Uber competitor Sidecar shuts down as ride-hailing war rages on

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idecar, one of the first startups in the now red-hot ride-sharing and car-hailing market, is shutting down.It’s a sad end to a company that was among the earliest to bring the concept of the sharing economy to cars. Sidecar originally attempted to provide a way for people to use their personal cars to provide rides via an app.SEE ALSO: Seattle becomes first U.S. city to let Uber, Lyft drivers unionizeSunil Paul, co-founder and CEO of Sidecar, announced in a blog post that the company would end is service on Dec. 31 at 5 p.m. ET.”Shutting down the Sidecar service is a disappointment for our team and our fans. The impact of our work, however, will be felt for generations to come. We changed transportation law, and created a new mode of transportation that has transformed cities and made life easier and better for millions of people.” he wrote.The ride-sharing and now ride-hailing industry has exploded in the past couple years as Uber and Lyft have engaged in an arms race of fundraising that has drawn more than $7 billion in venture capital between the two. Sidecar, by comparison, has raised about $30 million.Paul and Jahan Khanna founded Sidecar in 2011 in San Francisco, which proved to be its strongest market despite expanding into seven other markets. It boasted a variety of well-regarded investors including Union Square Ventures, Google Ventures and Sir Richard Branson.

Source: Uber competitor Sidecar shuts down as ride-hailing war rages on

NISSAN | NISSAN LICENSES AUTONOMOUS DRIVING TECHNOLOGY TO HITACHI CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY COMPANY

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YOKOHAMA, Japan (December 15, 2014) – Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today announced that it has licensed its Around View Monitor and Moving Object Detection (MOD) technology, jointly developed with Clarion Co., Ltd., for use by Hitachi Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. These two innovative systems are the building blocks of autonomous driving technology that will operate commercially-viable Nissan Autonomous Drive vehicles by 2020.The Around View Monitor (AVM) is a parking support system that offers the driver a bird’s eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings in real time using four exterior cameras. MOD is a driving assistance technology that analyzes the images from the AVM cameras to detect moving objects around the vehicle and warn the driver with visual and audio alerts. Since the market launch of AVM in 2007 and MOD in 2010, both firsts for any automaker, Nissan has steadily expanded its safety technology offerings, which have become a cornerstone of autonomous drive technology development.The licensing agreement enables Hitachi Construction Machinery to provide AVM and MOD technology to its massive haul trucks and hydraulic excavators working at large open-pit mines. When drivers start operating the vehicle, drop cargo, back up to load cargo, or when a hydraulic shovel is used in close proximity to the vehicle, the AVM-MOD technology detects any movement or workers in the area around it in real time, enabling the driver to work with greater situational awareness which enhances safety.Nissan will contribute to the growth of technology through the application of its unique technologies and know-how for its own use as well as in a variety of fields. Profit generated through the effective use of these intangible assets will be invested in new technology development, further contributing to Nissan’s technological competence.Autonomous Drive is being developed to help lower the element of human error during driving and contribute to a reduction in the number of accidents and injuries related to automobiles. The licensing of this technology is an example of Nissan’s intention to offer the AVM and MOD technology to other industries beyond the automotive sector. Through the wider application of its safety technologies Nissan aims to do its part in contributing to the development of society.

Source: NISSAN | NISSAN LICENSES AUTONOMOUS DRIVING TECHNOLOGY TO HITACHI CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY COMPANY

