back to article Microsoft-backed robovans to deliver grub in London

Microsoft is pumping supercomputing oomph as well as funds into a British-born autonomous vehicle startup. On Wednesday Wayve, the upstart in question, confirmed it has struck a deal with Microsoft – not surprising since Redmond has already sunk a chunk of change into the business – to use Azure to train next-gen self-driving …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    What's the bandwidth on these things ?

    A terabyte of data every minute is a rather tall order to transmit via WiFi, even with 5G. Also, 60TB of data is one heck of stack of hard disks to put in the trunk (or boot), and driving for one hour is not all that uncommon. What is the data retention policy ?

    So how is the car linked to the Azure server, and what is being sent/received ?

    Also, when the learning phase is over, what kit is going to be left in the cars ?

    1. PhilipN

      Re: What's the bandwidth on these things ?

      Beat me to it but a different point : "generate a terabyte of data every minute". Easy these days. It's interpreting and applying the data is the tricky bit. And is the AI taught to assume that every other road user may be an unpredictable nincompoop?

      1. Fonant

        Re: What's the bandwidth on these things ?

        And is the AI taught to assume that every road user may be an unpredictable nincompoop?

        FTFY

  2. cookieMonster
    WTF?

    DPD, wtf

    They are using DPD as a source of TRAINING data, lol

    I nearly pissed myself laughing when I read that.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: DPD, wtf

      Despite many emails supplying exact coordinates they still can't find my house.

    2. Emir Al Weeq

      Re: DPD, wtf

      My thoughts exactly. Can you imagine getting a RoboTaxi trained by DPD?

      It will take you to a street 5 miles from your desired destination, park on a double-yellow and leave you behind the rubbish bins. That's assuming it picks you up at all and doesn't just wait outside your house for 5ms then leave a note saying you weren't in.

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Learned to obey traffic laws ... like a person.

    I suppose it's one way of reducing the computational overhead.

    Though I can't help feeling that with the growing obesity epidemic, they'd be better off training small vehicles to shepherd unwilling couch potatoes to fetch their own shopping.

  4. Andy E
    Pirate

    Parking like a human

    Having to contend with "parked" delivery vans from Asda and Ocado as they deliver their orders is a daily challenge here. They just seem to stop as close to the target address as they can ignoring any no parking restrictions and/or blocking access roads, driveways etc.. How are they going to teach robots to do that?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Parking like a human

      "How are they going to teach robots to do that?"

      The same way that they teach themselves.

    2. simonb_london

      Re: Parking like a human

      Simple. Just identify the most appropriate and ideal parking position and do a logical NOT on it.

  5. Fonant
    Meh

    Ethics, Risk, and Safety

    This is one answer to the question: "How risky should self-driving motor vehicles be?" - the answer being "As risky as human drivers, we've gotta get those parcels delivered as fast as possible!".

    And the answer to "Should computer-driven motor vehicles always obey road laws?" - the answer being "Doh! Of course not!".

    The biggest issue will be Reputation Management for the owners and manufacturers of these things. If they ever manage to get them into production.

    And the human drivers won't be best pleased with the spotlight being shone on their safety record, either.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Ethics, Risk, and Safety

      "And the answer to "Should computer-driven motor vehicles always obey road laws?" - the answer being "Doh! Of course not!"."

      That is obviously the correct answer anyway, insofar as the laws and roads are not very well specified, and assume that human drivers will exercise discretion and do just as you say. Without doing so it is entirely possible to irreversibly gridlock whole neighbourhoods.

      Or we could rewrite the laws to be sensible and correct, but that would require legislators not to be idiots and charlatans.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    That should clear London streets of cyclists one way or the other.

    1. FIA Silver badge

      Cue "The evils of driverless delivery vans" on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show in 4... 3.... 2.....

    2. Oh Matron!

      Hate the traffic? YOU are the traffic.

  7. werdsmith Silver badge

    Those Starship Robots that are in various towns and cities around the world, including Milton Keynes and Northampton in the UK seem to be quite successful. They've used a convenience shop type model so the robot vehicles don't have to be large or use the roads and therefore not a risk. I really hope they are working out economically because I'd like to see them in more locations.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Although they do still have some way to go.

      I saw one recently sat patiently at a pelican* crossing, waiting for someone to come and press the button so it could cross, and in MK one has gone for a swim:

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-53678376

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Where's the footnote?????

        It should be illegal to star something and then not provide a footnote. I'll still be checking the bottom of the internet for it in several hours time.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Yhey don't have far to go, they are short range delivery vehicles.....

        Yes, people do tend to make a big deal when one does something strange. But there are thousands of deliveries on the 200 vehicle MK fleet that go without a hitch. Starship reached over 1 million deliveries last year. So they are doing OK.

  8. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Wayve, the upstart in question, confirmed it has struck a deal with Microsoft

    Are they going to be called Microwayve?

    Hopefully they won't appear where I live, as the last thing I need is these things snarling up my bus routes as they crawl round the streets dumping people's shopping on the pavement.

  9. simonb_london

    Every automated car will become a police car

    If you have loads of delivery vans everywhere, driving automatically, covered in cameras and sensors and connected to a network.... the ultimate totalitarian temptation!

  10. Oh Matron!

    Canals....

    How long till we find one, wheels up, in the grand union?

    1. Ian Mason

      Re: Canals....

      Given the number of vehicles I've seen floating in Ferry Road Teddington, not long. If the drivers being used as training material are the same quality as the muppets who regular park in the flood zone at the end of that road then it's simply a matter of time.

      Who knows, perhaps the middle of the Grand Union will look like a pristine, unoccupied area of parking tarmac to a diverless (sic) vehicle's AI? For sure if it's trained on DPD driver's data it won't look for signs permitting parking before doing so, just pull up anywhere (like the middle of a single lane road), slam on the hazards and "the job's a good un".

  11. Jason Bloomberg
    Pirate

    Free PC with every delivery

    What sort of processing kit is in these vehicles and robo-buggies, and how easily can it be turned into a free desktop PC?

    Asking for a friend.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Free PC with every delivery

      But how would you boot it?

  12. Lee D

    "Just throw more data at it, that'll do it!"

    The death-knell of every AI system for the last 40 years.

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