China

Uber Office Raided By Police In China, Accused of Running 'Illegal' Car Business 166

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-ask-enough-permission dept.
albert555 writes: Uber's curse keeps on striking after Uber's office in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was raided by authorities on the 30th of April 2015. Uber is accused of running an 'illegal' transport service, according to the Guangzhou Daily. Uber has been implanted in China since August 2013 and is suspected of not having the proper qualifications to run a private car business in the city. Following the recent German court ban two weeks ago, who will win the fight for private transportation? Long-term, established transportation companies with powerful lobbying arms or the newcomer making use of disruptive technology? Does Schumpeter's creative destruction also apply to the transportation sector?
Transportation

Tesla Adds Used Models To Its Inventory, For Online Purchase 63

Posted by timothy
from the driven-by-a-little-old-lady-on-sundays dept.
Jalopnik reports that Tesla Motors Inc. has very quietly started to sell used cars online, following in the footsteps of larger car companies. Its new certified vehicle program brings down the staggering costs of one of their electric cars while still ensuring manufacturer maintenance and repairs. Most of the cars that are on Tesla’s website were previously owned by people who have since traded up to the AWD Model S. Soon, this stockpile will also include leased Teslas. Engadget adds You're limited to shopping in a handful of cities in the U.S. and Canada, but the cars come with a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty to assuage fears that you've bought a lemon. No, the move doesn't make the company's luxury EVs much more attainable -- the best offer we've seen so far is for a $59,000 'entry' model.
Bug

Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power 242

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-tried-turning-off-and-then-on-again? dept.
jones_supa writes: A dangerous software glitch has been found in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. If the plane is left turned on for 248 days, it will enter a failsafe mode that will lead to the plane losing all of its power, according to a new directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration. If the bug is triggered, all the Generator Control Units will shut off, leaving the plane without power, and the control of the plane will be lost. Boeing is working on a software upgrade that will address the problems, the FAA says. The company is said to have found the problem during laboratory testing of the plane, and thankfully there are no reports of it being triggered on the field.
The Courts

Judge Tosses United Airlines Lawsuit Over 'Hidden City' Tickets 126

Posted by timothy
from the you-had-to-go-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes: United Airlines lost a legal round in its effort to stop a website that helps people find 'hidden city' ticket pairs. The airline, along with online travel site Orbitz, sued New York-based Skiplagged.com and its founder, Aktarer Zaman, in November seeking an injunction to stop the site from sending users to Orbitz to purchase United tickets. A federal judge ruled Thursday that Illinois isn't the proper venue for the carrier's claims.
United States

US Switches Air Traffic Control To New Computer System 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the upgrade-complete dept.
coondoggie writes: The Federal Aviation Administration this week said it had completed the momentous replacement of the 40-year-old main computer systems that control air traffic in the US. Known as En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM), the system is expected to increase air traffic flow, improve automated navigation and strengthen aircraft conflict detection services, with the end result being increased safety and less flight congestion. The FAA said the Lockheed Martin-developed ERAM systems “uses nearly two million lines of computer code to process critical data for controllers, including aircraft identity, altitude, speed, and flight path. The system almost doubles the number of flights that can be tracked and displayed to controllers.”
Transportation

New Study Suggests Flying Is Greener Than Driving 279

Posted by timothy
from the electric-planes-are-hard dept.
New submitter Desert Leap writes: The Washington Post reports a new study that suggests it is more environmentally friendly to fly rather than to drive. Analysis from the University of Michigan Transport Research Institute found that driving uses 57% more energy than flying per passenger mile. This is largely due to the number of occupied plane seats increasing while passengers per car decreased. Of course, "results may vary" for individual trips depending on many factors, such as distance flown (long flights are more fuel efficient) and the kind of car, and how many riders. One factoid is interesting: it takes 4,211 BTUs per person mile to drive. This number will fall as we switch over to electric vehicles. For example, a Tesla Model S takes about 1,100 BTUs per vehicle mile. Will future aircraft be able to also make the switch to electric?
Transportation

Uber Testing Massive Merchant Delivery Service 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-me-pizza dept.
An anonymous reader writes: TechCrunch has obtained documents showing that Uber is testing out a delivery service that would allow shoppers to buy something online and have it delivered on the same day. "Sources say that Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany's, Cohen's Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss are all in talks with the Uber Merchant Delivery program, and one source in particular said that there are over 400 different merchants currently in talks (or already testing) with Uber for same-day delivery. (Cohen's Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss are both used as examples in the training presentation.) ... From what we can gather from the manual, it seems that Uber drivers and couriers are currently taking merchant orders through a different app (and even a separate phone) than the one they use to receive regular UberRUSH orders. Eventually, however, Uber drivers will be able to take both human passengers and Uber Merchant orders at the same time through an intelligent routing system, all from a single driver-side app."
Transportation

