Amazon buys self-driving startup, EVs and hybrid Ford F-150s, plus more tech news

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Friday, June 26.

1. Amazon’s $1.2B move on Zoox, Volvo and Waymo

Friday is not Car Friday around these parts but wow, there’s a lot of really interesting car, truck, EV and self-driving vehicle news today!

In no particular order, big self-driving news and moves:

zoox

  • Amazon is buying self-driving car developer Zoox (The Information) for $1.2B. This is one of Amazon’s biggest investments ever, and what’s interesting here is that Zoox has always been super ambitious in developing a completely integrated self-driving vehicle that is intended to be a robotaxi service. (Gif above via Zoox.com)
  • That means not just strapping on autonomous technology, but going back to the drawing board and building a car, as this Bloomberg piece showed back in 2018.
  • This is further than, say, Waymo, seen as the leader in the space, and Zoox apparently hired loads of folks from Tesla, Apple, Google, Ferrari, and Amazon over the years. Now they’re all at Amazon.
  • Amazon’s plans for Zoox aren’t yet known. Most people think Amazon and self-driving and think delivery vans, but Amazon invested in Rivian for that reason, and Zoox is fairly different. Acquihire?

And speaking of Google, Waymo, and self-driving:

  • Volvo will use Waymo’s self-driving technology to power a fleet of electric robotaxis (The Verge). Volvo had once partnered with Uber before an Uber test vehicle sadly killed a pedestrian.
  • The new announcement talks about Level 4 autonomous vehicles, which, per by SAE International’s widely accepted six-level classification, reads as follows: “…no driver attention is ever required for safety, e.g. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver’s seat. Self-driving is supported only in limited spatial areas (geofenced) or under special circumstances. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, e.g. park the car, if the driver does not retake control. An example would be a robotic taxi or a robotic delivery service that only covers selected locations in a specific area.â€�

New hybrid/EV trucks, too!

Bonus: Germany is betting everything on electric cars (Jalopnik).


2. The reportedly $299 OnePlus Nord might offer dual selfie cameras on the front, like the Pixel 3. That might actually be useful for offering more selfie options? (Android Authority).


3. Google Photos gets redesign, new logo, and new maps feature. Rolling out across the next week – I don’t have it yet! (Android Authority).


4. Leaked Microsoft ‘Lockhart’ document hints at second next-gen Xbox: Xbox Series S? (The Verge).


5. TikTok to stop reading user clipboards after being exposed by iOS 14 privacy feature (9to5Mac).


6. Hey email app open to all after Apple ‘definitively’ approves it. This ends both the invites as digital currency, and maybe lowers social cache you had from changing your contact email to [email protected] (Engadget).


7. 100 million people watch YouTube on big screen TVs each month (Engadget).


8. Karat: A new credit card ties your credit to social media stats, the first black card release designed specifically for influencers (Wired).


9. Cyberpunk 2077 initial impressions are out: Complex, overwhelming, but it works (Kotaku), a mashup of Blade Runner and John Wick with healthy doses of Ghost in the Shell sprinkled throughout (The Verge).


10. “Do trees die of old age?� (r/askscience).


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