Japan Trials Driverless Cars with Rural Elderly

September 12th, 2017

Via: Reuters:

As the annual rice harvest begins this month in the Japanese town of Nishikata, the combines that usually putter along the sleepy roads lining its rice fields are giving way to a vehicle residents have never before seen, a driverless shuttle bus.

Japan is starting to experiment with self-driving buses in rural communities such as Nishikata, 115 km (71 miles) north of the capital, Tokyo, where elderly residents struggle with fewer bus and taxi services as the population ages and shrinks.

The swift advance of autonomous driving technology is prompting cities such as Paris and Singapore to experiment with such services, which could prove crucial in Japan, where populations are not only greying, but declining, in rural areas.Japan could launch self-driving services for remote communities by 2020, if the trials begun this month prove successful.

The government plans to turn highway rest stops into hubs from which to ferry the elderly to medical, retail and banking services.


Cruise Automation/GM: “How We Built the First Real Self-Driving Car (Really)”

September 12th, 2017

Via: Medium:

The car we’re unveiling today is actually our 3rd generation self-driving car, but it’s the first that meets the redundancy and safety requirements we believe are necessary to operate without a driver. There’s no other car like this in existence. In a few weeks, these cars will be a part of the fleet that carries Cruise employees anywhere in San Francisco using our app. For now, there will still be a human behind the wheel.

In the near future you’ll see these cars on the road, and they’ll look like regular cars, but they’re actually some of the most technically advanced robots on the planet. They don’t need drivers, and there might not be anyone inside at all. They’ve been designed to emulate human driving behavior but with the human mistakes omitted. They don’t drink and drive, they don’t text while driving, and they don’t get tired. It has taken the collective effort of over two thousand people to create this product, and we believe that together we’ve managed to create something that will one day drive significantly better than any individual.

All of these new systems are important, because a driverless vehicle can’t rely on a human as a backup system. If something on a vehicle fails while there is an attentive human in the driver’s seat, they can yank the wheel or stomp on the brake pedal to avoid an incident. This isn’t the case for a car with no driver, so we built backup systems. And in some cases we built backups for the backups?—?and backups for those systems, too. Safety and validation teams have carefully considered plausible failure modes for all critical systems and fed changes back into the design. Our newest self-driving car might look like a regular car on the outside, but the vehicle’s core system architecture more closely resembles that of a commercial airplane or spacecraft.


U.S. National Debt Hits $20 Trillion

September 11th, 2017

Via: CBS:

The U.S. national debt reached $20 trillion for the first time ever last Friday after President Trump signed a bipartisan bill temporarily raising the nation’s debt limit for three months.

While at Camp David, Mr. Trump, with the stroke of his presidential pen, increased the statutory debt last Friday by approximately $318 billion, according to the Treasury Department. Before the bill’s completion, the U.S. debt was sitting around $19.84 trillion.

The legislation allowed the Treasury Department to start borrowing again immediately after several months of using “extraordinary measures” to avoid a financial default. The bill passed last Thursday 80-17 in the Senate and in the House 316-90 on Friday. Around $15 billion in emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts was attached to the borrowing measure.

The $318 billion increase raised the U.S. national debt to $20.16 trillion by Friday. Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, the debt has increased about $215 billion from around $19.94 trillion.


California Bans Drones from Delivering Marijuana

September 11th, 2017

Via: The Verge:

Drones delivering hamburgers, beer, and Amazon products might be right around the corner, but don’t get your hopes up if you want your weed sent to you via robot. That’s because California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has recently unveiled new regulatory rules that will ban drones from delivering marijuana, as spotted by Ars Technica. The Bureau is currently developing regulation surrounding weed use and sales under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) after recreational marijuana was legalized in California.


Eat, Pray, Live: The Lagos Megachurches Building Their Very Own Cities

September 11th, 2017

Be sitting down for this one!

Via: Guardian:

Redemption Camp has 5,000 houses, roads, rubbish collection, police, supermarkets, banks, a fun fair, a post office – even a 25 megawatt power plant. In Nigeria, the line between church and city is rapidly vanishing.


Irma: Over 5 Million Homes and Businesses Without Electricity in Florida

September 10th, 2017

Via: Reuters:

Hurricane Irma knocked out power to about 5.8 million homes and businesses in Florida, even as the storm’s power waned as it crept up the state’s west coast, according to state officials and local electric utilities.


Monitoring Hurricane Irma

September 8th, 2017

7 News Miami Live

CBS Miami Live

Miami Herald


Equifax Says Cyberattack May Have Hit 143 Million Customers

September 8th, 2017

Via: Bloomberg:

Equifax Inc. said its systems were struck by a cyberattack that may have affected about 143 million U.S. customers of the credit reporting agency, shedding light on one of the largest and most intrusive breaches in history.

Intruders accessed names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers, Equifax said in a statement. Credit card numbers for about 209,000 consumers were also accessed, the company said. Equifax shares dropped more than 8 percent in after-hours trading.


Hackers Send Silent Commands to Speech Recognition Systems with Ultrasound

September 8th, 2017

Via: Tech Crunch:

Security researchers in China have invented a clever way of activating voice recognition systems without speaking a word. By using high frequencies inaudible to humans but which register on electronic microphones, they were able to issue commands to every major “intelligent assistant” that were silent to every listener but the target device.


SpaceX Launches U.S. Air Force X-37B

September 7th, 2017

Via: Bloomberg:

SpaceX successfully launched a classified Air Force drone from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as Hurricane Irma barrels toward the state.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched the Air Force space plane around 10 a.m. local time Thursday, despite warnings earlier in the morning the weather was only 50 percent favorable for the mission. Irma was forecast to be about 900 miles southeast of the launch site during Thursday’s take-off, with a separate storm system causing the earlier lift-off uncertainty, according to the nearby Patrick Air Force Base.

The launch was the fifth mission for the 11,000-pound autonomous spacecraft, but the first involving SpaceX.


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