Transportation

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Tesla says fatal crash involved Autopilot

Tesla has provided another update to last week’s fatal crash. As it turns out, Tesla said the driver had Autopilot on with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. However, it seems the driver ignored the vehicle’s warnings to take back control.

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote in a blog post. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

The promise of Tesla’s Autopilot system is to reduce car accidents. In the company’s blog post, Tesla notes Autopilot reduces crash rates by 40 percent, according to an independent review by the U.S. government. Of course, that does not mean the technology is perfect in preventing all accidents.

As Tesla previously noted, the crash was so severe because the middle divider on the highway had been damaged in an earlier accident. Tesla also cautioned that Autopilot does not prevent all accidents, but it does make them less likely to occur.

No one knows about the accidents that didn’t happen, only the ones that did. The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe. There are about 1.25 million automotive deaths worldwide. If the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle were to be applied, it would mean about 900,000 lives saved per year. We expect the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars.

In the past, when we have brought up statistical safety points, we have been criticized for doing so, implying that we lack empathy for the tragedy that just occurred. Nothing could be further from the truth. We care deeply for and feel indebted to those who chose to put their trust in us. However, we must also care about people now and in the future whose lives may be saved if they know that Autopilot improves safety. None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer’s family and friends. We are incredibly sorry for their loss.

This development, of course, comes in light of a fatal accident involving one of Uber’s self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona.

Engineering against all odds, or how NYC’s subway will get wireless in the tunnels

 Never ask a wireless engineer working on the NYC subway system “What can go wrong?” Flooding, ice, brake dust, and power outages relentlessly attack the network components. Rats — many, many rats — can eat power and fiber optic cables and bring down the whole system. Humans are no different, as their curiosity or malice strikes a blow against wireless hardware… Read More

Waymo orders thousands of Pacificas for 2018 self-driving fleet rollout

 Waymo has ordered thousands of new Chrysler Pacifica minivans from FCA to help populate its autonomous ride-hailing fleet, which it will open to the public in 2018, the company says. The public launch of its Pacifica-based self-driving ride hailing service is set to occur sometime later this year, after Waymo starts testing its minivans without anyone behind the wheel, achieving true Level… Read More

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. flamethrower is real, $500 and up for pre-order

 So that flamethrower that Elon Musk teased The Boring Company would start selling after it ran out of its 50,000 hats? Yeah, it’s real – and you can pre-order one now if you want need a ridiculous way to spend $500. Musk revealed the flamethrower on Saturday, after some digging tipped its existence late last week. The Boring Company Flamethrower is functional, too, as you can see… Read More

GM and Cruise reveal their fourth-generation, steering wheel-free Cruise AV

 GM and Cruise are making progress on their plan to deploy autonomous vehicles on roads for the public: Today, it’s showing off its fourth-generation Cruise Autonomous Vehicle (AV), which comes just a few short months after it first revealed its third-generation vehicle. The fourth generation car is production-ready, according to GM’s Dan Ammann, who discussed the new vehicle on a… Read More

VW taps Nvidia to build AI into its new electric microbus and beyond

 Nvidia will power artificial intelligence technology built into its future vehicles, including the new I.D. Buzz, its all-electric retro-inspired camper van concept. The partnership between the two companies also extends to the future vehicles, and will initially focus on so-called “Intelligent Co-Pilot” features, including using sensor data to make driving easier, safer and… Read More

SpaceX caps a record year with 18th successful launch of 2017

 SpaceX has completed its 18th launch in 2017, marking a record year for the private space company. It’s the most rockets SpaceX has launched in a single year, beating its previous best by ten missions. The launch today was for client Iridium, delivering 10 satellites to low Earth orbit for its Iridium NEXT communications constellation. This is the fourth such mission that SpaceX has… Read More

Behind the ambitious plan to build and race flying cars

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Since Back to the Future, you’re far from alone if you’ve wondered where the heck your flying car is already.

Sure, we’ve seen pitches by the likes of Kitty Hawk, which is backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, and Slovakian startup AeroMobil — but the reality of a flying car still seems a way off.

An Australian startup called Alauda has an ambition to fast-track that reality with its electric, low-altitude aircraft, the Airspeeder Mark I. 

