Google's Waymo begins operating self-driving cab service in Arizona
On Wednesday, Alphabet (Google)’s spin-off self-driving car developer Waymo began charging customers for the use of its driverless vehicles, Reuters reports. The company is operating a fleet of 600 autonomous taxis within a 100-mile area in the suburbs of Pheonix, Arizona, where Waymo is based - although the company has not revealed how much of its fleet is currently operating as part of the new service.
The suburbs - Chandler, Tempe, Mesa and Gilbert - have served as Waymo’s testing grounds for self-driving cars since 2016. Now, to use the service, customers must download an app and provide a credit card. The model is similar to ride-sharing software used by other companies, with prices “roughly in line with that of Uber and Lyft. A 15-minute, 3-mile (4.8 km) drive taken by Reuters last week cost US$7.59, just above the $7.22 offered by Lyft.”
Currently, a human driver is always present to take control in case of emergencies. In a blog post, Waymo CEO John Krafcik wrote: “Over time, we hope to make Waymo One available to even more members of the public. Self-driving technology is new to many, so we’re proceeding carefully.” Waymo told Reuters it plans to phase out the human minders, but gave no exact timeline.
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Alphabet has not disclosed its total investment in Waymo, which has been testing cars since 2008. But, according to Reuters, “industry experts put the sum at well over $1bn”.
Reuters concludes that “a bill that would speed the use of self-driving cars without human controls has been stalled in the U.S. Senate for over a year. Meanwhile, rules on key issues such as data, privacy, liability and cyber security are still undecided.
For now, Waymo says it is focused on the Phoenix area, where it hopes to gain valuable insights into supply and demand, as it awaits decisions from regulators.”
Ivy.ai’s new chatbot streamlines resources and policies
Ivy.ai, a creator of AI chatbots for higher education, is offering a chatbot that helps institutions streamline name, image, and likeness policies for athletic programmes.
This solution will allow athletic departments to dramatically reduce inbound inquiries while answering inquiries related to compliance, financial aid impact, how-to documents, and best practice training videos.
It will allow institutions to condense information in a way that is easily accessible and eliminates the need for student-athletes to read complicated manuals. Institutions can also engage with student-athletes via a real-time feedback loop to see which topics truly matter and what needs further clarification. This allows administrators to be proactive and provide a competitive edge in recruiting.
Helping institutions connect their students with information
“Athletic departments at colleges and universities are overwhelmed by the challenges posed by the name, image and likeness legislation,” said Mary Frances Coryell, Vice President of Strategic Alliances and Partnership.
“Ivy.ai is uniquely positioned in the market to help institutions connect their student-athletes with policies and information related to NIL such as state laws, restrictions and relevant contacts. Our chatbot can digest all relevant policy information and provide answers to student-athletes at any time on any device. We expect the NIL market to move quickly, so student-athletes deserve the answers on their terms, rather than exclusively during work hours.”
Primary use cases for the chatbot include:
- Answering commonly asked questions related to name, image and likeness
- Communicate policies such as state laws, restrictions and compliance regulations
- Provide contact information for various advisors and agencies
- Connect training materials for athletes to improve their branding
- Engage in two-way reactive and proactive communication to keep policies student-centric
Back in March 2020, the company offered schools a free COVID-19 Response System, including a customisable COVID-19 Response Bot, a human-to-human live chat system and an SMS Text platform. These services are offered completely free of charge.
"The customisable COVID-19 Response Bot will help schools connect their students with important information, such as the school's operational status, where to go for treatment, and what to do to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus. We already added that information to all of our clients' AI chatbots, and we found that in many cases students needed additional support. That's why we're including our human-to-human Live Chat system in this offer. The SMS Text platform can be used to drive awareness to this communications channel for your students." said Mark McNasby, CEO of Ivy.ai.