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Member since: Tue Dec 20, 2016, 10:37 AM
Number of posts: 242

Journal Archives

Uber orders up to 24,000 Volvo XC90s for driverless fleet

Ready or not, here they come!
Uber orders up to 24,000 Volvo XC90s for driverless fleet


Posted 14 hours ago by Darrell Etherington

Uber has entered into an agreement with carmaker Volvo to purchase 24,000 of its XC90 SUVs between 2019 and 2021 to form a fleet of autonomous vehicles, according to Bloomberg News. The XC90 is the base of Uber’s latest-generation self-driving test car, which features sensors and autonomous driving computing capability installed by Uber after purchase on the XC90 vehicle.

The deal is said to be worth around $1.4 billion, per the Financial Times, with the XC90 starting at $46,900 in the U.S. in terms of base model consumer pricing. Uber is already testing the XC90 in Arizona, San Francisco and Pittsburgh in trials with safety drivers on board to help refine and improve their software. Uber also paired up with Volvo to jointly develop autonomous driving and a vehicle ready for self-driving implementation, with investment from both sides committed last year.

Uber’s new fleet of XC90s will go further than the existing test vehicles, in that they will incorporate redundant systems for braking and steering that will allow them to operate without a human safety driver on board. The 24,000 vehicle model is also subject to change, depending on Uber’s needs. Uber also paints the right to order vehicles from other OEMs to help contribute to its fleet as part of the deal.

Driverless rival Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous vehicle unit, recently announced plans to launch its own self-driving ride hailing service open to consumers soon, which might be part of the impetus behind Uber accelerating its own plans. Still, no timeline has been given from either company for when everyday users might be able to access the services in a non-testing capacity.

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Jesus is gonna come back, any day now, go "Hocus Pocus", and everything will be OK. Right? RIGHT????

New study suggests insect populations have declined by 75% over 3 decades


By Euan McKirdy, CNN | October 20, 2017

(CNN) - A new scientific study has found "dramatic" and "alarming" declines in insect populations in areas in Germany, which researchers say could have far-reaching consequences for the world's crop production and natural ecosystems.

The study, published on Wednesday in peer-reviewed journal PLOS One has found that, in German nature reserves, flying insect populations have declined by more than 75% over the duration of the 27-year study.

"The flying insect community as a whole... has been decimated over the last few decades," said the study, which was conducted by Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands and the Entomological Society Krefeld in Germany.

"Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services."

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People hate flying insects, so it's a good thing, right? RIGHT???

Us baby boomers and boom-xers will probably be gone by the time the feces REALLY hit the fan in biosphere collapse. But things are gonna suck for millennials and whatever today's kids are called. Upcoming generations?

Self-Driving Cars May Now Let You Choose Who To Save In A Crash

People want your car to kill you, not them. And they want their car to kill you, not them.
Self-Driving Cars May Now Let You Choose Who To Save In A Crash

Previous studies found that most people think a self-driving car should be utilitarian, taking actions to minimise the amount of overall harm, which might mean sacrificing its own passengers in certain situations to save lives of pedestrians.


World | Press Trust of India | Updated: October 23, 2017 00:24 IST

London: Scientists have developed a system that lets users of driver-less cars take the moral decision of who should survive a potential car crash.

Previous studies found that most people think a self-driving car should be utilitarian, taking actions to minimise the amount of overall harm, which might mean sacrificing its own passengers in certain situations to save lives of pedestrians.

However, while people agreed to this in principle, they also said they would never get in a car that was prepared to kill them.

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Researchers designed a dial that switches a car's setting along a spectrum ranging from "full altruist" to "full egoist", with the middle setting being impartial.

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I am not sure if this is real, but it is within the realm of possibilities. It seems to me to be a really bad idea, and would certainly complicate the assignment of liability in a crash to a mind boggling degree.

Autonomous cars without backup drivers could come to California roads before June

Autonomous cars without backup drivers could come to California roads before June


By ETHAN BARON | October 11, 2017

Fully autonomous vehicles — without backup drivers — could be on California public roads by June or earlier, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles said Wednesday as it unveiled a new version of proposed rules for self-driving cars.

The draft regulations add a requirement for companies testing self-driving cars to notify local authorities about where and when the testing will occur, but firms need not ask for permission, the DMV said in a conference call.

