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Wired

Why Wasn’t Uber Charged in a Fatal Self-Driving Car Crash?


The safety driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber that struck and killed a woman in 2018 has been charged with a crime. Prosecutors in Maricopa County, Arizona, Tuesday said the driver, Rafaela Vasquez, has been indicted for criminal negligence. But Uber, her employer and the company that built the automated system involved in the fatal collision, won’t face charges.

The attorney for neighboring Yavapai County declined to prosecute Uber last year, writing in a letter that the office found “no basis for criminal liability.” (Yavapai took over the Uber part of the case because Maricopa County had worked with Uber on an anti-drunk-driving campaign.) Yavapai County attorney Sheila Polk declined to elaborate on her decision. A spokesperson for Uber declined to comment. Read More

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Engadget

Uber backup driver charged with negligent homicide in self-driving accident


The car’s software detected Herzberg more than five seconds before the crash but did not identify her as a pedestrian with a bike crossing the street away from a crosswalk. However the NTSB report went into depth saying that while the backup driver could have avoided the crash if they had been paying attention, it was “the last link in a long chain of actions and decisions made by an organization that unfortunately did not make safety the top priority.” That included Uber deactivating the Volvo SUV’s built-in automatic emergency braking system, which put all pressure on the backup driver to intervene in a situation where the self-driving rig failed. Read More

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VentureBeat

Yandex and Uber spin out self-driving venture with $150 million investment


Yandex and Uber are spinning out their self-driving joint venture into a standalone company, with the Russian tech giant increasing its stake by investing an additional $150 million.

The two former rivals merged their ride-hailing operations in Russia and parts of Eastern Europe back in 2017. Now that the Self Driving Group is a separate company, Yandex will have a 73% stake, Uber will have 19%, and the balance will be owned by Yandex managers and employees.

The move comes amid predictions that the development of fully autonomous vehicles will take much longer than widely anticipated. Yandex appears to be challenging such doubts by taking a much more aggressive approach to building its self-driving technology. Read More

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TechCrunch

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco – TechCrunch


Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. Read More

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Engadget

A new NHTSA tool will show you where self-driving cars are in testing


You can now see ongoing driverless testing programs across the US, thanks to a new tool from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The agency has launched the public-facing platform as part of its Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing Initiative, which aims to improve transparency in the self-driving industry. If you’ll recall, the NHTSA unveiled the initiative back in June, shortly after the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) published a study that says most Americans still don’t trust automated vehicle technologies. Read More

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TechCrunch

Thoughts on ‘self-driving money,’ day trading and product development from Wealthfront’s Andy Rachleff – TechCrunch


Andy Rachleff founded Wealthfront a decade ago to give investors a better and smarter way to manage their wealth, building on core academic research showing that a carefully balanced portfolio of low-fee ETFs outperformed more aggressive strategies. Since then, the company has taken in billions of dollars of invested capital under management and expanded into new banking services, including high-interest checking accounts.

Rachleff and I talked on Extra Crunch Live about where Wealthfront is heading as it speeds toward its second decade, how he sees the competition from other, more active trading platforms like Robinhood and his advice for startup founders looking to build enduring products and companies away from the daily status quo. Read More

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VentureBeat

Yandex begins testing self-driving cars in Michigan


Moscow-based tech giant Yandex today announced that it has expanded testing of its self-driving cars to Ann Arbor, Michigan, the company’s third public testing location beyond Moscow, Innopolis, Tel Aviv, and Las Vegas. A fleet of Yandex’s driverless vehicles recently hit Ann Arbor city streets, including the company’s fourth-generation autonomous Hyundai Sonatas created in partnership with Hyundai Mobis.

Yandex says it had planned to provide rides in its autonomous taxis on the streets of Detroit during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), which was scheduled to take place in June. The company had already done a significant amount of preparatory work by mid-spring, so when NAIAS was canceled in April, it began searching for a Michigan location for longer-term commercial testing. Read More

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Mashable

Engineer who took Google’s self-driving secrets to Uber sentenced to 18 months

Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski has been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to stealing trade secrets from Waymo, Google’s self-driving car division. He’s also agreed to pay over $756,000 to the company, plus a fine of $95,000 — which will be a feat considering Levandowski’s already been bankrupted by a $179 million judgment against him for poaching Google employees.

“The last three and a half years have forced me to come to terms with what I did,” Levandowski said in a statement. “I want to take this time to apologize to my colleagues at Google for betraying their trust, and to my entire family for the price they have paid and will continue to pay for my actions.” Read More

Categories
Engadget

Baidu completes its computer for self-driving cars


You’ll see the ACU in use quickly. It will power Apollo Valet Parking, a team-up with WM Motor that will automatically pick you up and otherwise streamline valet service without requiring drivers. It’s due to launch in the second half of 2020 and could be helpful during a pandemic, when you probably don’t want other people touching your car.

The firm isn’t the only one working on self-driving computers. NVIDIA is quickly landing deals with GM, Toyota and others that could make it a powerhouse, for instance. However, Baidu might be the first to put a platform into real-world (albeit limited) use. That, in turn, could spur competition and increase the chances you’ll experience driverless cars first-hand. Read More

Categories
TechCrunch

Self-driving startup Argo AI hits $7.5 billion valuation – TechCrunch


Autonomous vehicle technology startup Argo AI is valued at $7.5 billion, just a little more than three years after the company burst on the scene with a $1 billion investment from Ford.

The official valuation was confirmed Thursday nearly two months after VW Group finalized its $2.6 billion investment in Argo AI. Under that deal, Ford and VW have equal ownership stakes, which will be roughly 40% each over time. The remaining equity sits with Argo’s co-founders as well as employees. Argo’s board is comprised of two VW seats, two Ford seats and three Argo seats. Read More