Audi’s AI future tackles autonomous driving one solution at a time


If you want a self-driving car, you need artificial intelligence. At its first Audi Tech Summit, the automaker unveiled Audi AI, its long-term plans to stay ahead of — or at least keep pace with — its competitors.

To help understand where the company is right now and where it intends to go (and when), we spoke with Dr. Miklos Kiss, head of predevelopment and driver assistance systems at Audi. The automaker is tackling the tough problems by taking on simpler solutions for the various levels of autonomy (Level 0 is basically manual driving, Level 5 is full autonomy).

What is the state of AI within Audi?

"AI within Audi means Audi intelligence. That means we present more functionality than the customer would expect. That differs very much from the AI topic that is just machine learning. What we are presenting right now is that Audi has the first passenger car that is ready for Level 3 driving, an automation level where, for the first time, we take over the whole responsibility of the driving task.

So the driver no longer has to monitor the driving task in a traffic jam up to 60 kilometers per hour (37 miles per hour); you just sit back and relax. That’s new. Therefore we needed a new architecture. We now have a central computing unit for drivers’ assistant systems that gathers all the sensor data in one unit."


How is that different from what Audi’s been doing before?

"It differs very much from what we did before where certain systems didn’t talk to each other. So we had a system responsible for the longitudinal under control. We had the Audi Lane Assist responsible for lateral control and these were two completely independent systems. Now we brought them together into an integrated system. That does longitudinal and lateral and lack of control. This gives us much more possibilities to new scenarios in traffic."

Right now you have Level 3. What do you see for the future? Is Level 4 just around the corner?

"Well the first thing is the levels of automotive driving. The second thing is the scenarios of automated driving. For the highway scenario, we see Level 3 for the next couple of years. It’s very hard to get to Level 4 because we would have to come up with any conceivable situation on any highway in any country. That’s quite a hard one. On the other hand, a Level 3 system on the highway is very comfortable for the driver. So it’s a valuable system.

When you think about the automotive parking garage pilots, a Level 3 system wouldn’t help very much because the driver would have to go to the store and then walk out to their car just as before. But a Level 4 system in the parking garage would be the comfort system. Exit the car at the entrance, go on your way and the car would park itself. That would be nice. So this is a limited-use case for low speeds that we can think of for a Level 4 system that’ll come much earlier than driving on a highway.

So the important thing is to separate the levels from the functions."

How do you train these systems?

"Well, they’re two different things. We have object detection algorithms and we train them with pictures and video streams we have from all over the world. Lots of data. The second thing is the algorithm for the maneuvering itself. This is physical. We have no trained algorithms in the car right now because we describe them in physical algorithms that come from engineers. So this is the big difference. There’s no self-learning car that drives on AI data."

Is the goal to have a self-learning car that learns and it uploads to the cloud in the cloud shares it with other cars?

"We call it a vision, not an actual goal."


What is the vision for the next five to 10 years?

"The vision is more complex scenarios. When we envision a future research project of driving in the city, we’re facing complex intersections where there are pedestrians, cyclists, cars and trucks, and distinguishing all the possible situations and do the right hypothesis. I think this is the big thing we can do with AI.

At the moment, there are much more simpler things. For example, describing a parking lot. What is a parking lot? What’s not? That’s very hard to describe to an algorithm. But for a self-learning algorithm we could feed millions of pictures from all the world. That’s a possible solution. So we’re testing simple scenarios and coming to the more complex ones."

The Audi A8 with Level 3 autonomy will launch sometime in 2018. Check our more of other coverage from the Audi Tech Summit in Barcelona.

from Engadget

MateLabs mixes machine learning with IFTTT


If you’ve ever wanted to train a machine learning model and integrate it with IFTTT, you now can with a new offering from MateLabs. MateVerse, a platform where novices can spin out machine learning models, now works with IFTTT so that you can automatically set up models to run based on conditional statements.

If you’re not familiar with IFTTT, it’s an automation tool for creating your own if/then statements without any programming knowledge. The service makes it possible to say, receive a notification if the temperature outside rises above 50 degrees or post pictures directly to Twitter.

