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The Future is coming and UBER has a big stake in it.

George Wallace

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A very interesting article that may show that there was a well drawn out game plan for the creation and expansion of Uber around the world; a serious method to the madness:

Reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions of the Copyright Act:    (LINK in Title)


Inside Otto, Uber’s New Self-Driving Truck Division
Katy Steinmetz / San Francisco @katysteinmetz  Aug. 18, 2016

In a deal worth an estimated $680 million, Otto is now part of the world's largest ride-sharing company

When others looked at Uber’s aggressive expansion around the world and wondered if the super-unicorn wasn’t going too fast or taking too little care, one imagines the founders of Otto looked on with much approval.

Before January, this startup specializing in outfitting commercial trucks with self-driving technology did not exist. Its expert employees were toiling away on autonomous vehicle projects at places like Google, Apple and Tesla. They left to start this venture, says cofounder and former Google Maps head Lior Ron, because they wanted to bring something to market “sooner rather than later.” And now, in a deal worth an estimated $680 million, the San Francisco-based Otto has become an independent division within Uber, another company “with that level of intensity and urgency and focus to start putting cars on a road, and not as an R&D exercise,” as Ron puts it, referring to research and development.

There were other draws, too. Uber has formed its own expert team of robotics experts, many from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, to help launch self-driving cars that will ferry its users from A to B. With this deal, Uber may have acqui-hired Otto’s seasoned staff, but that staff is also clearly excited about having access to those minds in Pittsburgh. There’s also Uber’s wealth of data, which Ron describes as nothing short of historic. (“Just imagine tapping into the collective Uber brain of all the cars going on every road in every state in every kind of weather in every time of day,” he says.) And there is Uber’s know-how when it comes to building marketplaces, which is a key part of Otto’s vision.

There are tens of millions of commercial trucks in America, and Otto wants to do for them what Uber does for users of its namesake app. Say someone wants to ship a couple tons of strawberries. Rather than contacting a broker, who then contacts a bunch of freelancing truckers–and charges a cut for hooking them up with a job and managing the details–people with trucks and people who need things shipped in trucks could connect through an app. And rather than waiting and wondering, the strawberry shipper could check in on the truck’s progress at any point, much like Uber users watch their cars inch closer in real-time thanks to GPS.

“We’re presenting a whole new business unit for Uber in terms of the commercial transportation industry,” says Otto product manager Eric Berdinis, during a test drive on California’s Interstate 280 in one of the firm’s white Volvo big rigs. “And we have all Uber’s resources at our disposal to help bring that to the road faster.”

The Otto team believes they can speed to market in the commercial trucking world in part because there are fewer problems to solve compared to passenger vehicles. For now, their aim is to outfit trucks to drive themselves solely “from exit to exit” on highways. And that means no city driving — no pedestrians, no traffic lights, no bicycles, no proverbial kid chasing his hoverboard into the street. And the company believes there is a much greater incentive for driverless tractor trailers to be widely adopted as fast as possible.

“With a consumer vehicle, you’re paying out of pocket for some driver comfort,” says Berdinis, who used to work on wearable technology at Motorola, as the truck steers itself at the set limit of 55 mph. But outfitted with the right automation tech, truck drivers stand to lower their likelihood of crashes and thus save on insurance; to increase fuel efficiency by up to a third and save loads on gas; and to get way more use out of a very expensive asset that often sits idle because truck drivers have safety limits on how long their driving stretches can be.

If, Berdinis says, the driver could put the truck in “cruising” mode, as they call it, and technically go off duty, getting some shut eye in the berth behind the driver’s seat, a truck could drive itself for hours—with the driver still collecting the usual rate per mile. But for now, drivers are still needed — not only to oversee the driving, but for all the things that happen either side of onramps and off-ramps, like the city driving and logistics, the docking and parking and weighing and so forth. “They’re still in the cabin,” Ron says.

