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Volvo and Google Come Together to Create an Android-Based Infotainment OS for Cars

Volvo and Google Come Together to Create an Android-Based Infotainment OS for Cars

No new Volvos in sight at the L.A. Auto Show as connectivity takes center stage

The big news from Volvo’s booth at this year’s L.A. Auto Show isn’t about any new models, because there aren’t any. In fact, the automaker didn’t bring a single car. Instead, Volvo’s emphasis was placed on a new Android-based operating system that is currently being co-developed with Google, and it could eventually be seen spreading throughout the Geely-owned family of marques.

Technology is paramount for Swedish automaker Volvo, this much we’ve known for years. But Volvo took it one step further by using the L.A. Auto Show as a place to talk about its future technologies, not about a futuristic concept car or a world premiere of sorts. We don’t really know too much about the new infotainment system that’s in the works but judging by the alliance involved; it should be impressive once ready.

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Uber Moves to Resume Autonomous Testing on Public Roads

Uber Moves to Resume Autonomous Testing on Public Roads

But will the public move on from the deadly accident in March?

Uber wants to resume testing of its autonomous vehicle systems eight months after a Volvo SUV, part of the Uber test program struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona. Now, Uber wants to kick off testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and hopes to regain public trust.

Back in March, a Volvo XC90 SUV equipped with Uber’s self-driving systems hit a pedestrian who was crossing a street at night in Tempe, Arizona. Although the person was hit away from a crosswalk, Arizona officials quickly suspended Uber’s permits that allowed it to test the new technology on public roads in the aftermath of the incident.

Now, Uber has released a detailed safety report to showcase the lengths it will go to to ensure that future testing of the autonomous technology will be carried out safely. The company stated that it carefully analyzed what went wrong and that it has improved the onboard systems and now wants to resume testing in Pennsylvania.

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2018 Volvo 360c

2018 Volvo 360c

Worried about the stress of regional flights? Take the Volvo 360c instead

Volvo has pulled the sheets off of the 360C, a fully autonomous electric concept car that showcases a new way to go about domestic travel without having to pay the exorbitant amounts attached to airline tickets. The 360c concept is essentially a bedroom on four wheels that Volvo views as a possible alternative to regional flights. It’s not expected to go into production anytime soon, but it does open the door to a new and innovative way of using autonomous driving technology.

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Uber's Fatal Crash Caused Because Its Software Chose to Ignore the Cyclist in the Road

Uber’s Fatal Crash Caused Because Its Software Chose to Ignore the Cyclist in the Road

Is this evidence that AI will kill off the human race if given the opportunity?

At this point, you already know about Uber’s fatal crash, and you know that neither the vehicle (artificial intelligence) or the person behind the wheel applied the brakes. Well, a report coming out of The Information cites sources close to the matter, saying that the software identified the cyclist but chose to ignore it. Let me repeat that. The car’s sensors realized there was a pedestrian in the road, but made a decision not to react right away.

This sounds like a clear-cut case AI taking the chance kill (let’s not forget about that robot that said it wanted to kill the human race) but the truth is that Uber’s software was “tuned” to ignore false positives. So, what is a false positive? Think about a plastic bag in the road or somebody’s old beer can rolling around in the street. It happens, and we all ignore it too. Uber claims that it’s simply a case of tuning gone wrong, or in other words, Uber’s software was set to react less to certain objects in the road. So much for erring on the side of caution.

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Uber Bites Into Volvo Big Time; Orders 24,000 Models

Uber Bites Into Volvo Big Time; Orders 24,000 Models

The race to develop ride-sharing, self-driving vehicles just heated up

Volvo and Uber aren’t messing around with their partnership. The two companies initially signed a strategic agreement in 2016 that included Volvo supplying Uber with a fleet of XC90 SUVs. Now, Uber’s taking it to a whole new level by ordering 24,000 units from the Swedish automaker between 2019 and 2021. No mention was made on which Volvo models Uber is getting, but all units will come with autonomous driving technology.

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Self-Driving Semi-Truck Takes 120 Miles Trip, Delivers Beer

Self-Driving Semi-Truck Takes 120 Miles Trip, Delivers Beer

The Bandit and Snowman would be jealous

Surely you’ve seen the iconic 1977 film, Smokey and the Bandit wherein The Bandit (Burt Reynolds) and The Snow Man (Jerry Reed) dodge the hard-nosed Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) over hundreds of miles as the boys drive to Texarkana from Atlanta to bring back a load of beer in Snow Man’s 18-wheeler. If not, stop what you’re doing and watch it.