MateLabs’ integration works much the same way, but with machine learning. As of now, the company is offering computer vision and natural language processing tools that can respond to Twitter, Slack, Google Drive, Facebook and more. Hypothetically, you could set up a process to analyze a Twitter mention to determine why the mention occurred.


Of course you can build your own models — if you would like you can upload your own data on the MateVerse platform and train your own models for specific use cases. All of this is useful for those who might be unfamiliar with complex machine learning frameworks, but that doesn’t mean more advanced developers couldn’t also benefit from the streamlined experience.

As this technology matures it will be cool to see what hackers are able to do with it. I can imagine that one could build some weird IFTTT integrations with hardware — i.e. a camera that can turn on specific lights depending on whether you or your cat walks into a room.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin

from TechCrunch

Need An Excuse To Skip The Club? Science Says This Age Is Officially Too Old For The Nightclub

Night at the Roxbury


First off, you should never need an excuse to skip the club. If clubbing isn’t your thing and, like myself, you prefer dive bars with black mold on the ceiling and beer lines that haven’t been cleaned in 10 years then just speak your mind. Your bros can’t give you shit for thinking clubs are lame because everyone is entitled to their opinions, or something like that.

Moving on, the fact that you think you need an excuse to skip the club might indicate that you’re getting older, and scientists have determined that there’s a specific age you hit that makes you ‘too old’ for night clubs. We’re not talking about ‘too old’ like that 55-year-old guy going through a divorce who is now looking for a sugar baby but looks like a complete dickhead in the club wearing his Ed Hardy t-shirt.

The age? 37 years old. Once you hit 37 you are officially too old for night clubs…But the hatred of nightclubs starts a lot earlier, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post:

And according to the respondents, 37 is the age it becomes tragic to go to nightclubs, with 31 emerging as the age we officially prefer staying in to going out.
Three in ten of the adults polled said a perfect night-in would be devouring a boxset and nearly a quarter like to spend an evening in whiling away the time on social media the poll found. Eight in ten adults polled said they feel relieved when having a night in and they see friends posting pictures on social media of raucous, boozy gatherings.

At first I wanted to call ‘bullshit’ on 31 being the age that people prefer to stay in instead of going out, but then I realized that’s around the age that everyone I know seems to get married these days and married people tend to stay in and be boring AF, so I’ll accept those findings. As for the age 37 being the cut off for hitting the club? 65-year-old Dan Bilzerian probably thinks otherwise. Or maybe it’s just his heart that’s 65-years-old with the rest of his body 36. (h/t Unilad)


Nvidia is powering the world’s first Level 3 self-driving production car


Audi announced Tuesday that its forthcoming A8 would be the first production vehicle to ship with a Level 3 self-driving feature onboard when it goes on sale next year, and now we know that Nvidia’s technology will be helping power the vehicle’s ‘traffic jam pilot’ autonomous capabilities. Nvidia’s going to be powering a lot in the new A8, in fact – the car has six Nvidia processors helping power not only traffic jam pilot, but also its infotainment system, virtual cockpit instrumentation and headrest tablets for backseat passengers on fully equipped models.

The introduction of Level 3 autonomy on the A8 will mean that drivers don’t have to pay attention to the road in certain conditions – specifically in this case when the car is driving 37 mph or under on a highway with a physical divider. If the vehicle meets those conditions, and local laws allow, drivers can do whatever else is legally allowed behind the wheel, and the system will let them know when it’s time to resume manual control.

That’s a step further than current highway driving assistance features like Tesla’s Autopilot, which is classified as a Level 2 system and requires a driver to be paying attention and ready to resume control at all times. But it’s also designed primarily for sitting in traffic, whereas Autopilot is designed for a range of speeds in highway driving scenarios.

