Tesla’s robot strategy is inextricably tied to its Autopilot strategy, for better or for worse

Tesla unveiled its first actual prototype of its Optimus humanoid robot on Friday — an actual robot this time, by the strictest definition, instead of a rreal flesh and blood human clad in a weird suit. The robot performed some basic functions, including walking a little bit and then raising its hands — all for the first time without supports or a crane, according to Tesla founder Elon Musk.

The company may be taking its first early steps into humanoid robotics, but it has a lot riding on the business. Musk has said that the Optimus bot will eventually be more valuable “than the car business, worth more than FSD [Tesla’s add-on ‘Full Self-Driving’ feature which does no such thing].”

What was apparent at the event on Friday night is that Tesla is making the economically wise, but strategically questionable decision to yoke together the destinies of both Optimus and its Autopilot (and by extension, FSD) ambitions.

Tesla suggested that the reason it’s been able to move so quickly in the robotics world is that it has already laid a lot of the groundwork in its work attempting to develop autonomous driving for vehicles.

“Think about it. We’re just moving from wheels to our legs,” explained one of the company’s engineers. “So some of the components are pretty similar […] It’s exactly the same occupancy network. Now we’ll talk a little bit more details later with Autopilot team […] The only thing that changed really is the training data.”

It was a recurring theme throughout the presentation, with various presenters from Tesla (the company trotted out many, as is maybe to be expected for an event billed primarily as a recruiting exercise) bringing up how closely tied the two realms of research and development actually are.

In truth, what Tesla showed with its robot on stage at the event was a very brief demo that barely matched and definitely didn’t exceed a large number of humanoid robot demonstrations from other companies over the years, including most famously Boston Dynamics. And the linkage between FSD and Optimus is a tenuous one, at best.

The domain expertise, while reduced to a simple translation by Tesla’s presentation, is actually quite a complex one. Bipedal robots navigating pedestrian routes is a very different beast from autonomous vehicle routes, and oversimplifying the connection does a disservice to the immense existing body of research and development work on the subject.

Tesla’s presenters consistently transitioned relatively seamlessly between Optimus and its vehicles’ autonomous navigation capabilities. One of the key presenters for Optimus was Milan Kovac, the company’s Director of Autopilot Software Engineering, who handed off to fellow Autopilot director Ashok Elluswamy to dive further into Tesla vehicular Autopilot concerns.

It’s very clear that Tesla believes this is a linked challenge that will result in efficiencies the market will appreciate as it pursues both problems. The reality is that there remains a lot of convincing to do to actually articulate that the linkages are more than surface-deep.

Not to mention, Autopilot faces its own challenges in terms of public and regulatory skepticism and scrutiny. A robot you live with daily in close proximity doesn’t need that kind of potential risk.

Tesla may have turned its man-in-a-suite into a real robot with actual actuators and processors, but it still has a ways to go to make good on the promise that it’s a viable product with a sub-$20,000 price tag any of us will ever be able to purchase.

Tesla’s robot strategy is inextricably tied to its Autopilot strategy, for better or for worse by Darrell Etherington originally published on TechCrunch

Tesla’s robot is a real robot now, not just a guy in a suit

Tesla CEO Elon Musk kicked off its Tesla AI Day 2022 with a quick level set on expectations — “we’ve come a long way” — and then stepped aside to allow the first iteration of its robot walk out onto the stage.

The robot wasn’t a human dressed in a robot costume like last year.  Instead, Tesla introduced a functioning robot, albeit with exposed cables and a bit wobbly, at its second annual event. According to Musk, it was the first time it was working without “any support, cranes, mechanical mechanisms or cables.”

Tesla Robot in action

Tesla Robot moving and waving

After a brief turn about the stage, the robot left the stage before the rest of the presentation continued, which included several short videos of the robot (now tethered for stability) carrying a box in an office, watering a plant and lifting a small piece of metal in the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

The aim of the demo and ensuing presentation, in which a number of Tesla employees gave what can only be described as a bipedal robotics 101 course, was to show more progress. (After all, anything beyond a human in a costume could be considered progress). Instead, the event aimed to telegraph where Tesla is headed, shore up confidence in its trajectory and (hopefully) recruit the talent it needs to further the program.

