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PHNO SCIENCE & INFOTECH NEWS THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports)

UBER STARTS MAPPING UK CITY STREETS IMAGES


SEPTEMBER 16 -Uber mapping carImage copyrightUBER
Uber is collecting street images for its own maps of the UK cities in which it operates, starting with London. It said it may "incidentally" collect personal information, such as photos of people and licence plates, but would not be sharing any of the data online. However, its terms go on to state that it may share its mapping data with numerous third parties including vendors, consultants, marketing partners and law enforcement agencies. The lift-sharing firm plans to extend its mapping activities to other British cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. It has been carrying out mapping in the US since 2015. READ MORE...

ALSO: Uber's driverless car service gets on the road


SEPTEMBER 15 -PITTSBURGH • Uber has launched a ground-breaking driverless car service, jumping ahead of Detroit car giants and Silicon Valley rivals with technology that could revolutionise transportation. In an ambitious experiment, a fleet of cars laden with lasers, cameras and other sensors - but with no one's hands on the wheel - were to be deployed by the Web-based ride service on the challenging roads of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, steering themselves to pick up regular Uber passengers. Four of the Ford Fusion hybrids, with their ungainly rooftop load of technology, were to be deployed to a select group of customers yesterday. The firm has at least a dozen more cars that are ready to go on the road. And Uber is well advanced in developing a self-drive car with Sweden's Volvo. The cars and their backing technology were trained on the city's complicated grid for less than two years, but demonstration rides showed that they were able to handle most situations as ably as many drivers. READ MORE...

Astonishing Self-driving Uber vehicles have hit the streets of Pittsburg


Uber vs Google as both target driverless cars Self-driving Uber vehicles have hit the streets today as the industry predicts the technology could be as little as five years away from replacing normal cars . Residents in the US city of Pittsburgh began using the new technology under Uber's self-driving pilot program. Automotive industry executives remain sharply divided over a timeline for a full roll-out of the technology, with some expecting fully autonomous cars within five years and others predicting they are still decades away. The Pittsburgh pilot is the first time self-driving cars have been so freely available to the public. Four self-driving vehicles will be made available to passengers, to start, but two people will sit in the front to take-over driving when the car cannot steer itself. READ MORE, WATCH VIDEO...

What is the Future of Self Driving Cars?


UBER DRIVERLESS CAR: Getty ALONE: Passengers won't even have the pleasure of a robotic companion if they WATCH VIDEO.... ALSO, Obama clears the way to the future for self-driving cars - Most of us view driverless cars as some sci-fi thing from the future. Actually, they’re here, and the derby to bring them to market is revolutionizing the auto industry. So this week’s release of guidelines by federal auto safety regulators for “autonomous vehicles” has been welcome. Self-driving Google cars are all over Silicon Valley. Driverless Ubers cruise the streets of Pittsburgh. Ford has plans to put AVs on the road within five years, and advocates are beside themselves with the implications for drunken driving and the elderly. Car designers are marketing swiveling seats and steering wheels that retract when a vehicle is on autopilot. Meanwhile, in May, a tech consultant in Florida – his car entertainment system reportedly playing a “Harry Potter” movie – was killed when his Tesla, in autonomous mode, plowed into a big rig. In other words, the technology is beginning to outpace the culture. Yet the rules around autonomous vehicles so far have been a confusing patchwork. California, for example, passed some of the first – and most cautious – AV laws in 2012. Innovations have put draft regulations here more than a year behind. The intercession of the U.S. Department of Transportation “took a little longer than we would have hoped, but this is a big milestone,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a former state senator and author of California’s law, told a Sacramento Bee editorial board member on Tuesday. He’s right: The federal standards steer deftly between commerce and consumer safety, balancing commercial interests such as Tesla, Apple and Google with drivers’ and the public’s concerns. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Uber starts mapping UK city streets

MANILA, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016
(BBC -UK) 16 September 2016 From the section Technology


Uber mapping carImage copyrightUBER

Uber is collecting street images for its own maps of the UK cities in which it operates, starting with London.
Its mapping cars are being sent out on to the capital's roads from today.

The firm said while existing maps were "a good starting point" it hoped to be able to identify the best pick-up and drop-off points from its own images.

It said it may "incidentally" collect personal information, such as photos of people and licence plates, but would not be sharing any of the data online.

However, its terms go on to state that it may share its mapping data with numerous third parties including vendors, consultants, marketing partners and law enforcement agencies.

The lift-sharing firm plans to extend its mapping activities to other British cities including Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. It has been carrying out mapping in the US since 2015.

READ MORE...

"Existing maps are a good starting point, but some information isn't that relevant to Uber, like ocean topography. There are other things we need to know a lot more about, like traffic patterns and precise pick-up and drop-off locations," it said in a blog post.

"Our efforts are similar to what other companies including Apple and TomTom are already doing around the world."

Uber added that it was "doubling down" its investment in maps.

