Uber has quietly relaunched it’s self-driving cars on streets of San Francisco after a two-year hiatus following one of the company’s autonomous cars fatally crashing into pedestrian in 2018

Only two vehicles with safety drivers behind the wheels will be permitted in San Francisco, and then public roads only during daylight hours.

Dara Kerr, CNET »

To start, Uber said it will have just two Volvo XC90 self-driving cars on the road that will be accompanied by two safety drivers in the front seats. The vehicles will drive on select public streets, only operate during daylight hours and won’t carry passengers. The company said that after it completes an infrastructure update to its system, it’ll expand its program in the city.

After the fatal crash in Arizona, Uber’s self-driving program fell under the scrutiny of local police, lawmakers and federal investigators. The company pulled all its autonomous vehicles from public roads and shuttered its Arizona operations at that time. In November, government officials released their findings on the main cause of the crash, saying the vehicle operator failed to monitor the road, Uber had an “inadequate safety culture” and the federal government hadn’t properly regulated the industry.

More » Reuters, Engadget, The Verge, Venture Beat, TechCrunch

[Updated] The redesigned Fiat 500 is longer, wider, all electric, only electric, and available only as a limited edition for 2020

Presented to the public the first time in Milan, Italy, the 2020 Fiat 500 “la Prima”, by Olivier Francois, President Fiat Brand Global.

The new Fiat 500 is said to have a 320 km / 200 mile range, when calculated on the European WLTP standards. However, Fiat is boasting an impressive 400 km range when driving is limited to the city.

Power for the third generation of an icon born comes from a 42-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. And it boasts an 85kw fast charger, said to provide 50 km of range with only 5 minutes of charging. Standard. Also included as standard with the purchase, will be a home charging station.

FCA will also offer the Fiat 500 with Level 2 autonomous driving, a first for a small city car.

FCA, is making the 2020 Fiat 500 a limited edition, “la Prima” will deliver only 500 units per country this year. Continuing with the Eco theme, the Fiat 500 will be offered in only 3 colours, Ocean Green, Celestial Blue, and Mineral Grey.

One more thing. Three top Italian luxury designers – Giorgio Armani, Bulgari, and Kartell – each modified a Fiat 500, which are to be auctioned. The proceeds going to Leonardo DiCaprio’s charity foundation dedicated to the long-term health and well being of all Earth’s inhabitants.

The new Fiat 500 will cost €37,900 in Italy. It will not be available in North America for 2020. Europeans will be able to purchase it from October 2020.

More » Reuters

More » Reuters » Fiat Chrysler sees more models based on electric 500 platform


Updated March 6, 2020

» WhatCar, a UK based site, says the new Fiat 500 will be on sale in early 2021, from £32,500.

Waymo’s new autonomous-vehicles are electric Jaguars

self-driving Jaguar I-Pace.

Jaguar I-Pace

Rob Verger, Popular Science »

Autonomous car company Waymo, a Google sibling and part of Alphabet, has just published a detailed explainer about the newest version of the sensors on some of its vehicles. While Waymo is known for its self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, the whips with the latest gear on them are now electric Jaguar I-Paces.

The closest analog to your eyes on these self-driving cars is the more than two dozen cameras on each Jaguar. The vehicles sport 29 cameras apiece, located in the front and back, sides, and top of the vehicle. Some of these are capable of spotting crucial elements of the streetscape—such as a stop sign—from more than 1,640 feet in the distance, according to Satish Jeyachandran, Waymo’s head of hardware, who authored the blog item on the topic.

 

Waymo shows off it’s 5th generation Waymo Driver

Waymo call it “World’s Most Experienced Driver.

The Alphabet subsidiary tweeted » “Informed by experience. Designed for scale. Engineered to tackle even more environments.”

Is Waymo shifting it’s focus to building the software – the driver – and focusing less on building a whole complete unit? Makes sense that an Alphabet subsidiary would go in that direction.

More » Waymo

Driverless cars take to streets of Tianjin amid epidemic, spraying discinfectant

Chinese government news agency Xjinhua is reporting that »

Starting from the Spring Festival, a small yellow unmanned vehicle has driven around a square in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin every day, spraying disinfectant on the surrounding area.

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak, low-speed unmanned vehicles around the country have taken on various tasks including disinfection, vegetable distribution and patrol, which has greatly reduced the close contact between people.

[Updated] Waymo raises US$2.25 billion to scale up autonomous vehicles operations

Image of 2 self-driving Waymo cars and a self-driving semi-truck.

Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle division, has received it’s first external capital infusion from a small and significant group of investors.

On March 2, 2020, Waymo announced that it secured US$2.25 billion in financing from Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Mubadala Investment Company (the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi), as well as auto parts supplier Magna International, Andreessen Horowitz, auto retail giant AutoNation, and it’s parent company, Alphabet.

Representatives of Silver Lake and the Canadian Pension Fund will join Waymo’s board as part of the investment.

The investors are sending a strong signal that they have confidence in Waymo leading the race to bring automated vehicles to market.

Financial Times, March 6, 2020 »

The deal valued Waymo at more than $30bn, according to people familiar with the transactions. That valuation, which has not previously been reported, makes Waymo worth considerably more than the $19bn assessment for SoftBank-backed Cruise, the autonomous vehicle unit of General Motors.

More » Axios


Updated March 6, 2020

Meanwhile » Robb Report »

The future of self-driving cars is on shaky footing, and the market is starting to take note. Waymo, once valued at nearly $200 billion only 18 months ago, has just been reevaluated at $30 billion.

 

Jaguar Land Rover reveals it’s ‘autonomy-ready’ Project Vector urban concept vehicle

Highlights from Jaguar Land Rover »

  • Bold new concept vehicle as part of Jaguar Land Rover’s Destination Zero mission
  • Project Vector ‘autonomy-ready’ platform offers solution to today’s urban mobility challenges with unparalleled interior space and flexibility in vehicle configuration
  • Jaguar Land Rover’s vision integrates Project Vector concept platform into future smart city infrastructures, delivering services for private and shared mobility needs

Christine Fisher, Engadget »

The EV is just four meters long, and its battery and drivetrain are all built into a flat floor. Inside, the cabin can be configured for private or shared use, as well as commercial deliveries. It was developed at the National Automotive Innovation Centre at the University of Warwick in the UK, with input from academic and industry partners.

Stephen Edelstein, Green Car Reports »

This isn’t just a one-off show vehicle. Jaguar Land Rover plans to begin on-road testing in England in 2021.

The vehicle does have manual controls, but Jaguar Land Rover said it is also “autonomy ready,” should that technology develop to the point where it is suitable for mainstream use.

With the battery pack and powertrain mounted below the floor, Jaguar Land Rover said the interior can easily be reconfigured for different uses, including ride-sharing and delivery services.

More » Project Vector, TechCrunch