First self-driving auto fatality falls on Tesla

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The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today said it opened a preliminary investigation into all of Tesla’s Model S cars after a death involving one vehicle while in “Autopilot” mode. According to CNBC, NHTSA noted the accident, involving a 2015 Model S that was operating with autonomous driving features engaged, “calls for an examination of the… Read more »

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The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today said it opened a preliminary investigation into all of Tesla’s Model S cars after a death involving one vehicle while in “Autopilot” mode.

According to CNBC, NHTSA noted the accident, involving a 2015 Model S that was operating with autonomous driving features engaged, “calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash.”

The accident happened in Florida in May of this year, as a big rig truck moved into the Tesla’s lane. The car collided with the side of the truck and went underneath it. Its Autopilot system may have had difficulty seeing the truck’s white sides against an overcast sky.

In a blog post, Tesla said the incident was “the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated,” and they pointed out the average American auto fatality is one every 94 million miles while the average global auto fatality is one every 60 million miles.

The carmaker added that they “informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred.”

While this is not a recall of the Tesla fleet, it could be the first step towards a recall. And since Autopilot is effectively a software feature, Tesla over-air updates could remove the feature quickly, making it inconvenient for Tesla owners, but not forcing them back to the dealership or leave their cars in their garages.

As autonomous vehicle technologies mature, it should be pointed out that some of them already exist in the newest model years of many vehicles today as driver assist options – and no doubt lane departure warnings, collision avoidance systems and self-parking have avoided accidents and probably saved lives to date.

Ethical and legal issues just being realized

But the ethical and legal ramifications of a driverless vehicle killing someone inside or outside the car is a storm that all sides of this technological frontier can see coming.

Recently, Ford, Google, Uber and other firms in the self-driving vehicle space announced plan to start lobbying Washington to keep regulations in line with these rapidly changing technologies to allow them to roll out faster.

But last month, the NHTSA opted to let states lead the way on setting how they let driverless cars interact with the current human-driven auto fleet on American roads.

In other jurisdictions, like Europe, there’s more unity among regulatory bodies and other countries like China and the U.K. are moving aggressively tailor their regulations to self-driving cars.

And given that software is doing the driving, the fear of a vehicle being hijacked on the fly to cause mayhem also gives some experts pause about self-driving features.

Of course, there is no evidence or suggestion that such a hack happened here, and the investigation should allowed to play out. But this tragic accident underlines the reality that this tech, like all tech, may help eliminate old driving risks but also may inject new ones.

“It’ll take until someone actually dies in an autonomous vehicle due to a hack,” said David Miller, chief security officer at Covisint, earlier this year in an interview with ReadWrite. “That doesn’t mean people aren’t thinking about security, but usually, there needs to be an actual event before you solve them.”

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IoT and Bluetooth: Winning over developers with new features

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As the mobile industry begins to stagnate, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become the new market that networking giants are looking at to push them through the next few years. Bluetooth, the open network standard, is also adapting its short-range technology to become a leader in connecting IoT devices together. In 2016, the Bluetooth… Read more »

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As the mobile industry begins to stagnate, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become the new market that networking giants are looking at to push them through the next few years.

Bluetooth, the open network standard, is also adapting its short-range technology to become a leader in connecting IoT devices together. In 2016, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced a range of new features critical for IoT devices.

The three key features are extended range, increased speed, and mesh networking. Bluetooth SIG expects the changes to win over some IoT hardware makers, that may have chosen a proprietary networking technology if Bluetooth didn’t invest time into building IoT features.

“Bluetooth has been adopted by countless developers and manufacturers as their connectivity solution of choice for the IoT,” said executive director of Bluetooth SIG, Mark Powell. “The new functionality we will soon be adding will further solidify Bluetooth as the backbone of IoT technology.”

Bluetooth has 4X the range

Bluetooth for IoT has four times the range, which should be useful for businesses that want thousands of IoT devices connected, without large deployment of hubs. It also has 100 percent more speed, useful for critical infrastructure projects where the network must always be online and ready to send information. It also uses a new Mesh network topology, designed for devices to be interconnected inside a network, which is necessary for a scalable IoT solution.

In a separate update, Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) made it possible for a coin-cell battery to last for months or years. The update paid specific attention to power management while idle, directly affecting IoT devices that spend a good amount of time not doing much.