Do robots own your future? | News & Observer

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The human brain is thought to work at a rate of a quadrillion operations per second. In 20 to 30 years, we should be able to buy desktop machines with that kind of processing power. Combine that sort of processing power with new algorithms on the horizon, and the second intelligent species will arrive soon enough. The next big breakthrough we may see is more and more intelligent AI assistants, and then generalized computer vision.Q: One of your premises is that our automation obsession will result in millions of newly unemployed workers. Don’t you think this will create a backlash?A: Let’s take big-rig truck drivers in the United States as an example. There are about 1.5 million of them, and they cost the economy more than $100 billion per year, or about $1,000 per U.S. household. Self-driving trucks will soon arrive, and all of these truck drivers will lose their jobs. Society will be happy because the price of everything will fall.Q: Still, many find these projections unsettling. How do we convince people that technology isn’t something to fear?A: Technology is great, not something to fear. … Once robots are doing all the work, humanity should be able to go on perpetual vacation. However, the way the economy is structured right now, all of the new wealth from robotic labor goes to the billionaires, instead of to society as a whole. We need to fear the greed of billionaires – the top 0.1 percent. This is why the title of my next book is, “It is Time to Kill the Billionaire.”

Source: Do robots own your future? | News & Observer

Ford (NYSE:F) Partners Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) To Build Self Driving Cars

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Recently Ford has announced that it is joining the race to developing self-driving cars. Ford is officially enrolled in the California Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. Google’s self-driving cars unit is scheduled to become a stand-alone business under the Alphabet corporate umbrella next year. A person briefed on the Alphabet’s strategy, who asked not to be identified, said that the new Alphabet company will offer rides for hire, with a business model similar to that of Uber and Lyft.There are several links in place between Alphabet and Ford, whose former CEO Alan Mulally joined Google’s board last year. The head of the self-driving car project, John Krafcik, worked for 14 years at Ford. “This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars,” said Krafcik when he was hired to lead Alphabet’s self-driving car project. “This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today.”The partnership seems to make a lot of sense for both sides. Alphabet is the undisputed leader in advanced software for self-driving cars, including sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) subsystems for autonomous driving, computer vision, and navigation. At the same time, the company is not a car maker and might prefer to work with an established industry player with the required expertise and infrastructure in place. Earlier this year, Alphabet co-founder Sergey Brin said the company was looking for manufacturing partners that would use the company’s self-driving system.

Source: Ford (NYSE:F) Partners Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) To Build Self Driving Cars

Samsung Teams Up With BMW To Develop ‘Brains’ Of Self-Driving Cars

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Samsung recently announced that it’s creating a new team that’s going to focus on business opportunities in the automotive market, particularly related to self-driving technologies. As per a report out of Korea Samsung has now teamed up with German car maker BMW to work together to create the “brains” of self-driving cars that are destined for the roads in the future. It’s expected that more companies will forge such partnerships to accelerate the development of self-driving car technologies.Samsung and BMW along with Panasonic will jointly work to develop “intelligent assistants” for future cars. The assistant will be able to recognize the driver’s voice and respond to commands, much like the virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana, or the voice enabled features you already get in luxury cars like BMW or Mercedes.The three companies are also going to collaborate with speech recognition technology company Nuance Communications to further improve voice recognition. Results might take time but this collaboration may eventually result in far better systems that will prove to be very useful in the smart car of the future.Samsung and BMW have already been collaborating, the former’s battery division is providing batteries for BMW’s electric cars, so there already exists a relationship between the two companies. It’s good that the two have decided to collaborate further towards the common goal of bringing self-driving cars to the public.

Source: Samsung Teams Up With BMW To Develop ‘Brains’ Of Self-Driving Cars

BMW to show how gestures will control the cars of the future

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At CES 2015, BMW demoed Touch Command, a gesture control system that uses a Samsung tablet to control a vehicle’s features. The tech actually made it into the BMW 7 Series this year, and now the company will show its latest advancements with AirTouch. This new system is designed to not only improve the use of gestures inside the car, but to reduce the number of steps required to complete a task. In theory, fewer steps would cut down on the amount of time you’re dividing your attention between the road and switching songs.

Source: BMW to show how gestures will control the cars of the future

The 5 coolest electric cars in the world

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To that end, the Coupe produces 500 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque. That means it can do 0 to 60 mph in under 3.4 seconds, making it the fastest rear-wheel-drive production EV. Thankfully, that’s not the only quick bit about the Coupe. It can also receive a quick charge in 30 minutes and a full charge in just five hours.

Source: The 5 coolest electric cars in the world