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November 22, 2017 News of the Day: Apple Scientists Publish Their Self-Driving Car Research, Lyft Granted Autonomous Vehicle Test Permit in California

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【Summary】November 22, 2017 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Nov 22, 2017 10:48 AM PT
November 22, 2017 News of the Day: Apple Scientists Publish Their Self-Driving Car Research, Lyft Granted Autonomous Vehicle Test Permit in California

Apple Scientists Publish Their Self-Driving Car Research

CUPERTINO, Calif., – Two of Apple's tops scientists working on the company's secretive self-driving car program have published a paper detailing their work.

The paper by Yin Zhou and Oncel Tuzel, submitted on Nov. 17 to independent online journal arXiv, is significant because Apple's famed corporate secrecy around future products has been seen as a drawback among artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers.

The scientists proposed a new software approach called "VoxelNet" for helping computers detect three-dimensional objects.

Academics are used to freely sharing their work with peers at other organizations, leading Apple to establish the Apple Machine Learning Journal for its researchers in July. Their work rarely appears outside the journal, which so far has not published any research on self-driving cars.

Self-driving cars often use a combination of normal two-dimensional cameras and LiDAR to recognize the world around them. While the units supply depth information, their low resolution makes it hard to detect small, faraway objects without help from a normal camera linked to it in real time.

With Apple's new software, researchers said they were able to get "highly encouraging results" in spotting pedestrians and cyclists with just LiDAR data. They also wrote they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that use only LiDAR. The experiments were computer simulations and did not involve road tests.

Chief Executive Tim Cook has called self-driving cars "the mother of all AI projects," Apple has given few hints about the nature of its self-driving car ambitious.

Last December, Apple told federal regulators it was excited about the technology and asked regulators not to restrict testing of the technology.

In April, Apple filed a self-driving car testing plan with California regulators and applying for a DMV testing permit, joining about 40 other companies working on autonomous driving. Apple's test vehicles have been spotted frequently driving on Silicon Valley streets.

Lyft Granted Autonomous Vehicle Test Permit in California

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Ride-hailing company Lyft was granted a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test autonomous vehicles in California, taking it one step further in the race with several other companies to bring self-driving cars to the masses.

Lyft's permit, reflected on the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, comes two months after it announced plans to offer a self-driving car as a ride option in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Lyft already has partnerships in place with autonomous car companies to advance its self-driving strategy.

The firm struck a research collaboration earlier this year with Google's Waymo. It has also secured deals with Ford Motor Co. and Boston based startup Nutonomy to incorporate self-driving cars in its fleet.

Uber was granted a permit in California to test self-driving cars in March. The company applied after the state revoked the registrations from Uber's fleet of self-driving Volvo SUVs for not having the necessary permit. Waymo, BMW, Ford, Tesla and a host of other automakers and tech companies also have the permit.

Tesla is Spending $8,000 a Minute Chasing its Electric Dream

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A report published by Bloomberg yesterday shows that Tesla is burning through cash at the astounding rate of $8,000 per minute, as the company announced new products and ramps up production of the Model 3. In addition to the Model 3, Elon Musk said last week that Tesla Inc. is designing a new "Roadster' sports car that could go from zero to 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds.

Over the past year, the electric-car maker has been burning through cash at a rate of $480,000 an hour, Bloomberg data shows. At this pace, the company is on track to exhaust its current cash pile on Monday, Aug. 6, 2018.

However, industry analysts agree that the rate of cash burn may slow as Tesla is ramping up output of its all-important Model 3, which will bring in profits as owners take delivery.

Tesla shares rose almost 3 percent to $317.81 Tuesday, giving it a market capitalization of $53 billion. Ford Motor Co. is worth $48 billion.

Last week, Musk unveiled his latest plan to raise funds, by asking customers to pay upfront to order vehicles that may not be delivered for years.

The special edition Founders Series Roadster will cost buyers a $250,000 down payment even though it's not expected to arrive until at least 2019. Orders of Sounders Series Roadster are capped at 1,000, which could generate $250 million. Tesla is charging a total of $50,000 for reservations of the regular Roadster. Companies can also pre-order electric Semi trucks for $5,000, though they don't go into production until 2019.

Tesla is spending more than $1 billion a quarter thanks to massive investment in production of the Model 3, a $35,000 mass-market car that's looking less likely to generate a return anytime soon.

"Whether they can last another 10 months or a year, he needs money, and quickly," said Kevin Tynan, senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, who estimates Tesla will be required to raise at least $2 billion in fresh capital by mid-2018.

Tesla has said it has ample money to meet its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans by the end of March. After that date, the company expects to "generate significant cash flows from operating activities," Tesla said in a Nov. 1 letter to shareholders. Tesla's capital expenditures should also decline as the company pays off its expenses related to the Model 3, CFO Deepak Ahuja said on a conference call the same day.

Delphi Closes on $400M Acquisition of Autonomous Driving Startup nuTonomy

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BOSTON – Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE: DLPH), soon to be Aptiv (NYSE: APTV), announced today that it has closed its $400 million acquisition of nuTonomy, a leading developer of autonomous driving (AD) software solutions. The addition of nuTonomy further strengthens Aptiv's position as a technology leader in the global autonomous mobility market.

nuTonomy was founded in 2013 by Dr. Karl Iagnemma and Dr. Emilio Frazzoli and was recently named a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer for its work in improving the safety, efficiency, and accessibility of urban transportation.  

nuTonomy contributes significant additional scale and resources to Aptiv's existing AD capabilities, more than doubling its current 100-member AD team and increasing its access to new customers and markets in the emerging mobility space.  By combining efforts in Boston, Singapore, and other pilot cities around the world, Aptiv will have 60 autonomous cars on the road across three continents by year-end, with the goal to further accelerate global fleet expansion and technology development.

Terms of the transaction are consistent with those announced on October 24, 2017.

Karma Revero Headed to Europe with Enhanced Solar Hybrid Powertrain

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Automaker Karma, which is owned by Chinese autoparts company Wanxiang Group, is headed to Europe with its enhanced hybrid-electric sports car which is claimed to run with help from the sun's energy. The Revero is a four-door rival to the Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid. Karma is updating its Revero hybrid sports car with ambitions to export the model into Asia and Europe for the first time.

New spy pictures show that the four-door sedan will get adjustments to its front and rear but that its overall body shape will stay true to the Karma of defunct car maker Fisker, of which the Revero is essentially a successor.

Karma chief revenue officer Jim Taylor has previously told Autocar that the Revero's delayed entry into Europe and Asia was always part of the business plan. Prices for the current car start at $130,000 in its domestic market.

The current Revero uses solar panels located on its roof that can help power the car's electrified powertrain. Solar panels can be seen on the roof of the spotted development car, so expect improvements to their efficiency with the facelifted model.

"The energy collected from the solar panels is supplied directly to the car's high-voltage battery, which in turn powers the electric motors," Taylor explained when asked how they work on the current model. "Our solar panels are twice as powerful as the original [Fisker] ones."

Taylor suggested that strong Californian sunshine would enable owners to leave their car parked outside all day and return to it with noticeably more charge.

"We're still a long way off from being able to charge it up significantly in a few hours, but if you left your car parked in an airport car park for a couple of days, you'd see more energy," added Taylor.

The input of the sun's energy is displayed on the Revero's infotainment system, so drivers can see when energy is being captured, even on the move.


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