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The Self-Driving Car Race: The Five Companies Leading the Pack

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Tech companies and auto companies are all racing to be the first to roll out self-driving cars onto the road.

The stakes are high for everyone involved. The self-driving revolution and the prevalence of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft threatens to reduce individual car ownership, which would eat into a sizeable piece of automakers’ core business.

Meanwhile, tech companies are jockeying for a piece of the self-driving car market, which Apple CEO Tim Cook dubbed “the mother of all AI projects.” These companies are all looking to deploy self-driving cars as part of a commercial ride-hailing service that would operate similarly to how Uber and Lyft do now.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, takes an in-depth look at the most expansive self-driving car tests taking place in the US, and offers insights on the leaders in the self-driving car race.



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Navy Advanced Arresting Gear for new carriers survives demanding test

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  • The US Navy recently achieved a milestone in the development of the Advanced Arresting Gear for its new Ford-class aircraft carriers.
  • During a test at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey, a test team was able to recover aircraft 22 times in just over 26 minutes.
  • One of the Navy’s ambitions for Ford-class carriers is increasing lethality by achieving a higher sortie rate than Nimitz-class carriers by using electromagnetic catapults, advanced weapons elevators, and new arresting gear.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The US Navy recently achieved a milestone in the development of its advanced aircraft recovery capabilities for its new supercarriers, Naval Air Systems Command announced this week.

During a challenging test of the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for the Navy’s new Ford-class aircraft carriers at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey, in late October, the Navy was able to pull off 22 aircraft recoveries in roughly 26 minutes.

The AAG, a General Atomics turbo-electric aircraft recovery system built as a more advanced alternative to the MK 7 hydraulic arresting gear used on the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers, is part of a suite of new technology incorporated into the Ford-class carriers.

Like the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and the Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs), the arresting gear has also had its share of problems during the development process.

Navy Gerald Ford aircraft carrier FA-18 Super Hornet landing

An F/A-18F Super Hornet performs an arrested landing aboard USS Gerald R. Ford, July 28, 2017.
US Navy/Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Elizabeth A. Thompson


In August, the AAG was given a green light to recover all “props and jets,” according to the Aircraft Recovery Bulletin released that month. But now the Navy wants to make sure it can meet sortie-generation requirements.

During the recent two-day aircraft AAG tests, the Navy team evaluated ability of the AAG’s thermal management system to handle the heat produced by fast-paced flight operations, NAVAIR explained.

“This never-before accomplished test event was effectively executed with herculean efforts by a collaborative program office-fleet team,” Capt. Ken Sterbenz, Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (PMA-251) program manager, said in a statement.

“This achievement represents a significant datapoint for AAG performance as experienced at our single engine land-based site. I’m highly confident with AAG going into CVN 78 Aircraft Compatibility Testing early next year where the full, three-engine recovery system configuration will be utilized.”

The recent testing involved five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, 25 maintainers from Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW 8), six pilots from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX 23), and two sailors from the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), which is the first of a new class of carriers and the most advanced flat top in the Navy’s arsenal.

As of September, the AAG test program had completed more than 2,600 dead-load arrestments at the Jet Car Track Site and over 1,570 arrestments at the Runway Arrested Landing Site, NAVAIR revealed. The Ford has executed 747 sorties so far. Flight operations are expected to begin early next year.



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Pax, Eaze, Weedmaps, Hexo, CannTrust: layoffs, job cuts in cannabis

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The once red-hot cannabis industry is coming back down to earth. 

Over the past few weeks, cannabis companies — including venture-backed startups like Pax and giants like CannTrust — have announced a series of job cuts, amounting to over 900 laid-off workers in the sector as a whole.

There are unique reasons for the job cuts at each company, but industry analysts and experts say the operating environment for cannabis companies has entered a uniquely challenging phase. Headwinds include illnesses linked to vaping, lower-than-expected retail revenues in Canada and states like California, and legislative and regulatory hurdles that make accessing capital much more expensive than in other industries.

It has also become much more difficult for companies to raise money, thanks to cratering share prices for public companies and a shortage of investors for private firms.