Massachusetts Governor Introduces Bill To Regulate Uber, Lyft 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-medallions dept.
jfruh writes: The "wild west" days of ridesharing services may be coming to an end. The governor of Massachusetts has proposed a bill that would regulate Uber, Lyft, and their rivals in the state. Among the new rules: ridesharing services would have to run background checks on their drivers and keep a roster of active drivers; vehicles would need to have some external marker indicating that they're a ridesharing car; and drivers would need to hold at $1 million worth of insurance when transporting passengers.
Privacy

New Privacy Threat: Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the shades-of-minority-report dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning against a new potential privacy threat: cameras that look inside cars and try to identify how many people are inside. This technology is a natural combination of simpler ones that have existed for years: basic object recognition software and road-side cameras (red light cameras, speeding cameras, license plate readers — you name it). Of course, we can extrapolate just a bit further, and point out that as soon as the cameras have high enough resolution, they can start running face recognition algorithms on the images, and determine the identities of a vehicle's occupants.

"The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a government umbrella group that develops transportation and public safety initiatives across the San Diego County region, estimates that 15% of drivers in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes aren't supposed to be there. After coming up short with earlier experimental projects, the agency is now testing a brand new technology to crack down on carpool-lane scofflaws on the I-15 freeway. ... In short: the technology is looking at your image, the image of the people you're with, your location, and your license plate. (SANDAG told CBS the systems will not be storing license plate data during the trial phase and the system will, at least for now, automatically redact images of drivers and passengers. Xerox's software, however, allows police the option of using a weaker form of redaction that can be reversed on request.)"
Transportation

Smart Headlights Adjust To Aid Drivers In Difficult Conditions 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute are developing smart headlights that not only trace a car's movement around bends, but are programmable to assist a driver in a wide range of driving conditions. The research team, at the institute's Illumination and Imaging Laboratory, is looking into designing headlights which do not highlight raindrops and snowflakes in bad weather, instead passing light around the individual drops and improving visibility. Its near-future design would also be able to avoid glare even when the high beam is in use, detecting up-coming vehicles and disabling the range of light that is directed at it. They also hope to incorporate GPS data to adjust the direction of the headlights according to the lane that a driver is occupying, illuminating it more brightly compared to surrounding lanes. The technology is supported by a looped system which will constantly read, assess and react to driving conditions. The prototype also features a built-in camera to capture visual data before transferring it to a computer processor installed in the vehicle, where it can be analyzed.
Communications

Traffic App Waze To Alert L.A. Drivers of Kidnappings and Hit-and-Runs 86

Posted by timothy
from the target-audience-is-rubberneckers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Traffic-alert app Waze has announced a partnership with Los Angeles to share information on hit-and-runs and kidnappings taking place across the city, alongside traffic data and road closure updates. The deal forms part of a data-sharing agreement between L.A. authorities and the Google-owned tech startup detailed yesterday by the city's mayor Eric Garcetti. He assured that the data provided to the city by Waze would be "aggregated" and completely anonymous. According to the councillor the collaboration was mutually confirmed on Monday following a "very good meeting" between Waze and LAPD chief officer Charlie Beck. This move signals a considerable turn of events after Beck argued at the end of last year that the traffic alert app posed a danger to police due to its ability to track their location. The complaint followed the shooting of two police officers in New York after the shooter used the app to track his targets.
Education

Virtual Reality Games Can Improve Memory Retention of Safety Instructions 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget dept.
vrml writes: Using a virtual reality (VR) headset to experience risky situations as immersive 3D games improves memory retention of passenger safety instructions, according to research published in the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, and illustrated by a YouTube video. Researchers recruited occasional flyers: half of them played a VR gaming experience of an airliner water landing and evacuation, while the other half studied a real airline safety card. After one week, passengers who had studied the safety card suffered a significant loss of knowledge, while passengers who had played the VR game fully retained the safety knowledge gained. The research group has now made available its emergency water landing experience also for the Oculus Rift.
Transportation

