Transportation

South Korea Signs On To Build Full-Scale Hyperloop System (newatlas.com) 119

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) has partnered with the South Korean government and local universities to build the world's first full-scale Hyperloop system. "The agreement was actually signed back in January but only revealed this week, and sees HTT team up with the South Korean government's department of technological innovation and infrastructure, along with the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building (KICT) and Hanyang University," reports New Atlas. From the report: It involves the construction of a full-scale testbed, licensing of HTT's vacuum tube, levitation, propulsion and battery technologies along with the co-development of safety standards and regulations. The agreement is a multi-year partnership intended to build a new transportation system for South Korea, one which will be known as the HyperTube Express and carry passengers between Seoul and Busan in under 20 minutes, compared to the current three-hour drive. HTT may be setting out to build the world's first Hyperloop but it is no guarantee, with fellow startups Arrivo and Hyperloop One also moving full-steam ahead with their plans. The latter in particular seems to be making solid progress, recently showing off a full-scale test track in Nevada and forming agreements with Russia, Finland and Dubai to explore the feasibility of a Hyperloop in those countries. It's too early to tell who will be first out of the gate, but the competition is certainly heating up.
Security

Facial Recognition Is Coming To US Airports (theverge.com) 121

Facial recognition systems will be coming to U.S. airports in the very near future. "Customs and Border Protection first started testing facial recognition systems at Dulles Airport in 2015, then expanded the tests to New York's JFK Airport last year," reports The Verge. "Now, a new project is poised to bring those same systems to every international airport in America." From the report: Called Biometric Exit, the project would use facial matching systems to identify every visa holder as they leave the country. Passengers would have their photos taken immediately before boarding, to be matched with the passport-style photos provided with the visa application. If there's no match in the system, it could be evidence that the visitor entered the country illegally. The system is currently being tested on a single flight from Atlanta to Tokyo, but after being expedited by the Trump administration, it's expected to expand to more airports this summer, eventually rolling out to every international flight and border crossing in the U.S. U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Larry Panetta, who took over the airport portion of the project in February, explained the advantages of facial recognition at the Border Security Expo last week. "Facial recognition is the path forward we're working on," Panetta said at the conference. "We currently have everyone's photo, so we don't need to do any sort of enrollment. We have access to the Department of State records so we have photos of U.S. Citizens, we have visa photos, we have photos of people when they cross into the U.S. and their biometrics are captured into [DHS biometric database] IDENT."
Businesses

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Has Resigned Due To Investor Pressure (recode.net) 57

Travis Kalanick has resigned as chief executive of Uber after pressure from investors, ending eight years of leading the ride-hailing company that has expanded round the globe but became mired in controversies. From a report: Kalanick had become a giant liability to the car-hailing company for a growing number of reasons, from sketchy business practices to troubling lawsuits to a basic management situation that was akin to really toxic goat rodeo. Thus, he had to go, even though some sources said he had the voting power to stay. But big investors also have leverage and a big enough group of them joined to use it. Those investors include Benchmark, Fidelity and Menlo Ventures, all of whom sent Kalanick a joint letter called "Moving Uber Forward" on Tuesday afternoon. Interestingly, Google Ventures was not among the group, even though its parent company Alphabet is now in a major lawsuit with Uber over the alleged theft of self-driving car technology from its Waymo unit.
Transportation

It's Too Hot For Some Planes To Fly In Phoenix (npr.org) 262

In Phoenix on Tuesday, temperatures were forecast to climb as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, causing more than 40 American Eagle regional flights out of Phoenix's international airport to be canceled. NPR reports: American Airlines said in a statement that the Bombardier CRJ aircraft used on some shorter routes have a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees. For bigger jets, the threshold is higher. The carrier says that, for example, Airbus aircraft have a maximum operating temperature of 127 degrees and that for Boeing, it is 126 degrees. As USA Today reports: "Extreme heat affects a plane's ability to take off. Hot air is less dense than cold air, and the hotter the temperature, the more speed a plane needs to lift off. A runway might not be long enough to allow a plane to achieve the necessary extra speed." Bianca Hernandez, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tells NPR that Phoenix is seeing an unusually strong high-pressure system, which is causing the soaring temperatures.
Transportation