Nvidia’s processor is the “brain” of Audi’s zFAS system, which is the computer that handles driver assistance onboard the A8, and that takes sensor data gathered from the vehicle’s radar, camera, laser scanning and ultrasound sensors to create a fused picture of the road with a range of different types of data. The zFAS decides how the car behaves when traffic jam pilot is engaged, processing data at a rate of 2.5 billion inputs per second.

Level 3 autonomy is somewhat controversial in the self-driving world because it both allows a driver to relax their attention and yet also can’t handle driving operations of the car entirely, as a Level 4 vehicle could. Audi must be very confident in the A8’s abilities with traffic jam pilot to bring this to market, and Nvidia’s tech has a lot riding on a smooth deployment once it does go to market, too.

from TechCrunch

Silicon Valley is hot on a new cryptocurrency that could become worth 100 times its current value


vitalik buterin ethereum

Ether, the unit of cryptocurrency used on the Ethereum blockchain, has given investors a wild ride lately.

Its value more than doubled in May, peaked in June at more than $400 an Ether, and then lost more than half that value by early this week.

That may sound like a bubble bursting. But some investors are still optimistic and are prepared to ride it out.

Aaron Batalion, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners, said he expected to see more 50% price jumps in Ether, with big returns down the road.

"Over the next five to 10 years, I believe it will be worth 10 or 100 times its current value," Batalion said.

Jason Calacanis, an early investor in startups including Robinhood and Uber, recently tweeted: "I think I need to own some #Etherium — what % of net worth would you allocate to crypto as a 46 year old with stable income?"

Chamath Palihapitiya, an early Facebook employee and Silicon Valley investor, responded: "1%."

jason calacanis ethereum tweet

Matt Galligan, a serial entrepreneur and investor in Ether, said he was also looking to the five-year mark, when he expects the platform to have matured to the point when it has a lot of uses.

"The space is still really early," Galligan said. "There’s going to be a lot of froth and volatility."

What are Ethereum and Ether?

So what exactly are Ethereum and Ether, you may wonder.

In short, Ethereum is a platform for sharing information that cannot be manipulated or changed. It’s a blockchain similar to the one underlying the bitcoin cryptocurrency that records information chronologically and publicly.

In the future, Ethereum may be used to securely transfer money to your bank or to send documents to your insurance company. Today, these processes require multiple steps for verification and authentication, but Ethereum makes verification a one-step process because the information is incorruptible in the first place.

Ether is the unit of currency in Ethereum. It’s a token that can be exchanged for services on the platform.

The currency is the "fuel for the Ethereum virtual machine," said Andreas Weiler, the head of markets at Smith and Crown, a crypto-financial research group.

Ether, Ethereum, and bitcoin are not the same things

While often compared to bitcoin, Ether is not actually a competing currency. Bitcoin is explicitly a digital form of money and payment system, whereas Ether is a means of buying services within Ethereum.

Ethereum is still in beta and not widely used, but some investors believe it may someday be a foundational layer of the internet. Ether is still a financial risk, however, because Ethereum hasn’t yet taken off — and there’s no guarantee that it will.

"When you invest in Ether, you are not actually doing anything — you are holding ammo, which will allow you to execute code when there is code worth being executed on the platform," Weiler said.

In the meantime, though, you have to be prepared for a lot of volatility.

The price of Ether shot up this spring, rising from less than $20 a digital coin in March to an all-time high of $420 in midday trading in the middle of June, according to Global Digital Asset Exchange, the primary Ether-trading platform. In May alone, it rose from less than $90 an Ether to nearly $230.

In recent weeks, though, investors have been selling off the digital currency. It sank to as low as $175.56 earlier this week, according to GDAX, before rebounding. In recent trading on Wednesday, it was at $208.87.

Part of that instability comes from people not knowing what they’re investing in, Weiler said.

"It really did smell like dumb money coming in and not knowing what Ethereum is about or what role Ether plays in the economy in the first place," he said.

But the currency’s price may stabilize as Ethereum scales and becomes more commonplace. It is this possibility that is keeping some investors in the game.

