New York-based Buffalo Automation unveils Greycraft, the world’s first fully autonomous, AI-driven water taxi concept | Tech News | Startups News

By Laurie Foti

We wrote about Buffalo Automation in November of 2019 after the New York-based tech startup was selected as one of the 19 semi-finalists to compete for the $3 million investments by New York accelerator GENIUS NY. A lot of exciting things have happened since them.

Last week, Buffalo Automation unveiled the world’s first fully autonomous, AI-driven, passenger-carrying robotaxi in Knoxville, Tennessee next week, opening the door for cities nationwide to adopt this alternative form of transportation. The official launch of the fully operational Greycraft Water Taxi is targeted for early 2021 and will initially be cost-free for residents pending proper transportation permits.

Greycraft is the only solar-powered, autonomous vessel currently capable of carrying passengers and traversing busy waterways. Using the newly released Mayday app, it can also be hailed much like Lyft or Uber. Buffalo Automation has made the possibility of using autonomous water taxis as a safe, reliable, environmentally friendly means of transport, a reality.

Founded in 2015 Thiru Vikram, Buffalo Automation is an AI startup that provides autonomous systems for commercial ships, recreational boats, ports, and waterways. Buffalo Automation’s flagship product, Automate, is a predictive boat navigation system that guides large commercial ships.

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New Citroen Skate is autonomous platform with swappable pods

Urban mobility concept can drive itself around a city, hosting travel compartments designed by different companies

By Felix Page

Skate, a new platform concept, is Citroën’s vision for the future of autonomous shared mobility in cities and forms part of a revolutionary “open-source” model that the firm says could improve traffic fluidity by 35%. 

The platform, equipped with level-five autonomous capabilities to move around urban areas with no human input, can operate “almost continuously” 24/7, charging itself at dedicated hubs. 

t has a maximum speed of 3mph or 16mph, depending on its surroundings, and is equipped with Citroën’s Advanced Comfort hydraulic cushion suspension set-up for optimum ride quality. Bespoke motorised spherical wheels designed by Goodyear allow for 360deg manoeuvrability, “just like a computer mouse”. 

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WeRide Launches China’s First Level 4 Self-Driving Cargo Van

WeRide’s Robovan, China’s first L4 self-driving cargo van.

By Charles Choi

Autonomous driving startup WeRide unveiled China’s first self-driving cargo van capable of level 4 autonomy — that is, the ability to act without any human intervention in the vast majority of situations — on September 9.

WeRide is developing the new vehicle, dubbed the Robovan, in partnership with Chinese automaker Jiangling Motors and Chinese delivery company ZTO Express. WeRide and Jiangling Motors will help develop the vehicle for mass production on JMC’s customized assembly lines, which ZTO Express aims to use in urban logistics applications.

“WeRide has always emphasized that autonomous driving technologies should be used effectively in reality to serve the society. With the introduction of Robovan, the very first level 4 self-driving cargo van in China, we have heralded a new era of autonomous driving for urban logistics in the country,” Tony Han, the founder and CEO of WeRide, said in a statement. “We are aiming to deliver both smart mobility and smart logistics for cities in the future.”

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Chinese driverless car firm WeRide launches ‘Robovan’ for autonomous deliveries

WeRide’s Robovan, an autonomous vehicle designed for urban logistics. WeRide has partnered with automaker Jiangling Motors and delivery firm ZTO Express, for the Robovan project.

By Arjun Kharpa


  • Chinese autonomous driving start-up WeRide has partnered with Jiangling Motors and delivery firm ZTO Express to launch a self-driving cargo van for logistics.
  • WeRide CEO Tony Han said he expects “tens of thousands” of the Robovan to be deployed in the future.
  • WeRide is one of China’s autonomous driving start-ups, valued at around $3.3 billion, and has been testing robotaxis since 2019. 

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese autonomous driving start-up WeRide has partnered with a top carmaker and delivery company to launch a self-driving cargo van.

