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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."
It seems like only a matter of time before autonomous trucks will hit US roadways, but it looks like there's a very specific purpose for the first to roll out: self-driving construction crash trucks, aimed to inform drivers about roadwork.
Using GPS waypoints, the autonomous workzone trucks are able to follow a lead car, mimic the lead vehicle's path, driving and braking patterns. The trucks are outfitted with rear-end crash barriers, lights, and large signs that update drivers to upcoming construction and road hazards.
"Any time a driver can be removed from these vehicles in a very dangerous situation, and if the vehicle's struck, there's nobody inside of it to receive the damage or the injuries, that's measuring success," said Robert Roy, president of Royal Truck & Equipment Inc, in a statement published by the Associated Press.
Uber is now testing out bus-like "Smart Routes" throughout San Francisco, with the ridesharing giant offering discounts on rides if passengers don't mind being picked and dropped off along popular roads.
The new feature is for UberPool users, with Smart Routes showing up on Uber's app as green lines. UberPool users who want to use these new Smart Routes will have to walk to meet an UberPool driver that is driving along those specific routes, and will be offered $1 or more off of the cost of the journey.
Uber adds that these new Smart Routes are part of the company's "ongoing efforts to increase the efficiency of driver-partners' time spent on the road while helping riders save time and money". As for the drivers, they will be operating along these Smart Routes acting like a more personal, but smaller bus service. UberPool kicked off last year offering Uber customers the change of splitting costs by driving with strangers, but these discounts might it a very viable alternative to public transport.
Even though automakers are packing new technologies into vehicles, they might want to tone it down a bit, as many drivers avoid using these new features.
Twenty percent of new car owners still didn't use half of the various features available following three months of car ownership. Once that three-month window passes, however, drivers aren't likely to suddenly beginning using those features, according to the 2015 Drive Report.
Thirty-five percent of drivers don't use automatic parking systems, 43 percent don't use built-in concierge systems, and 38 percent don't use mobile routers. Generation Y drivers (age 21-38) don't use infotainment systems, and still rely on directly using a smartphone.
Korean technology company LG Electronics will reportedly begin offering auto displays for use in new Honda and Porsche vehicles, according to reports published by Reuterss.
The report indicates LG has entered mass production of new auto displays, which will be rolled out to Honda and Porsche starting in Q1 and Q2 of 2016. The company is currently working with General Motors, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, trying to pick up new partners interested in its in-vehicle displays.
LG is facing mounting pressure in its television and smartphone businesses, and hopes to increase revenue by providing new displays. Its auto business accounted for just 3.2 percent of the company's overall sales in the April-June quarter - but additional agreements with auto makers could help drive interest moving forward.
Automaker Audi will work with LG Chem and Samsung SDI to develop new electric batteries able to power its vehicles up to 300 miles on a single charge.
Audi will receive support from LG and Samsung, as they "invest in the cell technology in Europe", aimed for Audi SUV. Of course, the S6 isn't expected for release until 2018, so they have a bit of time to test different technologies.
"With our first battery-electric Audi-SUV, we are combining an emission-free drive system with driving pleasure," said Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi AG for Development board member, in a public statement. "We will optimally integrate the innovative cell modules developed with LG Chem and Samsung SDI into our vehicle architecture, thus achieving an attractive overall package of sportiness and range."
Right now it seems that nothing can stop Tesla Motors, with the electric car maker now testing out its latest Autopilot system with a beta test group of Model S owner-volunteers.
These Model S owners will test out the autonomous features, before Tesla begins rolling the feature out to its consumers, and the rest of the Model S customers. The new Autopilot v7 software is capable of better lane-keeping, following distance, braking and acceleration than the previous iteration of the software.
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk teased that the upcoming Autopilot software for the Model S would be capable of summoning your car from your smartphone or smartwatch, on private properly only. But, all beta tests of Autopilot v7 will have to oversee all operations, as well as registering their alertness (so the car knows you're not asleep at the wheel) before touching the turn signal indicator to change lanes. Musk said in a recent call with analysts: "We don't want to set the expectation that you can basically pay no attention to what the car is doing".