July 13th, 2017 News of the Day: Uber merges with Yandex, U.S. to simplify driverless car rules

July 13th, 2017 News of the Day: Uber merges with Yandex, U.S. to simplify driverless car rules

Author: Claire   

U.S. to introduce bills to simplify autonomous vehicle regulations

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The U.S. House Republicans are expected to introduce a number of bills later this week to ban states from setting their own rules for autonomous vehicles.

According to Reuters, a subcommittee from the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce held a meeting last month over 14 draft bills which would allow national regulators to exempt 100,000 vehicles a year per automaker from federal motor vehicle safety rules, which currently forbid selling vehicles without human controls.

The legislation reportedly will be introduced this week before the formal hearing to be held next week. The move has so far received strong support from automakers.

Uber combines ride-sharing business with Yandex in Russia

Uber announced today that it will be combining its ride-sharing business and UberEATs, its food ordering and delivery business, in Russia and neighboring regions with Yandex Taxi. The latter is a local major ride-sharing leader built up by the Russian search giant. The combined business will be a separate joint venture currently valued at $3.72 billion.

The merger will cover operations in Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Georgia, and is expected to close in the last quarter of 2017.

The combination means 35 million trips each month in 127 cities, with a majority coming from Yandex.Taxi. Currently, Uber is only operational in 21 cities in the region.

In addition to the merger, Uber will be putting $225 million and Yandex $100 million into the deal.

Cortica to teach self-driving cars with unsupervised learning


Tel Aviv-based startup Cortica is opening an automotive branch for its AI technology, to utilize unsupervised learning technology to make an self-driving system process data and figure out its environment.

The company believes that unsupervised machine learning can allow autonomous vehicles to better adapt to new situations on road, and has developed a system to help automakers and developers gather and process data from car sensors. With a cloud/local hybrid architecture, the amount of data it can process is comparable to "equal YouTube's entirety every hour" in California alone.

The company says this kind of machine learning is closer to the way humans see and process visuals. Besides, it can also adapt to "next generation obstacles", including gestures, to predict the intent of other vehicles and humans.

BMW to include Skype in car via iDrive


BMW is partnering with Microsoft to bring more functions to its vehicles. It's adding Skype for Business to its infotainment features, making drivers connect to Skype meetings in the car.

The new function will be integrated into BMW's iDrive system, and allows users to join online meetings directly, receive alerts about upcoming meetings or alerts when meetings are changed, and start meetings automatically without the need for a driver to manually dial in. Microsoft said that Exchange customers will also be able to integrate their calendars, to-do tasks and contacts with vehicle voice and navigation system.

The service will roll out in Germany, France and UK first, and expand to other markets later.

Daimler assures workers they'll make EV batteries at Mercedes plant


Daimler said on Thursday that it had struck a deal with workers to make electric car components and batteries at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Untertuerkheim, near Stuttgart, in addition to making combustion engines, transmissions and axles.

The 19,000 workers at the plant demanded that their jobs be guaranteed as the auto industry shift to EVs, which have fewer components than diesel or gas cars.

The deal confirms Untertuerkheim will become a competence center to integrate E-powertrain into production, and include a battery production facility, in addition to battery plants in Kamenz and Beijing. The company said the deal will create more than 250 new jobs in EV production.

Claire Peng has over 6 years of professional experience in the media industry, covering TV, newspaper and online media. She was once a reporter and producer for Fairchild Television based in Toronto Canada, and worked as an English news reporter for the Global Times in Beijing. She writes mainly about self-driving, companies investment, and the enterprise lab.
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