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Google Assistant Heads To Android Auto To Battle Amazon’s Alexa 10
Jan
Posted by Michael Gauthier in CES, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Film, Google, Jeep, Kia, RAM, Tech, video on 01 10th, 2018


A number of automakers have recently announced plans to integrate Amazon’s Alexa into future models but Google is fighting back by adding its Assistant to Android Auto.

The company is rolling out the update in the United States this week and the addition of the Google Assistant will allow drivers to easily ask their vehicle for directions or have it play their favorite music. Drivers can even use the Assistant to send or receive messages though services like WhatsApp.

Despite the backlash over GM’s marketplace app, Google is following a similar route as the company announced its Assistant will soon enable drivers to reserve a parking space with SpotHero and order from Starbucks while driving.

To use Android Auto and its new Assistant, users can download the app on their smartphone or connect their phone to one of the more than 400 models that offer Android Auto compatibility. Google went on to say they are working with automakers to directly integrate the Assistant into upcoming models and this will eliminate the need for a smartphone in the future.

In related news, Google announced Kia and Fiat Chrysler owners will soon be able to use the Assistant to remotely lock / unlock their vehicle doors and check its fuel status – among other things. The feature is already available on certain models from BMW, Mercedes, and Hyundai.

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CES 2018: Kia Adds Google Assistant To Its Infotainment Systems 9
Jan
Posted by Michael Karkafiris in CES, Google, Kia, Kia K900, Kia Niro, Kia Optima, Reports, Tech on 01 9th, 2018


Kia Motors has made their UVO infotainment systems compatible with the Google Assistant, enabling customers to execute a variety of remote commands.

So far the integration with the Google Assistant is available for models equipped with the UVO system, including the 2018 Niro PHEV, Soul EV, Optima PHEV and the K900 flagship.

Through an UVO agent, customers can set up the Google Assistant or Google Home app, allowing for simple voice commands to access a variety of functions. The new commands include “Tell UVO to start my Soul EV,” or “Tell UVO to lock my Niro.”

The UVO agent offers remote functions such as Remote Start/Stop Engine, Remote Climate Control, Remote Charge Start/Stop, Remote Horn and Lights and Remote Lock. Add to that the ability of the Google Assistant to provide real-time answers and activate streaming music services, smart home devices and you got a pretty much seamless experience.

“With more people using smart technology at home and work, it was a natural extension to bring this easy to use and widely adapted platform to the driver’s seat,” said Henry Bzeih, director, connected car & mobility services, strategy & planning, KMA. “With a simple voice command, Kia owners can interface with their vehicles in the same manner they use the Google Assistant in their homes.”

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Waymo Announces Insurance Coverage For Autonomous Ride-Hailing Service 21
Dec
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Google, Reports, Tech, Waymo on 12 21st, 2017


Waymo is looking to solve one of the final major roadblocks for fully-autonomous ride-hailing, announcing insurance coverage for riders with startup Trov.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the insurance startup will provide all Waymo passengers with insurance for lost and damaged property, as well as any medical expenses resulting from accidents.

Google’s self-driving car division will include the insurance coverage to all users paying for the upcoming ride-hailing service, eliminating any stress for riders to find their own insurance policies.

The coverage will be underwritten for an unknown sum by a venture capital fund and according to Trov’s chief executive, only be available to riders using fully-autonomous Waymo vehicles, not those semi-autonomous ones that feature a Google engineer behind the wheel.

“The coverage will be included as part of Waymo’s ride-hailing service, and covers lost or damaged personal articles/property, trip interruption, and medical expense reimbursement. You don’t actually select anything as a rider,” Trov spokesperson Alex Pitocchelli said.

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Bing Attempts Jedi Mind Trick, Makes Google Street View Vehicle Disappear 19
Dec
Posted by Michael Gauthier in Google, Offbeat News, Reports on 12 19th, 2017


Google and Microsoft have a less than cozy relationship and that appears to carry over to the digital world as the latter company has been caught blocking a Street View vehicle on Bing maps.

As noticed by The Verge, this act of digital disparagement is visible when users search for an address in Plymouth, Minnesota. Instead of seeing a Street View vehicle, Bing users are treated to a grainy white box with a huge camera apparatus sticking out of the top of it. Needless to say, that’s not a Minnesotan take on a roundabout.

While the efforts to block the Street View car are comical, an earlier version of the photo actually shows the driver of the Street View vehicle giving his rival a friendly wave.

Google decided to let the transgression go as it allows users to fully see the rival company’s Toyota RAV4.

Of course, we’ve seen plenty of weird mapping photos over the years including this rather intimate looking moment with a women bent over the hood of a BMW 3-Series Coupe. Apple isn’t above the fray either as the company’s Maps app was a complete disaster when it launched in 2012.

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Ford Was The Most Googled Automotive Brand In The U.S. This Year 13
Dec
Posted by Michael Gauthier in Acura, Buick, Dodge, Ford, Google, honda, Hyundai, Kia, LEXUS, Tesla, TOYOTA on 12 13th, 2017


2017 is coming to a close and Google is marking the occasion by revealing its annual Year in Search report.

