Uber launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this month

August 18, 2016 by  
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Uber has been quietly working on research and development for its own self-driving cars, and the first units in its autonomous fleet will tool around the streets of Pittsburgh before the end of this month, according to a new report. Bloomberg broke the exciting news today, backed up by an interview with John Bares, who heads Uber’s autonomous car project at the company’s Advanced Technologies Center. The company aims to eventually replace its human drivers with a self-driving fleet that passengers can summon on demand through the smartphone app, just like always, but different. Last spring, residents of Pittsburgh first spotted Uber’s research car , and the rideshare company finally  confirmed its self-driving car project a few months ago. Later this month, Uber’s self-driving test fleet will hit the road with humans in the driver seat (both for safety and legality) and passengers will be able to use their smartphones to summon a ride like usual, without knowing whether they will be picked up in one of the new cars. Although Google, Tesla, Ford, and other companies have all been testing self-driving cars on the road, this may be the first time any company has invited the public to participate in the testing process. Related: Uber’s self-driving test car spotted on the streets of Pittsburgh Right now, the self-driving cars are factory Volvo XC90 models that have been retrofitted with sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers to control the vehicle’s driving mechanisms. Bloomberg reports that Volvo has delivered just a few of these modified SUVs so far, but will reach 100 by the end of the year. Volvo and Uber have apparently agreed to invest $300 million in developing a fully autonomous car by 2021. Uber may source self-driving cars from other manufacturers, but little is known about whether the company has any deals in the works. For now, we’ll wait and see how the ridesharing company’s new self-driving prototypes perform in downtown Pittsburgh, and wonder which company will be next in line to put members of the public in the backseats of their own autonomous vehicles. Via Bloomberg Images via Uber

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Uber launching self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this month

Winning suspended greenhouse design envisions hanging gardens for New York City

August 18, 2016 by  
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Once a part of the 1964-65 World’s Far in Queens, the pavilion was used as a concert hall and skating rink before being abandoned. The National Trust for Historic Preservation partnered with the People for the Pavilion to launch the design competition, announced by Bustler , which brought in over 250 submissions. Botanical gardens, metro stations, and museums were among the proposed designs. Related: Iconic New York State World’s Fair Pavilion saved from demolition First place went to Aidan Doyle and Sarah Wan of Seattle , Washington, for “Hanging Meadows.” They summarize their project as seeking “to rekindle the powerful legacy of the NY State Pavilion by repurposing the original structure to create a suspended natural environment. Hanging Meadows will collect, organize and exhibit flora native to particular parts of the Northeastern US.” Second place was given to Javier Salinas of New York for “Civic Hub.” He described how “this multi-purpose space would work in conjunction with public programming. Shuttles from local community and senior centers would be sure to include everyone on the various local events and festivals that would be hosted in the open event space.” Third place went to Rishi Kejrewal and Shaurya Sharma of Bhopal, India, for “Pavilion for the Community.” The team notes, “Features such as a communal children’s play area and solar panels pave the way towards a brighter future for the coming generations.” The Queens Award was given to locals Cesar Juarez and Alida Rose Delaney for “Pavilion Park.” The public park incorporates the original landmark. They said: “With a focus on the integrity of the original structure, the flexible communal space would be centered around a stage with built-in stadium seating.” A special Fan Favorite Award was handed to Houiji Ramzi of Saint Etienne, France, for “Tent of the Future,” which is described as “a combination between sustainable development and new technologies.” Solar panels throughout the public-accessible park capture energy for the Earth-friendly feature. Via Bustler , Archinect Images via Bustler

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Winning suspended greenhouse design envisions hanging gardens for New York City

Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change

August 18, 2016 by  
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Two days ago the small village of Shishmaref in Alaska faced a vote. Threatened by rising sea levels , they had to decide whether to stay in the village they and some of their ancestors have called home for around 400 years , or relocate. The results are in, and it was a close vote. Around 600 people reside in Shishmaref, and the majority are Inupiat Inuit. Both tribal and non-tribal people were invited to vote. Shishmaref voted to leave in a 89 to 78 vote. Those are the unofficial numbers; city council secretary Donna Burr says the vote has yet to be certified. It appears locals grappled with the decision as they tried to decide what would be best for future generations. Related: Five Pacific Ocean islands have already disappeared because of climate change Resident Tiffany Magby has a son who is three, and she’s afraid away from Shishmaref, he won’t have as much contact with traditional values. She told Grist, “I waited until the last hour to vote. I…am worried about what it means for his upbringing.” She says others also waited until near the end to cast their vote. Because of rising sea levels due to climate change , however, in the next few decades the residents may or may not have a choice. According to NOAA’s Arctic Change website , reduced sea ice stemming from climate change has led to “higher storm surges.” Infrastructure, homes, and even the village water system are at risk. Shishmaref also voted to leave and go to the mainland in 2002, but there wasn’t enough federal funding for them to actually make the move. They’d likely need around $200 million to relocate, but the U.S. Department of the Interior has only offered $8 million for tribes looking to move. Burr said the village would have to work around the limited funds. She told Grist, “It’s not going to happen in our lifetimes. We just want to take the right steps forward for our children.” Via Grist Images via Wikimedia Commons and screenshot

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Tiny Alaskan village votes to abandon 400-year-old ancestral home because of climate change

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