The strategic partnership between WeRide, automaker Jiangling Motors (JMC) and delivery firm ZTO Express, aims to commercialize and mass produce the “Robovan” for urban logistics.

Nissan-backed WeRide makes autonomous driving systems for various vehicles. Since 2019, it has been testing robotaxis, or autonomous cabs, on the streets of Guangzhou, China where it is headquartered. The company opened the service to members of the public last year in limited areas of the city.

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Audi’s Grandsphere concept EV is a self-driving living room on wheels

The less you drive this luxury sedan, the more you’ll enjoy it.

By J. Fingas

If Audi’s Skysphere concept is a driver’s car with an autonomous option, the company’s follow-up is the polar opposite. The automaker has introduced a Grandsphere concept electric sedan that uses Level 4 self-driving (full autonomy in limited conditions) to help you avoid driving “whenever possible” — this is a luxurious living room that just happens to let you take the wheel.

Invoke the driverless mode and the Grandsphere will ‘reduce’ the wheel and pedals to make it clear you’re supposed to relax. The displays are really projections on wooden surfaces that adapt based on whether or not you’re driving — you can watch media or participate in video conferences. While Audi’s familiar MMI controls are available in an upright seating position, you can use eye tracking and gestures to navigate the infotainment system while you’re reclining. VR glasses in the armrests help you immerse yourself in entertainment during your commute.

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World’s first autonomous, 7MWh electric cargo ship to make voyage with zero crew onboard

By Scooter Doll

A Norwegian company called Yara International claims to have created the world’s first zero-emission shipthat can also transport cargo autonomously. The Yara Birkeland electric cargo ship was first conceptualized in 2017 but now looks to make its first voyage with no crew members onboard later this year in Norway.

Yara International is a Norwegian company that was founded in 1905 to combat the rising famine in Europe at the time. The company created the world’s first nitrogen fertilizer, which remains its largest business focus today. 

In addition to its perpetual battle against hunger, Yara focuses on emissions abatement and sustainable agricultural practices. While the company wants to continue finding success in feeding the planet, it believes it can also do so sustainably. 

To combat toxic Sulfur Oxides (SOx) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions from diesel engines on ships, the Norwegian company created Yara Marine Technologies. In 2017, the company began conceptualizing the possibility of an autonomous, fully electric ship to rid of toxic emissions altogether. 

Today, the Yara Birkeland is afloat in Norway, named after the Norwegian researcher who discovered the ability to add nitrogen to fertilizer. Now, the electric cargo ship looks to complete its first journey without a single crew member onboard.

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Waymo building autonomous trucking hub in Dallas-Fort Worth

The new Texas facility will help expand Waymo Via’s presence in the region and advance development of its transfer hub shipping model.

By Antuan Goodwin

Ryder will help Waymo Via to manage and service its fleet of autonomous trucks and help to develop the transfer hub facilities.Waymo

Waymo is building a new dedicated trucking hub in Texas’ Dallas-Fort Worth area. The facility will serve as the base of Waymo Via, its trucking and local delivery unit, and its operations throughout the southeast United States. The news is coupled with the announcement of a new partnership with Ryder trucking and fleet management to support Waymo’s fleet of autonomous trucks nationwide.

Bolstered by its previously announced partnership with Daimler Trucks to develop an SAE Level 4 autonomous truck platform, Waymo Via has since expanded testing to bring the fifth-generation Waymo Driver AV tech from its passenger vehicles to large Class 8 trucks for commercial shipping. It even landed itself a contract with J.B. Hunt to haul customers’ freight between Fort Worth and Houston.

The new nine-acre South Dallas hub is yet another big investment in autonomous trucking in Texas and will serve as Waymo Via’s primary operations center in the state. Built from the ground up to accommodate today’s commercial autonomous operations and testing, as well as Waymo’s future plans to build a network of autonomous trucking transfer hubs, the facility will help connect with Waymo Via’s Phoenix, Arizona operations center to expand the brand’s presence in the southeastern region.

