Lyft launches self-driving cars on the Las Vegas strip

May 4, 2018 by  
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For the first time ever, after you’re done partying on the strip, you’ll be able to hail an autonomous ride with Lyft. The ride sharing company is bringing thirty self-driving cars to the streets of Las Vegas in partnership with developer Aptiv . The new initiative will offer the public the option of hailing a self-driving car using Lyft’s app. For those concerned about the interaction between robot and human drivers, trials show that the Aptiv-designed vehicles are more than capable of maneuvering the often chaotic traffic of Las Vegas. This move follows Lyft’s test run of its self-driving cars at the Computer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier this year, which was limited to a relatively small number of people. Lyft’s Vegas self-driving fleet will most likely consist of Aptiv-augmented BMWs that use nine LiDARs , 10 radars, a trifocal camera, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and advanced GPS to safely navigate the roads. However, the vehicles will be limited to specific routes on which they may drive, at least initially. Each vehicle will also be operated by highly-trained safety drivers. More testing and data collection is needed before Lyft, or any other company, can operate a fully functional self-driving vehicle system on public roads. Related: Waymo adds 20,000 Jaguar electric SUVs to its self-driving car service Aptiv and Lyft have agreed to a multiyear collaboration, which both companies agree is a major step forward for their businesses. “With Aptiv’s autonomous driving technology deployed throughout Las Vegas and broadly accessible through the Lyft app, a wide range of consumers will be able to share the experience of autonomous vehicles in a complex urban environment,” said Aptiv president and CEO Kevin Clark in a statement . “More importantly, the resulting knowledge and data will allow us to further refine our autonomous driving capabilities and strengthen our portfolio of industry-leading active safety solutions.” Via Engadget Images via Lyft and John F. Martin /Aptiv

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Lyft launches self-driving cars on the Las Vegas strip

This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson

May 4, 2018 by  
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Much like the Guggenheim Museums around the world, a new art gallery founded by the great-grandson of Peggy Guggenheim is a true architectural showstopper. Santiago Rumney Guggenheim commissioned designer Jorge Eduardo Neira Sterkel to create IK LAB , a stunning arts gallery that opened late last month in Tulum, Mexico. Topped with a curved timber canopy, the nature-inspired space is located within the eco-friendly Azulik resort. Upon entering, visitors are asked to slip off their shoes and “to interact with the floor as a living organism,” made from woven jungle vines that seamlessly flow into walls and ceilings made with smooth curved concrete and locally sourced wood. No trees were cut in the process of building and the organic structure is lifted off the ground to minimize site impact. Natural light filters into the building through spaced-out timber elements and large openings in the walls reinforced by transparent fiberglass . In addition to framed views of the jungle outside, plants grow inside the art gallery as well. Related: World’s first porcelain courtyard opens at London’s V&A Museum “This majestic space redefines the traditional white-cube, gallery-visiting experience, instead fortifying the organic relationship between art and its physical surroundings,” IK LAB said in a statement. The inaugural exhibition, curated by Santiago R. Guggenheim, is titled “Alignments.” It features works by Tatiana Trouvé, Artur Lescher and Margo Trushina. + IK LAB Via Dezeen Images by Fernando Artigas

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This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson

CO2 levels averaged above 410 ppm ‘for the first time in recorded history’ in April

