Roboats: Amsterdam tests out electric autonomous boats on its canals

An electric boat steers close to a full-size replica of the 18th century three-mast trading ship Amsterdam at the National Maritime Museum, in Amsterdam,

By The Associated Press

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Electric cars, meet your competition. Electric boats are on the way.

Amsterdam didn’t have to look very far when searching for a way to ease traffic on its congested streets. The Dutch capital’s canals were used for transport long before cars and trucks powered by polluting internal combustion engines began clogging its narrow roads.

Already steeped in maritime history, the city’s more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) of waterways are to start hosting prototypes of futuristic boats — small, fully-autonomous electric vessels — to carry out tasks including transporting passengers and picking up garbage.

The Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are collaborating on the Roboat project that aims to develop new ways of navigating the world’s waterways without a human hand at the wheel.

Stephan van Dijk, director of innovation at the Amsterdam institute, said the technology is “very relevant in highly complex port operations, where you have a lot of vessels and a lot of ships and a lot of quays and piers. There you can really improve the safety with autonomous systems, but also make it more efficient and into a 24/7 operations approach.”

At a recent demonstration, one 4-meter (13-foot) long electric boat sailed past a full-size replica of the 18th-century three-mast trading ship Amsterdam, providing a snapshot of the city’s nautical past and its future.

Continue reading… “Roboats: Amsterdam tests out electric autonomous boats on its canals”
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SberAutoTech launches its first fully autonomous vehicle

SberAutoTech, a Sber ecosystem company, has revealed a prototype of its own autonomous vehicle for future mobility, which it has named “FLIP”.

By David Rafalovsky, CTO, Sberbank Group; executive vice president, head of technology, Sberbank

The brand-new and fully self-driving vehicle has been developed to match the highest level in international driving automation classification. It pursues the new mobility concept providing quick, safe, and comfortable transportation for passengers through cutting-edge IT and automotive technologies.

There is a proprietary electric platform driven by an electric motor powered by a replaceable battery module at the core of FLIP. Key differentiating know-how is that fast-swappable batteries can be replaced in five minutes.  So the vehicle is ready to continue the journey in time comparable to a fueling of a conventional car.

Fast-swappable batteries is a solution that removes the current challenges of EV market, such as extensive charging time and high battery prices resulting from their expected capacity and range.

Moreover, FLIP is designed to be powered from both electricity and other alternative fuels like natural gas and hydrogen.

Continue reading… “SberAutoTech launches its first fully autonomous vehicle”
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Experts are convinced that self-flying planes will roam the skies by 2025 — here’s how one startup is working to win over the FAA and the public

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner taking off

By Thomas Pallini 

  • Xwing, founded by Marc Piette, is one of the startups working to make self-flying planes a reality. 
  • Its Cessna 208B Grand Caravan can already fly on its own, as Insider found on a demonstration flight. 
  • Self-flying planes will start by flying cargo and then regional passenger flights as early as 2025. 

Teaching a 27-year-old aircraft how to fly on its own was the easy part for Marc Piette and his team at Xwing. The real challenge is how to get the technology flying on commercial aircraft, and accepted by the public.

Piette had the idea to conquer self-flying aircraft when driving from San Francisco to Eureka, California, a near-300 mile journey that takes five hours by car. As a student pilot taking flight lessons at Palo Alto Airport at the time, he couldn’t accept that driving was the most efficient way to travel regional distances for the average person. 

“The time it takes me to get to places like [Eureka] from San Francisco is about the same time it takes me to get to New York,” Piette, the founder and CEO of Xwing, told Insider. “It’s absurd. Traveling 250 miles shouldn’t take me the same amount of time it takes to travel across the cross country.”

And the idea for Xwing was born. The vision was to use the vast aviation infrastructure that already exists but make it more accessible and bring costs down by using autonomous technology. 

“The only way to travel fast on the ground is through massive infrastructure investment … which isn’t happening anytime soon,” Piette said.

Continue reading… “Experts are convinced that self-flying planes will roam the skies by 2025 — here’s how one startup is working to win over the FAA and the public”
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AI, captain! First autonomous ship prepares for maiden voyage

The Mayflower 400 autonomous trimaran during sea trials in Plymouth this week

by Anna Cuenca

The “Mayflower 400″—the world’s first intelligent ship—bobs gently in a light swell as it stops its engines in Plymouth Sound, off England’s southwest coast, before self-activating a hydrophone designed to listen to whales.

