May 17, 2020

Lyft partners with start-up nuTonomy to deliver driverless ride-hailing service in Boston

AI
Automation
Callum Rivett
3 min
nuTonomy and Lyft have teamed up to deliver an autonomous ride-hailing system in Boston
Ridesharing company Lyft has added another partner to its team - this time, MIT spin-off company nuTonomy is helping to bring autonomous ride-hailing to...

Ridesharing company Lyft has added another partner to its team - this time, MIT spin-off company nuTonomy is helping to bring autonomous ride-hailing to Boston, where a pilot scheme is likely to pick up its first customers 'in the coming months'.

Massachusetts-based nuTonomy has already found fame after being the first ever company to deliver self-driving taxis to our roads. Their pilot in Singapore was launched in August 2016, with funding from the Singapore Economic Development Board helping in a $16m financing round back in May last year. 

Their test was limited to a 2.5km squared area which had just a small amount of cars on the road, whilst all cars required a nuTonomy engineer to monitor system performance and to take control in situations 'to ensure passenger comfort and safety.'

Lyft revealed in a press call on Tuesday that the two companies would be working together in a 'collaborative, R&D-based partnership' where no money is said to be changing hands, whilst they are both focussed on delivering a safety-first initiative.

Ridesharing company Lyft has added another partner to its team - this time, MIT spin-off company nuTonomy is helping to bring autonomous ride-hailing to Boston, where a pilot scheme is likely to pick up its first customers 'in the coming months'.

Massachusetts-based nuTonomy has already found fame after being the first ever company to deliver self-driving taxis to our roads. Their pilot in Singapore was launched in August 2016, with funding from the Singapore Economic Development Board helping in a $16m financing round back in May last year. 

Their test was limited to a 2.5km squared area which had just a small amount of cars on the road, whilst all cars required a nuTonomy engineer to monitor system performance and to take control in situations 'to ensure passenger comfort and safety.'

Gradually, the vehicles progressed to a busy street near the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre, with its electric Ren

Lyft revealed in a press call on Tuesday that the two companies would be working together in a 'collaborative, R&D-based partnership' where no money is said to be changing hands, whilst they are both focussed on delivering a safety-first initiative.

nuTonomy has already begun work on implementing the software required into a small number of vehicles to test out their design in the near future, although the target is for ‘thousands’ of autonomous vehicles to be available on Lyft.

The main problem, however, is predicting how passengers will engage with the new system and how they treat the service.

CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy Karl Iagnemma admitted a ‘lack of experience’ in the industry will lead to a learning kerb for both companies.

‘We don’t really know how riders will engage with autonomous vehicles,’ Iagnemma said. ‘Gathering data on how passengers interact with the service before, during and after their ride will be crucial.’

Both Lyft and nuTonomy are working with Boston officials to certify that they can launch with approval from regulators, as well as ensuring that they will meet certain regulations – which the presence of a safety engineer will hopefully encourage.

 

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Jun 21, 2021

ICO warns of privacy concerns on the use of LFR technology

Technology
ICO
LFR
cameras
3 min
Organisations need to justify their use of live facial recognition (LFR) is fair, necessary, and proportionate, says the Information Commissioner’s Office

Live facial recognition (LFR) technology should not be used simply because it is available and must be used for a specific purpose, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned.

“I am deeply concerned about the potential for live facial recognition (LFR) technology to be used inappropriately, excessively, or even recklessly. When sensitive personal data is collected on a mass scale without people’s knowledge, choice or control, the impacts could be significant,” said Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s Information Commissioner.

Denham explained that with any new technology, building public trust and confidence in the way people’s information is used is crucial so the benefits derived from the technology can be fully realised.

“It is not my role to endorse or ban a technology but, while this technology is developing and not widely deployed, we have an opportunity to ensure it does not expand without due regard for data protection,” Denham added.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has said it will work with organisations to ensure that the use of LFR is lawful, and that a fair balance is struck between their own purposes and the interests and rights of the public. They will also engage with Government, regulators and industry, as well as international colleagues to make sure data protection and innovation can continue to work hand in hand.
 

What is live facial recognition? 

Facial recognition is the process by which a person can be identified or recognised from a digital facial image. Cameras are used to capture these images and FRT software measures and analyses facial features to produce a biometric template. This typically enables the user to identify, authenticate or verify, or categorise individuals. 

Live facial recognition (LFR) is a type of FRT that allows this process to take place automatically and in real-time. LFR is typically deployed in a similar way to traditional CCTV in that it is directed towards everyone in a particular area rather than specific individuals. It can capture the biometric data of all individuals passing within range of the camera indiscriminately, as opposed to more targeted “one-to-one” data processing. This can involve the collection of biometric data on a mass scale and there is often a lack of awareness, choice or control for the individual in this process. 

 

Why is biometric data particularly sensitive?

Biometrics are physical or behavioural human characteristics that can be used to digitally identify a person to grant access to systems, devices, or data. Biometric data extracted from a facial image can be used to uniquely identify an individual in a range of different contexts. It can also be used to estimate or infer other characteristics, such as their age, sex, gender, or ethnicity.

The security of the biometric authentication data is vitally important, even more than the security of passwords, since passwords can be easily changed if they are exposed. A fingerprint or retinal scan, however, is immutable. 

The UK courts have concluded that “like fingerprints and DNA [a facial biometric template] is information of an “intrinsically private” character.” LFR can collect this data without any direct engagement with the individual. Given that LFR relies on the use of sensitive personal data, the public must have confidence that its use is lawful, fair, transparent, and meets the other standards set out in data protection legislation.

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