Alauda is founded by Matt Pearson, who also cofounded space startup Fleet. Over the past two years, Pearson has been working on the project as part of a team of five in a Sydney warehouse. Read more…

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Lyft gets approval to test self-driving cars on public roads in California

 Lyft is the latest company to be added to the ever-growing list of those permitted to test their self-driving technology on California state public roads. The California Department of Motor Vehicles added Lyft to the list recently (via Axios), following Lyft’s foundation of a self-driving technology development center earlier this year, and its announcement that it would work on both its… Read More

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Here’s our first look at Elon Musk’s Boring Co. LA tunnel

 Elon Musk is digging a tunnel under Hawthorne near SpaceX headquarters in California, after receiving approval from city council to do so. Musk’s Boring Co. has already made considerable progress on the dig and tunnel build, apparently, as Musk shared an image of the tunnel from the inside showing a reinforced tube that stretches off into the distance out of sight.
The tunnel features… Read More

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SpaceX’s Hyperloop Pod speed competition winner tops 200 MPH

 SpaceX held its second Hyperloop Pod design competition for student feeds at the test track built near its test track today. The mile long track saw three finalist teams battle it out for speed supremacy, including WARR Hyperloop from Germany, Switzerland’s Swissloop and Paradigm, a North American team with members from Northeastern and Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada. The… Read More

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Here is Uber’s first pitch deck

 On the ninth anniversary of the founding of Uber, its co-founder Garrett Camp shared the company’s initial pitch deck via a personal Medium post. The deck, and the short post, comes off quite sentimental because of how much has happened to the company since it was created.
But company growth and drama aside, there’s a lot to be learned from Uber’s 25 slide deck. Enjoy the… Read More

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A biohacker named Meow-Meow implanted an Opal card into his hand. That's all.

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Public transit can be a nightmare. Endless amounts of people and fumbling with your transit card are pretty much unavoidable, and that’s before you even get on that crowded train. 

Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, an Australian molecular biologist and the founder of citizen scientist lab Biofoundry, literally took matters into his own hands to find a solution to this problem.

Meow-Meow uses the Opal card — the equivalent of London’s Oyster card — to get on public transit in Sydney. Instead of remembering to bring the physical card with him every day, Meow-Meow decided to get a little bit creative. He had the chip from his card professionally implanted beneath the skin in his left hand. Read more…

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AAA officially launches its car sharing startup Gig with a giant, sober dance party in Oakland

 Gig, a new car-sharing app created by the emergency roadside assistance service AAA rolled out to the Bay Area today. The startup comes out of A3 Ventures, AAA’s venture arm and the new one-way car sharing service is now active in Oakland and Berkeley, California. Gig is similar to other temporary car share services like Enterprise CarShare or Zipcar. But unlike the traditional car… Read More

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ChargePoint is ready for flying EVs

ChargePoint and Uber Elevate Yesterday I wrote about a poll conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan that found people were interested in flying cars if they were autonomous, shared, and electric. As soon as I posted that, I found an email in my inbox saying that ChargePoint and Uber Elevate, among others at the recent conference on flying vehicles, had partnered to prepare for just that exact… Read More

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Apple testing process for autonomous safety drivers revealed in DMV documents

 Apple has developed a testing procedure for drivers who would act as failsafe controls during autonomous vehicle testing, documents discovered by Business Insider via a public records request show. The documents detail the testing procedure that Apple has created in order to comply with the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s rules regarding autonomous testing on state roads.… Read More

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Tesla to reveal a pickup truck within two years, and final Model 3 design in July

 Tesla plans to show off an electric pickup truck sometime within the next two years, the company’s CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter today. The pickup was teased originally when Musk revealed the second part of his “master plan” for Tesla, which began with selling expensive vehicles like the Roadster and Model S, and eventually leads to producing a wide range of more… Read More

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Lyft to let passengers round up their fare and donate the difference to charity

 Lyft is looking at one of its biggest potential opportunities to make up some ground on its rival Uber, given the latter company’s ongoing and worsening PR crisis. So it makes sense that Lyft would go even further in the opposite direction, with a new program that lets riders top off their fare to the nearest dollar, and donate the difference to one of a group of selected charities. The… Read More

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Tesla Model 3 is ‘just a smaller, more affordable’ Model S, says Elon Musk

 The Tesla Model 3 is not a product iteration along the lines of successive iPhones, Elon Musk clarified on Twitter on Friday. Instead, it’s a “smaller model affordable versions of Model S” with less range, less power and fewer features, according to the Tesla CEO. The Model S is still going to be the leader in terms of it technological capabilities – so think more iPhone… Read More

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ANA’s new C-3PO jet is fluent in over 6 million forms of communication

 Fancy paint jobs for airplanes are nothing novel, but few airlines ever really commit to making their jets look unique like Japan’s ANA. The air carrier’s latest custom craft is one of its Star Wars series of planes, commemorating everyone’s favorite golden protocol droid with a C-3PO yellow fuselage wrap, and interior decorating to match. The C-3PO ANA Jet follows R2-D2… Read More

