• The well-funded startups driven to own the autonomous vehicle stack

    At some point in the future, while riding along in a car, a kid may ask their parent about a distant time in the past when people used steering wheels and pedals to control an automobile. Of course, the full realization of the “auto” part of the word — in the form of fully autonomous automobiles — is a long way off, but there are nonetheless companies trying to build that future today. However, changing the face of transportation is a costly business, one that typically requires corporate backing or a lot of venture funding to realize such an ambitious goal. A recent funding round, some $128 million raised in a Series A round by Shenzhen-based Roadstar.ai, got us at Crunchbase News asking a question: Just how many independent, well-funded autonomous vehicles startups are out there? In short, not as many as you’d think. To investigate further, we took a look at the set of independent companies in Crunchbase’s “autonomous vehicle” category that have raised $50 million or more in venture funding. After a little bit of hand filtering, we found that the companies mostly shook out into two broad categories: those working on sensor technologies, which are integral to any self-driving system, and more “full-stack” hardware and software companies, which incorporate sensors, machine-learned software models and control mechanics into more integrated autonomous systems. Full-stack self-driving vehicle companies Let’s start with full-stack companies first. The table below shows the set of independent full-stack autonomous vehicle companies operating in the market today, as well as their focus areas, headquarter’s location and the total amount of venture funding raised: Note the breakdown in focus area between the companies listed above. In general, these companies are focused on building more generalized technology platforms — perhaps to sell or license to major automakers in the future — whereas others intend to own not just the autonomous car technology, but deploy it in a fleet of on-demand taxi and other transportation services. Making the eyes and ears of autonomous vehicles On the sensor side, there is also a trend, one that’s decidedly more concentrated on one area of focus, as you’ll be able to discern from the table below: Some of the most well-funded startups in the sensing field are developing light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technologies, which basically serve as the depth-perceiving “eyes” of autonomous vehicle systems. CYNGN integrates a number of different sensors, LiDAR included, into its hardware arrays and software tools, which is one heck of a pivot for the mobile phone OS-maker formerly known as Cyanogen. But there are other problem spaces for these sensor companies, including Nauto’s smart dashcam, which gathers location data and detects distracted driving, or Autotalks’s DSRC technology for vehicle-to-vehicle communication. (Back in April, Crunchbase News covered the $5 million Series A round closed by Comma, which released an open-source dashcam app.) And unlike some of the full-stack providers mentioned earlier, many of these sensor companies have established vendor relationships with the automotive industry. Quanergy Systems, for example, counts components giant Delphi, luxury carmakers Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz and automakers like Hyundai and Renault-Nissan as partners and investors. Innoviz supplies its solid-state LiDAR technology to the BMW Group, according to its website. Although radar and even LiDAR are old hat by now, there continues to be innovation in sensors. According to a profile of Oryx Vision’s technology in IEEE Spectrum, its “coherent optical radar” system is kind of like a hybrid of radar and LiDAR technology in that “it uses a laser to illuminate the road ahead [with infrared light], but like a radar it treats the reflected signal as a wave rather than a particle.” Its technology is able to deliver higher-resolution sensing over a longer distance than traditional radar or newer LiDAR technologies. Can startups stack up against big corporate competitors? There are plenty of autonomous vehicle initiatives backed by deep corporate pockets. There’s Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, which is subsidized by the huge amount of search profit flung off by Google . Uber has an autonomous vehicles initiative too, although it has encountered a whole host of legal and safety issues, including holding the unfortunate distinction of being the first to kill a pedestrian earlier this year. Tesla, too, has invested considerable resources into developing assistive technologies for its vehicles, but it too has encountered some roadblocks as its head of Autopilot (its in-house autonomy solution) left in April. The company also deals with a rash of safety concerns of its own. And although Apple’s self-driving car program has been less publicized than others, it continues to roll on in the background. Chinese companies like Baidu and Didi Chuxing have also launched fill-stack R&D facilities in Silicon Valley. Traditional automakers have also jumped into the fray. Back in 2016, for the price of a cool $1 billion, General Motors folded Cruise Automation into its R&D efforts in a widely publicized buyout. And, not to be left behind, Ford acquired a majority stake in Argo AI, also for $1 billion. That leaves us with a question: Do even the well-funded startups mentioned earlier stand a chance of either usurping market dominance from corporate incumbents or at least joining their ranks? Perhaps. The reason why so much investor cash is going to these companies is because the market opportunity presented by autonomous vehicle technology is almost comically enormous. It’s not just a matter of the car market itself — projected to be over 80 million car sales globally in 2018 alone — but how we’ll spend all the time and mental bandwidth freed up by letting computers take the wheel. It’s no wonder that so many companies, and their backers, want even a tiny piece of that pie.