The 50-foot (15-metre) trimaran, which weighs nine tonnes and navigates with complete autonomy, is preparing for a transatlantic voyage.

On its journey the vessel, covered in solar panels, will study marine pollution and analyse plastic in the water, as well as track aquatic mammals.

Eighty percent of the underwater world remains unexplored.

Brett Phaneuf, co-founder of the charity ProMare and the mastermind behind the Mayflower project, said the ocean exerts “the most powerful force” on the global climate.

Rosie Lickorish, a specialist in emerging technologies at IBM, one of the partners on the project, said the unmanned craft provided an advantage in the “unforgiving environment”.

“Having a ship without people on board allows scientists to expand the area they can observe,” she told AFP.

A variety of technology and service providers have contributed to the project with hundreds of individuals involved from nations including India, Switzerland and the United States, said Phaneuf.

The project would have cost 10 times the roughly $1 million (820,000 euros) invested by ProMare without the “global effort,” he added.

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Baidu Apollo to launch fully driverless ride-hailing services in Beijing

Baidu Apollo will launch fully driverless robotaxi services to the public in Beijing starting from May 2, 2021.

This will be China’s first paid autonomous vehicle service where users can hail a robotaxi without a safety driver behind the steering wheel, marking a landmark step on the road to commercialization of autonomous driving.

The fully driverless Apollo Go Robotaxi service will first be launched in Beijing’s Shougang Park – one of the venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics – and will soon be transporting visitors at the games. 

With the ride-hailing service being launched during the bustling Labor Day holiday period, Baidu will be the first Chinese company offering a fully driverless robotaxi service under commercial operation.

By using the Apollo Go App, users can locate a robotaxi in the vicinity and hail a driverless ride by themselves through a system of unmanned self-service processes.

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Domino’s, Nuro to begin autonomous pizza deliveries in Houston


By Rebecca Bellan

Starting this week, some Domino’s customers in Houston can have a pizza delivered without ever interacting with a human.

The pizza delivery giant said Monday it has partnered with autonomous delivery vehicle startup Nuro to allow select customers to have their pizzas dropped at their door via Nuro’s R2 robot.

“There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space,” Dennis Maloney, Domino’s senior vice president and chief innovation officer said in a statement. “This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations.”

On certain days and times, customers ordering from the Woodland Heights store on the Domino’s website can request R2, which uses radar, 360-degree cameras and thermal imaging to direct its movement. They’ll get texts to let them know where the robot is and what PIN they’ll need to access their pizza via the bot’s touchscreen.

Over the course of the pandemic, the contactless, autonomous food delivery industry has accelerated quickly, and Nuro is currently poised to become a leader in this space.

“Nuro’s mission is to better everyday life through robotics,” Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, said in a statement. “We’re excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino’s customers in Houston. We can’t wait to see what they think.”

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Volvo and Aurora team up on fully autonomous trucks for North America

Another day, another partnership

By Andrew J. Hawkins

Volvo is partnering with self-driving startup Aurora on a new lineup of fully autonomous semi trucks, the companies announced. The trucks will be deployed in North America on highly frequented hub-to-hub routes.

The deal between Volvo Autonomous Solutions and Aurora — which was founded by former executives from Google, Tesla, and Uber — is a “long-term partnership spanning several years,” the companies said. 

It’s also the latest partnership between a major OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and an autonomous technology startup, as the industry continues to slowly inch toward a future with more fully driverless passenger vehicles and trucks on the road. 

Aurora has been testing its “Aurora Driver” hardware and software stack in its test fleet of minivans and Class 8 trucks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since last year. Unlike its rivals, which are largely focused on robotaxi applications, the company has said that its first commercial service will be in trucking “where the market is largest today, the unit economics are best, and the level of service requirements is most accommodating.”

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Driverless Air Taxis Could Fly Tourists to Restaurants 100-Feet Above the Ground

A groundbreaking concept proposes driverless air taxis lifting tourists to restaurants situated 100 feet off the ground – giving an unprecedented experience and view of the Italian wilderness around.

By Mark Bustos 

Chinese unmanned aircraft company EHang Holdings are working with architects from the Rome, Italy-based Giancarlo Zema Design Group to turn this lofty vision into a reality. The 100-foot towers – dubbed “Vertiports” by the proponents – are designed to receive the driverless air taxis landing vertically on each roof.

