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UBER’S SELF-DRIVING CARS RETURN TO PUBLIC ROADS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE FATAL CRASH

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Uber officially resumed testing its self-driving cars on public roads Thursday, nine months after one of its vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. The company received a letter from Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation authorizing it to restart its program, albeit in a highly scaled back fashion.

For the time being, Uber’s self-driving Volvo SUVs will be confined to a one-mile loop around Pittsburgh’s Strip District, where the company’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) is headquartered. Only two vehicles are being tested for now, though more will be added. The cars won’t exceed the posted speed limit of 25 mph, and will have two safety drivers in them at all times — Uber calls them “mission specialists.” For now, the cars aren’t picking up any passengers.

This downsized version of Uber’s self-driving program reflects the extent to which the company’s had to reassess its grand plan to conquer urban transportation with robot taxis after the crash in Tempe. The self-driving Uber car was traveling north with one safety driver inside when it struck and killed 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg while she was pushing her bicycle across the street. The driver was streaming a television show on her phone at the time of the crash, and didn’t hit the brakes until after impact, according to the National Traffic Safety Board and local police.

The governor of Arizona barred the company from further testing in his state, and Uber subsequently laid off hundreds of safety drivers in Arizona and Pittsburgh. In the wake of the crash, reports emerged that Uber’s self-driving program was potentially fraught with risk. Uber had reduced the number of “safety drivers” in its test cars from two to one, according to a New York Times report. This explained why the driver who was in the car that killed Herzberg was alone.

The company’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi considered pulling the plug on the program all together. But in an April interview with the Today show Khosrowshahi said the company is “absolutely committed to self-driving cars.” And in May, Khosrowshahi was promoting the company’s inevitable return to public road testing. Uber’s ATG had conducted a “top-to-bottom” safety review. In July, Uber returned its cars to the roads in Pittsburgh, but in manual mode only. And in November, it released its voluntary safety report to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

TWO EMPLOYEES IN EACH AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE
“We implemented recommendations from our review processes, spanning technical, operational and organizational improvements,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber ATG, wrote in a blog post. “This required a lot of introspection and took some time. Now we are ready to move forward.”

Uber said it will resume testing with two employees in each autonomous vehicle, enabling Volvo’s factory setting for automatic braking, and strictly monitoring safety drivers. The company said it now has real-time third-party monitoring of backup safety drivers, it sets limits on the amount of time drivers can work per day, and it has improved training.

But it wasn’t easy going. The company’s vehicles were continuing to fail some of their track tests as recently as September, according to documents reviewed by the Times. Uber uses track testing to not only test against common road scenarios, but also edge cases with the goal of training the vehicle to become a generally good defensive driver. But the cars needed to drive 20 percent slower to match the reaction time of a human driver at 25 mph. A spokesperson said some of the test failures were minor and non-safety related, like a hard brake or a too-wide turn.

In a break with the past, Uber is working closer with regulators and third-party experts to build trust. A spokesperson for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said since Uber has “accepted established state guidelines, demonstrated transparency, and conformed to our expectations in addressing the unique conditions of a complex urban environment, the city is satisfied that self-driving testing operations by Uber will not introduce an increased level of safety risk in Pittsburgh,” the spokesperson said.

PITTSBURGH’S MAYOR IS “SATISFIED THAT … UBER WILL NOT INTRODUCE AN INCREASED LEVEL OF SAFETY RISK IN PITTSBURGH”

Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst at Navigant, had a briefing with Uber in November. “They said all the right things as far as revamping all of their processes for training of staff, reviewing and validating changes and general procedures,” Abuelsamid said. “Personally, I’d still like to see every system being tested on public roads reviewed and evaluated by an independent third party, but since that is unlikely any time soon, this will probably have to do.”

Abuelsamid noted that Uber doesn’t appear to be trying to rush this market as the company was under the management of the previous CEO, Travis Kalanick. And he pointed to Toyota’s partnership with Uber, in which the Japanese automaker is investing $500 million in developing self-driving cars with Uber, “as a big vote of confidence that the changes taking place at Uber are in the right direction.”