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With tech companies and car makers pushing hard to commercialize self-driving technology, fully autonomous cars will probably be in use for ride-sharing and parcel delivery within 18 months, said Peter Sweatman, principal at transportation consultancy Cavita. If those limited early rollouts are successful, the vehicles will be all over public roads by 2025, Sweatman predicted.

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The federal government, by offering only guidelines but no rules or mandatory safety standards specific to self-driving cars, is failing to ensure public safety, advocacy group Consumer Watchdog said Wednesday.

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Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning

Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning

The ride-hailing company faces at least five U.S. probes, two more than previously reported, and the new CEO will need to dig the company out of trouble.


Eric Newcomer | 11 October 2017

Shortly after taking over Uber Technologies Inc. in September, Dara Khosrowshahi told employees to brace for a painful six months. U.S. officials are looking into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property. The very attributes that, for years, set the company on a rocket-ship trajectory—a tendency to ignore rules, to compete with a mix of ferocity and paranoia—have unleashed forces that are now dragging Uber back down to earth.

Uber faces at least five criminal probes from the Justice Department—two more than previously reported. Bloomberg has learned that authorities are asking questions about whether Uber violated price-transparency laws, and officials are separately looking into the company’s role in the alleged theft of schematics and other documents outlining Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous-driving technology. Uber is also defending itself against dozens of civil suits, including one brought by Alphabet that’s scheduled to go to trial in December.

Some governments, sensing weakness, are moving toward possible bans of the ride-hailing app. London, one of Uber’s most profitable cities, took steps to outlaw the service, citing “a lack of corporate responsibility” and specifically, company software known as Greyball, which is the subject of yet another U.S. probe. (Uber said it didn’t use the program to target officials in London, as it had elsewhere, and will continue to operate there while it appeals a ban.) Brazil is weighing legislation that could make the service illegal—or at least treat it more like a taxi company, which is nearly as offensive in the eyes of Uber.

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Kalanick also defined Uber’s culture by hiring deputies who were, in many instances, either willing to push legal boundaries or look the other way. Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, who previously held the same title at Facebook, runs a unit where Uber devised some of the most controversial weapons in its arsenal. Uber’s own board is now looking at Sullivan’s team, with the help of an outside law firm.

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Another big challenge for autonomous car engineers: Energy efficiency

Another big challenge for autonomous car engineers: Energy efficiency


Gabrielle Coppola and Esha Dey, Bloomberg | October 11, 2017 @ 7:15 am

Judging from General Motors' test cars and Elon Musk's predictions, the world is headed toward a future that's both driverless and all-electric. In reality, autonomy and battery power could end up being at odds.

That's because self-driving technology is a huge power drain. Some of today's prototypes for fully autonomous systems consume 2 to 4 kilowatts of electricity -- the equivalent of having 50 to 100 laptops continuously running in the trunk, according to BorgWarner Inc. The supplier of vehicle propulsion systems expects the first autonomous cars -- likely robotaxis that are constantly on the road -- will be too energy-hungry to run on battery power alone.

In an industry where the number of LEDs in a brake light are scrutinized for their impact on gas mileage, processing data from laser, radar and camera sensors will be an enormous challenge -- not just for coders working on machine learning, but for engineers trying to power vehicles efficiently. As major markets from California to China ratchet up pressure to curb pollution, automakers and their suppliers will have to find creative new ways to offset emissions produced by feeding the car's increasingly intelligent brain.

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The autonomous features on a Level 4 or 5 vehicle, which can operate without human intervention, devour so much power that it makes meeting fuel economy and carbon emissions targets 5 to 10 percent harder, according to Chris Thomas, BorgWarner's chief technology officer.

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Should drunk drivers be charged with DUI in fully autonomous cars?

Should drunk drivers be charged with DUI in fully autonomous cars?

New laws will have to be written based on the level of automation you have.


MEGAN GEUSS - 10/6/2017, 11:19 AM

In some Australian states, it’s illegal to start a car with the intent to put it in motion while you’re drunk. The rise of autonomous vehicles complicates things though. Sure, you’re three sheets to the wind and want to put the car in motion, but you're unlikely to hurt anyone by directing a car to taxi you through the Taco Bell drive-through a couple of times before you pass out in a cloud of tortilla dust.

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Though it may seem obvious that a drunk person should be allowed to be taxied home by a fully autonomous car, the question is less clear if you have to determine just how autonomous an autonomous vehicle needs to be for a drunk person to operate it. The government should want drunk people to engage a high-level autonomous driving system if the alternative is driving themselves home, but if they’ll be penalized for being drunk while they’re “in control” of an autonomous vehicle, uptake of self-driving systems may be slow.

