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Japan will soon be home to self-driving taxis, with Robot Taxi announcing it will begin offering autonomous rides to 50 people in the Kanagawa prefecture, which is just outside of Tokyo.
The limited trial will drive passengers from their homes to local stores and back again, autonomously, but there'll also be a human operator in the driving seat just in case something goes wrong. If Robot Taxi's test goes without a hitch, the company is expected to push a fully commercial service out into the country by 2020.
Robot Taxi will reportedly run routes in places that public transport doesn't reach, with additional plans to help out tourists to get around the country. Japan is home to the world's highest population of older people, with around 33% of its population over 60 years old. Robot Taxi wants to help these citizens out, getting them to and from places that they need to be.
Tesla Motors announce its new Model X electric SUV to much fanfare and applause last night, revealing a huge array of features and specifications that not only wowed consumers and tech geeks, but also medical professionals and doomsday preppers.
Elon Musk touted that the Model X has a bio-defense mode that delivers "hospital level air quality" to protect up to seven passengers from airborne contaminants. The mode is powered by a medical-grade HEPA filter that "strips outside air of pollen, bacteria, viruses and pollution" that should, in theory, withstand a serious biohazard outbreak. Other safety features include an active sonar, radar and camera system which provides drivers with real-time feedback on their surroundings.
Since Tesla's autos are priced at a premium its no surprise to see that the Model X has a $140,000 price tag, but the company affirms that safety, luxury and performance see a harmonious union with the new electric SUV. Interested parties can reserve their Model X's now, and Tesla plans to roll out the first wave in the later half of 2016.
Netflix is about to make flying a much better experience, where Virgin America flights that are on the new Airbus A320 airplans will be using ViaSat-powered Wi-Fi to blast down Netflix onto passengers.
The content streaming giant has refused an offline option for Netflix so far, with Global Head of Business Development Bill Holmes saying that it's all about delivering service that "takes advantage of the expansion of Wi-Fi". The new system will reach one Airbus A320 per month through to June 2016, and it'll be free until March 2.
Apple doesn't want Tesla to have all of the electric car fun, but when will the iPhone maker get its electric car onto the market? According to The Wall Street Journal, it'll happen in 2019.
The WSJ is reporting that Apple is "accelerating" the project, codenamed Project Titan, where Apple is now reportedly calling it a "committed project" internally. Sources close to WSJ have said that Apple wants to have its first electric vehicle shipped in 2019, so we'll be waiting a fairly long time before we see an Apple logo on a car.
Apple has also got plans to triple its team working on Project Titan from 600, to some 1800. The company is also hoping to get some self-driving technology inside of the electric car, which should be able to keep up with whatever Tesla and Google have on the market by then.
With a claimed 500km (310 mile) range to just edge out Tesla Model S P90 D's 480km, the 439kW Porsche Mission E can soar from 0-60 mph in "under 3.5 seconds," driven by its dual-electric motors which provide power in an all wheel drive configuration.
Further featuring regenerative braking, Porsche claims this car can charge from flat to 80 percent capacity in only 15 minutes, reportedly made possible due to an 800 volt system. Although this is impressive just in itself, this claimed charging time is around twice as fast as what Tesla's Model S currently has on offer.
The body is made out of aluminum, carbon-fiber reinforced polymer and steel in order to keep the car light. Currently it's only in the 'concept car' stages, however we are told to expect a real-life model to feature in Frankfurt in a few days time.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has given Honda permission to begin testing its self-driving car on California roads - one of the front runners of US states willing to support self-driving car testing. Honda already has increased the use of advanced driver-assistance systems in newer Honda and Acura car models.
Google has released statistics that include more than 1.8 Million miles of self-driving car testing, while Volkswagen, Audi, Lexus, Nissan and Mercedes have similar approval from the state. Honda has testing facilities in Silicon Valley, in an effort to accelerate R&D with some of the best researchers in the country.
In addition to California, states such as Michigan, Nevada and Florida have been more willing to support autonomous testing at various levels.
Anytime Apple is reported to be involved in the development of a product, the rumor mill tends to go into overdrive. It looks like Apple's reported development of a car, which is expected to be semi-autonomous and electric, has created a large buzz.
"We believe the auto industry represents a significant opportunity for Apple, but we also expect Apple to be deliberate as always in its product development and testing," said Gene Munster, an analyst from Piper Jaffray, in a recent analyst note.
It was first predicted an Apple vehicle prototype around 2020, but despite Apple's recent hiring spree, trying to go from concept to real-world prototype in such a short time is rather unlikely. Instead, it could take at least a decade before Apple ends up with a drivable vehicle on the road:
Toyota has just announced a collaborative partnership with both MIT and Stanford, which will see the carmaker investing $50 million across five years into autonomous vehicle research centers at both universities.
The first goal is to make driving safer while reducing traffic casualties, and over time the carmaker wants to improve the quality of life through improved mobility and tobotics. Toyota has also secured former DARPA Program Manager Dr. Gill Pratt, who will oversee and accelerate activities at both Stanford and MIT.
Pratt said that Toyota is more interested in making human drivers use advanced technology to help with the hazards on the road, as well as the dangerous weather conditions, compared to companies like Google that want to see fully autonomous, human-less cars on the road.
If you've got $143,750 burning a hole in your pocket, why not get yourself (or me if you're feeling generous) the new Tesla Motors Model X electric SUV.
The fully tricked out model, including the Ludicrous mode, towing and cold weather packages will set you back $143,750. The limited edition first-run 'Signature Series' Model X will cost $132,000 - so the additional extras are only costing $11,750 more which isn't too bad at all. The Signature Series Model X will include every feature that Tesla offers, including Autopilot.
It looks like Google's autonomous vehicle is still learning every time it hits the open road, and a cyclist at a stop sign helped give it another learning opportunity. The cyclist was doing a track stand at the stop sign, and since the car arrived first, the autonomous vehicle had the right of way - but the vehicle just wasn't sure how to proceed with the cyclist present.
When the cyclist moved forward, the car inched forward and would stop so the cyclist would be able to go. The car noticed the cyclist's presence, but may have been overly cautious - which is something autonomous vehicles are designed for - so this will have to be considered just one more learning experience for Google developers. The cyclist's trackstand, since he wasn't actively moving forward or completely stopped, threw off the autonomous vehicle.
As an avid cyclist, hearing Oxtox's encounter is a rather perplexing one that Google will certainly try to sort out. There are an alarming number of incidents between vehicles and people on bikes, and the forum post noted: "The odd thing is that even tho (sic) it was a bit of a CF, I felt safer dealing with a self-driving car than a human-operated one."