According to the web giant, Ford was the most Googled automotive brand in the United States this year. The automaker saw lots of interest in its home state of Michigan as well as places such as West Virginia and the Dakotas. The most popular searches saw customers looking for more information about the F-150, Explorer, and Fusion.

Luxury brand Lexus came in second place as consumers from California, Florida, and Georgia were interested in learning about the company’s latest vehicles. Unsurprisingly, a number of people were excited about the LC and the all-new LS. Searchers were also fond of the IS and RX crossover.

Kia made a podium finish as the 2018 Stinger was a huge hit with Google users. However, the most popular searches were for the Optima, Sorento, and Soul.

Toyota came in fourth place as the company saw lots of interest in the 2018 Camry and Tacoma. Honda wasn’t far behind as it was the fifth most Googled automotive brand in the United States with fans researching the Accord, Pilot, and Civic.

Rounding out the top ten spots are Buick, Acura, Tesla, Hyundai, and Dodge. The latter company saw a huge spike in interest following the debut of the Challenger SRT Demon in April.

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Waymo Self-Driving Engineer Says Humans Aren’t Meant To Drive 8
Dec
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Google, Reports, Tech, Waymo on 12 8th, 2017


A self-driving car engineer from Waymo says humans aren’t designed to drive cars in a strange tweet that has left many pundits scratching their heads.

Yesterday, Vahid Kazemi tweeted of his experience almost running over five people in two days while driving a rental car without autonomous features.

“Have been driving in LA with a rental car that doesn’t have the autonomous features that my own car has. Almost crashed ten times and ran over five people in two days! Humans aren’t designed to drive cars!” he said.

The tweet has since been deleted with Kazemi claiming that it was a joke.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to ignore his ignorance. Sure, humans aren’t designed to drive cars but that doesn’t mean we can’t. In fact, many human drivers are better than any of the autonomous systems on offer. The point that many technology companies are designing their self-driving vehicles to mimic the way humans drive tells you that we can’t be all that horrible at controlling an automobile.

In Kazemi’s defence, there are millions of dangerous drivers out there that shouldn’t be on the roads but clearly he understands the error of his tweeting ways.

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What Our Cars Tell Google Street View’s AI About Our Political Views 7
Dec
Posted by Brad Anderson in Google, Reports, Tech on 12 7th, 2017


Google Street View is an amazing service but as it turns out, the images it captures can be used for much more than simply displaying the world around us.

Recently, a team of researchers, predominately from Stanford University, used artificial intelligence to analyze the types of vehicles parked in 200 cities across the United States to determine the political leanings of a particular area.

According to Popular Science, researches built a collection of over 50 million images from Google Street View and used an object recognition technique to pick out vehicles from their surrounding environments. An AI tool was then trained to classify those vehicles by make, model, and year.

Researchers discovered that if there were a greater number of pickup trucks in an urban area, that region had an 82 per cent chance of voting Republican. Alternatively, the presence of more sedans meant there was an 88 per cent of that area voting Democrat.

Study co-author Timnit Gebru said the AI was “surprisingly accurate” but wasn’t so accurate that such an analysis could fully replicate the results of a census.

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Uber-Waymo Trial Delayed As Judge Discovers Uber Withheld Evidence 3
Dec
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Google, Reports, Tech, Uber, Waymo on 12 3rd, 2017


A U.S. judge has delayed the impending trial between Uber and Waymo after discovering that the ride-hailing company withheld evidence in a lawsuit filed by Waymo.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Alsup was provided with a 37-page letter fromr former Uber security analyst Richard Jacobs’ lawyer. Uber should have provided Waymo with a copy of this letter as both sides prepared their respective cases and, well, it didn’t.

In turn, Judge Alsup agreed to Waymo’s request for the trial to be delayed from its scheduled start next week, Reuters reports.

Speaking in the court, Judge Alsup hit out at Uber’s decision to withhold evidence: “I can’t trust anything you say because it’s been proven wrong so many times. You’re just making the impression that this is a total cover-up.”

In the letter, it is alleged that there was an organization within Uber dubbed ‘marketplace analytics’ whose sole purpose was “acquiring trade secrets, code base and competitive intelligence.”

In his testimony, Richard Jacobs said the operation within Uber aimed to gather data about competitors and erase any possible paper trail.

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Google Starts Using Maps To Show Pollution Levels Across LA 10
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Google, Tech, video on 11 10th, 2017


In recent years, Google Maps has changed the way we look at the world, allowing anyone with internet access to explore every square inch of the planet we call home.

However, Google has started to use its service for more, mapping out pollution levels in cities, starting with Los Angeles.

The technology company recently partnered with air-quality sensor producer Aclima to create a virtual map of pollution throughout the City of Angels. In the past two years, two specially-equipped Google Street View cars have driven more than 100,000 miles for over 4,000 hours to collect and analyze 1 billion hyperlocal air pollution data points, Co Design reports.

Results from the pilot study have just been released, depicting areas of pollution on a heat map, with yellow representing high pollution and blue representing low pollution. The maps show that LA’s highest areas of pollution are its major highways and streets.