Instead, the NTC argues, drunk driving offenses should only apply to drunk people who are manually operating their vehicles but not to people who have merely started an autonomous car. The present rules "exist because a person who starts or sets in motion a conventional vehicle while under the influence clearly has an intention to drive,” the NTC writes.

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The questions are being raised in the US, too. At the Governors' Highway Safety Association meeting this week, US authorities discussed open container laws in autonomous vehicles. Currently, it's illegal to have an open alcohol container in a car while you're driving US roads. But should that apply in fully autonomous systems where no one is driving?

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Day by day, automated vehicle technology is progressing to the point of feasibility. At the same time, many social and economic challenges will be coming along for the ride.

We need to address these challenges sooner or later. We cannot keep kicking them down the road. We need to be prepared for the loss of professional driver jobs. Not to mention the huge economic infrastructure catering to personally owned vehicles - car dealers, mechanics, tow trucks, etc.

Televangelist Jim Bakker: Christians will start a civil war if Trump is impeached

Vanilla ISIS threatens violent sedition
Televangelist Jim Bakker: Christians will start a civil war if Trump is impeached


BY JOSH DELK - 08/29/17 01:44 PM EDT

Televangelist Jim Bakker is predicting that Christians would begin a second civil war in the U.S. if President Trump were impeached.

"If it happens, there will be a civil war in the United States of America. The Christians will finally come out of the shadows, because we are going to be shut up permanently if we're not careful," he said on "The Jim Bakker Show" in a clip highlighted by Right Wing Watch.

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Government won't allow driverless cars on Indian roads: Nitin Gadkari

Source: Times of India

Dipak K Dash | TNN | Updated: Jul 24, 2017, 09:38 PM IST

NEW DELHI: India will not allow driverless cars to ply on its roads, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.

The minister added that focus of the government is to create more jobs to arrest unemployment. "How can we allow such vehicles when we already have huge number of unemployed people?" Gadkari asked while interacting with reporters at his residence in the national capital.

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The minister also said he has told all overseas electric vehicle+ manufacturers that his ministry won't support any relief from import duty for such vehicles coming to India. "I have told the manufacturers that they can come and manufacture here. There is no question of tax relief," he said.

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Read more: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/auto/cars/government-wont-allow-driverless-cars-on-indian-roads-nitin-gadkari/articleshow/59741458.cms

India will ban driverless cars in order to protect jobs

The country’s transport minister addressed the issue in a statement today.


Mallory Locklear, @mallorylocklear | 2h ago in Transportation

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However, according to statements made by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, India wasn't likely to get autonomous vehicles anytime soon. The haphazard roads and chaotic traffic in parts of the country make it difficult to safely introduce driverless technology onto the roadways. But Indian company Tata Elxsi has been trying to get around those issues by testing self-driving vehicles on a track designed to resemble the roads and traffic of India. Complete with pedestrians, livestock, unsignaled lane merges and lack of signage, the testing track is meant to give driverless cars as real of an experience as possible while still respecting India's ban of self-driving cars from its roads. How today's statement from Gadkari will impact Tata Elxsi's business plans isn't yet clear.

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Uber allows riders to tip drivers via app, matching Lyft

Source: Washington Post

By Michael Liedtke and Tom Krisher | AP June 20 at 4:56 PM

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber is enabling passengers to tip its U.S. drivers with a tap on its ride-hailing app for the first time, part of a push to recast itself as a company with a conscience and a heart.

Besides the built-in tipping announced Tuesday, Uber is giving drivers an opportunity to make more money in other ways too.

Riders will be charged by the minute if they keep an Uber car waiting for more than two minutes. Uber also is reducing the time riders have to cancel a ride to avoid being slapped with a $5 fee from five minutes to two minutes after summoning a driver.

Uber won’t take any of the tip money. The San Francisco company will continue to collect part of ride-cancellation fees, as well as the waiting-time charges.

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/uber-adds-option-to-tip-drivers-as-it-heads-in-new-direction/2017/06/20/84ed97c8-55da-11e7-840b-512026319da7_story.html?utm_term=.6a46f5eaf8ca

It's about damn time! Driving rideshare, just like cab, is a stressful, usually underpaid, and highly disrespected profession. Maybe, in Travis's absence, they will start to respect their drivers and passengers, at least a little bit?
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