"As with any new technology innovation, the early attempts are fraught with challenges, but this technology will not go back into a box and disappear," Batalion said. "We will see meaningful companies built using this technology and fund-raising approach, even if the normal end user doesn’t realize it’s part of the foundation of a product [or] service they use."

SEE ALSO: Ethereum is making a big comeback

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This detachable plane cabin could save many lives

from SAI

‘Buy Bitcoin’ Sign Raised as Fed Chair Janet Yellen Testifies Before Congress


As Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen testified before Congress today, one attendee had some attention-grabbing advice: buy bitcoin.

Yellen appeared before the House Financial Services Committee to give remarks on the state of the US economy and field questions from committee members. As chief of the US central bank, Yellen also spoke about a recent semi-annual report delivered to Congress by the Fed.

And while Yellen made headlines by expressing her willingness to raise interest rates amidst a healthier economic climate (following years of near-zero rates instituted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis), it was one attendee who drew notice on social media after he held up a “buy bitcoin” sign two rows behind where Yellen was seated.

A screen grab of the moment was tweeted by CNBC staffer Steve Kopack, and later shared by others who have been watching Yellen’s testimony before Congress.

The identity of the person who held up the sign isn’t immediately clear. Yet in a follow-up tweet, Wall Street Journal national economics correspondent Nick Timiraos reported that the individual, along with another, had left the room “after a staffer made some instruction to them”. Video published by Bloomberg shows the two individuals being spoken to by a staffer.

Yellen – who told Congress in 2014 that the Fed “doesn’t have authority to supervise or regulate bitcoin in any way” – remarked earlier this year that she believes blockchain is an “important technology”.

Under her leadership, the Fed has moved to publish some of its internal research into the technology, releasing its first report on the subject in December.

Screen Capture Source: Bloomberg/YouTube

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from CoinDesk

The Meningitis Vaccine Seems to Protect You From Gonorrhea Too


The meningococcal vaccine that’s recommended for teenagers (although not enough of them get it) may have an Easter egg. In addition to protecting people from meningitis, a New Zealand study found that people who got the vaccine also had lower rates of gonorrhea. (Gonorrhea and the meningococcal bacteria are closely related.) This isn’t a license to get complacent about STD prevention, but if you’ve been putting off getting the vaccine for yourself or your kid, now you have an extra reason to make that appointment.

from Lifehacker

Keep up with the Tour—or create your own—with Search and Maps


The 104th edition of cycling’s most famous Grand Tour is well underway, with nearly 200 riders from around the world racing through 3,540 kilometers of the French countryside for the coveted yellow jersey. We’ve made a few tune-ups to Google Search to help you keep up with every stage of the Tour. And if the grueling mountain climbs inspire rather than intimidate you, hit the road on your own two wheels with Google Maps biking directions as your guide.

Now globally on the Google app for Android and iOS and the mobile web, when you search for Tour de France (or a similar query) on Google, you’ll see detailed information about the race and athletes as well as see the latest news stories. Most notably, you’ll also see the current standings of the race, which show jersey holders along with stage-by-stage results. As an added bonus, you’ll also have access to real-time update posts from the Tour de France directly in the search results.


Not everyone has the chance to make that triumphant roll down the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Lucky for us mere mortals, Google Maps makes it easy to find the best bike routes to let our inner cyclist shine—or just get from point A to point B.

To get bike directions on Google Maps, just enter your destination and tap on the bike icon. We give route suggestions based on the availability of dedicated bike trails in the area, and when possible we prioritize those routes. In case you’re not aiming to be “King of the Mountain,” we factor in variables like hills as well as size of the road, availability of bike lanes, and number of turns.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to map out your own path, the bike layer will show color-coded routes according to their suitability for biking: dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only or multi-use trail; lighter green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road; and a dotted green line indicates roads that don’t have bike lanes but tend to be more suitable for biking. To turn on the bike layer, tap the button above the compass icon and then tap the bike icon (on iOS) or open the main menu and then tap the bike icon (on Android).

Now grab your helmet, pump up your tires, and hit those hills!

from Official Google Blog