Big Tech Comes To India’s Aid, The EU’s Chip Autonomy And More In This Week’s Top News

This week saw the big tech come to India’s rescue as the subcontinent is among the nations worst hit by COVID-19’s second wave. From million dollars in funding to oxygen supplies, the companies have lend their helping hand in all possible ways. “I am heartbroken by the current situation in India. I’m grateful the U.S. government is mobilizing to help. Microsoft will continue to use its voice, resources, and technology to aid relief efforts, and support the purchase of critical oxygen concentration devices,” tweeted Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. Whereas, Google announced $18 million in new funding for India, which includes two grants from, Google’s philanthropic arm, totalling $2.6 million. Check the full coverage here.

Lyft Sells Its Self Driving Segment

Ride hailing service Lyft is unburdening itself of its much hyped level-5  self-driving efforts as the company announced the acquisition by Toyota’s subsidiary Woven Planet. “Today’s announcement launches Lyft into the next phase of an incredible journey to bring our mission to life,” Lyft Co-Founder and CEO Logan Green said in a statement. Lyft’s Open Platform team will become the new Lyft Autonomous team. As per the agreement, Lyft will receive, in total, approximately $550 million in cash with this transaction, with $200 million paid upfront subject to certain closing adjustments and $350 million of payments over a five-year period. The Woven Planet team, alongside the team of researchers at Toyota Research Institute, have already established a center of excellence for software development, automated driving, and advanced safety technology within the Toyota Group. “This acquisition assembles a dream team of world-class engineers and scientists to deliver safe mobility technology for the world,” James Kuffner, CEO of Woven Planet said. 

Big Tech Report Record Earnings

Source: WSJ

The earning reports have come in and it looks like the tech juggernauts are having none of the pandemic clout. Between January and March, Apple sold iPhones worth $47 billion, a 66% jump from the previous year. Facebook too has exceeded the expectations as it reported a 48% rise thanks to the booming ad revenue. Amazon Web Services(AWS), which has been making profits for Amazon for many consecutive quarters reported a net revenue of $13.5 billion this quarter, up 32% year over year. Google’s parent company Alphabet reported a revenue of $55.31 billion. “Over a year into the pandemic, digital adoption curves aren’t slowing down. They’re accelerating,” said Satya Nadella as he revealed Microsoft’s revenue which has risen by 19% in the latest quarter.

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Now Europe Wants Chip Autonomy

As the dangers of chip drought looms large, governments across the world are taking extreme measures to dodge an indefinite chip-dependency on the east. Last month, the US President Biden called upon the chip makers to bring the fabs back to the shores. Now, the European Union is in plans to dish out its own version of chip autonomy. According to reports, the EU is mulling a pan-European scheme known as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI), is aimed at doubling the EU’s market share in semiconductors to 20% by 2030. Taiwan’s TSMC makes most of the chips that power our cars, computers etc., However, the country is facing worst drought in 50 years which aggravated the chip production, which was already disrupted by the pandemic last year. The EU Commissioner will soon be meeting Intel’s chief Pat Gelsinger and TSMC’s President to explore potential synergies. 

SPOT In A Tight Spot

The NYPD retires “Digidog” robot after public backlash | Ars Technica
NYPD’s DIGIDOG (Source: ArsTechnica)

The New York Police Department’s plans to hire a robo dog came to a halt this week. Named “DIGIDOG”, the Boston Dynamics’ SPOT robot was purchased by the law enforcers to sniff out suspicious activities i n the city. When the digi-dog’s presence on the crime scene triggered a heated debate where people accused the whole initiative to be overtly dystopian. SPOT was originally designed to run errands in factories, work in harmful environments etc. But, its functionality in a highly critical crime scene was immediately protested. In response to a subpoena, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.

EU Charges Apple With Antitrust

On Friday, the European Union charged Apple with antitrust violations for allegedly abusing its control over the distribution of music-streaming apps, broadening the battle over the tech giant’s App Store practices ahead of a federal trial in the U.S. brought by “Fortnite” maker Epic Games.

According to the EU, Apple squeezed rival music-streaming apps by requiring them to use Apple’s in-app payments system to sell digital content. The case stems from a complaint by Spotify Technology SA, which competes with Apple’s music-streaming service. While the “big tech- antitrust” saga adds a new chapter almost every month, there is something more serious brewing on the Easter front. China, which began its own version of a big tech crackdown last year, has now unleashed its whip on fintech giants. On Thursday, China’s central bank and four other regulatory agencies told WeChat, ride-hailing company Didi and others that their apps should no longer provide financial services beyond payments, according to people familiar with the discussions. Jack Ma’s Ant Group, has already accepted the terms of the regulators and is in process of delinking its financial services. 

Ram Sagar
I have a master's degree in Robotics and I write about machine learning advancements.

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