Jag Claims Tech Will Greenlight Your Commute; Lyft Offering Automatic Tips & Driver Ratings; Boeing Division-Solar Powered Drone

A lot of people are excited about self-driving tech, and some are skeptical of it ever becoming commonplace. Now, Jaguar-Land Rover may have something that will win skeptics over to assisted or autonomous driving…all green lights! Cnet.com reports that Jag is saying their V2X tech includes something called Green Light Optimal Speed Advisory, and it’s capable of suggesting a speed for the driver. If the driver maintains the speed, they should be able to hit a series of green lights without stopping. The system is being test run in London right now…interestingly, the home of the first ever traffic lights. Hitting a series of green lights is not necessarily new…back in the day, Dad figured out if you drove either 18 or 38, you could hit every green light on the Main Street in our town between 1st Street and 17th Street! You can guess which speed he generally took!

Lyft is doing a limited launch to test out default tipping and mid-ride tipping. According to engadget.com, only select customers will see this at first, but it should be widely available in 2019 if all goes well. Also, Lyft is testing out a default on driver rating. Starting in December, if you don’t leave a rating, the default will be a 5-star rating. Lyft says a lot of people don’t bother with ratings if the ride went well. If you do ding the driver, the app will ask you to justify it. It nullifies ratings where circumstances were out of the driver’s control…like bad traffic.

Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences says its high altitude, long endurance Odysseus solar drone will take its maiden flight next spring. Geekwire.com says that first flight will happen next April 23rd in Puerto Rico. The wide-winged drone can be deployed at a fraction the cost of a satellite, and can spend far more time airborne than a conventional drone…in fact, for months! Right now, climate and atmospheric research are the first claimed applications. (Nope…no spying…we’d never use science for cover for that.)


Waymo’s Jaguar Deal; Facebook Speaker Delayed; President Criticizes Amazon

When you call a self-driving e-car, sometimes you may want to go posh. At least Waymo thinks so. Apparently, their latest partner for their autonomous taxi fleet is Jaguar. Jag’s new BEV–…battery electric vehicle, goes on sale later this year, and Waymo has ordered a whopping 20,000 of the classy e-cars with their I-Pace self driving system. The sensors will be built right into the Jags at the factory in Graz, Austria. Waymo says they want to give users a choice…, so will continue to run the Chrysler Pacifica vans, and add in the Jaguar I-Pace BEVs in 2020, with the full fleet of Jags on the roads by 2022. 

In the aftermath of Facebook’s frankly terrible couple of weeks with the Cambridge Analytica data mis-use disclosure, followed by the discovery that they had been logging call and text data from Android phones for years, Facebook has postponed release of their connected speaker. Originally, it was thought that the new gadget would roll out at their developer conference F8 May 1st, and be available to buyers this fall, but now the connected speaker will debut late in the year. The Facebook speaker will reportedly not only have voice control, but also video chat capability.  Continuing damage control, Facebook has now introduced a new privacy shortcuts menu, simplified shortcuts menu on mobile, and tools to find, download, and delete your Facebook data. 

While Congress is digging into Facebook and their data use or mis-use,  the president is more obsessed with Amazon. Axios is reporting that he is concerned with both the online giant’s tax treatment, and the fact that they are hurting brick and mortar stores and malls. Another thing that disturbs the Chief Executive is Amazon’s so-called ‘cushy deal’ with the US Postal Service. There has been some pushback on the latter, as the Post Office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon. There isn’t much question that Amazon has taken a big bite out of brick and mortar retailers, and that the US Treasury would benefit if Amazon collected and paid in sales tax the way physical stores all do. So far, there’s no plan from the White House dealing with these issues, but they are on Trump’s radar. Amazon stock was down as much as 7%, or 52 billion, after this report came out. In other words, it dropped 5 times more than than the president has claimed he was worth.