That’s the pitch, and Otto employees say that truck drivers are generally very receptive to it. While Uber is openly working to make Uber drivers obsolete—the first self-driving Ubers are set to go live in Pittsburgh in the coming months—Ron says that for “the foreseeable future” Otto intends to only be a “co-pilot” that helps drivers make a better living, while the company gets access to data from vehicles outfitted with its hardware. That will include in-house lasers the team is developing that provide 500-point 3D pictures of the environment, dozens of times per second, as well as more run-of-the-mill ultrasonic, radar and camera sensors. Otto plans to get its equipment on partners’ trucks for testing in the next 12 to 18 months.

Will Uber take a cut from the commercial truck marketplace app, assuming it takes off? Will Otto sell its hardware for a profit or lease hardware by the mile so it’s affordable for a larger range of data-spewing vehicles? For now, the answers to those business model questions are “TBD.” And the technology is still learning to cope with all the factors highway driving still brings into play, especially when trucking along in an 18-wheeler.

On our test drive, the human firmly planted in the truck’s driver’s seat took the wheel once when a broom popped up on the highway, and again when there was construction and he had to merge into thick traffic in the adjacent lane. To disengage, he hit a big red button on the dashboard. Meanwhile, a copilot sitting in the front passenger seat took notes so the engineering team could look at any elements that their algorithms weren’t already accounting for. In many ways, these drivers are out there, three shifts a day, looking for trouble.

“We believe the best way to proceed is very real, versus being in the ivory tower and developing stuff for the sake of developing stuff,” says Ron, sitting in what is now a new Uber research facility plastered with Otto’s name. “It was always around acceleration. That’s why we started Otto. That’s why we’re focusing on trucks. That’s why we partnered with Uber.”

More on LINK
 

Kirkhill

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And that Uber name crops up again - this time at sea.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/04/09/crewless-drone-ships-will-be-sailing-the-seas-by-2020/

Crewless 'drone ships' will be sailing the seas by 2020

The ships will be controlled from 'virtual bridges' based on land

Alan Tovey
11 APRIL 2016 • 10:13AM

Remote-controlled “drone ships” will be plying the sealanes without crews on board by the end of the decade, according to Rolls-Royce.

The FTSE 100 company best known for its aircraft engines is heading a consortium working to develop the technology needed for ships controlled from land bases, making them cheaper to run. 

“This is happening. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” said Oskar Levander, head of innovation for Rolls’s marine unit. “We will see a remote controlled ship in commercial use by the end of the decade.”

Shore-based sailors will be able to oversee all aspects of the drone ships

He predicted the system could turn ships into a seaborne version of car service Uber, with the potential to radically change the current shipping sector.

“Drone ships will allow the creation of new services, which will support existing players to make their businesses more efficient and enable new entrants with new business models to the sector, with a potentially similarly disruptive effect to that caused by Uber, Spotify and Airbnb in other industries.”

Backed by Tekes, Finland’s technical research funding agency, Rolls is working with offshore engineer Deltamarin, marine certification body DNV GL and Inmarsat on the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications project.

Crews could control a number of ships from land at once

Mr Levander said the individual technologies for drone ships now exist, but it is a matter of bringing them together, overcoming legal hurdles and testing the remote control vessels sea.

Sensors such as radar, lasers and computer programs will allow the ships to pilot themselves, with shore-based captains taking over if there is a problem or for complex docking procedures, although the sailors will be on board at first to oversee pilot projects. 

The project has signed up test partners, with Finferries set to start using a 220ft ship to sailing between Finnish islands to examine how they function in a real  environment. ESL Shipping has come on board to explore how drone ships can be used for shorter cargo trips.

Finland test ferry

Trials of the system will begin with a ferry operating between islands in Finland

In the long term, drone ships are expected to help overcome the staffing shortages in the marine sector, with people increasingly reluctant to take on careers that mean months away from home.  Instead, “virtual” captains and crews will be able to monitor the vessels from land, meaning normal home lives.

It is predicted that crews stationed around the world will be ready to be transferred by helicopter to drone ships which encounter problems or run into trouble they cannot handle themselves.

droneshipcontrolroom1-large_trans++3hVEJul2WVJXEjB3JWusSPk5Wj9XD1qm5iWtxcjbUzs.JPG


https://youtu.be/_nApv-C7qSg?list=PLk-17K0buHIvy68TGjnSUppTq-Gi91lT-


I am going to go out on a limb and guess that if trucks can be made self driving and ships can be conned from thousands of miles away then bracketing a convoy of robo-trucks between a pair of TAPVs, or a flotilla of ships between a pair of CSCs, shouldn't be impossible.