Tourists who will go on the experience will be automatically carried to the raised restaurants. After the dining experience with a panoramic view of the Italian forests, tourists will be ushered by their self-driving vehicles in an equally scenic ride back to their nearby accommodations.

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Waymo study: Robot drivers would avoid crashes


By Joann Muller

Waymo, which pointedly stopped using the term “self-driving” to describe its technology this year, has released a study intended to prove that its robot drivers are safer than humans.

Why it matters: With about 40,000 Americans dying in vehicle accidents every year, AV operators are trying to convince consumers and regulators that autonomous vehicles would make the roads safer.

What’s happening: Waymo, which operates a limited driverless taxi service near Phoenix, reconstructed 72 fatal accidents that occurred over the past decade in its geo-fenced operating area.

  • It then fed the data from those real-life crashes into its simulation system, and substituted the “Waymo driver” for the human driver.

What we know: Waymo’s autonomous technology avoided or mitigated collisions in almost all cases.

  • When the Waymo driver replaced the “instigator” of the accident — a drunk driver speeding through a red light, for example — the crash was avoided because the robotaxi is engineered to obey the law.
  • When the Waymo driver replaced “the responder” — someone reacting to a bad driver — its perception systems anticipated the situation earlier and responded to avoid it.
  • The few instances where the Waymo driver couldn’t avoid the accident was where it was struck from behind.
Continue reading… “Waymo study: Robot drivers would avoid crashes”
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Europe’s first full-sized self-driving urban electric bus has arrived

The bus has a maximum carrying capacity of 60 passengers.

By Sean Fleming

  • Málaga is the first place in Europe to trial full-size autonomous buses.
  • China has recently changed the law to allow trials of its own.
  • In Norway, where electric cars are already popular, two trials have been underway.

The electric, self-driving bus is coming to cities. In some parts of the world, it has already arrived. One of the latest cities to run a live-trial of autonomous buses is Málaga, in southern Spain. 

Málaga is the sixth largest city in Spain and is a thriving tourist destination – in pre-pandemic times, at least. Now, a 12-metre self-driving bus will make an eight kilometre round-trip from the city centre to the port, six times daily.

The bus has a maximum carrying capacity of 60 passengers and is kitted out with sensors that allow it to respond to the environment around it. “The bus knows at all times where it is and what is around it,” Rafael Durban Carmona, from the Spanish transport company Avanza, told The Guardian newspaper.

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Waymo begins testing autonomous vehicles with riders in San Francisco

By Kyle Bradshaw 

After successfully opening Waymo One as a public driverless ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Waymo is beginning to test autonomous vehicles with riders in San Francisco.

Over on the official Waymo blog, the company shared that one of its major goals has been for its driverless vehicles to be robust enough to handle the complexities of San Francisco’s roads. In part, this goal is rooted in Waymo being based in the San Francisco Bay Area — having spun out of Google to become an Alphabet company in 2016.

However, a recent survey of San Francisco residents, taken by Waymo, reveals a more noble cause. A massive 63% of the respondents said “dangerous drivers” made it difficult to get around the city, while as many as 23% said they “don’t feel safe” on the roads.

Continue reading… “Waymo begins testing autonomous vehicles with riders in San Francisco”
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Hyundai develops an autonomous vehicle that sprouts legs to WALK across remote terrains to transport urgent goods and medication to inaccessible locations

Korean car manufacturer Hyundai has unveiled its latest vehicle.

By Rob Hull

  • The Hyundai TIGER is a Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot
  • It has been developed by the auto manufacturer’s New Horizons Studio in the US
  • When terrains are not too difficult to navigate, the vehicle uses its wheels and a four-wheel drive system to quickly navigate to a set destination
  • If the route is blocked, it sprouts four legs and can clamber over items such as large rocks and fallen trees

But instead of being a family-friendly hatchback or a school-run SUV, the brand has revealed an autonomous vehicle that sprout legs and walk.

Called TIGER – short for Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot – it is an unmanned electric robotic vehicle designed to transport cargo and medication to the world’s most inhospitable locations.

Continue reading… “Hyundai develops an autonomous vehicle that sprouts legs to WALK across remote terrains to transport urgent goods and medication to inaccessible locations”
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