Honda to Make Autonomous Cars with GM’s Cruise; Apple Vets Build New Lidar; Feds Can’t Stop California’s Net Neutrality Law;Posted: October 3, 2018
Honda has committed to $2.75 billion in a deal with GM’s subsidiary Cruise to develop and produce a new kind of autonomous vehicle. Techcrunch.com reports that the vehicles are being designed from the ground up, but will be ‘space efficient’ and ‘multipurpose.’ GM, their Cruise subsidiary, and Honda said they expect to ‘explore global opportunities for commercial deployment of the Cruise network.’
A couple of refugees from Apple’s still secret Project Titan self driving car project started a company called Aeva, that hat developed a better lidar for self-driving vehicles. According to arstechinica.com, the new lidar can measure the velocity of objects in addition to their distance. Aeva’s version uses frequency modulated carrier wave lidar. If that makes your eyes cross, it basically means they send out a continuous laser beam with steadily changing frequency. The new lidar is nearly immune from interference, too. So far, no word on when they will market these to car makers or how much the cost will be.
The ink from Jerry Brown’s pen wasn’t even dry on California’s new net neutrality bill when the federal government sued to block it. The Department of Justice calls it a strong case, but theverge.com points out that most legal experts say the suit is on shaky legal ground. When the FCC ruled in favor of carriers last year, they included language that the Commission didn’t have authority to regulate the broadband ISPs. To put it succinctly, “An agency that has no power to regulate has no power to preempt the states, according to case law,” Stanford Law professor Barbara van Schewick said in a statement to The Verge.
“When the FCC repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order, it said it had no power to regulate broadband internet access providers,” van Schewick said. “That means the FCC cannot prevent the states from adopting net neutrality protections because the FCC’s repeal order removed its authority to adopt such protections.” So far, court decisions support California’s right to protect consumers rights.
Amazon Will Deliver Your ‘Junk’ to Your Trunk; Updated Gmail Bows; iPhone Unlocker GrayKey Hacked; Twitter Revenues Up..& Profit!Posted: April 25, 2018
Amazon has launched a new service that gives its couriers access to a person’s vehicle for the purpose of leaving package deliveries inside. The service is in partnership with two major automakers — General Motors and Volvo — and will be rolling out in 37 cities in the US starting today. Theverge.com reports that initially, the service will only be available to Amazon Prime subscribers. who are also owners of 2015 or later GM and Volvo vehicles, with active OnStar and Volvo on Call accounts. Amazon says it plans to add other automobile brands over time. Packages that weigh over 50 pounds, are larger than 26 x 21 x 16 inches in size, require a signature, are valued over $1,300, or come from a third-party seller also are not eligible for in-car delivery. To access the new delivery service, add your car to your Amazon Key app and include a description of the vehicle, so Amazon’s couriers will be able to locate it. The car will need to be parked within a certain radius of an address used for Amazon deliveries, so either home or work. Driveways, parking lots, parking garages, and street parking are all eligible locations, Note that the courier will just send code to the Amazon Cloud, which contacts the OnStar or Volvo Cloud, and that service pops the trunk…Amazon doesn’t get access directly to unlock your car.
The freshened Gmail, with come new features, is live now. According to techcrunch.com, some highlights include an ever present sidebar with built in Google Calendar, Tasks, and Keep, and both snoozing and disappearing email (which Google calls Confidential Mode.) The confidential email can’t be forwarded, copied and pasted, or downloaded and printed…and goes ‘poof’ after a selectable amount of time. Another key feature is offline mode…you can save up to 90 days of email even when you aren’t connected to the web.
GrayKey, the unlocking system in a box that can crack an iPhone in 3 days…has been hacked. 9to5mac.com says part of their code leaked onto the internet, and the leaker has demanded $15,000 from the company…which happens to be the price of an entry level GrayKey device. Turnabout is fair play, it would appear!
