Anthony Levandowski(left) & Travis Kalanick(right)
Ride service Uber Technologies Inc said on Thursday it acquired self-driving trucks startup Otto and formed a $300 million alliance with Volvo Car Group to develop self-driving cars.
Uber’s moves reflect its eagerness to advance self-driving technology. If its ambitions are realized, these vehicles could over time reduce its biggest cost, paying drivers.
Uber would also be positioned to expand into the trucking industry, which had revenue of about $726.4 billion in the United States in 2015, according to trade data.
Carpooling firms have formed alliances with large automakers, such as General Motors Co and ride-hailing service Lyft, to accelerate those efforts, which depend on software and hardware working together to give a vehicle the right reflexes in traffic.
“Partnership is crucial to our self-driving strategy because Uber has no experience making cars,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick wrote in a blogpost.
“To do it well is incredibly hard, as I realized on my first visit to a car manufacturing plant several years ago.”
Uber, which has a research center in Pittsburgh, will by the end of this month begin a pilot program in which trusted Uber customers will be able to use their phones to summon a self-driving car for use in a downtown Pittsburgh, according to a source with knowledge of Uber’s plans.
It will be the first time members of the public will be able to use self-driving vehicles. A driver trained to handle the autonomous cars will be behind the wheel to step in if needed.
The purchase of Otto, a start-up company less than a year old with fewer than 100 employees, will be for 1 percent of Uber’s valuation, if certain technical targets are met, said the source.
Recently, that valuation was about $68 billion, placing the value of the deal at about $680 million. Current Otto employees would get a fifth of profits Uber earns from a self-driving trucking business, if those targets are met, the source said.
Current Otto employees would get a fifth of profits Uber earns from a self-driving trucking business.
Anthony Levandowski, one of Otto’s co-founders, will lead Uber’s self-driving efforts in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh, Kalanick said on the company’s website.
That includes personal transportation such as ride-hailing services, as well as delivery services and trucking, Kalanick said.
Levandowski was one of four founders of Otto, each of whom worked at Alphabet Inc’s Google and its self-driving program.
VOLVO DEAL FOCUSES ON SUV
The Uber-Volvo partnership will allow Uber to pool resources with the Swedish-based carmaker, owned by China’s Geely, into initially developing the autonomous driving capabilities of Volvo’s flagship XC90 SUV model. The investment will be shared roughly equally by the two companies.
There was no timeline given for the alliance, but the source said the goal is to develop a fully self-driving car by 2021, and that Uber, which does not plan to make its own vehicle, will align with other automakers over time.
Uber will buy Volvos and then install its own driverless control system. Some of the Volvos will join a handful of Ford Motor Co Fusion sedans that will be used to start the pilot program that combines self-driving and ride-hailing in downtown Pittsburgh.
So far Otto has tested self-driving trucks for highway use only.
Developers hope for productivity gains with the new technology that will enable trucks to drive around the clock, leaving humans to rest, do paperwork and take controls only while going on and off highways.
Over the long-term, Uber and rivals such as Lyft could cut the cost of paying drivers if they can gradually incorporate self-driving cars into their fleets. But at least for now, said the source familiar with the Uber-Otto agreement, Uber will expand its driver network, which now stands at 1.5 million globally in more than 450 cities.
A spokesman for U.S. safety regulator National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it “continues to engage with all entities that are developing, testing and deploying automated technologies to ensure that they are advancing road safety.”
Federal guidelines will be issued soon on development and testing of “highly automated vehicles,” he said.
Today while I was browsing across the web for some car stuff, I accidentally stumbled upon this website and found it very interesting and new. The website Motoroso.com is an online platform where all the automotive enthusiasts can collaborate, plan, build and share their vehicle projects. Where the enthusiasts can find aftermarket accessories sellers and much more
Here’s what they have to say about themselves:
As a market network dedicated to the auto enthusiast community, Motoroso brings together consumers, OEM’s, aftermarket brands, service providers, retailers and publishers.
Motoroso is Pinterest + Houzz for Gearheads
What we see, is an $80+ Billion industry made up of some of the most passionate consumers in the world. And they’ve been underserved by technology for way too long.
That ends now.
Motoroso is a dedicated market network that utilizes a Pinterest-style visual search, and Houzz-style interactive markers to help enthusiasts document and share their build projects, discover products, and find service providers.
British racer and YouTuber Archie Hamilton went all the way to Croatia in order to put a Tesla Model S P90D and a LaFerrari against Rimac’s Concept_One on the 1/4 mile. Unsurprisingly for those familiar with the all-electric Concept_One, it easily won all the runs.
Rimac founder and CEO Mate Rimac commented on the comparison with the Model S and admitted that it’s not really a fair one:
“Being a family sedan with lots of space and in a completely different price category, this comparison isn’t really fair. But in terms of performance, the Tesla it is the closes thing to the Concept_One in the electric car world. It is an impressive car and performs very well at low speeds. On a full ¼ mile, the difference between the Tesla and the Concept_One is quite large.”
The Model S weighs ~500 kg more than the Concept_One and as Rimac pointed out, it’s not really in the same segment or price range. The Model S P90D costs about $130,000, while the Concept_One costs $980,000.
The Concept_One can accelerate from 0 to 61 mph (100 km/h) in 2,69 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 9,92 seconds.
Rimac explained how he thinks his Concept_One managed to beat the LaFerrari and the Model S:
Tons of power and torque. With four motors outputting 1.600 Nm at almost 0 speed and well over 1.000 hp, the Concept_One has enough torque and power to keep its tires busy even at high speeds.
Cooling. The Concept_One has seven independent cooling systems and several smaller sub-systems. We have worked really hard to maximize the performance for track use and not just for a couple of acceleration runs.
Gearbox. Each of the four motors is connected to an independent gearbox. While the front motors have single-ratio reduction gearboxes, each rear motor has its own two-speed dual-carbon-clutch gearbox. This helps us to have great acceleration while also having a very high top speed. Most importantly, it allows the Concept_One to accelerate very quickly even at high speeds.
The Concept_one has been in limited-production since 2014. It’s not clear how many they have delivered so far, but the company says they have delivered the one in the video to a customer in the US after filming.
OTTO is a Silicon Valley based company working on SELF DRIVING TRUCKS. Founded by Ex-Google employees Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron who worked on Google Car and Google Maps respectively. OTTO intends to sell aftermarket kits for the existing trucks rather than bringing all new trucks with self driving technology.Thats a good move to capitalize on the existing market. The company is rapidly expanding it’s employee base. The company’s staff more than doubled from 40 in May to 90 now and further looking to add more talent base. Here is a list of current openings at the company ⇓
Cruise Automation is an American Startup company which builds and sells aftermarket Self-Driving Kits. The RP-1 self-driving kit which can be fitted to any car is retailed at $ 10,000. The company is acquired by GM for $ 1 billion. The company is scaling up rapidly and is looking for new talent. Look below for Current Openings at the company.
In a conference call with analysts today, Elon Musk gave more details on the expected timeline for two major programs he announced last month: ‘Tesla Minibus‘ and ‘Tesla Semi‘. The CEO originally said that we should expect an unveiling of these products next year, but now he clarified and said that we should expect the events to…