Thursday, January 19, 2017

"New Patents Hint That Amazon and Google Each Have Plans to Compete with Uber" (AMZN; GOOG)

From MIT's Technology Review, Jan. 18:

The tech giants both want a slice of the ride-hailer’s automated taxi and trucking vision, and they have their own ideas to prove it.
Uber appears to be leading the charge to develop autonomous taxis and delivery vehicles. But a pair of patents show that tech giants like Amazon and Google have no intention of being left behind.

Both patents were only recently published, but both were originally filed in 2015. That means that although Uber has been making headlines for many of its innovations over the past 12 months, other companies haven’t necessarily been slouching.

While Google is already trialing a small ride-sharing service in San Francisco, one of the new patents describes how it plans to pair self-driving vehicles with ride-hailing apps. The problem it tries to overcome: how to negotiate a pickup location if an autonomous car can’t safely or accurately navigate to the passenger like a human driver could.

Alphabet’s autonomous car division, Waymo, is now targeting commercial applications of its technology by working with automakers, which means it no longer plans to build its own vehicles. But the company does plan to start trials of robotic Chrysler Pacifica taxis this year.

In doing so, it will be squaring up directly with Uber, which is testing autonomous taxis in Pittsburgh (along with a brief experiment in San Francisco that got shut down). Waymo may even make use of the technology described in the Google patent to help the test along....MORE
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