Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pittsburgh pulls ahead of Detroit in driverless tech race

The brainpower of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, the bumpy terrain and a high concentration of college students who don't own cars are among the many reasons this Rust Belt metropolis has attracted more autonomous driving investment than anyplace outside Silicon Valley.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of journalists rode in the latest iteration of Delphi's driverless Audi SQ5 on a 10-minute course that included several uphills, downhills, curves and stops. An engineer sat in the driver's seat, but he didn't have to touch the wheel. The ride was safe and uneventful, but there was no human guidance at work.

Pittsburgh's smart city efforts include autonomous driving, open data, and renewable energy

Pittsburgh is the home for CMU and it has helped with the push to add new technology. Pittsburgh is partnering with the university to serve as an urban lab for CMU's research and development. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CMU and the city serves as a formal partnership to allow CMU to try new tech around Pittsburgh without undergoing a lengthy approval process, similar to how the city is able to send maintenance crews out to do small projects without first seeking funding, Peduto explained.

How Sensors, Smartphones Can Bring the Road Solutions We Need

In a 2015 pilot, Carnegie Mellon researcher Christoph Mertz partnered with the city’s Public Works Department to install smartphone cameras in city vehicles to capture images of the streets in Pittsburgh. Paired with GPS data and fed through a computer algorithm, these images are classified according to the types of road surfaces and the damages pictured, something the city hopes will help them identify sections of street that need the most urgent attention. Still in testing and development, Mertz’s approach might appeal to cities hoping to get a foot in the door of street quality analytics by pursuing an affordable option that can be used continuously.

How Uber built self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

A former vice president from Twitter heads software development. Employees from SpaceX, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other aerospace companies work on safety. An engineer who ran the back end of Duolingo's language learning app teaches autonomous cars to recognize what they see on Pittsburgh roads. Uber's Advanced Technology Center has filled four buildings in the Strip District and a testing facility at the Almono development in Hazelwood with employees from technology giants, automotive powerhouses, Pittsburgh robotic startups, top universities, bars, restaurants and retails stores, a Tribune-Review analysis found.

The ATC put self-driving cars on the road in Pittsburgh and was the first company in the United States to offer rides to the public in an autonomous vehicle.  And Uber did it in less than two years.

Ohio to invest $15M on corridor for testing smart vehicles

As Gov. John Kasich announced a $15 million investment in advanced self-driving highway technology on Wednesday, he urged Ohioans to push back against old ideas about the state.

"Who would ever want to be called the Rust Belt?" he said. "The Rust Belt's some deteriorating, eroding, old, tired and worn out place. You ever hear that term, do me a favor: Correct 'em." 

Kasich made his remarks in conjunction with the formal launch of a new high tech effort — a self-driving truck experiment along a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 in central Ohio. The vehicle by truck maker Otto will operate along Route 33 between Dublin and East Liberty, a stretch the state has dubbed a "smart mobility corridor." A driver will be along as backup.

U.S. tech startup Comma.ai giving away self-driving car software

On Wednesday, Comma.ai announced on its website that it had open sourced the software code and robotics research platform for the driver-assistance system the company had planned to start selling at the end of the year, before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compelled it to change course. The open-source project may allow Comma.ai founder and well-known hacker George Hotz to deploy his technology without butting up against regulators. The code is available for free through code depository GitHub, and the software will work on certain Honda Civic and Acura ILX cars, the two models Hotz had previously been test-driving.

"From this, you should be able to replicate our initial ... experiments," Hotz wrote in a letter on the company's website.

Black-Owned Ride-Sharing App Aims To Fill Void Left By Uber, Lyft

Moovn, which first launched in Seattle in 2015, allows users to schedule rides up to a month in advance from either their phone or computer and guarantees no surge pricing. The app, created by Godwin Gabriel, currently operates in seven cities in the United States, including New York City, Atlanta and San Fransisco. It’s also available in select cities in sub-Saharan Africa. Users also have the option to choose from local vehicle options ― like bikes ― available, especially in developing countries. Gabriel, who is a self-taught coder and developer, told Urban Geekz that Moovn is different from other ride-sharing apps already on the market because it aims to take the industry to cities bigger companies have overlooked. The app is already available in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya and Gabriel’s hometown of Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania.

This Start Up Uses AI And Cameras To Create New Autonomous Driving Platform

The company is working on making it easier for automakers to update apps in cars but also add a layer of cyber security to the infotainment system. More apps in cars mean more cybersecurity threats. The company’s infotainment platform, Phoenix, has built-in cybersecurity so when the apps are running on the car, they can’t access any critical resources on the system. The platform also allows secure and faster over-the-air software updates. Cars represent the convergence of just about every aspect of new tech in the market, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, Internet of Things (IoT). They’re the ultimate connected device.

GM's Self-Driving Cars Will Recognize Your Face and Make Sure You're Paying Attention

GM's new driver assist technology, which will roll out next year, will include facial recognition that can detect whether a driver is falling asleep or not paying attention. According to Reuters, should the software notice the driver's gaze wandering, it will activate a series of alerts to bring the driver back to attention. Known as Super Cruise, the system will start by flashing a red visual on the windshield if it catches a driver dozing off. If that doesn't work, the seat will vibrate, and next an audio message will play. Should none of the methods snap the driver back to attention, a human staffer will attempt to communicate with the driver by means of the car's OnStar system.

GM isn't the first to try to integrate facial recognition into its vehicles. Ford and Intel announced a joint venture to research the technology back in 2014, but their product is yet to reach the market.

BlackBerry poised to be at forefront of secure self-driving cars

“The future of the automobile is all about embedded intelligence,” BlackBerry chief executive John Chen said in the Oct. 31 announcement. “I believe our expertise in secure embedded software makes us the preferred technology provider to put the smart in the car.” Security is critical to develop hack-resistant autonomous vehicles, Bloor said. “We are bringing a lot of the security assets that secure the BlackBerry phones into the automotive space,” he said. Self-driving cars that are commanded by their occupants or dispatched through a linked network need to have a very high standard of security.
“Moving forward towards this vision of the autonomous connected vehicle, you can’t really build a safe system if you can’t make it secure,” Bloor said. “Obviously, safety and security are very strongly intertwined.”