Auto IQ News: Buses up for a fight, Waymo turns to Darwinism, and Ford beats Tesla
Another week in the world of future mobility brings interesting developments in the fields of autonomous driving, electrification and Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solutions.
Read on for more, plus if you work in the field of automotive semiconductors, we'd be extremely grateful if you could fill in our industry survey that will help us create our Semiconductors in the Autonomous Age report coming later this year.
FlixBus and BlaBlaCar set a collision course
Reuters is reporting that international transport app FlixMobility has attracted Germany’s biggest tech funding round this year, with an investment of around €500m. The firm didn’t confirm the exact amount, but did say it will use the cash to expand FlixBus to Asia and Latin America, expand FlixTrain services, and launch a new brand service: FlixCar.
The latter will be a carpooling service directly aimed at BlaBlaCar, which claims to be the world’s largest long-distance carpooling service. FlixMobility’s move is an interesting reposte to BlaBlaCar’s expansion into providing BlaBlaBus services (above) beginning this month, with plans to expand to more than 400 destinations in 10 European countries by the end of 2019. FlixBus currently serves over 2000 destinations in 29 countries.
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DeepMind and Waymo turn to Darwin
Interesting news of a successful trial of using evolutionary competition to improve training models for self-driving car neural networks. The full post is up on Waymo’s Medium site, and details how researchers at DeepMind figured out how to use evolutionary competition to automatically determine the best-performing training schedules for the neural networks used in Waymo’s self-driving cars.
There are some concrete results, with the new method reducing false positives by 24 percent compared to its hand-tuned equivalent. However, the results are more about the wider benefits of experimentation and new approaches – in this case taking a leaf out of Darwin’s evolutionary book – needed to make self-driving systems better.
Electric Ford F150 tows a train
In a move that Dr Evil would be proud of, Ford demonstrated the pulling power of its forthcoming all-electric truck by hooking it up to 10 double-decker rail cars loaded with 42 regular gas-powered F-150s, weighing more than one million pounds. That’s over 450,000kg in new money, so respect is due to the towing cable.
It surely won’t have skipped the attention of the Blue Oval’s PR department that the weight the F150 pulled eclipses that of the Tesla Model X that drove along attached to a Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner weighing 'just' 130,000kg in Australia last year.
Daimler and Bosch take it to the next level
Daimler and Bosch are celebrating receiving approval from the German authorities to run "the world’s first fully automated driverless SAE Level 4 parking function for everyday use." The system will be used every day in the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart. Bosch supplied the infrastructure and Daimler the car tech that allows vehicles to be collected and returned completely independently, without a safety driver.
Although the achievement of getting one carpark in the whole world approved for Level 4 autonomy is one thing, it shows how far there still is to go for self-driving to become the default. However, given the delights of German bureaucracy, getting approval must have been a huge administrative effort, and shows just how serious Daimler and Bosch are taking the challenge.