed last week that the security issues reported by researchers in its widely used microprocessors could allow hackers to steal sensitive information from computers, phones and other devices.

Security researchers had disclosed two security flaws exposing vulnerability of nearly every modern computing device containing chips from Intel, Advanced Micro Devices Inc  and ARM Holdings.

Daimler Buys Into Uber Rival, Chauffeur Prive

December 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

German automaker Daimler has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Chauffeur Prive, a French rival to the larger Uber car-ride app, in the latest example of traditional companies looking to deal with challenges from technology-driven start-ups.

The deal was announced in a joint statement by both companies. The price of the acquisition, which will be carried out by the German company’s Daimler Mobility Services division, was not disclosed.

Chauffeur Prive was founded in 2011. The company says it has more than 1.5 million customers and access to 18,000 drivers, and the service is relatively popular in Paris.

Traditional automakers from around the world are examining how best to work on new, disruptive technologies – from electric vehicles to autonomous driving – that require hefty investment and have turned companies such as Google and Tesla into rivals.

Daimler has already made forays into the growing industry of car-ride hailing mobile applications.

In June, Dubai-based ride hailing firm Careem said it would step up its expansion into new markets after raising $150 million from investors, which included Daimler and Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding.

Earlier this month, Daimler’s French rival Renault bought a stake in a glossy magazine publishing group, which it said formed part of its strategy to see how to keep travelers entertained in an era of driverless cars.

Uber Ties Up With BlackBerry Messenger For Ride Hailing

December 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Uber Technologies announced that it has joined forces with BBM Messenger to allow users around the world, including in the application’s biggest market of Indonesia, to book rides via the messenger service.

The partnership agreement is with Creative Media Works, operating as BBM Messenger, the company said in a statement.

”With this partnership, BBM users can quickly request an Uber ride via BBM despite variations in quality of location, network speed, or device features,” said Chan Park, Uber’s general manager in Southeast Asia.

The agreement means that BBM Messenger users, including both Android and iOS users, can book an Uber ride without leaving the BBM app, or being required to have a stand-alone Uber app on their phone, the company said.

Creative Media works is a unit of Indonesian media group PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk. The company operates the global BBM consumer messaging and social networking platform under a license from BlackBerry Limited.

 

Telsa Electric Trucks Gets Vote Of Confidence From PepsiCo

December 13, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

PepsiCo Inc has reserved 100 of Tesla Inc’s new electric Semi trucks, the biggest known order of the big rig, as the maker of Mountain Dew soda and Doritos chips seeks to reduce fuel costs and fleet emissions, a company executive said on Tuesday.

Tesla has been trying to convince the trucking community that it can build an affordable electric big rig with the range and cargo capacity to compete with relatively low-cost, time-tested diesel trucks.

 Early orders reflect uncertainty over how the market for electric commercial vehicles will develop. About 260,000 heavy-duty Class-8 trucks are produced in North America annually, according to FTR, an industry economics research firm.

PepsiCo intends to deploy Tesla Semis for shipments of snack foods and beverages between manufacturing and distribution facilities and direct to retailers within the 500-mile (800-km) range promised by Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk.

The semi-trucks will complement PepsiCo’s U.S. fleet of nearly 10,000 big rigs and are a key part of its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain by a total of at least 20 percent by 2030, said Mike O‘Connell, the senior director of North American supply chain for PepsiCo subsidiary Frito-Lay.

PepsiCo is analyzing what routes are best for its Tesla trucks in North America but sees a wide range of uses for lighter loads like snacks or shorter shipments of heavier beverages, O‘Connell said.

Tesla did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

 Tesla unveiled the Semi last month and expects the truck to be in production by 2019.

Toyota Updates Safety Systems In It’s Vehicles

November 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

By the end of 2017, the first generation of Toyota Safety Sense, the carmaker’s suite of active and passive safety systems, will be standard on almost every Toyota. But there’s an even more powerful version of Toyota Safety Sense coming next year, and it too will become standard equipment.

Toyota announced today that it will roll out the second generation of Toyota Safety Sense on select Toyota models starting in mid-2018. The system will build upon the current TSS offering, adding several key systems that have trickled down (see, that does work, occasionally) from Lexus’ version of the suite. And just as TSS is currently offered, it will become standard equipment and not some expensive option.

Many of the additions give additional capability to already existing systems. For example, the autonomous emergency braking function will slow down faster, and it will now be able to detect pedestrians at night, as well as bicyclists. Lane-departure alert will feature improved road detection. Adaptive cruise control expands to include full-speed functionality, and its recognition has improved, as well.

But it’s not just improvements — there’s some new stuff in there, too. Road Sign Assist will display road sign information on either a head-up display or the gauge cluster, depending on how a vehicle is equipped. Lane Tracing Assist is just a fancy name for lane-keep assist, which provides steering support to keep a car centered in its lane.