Tesla robot specs display

Image Credits: Tesla robot specs display

Eventually, Musk said the first-gen prototype, which he referred to as Bumble C, will evolve into Optimus. This eventual robot will be able to walk efficiently and stay balanced, carry a 20-pound bag, use tools and have a precision grip for small robots. The Bumble C prototype is outfitted with 2.3 kilowatt hour battery pack, which one Tesla employee said was “perfect for about a full day’s worth of work.”

Some of the specs of the robot have changed since last year. For instance, the weigh of the bot has moved up from 125 pounds to 160 pounds.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Tesla bot roadshow, was the repeated reference and crossover with Tesla vehicles. The company said it is leveraging its energy products and using those components for the bot, including battery management. The supercomputer used in Tesla vehicles is also in the Tesla bot. And Tesla is tapping the hardware and software used in its advanced driver assistance system Autopilot for the bot as well. The Tesla bot is also equipped with wireless connectivity as well as audio support and hardware level security features, which the company said are “important to protect both the robot and the people around the robot.”

The big looming question is whether all of these efficiencies, once combined in the bot, will result in a scalable robot that works. Of course, Musk thinks it’s possible, going as far to say that he envisions the Optimus will be just $20,000.

Tesla’s robot is a real robot now, not just a guy in a suit by Kirsten Korosec originally published on TechCrunch

ByteDance’s Pico debuts its Quest rival, but challenges remain

When ByteDance bought the Chinese VR headset maker Pico a year ago, the message it sent was clear: it was betting that the immersive device would be where future generations spend most of their time consuming digital content. It’s a marriage reminiscent of Meta’s acquisition of Oculus back in 2014, except the world is now in a different place with technological advances that make VR headsets cheaper, less laggy, and more comfortable to wear.

The TikTok parent has long aimed to compete in a market dominated by Oculus’s VR devices for consumers. When Meta launched Quest 2 in 2020, ByteDance worked on a confidential internal project to develop AR glasses, The Information reported. Pico’s product launch this week is a further indication of its ambition to challenge Quest, which has enjoyed roughly two-thirds of the global AR and VR market for the past two years.

The Pico 4, which starts at €429 (around $420 thanks to a strong dollar) for 128GB and ships to Europe, Japan, and South Korea aside from China, has received applause in the VR community. It weighs only 295 grams without the straps and can function as a standalone device but also be tethered to PCs for more advanced VR experiences. It uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor as Quest 2 does. 

“It’s inexpensive and good quality, with specs that can match Quest 2,” says Gavin Newton-Tanzer, host of mixed reality conference AWE Asia.

“Was impressed with the weight, comfort, LCD display, pancake lenses, color AR passthrough, and controllers. All it needs now are serious triple-A VR exclusives to distinguish itself from Meta to get gamers interested,” writes a VR content creator.

Merely “matching” Quest 2 specs doesn’t sound good enough given the latter came out two years ago and became an instant hit. Pico not only has a lot of catch-up to do on the technological front but also in terms of content and branding.

“Oculus’s content ecosystem is more established, providing a better understanding of what consumers want,” says Newton-Tanzer. Popular rhythm game Beat Saber, for instance, had generated $100 million in revenue on Oculus Quest by October 2021.

Pico is facing a chicken-or-egg problem, the XR expert suggests. Its user base across product lines isn’t currently large enough that top-tier creators would be devoted to making games, videos, and other VR content exclusively for its platform. It reportedly sold 500,000 units last year, half of its target. In contrast, Quest 2 shipped 10 million units in the space of October 2020 and November 2021. But without premium content, Pico will have a hard time attracting users in a meaningful way.

The good news is Pico has established a strong foothold in China and doesn’t face much competition in the home market. Oculus doesn’t have an official presence in China, meaning users have to go through the hassle of ordering an overseas version, getting the Oculus app from a foreign app store, and accessing its global app ecosystem through a virtual private network as Meta’s servers are blocked in China.

The technological bifurcation could allow Pico time to test and learn in the home market before launching into the West at full steam. Expansion in the U.S. is already set in motion as ByteDance began building a team for Pico on the West Coast, according to Protocol, with a focus to attract talent in content, marketing, and R&D.

