Trōv launches its on-demand personal property insurance services in the US

Trōv, the on-demand personal property insurance service, is launching in the U.S., the company announced today.

Trōv’s first port of call in the U.S. will be Arizona. The service is already available in the U.K. and Australia, where customers have signed up to insure items 1 million times since the company first launched its business.

A spokesperson for the company declined to comment on how many individuals have signed up for the service or how much they’ve spent on the policies.

Munich Re is serving as Trōv’s underwriting partner in the U.S. (and the rest of the world), and the company said it would look to roll out across the rest of the country over the course of the year.

As part of the rollout, Trōv is introducing a new service that will cut a customer’s premium payment as the object they’re insuring depreciates in value. The insurer makes these adjustments by comparing the item insured with the retail replacement value of a similar, newer item.

In addition to its geographic expansion, the company is expanding the types of items it’ll insure, from consumer electronics and photography gear to sports and musical equipment.

Trōv’s insurance policy is already approved in 44 states, and the personal property product is actually the company’s second service for the U.S. market.

Earlier this year the company launched Trōv Mobility in partnership with Waymo, the autonomous vehicle subsidiary of Alphabet (which owns Google). That product protects passengers in Waymo’s self-driving car service — which is preparing for launch later this year.

Insurance has been a hot business for startup investors, with companies like Cover launching with a similar, on-demand offering already operating in the U.S. Other competitors include companies like Lemonade and Hippo, which both offer homeowners or renters insurance for a modern home — including insurance for electronics, photography equipment and other possessions.

DNC launches tech marketplace for Democratic candidates

The Democratic National Committee is trying to help Democrats regain the pole position as the tech-savviest political party in the U.S.

After getting Trumped in the 2016 election (pwned on security, data analysis and at the polls), the DNC is launching I Will Run, a marketplace for software, services and training to upgrade the campaigns of Democratic candidates.

Announced today by Sally Marx, the tech program manager for the DNC, the new marketplace will have a host of tech tools that campaigns can use to get off the ground, manage their progress and ensure easy outreach to voters.

A profusion of political services have sprung up in the months since Donald Trump took the presidency. Energized technology developers (on the whole a pretty left-leaning bunch) tuned in to politics, turned on new services and (in some cases) dropped out of their careers at high-profile shops like Google, Facebook and other Bay Are behemoths to join the political circus — or at least build tools for it.

“[We’ve] heard repeatedly from candidates and campaign staff that they are unsure what tools are out there, and simultaneously feel as if they are being fed too much information by vendors,” says Marx. “On the other hand, many of these innovators are not always reaching campaigns effectively  –  some state parties and campaigns, therefore, are in the dark about some of the innovative new technology that they should know about. And, finally, we’ve been in touch with funders and supporters who want to boost the progressive tech ecosystem, but aren’t clear on where those opportunities are.”

The marketplace, which Marx writes is explicitly for Democratic campaigns, is a curated compilation of tools used by campaigns and tools tested by DNC-funded case studies.

One of the companies already on the platform is the secure messaging service, Wickr, which has been working with campaigns from both parties to secure their communications. Wickr’s one of around 56 companies and nonprofits that are listed on the site in one of six categories: digital (which is crazy general), finance, research, security, training organizations and voter outreach.

The DNC tech team will also use the site to coordinate training, volunteers and pricing for Democratic campaigns. They’re piloting the program in states like Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Texas, Florida, Massachusetts and Iowa.

For campaigns interested in seeing what wares I Will Run has on offer, the DNC tech team is taking its show on the road with a whistle-stop tour at DNC events so state parties and campaigns can demo the tech.

Nvidia’s Jensen Huang cautions patience in judging Uber AV engineers

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang faced a number of questions regarding Uber’s recent self-driving test vehicle accident, in which an SUV equipped with Uber’s autonomous technology struck and killed 49-year old Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona.

Earlier on Tuesday, Reuters broke the news that Nvidia was suspending its own autonomous testing programs around the world. Huang didn’t address the suspension on stage, but he did express sympathy for the victim during the keynote, which he reiterated during the Q&A.