Maglev Train Exceeds 600km/h For World Record 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the zoom-zoom dept.
nojayuk writes: An experimental Japanese magnetic levitation train has reached a speed of 603 km/h, breaking the world speed record the same train set last week of 590 km/h. "Central Japan Railway (JR Central), which owns the trains, wants to introduce the service between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027. The 280km journey would take only about 40 minutes, less than half the current time. However, passengers will not get to experience the maglev's record-breaking speeds because the company said its trains will operate at a maximum of 505km/h. In comparison, the fastest operating speed of a Japanese shinkansen, or "bullet train" is is 320km/h. ... Construction costs are estimated at nearly $100bn (£67bn) just for the stretch to Nagoya, with more than 80% of the route expected to go through costly tunnels, AFP news agency reports."
The Courts

Supreme Court Rules Extending Traffic Stop For Dog Sniff Unconstitutional 406

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-allowed-to-hound-you-anymore dept.
bmxeroh writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that a police officer may not extend a traffic stop beyond the time needed to complete the tasks related to that stop for the purposes of allowing a trained dog to sniff for drugs. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority (6-3) that police authority "ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are — or reasonably should have been — completed." The case, Rodriguez v. United States, 13-9972, all started with Rodriguez was stopped in Nebraska for driving out of his lane. After he was given the ticket for that infraction, he was made to wait an additional seven to eight minutes for a drug dog to arrive which promptly alerted to the presence of drugs in the car. Upon search, the officers found a small bag of methamphetamine in his possession.
Transportation

Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars 649

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-down-the-wrench-and-back-away dept.
Mr_Blank writes Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.
Google

Elon Musk Bailed Out of $6bn Google Takeover To Save Tesla From 2013 Bankruptcy 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Elon Musk almost sold Tesla to Google in 2013 when the company was close to bankruptcy. "Elon Musk had a deal to sell his electric car company Tesla, to Google for $6bn (£4bn) when it was heading for bankruptcy with just two weeks' worth of cash left in the bank. During the first week of March 2013, Musk spoke to his friend Larry Page, chief executive of Google, about the search giant buying his car company, which at the time was suffering from falling sales amid technical problems with the few Model S luxury sedan cars it had delivered. Ashlee Vance, author of upcoming book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, claims in an extra for Bloomberg two people 'with direct knowledge of the deal' said Musk and Page agreed to the buyout and shook on a price of around $6bn. This was plus promises from Google to invest $5bn for factory expansion and to not break Tesla up or close it down."
Transportation

How Uber Surge Pricing Really Works 96

Posted by timothy
from the has-a-catchy-name-regardless dept.
minstrelmike writes with this analysis from Nicholas Diakopoulos of the Washington Post: At the core of Uber's wild success and market valuation of over $41 billion is its data and algorithmically fueled approach to matching supply and demand for cars. It's classic economics, supposedly....but is Uber's surge pricing algorithm really doing what they claim? Do surge prices really get more cars on the road?

My analysis suggests that rather than motivating a fresh supply of drivers, surge pricing instead re-distributes drivers already on the road.
Adds minstrelmike: The writer goes on to analyze 4 weeks of pricing info from 5 areas in D.C. and plotted prices versus wait times. "Price surging can work in any of three ways: by reducing demand for cars (less people want a car for a higher price), by creating new supply (providing an incentive for new drivers to hit the roads), or by shifting supply (drivers) to areas of higher demand."

It moves current drivers from one side of town to the other. It does not put new drivers on the road. It can't because the prices change every 3-5 minutes."
Transportation

Dutch Prosecutors Launch Criminal Investigation Against Uber For Flouting Ban 48

Posted by timothy
from the red-lights-and-red-tape dept.
An anonymous reader writes Dutch prosecutors have announced that they are prosecuting taxi-hailing giant Uber for continuing to disregard last December's ban on the company offering its unlicensed UberPOP service in the Netherlands. The statement declares 'The company Uber is now a suspect...This means a preliminary examination will be started to collect evidence that Uber is providing illegal transportation on a commercial basis,'. Dutch police presented evidence to the prosecutors of UberPOP drivers in Amsterdam ignoring the ban, and at the time of writing the UberPOP service is still available via Uber's Amsterdam website [https://www.uber.com/cities/amsterdam]. Though Uber inspires new litigation on a weekly basis in the territories in which it is seeking to consolidate its services, this is the first time it has been the subject of a criminal prosecution.
Space

Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 75

Posted by timothy
from the partially-electric-is-still-cool dept.
New submitter Adrian Harvey writes The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.
United Kingdom

UK Company Wants To Deliver Parcels Through Underground Tunnels 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the mole-mail dept.
Zothecula writes Drones flown by Amazon aren't the only way we could be getting our parcels delivered in the near future. UK firm Mole Solutions is exploring the possibility of using small robot trains running on underground tracks to manage deliveries, and it's just received funding from the British government to help test the viability of the proposal.