Former head of Google Maps Brian McClendon is now a vice president at Uber, and the firm recently hired former Apple Maps and Tesla maps engineer Bill Chen, reports The Information (subscription).

There are currently 23 mapping-related jobs advertised on the firm's website.

"Uber is in the race to get driverless cars on the road first," said technology writer and broadcaster Kate Bevan.

"Thus far, they've relied on Google's maps, but they're now in competition with Google to own driverless cars, so it makes sense for them to disentangle from Google.

"Also, with their own maps, they'll own all of the data on them: Uber, like Google, is as much a data company as a service provider."


STRAITSTIMES.COM

Uber's driverless car service gets on the road PUBLISHEDSEP 15, 2016, 5:00 AM SGT FACEBOOK16TWITTEREMAIL

PITTSBURGH • Uber has launched a ground-breaking driverless car service, jumping ahead of Detroit car giants and Silicon Valley rivals with technology that could revolutionise transportation.

In an ambitious experiment, a fleet of cars laden with lasers, cameras and other sensors - but with no one's hands on the wheel - were to be deployed by the Web-based ride service on the challenging roads of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, steering themselves to pick up regular Uber passengers.

Four of the Ford Fusion hybrids, with their ungainly rooftop load of technology, were to be deployed to a select group of customers yesterday. The firm has at least a dozen more cars that are ready to go on the road.

And Uber is well advanced in developing a self-drive car with Sweden's Volvo.

The cars and their backing technology were trained on the city's complicated grid for less than two years, but demonstration rides showed that they were able to handle most situations as ably as many drivers.

READ MORE...

Still, just to be sure, the Pittsburgh Uber regulars who summon a driverless car will have two company technicians accompanying them - to make sure everything goes right.

One will sit behind the wheel, with hands at the ready to take over in sticky spots, while the other will monitor the car's behaviour.

Uber did not give a timeline, but it aims to eventually deploy just one technician - still behind the wheel - to intervene and satisfy existing state policies that require a driver in a car. The goal, Uber executives said, is to make zero interventions, and have no technician along for the ride.

However, Uber was beaten to the punch at launching the first driverless call service by the Singapore start-up nuTonomy, which put six cars on the road in the Republic last month in a trial service. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'Uber's driverless car service gets on the road'. Print Edition | Subscribe


MIRROR.UK

Astonishing Self-driving Uber vehicles have hit the streets of Pittsburg


https://youtu.be/sljrbjOhD6U
Behind the wheel of Uber’s first self-driving car The Verge The Verge

Self-driving Uber vehicles have hit the streets today as the industry predicts the technology could be as little as five years away from replacing normal cars .

Residents in the US city of Pittsburgh began using the new technology under Uber's self-driving pilot program.

Automotive industry executives remain sharply divided over a timeline for a full roll-out of the technology, with some expecting fully autonomous cars within five years and others predicting they are still decades away.

The Pittsburgh pilot is the first time self-driving cars have been so freely available to the public.

Four self-driving vehicles will be made available to passengers, to start, but two people will sit in the front to take-over driving when the car cannot steer itself.

READ MORE...


Uber vs Google as both target driverless cars

The fleet consists of Ford Fusion cars outfitted with 3D cameras, global positioning systems (GPS) and a technology called lidar that uses lasers to assess the shape and distance of objects, mounted somewhat crudely to the vehicle's roof.

However, the company is also outfitting Volvo SUVs that will be added to the fleet.

Uber provided test ride-alongs to the media yesterday.

During a ride of about one hour, the Uber cars were observed safely - and for the most part smoothly - stop at red lights and accelerate at green lights, travel over a bridge, move around a mail truck and slow for a driver opening a car door on a busy street.

And it was all done without a person touching the controls.

APA journalist gets in a self-driving Uber during a media preview at Uber's Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh
But the Uber driver and the engineer in the front two seats did intervene every few miles.

The Uber driver in the front seat took control, according to company protocol, to allow pedestrians to cross the street, maneuver through a construction zone and make a left turn across traffic at an intersection.

An Uber engineer sat in the passenger seat, occasionally adjusting the speed of the car, which mostly drove slowly.

Among the residents, there are mixed responses.

ReutersExtra fittings to the roof are not subtle but help position the car with laser technology
On the ride-along, some stared at the autonomous car with mouth-gaping awe; another gave the car the middle finger.

Others, like Robert Armitage, 55 and a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, are excited for his city - but skeptical of Uber's ambitions.

"I am absolutely skeptical as to whether they can pull it off in the winter, he said.

"Pittsburgh is awfully far north for this kind of experiment."

The launch of Uber's self-driving pilot program marks the public unveiling of the company's secretive work in autonomous vehicles.

ReutersA fleet of Uber's Ford Fusion self-driving cars at a demonstration of the automotive technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
More than two years ago Uber - like most in the car business - identified autonomous driving technology as the springboard for the next stage of growth.

The aggressive San Francisco-based startup has already shaken up the world's taxi services, earning a valuation of $68 billion.

