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Uber is hopping on the self-driving car...train? Anyway, its first vehicle will be driving on the streets on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the coming weeks, and while it kind of looks like it might shoot missiles at any moment, the company assures it's just collecting mapping data and testing self-driving capabilities.
The Advanced Technologies Center run by Uber is located in Pittsburgh and was chosen for its engineering talent and research facilities, so it's only logical for it to serve as its testing ground. Meanwhile, city mayor William Peduto sounds awfully proud to be apart of it.
"From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation," he says. "Now we're taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber's Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world's leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. We're excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people's lives - through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities."
If you live in Phoenix, are in need of work, and getting paid to brush your teeth and read the paper sound good to you, Google is hiring people to test out its self-driving cars.
The company has posted ads for anyone interested in pulling six to eight-hour shifts five days a week for about $20 an hour. At the end of your shift, employees will need to provide "concise written and oral feedback to the engineering team" on their experiences. Clean licenses are required, as there's a small chance those chosen will need to take the wheel under certain driving conditions. Unexpectedly, a BS/BA degree are required as well.
Google says it chose Phoenix as its latest test bed because the city encourages research and development and the extreme climate gives the company data it couldn't obtain in most other areas.
Driverless cars give rise to a variety of concerns for drivers and industry members alike. The latest: sex behind the behind the wheel, which has at least one expert on edge.
"I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars," states Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence. And while that sounds like a great thing, he points out the potentially dangerous side, saying, "That's one of several things people will do which will inhibit their ability to respond quickly when the computer says to the human, 'Take over."'
Videos are already online showing those in Tesla driverless vehicles engaged in activities like reading a newspaper or brushing their teeth, so sex isn't much of a stretch.
Some of the biggest automotive companies in the world have joined forces for the issues surrounding self-driving cars, with Ford, Google, Uber, Lyft, and Volvo joining together to form the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets.
What's that? The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets is a lobbying group that will fight with the federal government about autonomous driving. With the government not really having a handle on self-driving cars just yet, the coalition is being led by David Strickland. Strickland is the former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Strickland will act as the group's counsel and spokesperson, so in a way, he'll be lobbying his former agency. His previous employer has been tasked by the Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to work out the rules for self-driving cars, by early this summer.
Strickland said in a statement: "Self-driving vehicle technology will make America's roadways safer and less congested. The best path for this innovation is to have one clear set of federal standards, and the Coalition will work with policymakers to find the right solutions that will facilitate the deployment of self-driving vehicles".
After recalling nearly all of its Model X vehicles over a rear seat safety issue recently, owners of the same vehicle are reporting glitches that could pose a serious safety threat. Among them: being locked out of the vehicle, doors failing to close, open, or sense objects to prevent hitting them, and light distortion caused by the curved windscreen, thus harming depth perception.
Tesla assures the recall and its current response to the situation is not an admission of mass failure, simply that it takes such issues seriously.
"While we have seen some issues with early Model X builds, the issues are not widespread, and we are working closely with each owner to respond quickly and proactively to address any problems," said a company spokesperon. "We will continue to do so until each customer is fully satisfied. This commitment is one of the reasons why 98% of our customers say they will buy another Tesla as their next car."
Japanese car maker Mitsubishi admitted today that it cheated on fuel efficiency tests for select models in an effort to present 5 to 10 percent better than accurate numbers. President Tetsuro Aikawa and other company executives (pictured below) bowed in apology at a press conference today.
The cheating occurred when testing the air resistance and rolling resistance of tires tests, where "improper conduct" was used; Bloomberg reports this included intentionally varying the load placed above the wheels of the vehicles. Additionally, the company stated it has been using a mileage test since 2002 that isn't compliant with Japanese law.
Models affected include the eK Wagon and eK Space, as well as the Dayz and Dayz Roox as supplied to Nissan. All are mini-cars, none of which are available outside of Asia; 625,000 units were sold or supplied through March 2016.
Tesla Motors has one of the most advanced vehicles in the world with its Model S electric car, but this latest example will have more orders than ever. The autopilot system is shown off in the real-world, saving someone from an accident.
As you can see, a truck is coming up on the left of the driver, with the autopilot system kicking in and swerving to the right to get out of the way of the accident. Model S driver Joshua Brown had his vehicle automatically move out of the way, posting the video to YouTube.
Brown said: "I was driving down the interstate and you can see the boom lift truck in question on the left side of the screen on a joining interstate road. Once the roads merged, the truck tried to get to the exit ramp on the right and never saw my Tesla. I actually wasn't watching that direction and Tessy (the name of my car) was on duty with autopilot engaged. I became aware of the danger when Tessy alerted me with the immediately take over warning chime and the car swerving to the right to avoid the side collision".
In its mission to make self-driving vehicles superior to human driving in every way, Ford has been testing night driving developments in the Arizona desert. The results have been great, enough so that it can proudly say its technology is in fact better, even at night.
During the day, the tech relies on a camera, while at night, it operates on Lidar (effectively light-based radar), illuminating and scanning the ground near it for what to expect, from which it determines where to go. As you can see in the video above, it's quite effective.
Ford has tested its cars on snow-covered roads and in other poor conditions; its night test is yet another step toward a potential fully self-driving society.
Admit it--you've always wanted to fly around on the Green Goblin's hoverboard, recklessly zooming across the skies at ridiculous speeds. Soon you'll be able to.
Frank Zapata of Zapata Racing has created the Flyboard Air, a real-life hoverboard that'd make Norman Osborn green with envy (sorry, I had to). The Flyboard Air can reach staggering heights of up to 10,000 feet and hits a max speed of 93 miles-per-hour. Zapata also created the original Flyboard, a water-powered jetpack that shoots riders up in the air for some hydraulic fun.
As you can see from the video above, the Flyboard Air is still in its testing phases. The craft looks insanely dangerous (and insanely fun), and Zapata hasn't revealed how the device actually works. As if scouring the heavens at ridiculous speeds wasn't death-defying enough, the tecchies at Gizmodo think that users will need to strap a backpack full of fuel to power the craft's turbine engine. So not only could you end up a pile of broken bones, but you could explode like a ball of screaming fire in the skies.
Tesla had a huge week with the unveiling of their Model 3 vehicle priced at $35,000 - but the company is now rumored to be unveiling a more expensive, upgraded Model S vehicle.
The news is coming from CNET, which is reporting that an upgraded Model S could arrive next week, based on information from sources within Tesla. The new Model S would have "luxury-minded" upgrades, both inside and on the outside.
What should we expect? Well, Tesla wants to continue its fight against Audi, BMW and Mercedez-Benz. The new vehicle would feature a redesigned fascia front, new seats and LED lights. As for the price increase, there's no word on that just yet.