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Wright Electric unveils its commercial electric plane business

 Gas is the biggest cost for airlines. The easiest way to reduce these costs? Don’t use gas at all. That was the pitch from Wright Electric, a startup building an commercial passenger plane that runs on batteries and can handle flights under 300 miles. These short-haul trips make up 30 percent of all flights and a $26 billion market. Today Wright Electric gave its first preview to the… Read More

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LimeBike raises $12 million to roll out bike sharing without kiosks in the US

 A startup called LimeBike has raised $12 million in venture funding to make Chinese-style bike sharing mainstream in the US. Andreessen Horowitz led the round joined by IDG Ventures, DCM Ventures and other investors who declined to be named. In China, companies like MoBike and Ofo have raised massive amounts of venture capital and distributed tens of thousands of their GPS-enabled bikes in… Read More

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Airbus reveals a modular, self-piloting flying car concept

 Airbus has been talking about its Vahana flying autonomous vehicle project for a while now, but at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, it’s showing off a concept design created in partnership with Italdesign. The demonstration vehicle offers modular functionality, meaning it an operate both on the ground and in the air, and Airbus thinks it’s one potential answer to the growing… Read More

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Goodyear’s AI tire concept can read the road and adapt on the fly

 Goodyear is thinking ahead to how tires – yes, tires – might change as autonomous driving technology alters vehicle design, and as available technologies like in-vehicle and embedded machine learning and AI make it possible to do more with parts of the car that were previously pretty static, like its wheels. Its new Eagle 360 Urban tire concept design builds on the work it… Read More

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Uber’s VP of product and growth has left the company

BEIJING, CHINA - 2016/10/08: UBER art station in Beijing CBD.  There are 8 UBER art stations in Beijing, each with a sculpture made by some of China's promising modern designers, provided especially for the carpooling riders and drivers to gather and find each other easily. (Photo by Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images) Ed Baker, Uber’s VP of product and growth, has resigned from Uber, Recode first reported. Uber declined to comment on the story but TechCrunch has confirmed that Baker has left the company, and that Daniel Graf, Uber’s head of marketplace, will be the interim head of product and marketplace. “I have always wanted to apply my experience in technology and growth to the… Read More

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Uber plans to turn its app into a ‘content marketplace’ during rides

uber-exper Uber can’t seem to avoid headlines for the wrong reasons right now, as it gets slammed for its toxic work culture, its connections to a polarizing U.S. President, and its CEO’s attitude to Uber drivers. 
But despite all that, the transportation company — currently valued as high as $68 billion — continues to grow and is expanding its business into ever more areas. Read More

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Jeff Bezos wants Blue Origin to be the Amazon of the Moon

Fourth successful launch of the same New Shepard vehicle during test flights / Image courtesy of Blue Origin Not one to be left out, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is also making plans to go to the Moon, just like fellow space magnate Elon Musk. Bezos’ plan, uncovered by The Washington Post via a draft proposal presented to NASA and Trump’s administration, outlines Blue Origin’s plan to create a cargo spacecraft destined for the Moon that would help it ferry supplies… Read More

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Uber loses legal challenge against English tests for London drivers

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  The Uber app logo is displayed on an iPhone on August 3, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) The bad news just keeps piling up for Uber. The ride-hailing giant has lost a court battle against London’s transport regulators which have been seeking to raise the level of English spoken by private hire vehicles on safety grounds, requiring that all drivers pass an English proficiency test this year. Read More

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Virgin’s newest company is Virgin Orbit, a small satellite specialist

n3-20150918-c Virgin’s business in space just got a little busier – the company founded by Richard Branson just launched a new operation called Virgin Orbit, which becomes its own subsidiary company alongside Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company in Virgin’s space roster. Virgin Orbit will focus on dedicated launches of small satellites (smallsats), and will be headed up by Dan Hart,… Read More

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GM’s new Maven Reserve service offers monthly vehicle rentals

New for 2017, the Tahoe and Suburban LT models are offered with a Midnight Edition package. The LT Midnight includes all of the features found on both the LT trim levels of Suburban and Tahoe and adds 20” black wheels, all-season tires, roof rack cross rails, black assist steps and black Chevrolet “bow tie” logos. Alternative models to car ownership now abound, and GM’s putting one more on the table: Maven Reserve, an offering within its Maven on-demand rental service that lets users rent new GM cars for 28 days at a time, complete with parking, insurance and $100 in gas credit. These will cost you, however: The Chevrolet Tahoe is one of the initial offerings, with a $1,500 flat rate for the… Read More

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Hyperloop One begins initial talks with the Indian government

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Hyperloop One’s high-speed transportation solution could reach India in the near future. That’s the plan, at least.