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  • Bitcoin is Down 50% From 2018 Highs But up 700% From 2017 Lows: Bitcoin (BTC) Technical Analysis (May 28, 2018)

    The general crypto vibe is still bearish. Even if there are announcements supportive of individual cryptos as Bitcoin, we are not seeing any strong movement on the charts. Only lower lows and negative gains across the board is what we see. Despite everything, news of US DoJ and CFTC looking into possible market manipulation is a good thing for investors desirous of smooth volatility. From the News Straight from Argentina’s Banco Masventas to Czech Republic’s Prazska Plynarenska, there is a changing tide on the horizon guys! It’s a monitoring tide, that which could lift cryptocurrencies especially Bitcoin hopefully to new levels. In a bid to remain relevant and not to be perceived as “old” by the young people of Czech Republic, their energy giant distributor Prazska Plynarenska will from June 2018 begin accepting payment in Bitcoin. It came as no surprise though. The country is a host of several Bitcoin ATMs and several eCommerce platforms accept payment in Bitcoin. However, while elaborating, the company was categorically stating that they won’t be holding any Bitcoin themselves. Instead what would happen is that every time a customer settles their electricity bill in Bitcoin, conversion to fiat-national reserve currency Koruna-will be immediate. Moves like these buoy the cryptocurrency market and in the future-and following the lead of Argentina and Japan, more countries would follow suit and legitimize cryptos. While this was happening, the US DoJ is looking into what appears to be collective pump and dump efforts. For the keen eyed, this is something that is needed and of course, eyes will be popping soon considering the unregulated nature of cryptos. In the crypto world, especially for traders trading against BTC, wild moves are common. As a matter of fact, it’s not a surprise to see Bitcoin prices swinging more than $1,000 within some few minutes. This worries many and now, together with the CFTC, the DoJ are investigating to check the level of this manipulation and fraud they are sure exists in the market. Efforts of spoofing-where unscrupulous traders place and pull different orders simultaneously or wash trading activities will in the coming days attract the keen eyes of the justice department. Bitcoin Price Analysis Weekly Chart Bitcoin Weekly Chart by Trading View If we pull Bitcoin statistics then we see a gloomy situation. Bitcoin prices are down 12 percent in the last seven days but pretty stable in the last 24 hours shedding 3 percent as I type this. It has been mild but what we should be looking at is the close of each candlestick and the extent of losses within that week. Notice that relative to previous bars, last week depreciation was steep and saw Bitcoin prices slicing though $8,000. At this rate, trend traders should be looking for sell opportunities this day now that our close is below our previous support line at $7,800. Because of this predisposition, Bitcoin sell targets should be at February lows at $6,000. Daily Chart Bitcoin Daily Chart by Trading View To get a perspective of possible trend, May 22 and 23 candlesticks should paint a better picture. During these two days, there was a literal doubling of trade volumes with prices sinking below $7,800. After that, the follow through has been fair in volumes but then prices are not recovering safe yesterday’s weak attempts of buy shore. In my view, taking shorts anywhere between $8,000 and $8,800 would present with better trade opportunities with targets at $6,000. This is only valid if and only if there is a short covering. Accompanying this appreciation would be light and below average volumes. On the flip side though, if there happens to be sharp spikes in trading volumes and a bullish engulfing edging past May 23 candlestick, then it will be above time to exit shorts and buy. The post Bitcoin is Down 50% From 2018 Highs But up 700% From 2017 Lows: Bitcoin (BTC) Technical Analysis (May 28, 2018) appeared first on NewsBTC.

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