Startup Halo will bring driverless car service to Las Vegas later this year on T-Mobile 5G

Halo says it will use remote drivers to operate its vehicles over T-Mobile 5G.

By Allison Johnson

Driverless car startup Halo has announced a new service coming to Las Vegas later this year: a fleet of remotely operated electric vehicles, using T-Mobile’s 5G network. It’s potentially a big step toward fulfilling the promise of 5G remote driver tech, with a significant catch: the cars don’t operate solely on T-Mobile 5G. While it’s the primary network they’ll use (mid- and low-band 5G, specifically, with LTE as a fallback), they will also rely on other networks. 

The idea is simple enough: Halo employs remote drivers to operate the vehicles, delivering them to waiting customers who then get behind the wheel and take the car to their destination. When the trip has ended, the car moves on to its next pick-up under remote control. Halo is also currently operating test drives with safety drivers in vehicles, which it says it won’t include when the service launches for paying customers. That’s easier said than done.

There’s no shortage of driverless and autonomous vehicle pilot programs in Las Vegas; Lyft has operated a driverless taxi service in the city, and more recently Motional has been testing autonomous rides without a backup driver behind the wheel. Halo’s service is a little different, using a remote driver, along with an “Advanced Safe Stop” mechanism to automatically bring the car to a halt if a hazard is detected. The company says that ultimately it hopes to achieve full autonomy, and that in the meantime its vehicles are designed to “learn” from their human operators.

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Chinese web giant Baidu unveils Level 4 robo-taxi that costs $75k to make

Plans to roll 1,000 of ’em off the production line in three years

By Laura Dobberstein

Chinese tech giant Baidu and state-owned BAIC Group’s ARCFOX Brand have teamed to build 1000 autonomous electric vehicles (EVs) for use as taxis over the next three years — and claim they’ve cut manufacturing costs to just $75,000 apiece.

The announcement claims the reasonable price is due to maturation in technology and mass production capabilities and makes the vehicle, called the Apollo Moon, only one third of the cost of average L4 autonomous vehicles.

Apollo Moon has a projected operating cycle of over five years and is built on the fully electric midsize crossover SUV, Arcfox α-T. As for the tech, it uses the ANP-Robotaxi navigation platform, which is currently in pilot. Baidu claims the architecture can “reduce the weight of autonomous vehicle kits while sharing intelligent driving vehicle data to create a closed-loop information ecosystem.”

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Self-driving cars will force Highway Code to ‘change entirely’ with major new law changes


SELF DRIVING cars will force the Highway Code to “change entirely” as most of the rules “will be redundant” under the new technology, according to solicitors.

Legal experts say road rules will have to be “changed entirely” to ensure the laws are relevant to the new driverless technology. Specialists warn drivers may not need to be taught things like stopping distances or how to indicate as cars will do this automatically.

Hojol Uddin, Head of Motoring and Partner at JMW Solicitors said the new technology will help the car do “everything else we were taught to do”.

He said: “The Highway Code will have to be changed entirely to determine the relevance of certain rules.

“For example will the driver really need to know stopping distances and times if the computer is going to do the thinking for you as well as the stopping.

“In addition, will it be necessary for mirror signal manoeuvre being drilled into every student when cars of the future will do this for you?

“Most of the Highway Code will be redundant, as cars will be able to read signs and everything else we were taught to do.”

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WeRide’s cars to go fully driverless in California

By Song Jingli

The firm plans to roll out driverless mobility services for passengers in the US.

Guangzhou-based WeRide received approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Monday to test driverless vehicles on public roads in San Jose, two and a half months after Baidu was granted a permit to do the same.

WeRide has been testing autonomous vehicles with safety drivers since 2017. The company will run trials without that precaution, using two cars that are confined to designated streets, the DMV said on its website. The vehicles will operate on roads with posted speed limits not exceeding 45 miles per hour, but not during heavy rain or foggy conditions.

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The Good People Of Phoenix Are Egging The Self-Driving Google Cars

One of Waymo’s Chrysler Pacificas in the Phoenix area.

