Google's new products, Tesla autopilot, humanoid robots - The Wrap

IDG News Service | Oct 1, 2015

WrapGoogle updates Nexus lineup, Tesla's autopilot software update is coming, Google and Microsoft drop lawsuits and a humanoid robot gives us a glimpse of the future. Follow host Nick Barber on Twitter @nickjb.

Autopilot mode is coming to Teslas and a robot brings the future closer.


Here's your tech top three and what you need to know this week.

Google had a deluge of new products. There's the high end 5.7 inch Nexus 6P and the smaller cheaper Nexus 5X that will ship this month. Both have updated cameras that Google says perform well in low light. The company added an audio product to its Chromecast line called Chromecast Audio. It uses WiFi instead of Bluetooth to turn dumb speakers and stereos into smart ones. There was also the Pixel C convertible which will run Android Marshmallow and cost 499 dollars.

Tesla's autopilot mode will help drivers on long trips and should be in cars in the next few weeks. The software update has been undergoing testing for several months and is late by a few weeks. It will keep the car safely in the lane and adjusts its speed. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said it relies on ultrasonic sensors and a forward camera and radar. The company also announced its Model X luxury electric SUV that can carry 7 people up to 250 miles on a single charge.

Microsoft and Google have decided to call it quits on a number of global patent deals. They agreed to settle 20 international patent lawsuits, but financial terms weren't disclosed. They also agreed to collaborate on patent matters. The suits included ones relating to mobile phones, video encoding and wifi technologies. The announcement signals an easing of tensions between the two rivals.

In focus this week we take a look at a robot I got to meet yesterday. Pepper is made by France based Aldebaran and it's already quite popular in Japanese shops where it's used as a greeter. It hasn't come to the US stores yet. While most of us have visions of humanoid robots helping the home while having natural conversations, that future is far off. One of the engineers I met with said robotics is about setting realistic expectations. If we think the first versions are going to be like Rosie from the cartoon the Jetsons, then we're going to be disappointed. With Pepper though I was fascinated. It made eye contact when it talked to me and tracked me if I moved, just like a human would. It noticed I was new in the office and offered me a hug. Pepper is programmed to make witty banter, dance and play basic interactive games. Is this what we imagine as the future? Not quite, but it is getting us closer and that's what is cool about it. I'm Nick Barber and that's a wrap.
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