ground transportation

The Infiniti QX80 is too pricey to have this little tech


Sure, it's filled with modern touches you would expect from a luxury SUV, but the QX80 is in a weird spot right now. With parent company Nissan introducing its impressive semi-autonomous driving system ProPilot Assist to the Infiniti Q50 sedan and CarPlay making its way into Nissans, the QX80 feels left behind. As people generally opt for larger cars and SUVs, the luxury SUV is edging out the high-end sedan as the opulent vehicle of choice. Typically, these lavish cars are where the latest tech lands first. If you're paying a premium, your entire experience should be premium -- from the wood paneling and smooth-as-butter ride, to the latest semi-autonomous features and infotainment system.

Flipboard on Flipboard


Alex Bell likes to bike around New York City, but he got fed up with how often bike lanes were blocked by delivery trucks and idling cars. So he decided to do something about it, the New York Times reports. Bell is a computer scientist and he developed a machine learning algorithm that can study traffic camera footage and calculate how often bike and bus lanes are blocked by other vehicles. He trained the algorithm with around 2,000 images of different types of vehicles and for bus lanes, he set the system to be able to tell the difference between buses that are allowed to idle at bus stops and other vehicles that aren't. Then, he applied his algorithm to 10 days of publicly available video from a traffic camera in Harlem.

Driverless cars could be stopped in their tracks by solar storms

Daily Mail

Autonomous technology is touted to be the future of driving. Experts in the field claim it could be safer and more efficient than having humans behind the wheel – but, it might prove no match for the forces of nature. This week's solar storm has served as a reminder that driverless cars have their limitations, too. Scientists say driverless cars, if designed in a way that's too reliant on GPS, may suffer complications during powerful space weather events, making it difficult to carry out their functions as intended. Experts this week warned that a minor storm generated by holes (white arrows in this August 2017 Nasa image) in the sun's outermost magnetic layer could cause'weak power grid fluctuations' and have a small'impact on satellite operations'.

Lyft Is Testing a Subscription Service


Lyft has been testing out a Netflix-esque subscription service for high-frequency users over the last few months, The Verge reported Thursday. Like its counterparts in the music and video streaming industry, Lyft offers a variety of plans at different price points, such as a $199 monthly pass for 30 rides and a $399 pass for 60 rides. The passes are only applicable for rides up to $15, and access to the plans are invite-only at the moment. In 2016, Uber had been testing an "Uber Plus" subscription service in cities like San Diego and Boston, though the program does not appear to have become a more widely available feature. Lyft's foray into a subscription payment model appears to be tied to its self-driving car initiative.

Facebook apologises after search results suggest users watch child sex abuse videos

The Independent

Facebook has apologised for suggesting its users should watch child sex abuse videos. The suggestion was just one of a range of strange messages that were shown in the site's search bar overnight. Users reported that if they typed only "videos of" into the site's search engine, they would be greeted with a range of horrifying, vulgar and strange suggested searches. Many of the results used sexual language, with some referring to "little girls", and the suggestions came up even to users who searched in other languages. The I.F.O. is fuelled by eight electric engines, which is able to push the flying object to an estimated top speed of about 120mph.

Video Friday: Dexterous Humanoid, Self-Driving Car Naps, and Passenger Drones

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. If you thought the "vision" video is a bit much, the capabilities video is less singing and more interesting: Sebastian Thrun's self-flying car company Cora has a passenger drone that may be somewhat less terrible than most other passenger drones: I like Cora primarily because it has wings that can generate lift even if the electrical systems or software systems fail. I'm still not sold on the idea of you not needing a pilot's license to be in one, but this design does seem significantly more survivable than most.

Uber and Toyota in talks to join forces on self-driving technology

Daily Mail

Uber is discussing the possibility of installing its self-driving system in Toyota vehicles as the U.S. ride-hailing firm seeks to sell its autonomous driving technology to outside companies, the Nikkei reported on Friday. Without citing sources, the Japanese business daily said that the firms are negotiating a possible deal for Toyota to use Uber's automated driving technology in one of the automaker's minivan models. According to the report, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi met with Toyota executives in the United States this week. Uber is discussing the possibility of installing its self-driving system in Toyota vehicles as the U.S. ride-hailing firm seeks to sell its autonomous driving technology to outside companies. A display from Toyota's own self-driving prototype is pictured Toyota, which is developing its own automated driving functions, has said it is open to collaborating with other firms to quickly bring new mobility technologies to market.

Apple March event: Company sends out mysterious invites for potential launch of new iPhones, MacBooks or iPads

The Independent

Apple will hold an event this month where it could launch a whole range of new products. The company sent out invitations – bearing the strange messages "Let's take a field trip" – to an event that will happen on 27 March. A number of things about the invitation are strange and unexpected. It seems that the event will focus on education – and it will take place in Chicago, not Apple's home in Cupertino, California, despite the fact the company specifically built a theatre for these events at its new campus. The I.F.O. is fuelled by eight electric engines, which is able to push the flying object to an estimated top speed of about 120mph.