Driver Killed In a Tesla Crash Using Autopilot Ignored At Least 7 Safety Warnings (usatoday.com) 474

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: U.S. investigators said a driver who was killed while using Tesla's partially self-driving car ignored repeated warnings to put his hands on the wheel. In a 538-page report providing new details of the May 2016 crash that killed Ohio resident Joshua Brown in a highway crash in Florida, the National Transportation Safety Board described the scene of the grisly incident and the minutes leading up to it. The agency, which opened an investigation to explore the possibility that Tesla's Autopilot system was faulty, said it had drawn "no conclusions about how or why the crash occurred." The NTSB report appears to deliver no conflicting information. The agency said the driver was traveling at 74 miles per hour, above the 65 mph limit on the road, when he collided with the truck. The driver used the vehicle's self-driving system for 37.5 minutes of the 41 minutes of his trip, according to NTSB. During the time the self-driving system was activated, he had his hands on the wheel for a total of only about half a minute, investigators concluded. NTSB said the driver received seven visual warnings on the instrument panel, which blared "Hold Steering Wheel," followed by six audible warnings.
Transportation

3D Printed Airliner Parts Face Regulatory Headwinds (wsj.com) 74

Some aerospace suppliers are eager to start using 3-D printing technology to turn out large, high-volume structural parts for jetliners, but U.S. safety regulators are taking a go-slow approach toward approving such production. From a report: Three-dimensional printing is a darling of the aerospace industry because it is relatively inexpensive compared with more-prevalent ways of making components. A series of announcements at the Paris Air Show expected in coming days illustrates the immense promise of airliner parts manufactured by 3-D printers -- as well as the formidable regulatory challenges confronting their widespread acceptance (alternative source). On Tuesday, officials of Norsk Titanium AS, a closely held Norwegian company that has developed a novel 3-D printing approach, will unveil a broad partnership with Spirit AeroSystems, a major subcontractor for Boeing and other industry players. Under the arrangement, Spirit sees the potential of eventually using Norsk's technology to produce thousands of different parts at 30% lower cost than traditional milling methods. However, before that can happen, the Federal Aviation Administration has to approve the overall process and certify that the cutting-edge, plasma-deposition technology is reliable enough to ensure identical strength and other properties from batch to batch. FAA officials have said they are moving cautiously, because they want to fully understand the unique technical issues.
Transportation

Auto Makers Threatened By Both Tech Company Autos And Ridesharing (caranddriver.com) 115

An anonymous reader quotes Car and Driver: For automakers, the first bit of bad news is that people seem quite receptive to buying a vehicle from a tech brand such as Apple or Google, according to Capgemini's 17th Cars Online report, which surveyed some 8000 consumers in eight countries... Consumer interest in buying cars from tech brands has grown from 49 percent in its 2015 study to 57 percent in the latest report... There is also the growing popularity of ride-sharing services offered by the likes of Uber and Lyft. Fewer people will feel the need to have their own car if it's easy and inexpensive to order up a cab on their smartphones. Capgemini's survey found that 34 percent of car buyers see ride sharing and related services as a genuine alternative to owning a vehicle.
Security

You Can Hack Some Mazda Cars With a USB Flash Drive (bleepingcomputer.com) 52

An anonymous reader writes: "Mazda cars with next-gen Mazda MZD Connect infotainment systems can be hacked just by plugging in a USB flash drive into their dashboard, thanks to a series of bugs that have been known for at least three years," reports Bleeping Computer. "The issues have been discovered and explored by the users of the Mazda3Revolution forum back in May 2014. Since then, the Mazda car owner community has been using these 'hacks' to customize their cars' infotainment system to tweak settings and install new apps. One of the most well-designed tools is MZD-AIO-TI (MZD All In One Tweaks Installer)." Recently, a security researcher working for Bugcrowd has put together a GitHub repository that automates the exploitation of these bugs. The researcher says an attacker can copy the code of his GitHub repo on a USB flash drive, add malicious scripts and carry out attacks on Mazda cars. Mazda said the issues can't be exploited to break out of the infotainment system to other car components, but researchers disagreed with the company on Twitter. In the meantime, the car maker has finally plugged the bugs via a firmware update released two weeks ago.
Privacy