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Reports

THE EVOLUTION OF WEB DESIGN

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Website architecture has gained some amazing ground, so we should look back and see how what we have come to know as destinations these days was created.

Only content based, the first site denoted the beginning of what would transform into a digital revolution. Also, remember that recollections of “a work in progress” GIFs and blinding establishment tints make us appreciate how far site structure and web design have come, there are some bona fide website design choices that truly ask for a sign of respect.

Other than that, there is a flood of e-commerce content management system. Furthermore, with the development of SEO, the website structure methods have in like manner changed to consider ways to respond to web indexes.

The way in which we plan web design have definitely changed now. From content based goals back then to sites with complex functionalities made on open source today, the website synthesis strategies have changed to an extensive degree. This has obviously implied a lot for organizations, to go according to the advancement of website design and building their sites for improved expansion.

In this infographic, we can see the advancement of website architecture and web design in a visual way.

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Innovations

ROBOT COMPANY STARSHIP TECHNOLOGIES START MILTON KEYNES DELIVERIES

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Hundreds of robots are to start to delivering packages to addresses across Milton Keynes, in one of the first full-scale uses of such technology.

Residents will be able to get parcels sent to a robot depot, which will notify them when they arrive and then deliver the item to their door.

The scheme is being pioneered by Starship Technologies.

The firm has already partnered with the Co-op in Milton Keynes to deliver groceries there.

The new service is available through a mobile phone app, with residents living in the neighbourhoods covered in Milton Keynes able to have packages delivered to an address of their choice.

Customers will pay a monthly subscription of £7.99 for an unlimited number of deliveries.

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Robot facts

One of the robots delivering itemsImage copyrightSTARSHIP TECHNOLOGIES
Image captionThe robots will be delivering to addresses in Milton Keynes

The robots:

  • Travel along pavements and cross streets, just like pedestrians
  • Have 10 cameras, ultrasound sensors, radar, and GPS
  • Are able to to see 360 degrees and have a “situational awareness bubble” around them to detect and avoid any obstacles
  • Use sophisticated computer vision and software to identify objects such as cars, pedestrians, traffic lights and pavements
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Once signed-up on the app, people will receive a “personal address” at the depot where parcels can be sent, to then be delivered by the robots.

Lex Bayer, Starship’s chief executive officer, said: “We’re excited that thanks to our technology, local communities across Milton Keynes will never miss a home delivery again.”

grocery delivery robotsImage copyrightSTARSHIP
Image captionThe firm has already partnered with the Co-op in Milton Keynes to deliver groceries

Starship Technologies formed in July 2014 by two Skype co-founders, Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, with Lex Bayer joining in June 2018 from Airbnb.

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APPLE REPORTEDLY TARGETING 2019 FOR IPAD MINI UPDATE AND AIRPOWER LAUNCH

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Apple’s second fall event is rapidly approaching, but noted TF International Securities supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has some predictions of what won’t be at the event: an updated fifth-generation iPad Mini, which Kuo says won’t be coming until sometime in 2019, via9to5Mac.

When it does arrive, though, Kuo says that the new iPad Mini will get “an upgraded processor and a lower-cost panel,” which would seem to position it as a smaller option for those considering Apple’s entry-level iPad model rather than a miniature version of the iPad Pro. An iPad Mini update has been a long time coming — Apple last updated the device with the iPad Mini 4 back in 2015.

Kuo also says that Apple is still looking at either late 2018 or early 2019 for the AirPower charging mat along with the rumored AirPod update that would add a Qi-compatible case. It’s still not clear whether those will be showing up at next week’s event, or if Apple will even mention the still missing charging pad at all.

Additionally, Kuo’s report also reiterated his main predictions for the upcoming October 30th event:

  • A pair of updated iPad Pros (presumably to replace the existing 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch models) with the rumored Face ID integration, reduced bezels, and USB-C support
  • A new Apple Pencil — which Kuo says will have an “all-new” design (that may mean support for USB-C, given the iPad rumors)
  • New Macs, including a “low-price” MacBook, and spec bumps for both the iMac and the long-neglected Mac Mini

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