If that wasn’t enough for IoT device makers, we have also heard that open standards in IoT could generate a more vibrant and competitive market in the next five years, and will cost smart cities less to adopt.

The network standard is set to play a massive role in the IoT deployment, both in consumer’s homes and enterprises. With thousands of devices already connected, it is already hard for developers to reject the network.

30 billion IoT devices could be connected in the next five years, making this the fastest growing hardware market, far outpacing mobile adoption. For networking giants, it is imperative that they don’t skip IoT.

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Apple might buy Jay Z’s Tidal music app

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17: Jay-Z (L) and Memphis Bleek perform during TIDAL X: Jay-Z B-sides in NYC on May 17, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Live Nation) If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em. Apple is in discussions with Tidal about acquiring its music streaming app, which offers exclusives and early releases from big artists like Beyonce and Kanye West. The Wall Street Journal reports that the talks are still early and might not end in a deal, but Apple wants those exclusives to bolster its Apple Music streaming app that’s… Read More

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17: Jay-Z (L) and Memphis Bleek perform during TIDAL X: Jay-Z B-sides in NYC on May 17, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Live Nation) If you can’t beat ’em, buy ’em. Apple is in discussions with Tidal about acquiring its music streaming app, which offers exclusives and early releases from big artists like Beyonce and Kanye West. The Wall Street Journal reports that the talks are still early and might not end in a deal, but Apple wants those exclusives to bolster its Apple Music streaming app that’s… Read More

The FDA wants you to stop eating raw cookie dough

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Devastating news: The Food and Drug Administration needs you to stop eating raw cookie dough

This terrible turn of events comes following the Center for Disease Control and the FDA’s investigation of an outbreak of infections caused by Shiga toxin-producing E.coli found in certain brands of flour. The CDC announced the investigation on June 1 after General Mills recalled multiple varieties of the pantry staple.

On Tuesday, the FDA issued a consumer update warning against consumption of raw cookie dough. But it doesn’t stop there— all raw doughs and batters are potentially off limits as they could be contaminated with E.coli. Read more…

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Devastating news: The Food and Drug Administration needs you to stop eating raw cookie dough

This terrible turn of events comes following the Center for Disease Control and the FDA’s investigation of an outbreak of infections caused by Shiga toxin-producing E.coli found in certain brands of flour. The CDC announced the investigation on June 1 after General Mills recalled multiple varieties of the pantry staple.

On Tuesday, the FDA issued a consumer update warning against consumption of raw cookie dough. But it doesn’t stop there— all raw doughs and batters are potentially off limits as they could be contaminated with E.coli. Read more…

More about Dough, Cookie, Raw, Fda, and Watercooler

Shark Week: Fossil Shark Hall of Fame

102015_supershark_feat_free0000-0002-8715-2896Source: Shark Week: Fossil Shark Hall of Fame As this week is Shark Week, it would be remiss of me, as the resident fishy person, not to jump on the bandwagon of “sharkery” and share with

102015_supershark_feat_free0000-0002-8715-2896Source: Shark Week: Fossil Shark Hall of Fame As this week is Shark Week, it would be remiss of me, as the resident fishy person, not to jump on the bandwagon of “sharkery” and share with

Trulia can now help you find a place to rent near public transport

Trulia Rent Near Transit Boston Trulia, the online real estate search engine now owned by Zillow, launched an interesting new feature today that allows you to quickly find rental homes and apartments that have good public transport access. Rent Near Transit, as the new feature is called, is essentially an additional search filter that removes all houses that are more than a 15-minute walk away from a major transit station.… Read More

Trulia Rent Near Transit Boston Trulia, the online real estate search engine now owned by Zillow, launched an interesting new feature today that allows you to quickly find rental homes and apartments that have good public transport access. Rent Near Transit, as the new feature is called, is essentially an additional search filter that removes all houses that are more than a 15-minute walk away from a major transit station.… Read More

Swiss city begins autonomous bus trials

electric-autonomous-bus-switzerland

A fleet of electric, autonomous buses are hitting the roads in the Sion, the capital city of the Swiss canton of Valais, situated in the southwestern part of the country. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and Mobility Lab Sion-Valais partnered to build the autonomous buses, which use a smart algorithm built… Read more »

The post Swiss city begins autonomous bus trials appeared first on ReadWrite.