The Marijuana Index, a composite of cannabis and cannabis-related stocks in the US and Canada, has lost over 50% of its value since its high in January 2018. CannTrust has seen its value crater close to 90% since its high in March after the company was found to be illegally growing cannabis following an investigation by Health Canada, the regulatory agency responsible for overseeing legal cannabis.

The decline in valuations has also made big cannabis megamergers harder to close, with companies like the dispensary operator MedMen pulling out of deals altogether. MedMen laid off 190 employees in November and divested stakes in a number of brands it invested in as part of its push to become cash-flow positive. 

An analyst at the investment bank Stifel summed it all up as a “toxic” operating environment. 

“It’s put a cloud over the industry,” Peter Horvath, the CEO of cannabis company Green Growth Brands, told Business Insider in an interview on Thursday. “The market has corrected — but has it corrected far enough? I don’t know.” 

Business Insider is tracking these job cuts here and will keep updating as we learn more:

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email jberke@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM @jfberke. Encrypted messaging app Signal number available upon request. 

This article was published on October 25 and has been updated with new information.



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A secretive $120 billion hedge fund has bested Warren Buffett again and again. These are its 10 biggest holdings.

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty

  • A secretive $120 billion hedge fund founded by a Cold War codebreaker has vastly outperformed Warren Buffett over the past three decades.
  • A dollar invested in Renaissance Technologies’ flagship Medallion fund in 1988 would reportedly be worth $27,000 net of fees in 2018, dwarfing a $107 return from Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway over the same period.
  • Scroll down to see Renaissance’s 10 biggest holdings.
  • View Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A secretive $120 billion hedge fund, founded by a Cold War codebreaker and math professor, vastly outperformed Warren Buffett over the past 30 years.

Renaissance Technologies, which was created by Jim Simons, counts Chipotle and Facebook among its largest investments. It recorded an annualized, post-fee return of 39% at its flagship Medallion fund between 1988 and 2018, according to “The Man Who Solved The Market: How Jim Simons launched the Quant Revolution,” a new book by Greg Zuckerman.

The 39% gain – 66% before fees – trumps annual returns of about 16% at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 10% from the S&P 500 over the same period.

Medallion’s remarkable performance means a dollar invested in the fund in 1988 would have grown to about $27,000 net of fees by the end of 2018, dwarfing a $107 return from Berkshire Hathaway and a $20 total return from the benchmark index.

While the Medallion fund is restricted to Renaissance employees, the hedge fund’s remarkable track record means its trading patterns are worth noting. Its 10 biggest investments, based on a SEC filing for the quarter ended 30 September, are listed below.



2. Chipotle Mexican Grill

Reuters

Renaissance has a $1.61 billion stake in Chipotle Mexican Grill. The fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain, which has more than 2,500 outlets, has largely recovered from a series of health scares a few years ago.



3. Verisign

Richard Drew/AP

Simons and his team have a $1.56 billion stake in Verisign, a network infrastructure group that operates the registry for domains including .com and .net.



4. Celgene

Courtesy of Celgene

Renaissance has amassed a $1.54 billion stake in Celgene, a biotech firm that develops medicines to treat cancers and inflammatory disorders. Celgene is set to be acquired by Bristol Myers-Squibb, the hedge fund’s largest holding.



5. Novo Nordisk

Reuters

Novo Nordisk is a Danish pharmaceutical company that makes medicines for diabetes, hemophilia, growth disorders, obesity, and other chronic conditions.

Renaissance holds a $1.28 billion stake in the company.



6. Palo Alto Networks

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Renaissance holds a $1.19 billion stake in Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity group offering firewalls, network security, cloud-based threat analysis, and other software tools to businesses.



7. Biogen

Reuters

Biogen develops treatments for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological diseases. Renaissance has $983 million worth of Biogen shares.



8. Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Renaissance has a $982 million stake in Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a biotech firm that makes drugs to treat cystic fibrosis, HIV, hepatitis C, cancer, and other ailments.



9. Gilead Sciences

AP Photo/Paul Sakuma

Gilead Sciences makes antivirus drugs to treat HIV, hepatitis, influenza, and other maladies. Renaissance has a $934 million stake in the biopharmaceuticals group.



10. Facebook

Reuters

Renaissance has amassed $880 million worth of Facebook stock. The social-media titan owns WhatsApp and Instagram as well as Oculus, which makes virtual-reality headsets.


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