ByteDance’s Pico debuts its Quest rival, but challenges remain by Rita Liao originally published on TechCrunch

Daily Crunch: It’s AI day for Tesla, but we’re here for the cringey texts 

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important stories delivered to your inbox every day at 3 p.m. PDT, subscribe here.

Happy Friday! We don’t know about you, but we are both ready for some R&R after ploughing through a wall of deep-cringe texts from the Musk/Twitter trial. We hope you get some, too, this weekend.

This afternoon, Tesla is running its second AI day. Last year’s was a hoot, and we have some predictions for what’s coming down the pipe today, too. — Christine and Haje

The TechCrunch Top 3

  • Under attack: Microsoft confirmed that it “is aware” of some attacks to its Exchange server. Carly is staying on top of the story and reports that there is “no immediate fix.”
  • Eyeing that sweet capital: Manish has a scoop that Uniswap Labs, a decentralized exchange, is going after over $100 million in new funding.
  • Stream on: YouTube TV is offering a new à la carte option that enables subscribers to purchase stand-alone networks without subscribing to the full channel lineup in its Base plan, Lauren reports.

Startups and VC

When insurtech company Metromile went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in February last year, it was valued at over $1 billion. A year and five months later, Lemonade acquired the company for less than $145 million. And yet, things aren’t as bleak as they might seem, Anna reports.

This year, 40% of the world’s population will play games, with total spending nearing $200 billion. The purveyors of web3 want a slice of this gargantuan market, Rita reports. She writes that criticisms of the first generation of crypto games have been well documented, so the question for developers now is what decentralized games should look like.

Let’s do a few more, shall we? Go on, then:

8 investors weigh in on the state of insurtech in Q3 2022

Hand holding Piggy bank with post it notes in front of blackboard showing a hand drawn umbrella. insurtech

Image Credits: Warchi (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Some services are in such demand, it can insulate their providers against the vagaries of the market. During an economic downturn, consumers don’t cut back on pet food or toilet paper. Similarly, everyone needs some form of insurance.

Between 2016 and 2022, insurtech startups received around $43 billion in funding, and despite the downturn, most of the investors that reporter Anna Heim recently surveyed are still positive about the sector’s prospects:

  • Martha Notaras, general partner, Brewer Lane Ventures
  • David Wechsler, principal, OMERS Ventures
  • Stephen Brittain and Rob Lumley, directors and co-founders, Insurtech Gateway
  • Florian Graillot, founding partner, Astorya.vc
  • Clarisse Lam, associate, NewAlpha Asset Management
  • Hélène Falchier, partner, Portage Ventures
  • Adam Blumencranz, partner, Distributed Ventures

“We are simply seeing a reality check happen,” said Wechsler. “Unfortunately, there are many companies that should not have raised as much as they did, or perhaps don’t have sustainable business models. These companies will struggle to survive.”

Three more from the TC+ team:

TechCrunch+ is our membership program that helps founders and startup teams get ahead of the pack. You can sign up here. Use code “DC” for a 15% discount on an annual subscription!

Big Tech Inc.

SoftBank has been doing some readjusting to company valuations lately, but the latest adjusting is happening with its own company. Kate reports that SoftBank’s Vision Fund is reportedly laying off 30% of its workforce even as it considers a third fund.

Here are five more for you:

Daily Crunch: It’s AI day for Tesla, but we’re here for the cringey texts  by Christine Hall originally published on TechCrunch

Google appears to have disabled Google Translate in parts of China

Google appears to have disabled access to Google Translate in parts of China, redirecting visitors to the Hong Kong domain — which isn’t accessible from the mainland. According to users on Reddit and site archives viewed by TechCrunch, Google swapped the Google Translate interface at translate.google.cn with a generic Google Search page at some point within the last 24 hours.

The change is reportedly impacting the translation features of apps like KOReader, a document viewer, for China-based users, as well as Chrome’s built-in translation functionality. Google hasn’t responded to a request for comment; we’ll update this piece if we hear back.

Google has a long and complicated relationship with the Chinese government. In 2006, the company entered the Chinese market with a version of its search engine that was subject to government censorship rules. But after state-sponsored hacks and government-ordered blocks on Google services in response to YouTube footage showing Chinese security forces beating Tibetans, Google shut down Google Search in the mainland and briefly rerouted searches through its uncensored Hong Kong domain.

Google Translate blocked

The current Google Translate homepage in many parts of China.