Hyperloop One executives, including CEO Rob Lloyd and chief chairman Shervin Pishevar spent three hours in a room packed of Indian government officials and journalists on Tuesday. That’s how keen they are to bring Elon Musk’s idea to the country. 

Although at the first sight, they don’t look as the perfect match (India is known for its archaic regulations, over-crowded roads and poorly-designed urban areas), the two have begun talking.

At the event, India’s railway minister, Suresh Prabhu, said the government is open to further discussions and definitely sees the need for Hyperloop One’s high-speed trains. “Though we are not hyper about it,” he joked. Read more…

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Uber employees are chatting with each other about Uber’s leadership on anonymous workplace app Blind

the_new_uber_app_04b Uber employees have flocked to an anonymous workplace app called Blind as a sort of catharsis since ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler Rigetti posted about being propositioned and discriminated against while working for the company, according to Blind’s founder Alex Shin.
Rigetti’s explosive post went viral late Sunday night, leading to more than double an increase of Uber employees… Read More

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Why a cybersecurity solution for driverless cars may be found under the hood

spiral-road1 Autonomous vehicles were one of the most talked about technologies in 2016. Ever since Tesla, Google and Uber put these vehicles on the consumer trend map, I’ve been daydreaming of the day I might own one. Unfortunately for me, and the auto industry, that day might not be coming too soon — if they can’t keep the cars and their drivers safe, I’ll never have one sitting in… Read More

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SpaceX’s CRS-10 ISS resupply mission rocket launch scrubbed, next window is Feb 19

32945170225_e5b87acce0_k Update: SpaceX aborted the launch with 13 seconds to go, citing the issue with the positioning of an engine nozzle that’s responsible for steering the rocket in the second stage as the cause. The company said it was exercising “an abundance of caution” in postponing the launch, but wanted to be absolutely sure. The next launch window is at 9:38 AM ET on Sunday morning. At… Read More

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Mobileye outfits 4,500 for-hire cars in NYC with collision avoidance tech

A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016.  About a half dozen ride-hailing firms have rushed into Texas tech hub Austin after market leaders Uber and Lyft left the city a little over a monthago in a huff over municipal requirements that they fingerprint drivers.    REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files Mobileye’s long-game is focused on autonomous driving, but some of the tech that feeds into that can have an impact now, including advanced collision avoidance systems. The company announced on Friday that it has completed the installation of accident prevention tech across 4,500 for-hire vehicles used by drivers for services including Uber and Lyft in New York City, as part of a… Read More

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SpaceX targets February 18 for Dragon resupply mission to ISS

spacex-iridium-1 SpaceX has a new date for its next launch – February 18, when it’s hoping to make its first launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at pad LC-39A. The first launch from the Florida facility was originally set for January 29, and was set to be a mission to deliver a commercial EchoStar satellite into orbit,  but that was pushed back to a target of the end of February when… Read More

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Watch Cruise’s self-driving Bolt EV navigate smoothly to SF’s Dolores Park

self-dirving-cruise GM-owned Cruise Automation wants you to be able to see the progress it’s making with its self-driving car tests, in a way that’s more tangible than looking at boring lists of disengagement reports. That’s why it’s been publishing videos of its Cruise test cars navigating real city streets, and a new episode of that video series is available now, showing a Bolt EV… Read More

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Tesla to 'hopefully' launch the Model 3 in India this summer: Elon Musk

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India’s wait to drive — and the world’s wait to see it ride —  Tesla’s autonomous and electric car Model 3 on its poorly maintained, and overly crowded roads will come to an end this year.

Addressing a person’s question, Elon Musk said Tuesday night the company plans to debut its car in India this summer (period between the latter part of June and beginning of September). 

@goel_ishan Hoping for summer this year

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2017

To much fanfare, Musk announced the Tesla Model 3 — the “affordable”, mass-market, $35,000 electric vehicle — last year.  Read more…

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Elon Musk says he put travel ban on the agenda as he defends continued Trump council participation

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 03:  SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk (L) talks with White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon at the beginning of a policy forum with U.S. President Donald Trump in the State Dining Room at the White House February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. Leaders from the automotive and manufacturing industries, the financial and retail services and other powerful global businesses were invited to the meeting with Trump, his advisors and family.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Elon Musk only noted very briefly that there had been “progress” on the matter of the immigration order made during his meeting with Donald Trump’s economics advisory council on Friday, but on Saturday the Tesla CEO shared a bit more about what happened at the event. Musk said that he specifically requested inclusion of discussion of the travel ban at the closed meeting, as… Read More

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An ambitious young photographer captured the chaos and beauty of Greyhound buses in 1943

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A Greyhound bus from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh.