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A fleet of electric, autonomous buses are hitting the roads in the Sion, the capital city of the Swiss canton of Valais, situated in the southwestern part of the country.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) and Mobility Lab Sion-Valais partnered to build the autonomous buses, which use a smart algorithm built in house to follow a direct route.

See also: Self-driving cars now have their own driving instructor

On the way through Sion, the electric buses will make a few stops. Citizens are allowed to take a ride for free, but for busy commuters the 20 kilometers per hour speed limit may be insufferable.

The largest bus operator in Switzerland, PostBus, will be in charge of the autonomous fleet. A manager and attendant will be on board, one tracking the route and checking everything is functioning, the other ensuring that people remain in their seats.

If the project attracts a lot of riders, the EPFL may look towards branching out the autonomous fleet to other cities. It should be noted that the Swiss Federal Road Office and Valais Road Office conducted extensive research into traffic and safety before giving the buses the greenlight, and any future cities will most likely have to get the same permissions.

Buses have seen some upgrades since plan launched

Since the first details of the autonomous buses were revealed, the team in charge has made some upgrades. The bus now features an air conditioning system, access ramp for disabled, wiper blades, and a second battery to give the bus more range.

Switzerland has quite a sparse population, making it a prime location for drone and autonomous car tests. The federal government has also been committed to emerging technology adoption, one of the factors that led citizens to ask for a basic income, to shield them from mass unemployment created by automation.

While Switzerland is the first to bring automation to public transport, there are other initiatives. Deutsche Bahn, Europe’s largest railway service, wants to deploy autonomous cars for the “final mile” of your journey and British firm RDM Group announced a new range of autonomous “pods” for public areas like shopping malls and theme parks.

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12 Years of Migration-Related Google Searches, Mapped

An interactive data visualization shows where people are searching for information on moving to G7 countries.

Every day, the people of the world type their queries into Google. These searches—once aggregated, sorted, and analyzed—can offer insights about what people in different corners of the world have on their minds.

In the new data visualization below, the folks at Google focused on search data gathered between 2004 and 2016 that had some combination of the word “migration” plus the name of one of the G7 countries. Then, for each year since 2004, they created a list of 10 countries, ranked in order of likelihood that its residents were Googling the combo above relative to all other searches in that country.

If you select “migration to the U.S” from the drop-down menu, for example, a different list is generated for each of the past 12 years. The higher a country is on that list, the larger its proportion of “migration to the U.S” searches compared to other searches that year. Try it out:

There are a couple of patterns that stand out. For many Western G7 nations, top-10 search lists often feature countries that share historical ties. For example, “migration to France” seems to be a popular search topic among former French colonies (like Algeria) and protectorates (like Morocco). People from Bangladesh, Ghana, Pakistan, and India—former colonies of the British empire—are also commonly seeking information on moving to Britain. (Although this may have changed post-Brexit.)

Proximity is another factor that plays into some of the countries’ positions on the top-10 lists. Take Japan: Its Asian neighbors (especially poorer ones like the Philippines) often show up on lists between 2004 and 2015.

The countries showing up on America’s top-10 lists are particularly interesting in the context of actual migration numbers to the U.S. Mexico doesn’t show up on even one top-10 list since 2004, whereas Central American countries including El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Honduras have a recurring presence. (They’re near the top of all the U.S. search lists since 2013.) In reality, the number of Mexican immigrants increased in the early 2000s, and then declined sharply in recent years. Migration to the U.S. from Central America has also been rising steadily over the past couple of decades, and so much in the past few years that its been deemed a “crisis.” So in one case here, the actual migration data doesn’t match up to the Google trends data; in the other, it does.

Comparing Google data to real migration numbers underscores a key point: Google trend data is best viewed in the context of facts from on the ground, and it’s not a good idea to project definitive narratives onto it. The data presented in this visualization, for example, don’t necessarily reflect an intention to move, or even actual migration (as in the case of Mexico). That’s because there are a host of reasons that some countries make it onto these lists while others don’t. Who is (and isn’t) searching, how people are searching, and how their searches compare to other search trends are just some of the factors that determine these lists.   

That said, this visualization does offer some insights into the minds of potential immigrants around the world. Ultimately, it’s a “unique snapshot of what the world thinks about,” Simon Roger, data editor for the News Lab at Google tells CityLab.

