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Aquila Test Flight Carries Facebook's Internet Ambitions Aloft
July 26, 2016
Facebook has carried out the first full-scale test flight of Aquila, a high-altitude solar-powered unmanned aircraft designed to provide Internet access to remote regions. The company had flown a one-fifth scale version of the airplane for several months. The full-sized craft has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 -- 46 yards -- but reportedly weighs less than 900 pounds fully laden.
Musk Plots Out Tesla's Next 10 Years
July 22, 2016
Elon Musk has unveiled a second master plan for Tesla, a follow-up to the vision he shared 10 years ago. The original master plan is now in the final stages of execution. The refresh sketches out a multiyear, four-pronged strategy that is about more than vehicles. Musk also plans to advance an integrated solar-roof-with-battery product and create a ride-sharing program, among other things.
Teal Pushes Drone Speed Limits
July 21, 2016
Teal Drones on Wednesday introduced what it billed as the world's fastest production drone. Aside from its drone's capabilities, the company is drawing attention because George Matus Jr., its founder and CEO, is an 18-year-old recent high school graduate. The drone can fly at 70 mph in all weather conditions and has reached a top speed of 85 mph. It can withstand 40 mph winds.
Uber by the Billions
July 20, 2016
Uber just celebrated its two-billionth trip in a 147-way tie, CEO Travis Kalanick announced Monday. Each of the drivers and riders who began their trip at 4:16 a.m. GMT on Saturday, June 18, got a $450 gift from Uber -- the number is significant because Uber now operates in 450 cities across the globe, Kalanick said. The company's growth trajectory is impressive.
Reading Between the Lines: Musk's Folly, Trump's Plan
July 18, 2016
Something like 90 percent of CEOs are planning to put their companies out of business accidentally, based on a KPMG report I just reviewed. After watching Tesla of late, I think Musk is on the fast track to lead this effort, and since I'm a Tesla fan, and I know a lot of you drive Teslas, I thought that might be an interesting, if scary, topic for this week.
Consumer Reports Urges Tesla to Pull Plug on Autopilot
July 15, 2016
Consumer Reports has urged Tesla to disable the automatic steering function and change the name of its Autopilot driving assist feature. Questions recently have arisen over whether Tesla's Model S vehicles can operate safely without regular human intervention. Consumer Reports' change request sprang from concerns over a number of recent test crashes, including a fatal accident in Florida.
Musk Defends Autopilot Safety Record Following Fatal Crash
July 7, 2016
CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday accused Fortune magazine of incorrectly reporting Tesla Motors' handling of a fatal accident that involved a Tesla Model S. The incident took place in May. Musk's online post is the latest salvo in a war of wars between Fortune and Tesla. Musk accused Fortune, in essence, of jumping the gun in its reporting of Tesla's response to the accident.
Sidewalk Labs: Taking It to the Streets in Columbus
July 7, 2016
Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs, a sister company of Google, recently began negotiating a plan to help restructure the public transportation system in Columbus, Ohio, after the city won the Obama administration's national competition to ease traffic gridlock issues. Sidewalk Labs will leverage its cloud-based transportation data to help Columbus implement a smarter public bus and parking system.
Volkswagen Aims to Clear the Air With $15B US Settlement
June 28, 2016
Volkswagen on Tuesday announced that it has reached an agreement to settle claims arising from the emissions scandal that has plagued the company since its discovery two years ago. The company has agreed to set up a $10 billion funding pool to buy back or terminate leases of diesel vehicles sold in the United States. Volkswagen had used software to cheat on emissions tests.
Tesla Shares Tank on SolarCity Merger Proposal
June 23, 2016
Shares of Tesla Motors fell sharply Wednesday after the company, helmed by Elon Musk, made an offer to buy SolarCity for $2.8 billion. Musk is the chairman and top shareholder of the struggling alternative energy provider. Tesla made the offer Monday, in a letter to SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive, noting that Musk and Antonio Gracias would recuse themselves from voting on the proposal.
