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Google Inc. Plans to Make Its Self-Driving Cars Unit

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Google Inc. plans to make its self-driving cars unit, which will offer rides for hire, a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc. corporate umbrella next year, a person briefed on the company’s strategy said.

Google’s autonomous vehicles have logged more than 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) on public roads, mostly around San Francisco and Austin, Texas, making these cities logical places for launching a service, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The fleets ­– which would include a range of large and small vehicles — could be deployed first in confined areas like college campuses, military bases or corporate office parks, the person said.

The race to develop a self-driving vehicle fleet has intensified since February when Bloomberg reported that Google was developing a rival to Uber Technologies Inc., most likely in conjunction with its driverless-car project. Uber is pursuing its own autonomous capabilities, while automakers are deploying semi-autonomous technologies and experimenting with so-called shared mobility.

By challenging ride-sharing pioneers like Uber and Lyft Inc., as well as traditional taxis, Google is providing the clearest indication yet how it plans to make money from self-driving automotive technologies that it began testing in 2009. Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano declined to comment.

Self-Standing Business

In August, the Mountain View, California-based company reorganized itself into a conglomerate called Alphabet. The company said it plans to spin out several of its advanced-technology units into stand-alone companies within the Alphabet portfolio, including its robotics division, its health-care company Verily, the Google Ventures and Google Capital investment firms, and Google Inc., the search-engine company. The company’s self-driving car unit now resides in the research division called Google X.

In September, Google X hired John Krafcik, an auto-industry veteran, as chief executive officer of its cars project. Krafcik was then working as president of TrueCar Inc., the online auto-shopping service. He’d previously been a senior sales executive at Hyundai Motor Co. and a truck engineer at Ford Motor Co. He didn’t respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

When announcing Krafcik’s hiring in September, Google said it had no immediate plans to make self-driving cars a free-standing business unit, but that it was “a good candidate to become one at some point in the future.” Google executives have said they have no plans to mass-produce cars and trucks.

In the meantime, Uber is spending some of the more than $10 billion it has raised in private markets to develop self-driving cars. Uber has recruited dozens of autonomous-vehicle researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics program and in June hired Brian McClendon, Google’s former vice president of engineering, to run Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center. But Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick acknowledged at a conference in October that Google has the lead in developing a robot car.

Google executives have said they’re interested in self-driving cars primarily to reduce traffic accidents, which claim about 33,000 lives in the U.S. each year.

Google and Alphabet co-founder Sergey Brin suggested in September that self-driving cars could first appear in the form of a service, saying it would let a lot of people try the technology and that having “the vehicle come back to us every day” meant Google could rapidly update the machines.

Bloomberg

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

Fund Raising

Lagos-Based Tech Startups Raised $750 million in 2022

Lagos now ranks 81 globally as one of the leading hubs for startups

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startup - Investors King

Tech Start-up operating in Lagos State has so far raised $750 million in 2022, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, Tunbosun Alake stated on Thursday at the opening of the 4th Art of Lagos (AOT) Conference. 

While noting that the state has become the number one startup capital in Africa, Alake said Lagos now ranks 81 globally as one of the leading hubs for startups.

He added that Lagos is also number one in Africa in terms of the volume of deals that have been sealed from 2019 to date.

Also speaking at the conference, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat noted that Lagos State has been able to provide an enabling environment where startups and small businesses could thrive. 

Similarly, speaking further, Alake revealed that the increasing number of investors putting their money in Lagos state is a result of the conducive environment for investment and not because of the large population. 

“Investors are coming to Lagos because there have been many things we have been doing to encourage and to make sure the ecosystem is right for these investments. And Lagos is a place investor love to come to, not just because of the size of the market but also because of the potential of the returns on their investments,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Lagos State has disclosed that it has plans to enter into the venture market, thereby launching a venture fund of its own. Investors King learnt.

The special adviser noted that the soon-to-be-launched capital venture fund will “write bigger equity cheques for Nigerian startups than most privately-owned VC”.