Google reportedly explored relaunching Google Search in China in 2018 and 2019 as part of a project code-named Dragonfly, which would’ve censored results and recorded users’ locations as well as their internet browsing histories. But those plans were scuttled following clashes within Google led by the company’s privacy team, according to The Intercept.

In 2020, following the enactment of a national security law in Hong Kong that gave local authorities greatly expanded surveillance powers, Google said it wouldn’t directly respond to data requests from the Hong Kong law enforcement and instead would have them go through a mutual legal assistance treaty with the U.S.

Assuming it’s not a technical issue, the disabling of Google Translate in much of the mainland could be related to the upcoming National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, which takes place October 16. The Chinese government has previously blocked Google services around major political events and politically sensitive anniversaries like that of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Google appears to have disabled Google Translate in parts of China by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

How Volvo is leaning on software to drive its next great safety revolution

Volvo is one of those brands with a core identity so firmly cemented that no amount of marketing can counter it. Volvo is safety first.

Even if you don’t know the details of their involvement with the three-point seatbelt (they invented it) or the airbag (one of the first to bring them to market in the ’80s), even if you haven’t checked the company’s cars’ crash test ratings lately (five-stars across the board), you know that if you have to be in a crash, you probably want to be in a Volvo.

But with other manufacturers deploying hyperbolic technologies that promise to avoid collisions altogether, seatbelts and airbags seem like crude solutions.

How can Volvo maintain its reputation in this era? Software, according to new Volvo CEO Jim Rowan.

Rowan believes that the company’s coders and the tightly integrated stacks they develop will not only maintain Volvo’s leadership in the rather important task of keeping you alive, but will drive innovations and sales with even broader implications to vehicular safety than we’ve ever considered.

Volvo Cars CEO Jim Rowan

Volvo Cars CEO and President Jim Rowan Image credit: Volvo

With silicon and sensors coming from suppliers, ostensibly available to any OEM, software will be a critical tool to unlock more safety features. In other words, Volvo will need to leverage software as more and more components of the car become, well, componentized.

If successful, Volvo will be able to add new features like more advanced threat alerts outside the car and even detect intoxicated driving within the car, all powered by proprietary algorithms that evolve and grow the car over time.

While Rowan is keen to double down on software, the company had already started to ramp up its efforts before his arrival in spring 2022. Volvo announced in June 2021 it would take software development in-house and that its next-generation of EVs would run on its own operating system called VolvoCars.OS. The operating system, which will be supported by a core computing system, aims to bring the company’s various operating systems such as Android Automotive OS, QNX, AUTOSAR and Linux all under one roof.

Now, under Rowan, the company is beefing up its talent pool and continuing to work with a number of hardware and software companies that it previously invested in such as imaging and optics startup Spectralics and lidar Luminar.

Take a look at Volvo’s job site and one can see where software and safety land on its priority list.

Of the 1,527 open roles on Volvo’s job site, a whopping 384 are software-related, with about 20% of those specifically relating to vehicle safety. Does Volvo have the talent it needs to drive innovation in that space? Rowan, who said Volvo does have the talent to drive innovation in this area, added that the company will continue to expand its teams in Stockholm, Shanghai, Bangalore, and elsewhere, fighting the “talent war” that has all manufacturers scrambling.

Software is what Volvo needs to tie it altogether and make the most out of the tech.

New CEO, new priorities

Rowan, a 57-year-old Scot, took the reins of Volvo in March of this year, inheriting leadership from Håkan Samuelsson.

In Samuelsson’s 10-year-tenure, the stoic Swede led and navigated Volvo from Ford ownership and oversight to its current Geely parentage — all the while deploying a completely new and thoroughly Scandinavian portfolio of cars. Rowan served most recently as CEO at Dyson until 2020, overseeing that company as it experimented with its own, ultimately failed EV aspirations.

The goal, for Dyson at the time, was to disrupt the automotive industry: “We’d like to go into industries that already had a known need for that product, be that vacuum cleaners or hair dryers or whatever, and then go in with disruptive play,” Rowan told me, saying that his position as an automotive outsider helped him learn a lot very quickly. “You learn a whole bunch because you ask a whole bunch of dumb questions that otherwise you probably wouldn’t ask if you came from the industry.”

