People used to dream about robot secretaries. Futurists imagined a world where computers obeyed our every command. When the Amazon Echo hit the market, that dream became a reality: Alexa was obedient, personable and all-knowing. She could carry out a myriad of basic tasks, with a personality as professional and unflappable as a human assistant. This year, Echo is more popular than ever, and despite competition from Google, Amazon still dominates 75 percent of the virtual assistant market.
The automaker's new Portal concept is a battery-powered, semi-autonomous, connected vehicle that it says was designed by millennials for themselves. It boasts a 250 mile range, and can fill up with 150 miles worth of electricity in 20 minutes at a fast charge station. Its 100 kWh battery pack is integrated into the floor, which helps maximize interior space. Front and rear sliding doors create large entry portals that inspire the minivan's name, while its six captain's chairs have fold-up seat bottoms and are mounted on rails that allow the cabin to be easily reconfigured to accommodate cargo or passengers, as needed. The driver can be a passenger some of the time thanks to a suite of cameras, radar, Lidar, and ultrasonic sensors, plus high-definition maps augmented by GPS and car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications that enable Level 3 autonomy, which allows the Portal to drive itself on some highways with human supervision.
Google has made a strong phone debut, according to the first round of reviews. Strong enough to take on the market-leading iPhone. The 5-inch Pixel and 5.5-inch Pixel XL are the company's first pure Google-branded smartphones, with the tagline "made by Google." To date, Google has released phones under the Nexus brand, which tended to emphasize the phone's manufacturer, such as LG and Huawei, not Google. Wall Street Journal: "The Google Pixel is now the best Android smartphone you can buy," the Journal said in its review.
The Google-branded phone has arrived, and Apple and Samsung are its primary targets. But to make room for the Google-branded Pixel, Google's Nexus phone brand will fade, according to an official statement Tuesday from Google. "As Nexus users, you've played an integral role in this journey for Google. We're excited about Pixel, and also want you to know that we'll continue to support your Nexus devices," Google said Tuesday. Nexus phones have been co-branded with Google, but the branding tended to emphasize the partners that manufacture the device such as LG and Huawei, the two current Nexus phone makers.
Google has unveiled its hotly-anticipated new Pixel smartphones, which are branded with the Google logo on the back. The new glass and aluminum phones come with Google Assistant included, a made-by-Google artificially-intelligent assistant that can do things like make dinner reservations through OpenTable. The devices come in two sizes, 5 and 5.5 inches, and are available immediately for pre-order, Google said. "While Pixel's beautiful, what really makes it come to life is how the hardware and software work together," Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of Google's hardware division, said at the San Francisco event, during which they heavily emphasized the importance of the Google Assistant. The Pixel phones will come in three colors, which Google calls "quite black," "very silver" and "really blue."
NEW YORK – Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the electric car company is making major improvements to the Autopilot system used by its vehicles, which will dramatically reduce the number and severity of crashes in which they are involved. Sunday's news comes in the wake of a May crash involving a Tesla Model S that was using the semi-autonomous mode at the time. The driver died after crashing into a tractor-trailer. On a conference call with reporters, Musk said he thinks that the improvements, which will roll out globally in the next week or two in the form of a software update, probably would have prevented that crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is investigating the crash, said Sunday that Tesla has provided it with information about the changes to Autopilot, which it will review.
Israel is planning to bolster its high-tech arsenal by deploying fully autonomous military vehicles along the country's dangerous border with Gaza. "This is the future -- the border is a very dangerous place," an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) official told FoxNews.com, citing the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), snipers, anti-tank missiles and terrorist tunnels. "Sending unmanned vehicles to do these patrols means that troops lives' are not at risk." Working with Israeli defense specialist Elbit Systems, IDF has equipped Ford F-350 pickup trucks with specialized remote driving technology. The trucks, dubbed Border Protector Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs), are also fitted with four driving cameras and a 360-degree observation camera to help operators identify threats.