Monthly Archives: August 2016

Self Driving Fleet Takes On San Francisco

Uber on Wednesday rolled out a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, the second U.S. city to participate in its pilot project. Pittsburgh was the first.

Riders who request an UberX — the lowest-priced Uber vehicle — will be matched with one of the self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs if one is available and if the customers are willing, according to Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s Advanced Technology Group. They can accommodate three passengers.

San Francisco “comes with its own nuances, including more bikes on the road, high traffic density and narrow lanes,” Levandowski noted.

San Francisco “is one of the most challenging cities for an autonomous car … because there are lots of obstacles, including cable cars, which are unique to the city,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

Further, “the hills are particularly steep,” he pointed out.

“The buildings are close and high, blocking GPS signals and challenging GPS accuracy, and pedestrians generally don’t follow traffic signals or use crosswalks,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “There’s an argument that if you can handle San Francisco, you likely can handle any city in the United States.”

The self-driving Uber vehicles have drivers on board who can take control if need be.

 

Sensors and Such

Volvo built the vehicles and sold them to Uber, which added its own self-driving hardware and software.

They are developed on Volvo’s fully modular Scalable Product Architecture, which is used on the XC90 SUV, and on Volvo’s S90 and V90 premium vehicles.

The control apparatus is mounted on the vehicles’ roofs.

Uber’s technology consists of the sensor pod and the compute stack in the trunk — CPUs and GPUs in a blade architecture that allows easy swapping of failing parts, TechCrunch reported.

The cars reportedly have optical cameras, radar, LiDAR and ultrasonic detectors. Their iPad-based display lets users take a selfie and share the image from their ride.

 

Self-Driving Debate

Self-driving service vehicles “dramatically reduce the cost and increase the revenue” of operators, Enderle said, “because analytics can put the cars where the most demand is, they can be utilized 24×7, and they don’t require drivers — so you have vastly lower wages, benefits and insurance premiums.”

That said, the pilot project may engender opposition from cabbies and Uber drivers in San Francisco, who might “go out of their way to cause accidents with [the self-driving vehicles] to force the failure of these tests and preserve their jobs,” Enderle cautioned. “That has happened before.”

 

Flouting the Law

Uber began running its vehicles on San Francisco roads some weeks ago, but it has yet to obtain a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, or register with the Department as required by law.

It doesn’t believe it needs a testing permit, Levandowski argued, because “we are not planning to operate any differently than in Pittsburgh, where our pilot has been running successfully for several months.”

Also, the rules “apply to cars that can drive without someone controlling or monitoring them,” he said, and Uber’s vehicles aren’t ready to do so yet.

“We have a permitting process in place to ensure public safety as this [self-driving] technology is being tested, said California DMV spokesperson Cristina Aguilar.

“Twenty manufacturers have already obtained permits,” she told TechNewsWorld, and “Uber shall do the same.”

The San Francisco city attorney “should immediately have police arrest Uber’s CEO for this flagrant violation of a law that’s intended to protect people’s safety,” said John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog.

A key reason for the DMV regulations is “to ensure that important data like crash and disengagement reports are filed and made public,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Machine Data Innovations That You Should Know About

CrateDB is an SQL database alternative to NOSQL machine data management solutions. It gives mainstream SQL developers access to machine data applications that previously were available only using NoSQL solutions.

“CrateDB is one of the few systems in the space that can enable JOIN to handle a large amount of machine data,” said Christian Lutz, CEO of Crate.io.

Founded in 2014, the company’s goal was to reinvent SQL for the machine data era, he told LinuxInsider. Today, 75 percent of its customers use CrateDB to manage machine and Internet of Things data because of its ease of use, performance and versatility.

CrateDB provides an alternative to existing analytic data stores, combining the familiarity of SQL with the versatility of search and the ease of scalability of containers.

“The growth of machine data and the opportunities that businesses have to capitalize on it are outstripping the ability of their data management infrastructure to act on it,” said Jason Stamper, an analyst for data platforms and analytics at 451 Research.

CrateDB’s power lies in its ability “to enable users to collect and analyze vast amounts of data in real time, using SQL commands they already know,” he said.

 

Driving Factors

Several factors recently have been driving interest in more effective management of machine data, and CrateDB is tapping into this growth, observed Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“First and foremost, as companies utilize cloud services and infrastructures, getting the most from those investments requires automating related processes and services,” he told LinuxInsider. “That demands the efficient gathering of machine data automatically generated by systems applications, transaction applications, customers and users which has resulted in success for machine data players like Splunk.”

In addition, the anticipated rise of IoT devices and deployments will increase the volume of machine data by orders of magnitude, he said, so the efforts that companies make today around managing machine data should pay significant dividends in the future.

CrateDB is the first open source SQL database that enables real-time analytics for machine data applications, according to Crate.io.

If that is indeed the case, that would make it superior to previous applications based on NoSQL technologies.

“That should make CrateDB easier to use for developers familiar and comfortable with SQL databases,” King said. “If the company can deliver on its promises, it should become a significant player in this space.”

 

CrateDB Primer

Crate.io focused on developing a database for the billion-dollar machine data market, Lutz said. “This market is very broad with very special characteristics. It involves more than just industrial machines.”

The machine data management market involves IoT sensors, wearables, industrial IoT, network monitoring, IT/cloud infrastructure monitoring, security audit monitoring and machine learning.

CrateDB manages the unique challenges of machine data management and analysis. It makes possible the handling of millions of data points per second, structured and unstructured data diversity with real-time query performance, and complex queries of big data volumes.

As part of a new machine data stack, CrateDB sits in the stack between input software and specialized apps, Lutz said.

Magic Leaps Response

It turns out the awe-inspiring video Magic Leap unveiled last year is not a demo of its still-secretive mixed reality technology, but a bit of sleight of hand from special effects firm Weta Workshop, which is credited at the beginning and end of the clip.

Magic Leap’s post — titled “Just another day in the office at Magic Leap” — claims the video shows a game being played around the office.

The true nature of the video was exposed last week in a report published by The Information.

“Most of us thought that video was a demo of the technology — not a film created by a special effects company,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“I expect some of the folks that invested in the company likely thought so as well, and that could be considered fraud,” he told TechNewsWorld.

The ray guns shown in the video apparently are Dr. Grordbort’s Infallible Aether Oscillators, which exist in designer Greg Broadmore’s satirical parallel universe.

Weta CEO Richard Taylor, a founding director of Magic Leap, reportedly is collaborating with the firm on a mixed reality game set in the world of “Dr. Grordbort’s Invaders.”