Those learnings didn’t help Dyson overcome a significant barrier of entry: “If you already have the manufacturing, the supply chain, the engineering talent, the design studios, it’s much, much easier for those incumbent car companies like ourselves to transition into next-gen mobility than it is a brand new startup.”

For Volvo, the road has fewer obstacles.

“The decision had already been taken, as we went through the IPO, that we would be an electric car company by a certain date, by 2030. And that really made it easy for me to come as CEO because that decision had been taken. So, every investment decision we made, every hiring decision that we made, every design decision that we made was geared towards becoming an electric car company.”

Still, one speed bump remains. As the market rapidly skews towards electrification, a big battery and a couple of motors in a car will be less of a distinguishing factor. The table stakes are higher than ever for companies to find new ways to attract customers.

Volvo has already experienced what can happen when software doesn’t meet expectations. In 2021, some Volvo vehicles became inoperable after an over-the-air software update inadvertently triggered an anti-theft mode and a batch of Volvo XC40 Recharge electric SUVs, which left the factory without its Volvo On Call software activated, were stuck in U.S. ports awaiting an software update.

Next-gen mobility

As Volvo evolves into what Rowan calls the era of “next-gen mobility” — an idyllic future where ride-sharing is the norm and autonomy is limited only by local regulations and not technologies — safety will become an even more important factor.

Early implementations of next-gen safety systems will not come cheap, thanks to expensive sensor packages and also development of complicated software to control them.

In time, industry trends suggest next-gen safety systems will become ubiquitous, much like airbags and three-point seatbelts are today. Until we get to that point, business opportunities abound.

Volvo believes its next big gains will come by enabling the car to see more, both inside and out.

On the outside, Lidar from Luminar will enable far better perception than possible given Volvo’s current, optics- and radar-based active safety suite, identifying threats 250 meters down the road.

“What that lidar image sees is the digital image of ones and zeros, and our perception software then translates that to say: Is that a bike? Is that a child? Is that a deer or is it another car? Is it a tree? And being able to take that software so that it can very quickly compute that and tell the car: ‘There’s danger ahead. Let’s take evasive action,'” Rowan said.

This is very much the same as many other lidar-equipped concepts that we’ve seen over the past decade.

Luminar LiDAR Volvo

Luminar lidar integrated into the roofline of a Volvo. Image Credits: Volvo

The difference is that Volvo will build this technology into its upcoming EX90, a real car. This is the company’s next model, a fully-electric SUV set to debut before the end of the year. It won’t be the first lidar-equipped car to hit the market but it will be one of the very few.

The EX90 is Volvo’s successor to the venerable XC90, the big, flagship SUV that, with its 2014 redesign, kicked off the post-Ford era for Volvo. While a plug-in hybrid powertrain was an option, gasoline and diesel were the XC90’s primary sources of power. The EX90, meanwhile, will be fully electric from the beginning, again marking the beginning of a new phase for Volvo.

“It’s actually designed so that it can take us all the way through to full AD,” Rowan said, echoing autonomous driving promises made by Elon Musk about Tesla’s current sensor suite, which lacks not only lidar but is now making do without radar.

Driver monitoring

Volvo Driver Monitoring Camera in a Volvo research vehicle

Driver Monitoring Camera in a Volvo research vehicle. Image credit: Volvo

But there’s another, potentially even larger blind spot in Tesla’s sensing suite that Rowan says Volvo is doubling down on: driver monitoring.

Two cameras, monitored by proprietary Volvo algorithms, will monitor the driver at all times, Rowan said. “You have certain patterns, your head starts to nod, you start to jerk the steering wheel, and immediately the software can say, ‘This guy looks like he’s falling asleep, let’s wake them up.’ Or, if he’s inebriated, let’s pull to the side of the road.”

Detecting drunk drivers? Yes, Rowan says Volvo’s software can identify eye patterns indicative of inebriation, though the software isn’t finalized enough to be “definitive.” Distracted driving detection, however, is much further along: “The big one really for us is are they distracted on their phone. We find that a lot of, a lot of these accidents happen because these people are texting on their phone, and that’s a very distinct pattern that you can see when someone’s trying to text and trying to drive at the same time.”