Dubai Airport Will Use Biometric Scanning By 2020 To Replace Entry With Passport (gulfnews.com) 45

dryriver quotes a report from Gulf News: For visitors or residents coming in to Dubai, a new face-recognition software in the offing at the Dubai International Airport will enable them to walk straight to the baggage claim area after deplaning without having to stop at passport control. British start-up ObjectTech announced that they will work with the Dubai government to install biometric tunnels that scan people's faces as they walk to baggage reclaim. The "biometric border" walkway takes a 3D scan of people's faces as they enter the airport and checks it against a digital passport using face-recognition software. If this project is completed, passengers arriving at Dubai airport will be able to step off their flight and walk straight to baggage reclaim via biometric verification tunnels -- allowing them to be registered into the country using a pre-approved and entirely digitized passport.
The Almighty Buck

Book Flights This Summer While Fuel Costs Stay Cheap (bloomberg.com) 56

An anonymous reader shares an article: It's the best summer for jet setting in more than a decade. As jet fuel costs have sustained near 12-year lows after a global crude market crash in late 2014, airlines are cutting ticket prices and travelers have noticed. Global passenger data show that air travel demand started the second quarter at growth rates unseen in six years, and U.S. carriers hauled more passengers than ever before last year. Worldwide, first quarter air travel costs dropped about 10 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to the International Air Transport Association. About one-third of those costs can be linked to cheaper fuel, according to Savanthi Syth, senior vice president of airlines global research Raymond James & Associates.
Transportation

Tesla Model X the First SUV Ever To Achieve 5-Star Crash Rating in Every Category (tesla.com) 103

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the 2017 Tesla Model X five-star crash safety ratings in every category. From the company's blog: More than just resulting in a 5-star rating, the data from NHTSA's testing shows that Model X has the lowest probability of injury of any SUV it has ever tested. In fact, of all the cars NHTSA has ever tested, Model X's overall probability of injury was second only to Model S. Model X performs so much better in a crash than gas-powered SUVs because of its all-electric architecture and powertrain design. The rigid, fortified battery pack that powers Model X is mounted beneath the floor of the vehicle creating a center of gravity so low that Model X has the lowest rollover probability of any SUV on the road. No other SUV has ever come close to meeting and exceeding this rollover requirement.
AI

Cook Says Apple Is Focusing on Making an Autonomous Car System (bloomberg.com) 146

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: After years toiling away in secret on its car project, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has for the first time laid out exactly what the company is up to in the automotive market: It's concentrating on self-driving technology. "We're focusing on autonomous systems," Cook said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. "It's a core technology that we view as very important. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects," Cook said in his most detailed comments to date on Apple's plans in the car space. "It's probably one of the most difficult A.I. projects actually to work on." [...] "There is a major disruption looming there," Cook said on Bloomberg Television, citing self-driving technology, electric vehicles and ride-hailing. "You've got kind of three vectors of change happening generally in the same time frame." Cook was also bullish about the prospects for electric vehicles, a market which last week helped Tesla become the world's fourth-biggest carmaker by market capitalization, even as it ranks well outside the top 10 by unit sales."It's a marvelous experience not to stop at the filling station or the gas station," Cook said.
Transportation

A Power Outage In Silicon Valley Was Caused By A Drone Crash (mercurynews.com) 218