 

a_majoor

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WRT your prediction OSHKOSH already sells a kit that allows you to drive their trucks by remote control.

As for UBER, I was at a seminar the other day and one of the panelists said that there is an experiment underway in the United States where UBER was hired to replace public transit in a small city. The idea was the city used funds which formerly were spent on transit to subsidize the Uber ride fee. The city actually saved money (no more paying for busses or unionized drivers), while riders got flexible, door to door service. Sadly they didn't follow up to say where this was taking place, and I haven't been able to make my Google Fu find the answer either, so at best this is a pilot project or the proposal.

UBER is also apparently working with Elon Musk to purchase a fleet of next gheratoon electric cars with the full self driving package. The cars will be dispatched vie th app, and come back to the garage when they need a charge.

So, yes, UBER is branching out into new areas, and will directly affect urbanites and who the day to day operation of cities is run in the future.
 

mariomike

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Are you ready to try a driverless car? 70 percent of Americans say yes
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/are-you-ready-to-try-a-driverless-car-70-percent-of-americans-say-yes/2016/10/06/c0abb25e-8b3c-11e6-875e-2c1bfe943b66_story.html?tid=sm_tw

See you in the back of the ambulance.  :)
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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The way I see it, I think some of them are already "not" driving.

And 70% may be close to the actual percentage too !  ;)
 

mariomike

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Uber drivers to be trained in CPR and first aid for medical, trauma and environmental emergencies ...only in India.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/Uber-partners-with-Continental-Hospitals-and-Call-Ambulance-for-drivers-training/articleshow/54786044.cms
 

Colin Parkinson

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Thucydides said:
WRT your prediction OSHKOSH already sells a kit that allows you to drive their trucks by remote control.

As for UBER, I was at a seminar the other day and one of the panelists said that there is an experiment underway in the United States where UBER was hired to replace public transit in a small city. The idea was the city used funds which formerly were spent on transit to subsidize the Uber ride fee. The city actually saved money (no more paying for busses or unionized drivers), while riders got flexible, door to door service. Sadly they didn't follow up to say where this was taking place, and I haven't been able to make my Google Fu find the answer either, so at best this is a pilot project or the proposal.

UBER is also apparently working with Elon Musk to purchase a fleet of next gheratoon electric cars with the full self driving package. The cars will be dispatched vie th app, and come back to the garage when they need a charge.

So, yes, UBER is branching out into new areas, and will directly affect urbanites and who the day to day operation of cities is run in the future.

Uber still needs drivers and what about people with no smart phones or connections? As for trucks, wildlife, chaining up and checking the load are a few things automation is unlikely to cope with anytime soon.
 

Kirkhill

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Colin P said:
Uber still needs drivers and what about people with no smart phones or connections? As for trucks, wildlife, chaining up and checking the load are a few things automation is unlikely to cope with anytime soon.

Interesting point that.  Perhaps some of those services could be done by permanently stationed roadside teams at existing chain-up areas, rest areas, weigh stations, service stations.  Kind of like the old staging houses of the pony express and stage coach eras.

Another "halfway" measure could be to organize the cargo into packets with a group of uninhabited self-driving trucks sandwiched between a pair of pilot/recovery vehicles.
 

Kirkhill

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Good place to start.

Although I think it could work on the Coquihala - and the rest of the Trans-Canada if rebuilt to that standard.

Which would need money.

Tolls and an Infrastructure Bank?

(I kinda like the Infrastructure Bank concept - Especially if married to a Trans-Canada Federal Right of Way).

Infrastructure -

Highways
Railways
Powerlines
Pipelines
Ports - Sea
Ports - Air
Coast Guard
NavCan

And then there is all the local stuff
 

mariomike

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Chris Pook said:
Although I think it could work on the Coquihala -

Love that show! Jamie Davis Heavy Rescue!
 
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