Rowan declined to say whether and how Volvo’s cars in the future would actually intervene when a drunk driver is detected. While the EX90 will be able to safely pull itself over in the case of a driver falling asleep or suffering some sort of a medical emergency, whether it will do so in the case of simple inattention or inebriation remains to be seen.

Another way the EX90 will protect its occupants is a whole-car, internal radar system, capable of detecting movement and preventing the doors from being locked. The Occupant Sensing Technology will be standard, with the primary goal of preventing the tragic death of children locked in cars on hot days.

Like the three-point safety belt all those years ago, this will be a true industry first.

Solving supply

Volvo’s core computing system, is made up of three main computers. Volvo is working with Nvidia on the system. Image credits: Volvo

If all this talk of new sensors inside and out has you thinking about little chips and the massive supply chain woes they can bring, your head is in the right place. I asked Rowan about this, whether Volvo was considering getting in the silicon game like Tesla and building its own chips.

When it comes to hardware, sensors, and the silicon that powers them, Rowan is a buy vs. build kind of CEO: “We’ve made the choice that we are going to buy our silicon, because we think that people like Nvidia and Qualcomm are, you know, they have the infrastructure, they have the know-how, and they will progress quickly.”

Sensors too, whether lidar, radar, or other, will be brought in from suppliers. “What we’re really interested in doing is writing the software that takes you from the silicon to the application layer.”

So the future of Volvo is electric, obviously, but it’s also riddled with sensors and loaded up with stacks of software, all translating masses of raw data from hundreds of sensors into meaningful information.

It’s enough information, theoretically, for these cars to predict risky situations. Over the past decade we’ve seen an evolving focus from passive safety, things that save your life in a crash, to active safety, technologies that help to prevent that crash that’s only seconds away. With lidar looking farther down the road and sensors monitoring for problems inside the cabin, the next step increasingly feels a little like pre-crime: Preventing situations that might have cost lives in the first place.

How Volvo is leaning on software to drive its next great safety revolution by Tim Stevens originally published on TechCrunch

Apply to pitch your startup at TC Sessions: Crypto

Crypto has evolved from a niche product into a critical piece of the infrastructure underpinning an entirely new vision for the internet — web3. Startups are at the core of this innovation, and despite volatility in the crypto markets, builders in the space have remained steady in their efforts to leverage blockchain technology to reshape online spaces and interactions.

In November, TechCrunch is hosting TC Sessions: Crypto — a special event dedicated to the crypto and web3 space. The stage is filled with top VCs, industry experts – FTX’s Amy Wu, CEO of OpenSea, Devin Finzer and more!  Pitch on the live stage in person, in Miami, Florida.

Pitch your Web3 or crypto tech startup

TechCrunch is on the lookout for founders building web3 or crypto companies to pitch in-person at TC Sessions: Crypto. We know that web3 cuts across all industries and verticals – new protocols, finance, infrastructure, gaming, recruiting and more. Startups applying to pitch should have web3 or crypto as the central pillar of their product, regardless of industry application.

Founders will have four minutes to pitch followed by a Q&A with our panel of judges. Selected companies will be announced on TechCrunch. Apply here.

What are the qualifications to participate in web3 & crypto Startup Pitch-Off? It’s simple:

  • Be an early-stage startup.
  • Have at least a minimally viable product.
  • Have a core element of their product powered by or utilizing web3 infrastructure
  • Incorporated anywhere but must attend in person

In addition to the opportunity to pitch, you’ll get training with TC’s Startup Battlefield Editor and two complimentary passes to the entire TC Sessions: Crypto event. The deadline to apply is October 3rd.

Apply to pitch your startup at TC Sessions: Crypto by Neesha A. Tambe originally published on TechCrunch

Is investor bullishness on embedded insurtech warranted?

Embedded insurance — selling coverage at the same time as another product or service — is on the rise. According to data platform Dealroom, it accounts for a growing share of all policies sold, and startups in this space raised nearly $800 million in 2021 alone.

Having recently polled investors on all things insurtech, we were curious to know if the market remained as bullish on embedded insurance as last year — and whether it was warranted.

“Personally, I remain bullish on embedded insurance,” Brewer Lane Ventures general partner Martha Notaras told TechCrunch. “Many insurance purchases are difficult, so rolling insurance into another transaction makes a lot of sense.”