Rubin Sees AI Quantum Computer Running the Show
June 15, 2016
Just one quantum computer running artificial intelligence algorithms would be capable of connecting pretty much all the devices on the planet, Android creator Andy Rubin said Tuesday. Rubin, who also launched Google's efforts in robotics, is now CEO of Playground, which together with Redpoint Ventures has invested in an unnamed startup working on quantum computing.
Google and the Birth of the People-Delivery Drone
June 13, 2016
Larry Page is rumored to be building a flying car, apparently dropping a whopping $100M into the effort. Surprisingly, this actually makes more sense to me than a self-driving car does, because it potentially solves two problems at once: You won't have to fly the thing yourself; and it eliminates the need for roads for those who commute to work. Roads could be just for moving heavy stuff.
Larry Page May Be Blazing a Trail for Self-Flying Cars
June 9, 2016
Google cofounder Larry Page reportedly is working with two Silicon Valley startups to develop a flying car. One is Zee.Aero, which Page personally has funded since its launch in 2010, when it set up shop next to Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. The firm reportedly has filed a patent application for a small, all-electric vehicle that could take off and land vertically.
Uber Tosses Its Drivers a Few Bones
June 8, 2016
Facing growing pressure from labor unions and regulators across the U.S. and key overseas markets, Uber on Monday introduced a series of new apps and benefits for its core group of drivers. The goal is to make their working hours more productive and profitable. Among the new apps are Driver Destinations, which lets drivers restrict ride requests to their current routes.
Uber Scores Historic $3.5B Saudi Investment
June 2, 2016
Uber has nailed down a record $3.5 billion investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund -- the largest-ever investment in a closely held technology firm. The investment is part of a deal that will allow Uber to expand its Middle East operations. Yasir Al Rumayyan, managing director of the fund, will take a seat on Uber's board of directors.
The Rise of Drone Racing, Part 2
May 31, 2016
With lucrative broadcast deals and cup competitions now crowding calendars, drone racing has become one of the primary factors driving the surge in demand for consumer drones. Mountain Dew and DR1 Racing earlier this month announced a special DR1 Invitational presented by Mountain Dew. The one-hour broadcast will air on Discovery Communication's Discovery and Science channels in August.
Versatile iBot Wheelchair to Make a Comeback
May 24, 2016
Toyota and DEKA Research and Development last week announced an agreement that will revive development of the iBot, a wheelchair that can climb stairs. The companies revealed their pact to develop mobility solutions for the disabled community at the annual convention of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. One of the first initiatives under the agreement will be to resurrect the iBot.
The Rise of Drone Racing, Part 1
May 24, 2016
Tearing through open spaces and timing each turn to burst out of them, a seeming continuum of drones weaves through a set of obstacles lap after lap, until the stutter of a pilot's joystick breaks the cadence of this competitive concert and destroys the illusion. It's the drama -- anticipating and reacting to those human moments -- that has propelled drone racing to the spotlight.
Hyperloop Dreams Are Getting Real
May 21, 2016
The Hyperloop -- the high-speed transportation concept Elon Musk has promoted heavily -- is edging closer to becoming a reality. Russia plans to develop a Hyperloop network for freight transportation, the country's transport minister announced Friday. MIT last week unveiled its Hyperloop Pod, a prototype of its award-winning design concept intended for human travelers.
Google Patents Tech to Limit Injuries in Vehicle-Pedestrian Accidents
May 20, 2016
The United States Patent and Trademark Office earlier this week granted Google a patent for "Adhesive Vehicle Front End For Mitigation of Secondary Pedestrian Impact." The patent application, filed a year and a half ago, credits Google employees Alex Khaykin and Daniel Lynn Larner as the inventors of the new technology. This latest patent grant is for "a system for protecting a colliding object from a secondary impact."