Google intends to continue collecting air quality data in California, and ultimately hopes to scale up its efforts.

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Google Starts Using Maps To Show Pollution Levels Across LA 10
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Google, Tech, video on 11 10th, 2017


In recent years, Google Maps has changed the way we look at the world, allowing anyone with internet access to explore every square inch of the planet we call home.

However, Google has started to use its service for more, mapping out pollution levels in cities, starting with Los Angeles.

The technology company recently partnered with air-quality sensor producer Aclima to create a virtual map of pollution throughout the City of Angels. In the past two years, two specially-equipped Google Street View cars have driven more than 100,000 miles for over 4,000 hours to collect and analyze 1 billion hyperlocal air pollution data points, Co Design reports.

Results from the pilot study have just been released, depicting areas of pollution on a heat map, with yellow representing high pollution and blue representing low pollution. The maps show that LA’s highest areas of pollution are its major highways and streets.

Google intends to continue collecting air quality data in California, and ultimately hopes to scale up its efforts.

VIDEO



VW To Use Quantum Computing With Google 9
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Google, Reports, Tech, VW on 11 9th, 2017


Volkswagen will partner with Google to develop new vehicle technologies on advanced quantum computers.

Bloomberg reports that the German car manufacturer will use quantum computing to simulate the structure of electric vehicle batteries, develop artificial intelligence for autonomous driving, and refine traffic-management systems.

In a statement, VW’s chief information officer Martin Hofman said the company wants to be the first to the market with new digital features for its cars.

“Quantum computer technology opens new dimensions for us. We from Volkswagen want to be among the first to use quantum computing as a company as soon as this technology is commercially available.”

As part of the tie-up between the two firms, Google will provide VW with access to devices that process information by using the principals of quantum mechanics. Before reaching an agreement with Google, Volkswagen used quantum computing in March to optimize traffic for 10,000 taxis in Beijing.

“We’re looking forward to explore together how quantum computing could change and bring forward the automobile industry,” development head at Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Hartmut Neven said.

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Waymo Now Testing Fully Autonomous Vehicles Without Safety Drivers 8
Nov
Posted by Michael Gauthier in Autonomous, Google, video, Waymo on 11 8th, 2017


Autonomous driving technology has come a long way in the past few years and Waymo has announced its self-driving vehicles are now being tested on public roads without anyone in the driver’s seat.

This is a big leap forward as most autonomous vehicles require a safety driver who can take control if something goes wrong. Waymo used to use safety drivers but the company says that after more than eight years of development, they are no longer needed.

The company will operate a “subset” of its fleet in the Phoenix metro region in fully autonomous mode. Over time, the company intends to expand its coverage area to a region that’s “larger than the size of Greater London.”

In order to go fully driverless, Waymo vehicles have driven more than 3.5 million miles autonomously since 2009 and the company has subjected its cars to more than 20,000 individual scenarios on its test track. Besides the real world experience, Waymo has been running simulations where its software drives more than 10 million miles every day.

Should something go wrong with one of its driverless vehicles, Waymo says there shouldn’t be any problems as they are equipped with backup steering, braking, computer, and power systems. The systems are designed to bring the vehicle to a safe stop in the event of an emergency.

Waymo will be inviting members of its early rider program to use the fully autonomous vehicles over the course of the next few months.

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Waymo Ditched Semi-Autonomous Path As Employees Napped Behind The Wheel 7
Nov
Posted by Brad Anderson in Autonomous, Google, Reports, Tech, Waymo on 11 7th, 2017


Waymo head John Krafcik has revealed that the autonomous driving division of Google once intended on bringing partial self-driving technologies to the roads like many car manufacturers but decided against it over safety concerns.

Speaking to Reuters last week, Krafcik said Waymo was developing autopilot features for highway-driving but discovered its engineers were losing focus, and even falling asleep, while behind the wheel. As a result, Google is now pursuing level 5 autonomy where a human driver isn’t required in any scenario.

According to Krafcik, semi-autonomous technologies are dangerous because human drivers lose contextual awareness as their mind drifts from driving. Consequently, if the car encounters a situation which only a human can respond to, they’re often not ready to take control.

Throughout 2013, tests from Waymo showed users napping, playing with their phones and putting on makeup at up to 56 mph. Just days after footage from these tests was viewed by company executives, a decision was made to solely pursue technology that requires no human intervention.

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Alphabet Leads A $1 Billion Financing Round In Lyft, Pushes Valuation To $11 billion 19
Oct
Posted by Michael Gauthier in Google, Lyft on 10 19th, 2017


Waymo is expected to launch its ride-hailing service soon but that hasn't stopped its parent company from leading a $1 billion financing round in Lyft.
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Google And Ford To Develop VR App To Combat Distracted Driving 10
Oct
Posted by Sergiu Tudose in Ford, Gadgets, Google, Reports, Tech on 10 10th, 2017


Ford has joined forces with Google, as well as virtual reality studio Happy Finish to launch Ford Reality Check, a VR app that focuses on the consequences of distracted driving.
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