Anyway, the boys would be jealous if they saw this self-driving semi take a load of Budweiser beer from Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs – all without someone behind the wheel.

The 120-mile journey took place this week thanks to the partnership between Otto and Anheuser-Busch. Otto is a self-driving truck startup founded by ex Google employees and now owned by Uber. Anheuser-Busch, of course, is the long-established brewer of Budweiser beer.

"The initial appeal for us was to see how we could meet the needs of a company like Anheuser-Busch," Otto co-founder Lior Ron told USA Today. "But now after this successful test, we’re eager to see how it will handle other roads and other weather."

James Sembrot, senior director of logistics and safety for Anheuser-Busch, says the company wanted to "see if we could help pioneer technology that will make the jobs of those shipping product easier and safer." Sembrot continued, saying, "We liked the prospect of those folks traveling safer in trucks that help improve environmental impact. There’s no question in our mind that transportation companies will want to make these improvements."

Safety is always a priority and rested drivers are generally better, safer drivers. Secondly, the environmental impact would be the decrease in fuel consumption thanks to the self-driving truck’s smooth operation.

The Otto system isn’t fully autonomous. It does require a driver for city streets and urban areas. On the highway, however, the system can be activated, allowing the truck to pilot itself while the driver can relax or sleep.

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Volvo Looking To Offer Autonomous Driving Technology As "Premium" Option By 2021

Volvo Looking To Offer Autonomous Driving Technology As "Premium" Option By 2021

Plans call for the option to cost $10,000

Volvo has been one of the most aggressive automakers pushing for the development of autonomous driving technology. And if the Swedish automaker’s timetable unfolds according to plan, it could begin offering a self-driving feature on its vehicles as a “premium” option by 2021.

Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Automotive News that the company is shooting for this goal to get ahead of competitors that are focusing their attention in other aspects of the rapidly growing technology. The company isn’t just shooting for self-driving technology that works more like a driver assistance system, something that Tesla describes its Autopilot system of being. Instead, Volvo wants to go the full way by offering a technology that can literally drive on its own without the need for the driver to be on alert when the car goes semi-autonomous.

Samuelson himself admits that if Volvo wants to attach the “premium” label on this option, it needs to be on full autopilot, allowing the driver to “sit back and watch a movie or whatever.”

If the technology does become available, Volvo expects the autopilot premium option to cost an extra $10,000 to the vehicle’s cost. Owners are not emboldened to avail of the feature, but for those who would want one, a range-topping Volvo S90 T6 AWD Momentum that costs $52,950 today would be priced at $62,950. That said, there’s no telling how much Volvo’s models would cost five years from now and more importantly, whether that $10,000 price tag for the self-driving option is going to remain at that number when it does become available.

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Volvo Partners with Autoliv to Develop Autonomous Driving Software

Volvo Partners with Autoliv to Develop Autonomous Driving Software

Swedish safety goes high-tech

Autoliv, a global automotive safety systems provider based out of Sweden, is partnering with Volvo in a joint venture to make autonomous driving software. The two companies hope to make driving safer through the implementation of new self-driving features, eventually pushing towards a future where full autonomy is the norm.

Currently, the new company is looking to set up shop in Gothenburg, Sweden, employing 200 workers pulled from both Autoliv and Volvo. The unnamed joint venture plans on eventually expanding to 600 employees, with operations commencing sometime early next year.

By joining forces, Autoliv and Volvo hope to create advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AD) systems, both of which will be incorporated into various Volvo products. Autoliv also expects to sell the ADAS and AD products to other automakers, with revenues shared between the two companies.

“This new company is a recognition of the fact that autonomous driving is the next step to transform road safety,” said Jan Carlson, chairman, president and chief executive at Autoliv.

For now, the plan is to get the ADAS products up and running by 2019, while the AD systems will see a release in 2021.

“By combining our know how and resources we will create a world leader in AD software development,” said Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive at Volvo. “This means we can introduce this exciting technology to our customers faster.”

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Volvo And Uber Strike Partnership To Develop Autonomous Vehicles

Volvo And Uber Strike Partnership To Develop Autonomous Vehicles

Deal benefits both companies both in the short and long term

Volvo Car Group and ride-sharing service Uber have signed up on a $300 million partnership to develop autonomous driving vehicles. It’s the latest partnership between a traditional automaker and a tech firm to accelerate the development of self-driving technology and at the rate these partnerships are being formed, it might be a good idea to start creating a chart to see who has partnered with who.