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Baidu Apollo unveils autonomous vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals

Human drivers may become a thing of the past.

by Mengyuan Ge 

Baidu’s autonomous driving unit, Apollo, has developed a new vehicle capable of Level 5 vehicle autonomy, meaning the car requires no human intervention during operation. Notably, it has no steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal, signifying that drivers are completely unnecessary.

The “robocar,” as Baidu founder and CEO Robin Li called it, was showcased during a livestream event on Wednesday. It is equipped with two passenger seats, a large curved screen, an intelligent console, and electrochromic glass with varying tints based on natural brightness. This follows Apollo’s showcase of its Moon model in June.

During the event, Apollo indicated that the new vehicle will incorporate machine learning to analyze passengers’ needs and respond to verbal commands. In some scenarios, the system may even anticipate demands made by people in the vehicle.

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Ecopia AI creates HD map of Toronto for Autonomous Vehicles

Ecopia AI (Ecopia) has announced that it is creating a high-definition (HD) map for the City of Toronto that will be leveraged to accelerate the deployment of Autonomous Vehicles (AVs). This initiative strives to lay the foundation for a digital twin of the city of Toronto and is being made possible with the support of Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN). This HD Map of Canada’s largest city will serve as a test-bed for AV applications and puts Ontario at the forefront of next-generation transportation systems.

There is a need for the creation of new underlying digital infrastructure. To serve this need, Ecopia is commercializing a centralized hub for the HD Map data needed in the enablement of AV and smart city applications.

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Cleveron conducts ‘world’s first’ driving exams with a driverless semi-autonomous last-mile delivery vehicle

Cleveron, an Estonian-based technology company, partnered with LRK Driving School to conduct what they say are “the world’s first driving exams with an unmanned semi-autonomous car”.

The exams were carried out with Cleveron’s last-mile delivery vehicle Cleveron 701. All four Cleveron specialists passed the exam and received the world’s first tele-operated vehicle certificates.

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Sea Machines to develop autonomous supply platforms

Rendering of an autonomous replenishment platform. (Photo: Sea Machines.)The Department of Defense (DoD) contract aims to produce autonomous full-scale ocean-going vertical take-off landing replenishment platforms

By The Shephard News Team in London


The US DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has awarded Sea Machines a $3million contract to develop an autonomous full-scale ocean-going replenishment platform. 

The contract builds on earlier work by Sea Machines at the behest of the DoD to engineer, build and demonstrate system kits capable of transforming commercial barges into platforms that can land and replenish military aircraft. 

That work is now transitioning from proof of concept to a design and trial stage.

Sea Machines founder and CEO Michael Johnson said: ‘The extension of our contract represents the intersection of traditional sectors, such as government, and the capabilities of autonomous technology.’

The prototype kit will include the company’s SM300 autonomous command and control system.

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Cleveron Rolls Out Semi-Autonomous Last-Mile Delivery Vehicle

 Estonia-based parcel delivery robotics company Cleveron has launched a new unmanned semi-autonomous robotic last-mile delivery vehicle, the Cleveron 701. It is designed for retailers and logistics companies that intend to boost last-mile delivery efficiencies. The company aims to allow businesses to meet the mounting demand for same-day delivery or same-hour delivery cost-effectively.

Nature of Disruption: Cleveron  701 is a lightweight electric vehicle with an option to use different rechargeable batteries. The maximum speed of the vehicle is 30 miles per hour and it can carry a load of a maximum of 500 pounds. It can drive in low traffic areas like suburbs to deliver within a 15 to 30 minutes drive radius of a retailer, fulfillment center or a dark store. It can deliver goods from a warehouse or a store to customers staying nearby within an hour when administered remotely. It reduces labor costs as only one teleoperator can supervise 10 vehicles simultaneously.  Moreover, vehicle operators can customize the Cleveron  701’s adaptable, semi-autonomous platform as per diverse delivery needs. For instance, Cleveron 701 can be customized to function as a grocery delivery robot with temperature-controlled sections, a parcel delivery vehicle, an ice cream truck or even a high-tech coffee robot.

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