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Autonomous Vehicles Blog - Driving the Future

According to a recent study, people with darker skin are more likely to be hit by autonomous vehicles than people with lighter skin. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology concluded that object detection systems of the type used in autonomous vehicles had uniformly poorer performance when detecting pedestrians with darker skin types. 

Tall as the highest grocery shelf, slender, slow-moving; a creature of few words but with large eyes—that’s “Marty,” the latest worker at hundreds of grocery stores across the country. Marty is a robot that can be found trolling grocery aisles, looking for spills, on alert of tripping hazards, and scanning shelves to check on product.

When President Trump signed an executive order on Monday to boost the role of artificial intelligence in the United States, the AV industry took yet another incremental—but not necessarily insignificant—step forward. While nowhere in the 10-page American AI Initiative are autonomous vehicles mentioned, nor even the word transportation included, those in the industry took notice. What does the executive order mean for the AV industry?

With traditional automakers and tech-companies continuing to develop AVs, venture capitalists are increasing their attention and investment activity in our industry. Likewise, traditional automakers and large tech companies have acquired AV-tech startups as competition for key personnel, technology, and first-mover advantage increases.

Before your Christmas leftovers were even close to being eaten up, Amazon had already released a press release touting record-breaking sales figures for the holiday season—and autonomous vehicles played a critical role in the retail giant smashing its own holiday record. The December 26 release doesn’t mention AVs or robotics in any way (except a brief mention about a record number of iRobot Roomba vacuums being sold to consumers), but rest assured, the company relied on its increasingly large complement of autonomous vehicles to reach its lofty numbers.

After a decade of testing and over 10 million miles driven on public roads, Waymo officially launched Waymo One, the country's first commercial autonomous ride-share service. Waymo One will now begin providing customers rides in AVs 24 hours a day. Similar to other ride-share services, consumers use an app to request a ride and enter in their drop-off location. The app provides a fixed price for the cost of transporting the rider from their pickup location to the requested drop off location.

Gizmodo just published a story confirming that Uber has been “given the green light” to resume its testing of self-driving cars in Pennsylvania, according to reports from The Information. It appears that the company’s legal department made an internal announcement on Tuesday discussing the service, relaying the news that the company has improved safety features for the service in recent months.

Most of the media attention paid to autonomous vehicles relates to the capabilities of passenger vehicles. But other companies are moving ahead with producing autonomous vehicles for use in commercial settings, such as the mining industry. 

Transit agencies are poised to reap many benefits by implementing autonomous vehicle technology, but numerous barriers to implementation exist. At least that’s what the Federal Transit Authority says in its 2018 Strategic Transit Automation Research Plan (the “STAR Plan”).

Is Amazon becoming a car company? Not quite, but it may become the next big player in autonomous driving. As reported in several news articles like Forbes and The Street, Amazon has been heavily investing in autonomous vehicle technology to both save money and make money.

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