The Volvo-Uber deal allows both companies to pool their resources together and capitalize on the strengths of each other. For its part, Volvo will send over XC90 SUVs to Uber, which in turn will install its autonomous driving system that the company itself is developing for use in its ride-sharing service. Volvo will then use the vehicles with Uber’s self-driving tech for its own strategic purpose. The partnership covers hardware and software developments aimed at addressing important issues surrounding autonomous driving, particularly the safety and security of a system that is poised to redefine the entire auto industry moving forward. Both Volvo and Uber are also seen as 50/50 partners in this endeavor and whatever technology is developed for the purpose of this collaboration will be shared to the other party.

That said, the collaboration doesn’t both companies to one another, an important point considering how competitive the race to develop autonomous driving technology has become. For what it’s worth, Toyota has already made an investment in Uber. Likewise, Volvo and Uber are also part of a bigger lobbying group with Ford, Google, and Lyft to lobby for autonomous driving cars with lawmakers and regulators in the U.S.

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Ford, Volvo, Google Launch Group To Champion Autonomous Cars

Ford, Volvo, Google Launch Group To Champion Autonomous Cars

Five-company coalition also includes ride sharing rivals Uber and Lyft

In what could very well be a landmark moment for autonomous driving technology, Ford and Volvo have teamed up with Google, Uber, and Lyft to form a coalition that will push for federal action to help expedite the development of autonomous cars. The group calls itself the “Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets” and it’s main objective is to work hand-in-hand with lawmakers, regulators, and the general public in an effort to raise awareness of the “safety and societal benefits” of autonomous vehicles.

The formation of this group is about as serious as it gets in championing autonomous driving technology. All five companies not only share a common interest in the technology, but they’re also bent on ensuring that the tech gets the proper exposure and awareness from as many sectors as possible. It’s even tabbed former NHTSA chief David Strickland to act as the group’s counsel and spokesman.

Strickland himself discussed the formation of the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Cars in a conversation with Reuters, where in he emphasized the main objectives of the group as it pertains to the creation of specific rules on how autonomous driving cars can be integrated into public roads. The former NHTSA chief also insisted that the group isn’t an organized lobbying formation, but merely a “full policy and messaging campaign movement.”

The formation of the group comes at an intriguing time, especially when you take account the NHTSA’s own plans to issue self-driving guidelines by July 2016. The agency hopes to release these guidance to states, policymakers, automakers, and companies that are involved in developing autonomous driving technology.

It remains to be seen how effective the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets will be in championing this cause. But the mere formation of the group and those involved in it paints a clear picture that all parties are all-in on the development of autonomous driving technology.

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Volvo Launches China's Most Advanced Autonomous Driving Experiment

Volvo Launches China’s Most Advanced Autonomous Driving Experiment

Volvo looks to push the integration of autonomous cars with its latest experiment

It seems like it has been a while since we’ve gotten any major news about autonomous vehicles, but all that is about to change. Volvo is planning to launch a new experiment in which people will test autonomous cars on public roads in everyday driving conditions. The interesting thing is that Volvo is looking to start this experiment in China.

Apparently, the experiment will involve up to 100 cars that will be supplied by Volvo, assuming negotiations go well with select cities in China. If everything works out, local drivers in select cities will be able to ride around in the autonomous cars while data is collected. For now, it is just a plan, but in the coming months, Volvo is hoping to negotiate to get the necessary permission, regulations, and infrastructure for the experiments to take place. China has already made some pretty impressive strides in autonomous technology, but Volvo’s President and Chief Executive of Volvo, Hakan Samuelsson, wants to encourage China to do more to speed up the implementation of regulations that will oversee autonomous cars.

In fact, Samuelsson believes governments should step up and provide help to the auto industry in speeding up the process. In a recent press release, he said, “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved. There are multiple benefits to AD cars, and that is why governments need to put in place the legislation to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”

It’s really no surprise to see Volvo stepping up and pushing the issue now. As you can probably recall, autonomous cars are a huge part of the brand’s commitment to nobody being seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020. For now, autonomous cars are still a long way off, but if it keeps getting pushed as Volvo is doing now, eventually the laws and regulations will be put into place. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen before the technology is ready.

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