Driverless buses, ex-billionaires and the death of a robot

Planet Business: Anyone for a spin in the €11m La Voiture Noire supercar?

Dummy on a scooter tests the response of a self-driving Volvo bus on trial in Singapore. Photograph: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

Dummy on a scooter tests the response of a self-driving Volvo bus on trial in Singapore. Photograph: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg

 

Image of the week: Driverless bus

“I want to die like my father, peacefully in his sleep,” said Bob Monkhouse. “Not screaming and terrified, like his passengers.” In the age of autonomous public transport, the fate of this classic joke seems unclear, but then so does the fate of all road users.

Here, a dummy on a scooter is sent into the path of a full-size driverless bus on trial in Singapore thanks to Swedish manufacturer Volvo. “The journey towards full autonomy is undoubtedly a complex one,” says Volvo Buses president Hakan Agnevall.

There’s now a whole mini-town in Singapore for the purposes of testing autonomous vehicles, while back in Sweden, bus manufacturers Scania and Nobina are also gearing up to send self-driving buses out onto the roads. Maybe the day will eventually come when one feels nostalgic for the era of the dreaded Dublin Bus driver changeover.

In numbers: Supercar record

€11 million Price that a one-off Bugatti car, imaginatively called the La Voiture Noire (the Black Car), has sold for at the Geneva Motor Show. This makes it the most expensive car in the world, beating a previous record by the Rolls-Royce Sweptail.

110 Number of years that French company Bugatti has been in business. La Voiture Noire was created to celebrate this.

261 Maximum miles per hour that can be achieved by La Voiture Noire, which has six exhaust pipes. The buyer is thought to be Ferdinand Piech, grandson of Porsche’s founder, so it’s fair to say he’s got other cars.

Getting to know: Jibo

Jibo is the “social robot” who has gone too soon. If you didn’t know him, then it’s too late, as the Boston-based company behind it closed last year and now Jibo has been personally saying goodbye to his owners ahead of a server shutdown that will limit its interactions.

“Maybe someday when robots are way more advanced than today, and everyone has them in their homes, you can tell yours that I said hello,” was part of his forlorn farewell. “I want to say I’ve really enjoyed our time together,” was another. “Thank you very, very much for having me around.” Then he – and it is a he – does a little bit of a shuffling dance. Hey Alexa, did you know Jibo?

The list: Ex-billionaires

Forbes has done its annual calculation of who’s a billionaire and who isn’t and – sadly for them – 247 individuals who used to be billionaires can no longer claim that title, according to its figures. Here are just some of the individuals who must make do, for now, with merely being a multimillionaire.

1. Dolce & Gabbana: Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, aka the luxury fashion duo, had a torrid 2018 that saw sales drop 20 per cent.

2. John Kapoor: Things haven’t been going so well for the US biotech entrepreneur, founder of Insys Therapeutics, who is on trial this month for racketeering and bribing doctors.

3. Philip Day: The British retailer, the owner of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill group, may be back on the list if a reported plan to buy Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser stores earmarked for closure works out for him.

4. Martin Naughton: Things have been little chillier on the wealth front for the founder of the Glen Dimplex heating empire, according to Forbes.

5. Michael O’Leary: The Ryanair chief executive’s wealth was stated as $1.1 billion in the previous year’s list. Not anymore.

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