Right now, Toyota offers two different TSS packages, depending on the model. TSS-C is the lightest package, offering just autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and automatic high beams. The more capable TSS-P packages adds pedestrian detection, non-full-speed adaptive cruise control and steering assist for the lane departure warning system. Toyota promised that most of its cars would include AEB by 2017, and it looks like the automaker has made good on that promise.

Toyota is one of a growing number of automakers that has chosen to standardize some of its safety equipment before any government mandate to do so. Autonomous emergency braking will be standard on nearly every new car by 2022, but it’s good to know that it won’t be AEB by itself. As development continues and the economies of scale kick in, automakers will be able to add even more systems without hiding them behind expensive options packages.

 

Shell Teaming Up With Carmakers For Ultra-fast EV Charging Stations

November 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Royal Dutch Shell has teamed up with top automakers to deploy ultra-fast chargers on Europe’s highways, stealing a march on rivals in the race to remove one of the biggest obstacles facing the electric car sector.

Shell’s agreement with IONITY – a joint venture between BMW, Daimler, Ford and Volkswagen  – will initially bring high-powered docks to 80 highway sites in 2019, it said in a statement.

Power giants including France’s Engie and Germany’s E.ON, as well as niche players such as U.S. start-up ChargePoint, are all building vehicle-charging networks in Europe, but Shell says the IONITY technology is key to addressing the problem of journey distances.

 While electric vehicles still account for only a small fraction of the global car market, the pace of growth and a sustained period of low crude prices is prompting oil companies to reassess century-old business models as the world move towards cleaner modes of transportation.

Under Shell’s most aggressive projections the company expects the global electric vehicle fleet to grow from about 1 percent of the entire auto fleet today to 10 percent by 2025, displacing oil demand equating to about 800,000 barrels per day.

Is Google Home Vulnerable To A BlueBorne Bluetooth Hack

November 24, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon Echo and Google Home devices are vulnerable to attacks via the BlueBorne Bluetooth vulnerability that was first disclosed back in September.

Security firm Armis said this week that BlueBorne, a Bluetooth-based attack vector that was initially reported as exploitable on phones and PCs with an active Bluetooth connection, is now setting its sights on digital AI assistants.

The firm said that both the Amazon Echo and Google Home can be exploited using existing BlueBorne vulnerabilities (of which there are eight in total). In the case of the Amazon Echo, those include CVE-2017-1000251 and CVE-2017-1000250, while the Google Home vulnerable to CVE-2017-0785.

Armis notes that BlueBorne represents the first “severe” over-the-air vulnerability that affects the Amazon Echo.

“Given that airborne attacks are virtually invisible to traditional security solutions, a hacker only needs to exploit one device to penetrate further into a network or spread to other devices,” it warned.

Armis CEO Yevgeny Dibrov said: “Burgeoning demand for digital personal assistants is expanding the avenues by which attackers can infiltrate consumers’ lives to steal personal information and commit fraud.

“Consumers and businesses need to be aware how their devices are connecting via Bluetooth, and the networks they may be accessing, in order to take security precautions to protect their information.”

There’s some good news to come out of this, though, as Armis disclosed the vulnerabilities both to Amazon and Google ahead of time, and both have pushed out updates to their respective digital assistants. 

Amazon said in a statement: “A fix has already started rolling out for this. Customer trust is important to us and we take security seriously. Customers do not need to take any action as their devices will be automatically updated with the security fixes.

Google added: “Users do not need to take any action. We automatically patched Google Home several weeks ago, and neither Google nor Armis found evidence of this attack in the wild.

“As always, we appreciate researchers’ efforts to help keep all users safe.”

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Volkswagen Ramps Up Electric Cars Ambitions

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Volkswagen has approved a 34 billion euro ($40 bln) spending plan that speeds up its efforts to become a global leader in electric cars.

The world’s largest carmaker by unit sales will spend the money on electric cars, autonomous driving and new mobility services by the end of 2022, it said after a meeting of its supervisory board.

“With the planning round now approved, we are laying the foundation for making Volkswagen the world’s No. 1 player in electric mobility by 2025,” Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told a press conference.

The carmaker’s projected spending is significantly bigger than its pledge two months ago that it would invest more than 20 billion euros on electric and self-driving cars through 2030.

 Electric and autonomous vehicles are widely seen as the keystones of future transport, but pioneers such as Tesla Inc and other manufacturers are still working out how to make money on them as poor charging infrastructure, high battery costs and electric vehicles’ still limited driving range weigh on customer demand.

Until it admitted two years ago to cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests, Volkswagen had been slow to embrace electric cars and self-driving technology.

