Uber is Testing a Self Driving Car in Pittsburgh

It’s no secret that Uber wants a fleet of self driving cars, especially after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick proposed to buy 500,000 driver-less cars from Tesla. Though that proposition never went through, Uber has turned to testing their own self driving cars.

“If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop — it’s a test car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh.” – Uber Newsroom.

Similar to Googles testing of their self driving cars, Uber will be self driving capabilities of the car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, and collecting mapping data, with a trained driver behind the wheel. The car will be equipped with high resolution cameras and multiple sensors such as radars and laser scanners, allowing it to drive autonomously with the ability to learn and adapt to different scenarios.

“Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world.  1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission…” – Uber Newsroom.

The company is focusing on safety and the reliability of the technology and have gotten the approval of the city of Pittsburgh.

“From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation. Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives — through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.” – William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh.

With so many companies such as Google, Tesla, Hyundai, Mercedes, and many others, it’s not surprising that another company jumps into testing. The difference with Uber is how it will shift the taxi industry even further. The company has already caused a change in taxi services but self driving taxi services will completely renovate the industry.

Interestingly Uber has placed an order of 100,000 autonomous Mercedes S-Class sedans, which are expected to be completed around 2020. The company has also announced a partnership with Toyota. So one way or another Uber is definitely pushing for an autonomous ride sharing service. Though we can sense a future where Uber will be buying autonomous cars from many companies to offer a variety of car options to choose from.

Lets not forget that Lyft and GM have partnered to do exactly this and its expected that first stage would be semi-autonomous cars in 2019.

Google I/O What to expect

Google I/O is Google’s annual developer conference, a three day conference for developers mto get the latest update from Google on the newest innovations that the company has to offer.

Last year we saw Android M, Android Pay, Google Photos, and Google Cardboard, the company’s VR headset. Here’s what we can expect to see this year.

AI

Lets begin with AI for no other reason than the fact that anyone who is interested in AI has kept up with Google for the past few months. Google has done a lot of work with AI and have persuaded developers to work on their open-sourced AI software. Though the most interesting accomplishment happened when Googles DeepMind AlphaGo AI beat world champion Lee Sedol in one of the most complex games in the world, Go. So it’s not surprising that we might see more innovation from Google on the AI frontier.

Android N 

There’s been a lot of buzz about Android N, the next generation of Google’s smartphone and tablet operating system. Earlier this year in March the company released a developer preview. Android N will have new features such as split-app multitasking, increased battery efficiency, and the ability to reply from within notifications. Like last year we can assume the conference will be heavily influenced by Android N and the latest updates.

Nexus 7

Google recently launched Pixel C, its latest tablet replacement for the Nexus 9. Though it hasn’t had the popularity that Google might have been expecting there have been many rumors that Google would bring back the Nexus 7 tablet.

Chrome OS

Google released its cloud-based operating system seven years go and it has had many mixed reviews, though it’s definitely tilting on the more favorable side for many. We might see new updates to the OS and some integration with Android to create a more single environment.

VR

Its been a big year for reality with so many options from Facebook, Samsung, Sony, and HTC that makes it seem as if Google is falling behind with its Cardboard. Though not to worry as a credible rumor has spread indicating that there will be a new version of Android VR shown at the conference. Which means we might also see more on Project Tango, the experimental augmented-reality software that Google has been working on for some time now.

 

Chirp

It sounds strange at first but when tech website Recode reported last week that Google was designing a competitor to the Amazon Echo code named “Chirp” heads started to turn. Google is already capable of creating advanced virtual assistants and has had made great efforts in voice-recognition, so it makes it all the more likely that Google would create something that it has the ability to create, especially since Google has been developing inside the Internet of Things realm.

Autonomous Cars

In Google I/O 2015 the company announced that its self-driving cars would be driven on California streets. So far there have been great news for self-driving cars, especially Googles’, except for that one incident where an autonomous car crashed into a bus, which was blamed on human error. Google also posted about a potential partnership with Chysler to build autonomous vehicles. We’re sure to see new updates and news for Googles self-driving car.

There are a lot more things to expect from this years Google I/O including Project Tango, Project ARA, Android Wear, Project FI, an update on Nest, and more. Google I/O begins at 10:00 am Pacific Time on Wednesday May 18, don’t miss it! Look out for the app or head over to their official website to watch live streams.

India proposes Pod transportation system

India is preparing to roll out with its first personal rapid transit (PRT) network of pod taxis. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will install the network in Gurgaon-Delhi to Badshapur Mod, and the project will be called the Metrino.

The project uses pods that are suspended on overhead rails, seating up to 5 passengers. The pods are all automated and whiz between docking stations at 60 kmph (37 mph). There are 16 planned stations and currently the project is undergoing investments and bids. The NHAI have stated that the network will be built in a year once a contract has been acquired.

This type of system has been proposed in the past between the Punjab and Haryana governments though it fell through. The project will cost RS 850 crore (estimated $126 million) and is said to be fully paid off within 25 years after its up and running.

India is putting a lot of work into infrastructure, fixing roads, and building highways. This new initiative shows the new Modi government is thinking about new technology and innovative means to finding the best solutions. For now we will have to wait and see if this proposal goes through and finds a company to back it.

 

 

China to begin tracking vehicles

China has begun tracking more than 200,000 cars for a new project to decrease crime and accidents from negligent drivers. The program will take place in Shenzhen.

The Chinese government have partnered with China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASC).The CASC develops and manufactures technology such as spacecraft and launch vehicles, it is also China’s space programs main contractor

The program will issue IDs to 8 types of vehicles such as school buses and heavy trucks. These trackers would allow China to gather massive amounts of data to see driving patterns, traffic patterns, and allow vehicles to essentially communicate with other vehicles on the road in real time. The trackers use radio frequency identification through electronic markers to monitor activity.

This type of technology could, however, infringe on citizens privacy, if this program is successful enough to be used across the country. China’s developing at an incredibly fast rate and their race in technological innovation is at a match, which could be used to solve the country’s many problems its facing because of that growth, not to mention the various illegal activities that take place.

 

The first ever unmanned store is being implemented in Sweden

Sweden is about to begin testing a store without any personnel.

The idea, Naraffar, was introduced by Robert Ilijason and will make the store automated. Goods can be bought using an app to scan items and payment is made through an invoice. Customers have to be members with a requirement of providing a credit report.

The likely hood of this new store working is in the air. Many stores use kiosks for customers to use to buy their without waiting in line to be serviced by a human. In many cases these kiosks offer faster checkout times and less time spent in line.  However, computers and programs are in certain situations unable to provide solutions or the kind of customer service that humans can.

What also needs to be taken into account is the size of the store. Large stores might find a problem with storage, transportation, and service. Since this is a test, it might be a smaller store.

This trend of automation is growing. More and more companies are integrating robots, programs, and low level AI to manage many jobs and services. Though there are many questions such as how will this effect the local economy?