While seeing clear value in the ability to bundle insurance with another purchase, Notaras and other investors we talked to also had reservations.

“We believe in the concept of embedded insurance, but a more measured approach would suit investors well when analyzing these businesses,” Distributed Ventures partner Adam Blumencranz said.

Is investor bullishness on embedded insurtech warranted? by Anna Heim originally published on TechCrunch

Enjoy these exclusive benefits in the TC+ Lounge at Disrupt

Everyone knows membership has its privileges. And that adage holds true at TechCrunch Disrupt, which takes place on October 18–20 in San Francisco. How so? Disrupt attendees who hold one- or two-year subscriptions to TC+ receive exclusive access to the TC+ Lounge at the show.

Let’s back up a moment. If you’re not familiar with TC+, it’s our members-only community that receives access to articles offering extensive market analysis, expert advice from experienced entrepreneurs, deep-dive interviews with investors and founders, plus live weekly coaching, Q&A sessions and more.

Now, what will you find in the TC+ Lounge? First, it’s a place to step away from the crowds and recharge with snacks and refreshing beverages. It’s also where you’ll enjoy exclusive Q&As with event speakers on all three days of the show.

Here are just three examples, but you can hit up the Disrupt agenda and filter on TC+ Lounge to see who’s presenting — and when — on each day.

Meet the Speaker: How to Build Your Early VC network
Join this small group discussion with select speakers in the TechCrunch+ Lounge.

with Nik Milanović
 (Founder, This Week in Fintech; General Partner, The Fintech Fund
 ), Joshua Ogundu (
CEO, Campfire), 

Gefen Skolnick
 (Founder, Couplet Coffee

Meet the Speaker: How to Create Robust Security Programs for Your Startup
Join this small group discussion with select speakers in the TechCrunch+ Lounge.

with Brett Callow (Threat Analyst, Emsisoft), Katie Moussouris (Founder & CEO, Luta Security)

Meet the Speaker: What Does Product-Market Fit Mean When Hype Tanks?
Join this small group discussion with select speakers in the TechCrunch+ Lounge

with Pali Bhat (Chief Product Officer, Reddit) and Annie Pearl (Chief Product Officer, Calendly)

The lounge is primo networking territory, so come prepared to quench your thirst for opportunity as you enjoy your tasty drink.

And, in a classic “but wait, there’s more” moment, know this. You’ll receive a 20% discount on your Disrupt pass when you purchase a one- or two-year TC+ subscription. Plus, subscribers receive 20% off on all TechCrunch events.

TechCrunch Disrupt takes place on October 18–20. Remember, membership has its privileges. Subscribe to TC+ today, receive a 20% discount on Disrupt passes, and come find out why Disrupt is where startup founders go to grow.

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt 2022? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.


Enjoy these exclusive benefits in the TC+ Lounge at Disrupt by Lauren Simonds originally published on TechCrunch

How to watch Tesla AI Day 2022

Tesla AI Day is here — the company’s second-annual event designed to show off its progress in AI and robotics.

Viewers should expect demos and updates on the Optimus robot, the Dojo supercomputer as well as its “Autopilot” advanced driver assistance system, along with the $15,000 upgrade known as FSD, or “Full Self Driving.” (Tesla vehicles are not self-driving.)

CEO Elon Musk has billed Tesla AI Day as a recruitment event. And what better way to reach the 80-hour workweek ride-or-die for Tesla crowd than scheduling this for a Friday evening?

Tesla AI Day is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. PT September 30 (that’s today). If past is prologue then Tesla AI Day will not start promptly at 5 p.m. — Elon tends to run late. Like the company’s other events, Tesla AI Day 2022 should be livestreamed on the Tesla YouTube channel.

Last year, Tesla AI Day covered computer vision, the Dojo supercomputer and the Tesla chip. But it was the dancing human dressed in a white body suit with a shiny black mask as a face that got the most attention. That stunt introduced the world to Musk’s plan to build a humanoid robot called the Tesla Bot or Optimus.

The Tesla bot was described as a non-automotive robotic use case for the company’s work on neural networks and its Dojo advanced supercomputer.

Will this year’s event give us another human dressed in a robot costume, or an actual working humanoid robot?

How to watch Tesla AI Day 2022 by Kirsten Korosec originally published on TechCrunch