More on the 6.5 Inch iPhone; California Allows Self-Driving Car Tests Sans Driver; Ford Tests Self-Drivers as a Business in Miami; Barclaycard Testing Legal Dine and DashPosted: February 27, 2018
Some new details have leaked out about the rumored 6.5 inch iPhone…which is phablet sized, really. 9to5mac.com says it may have dual sim card slots, which would make overseas travel or multiple numbers much easier to handle, especially for corporate travelers. There is a conflicting rumor that Apple may actually go with eSIM like they have on the iPad. Also out is the screen resolution…1242×2688, and word is, Apple may reintroduce gold as a color. Apple apparently dropped gold on the iPhone X due to production problems, but those may be solved.
California has green lighted testing self-driving cars without a driver riding along. TechCrunch.com reports that the DMV announced new rules yesterday that go into effect April 2nd. There will still need to be an always on 2-way communications channel with a live person at a remote location to take control, should the need arise. Right now, the rules only cover cars, not big rigs. Alphabet’s Waymo and GM look to be the first to put such driverless, remote supervised cars on the pavement.
In the meantime, Ford thinks they have a better idea….Florida. The automaker has started testing self-driving cars in Miami…but not just the cars, also the business model. Also according to tech crunch, Ford is testing out cars with its Argo AI software doing business tasks like delivering Domino’s Pizza and Postmates. Miami was selected because it is one of the most congested cities in the country. Ford says it will trial ride hailing in conjunction with Lyft later on in Miami.
If a trial run works out in London, Barclaycard may have a solution for legal dine and dash. According to engadget.com, they are testing out a tabletop device partnered with a smartphone app. If you’ve ever been frustrated by not being able to get the bill from a server and get out after you’ve eaten, you’ll love this. When you’re ready to leave, you just get up and leave. The app lets the in-restaurant equipment know, and the bill is charged to whatever card you have selected in advance…including the tip. No muss, no fuss, and no waiting around trying to flag down your server.
Waymo & Fiat Chrysler Expand Ride-Hailing; Facebook Looks to Local News; iPhone X Top 3 Worldwide; Verizon Won’t Carry Huawei LinePosted: January 30, 2018
Fiat Chrysler is preparing to provide Google’s Waymo with thousands of Pacifica hybrid minivans, as Waymo’s self-driving division rolls out public ride hailing services later this year. Reuters.com says this could press GM and Lyft to pick up the pace, as well as Uber, which already has a test fleet running. Waymo had been been testing out 500 Fiat Chrysler self-driving mini-vans through 2017 in 25 cities.
Facebook plans to start showing more local news in user newsfeeds. According to businessinsider.com, they will start this in the US, and expand to other countries later in the year. The Facebook definition of ‘local’ is if its links ‘are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area,’ not the logical ‘is actually IN a local geographic area!’
With reports out that Apple is cutting iPhone X production from 40 to 20 million this quarter, some good news popped up. 9to5mac.com reports that Kantar found the pricey Apple hero phone was the #3 phone in all the regions they monitor during December. That includes Europe, China, Japan, Australia, and the US. iOS sales overall were down half a percentage point in the US, but loyalty hit a record high 96%. Apple and Samsung account for more than 2/3 of the US market at a combined 70.8%.
Under pressure from the government, Verizon has dropped plans to carry Huawei mobile devices. 9to5google.com says AT&T had previously backed out of carrying the Mate 10 Pro. The government apparently is concerned about the closeness of the Chinese government to the phone maker and their possible ability to manipulate upcoming 5G cellular networks.
GM Will Have 20+ Electric Cars by 2023; Apple’s TrueDepth Cam is 2-1/2 Years Ahead of Android; Walmart Buys Delivery Service Parcel; Headphones Customize Music to Your HearingPosted: October 3, 2017
Joining a growing number of car makers, General Motors will launch at least 20 all electric cars by 2023. Theverge.com reports that two of those will join the Bolt in the next 18 months, and that the General will also make a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. GM has said it is committed to an all-electric future. Daimler has said they will have an electric model of every Mercedes-Benz by 2022, Volkswagen will be completely electrified by 2030, and Volvo plant to cease production of gas-only vehicles by 2019.