May 4, 2018 by  
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Just over a year ago, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels hit 410 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in millions of years. And we just hit another worrying threshold in April: levels averaged higher than 410 ppm throughout the whole month for the first time. Geochemist Ralph Keeling said , “We keep burning fossil fuels . Carbon dioxide keeps building up in the air. It’s essentially as simple as that.” The Keeling Curve , a daily record of atmospheric CO2 levels made at the Mauna Loa Observatory, started in 1958. Back then measurements were around 315 ppm. 60 years later, we’ve passed the 410 ppm threshold, and in April, the average concentration was 410.31 ppm. According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, “This marks the first time in the history of the Mauna Loa record that a monthly average has exceeded 410 ppm.” Today marks the 60th anniversary of the #KeelingCurve , a daily record of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. This record is considered the foundation of modern climate change research. pic.twitter.com/XJgGIj8Z1S — Scripps Oceanography (@Scripps_Ocean) March 29, 2018 Related: CO2 levels just reached 410 ppm — the highest in millions of years The Washington Post pointed out CO2 levels have hit 400 ppm in the past — such as over three million years ago in the mid-Pliocene warm period. But the Pliocene level “was sustained over long periods of time, whereas today the global CO2 concentration is increasing rapidly,” according to scientists in the Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume 1 , a 2017 federal report. Before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels fluctuated over thousands of years, but according to the institution, never exceeded 300 ppm once in the past 800,000 years. Around 1880, CO2 levels were about 280 ppm. Today, they’re around 46 percent higher. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe said about the milestone on Twitter , “It’s as if we discovered that something we eat every day is causing our body to run a fever and develop all kinds of harmful symptoms — and instead of cutting back, we right keep on eating it, more and more. If that isn’t alarming, I don’t know what is.” + Scripps Institution of Oceanography Via The Washington Post Images via Devin McGloin on Unsplash and Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

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CO2 levels averaged above 410 ppm ‘for the first time in recorded history’ in April

Poor urban design could be at fault for Uber driverless car crash

March 23, 2018 by  
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Uber’s self-driving cars are grounded after a fatal accident over the weekend — but a Cato Institute article questions if bad urban design was really to blame. Elaine Herzberg, the woman killed, seems to have been using a pedestrian path, which the institute described as poorly designed, before attempting to cross a street. The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones. Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can. https://t.co/wUfLw2nNnk — Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 22, 2018 A fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona involving an Uber driverless car left in its wake questions about the safety of autonomous vehicles . But it seems “the accident could not have been prevented no matter who was in control of the car ,” according to Randal O’Toole for the Cato Institute. Related: Uber grounds all self-driving vehicles after fatal Arizona accident Herzberg was reportedly walking on a roadway median before stepping out into traffic — and the Uber car, which did have a backup driver at the wheel, didn’t even have a moment to brake. The Cato Institute shared an aerial view, seen below, of Herzberg’s probable path. In between the northbound and southbound lanes of North Mill Avenue, there’s a median strip with a paved pedestrian path. There’s a sign, seen via Google Maps , indicating no pedestrians, telling them to use a crosswalk — so pedestrians or cyclists using the trails aren’t supposed to walk over the strip. But the Cato Institute pointed out the pedestrian path saves almost two-tenths of a mile, making it a tempting alternative for people walking or biking. O’Toole was loath to blame the victim in his article, but didn’t think the car was at fault either. He said “the question that must be asked is why are there paved trails between the north and southbound lanes of Mill Avenue when there is no safe way for pedestrians to use those trails?” Via Cato Institute Images via zombieite on Flickr and Cato Institute

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This entire barley field was planted and harvested without humans

October 4, 2017 by  
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Drones and autonomous machinery just seeded, tended, and harvested a crop of barley in the United Kingdom without drivers on tractor seats or farmers working the field. A project of Hands Free Hectare , the barley field explored the idea of autonomous farming . Hands Free Hectare, an effort of Harper Adams University and Precision Decisions , recently celebrated a successful harvest. They set out to be the first project to plant, care for, and harvest crops with solely drones and autonomous machines, funding the project with under £200,000, or around $265,037, which they said was a low budget compared with other autonomous farming vehicle projects. They drew on open source technology and machinery farmers could purchase today. Related: Swinging robot inspired by sloths could help future farmers Mechatronics researcher Martin Abell of Precision Decisions said in a statement, “This project aimed to prove that there’s no technological reason why a field can’t be farmed without humans working the land directly now and we’ve done that. We set out to identify the opportunities for farming and to prove that it’s possible to autonomously farm the land, and that’s been the great success of the project.” The researchers predicted they’d harvest around five metric tons, according to Abell, who said they hadn’t quite reached their target, but their agronomist “predicted 4.5 tonnes and it looks like he’s on the money.” Automation is the future of agriculture, according to researcher Kit Franklin of Harper Adams University, who said in the team’s first press release from late last year, “It’s not about putting people out of jobs ; instead changing the job they do. The tractor driver won’t be physically in the tractor driving up and down a field. Instead, they will be a fleet manager and agricultural analysts, looking after a number of farming robots and meticulously monitoring the development of their crops .” What will happen to the barley? The Hands Free Hectare researchers plan to use it in a beer . They also aim to repeat their experiment with a winter crop. + Hands Free Hectare Via Hands Free Hectare Images via Hands Free Hectare Facebook and Hands Free Hectare Twitter

