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June 13th, 2017 News of the Day: Uber CEO takes leave of absence, Waymo retires "Koala" test fleet

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【Summary】News of the Day for June 13th, 2017.

Original Claire    Jun 13, 2017 5:31 PM PT
June 13th, 2017 News of the Day: Uber CEO takes leave of absence, Waymo retires

Uber CEO takes leave of absence

Amid waves of controversies and the death of his mother in a tragic boating accident, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has told his team today he'll be taking a leave of absence for unspecified length.

"During this interim period, the leadership team, my directs, will be running the company. I will be available as needed for the most strategic decisions, but I will be empowering them to be bold and decisive in order to move the company forward swiftly. It's hard to put a timeline on this - it may be shorter or longer than we might expect." He said in a letter to all Uber employees.

According to the recommendations by former US Attorney General Eric Holder, when Kalanik returns, he will take a diminished role.

"Some of the responsibilities that Mr. Kalanick has historically possessed should be shared or given outright to other members of senior management." The report outlines.

Apple unveils new self-driving plans: "the mother of all AI projects."

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Apple CEO Tim Cook during a TV interview with Bloomberg, confirms for the first time that the company is working on self-driving technology.

"We're focusing on autonomous systems, it's a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects, it's probably one of the most difficult AI projects actually to work on." Cook said.

However, he would not disclose whether Apple will ultimately make a car, saying that they are not really saying from a product point of view what they will do.

Waymo bids farewell to its "Koala" cars

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Google's self-driving company Waymo is retiring its fleet of "Fireflies", also named "koalas" and "gumdrops", to focus on integrating its technology into more traditional vehicles. The company aims to give more people access to self-driving technology through a fleet of 600 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which the team has equipped with its custom-build LiDAR and vision systems.

The minivans are also equipped with Waymo's latest AI platform that allows the car to see farther and more clearly. Additionally, the testing fleet will be driving at higher speeds, instead of the Koala's 25 mph limit.

GM rolls out new Chevrolet Bolt Autonomous EVs

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Detroit auto giant General Motors has already dispatched more than 50 Chevrolet Bolt autonomous vehicles on the street of San Francisco, Warren, Michigan, and Scottsdale, Arizona. Now, the company is rolling out 130 more Bolts equipped with the latest technology in LiDAR, cameras, sensor, and other hardware. GM is now working with Cruise Automation, which it acquired last year for $1 billion, to develop the driverless technology.

"Expansion of our real-world test fleet will help ensure that our self-driving vehicles meet the same strict standards for safety and quality that we build into all of our vehicles." GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

GM claims itself to be the first company to use mass produce self-driving vehicles. The Bolts began rolling off the assembly line in January at GM's Lake Orion, Michigan plant.

BMW i Ventures invest in mass transportation EVs

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BMW's venture capital firm i Ventures has newly invested in Proterra, a Silicon Valley manufacturer of heavy-duty electric mass transit vehicles, the company said on Thursday.

The amount of investment from BMW was undisclosed but was part of a $55 million funding from Generation Investment Management, founded by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Proterra says it currently has 60% of the electric mass transit market share in North America and has sold more than 400 vehicles to 39 cities, universities and commercial transit agencies in the United States. With the new investment, the company said it will use the funds to raise production at its two manufacturing factories, in South Carolina and near Los Angeles, and to strengthen research and development at its headquarters.


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