According to an analysis by KGI Securities, it will take Android makers 2-1/2 years to catch up to the functionality of Apple’s True Depth Camera featured on the iPhone X. 9to5mac.com reports that Apple will ship 30-35 million of the new hero phone by year’s end. The True Depth cam system enables Face ID, and other advanced features like face tracking and analysis for the Animoji. Apparently, it is the difficulty in making the cam system that has delayed production of the iPhone X, which the majority of people seem to be waiting for over the just-released iPhone 8.
With Amazon now doing some of its own deliveries, and not relying on UPS and the post office for everything, Walmart has jumped into the logistics business and picked up Parcel, a Brooklyn based delivery startup. Arstechnica.com says the 4 year old company has focused on getting city dwellers packages at convenient times. They offer a 2 hour pick up window, so your orders aren’t stolen off the porch or out of the entryway. Parcel also sends live updates over text to recipients and shippers updating them on last mile location of the package as its delivered. Walmart plans to expand service beyond New York City, combining Parcel’s infrastructure with that of Jet, which it bought a year ago.
Always of interest to those of us who have made our living wearing headphones…better headphones! According to engadget.com, those might be the Nuraphones. Nura claims they are like prescription headphones for your ears. The cans are over the ear, but contain earbud like inserts inside. They tune themselves to your ears using ‘otoacoustic emissions’…sound returns from the inner ear when stimulated…that produce an aural ‘fingerprint’ of sorts. The processor then creates a personal equalization setting for each ear, custom tailored to your hearing. The app that works on either Android or iOS gives you 3 different hearing profiles, and there are a couple programmable buttons on the headphones. They last 20 hours on a charge, and speaking of charges, they will set you back a princely $399!
GM Starts Mass Producing Self-Driving Electric Cars; Firefox Gets Multiprocess Update (Finally); Amazon Patents Delivery Drone with WinchPosted: June 14, 2017
It’s likely that the Tesla Model S can be fully self-driving with software activation, but isn’t yet. Meanwhile, they aren’t asleep at the switch at General Motors. GM has cranked out 130 electric Bolts on a production line. according to engadget.com, the General had already built 50 self-driving Bolt EVs, but this latest batch is fully mass produced, and more advanced than the hand finished models. The future really is coming at warp speed.
Mozilla has finally released Firefox with multiprocess architecture, 8 years after starting the project. Arstechnica.com says, without getting into the weeds, the net is that it’s faster and more stable, and despite multiprocess platforms hogging more memory, they were able to build it so it is quicker and uses less RAM than Google’s Chrome. It’ probably worth giving a spin if you’re not already a Firefox user.
Amazon has patented a couple of interesting things for drones. Geekwire.com reports that one is a winch setup that can lower packages to the ground on a tether. It has a counterbalance to keep the package from swaying wildly on its way to your porch or other delivery spot. Another patent is for folding wings, that fold in half, but then extend themselves for flight. Amazon had previously experimented with dropping packages with a small parachute.
New GoPros Including Drone; Waze Gets Parking Help; Google’s Pixel Event; GM Sets Bolt Price & Pledges 100% Renewable PowerPosted: September 20, 2016
GoPro has revealed 3 new cams- the Hero 5, Hero 5 Session, and Hero Session. Businessinsider.com says they start at $399 for the 5. They also showed a foldable drone called Karma. The Drone is $799, but can be bundled with the cams…with the Hero 5 Session the combo is $999, and it’s $1099 for the Hero 5 Black and the Karma. It has a gimbal to stabilize footage you shoot.
Parking in cities can be infuriating. Now, Google’s Waze throws you a lifeline, as they’ve partnered with Inrix to bring additional parking lot data to the Waze app. According to 9to5google.com, the beefed up parking adding parking lot data to the already available street parking data is available on both the Android and iOS Waze apps.
We reported a rumor last week about Google’s Pixel smartphone event in early October. Now it’s official. Engadget.com reports that the invites are out and the event is October 4th. Google may show 2 new Pixel branded phones, a 4K Chromecast, and a new Daydream VR headset.
