August 9, 2017 News of the Day: Intel & Mobileye to Build Autonomous Cars, Israel's Oryx Vision Raises $50 Million, Didi Chuxing Invests in Careem

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【Summary】August 9, 2017 News of the Day

Original   Eric Walz  ·  Aug 09, 2017 12:26 PM PT
author: Eric Walz   

Intel and Mobileye to Build Autonomous Cars

Mobileye, which is now officially owned by Intel, will start building a fleet of fully autonomous (level 4) vehicles for testing in the United States, Israel and Europe. The first vehicles will be deployed later this year, and the fleet will eventually scale to more than 100 automobiles.

"Building cars and testing them in real-world conditions provides immediate feedback and will accelerate delivery of technologies and solutions for highly and fully autonomous vehicles," said Amnon Shashua, soon-to-be senior vice president of Intel Corporation and future CEO/CTO of Mobileye. "Geographic diversity is very important as different regions have very diverse driving styles as well as different road conditions and signage. Our goal is to develop autonomous vehicle technology that can be deployed anywhere, which means we need to test and train the vehicles in varying locations."

Building these test vehicles, Intel's new entity will combine proprietary capabilities from Mobileye including computer vision, sensing, fusion, mapping and driving policy along with Intel's leading open compute platforms and expertise in data center and 5G communication technologies to deliver a complete "car-to-cloud" system.

The fleet will include multiple car brands and vehicle types to demonstrate the technology's flexibility.

"Delivering 100 test cars very quickly will demonstrate how this hybrid system can be adapted to meet customer needs," Shashua said. "Neither company could do this alone. Given resident skill-sets within the two companies, a standalone fleet of test vehicles is possible almost immediately."

The test fleet will allow the hybrid solution based on Mobileye and Intel technology to be demonstrated to current and prospective customers in a real-world landscape, and also serve as a base to interact directly with regulators. It will also showcase novel concepts of mapping and safety validation, which are both geared toward scalability.

"This does not replace any customer activities; it is additive to them," Shashua said. "Our customers will benefit from our ability to use this fleet to accelerate our technology development. We want to enable automakers to deliver driverless cars faster while reducing costs – data we collect will save our customers significant costs."

Israel's Oryx Vision Raises $50 Million

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JERUSALEM — Israel's Oryx Vision, which is developing object sensors for self-driving cars, said on Tuesday it raised $50 million in a second funding round led by Third Point Ventures and Walden Riverwood Ventures (WRV).

Union Tech Ventures, and existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Maniv Mobility, and Trucks VC also participated in the round, Oryx said.

The company has raised $67 million in two funding rounds in the past 15 months.

Oryx will use the new funds to accelerate its development activities and to intensify commercial engagements with car OEMs, tier-1 suppliers, and technology players.

It expects to ship units for car-mounted testing in the second half of 2018.

The Israeli startup is building what it describes as a "groundbreaking" LiDAR system that takes a markedly different approach to collecting environmental data than conventional alternatives. The first area where the platform stands out is light transmission.

Like the competition, it gathers readings by sending out pulses of light and analyzing the reflections that bounce off objects, but there are no mechanical parts steering the projector.

Oryx instead employs a so-called terahertz laser spread using simple optics that has several operational advantages. As IEEE Spectrum detailed last year, this type of light is invisible to the human eye, which allows the system to run at higher power levels than traditional LiDAR platforms. Oryx said it can detect small debris from 200 feet away, pedestrians at about 300 feet and motorcycles as far away as 490 feet.

Didi Chuxing Invests in Careem

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Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing announced a financing deal with Careem, an Uber rival in the Middle East that is valued at more than $1 billion. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.

Aside from Taxify, the Europe and Africa Uber competitor that it invested in earlier this month, Didi has shares in Lyft in the U.S., India's Ola, 99 in Latin America and Southeast Asia's Grab. It also owns equity in Uber courtesy of the unique terms of the acquisition of the Uber China business last year.

"Didi Chuxing brings leading edge AI capabilities, insight and expertise to our organization as we enter our next phase of growth," Careem CEO Mudassir Sheikha said in a statement. "This evolution in our long relationship will enable Careem to more effectively pursue growth opportunities through continued innovation and sustainability."

Dubai-headquartered Careem started out five years old as a Uber competitor, but it has since grown into quite a formidable business.

Back in June, it raised $500 million from investors that include auto giant Daimler at a valuation of $1.2 billion — that's up on the $1 billion valuation that it scored when it raised the first part of that round in December 2016. In total, Careem has raised just shy of $570 million to date, and its other backers include Rakuten and Saudi Telecom Company (STC).