The group said its total investments in electric vehicles capacity and projects will amount to about 72 billion euros by 2022, confirming an earlier Reuters story.

To fund greater spending on electric vehicles, it will draw on cost savings in all areas of operations, including vehicle development, administration and manufacturing, as well as strong cash reserves.

Its net liquidity still stood at around 24 billion euros after nine months even though about 17 billion euros of funds have been paid out to cover costs for its dieselgate scandal. VW’s core autos division has made cost savings of about 1.9 billion euros since the start of this year, nearly meeting budgeted cost cuts for the full year.

Mueller said VW will maintain spending discipline in order to shoulder the increased investments in new technologies while it grapples with billions of dollars of costs for its emissions scandal.

Can nVidia Put Fully Autonomous Cars On The Road In Four Years

October 30, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net, Technology

Nvidia chief executive Jensen Huang said artificial intelligence would enable fully automated cars within four years, but played down a demand for its chips from cryptocurrency miners.

Huang told the assorted throngs, riff-raff and great unwashed who attended a company event in Taipei: “It will take no more than four years to have fully autonomous cars on the road. How long it takes for the vast majority of cars on the road to become that, it really just depends.”

He said that cars are not the only thing which could be automated – many tasks in companies that can be automated… the productivity of society will go up.

But Huang joined peers taming expectations of strong revenue growth from a wave of interest in cryptocurrencies. AMD predicted this week that there will be some levelling off of cryptocurrency demand.

“Revenue for us in crypto is over $100 million a quarter. For us, it’s a small percentage… It’s obviously not a target market”, Huang said.

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that use encryption techniques for security and can be traded. Miners use computers to process cryptocurrency transactions, and they are rewarded with additional cryptocurrency.

Courtesy-Fud

Cyanogen Changes Names And Now Focusing On Self-Driving Cars

October 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The outfit which claimed to be making an Android killer and failed, is now getting a license to make self-driving cars.

According to Biz Journals, Cyngn has changed its name from Cyanogen and recently got a permit to test its self-driving tech on California roads.

The cunning new plan is being led by Lior Tal, the former chief operating officer who took over as CEO last year when the outfit’s cunning plan to kill off Android went tits up.

No new funding has been disclosed for the reinvented company. It lists on its website investors who backed it before it pivoted, including Andreessen Horowitz, Benchmark Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Index Ventures, Qualcomm and Chinese social networking company Tencent.

The company was the center of acquisition talk in 2014, when companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung and Yahoo expressed interest in the company.

The new company says on its website that its goal is to develop “purpose-driven autonomy”.

“Very soon autonomous machines will be everywhere, in surprising places, exciting new form factors both unexpected and delightful,” it says. “Cyngn is bringing this world to life, animating the inanimate and delivering the future now.”

Courtesy-Fud

Tesla Delays Big Rig Debut, Focuses On Model 3 Production

October 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk has delayed the unveiling of the company’s big rig truck until mid-November, tweeting that the electric vehicle maker was diverting resources to fix production bottlenecks of its new Model 3 sedan and to help Puerto Rico.

Musk said Tesla’s Model 3 was “deep in production hell” echoing his own comments in July when he showed off some of the first cars of that model.

The Model 3 could help Tesla approach its goal of becoming more of a mass-market producer. Recent comments have tempered expectations about the speed of the increase in production, though.

The Palo Alto, California-based company delivered just 220 Model 3 sedans and produced 260 in the third quarter. It had planned to produce more than 1,500.

Musk also tweeted the company was diverting resources to increasing battery production to help hurricane-hit Puerto Rico, where most residents remain without electricity.

Earlier this week Tesla reported that “production bottlenecks” had left it behind the planned ramp-up for the Model 3.

In response to a Tesla customer asking if he would get his car delivered this year, Musk tweeted, “December will be a big month, so probably, but it is impossible to be certain right now.”

A Wall Street Journal report said parts of Model 3 were being made by hand as recently as early September, adding to production delays.

Musk also said Tesla would reschedule the unveiling of its semi-truck to Nov. 16 as it focuses on fixing production issues tied to Model 3 and increases battery production for Puerto Rico.

The unveiling of the truck, called Tesla Semi, has been delayed for the second time this year. Musk had initially said the truck would be unveiled in September, but he later rescheduled it to late October.

Reuters in August reported that the truck would have a working range of 200-300 miles.

Earlier in the day, Musk said the company will send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out power on the island over two weeks ago.

Electric-hybrid Airliner Aims For 2022 Debut

October 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

A Seattle-area startup backed by the venture investment division of Boeing Co and JetBlue Airways Corp plans to bring a small hybrid-electric airliner to market by 2022 that can dramatically reduce the travel time and cost of trips under 1,000 miles (1,600 km), it said on Thursday.

