BMW is an iconic brand in the automobile industry, well-established and well-liked, but that hasn't translated to success for the German automaker when it comes to electric vehicles. Having sold only about 25,000 of the i3 hatchbacks in 2015, the company is planning to upgrade its small car next year. German weekly Welt am Sonntag (in German) reported Sunday the i3 will get a makeover that will see both the front and rear ends of the car reworked. Additionally, new battery technology will give the vehicle increased range as well, which BMW says is currently 114 miles on full charge. The range can be extended up to 180 miles using a "Range Extender."
The top U.S. vehicle safety regulator said on Wednesday the government needs to be more nimble in designing rules for self-driving vehicles. The industry "is on version 238.32 by the time we get regulations out," National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator Mark Rosekind said during an appearance at an industry conference in suburban Detroit. U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines expected in July will offer different approaches to oversight of self-driving, or autonomous, vehicle technologies, Rosekind said. Regulations that remain static for years "will not work for this area," Rosekind said. "We will have something different in July."
Finally, a big tech company that isn't making a driverless car. It seems like every week there are reports about another tech company working on autonomous cars or hinting they might be doing so, which is why it is so refreshing to hear Microsoft categorically ruling itself out of the race. While companies like Ford, Toyota and General Motors are all working hard to build their own driverless car technology, they are facing competition not only from the traditional car industry but from the tech industry too. Google, Tesla and Faraday Future are all looking to disrupt the car industry with Apple widely expected to join them in the coming years. Microsoft, however, won't be competing on this level.
A Silicon Valley startup founded by former Google employees is looking to radically change long-haul trucking. Otto is developing a self-driving truck upgrade kit for commercial rigs. As with the race to develop self-driving cars, Otto is not alone in these ambitions, but self-driving trucks could lead to unintended consequences for local economies, particularly in small towns that rely on the trucking industry. Otto debuted with its plan in a Medium post published Tuesday. The startup highlights the need for self-driving trucks by citing the deteriorating quality of life for drivers, road congestion, pollution and safety.
Not content with take aim at Apple, Jia, who last week launched LeEco's first self-driving car, also took aim at Tesla, saying his company would eclipse Elon Musk's electric vehicle efforts. Talking about Apple, Jia told CNBC: "We believe the next generation of mobile internet will be more open, more ecosystem oriented instead of being a closed loop. Like Xiaomi, another Chinese company making waves on the global market, LeEco sees itself as an internet company first and foremost. Apple is a mobile phone company focused on hardware and software," Jia said.
A new drone security startup claims it can disable or fly rogue drones that get too close to airports, military bases, stadiums or other other sensitive areas. Most drone enforcement companies focus on detection of malicious UAVs. Drone Shield, for example, uses a range of sensors to detect a potentially rogue drone. The startup states its technology can detect drones, notify clients and provide enterprise management in addition to its takeover capabilities.
A government-led effort to develop commercial guidelines for face-recognition technology is moving forward, and it has privacy advocates red in the face. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the U.S. Commerce Department, held a meeting in Washington Tuesday to consider a set of "best practices" for collecting and storing facial data and to discuss how face-recognition technology might apply to the Obama administration's so-called Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights publicized in 2012. A particular point of contention was the industry's resistance to a rule that would require companies to obtain written consent before collecting and storing facial data, or "faceprints," as they're sometimes called. Alvaro M. Bedoya, executive director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center, said the proposals currently on the table give consumers "zero choice" about whether companies enroll them in face-recognition databases.
And analysts and product designers said fresh breakthroughs are running up against the practical limits of what's possible in current smartphone hardware in terms of screen size, battery life and network capacity. "The way the whole thing is evolving, the device itself is becoming just another way to provide access to a user's digital life," independent financial analyst Richard Windsor said. Lindholm now runs KoruLab, developers of compact, ultra-efficient software for running wearable devices. Financial analysts at UBS estimate smartphone makers will generate more than 323 billion in revenue this year, a 1.4 percent decline from last year.