GM has announced pricing for it’s all electric Bolt, due out the end of the year. Reuters.com says it will start at $37,495. This should bring it under the ‘magic’ $30,000 level with the Federal tax break of $7500. It’s supposed to go 238 miles fully charged. Also, the General has just pledged that it would move all its facilities to 100% renewable energy by 2050…that’s over 350 facilities in 59 countries! Walmart, Unilever, and Apple are also moving to all-renewable facilities.
Verizon Swallows Most of Yahoo; GM & Lyft to Launch Driverless Electric Car; iPhone 7 Rollout Date DeterminedPosted: July 25, 2016
As rumored over the weekend, Verizon is buying Yahoo for $4.83 billion. Recode.net says they will roll up the core Yahoo business into Verizon-owned AOL. Tim Armstrong, who came to AOL from Google and revitalized it as a web sales engine, will run the combined AOL/Yahoo. Marissa Mayer will, as they say, exit. The sale does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba Group Holdings, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments, and Yahoo’s non-core patents. All of those will continue to be held by Yahoo, which will change its name at closing.
GM and Lyft will begin testing an electric, driverless vehicle before the end of the year. According to futuritech.info, the General plans to first release the vehicle on the Lyft platform, and then spread to the rest of the mass market. So far, GM and Lyft are keeping the timeline close to the vest as to when the vehicles will be available to most anybody, so stay tuned for that.
Two quick iPhone 7 notes from bgr.com…according to reputable leaker Evan Blass, the latest from Apple will hit the shelves September 16th. This points to a rollout by Tim Cook & company on September 6th or 7th. We also hear the headphone jack-less phone will ship with a dongle…oh, how we love those…so you can use your present headphones or earbuds. A new profit center for Apple, as angry users lose or break the stupid dongles, and have to buy more…probably for 20 or 30 dollars each!
A major change for Lyft, as their partnership with GM bears fruit. Reuters.com says General Motors will begin supplying rental cars, so that Lyft drivers will no longer have to own a car. For starters, GM will provide a fleet of 125 Chevrolet Equinoxes in the Chicago area by month’s end. Drivers can rent the cars for up to eight weeks. Depending on how many rides drivers complete, the cost will range from $99 a week plus 20 cents per mile to free for drivers who complete at least 65 trips a week. Lyft and GM will pay for maintenance and insurance.
Those quickie blind making companies are going to be gnashing their teeth. Cnet.com reports that scientists at Harvard have developed ‘tunable glass,’ which can go from clear to opaque in less than a second. The problem up to now has been that this type of pane has been difficult to make and expensive. The new way has a sheet of glass sandwiched between two sheets of clear, soft elastomer, sprayed with a coat of silver nanowires. Turn on the electrical current, and presto….it turns opaque. They are working on making it turn with less current at this point. One does wonder if all the windows would turn back to clear with a power failure. You might not want to walk around naked during a storm!
General Motors has announced it is acquiring San Francisco based Cruise Automation, which is making sensors to turn regular vehicles into self-driving ones. Techcrunch.com reports that the price is undisclosed, but Fortune reports its over a billion dollars. GM had already partnered with Lyft. GM President Dan Ammann says the automotive giant plans to integrate the Cruise tech into its fleet of vehicle brands as soon as possible! Since GM sells about 10 million cars a year worldwide and 3 million of those in the US, that would put a substantial number of self driving cars on the roads in just a few years!
Pohang University of Science and Technology has built a miniature fuel cell they say can keep a drone in the air for an hour, rather than the usual 15-20 minutes batteries provide. Slashdot.org says the miniature fuel cells could also find their way into smartphones and other devices in the near future. The new type of fuel cell is claimed to have increased performance and higher long term durability.
Apple sent out invites to the tech media yesterday to an event at Cupertino Monday, March 21st. In their usual cryptic style, it merely says ‘Let Us Loop You In.’ It’s widely expected that Apple will show the new 4 inch iPhone SE, a revamped 9.7 inch iPad which may get the Pro designation, and new bands for the Apple Watch. Since it’s Apple, there could always be ‘one more thing!’ Stay tuned!