By Raphael Orlove

As the day when our robot overlords take control of Earth away from humans approaches, it remains unwise to taunt, provoke, or anger the robots of today. It is with this in mind that I salute the brave residents of Phoenix, AZ, for egging the self-driving Google-backed Waymo minivans testing on their roads.

Self-driving cars seem like an evolutionary step up from regular cars. Cruise control becomes adaptive cruise control becomes Super Cruise becomes driverless cars. Once you make the transition to full autonomy, though, self-driving cars become something more like giant robots that can pick your kids up from school, or help you get from your distant exurb to your downtown cube farm, or whatever other distopia awaits us.

Do we choose to bow prematurely to these robots, our future overlords? The people of Phoenix do not, as the Phoenix New Times reports. The Google-backed startup Waymo has been using the sunny streets of Phoenix to test its self-driving tech, in part because the government of Arizona is significantly less strict than neighboring California and because driving in Phoenix has got to be easy for a robot. There’s no rain to get on your sensors. There are no confusing off-the-grid old town streets. There’s just endless urban/suburban thoroughfares designed with cars in mind.

The people of Phoenix have been egging these Google cars:

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Honda’s Now Selling the World’s First Production Car with Level 3 Self-Driving Tech



Carmakers have strived for the SAE’s third tier of vehicular autonomy for years, but none had achieved it yet. Not Tesla, not Cadillac and not Audi, which pledged its new A8 flagship would be Level 3-capable before eventually backing down on its promise. Yet out of the blue came Honda with an enhanced version of its Honda Sensing advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) called Honda Sensing Elite, which will become the first commercially available SAE Level 3 system in Honda’s domestic-market Legend sedan.

SAE Level 3 crucially differs from Level 2 in that it’s a graduation from partial automation—like in Tesla’s Autopilot—to conditional automation, which means a car can read its environment and make decisions based on what it sees. This allows a car equipped with a Level 3 system like Honda Sensing Elite to act on its own accord (no pun intended) based on the situation at hand—sometimes with the driver’s hands off the wheel, and in a few cases, with their eyes off the road.

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Driverless cars could use lights and sounds to “communicate” with pedestrians

Volvo Cars and Safety in the cities


In a move to boost road safety, the self-driving cars of the future may communicate with the pedestrians and cyclists around them through human-inspired modes like intuitive sounds and flashing lights, auto vendor Volvo Cars said Tuesday.

Instead of relying solely on the car’s technology to avoid obstacles, the proposed design would also warn nearby humans of its intended path by using an array of external sounds, lights, and even subtle movements, the Swedish manufacturer said. Volvo is developing the system through its model 360c autonomous concept car, unveiled in 2018 as a platform for testing creative approaches like this safety-focused communication.

Of course, logistics professionals are well acquainted with similar safety tools on existing platforms, such as the backup warning beeps emitted by trucks in reverse gear, or the headlights used by forklifts to warn warehouse employees walking down the same aisle. But Volvo’s planned signals would differ by deploying in reaction to specific targets detected by the vehicle’s sensors, and communicating through a wider vocabulary.

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Lexus is addressing autonomous car anxiety with innovative designs


Lexus is reimagining the future of self-driving cars.

Although the future of autonomous cars is certainly exciting, much of what it will look like remains unknown. Will we still sit in the “driver’s” seat or will the interiors of new cars look more like a café? This is one of thquestions that Lexus is trying to answer.

The luxury carmaker partnered with two TED fellows to try and figure out what the future of self-driving vehicles will look like. Moreover, the project aims to lessen some fears about taking away the interactive part of driving.

Although true autonomous cars won’t be a reality for most consumers anytime soon, addressing these problems now will help make their adoption much smoother.

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How your city will transform as mobility tech catches on


Polestar accelerates the shift to sustainable mobility, by making electric driving irresistible.

Parking prices, congestion charges, fuel stations – the costs and diversions one never had to face on their way to work in the age of horse and carriage. The switch from horse-riding to automobiles changed the kind of materials used to build roads – slippery asphalt replaced cobbled streets and dirt roads.

Autonomous driving and other new transportation modes are key technological megatrends in the infrastructure industry. This calls for the built environment to adjust to these latest mobility technologies as they shape the future of roads and real estate construction.