The first of several aircraft planned by Zunum Aero would seat up to 12 passengers and be powered by two electric motors.

Electric-vehicle batteries, such as those made by Tesla Inc and Panasonic Corp, would power the motor. A supplemental gas engine and electrical generator would be used to give the plane a range of 700 miles, Matt Knapp, co-founder and chief aeronautic engineer of the Kirkland, Washington-based company, said in an interview.

 Zunum has no commitment to Tesla or Panasonic.

A larger plane seating up to 50 passengers would follow at the end of the next decade, and the range of both would increase to about 1,000 miles as battery technology improves, Knapp said.

 The planes eventually would fly solely on battery power, and are being designed to fly with one pilot and to eventually be remotely piloted, he added.

Several companies, including Uber Technologies Inc and European planemaker Airbus, are working on intra-urban electric-powered self-flying cars.

Zunum does not expect to be the first to certify an electric-powered aircraft with regulators. It is aiming to fill a market for regional travel for airlines, where private jets and commercial jetliners are too costly for many to use.

“Airlines are very keen to know how to fly a shorter distance and make money on it,” Knapp said.

Recent advances in electric-vehicle and autonomous technology, along with lightweight electric motors and carbon composite airframes would reduce the cost of flying Zunum’s aircraft to about 8 cents per seat-mile, about one-fifth that of a small jet or turboprop plane, Knapp said.

“We’re getting airline pricing down on a small plane and doing it for short distances,” Knapp said. “That kind of aircraft doesn’t currently exist.”

Zunum announced plans for electric-hybrid aircraft in April, and revealed that Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures had invested in its initial round of venture funding. On Thursday it disclosed specifications and a timetable for the vehicle entering service.

Security Hack Exposes Vehicle Tracking Data

October 4, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Security reseachers have uncovered a security breach exposing half a million vehicle tracking accounts and details.

Discovered by Kromtech security, the breach reveals information about the customers of US vehicle recovery device and monitoring company SVR Tracking, as well as the physical devices that are attached to the cars.

The exposed data, which includes customer credentials, was unearthed through a misconfigured Amazon AWS S3 bucket that was left publically available, and because it wasn’t protected by a password, could allow anyone to pinpoint locations visited by customers of the vehicle tracking firm.

“The repository contained over a half of a million records with logins, passwords, emails, VIN (vehicle identification number), IMEI numbers of GPS devices and other data that is collected on their devices, customers and auto dealerships,” said Bob Diachenko, Kromtech’s Chief Communication Officer.

“Interestingly, exposed database also contained information where exactly in the car the tracking unit was hidden.

In a Backup Folder called “accounts”, the data contained 540,642 ID numbers, account information that included many plate & vin numbers, emails, hashed passwords, IMEI numbers and more.

Kromtech noted that the car tracking software monitors everywhere the car has been back as far as 120 days, including a somewhat terrifying feature that pinpoints on the map all of the places a driver has visited.

Diachenko added that the actual number of vehicles exposed by the incident may have been far more than half a million, since many of the accounts, which were used by SVR’s resellers and clients, include large numbers of tracking devices.

The tracking devices installed by SVR indicate the vehicle’s location around the clock, even if it hasn’t been reported as missing or stolen, according to the company.

“There is even an option that will show anyone with login credentials the top stops or locations where the vehicle has been,” added Diachenko. “There is a ‘recovery mode’ that can pinpoint every 2min or create zone notifications. They claim to have a 99% success rate on recovery but what about when the customer logins and passwords for thousands of unsuspecting drivers are leaked online?”

Shortly after sending responsible disclosure note, the bucket was secured, however, with no word from the company.

Courtesy-TheInq

Ford Forms New Team Dedicated To Electric Vehicle Production

October 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Ford Motor Co has put together a team to accelerate global development of electric vehicles, whose mission will be to “think big” and “make quicker decisions,” an executive of the company announced on Monday.

One aim of Ford’s “Team Edison” is to identify and develop electric-vehicle partnerships with other companies, including suppliers, in some markets, according to Sherif Marakby, vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification.

Global demand for electric vehicles has “a significant potential to increase” as governments implement EV mandates and quotas, Marakby said in an interview.

 He said the group will be based in the Detroit area and work with regional Ford vehicle electrification teams in China and Europe.

China, India, France and the United Kingdom all have announced plans to phase out vehicles powered by combustion engines and fossil fuels between 2030 and 2040.

Marakby said Team Edison “will look holistically at the electric vehicle market.”

“The idea is to think big, move fast and make quicker decisions” on EV production as demand increases and technology advances, he added.

Ford has not altered its previously announced plan to spend $4.5 billion over five years on electrified vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, Marakby said.

The new team will report to Ted Cannis, who has been named global director of electrification.

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