“We are working to launch a Lagos venture fund of bigger ticket sizes,” Alake said. “Where normal VCs expect to cash in returns in 5 to 10 years, we are going to be able to do more time because we need more mission-critical products that would serve the citizens.” 

“The fund would be cross-sectoral including fintech, agriculture, health, and most importantly, “research and development startups,” he added. 

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Social Media

Meta, Facebook Set up Team to Monitor Fake News, Hate Speech Ahead of Nigeria’s 2023 Elections

Meta noted that the monitoring team will help to identify and flag fake news and hate speeches. 

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp disclosed it has constituted a team to monitor posts made by Nigerians ahead of the next year’s general elections.

Meta noted that the monitoring team will help to identify and flag fake news and hate speeches. 

Investors King understands that the next general election in Nigeria which comes up every four years has been scheduled to take place in February and March 2023. The Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled the Presidential and the National Assembly elections for the 23rd of February while Governorships and State House of Assembly elections will hold on the 11th of March

According to Meta, the team which has a number of Nigerians and others was put together purposely for the election. 

Addressing a press conference in Lagos on Wednesday, Meta’s Head of Public Policy for Anglophone West Africa, Adaora Ikenze noted that members that made up the team are experts in misinformation, public policy programmes, and communication. 

“The team also includes individuals with global expertise in misinformation, hate speech, elections, and disinformation. These teams are working hard to prevent any abuse of our services before, during, and after Nigeria’s 2023 general elections. Locally, we also have staff who reside in Nigeria and work in public policy, & public policy programmes, and communications,” she said. 

Adaora added that Meta has a big responsibility of keeping people safe from any danger that might come through misinformation on its platforms. She noted that the social media giant has invested hugely to reduce misinformation and harmful content on its platforms while promoting civic engagement.

“We know we have an important responsibility when it comes to helping keep people safe during the elections. Using lessons from the past including input from experts and policymakers across the national spectrum, we’ve made substantial investments in people and technology to reduce misinformation, remove harmful content on our platforms, fight voter interference and promote civic engagement during the elections”, she noted. 

Similarly, Meta added that it is working closely with all relevant election authorities and local partners in Nigeria to ensure quick identification of any potential threats before, during, and after the election. 

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Telecommunications

NCC Announces Airtel as the Sole Bidder for the Second 5G Spectrum Auction

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Airtel Financial Results - Investors King

The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has announced Airtel Network Limited as the sole bidder for the 5G spectrum scheduled for auction on December 19, 2022.

Airtel has since deposited $27.36 million ahead of the auction.

Investors King could recall that MTN and Mafab Communication won the first 5G spectrum auction which also had Airtel as a competitor. 

According to the NCC, only two telecom companies, Airtel Africa and Standard Network & Connections Limited expressed interest in the auction as of the stipulated deadline which was Monday, December 5, 2022. 

Therefore, the NCC noted that there would be no auction as Airtel would be assigned one of the available lots of 100 MHz TDD Spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.

Investors King understands that the $27.36 million deposit is 10 percent of the reserve price for the spectrum fixed at $273.6 million. The same price was paid by MTN and Mafab Communications before the 5G spectrum was allocated to them individually. 

MTN on its part has since launched its 5G network in some cities which include Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan. The 5G network promised to enhance connectivity and stimulate broadband penetration in Nigeria. 

NCC further stated that an extension sought by Standard Network can not be granted owing to the auction timetable which had earlier been published. 

The statement by NCC partly read “Only Airtel paid the Intention to Bid Deposit as stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) whereas, Standard Network sent an email appeal for the deadline to be extended by 12 working days which was not acceptable in view of the auction timetable”. 

“Having met all the provisions in the IM, Airtel has, therefore, emerged as the sole bidder. Consequently, there shall be no further bidding and the Commission will proceed to the assignment stage in line with the published Information Memorandum guiding the licensing process,” the statement added. 

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