Beep Beep, Who Got the Keys to the Jeep?

Let’s Talk Auto(mation)

The Waymo vs. Uber lawsuit promises to be fun for the online automation-focused peanut gallery — probably less fun for the involved parties. One thing everyone can agree on is that it’s just the latest sign of the accelerating driverless car race. The impact community also has good reason to pay attention, as these innovations promise to benefit society in many ways — everything from accident death reduction to easier transport for seniors and the handicapped.

Wondering how to talk about the subject at your next trendy social gathering? You should know that there are two main types of technology currently being test driven:

1) Lidar (what Waymo and Uber are fighting over) uses a series of lasers to map out the surrounding environment in 3-D, while

2) A vision-based system (what Tesla is refining) employs a combination of cameras, classic radar, ultrasonic sensors, and GPS.

It is yet be determined which is better, as both have gotten into accidents (imagine getting a license for simply having 20/20 vision and avoiding collisions — we still have a ways to go!). Until then, we’ll be staying in the driver’s seat a bit longer.

Milo Tong, Summer Analyst

On Monday, a federal judge ruled on Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber, forbidding Anthony Levandowski, the engineer turned thief, from working further on the technology and ordering Uber to produce a timeline of events and return the stolen files. The judge, however, did not shut down Uber’s research program, so the competition continues.

Read on.

The day prior to the court ruling, Waymo and Lyft announced plans to pursue self-driving cars together. In addition to such business partnerships, Lyft works on social initiatives as well, most recently the Round Up & Donate campaign with USO in honor of Military Appreciation Month. Going forward, Lyft will add a new charity each month for users to round up their fares and donate to.

For those who are new to the wheel or know new drivers, check out RoadReady, an app that tracks practice driving hours and provides performance summaries.

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