Otto Kits Out Big Rigs With Aftermarket Self-Driving Tech
May 18, 2016
Otto on Monday introduced a self-driving kit designed to help those behind the wheel of big rigs drive more safely and efficiently. The company is developing a suite of sensors, software and other truck-related enhancements that could be retrofitted into existing vehicles. The technology has been tested in Otto's research fleet, and the company completed an autonomous demo on public highways.
Apple Invests $1B in Chinese Uber Competitor Didi Chuxing
May 16, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook on Monday met with executives from Didi Chuxing, just days after the company announced that it had received a US$1 billion investment from Apple. After arriving in Beijing, Cook tweeted out photos of himself taking a taxi with Jean Liu, the president of Didi Chuxing, and of her showing him the mobile app. Apple hosted a panel of iOS developers at the Apple Store in Beijing.
Walmart Tests 2-Day Subscription Shipping
May 14, 2016
Walmart on Thursday began testing a two-day unlimited shipping service priced at $49 a year. Subscribers will get more than a million items, including the most commonly purchased items on Walmart.com, delivered to their door in two days or fewer, Walmart spokesperson Bao Nguyen said. "Customers will continue to enjoy their two favorite features -- no minimum order requirements."
Ford, Microsoft Pour Cash Into Pivotal
May 10, 2016
Pivotal last week announced a $253 million round of Series C financing. Led by new investor Ford, together with Microsoft and previous investors GE, EMC and VMware, the deal is expected to close this month. Pivotal's customers include seven of the top 10 U.S. banks and three global automakers. Its agile-based approach lets enterprises build and operate software rapidly, the company said.
Google, Fiat Chrysler Team on Self-Driving Minivans
May 10, 2016
Google's Self-Driving Car Project and Fiat Chrysler last week announced that they would integrate autonomous vehicle technology into 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans as part of Google's testing program. It is the first time Google has worked directly with a carmaker to integrate its self-driving technology into a passenger vehicle. It will add 100 Pacifica Hybrids to its test program.
Air Cargo Deal Gives Amazon More Control Over Deliveries
May 10, 2016
Amazon has entered a 10-year lease agreement with Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, the aircraft company announced last week. Under the agreement, Amazon has the right to buy up to 30 percent of Atlas Air. Amazon will lease a fleet of 20 Boeing 767-300 converted freighters -- including crew, maintenance and insurance -- for seven years, with extensions to 10 years.
The Customer Experience Tipping Point
May 2, 2016
Sometimes, it takes something drastic to change a business' behavior. Standard procedures can remain in place long after they've become detrimental, but sometimes it takes a tipping point to drive home the fact that failing to change is the surest way to fail. For example, the Ford Pinto's easily ruptured fuel tank could have been remedied with changes that ranged in price from $11 to $1.
Tech, Auto Honchos Join Forces to Push Self-Driving Cars
April 27, 2016
Some major players in both the new and old economies on Tuesday announced an alliance to pave the way for self-driving cars in America. Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber and Volvo raised the curtain on their Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, which will work with lawmakers, regulators and the public to raise awareness of the safety and societal benefits of self-driving vehicles.
BMW, Daimler Steer Clear of Apple Car Project
April 25, 2016
BMW and Daimler have broken off talks about forming a partnership with Apple to develop an electric car, according to news reports published last week. Discussions stalled over issues that included which company would take the lead on the project and which would have ownership of the data. Apple apparently sought to develop a vehicle that would be integrated closely with its cloud-based software.
Volkswagen Agrees to Fix or Buy Back Dirty Diesel Cars
April 22, 2016
Volkswagen has reached an agreement to repair or replace about 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S., according to court documents released Thursday. The cars were equipped with software designed to deceive emissions tests. Under the agreement, announced Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Volkswagen will pay back an undetermined amount of money to owners of the affected vehicles.
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Code42
Would you drive a Tesla?
I already do, and I love it!
Yes -- if the price were lower.
No -- I wouldn't trust its Autopilot.
I'd drive an electric car but not a Tesla.
I'm not yet sold on electric vehicles.