How a College Kid Made His Honda Civic Self-Driving for $700

Tom Simonite for MIT Technology Review:  Brevan Jorgenson’s grandma kept her cool when he took her for a nighttime spin in the Honda Civic he’s modified to drive itself on the highway. A homemade device in place of the rear-view mirror can control the brakes, accelerator, and steering, and it uses a camera to identify road markings and other cars.

“She wasn’t really flabbergasted—I think because she’s seen so much from technology by now,” says Jorgenson, a senior at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. Others are more wary of the system, which he built using plans and software downloaded from the Internet, plus about $700 in parts. Jorgenson says the fact that he closely supervises his homebrew autopilot hasn’t convinced his girlfriend to trust the gadget’s driving. “She’s worried it’s going to crash the car,” he says.  Cont'd...

Ford invests $1B in robotics startup in driverless car quest

Ford Motor Company announces it is investing $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, an artificial intelligence company, to develop a virtual driver system for the automaker's autonomous vehicle coming in 2021 - and for potential license to other companies. 

Founded by former Google and Uber leaders, Argo AI is bringing together some of the most experienced roboticists and engineers working in autonomy from inside and outside of Ford. The team of experts in robotics and artificial intelligence is led by Argo AI founders Bryan Salesky, company CEO, and Peter Rander, company COO. Both are alumni of Carnegie Mellon National Robotics Engineering Center and former leaders on the self-driving car teams of Google and Uber, respectively. 
"The next decade will be defined by the automation of the automobile, and autonomous vehicles will have as significant an impact on society as Ford's moving assembly line did 100 years ago," said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields.  Full Press Release:

Ford Invests in Argo AI, a New Artificial Intelligence Company, in Drive for Autonomous Vehicle Leadership

-Ford is investing $1 billion during the next five years in Argo AI, combining Ford's autonomous vehicle development expertise with Argo AI's robotics experience and startup speed on artificial intelligence software - all to further advance autonomous vehicles -Founded by former Google and Uber leaders, Argo AI will include roboticists and engineers from inside and outside of Ford working to develop a new software platform for Ford's fully autonomous vehicle coming in 2021; through their equity participation, Argo AI employees will share in the startup's growth -Investment in Argo AI strengthens Ford's leadership in bringing self-driving vehicles to market in the near term and creates technology that could be licensed to others in the future

Mining 24 Hours a Day with Robots

Tom Simonite for MIT Technology Review:  Each of these trucks is the size of a small two-story house. None has a driver or anyone else on board.

Mining company Rio Tinto has 73 of these titans hauling iron ore 24 hours a day at four mines in Australia’s Mars-red northwest corner. At this one, known as West Angelas, the vehicles work alongside robotic rock drilling rigs. The company is also upgrading the locomotives that haul ore hundreds of miles to port—the upgrades will allow the trains to drive themselves, and be loaded and unloaded automatically.

Rio Tinto intends its automated operations in Australia to preview a more efficient future for all of its mines—one that will also reduce the need for human miners. The rising capabilities and falling costs of robotics technology are allowing mining and oil companies to reimagine the dirty, dangerous business of getting resources out of the ground.  Cont'd...

Who's Driving That Truck?

While self-driving cars get most of the credit for capturing the public's imagination, autonomous or nearly autonomous tractor-trailers are starting to move goods across the world's highways.

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