It plans ultimately to replace many of its 1.5 million drivers with autonomous vehicles.

Since opening its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh last year, San Francisco-based Uber has moved quickly, hiring away some 40 faculty and researchers from Carnegie Mellon University - a move that ruffled feathers locally - and forming partnerships with automakers including Volvo.

APThe technology includes 3D cameras, GPS and lidar lasers to assess the shape and distance of objects
But the company is competing in a crowded field.

From Alphabet Inc and Baidu Inc to Tesla Motors Inc and General Motors Co, technology companies and automakers are hustling to build autonomous vehicles and develop new business plans for what is expected to be a long-term makeover of personal transportation.

By integrating self-driving cars with its ride-services app, Uber may be the first introduction to autonomous cars that many people will have.

"If Uber scores a home run with this it's going to be wonderful for the planet," said Andrew Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon.

"The reason is we will see a much safer world and much more efficient world where we have to use less energy to move people around."

APUber experienced extraordinary growth even before plans for the technology
Still, Moore said at least another decade of research and development is needed before there would be a significant number of truly autonomous cars on the road.

Industry executives remain sharply divided on the timeline, with some expecting fully autonomous cars within five years and others predicting they are still decades away.

"I don't think that Uber by any means has it in the bag," Moore said.

While autonomous driving on highways is relatively easy - Carnegie Mellon researchers built a minivan that in 1995 drove itself across the country and remained in autonomous mode about 98 percent of the time - city streets, with their traffic, pedestrians, potholes and construction, are a different matter.

"Since the mid-90s pretty much this entire field has been focused on doing that last step," said Aaron Steinfeld, associate research professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon.

Pittsburgh in particular poses challenges.

The city is full of steep and narrow streets, potholes, tunnels and more than 440 bridges.

It has snow and ice in the winter, blossoming trees that can hide street signs and traffic signals in the spring, blinding sun in the summer and a slippery ground cover of fallen leaves in the autumn.

"We really feel that Pittsburgh is the double black diamond of driving," said Raffi Krikorian, director of Uber's Advanced Technologies Center.

Pittsburgh also offers Uber a welcoming mayor and city leadership, who have rolled out the red carpet for Uber and a state law that allows for autonomous cars, as long as someone is behind the wheel to take over if needed.


YOU TUBE (THE VERGE)

What is the Future of Self Driving Cars? #1 (ft. AlternateHistoryHub)
Published on Sep 9, 2016


https://youtu.be/ETsYpdz3SDE
We all rely on cars and for the past century cars have been a cornerstone of our highly mobile society, but what happens when we introduce Self Driving Cars?


UBER DRIVERLESS CAR: Getty ALONE: Passengers won't even have the pleasure of a robotic companion if they

Obama clears the way to the future for self-driving cars
BY THE EDITORIAL BOARD


Image: Daniel Mears via AP Images

Most of us view driverless cars as some sci-fi thing from the future. Actually, they’re here, and the derby to bring them to market is revolutionizing the auto industry.

So this week’s release of guidelines by federal auto safety regulators for “autonomous vehicles” has been welcome. Self-driving Google cars are all over Silicon Valley. Driverless Ubers cruise the streets of Pittsburgh. Ford has plans to put AVs on the road within five years, and advocates are beside themselves with the implications for drunken driving and the elderly.

Car designers are marketing swiveling seats and steering wheels that retract when a vehicle is on autopilot. Meanwhile, in May, a tech consultant in Florida – his car entertainment system reportedly playing a “Harry Potter” movie – was killed when his Tesla, in autonomous mode, plowed into a big rig.

In other words, the technology is beginning to outpace the culture. Yet the rules around autonomous vehicles so far have been a confusing patchwork. California, for example, passed some of the first – and most cautious – AV laws in 2012. Innovations have put draft regulations here more than a year behind.

The intercession of the U.S. Department of Transportation “took a little longer than we would have hoped, but this is a big milestone,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a former state senator and author of California’s law, told a Sacramento Bee editorial board member on Tuesday. He’s right: The federal standards steer deftly between commerce and consumer safety, balancing commercial interests such as Tesla, Apple and Google with drivers’ and the public’s concerns.

READ MORE...

They spell out a comprehensive safety and transparency checklist for manufacturers who have so far largely operated in secret. And they make it clear that unsafe vehicles will be swiftly recalled.

They also clarify federal and state responsibilities for regulation, giving car makers the consistent playing field for which they’ve been waiting. Some big differences do remain between the dozen or so states that have passed laws.

California, for instance, requires licensed drivers to remain at the wheel as backup, while Florida doesn’t. Regulators should err on the side of safety until innovation makes those disparities moot.

Rolled out with an upbeat op-ed by President Barack Obama in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the policy also reminded that government and red tape don’t have to go together, and complex national debates needn’t end unproductively.

These new rules aren’t just about cars; they’re about the future, which, for the first time in a while, seemed this week to be like an open road.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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