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This entire barley field was planted and harvested without humans

Dubai has officially started testing flying taxis

September 26, 2017 by  
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Dubai is now one step closer to launching the world’s first flying taxi service. On Monday, Volocopter successfully tested its two-seater Autonomous Air Taxi (AAT), which hovered for about five minutes approximately 200 meters off the ground. The vehicle resembles a small helicopter topped with 18 propellers, and it’s powered entirely by electricity. Volocopter ‘s AAT prototype is remarkably quiet, and it has a cruise speed of 50 km/h and a maximum airspeed of 100 km/h. In total, the drone taxi measures two meters in height and it has a diameter (including propellers) of just over seven meters. When it’s officially launched, the AAT will be able to fly without remote control guidance and take trips up to 30 minutes at a time. In case of trouble, there are a number of fail-safes – including backup batteries, rotors, and even built-in parachutes. “Implementation would see you using your smartphone , having an app, and ordering a Volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination,” said CEO of Volocopter, Florian Reuter. “It already is capable of flying based on GPS tracks today, and we will implement full sense capability, also dealing with unknown obstacles on the way.” Related: Lilium’s all-electric flying taxi could travel from Manhattan to JFK in 5 minutes Venture Beat reports that the test flight occurred during a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. “Encouraging innovation and adopting the latest technologies contributes not only to the country‘s development but also builds bridges into the future,” said Sheikh Hamdan said in a statement. “This is another testament to our commitment to driving positive change. We are constantly exploring opportunities to serve the community and advance the prosperity and happiness of society.” Volocopter plans to launch a flying taxi service in Dubai within five years. Time is ticking, as more than a dozen, well-funded firms in the U.S. and Europe are developing their own high-tech flying vehicles. + Volocopter Via Venture Beat, The National Images via Dubai Media Office

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Dubai has officially started testing flying taxis

World’s first autonomous, all-electric cargo ship to launch next year

July 25, 2017 by  
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The world’s first crewless, autonomously operated ship is set to sail in late 2018. The Norwegian-built Yara Birkeland is being dubbed the “Tesla of the Seas” because the vessel is fully electric . The $25 million ship will initially start out as a manned vessel, moving to remote operation in 2019 before going completely autonomous in 2020. The 100-container ship is being developed by two Norwegian companies — agriculture firm Yara International and technology company Kongsberg Gruppen. In late 2018 the vessel will start transporting fertilizer 37 miles down a fiord from a production facility to the port of Larvik. Related: Self-sufficient hydrogen boat embarks on 6-year journey around the world The companies said in a statement that the Yara Birkeland is expected to reduce emissions by removing 40,000 truck drives a year through urban areas in southern Norway. “We want to go zero emission,” Petter Ostbo, Yara’s head of production who leads the project, told The Wall Street Journal . “Even if some say climate change is not reality, it’s a business reality because clean sources of energy are more affordable than fossil fuels.” Via The Verge Images via Yara

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World’s first autonomous, all-electric cargo ship to launch next year

France aims to roll out world’s first autonomous high-speed trains within 7 years

