The Lede, Tuesday, March 27, 2018
By David Royse
Uber Stalls, Waymo Presses On
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who has excitedly rolled out the welcome mat for driverless car companies to test in his state, sent a letter to the CEO of Uber, indefinitely suspending the company’s driverless car testing in the state after one of the company’s autonomous SUVs fatally ran over a pedestrian earlier this month.
“I found the video (of the accident) to be disturbing and alarming and it raises many questions about the ability of Uber to continue testing in Arizona,” Ducey wrote.
Uber had already suspending its testing of self-driving vehicles on public roads following the crash, not just in Arizona, but also in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. That it did, was, essentially the company’s response to Ducey’s action.
While Uber is enduring one of its worst-ever weeks, one of Uber’s main competitors in the driverless car space, Waymo, is pressing forward, and reminding people of its extensive testing as a means of hinting how safe it is. (Waymo CEO John Krafcik even said its technology wouldn’t have killed the pedestrian)
Krafcik boldly went onto a stage as planned this morning – even with all kinds of backlash swirling around the driverless car industry following the crash, and not only defended the company’s plans, but said Waymo plans to be on the streets giving rides without drivers this year. And he said those rides will be … IN PHOENIX. Then, Krafcik rolled out Waymo’s new driverless luxury Jaguar SUV. That’s either supreme confidence that Waymo’s technology is extremely safe – or a total inability to read the public mood – and I’m not sure which yet.
Before unveiling the new driverless Jag, Krafcik spent some time talking about all the time the company has spent testing , with more than 5 million road miles logged – “what we consider to be the world’s toughest and longest ongoing driver’s test,.” He also noted that 94 percent of all crashes are due to human error. The company says it’s building “the world’s most experienced driver.”
“We’re going to launch our service,” Krafcik said. “This year, in 2018, starting in Phoenix, Arizona. … We’re looking toward the future.”
Tim Stevens, editor of C-Net’s Roadshow, was on CBS This Morning talking about Waymo’s safety record vs. other companies.
RELATED: While the automotive tech world focuses on driverless cars, there have been a number of technological advances that have made human-driven cars much safer. AP has a good rundown on that today.
In other news about companies under heightened scrutiny, the drumbeat for accountability from Facebook keeps on going.
Yesterday, Cook County, which includes Chicago, filed a lawsuit against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over the companies’ “failure to adequately protect” users’ data. “This resulted in the exploitation of personal data of 50 million Facebook users with the express purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election,” the county’s state’s attorney said.
This as the Federal Trade Commission yesterday confirmed it is investigating Facebook, the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to come in for a talk and, according to Mike Allen of Axios, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner last night said the company needs to be more responsive to the public anger and questions over what happened.
From Allen’s Axios AM: “Companies like Facebook and Twitter and Google are American icons,” Warner added. “I don’t have any interest in regulating them into oblivion. But as they’ve grown from dorm-room startups into media behemoths … they haven’t acknowledged that that kind of power comes with responsibility.”
NOTES FROM THE AGE OF DISRUPTION:
An update on its healthcare plans. CNBC
Resilient Power Puerto Rico
Wants to Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid After Storm – But With Solar. Wired
Is going to sell a smaller, cheaper iPad that works with the Apple Pencil. Techcrunch
Is going public. Seattle Times
Is using AI in movie making. NYTimes
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Companies like Facebook and Twitter and Google are American icons,” Warner added. “I don’t have any interest in regulating them into oblivion. But as they’ve grown from dorm-room startups into media behemoths … they haven’t acknowledged that that kind of power comes with responsibility.” U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, as quoted by Axios.
LINDA BROWN, CHANGED AMERICAN EDUCATION
A passing to note: Linda Brown, the Brown of Brown v. Board of Education, has died at home. She still lived in Topeka, whose schools were integrated because of the 1954 court ruling that bore her name (actually, her father’s name, Oliver Brown, suing on her behalf). Ms. Brown was 75.
As always, I welcome your thoughts. @daveroyse on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org