Careem operates in 80 cities across 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. It claims to have over 12 million registered customers and in excess of 250,000 drivers.

Following this investment Didi said its "global framework of collaboration" now covers over 60 percent of the world's population across 1,000 cities. That gives a clear insight into what its next ambition is having already driven Uber out of China via that acquisition deal.

Things might be about to get a little more complicated if SoftBank, which has invested alongside Didi in many of its global deals, backs Uber. Following media reports, CEO Mashayoshi Son yesterday confirmed his interest in doing a deal with Uber, but he said that SoftBank is also weighing a deal with Lyft.

GS Yuasa to Double EV Battery Range

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TOKYO, — Shares in Japan's GS Yuasa Corp surged 10 percent on Tuesday after the Nikkei business daily reported the company would begin mass-producing a new lithium-ion battery that would double the range of electric cars as early as in 2020.

GS Yuasa is a Japanese company that makes lead acid automobile and motorcycle batteries. It also develops and produces advanced battery technology for various aerospace and defense applications.

Electric vehicles have gotten a boost as a greener alternative to conventional cars as European governments move to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars over the next few decades. China has already touted EVs as its choice for zero-emission cars, forcing global automakers to embrace the technology.

But limited driving range, long charging times, and the high cost of batteries are major hurdles preventing electric cars from becoming mainstream.

GS Yuasa has said it was working on a lithium-ion battery that would double the range of its current battery at similar prices, targeting production around 2020. But a spokeswoman said the company was not ready to announce anything final, including where it would produce the batteries or which automakers it would supply.

"In addition to domestic automakers, we would hope to supply European ones as electric vehicles are expected to take off there," she said.

GS Yuasa's stock jumped as much as 15 percent before paring gains to 10 percent, giving it a market value of 235 billion yen ($2.1 billion)

The Nikkei said Lithium Energy Japan - GS Yuasa's joint venture with Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsubishi Motors Corp - would produce the batteries at its factory in Shiga prefecture, western Japan.

GS Yuasa's domestic rivals such as Panasonic Corp, which supplies to Toyota Motor Corp and Tesla are also racing to develop next-generation batteries.

Toyota said last month it was developing an all-solid-state battery that would significantly boost the driving range and reduce charging times, aiming for commercialisation in the early 2020s.

Ford Engineers Rush to Repair Carbon Monoxide Leaks in its SUVs

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Ford Motor Co. says it has repaired more than 50 police Explorer SUVs for multiple municipalities where officers had been sickened by carbon monoxide while driving those vehicles. Ford's Explorer SUV is a popular choice for law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

The company said it has engineering teams working with multiple law enforcement agencies around the country to address a growing number of reports of suspected carbon monoxide leaks in the cabins of Ford Police Interceptor sport utility vehicles.

Some police departments have pulled the vehicles from the road over related safety concerns. The SUV is made on the same platform as the consumer Explorer and it's the most popular police vehicle in the country.

In Austin, Texas, an officer briefly fainted while driving one of the vehicles. Approximately a week ago in Massachusetts, a police officer lost consciousness at the wheel Wednesday and struck a civilian's vehicle.

The problems come amid what both Ford and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say is an unrelated investigation into 1.33 million regular and police Explorers due to an exhaust issue that has not yet led to a recall.

The Dearborn-based automaker said in a statement Tuesday night that company engineers have consistently found "similar types of holes and unsealed spaces in the back of some Police Interceptor Utilities" that had equipment put on them after leaving Ford's factory. Those holes are improperly sealed and allow exhaust to leak into the vehicle, the company said.

Ford's investigation into the issue, which has been reported by multiple police departments and led the Austin, Texas Police Department to pull 400 of the vehicles from service less than two weeks ago, is ongoing, the company said.

David Green, Austin city spokesman, said officers first complained of carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms in February. In March, the city launched an investigation. Twenty officers tested positive for elevated amounts of carbon monoxide in their blood, three of whom have not been cleared to return to work.

The investigation comes after 2,719 reports fielded by NHTSA and Ford. Eleven of those involve the police interceptor versions.

NHTSA opened the preliminary investigation more than a year ago after it received more than 150 complaints from civilians about exhaust fumes. The investigation was expanded at the end of July.

Ford said the exhaust odors reported in regular Explorers are unrelated to the carbon monoxide reports. "If a vehicle has such an odor, customers should bring it to a Ford dealer to address that issue," the company said.


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