In the public sphere, assimilation to these new technologies in mobility has already begun in the regulatory space. Nations across Asia, Europe and North America for example have already issued autonomous testing permits and offered regulation for self-driving cars on public roads.

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Self-driving cars will hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a landmark A.I. race


Take a look at the ‘Road of the Future’

Next year, a squad of souped-up Dallara race cars will reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour as they zoom around the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway to discover whether a computer could be the next Mario Andretti.

The planned Indy Autonomous Challenge—taking place in October 2021 in Indianapolis—is intended for 31 university computer science and engineering teams to push the limits of current self-driving car technology. There will be no human racers sitting inside the cramped cockpits of the Dallara IL-15 race cars. Instead, onboard computer systems will take their place, outfitted with deep-learning software enabling the vehicles to drive themselves.

In order to win, a team’s autonomous car must be able to complete 20 laps—which equates to a little less than 50 miles in distance—and cross the finish line first in 25 minutes or less. At stake is a $1 million prize, with second- and third-place winners receiving a $250,000 and $50,000 award, respectively.

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Study says autonomous taxis will cost users more than car ownership


When Sir Thomas More coined the term “utopia,” he lifted two words from Ancient Greek that roughly translate into “not a place.” Turns out people from the 16th century still understood satire, perhaps better than we do today. After all, we are the ones operating under the assumption that we can remap society in order to build consequence-free transportation network without a shred of humor to keep us grounded.

We may not need satire in this instance, however. A new study published in the American Journal of Public Health asks questions about how just effectively the shift to autonomy will benefit society as a whole. Industry leaders have broadly framed the shift toward self-driving as kicking down the door to an idyllic universe where no one wants for transportation, with autonomous taxis serving as the first wave of this planned paradise. The reality may be vastly different that what’s being sold, however.

The study essentially asserts that the entire concept of robotic cabs doesn’t actually serve poor communities any better than just buying one’s own automobile. Researchers compared the costs of a robo-taxi trip with those of owning a conventional used vehicle in an urban environment. Tabulating the combined costs of vehicle financing, licensing, insurance, routine maintenance, fuel/electricity and everything else they could account for, the team estimated that self-driving taxis would cost a minimum of $1.58 per mile. By contrast, the total cost associated with traditional vehicle ownership (assuming one is trying to be thrifty) ended up being 52 cents per mile. At least, that was the case for their model in San Francisco.

While your author has long suspected that unsupervised robotic taxis might outpace the subway as one of the dirtiest ways to get around (and become potential liabilities for whoever operates them), the general assumption has been that they’ll offer societal and health benefits that vastly outperform private vehicle ownership — almost as if the people making these assessments have never taken a regular cab or piloted an inner-city ZipCar. Other presumed benefits involve improved air quality by making it easier for people to get by without an automobile of their own.

But this thinking comes with some problems. Studies have already shown that ride-hailing firms exacerbate congestion by having a fleet of cars constantly scouring the streets in search of fares. That interim period between riders wastes energy and will be broadly similar when/if autonomous vehicles arrive. Why should we believe they’ll be any different when they’ll be similarly competing for riders and milling around neighborhoods? Even if they’re entirely electric, that energy has to be sourced from somewhere, and much of it will be in service of nothing.

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Chinese automaker plans satellite network to support autonomous vehicles


Geely’s constellation will provide connectivity to its next-gen autos.

 One of the most important components in an autonomous vehicle is its communications technology—which allows it to access the data needed to navigate its route. Chinese automobile company Geely has developed a solution to maintain a reliable data feed for its products: making its own satellite constellation.

The giant automaker—which sold 2.18 million vehicles in 2019 and also owns Volvo and a stake in Daimler-Benz—is investing $326 million in a new satellite manufacturing plant in Taizhou, close to its existing assembly lines. The plant will manufacture 500 satellites a year by 2025—with its first launches scheduled for later this year—and will have the capability of producing different satellite models. It will feature modular satellite manufacturing lines, research and testing centers and a cloud computing facility. The facility will be the first private satellite factory in China.

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