Obama’s Taste in Architecture Is as Measured as His Administration

The firm chosen to design the newest presidential library is as cool under pressure as Obama.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have selected a New York architecture firm, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center, the president’s planned library. The Obama Foundation announced the news on Thursday, ending months of speculation over which firms would grab the Obamas’ attention.

In winning the bid, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, a firm captained by the eponymous married couple, edged out some of the top names in the design industry, including SHoP Architects (the firm that designed the Barclays Center), Diller Scofidio + Renfro (a High Line co-designer), and Snøhetta (the new San Francisco Museum of Modern Art addition). The Obamas passed on both European finalists: Renzo Piano (the new Whitney Museum of American Art) and David Adjaye (the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture). John Ronan Architects, the only Chicago firm to make the finalist round, also lost out in the end.

In a short time, Williams and Tsien have made a name for themselves as sensitive project architects with a cool and casual style—not unlike, perhaps, the president who picked them. Their cultural spaces include the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago and the Lakeside Center in New York’s Prospect Park. TWBTA (as the firm is known in the industry) designed the former American Folk Art Museum, a tempered jewel-box of a building that was acquired and then demolished by the Museum of Modern Art to make way for that behemoth’s expansion. (Diller Scofidio + Renfro advised MoMA on the decision to tear down the beloved Folk Art building.)


The Barnes Foundation, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, pictured in 2015. (Matt Rourke/AP)

The firm’s best-known work is the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, a museum expansion, of a sort. Controversy swirled around this project after the board for the famously stoic, almost religiously staid modern art institution moved its $25 billion collection from its historic home in suburban Merion, Pennsylvania, to downtown Philly. Critics called it a hijacking. The nationwide debate over the museum’s move became the subject of a 2009 documentary, The Art of the Steal. That didn’t stop Williams and Tsien from wading into the controversy. Devotees of the original Barnes may never accept the new building, but in terms of design, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects made the best of a bad situation.

Once again the architects face a thorny situation in designing President Obama’s presidential library. Two sites in South-Side Chicago have been identified as potential homes for the library. Both sites carve out space from within existing historic parks, which means that the South Side gains a significant cultural space in the form of the presidential library but loses some part of either Washington Park or Jackson Park. (Both are the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the landscape architects who designed Central Park in New York.)


Proposed sites for the Barack Obama Presidential Center. (The University of Chicago)

If any architecture firm can navigate the cultural politics of the Obama Foundation seizing cultural park space to build President Obama’s library, it’s Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects. According to the Chicago Tribune, Williams and Tsien will have some say in choosing the site. It’s almost as if the president has applied his overriding preference for calm and compromise—as he displayed recently with the nomination of the moderately conservative judge Garland Merrick to the U.S. Supreme Court—to the business of picking out architecture.

No doubt, Williams and Tsien will serve the Obamas well. The architects (and the Obamas) have an opportunity to serve Chicago’s South Side well, too, by preserving the neighborhood’s critical existing cultural assets while delivering them another important one.

‘Harry Potter’ star Tom Felton joins ‘The Flash’

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Tom Felton will be making magic on the CW this fall.

The Harry Potter star has joined the cast of the upcoming third season of The Flash, a rep confirmed to Mashable.

The news was first reported by TVLine. The site notes that Felton is expected to make his Flash debut early in Season 3, which premieres Oct. 4.

Last week, fans got a tease of intriguing new developments to come when star Grant Gustin confirmed that the show would be taking on the Flashpoint storyline. 

Flashpoint was a 2011 story arc and comic miniseries that changed the entire face of the DC Comics universe. Read more…

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Tom Felton will be making magic on the CW this fall.

The Harry Potter star has joined the cast of the upcoming third season of The Flash, a rep confirmed to Mashable.

The news was first reported by TVLine. The site notes that Felton is expected to make his Flash debut early in Season 3, which premieres Oct. 4.

Last week, fans got a tease of intriguing new developments to come when star Grant Gustin confirmed that the show would be taking on the Flashpoint storyline. 

Flashpoint was a 2011 story arc and comic miniseries that changed the entire face of the DC Comics universe. Read more…

More about The Flash, Tom Felton, Harry Potter, and Entertainment