“First of all, what happened is tragic and sad,” Huang said in response to a question about whether he believes the accident might impact appetite among other companies for developing autonomous technologies. “It also is a reminder of exactly why we’re doing this.”

Huang explained that in fact, as a result of the accident, he actually believes that investment will rise in self-driving system design, specifically because previously companies might have thought they could get away with meager or minimal investment in those areas, and instead will be realizing it’s the one area where they can’t compromise in favor of attempting to lower costs.

“I think that the world is going to, as a result, be much more serious about investing in development systems, which is good,” he said.

Meanwhile, Huang also urged caution regarding anyone being too quick to judge Uber’s engineers or their intentions and diligence.

Huang said that Uber has engineers who are “intensely serious about what they do,” and said that he “wouldn’t judge them” until we have more information about what occurred with the accident. “We don’t know exactly what happened,” he said. “And we gotta give them the chance to go and understand for themselves.”

On the subject of Nvidia’s suspension of its own program, and the motivation behind doing so, Huang said it was all about engaging an abundance of caution in an area where safety must always come first.

“We use extreme caution, and the best practices that we know in testing our cars,” he said. “First of all, it’s of course a safety concern, because our engineers are actually in the car. So it’s something we take incredibly seriously.”

He added that the reason for the suspension was “simple,” since the accident means that there’s now “a new data point” that has to be taken into consideration, and as “good engineers,” Nvidia must “wait to see what we can learn from the incident” before continuing testing activities.

Uber blocked from testing self-driving cars on Arizona roads

Uber has been barred from testing its self-driving cars on public roads in Arizona following the accident last week involving one of its testing vehicles that killed a pedestrian crossing the street in its path. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released a letter sent to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in which he described the accident as captured by onboard cameras as “disturbing and alarming.”

The governor, who has been a strong proponent of self-driving testing in the state up until this point, advocating for Uber and other companies to bring their programs to Arizona roads, also directed the Arizona Department of Transportation to “suspend” Uber’s self-driving testing access.

Uber had already suspending testing of its autonomous test vehicles not only in Arizona, but in all markets following the crash and pending the results of its investigation.

The ride-hailing company had begun operations in Arizona in 2016, following its launch of its self-driving SUVs on San Francisco streets, in a test which was quickly shut down once the California DMV revealed they did not have the proper permit to test on state roads. Uber made a big show of transporting its test fleet to Arizona, where Ducey voiced strong support and welcome for the relocation of Uber’s self-driving pilot to within his state.

Video: The driver of the autonomous Uber was distracted before fatal crash

The Tempe, Arizona police department have released a video showing the moments before the fatal crash that involved Uber’s self-driving car. The video includes the view of the street from the Uber and a view of minder behind the wheel of the autonomous Uber.

Warning: This video is disturbing.

The video shows the victim crossing a dark street when an Uber self-driving Volvo XC90 strikes her at 40 mph. It also shows the person who is supposed to be babysitting the autonomous vehicle looking down moments before the crash. It’s unclear what is distracting the minder. It’s also unclear why Uber’s systems did not detect and react to the victim who was clearly moving across its range of sensors at walking speeds.

Uber provided the following statement regarding the incident to TechCrunch:

Our hearts go out to the victim’s family. We are fully cooperating with local authorities in their investigation of this incident.

Since the crash on March 19, Uber has pulled all its vehicles from the roads operating in Pittsburgh, Tempe, San Francisco and Toronto. This is the first time an autonomous vehicle operating in self-driving mode has resulted in a human death. In a statement to TechCrunch, the NHTSA said it has sent over its “Special Crash Investigation” team to Tempe. This is “consistent with NHTSA’s vigilant oversight and authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment, including automated technologies,” a spokesperson for the agency told TechCrunch.

“NHTSA is also in contact with Uber, Volvo, Federal, State and local authorities regarding the incident,” the spokesperson said. “The agency will review the information and proceed as warranted.”

Toyota also paused its self-driving testing in the US following the accident.

This tragic accident is the sort of situation self-driving vehicles are supposed to address. After all, these systems are supposed to be able to see through the dark and cannot get distracted by Twitter.