June 16, 2017 by  
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High-speed trains in France could soon be driverless, if the country’s national railway operator SNCF has anything to say about it. They aim to test what they call drone trains in 2019, with the hope the TGV trains could start running around four years after that. SNCF President Guillaume Pepy said if the project is successful, they will be the world’s first operator to run a high-speed autonomous train. Here’s how high-speed autonomous trains would work: sensors would equip the high-speed drone train, which currently travel at up to 320 kmh (200 mph), to run smoothly across tracks in France. The technology would help the trains detect obstacles and brake automatically. The train could also be piloted remotely, although a conductor would still be present at least initially in case of emergency. The onboard drivers would also manage opening and closing of doors. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ SNCF said they’re not working on the technology to reduce their staff. They told French publication FranceInfo there will always be a need for a human onboard. SNCF adjoint director Matthieu Chabanel likened the drone trains to autopilot systems aboard an airplane , telling FranceInfo, “On high-speed, we are aiming for automation in the sense of automatic steering as in aircraft. In aircraft, you always have a driver, fortunately, but you have an automatic steering system.” Through the drone trains, SNCF hopes to ramp up the frequency and speed of TGV trips, especially around Paris . They think automated trains could increase the number of trips between the country’s capital and Lyon by 25 percent. FranceInfo reported a team of ten people is devoted to the project, and they are collaborating with research institutions and other rail companies like Alstom. The first prototype tests would transport goods, with passengers possibly hopping aboard around 2023. Via The Verge and FranceInfo Images via Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia

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8 universities given three years to develop a self-driving Chevy Bolt

April 7, 2017 by  
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We’re getting closer to the year many automakers predicted would see self-driving vehicles on the road. While Ford has made great advances lately, General Motors isn’t yet ready to stand on the side line with other automakers in 2020. In order to help bridge that gap, GM has announced it is giving eight American universities a Chevy Bolt as part of the new autonomous vehicle design competition called AutoDrive Challenge. The AutoDrive Challenge includes teams from Kettering University, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, North Carolina A&T University, Texas A&M University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and Virginia Tech. Each school will be given three years to to develop and demonstrate a fully autonomous Chevy Bolt. Related: The new Nissan Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway While three years may seem like a long time, the AutoDrive Challenge will be quite tough. At the end of the three years, each team will have to complete the development of a Chevy Bolt that will be able to navigate an urban driving course, autonomously and without any human interaction. In addition to receiving the Bolt, GM has also tapped strategic partners and suppliers to aid the students in their technology development by providing vehicle parts and software. Additionally, throughout the competition, students and faculty will be invited to attend technology-specific workshops to help them in their concept refinement and overall autonomous technical understanding. “GM is very excited to work closely with these eight universities over the next three years,” said Ken Kelzer, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. “The students and faculty at these schools bring deep knowledge and technical skills to the competition. We are proud to help offer these students the hands-on experience necessary for them to make an immediate impact on the automotive world when they graduate.” The AutoDrive Challenge kicks off this fall. Images @GM + General Motors

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Airbus to build flying autonomous taxis that soar over traffic

August 19, 2016 by  
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If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in traffic, wishing you could just fly above the chaos, you might soon get your wish. Aeronautics giant Airbus has announced a new plan, dubbed “ Project Vahana ,” that would create a fleet of on-demand autonomous drones to carry passengers through the skies. And if that doesn’t sound crazy enough, the company says it could begin testing as soon as 2017. Much like Uber , passengers would use an app to book passage on the craft, and then travel to a local helipad. There they would board a CityAirbus drone along with other travelers, and be “whisked away to their destination.” Not only would this service be faster than a regular taxi due to its ability to avoid traffic, Airbus is planning to keep the price in the same range as a taxi ride, too. Any luggage would be carried by a separate service. While Airbus doesn’t anticipate problems with taking to the skies with current technology, training these taxis to be autonomous is going to be a challenge . We still haven’t perfected self-driving cars – how likely is it that we’ll have what are essentially self-driving helicopters available anytime soon? Related: AeroMobil unveils futuristic flying car, plans to launch by 2017 Don’t expect to see any large passenger drones in your city’s sky in the near future. Right now, Airbus has set its sights on a drove delivery system , which will be tested in Singapore next year. If the delivery drones work well, the company hopes they could help ease potential customers into the idea of traveling by drone in the future. + Project Vahana Via Autoblog

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