Image: Library of Congress

In 1942, Esther Bubley, a fresh graduate of the photography program at the Minneapolis School of Art, landed a job as a darkroom assistant at the Office of War Information (OWI) in Washington, D.C.

The OWI had recently absorbed the famed photographic unit of the Farm Security Administration and shifted the photographers’ assignments from rural poverty to various facets of the war effort, including aircraft factories and broader aspects of American infrastructure such as railroads.

Bubley’s talents were quickly recognized by the photographers and program director Roy Stryker, who transferred her out of the darkroom and into the field. Read more…

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Elon Musk says he’ll present objections to Trump’s immigration order at Friday advisory council meeting

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23:  White House Senior Advisor Stephen Miller (L) and Klaus Kleinfeld of Arconic visit with Elon Musk (C) of SpaceX before a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Business leaders who also attend the meeting included Elon Musk of SpaceX, Mark Sutton of International Paper, Michael Dell of Dell Technologies, Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical and others.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a statement about his participation in Donald Trump’s economic advisory council, and a scheduled meeting of the group tomorrow. Musk said that he and others on the council will take the opportunity to voice their opposition to the president’s executive order on immigration and suggest how it might be changed. Musk took the opportunity to specifically… Read More

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AccessMap finds routes that avoid common pitfalls for those with limited mobility

access-map-screenshot1 If you ask a mapping app for walking directions from point A to point B, it’ll do its best, but what if you happen to be in a wheelchair? The apps don’t have information on curb cuts, safe crossings, construction sites that interrupt sidewalks and so on. AccessMap attempts to address this shortcoming, and now offers route-finding in Seattle that takes into account the… Read More

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ClearMotion lands $100M to swap software for car shocks and boost self-driving UX

clearmotion-glide ClearMotion, a company that’s building an alternative chassis for vehicle makers that replaces traditional physical shock absorbers with digital, software-driven adaptive actuators, has readied $100 million in a Series C round, led by a group of clients advised by J.P. Morgan’s asset management wing and with participation from NEA, Qualcomm Ventures and more. The company claims to… Read More

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Elon Musk's Hyperloop dream is closer to becoming a reality

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Three university teams have been the first to test drive their pods in SpaceX’s depressurized track as part of Elon Musk’s Hyperloop competition.

The Delft University Hyperloop team clinched the top price for their prototype pod in the first phase. The Technical University of Munich, Germany received a price for the fastest pod, while MIT were awarded best design. 

The next phase of the competition is scheduled for the summer.  Read more…

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Forget flying cars — passenger drones are the future

remote controlling passenger plane In the July 1924 issue of Popular Science, “Ace of Aces” fighter pilot E.V. Rickenbacker told readers to expect “Flying Autos in 20 Years.” Rickenbacker’s flying car would have retractable 12.5-foot wings, a sea-worthy hull and wheels to cruise America’s growing network of highways. Ninety-three years later, personal cars remain land-bound. Read More

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Uber CEO offers compensation for drivers impacted by immigration ban, will talk to Trump

Travis Kalanick Onstage at Disrupt Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick added his voice today to a growing chorus of tech executives troubled by President Donald Trump’s recent immigration order banning the entry of US residents from seven countries.
Echoing the sentiments of Google’s Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Kalanick wrote a letter to Uber staff, also posting to his Facebook wall. Read More

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Amateur Hyperloop designers face off this weekend on SpaceX’s mile-long test track

mit-hyperloop SpaceX may not be interested in actually designing and making a real Hyperloop — it’s hard to tell how serious anyone is about the idea — but it is happy to promote plucky young engineers who’d like to try their hand at this interesting engineering problem. This weekend, 30 teams from all over the world will test scale models of their pods in a mile-long test track… Read More

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Driving the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

bolt-ev147a0384 The Bolt is designed to be approachable and at least a little familiar at first, even though it’s actually a very different kind of car under the hood, thanks to its 60 kWh battery and electric motor. Chevrolet knows that a lot of its owners will be first-time EV buyers, and that there’s a learning curve when you’re coming from a long history of driving gas-powered cars. Bolt… Read More

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