An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News: A drone crashed into a high-voltage wire Thursday night, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage and knocking out power to roughly 1,600 people for about two hours, police said... "The FAA has rules and regulations in place to prevent this exact type of incident from happening," said Mountain View police spokeswoman Katie Nelson. "We simply ask that people comply with the rules and that they operate drones safely and sensibly."
The town's city hall was without power -- along with the rest of the 1,600 homes -- prompting a Google software engineer to tweet that "drones are fun until someone flies one into high-voltage power lines." They added later that "apparently the owner 'fled in a white hatchback', which is the least dignified way that someone can flee, I think."
Power

Tesla Plans To Disconnect 'Almost All' Superchargers From the Grid In Favor of Solar and Battery Power (electrek.co) 230

Only half a dozen Supercharger stations or so out of the over 800 stations have solar arrays and batteries, but that may be about to change. Elon Musk said Tesla plans to deploy more battery and solar systems with the upcoming "Version 3" of the Supercharger, adding that "almost all Superchargers will disconnect from the electricity grid." Electrek reports: Previously, Musk said that Tesla's new Powerpack and solar arrays will power some Supercharger stations in sunny regions to go off-grid -- adding that "the grid won't be needed for moderate use Superchargers in non-snowy regions." While it makes sense to add solar arrays and battery packs, it's not clear why there would be a need to completely disconnect from the grid, which is often still useful -- especially if net metering is available. Even in regions where coal dominates electricity generation, electric cars are still more efficient than some of the most efficient gas-powered cars. Therefore, the argument could have ended here, but Musk apparently wants to take Tesla's Supercharger network off-grid as part of the company's mission to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy. Depending on the size and popularity of a Supercharger station, which generally varies from 6 partly used stalls to 20 stalls in almost constant use, Tesla would need some significantly large solar arrays at some stations -- almost football field in size. Unless there are some impressive advancements in efficiency, it's not clear how they would make it happen.
AI

Japan To Launch Self-Navigating Cargo Ships 'By 2025' (bbc.com) 78

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Japanese shipping companies are working with shipbuilders to develop self-piloting cargo ships. The "smart ships" will use artificial intelligence to plot the safest, shortest, most fuel-efficient routes, and could be in service by 2025. The AI will also be used to predict malfunctions and other problems, which could help reduce the number of maritime incidents. The companies plan to build about 250 self-navigating ships. Shipping firms Mitsui OSK Lines and Nippon Yusen are working with shipbuilders including Japan Marine United to share both costs and expertise, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. The first ships will retain a small crew to oversee certain operations, but there are plans to develop completely autonomous vessels in the future.
Space

SpaceX Will Launch Secretive X-37B Spaceplane's Next Mission (latimes.com) 83

schwit1 quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: SpaceX will launch the Air Force's X-37B experimental spaceplane later this year, in the military's latest vote of confidence in the Elon Musk-led space company. This will be the first time SpaceX has launched the uncrewed robotic vehicle. United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., has launched the spaceplane's previous four missions atop one of its Atlas V rockets. The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which is responsible for the X-37B's experimental operations, said it was "very excited" for the fifth flight, which will test how special electronics and heat pipes will fare during a long-duration space mission. The Air Force has two of the spaceplanes, which look like miniature versions of the space shuttle and are known officially as X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles. The first X-37B was launched in 2010.
Transportation

TSA May Recommend Stowing Laptops In Cargo For US Domestic Flights (cbslocal.com) 456

Matt.Battey writes: According to WJZ in Baltimore, the TSA may force passengers to check laptops on domestic U.S. flights. Based on the common fear, uncertainty and doubt that supports the TSA's security theater, the terror attacks in Great Britain could result in laptop bans in the U.S. TSA officer Camille Morris is quoted as saying, "A AA battery is fine. A AAA. A 9-volt battery is a huge power charge. The size of the battery that can take down a plane when attached to an explosive." Backed up by comments from Ben Yelin of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, his statement confirms the problem: "Airplanes have been the common threat that we've seen over the past several years." Personally, I'm just glad we have the TSA to recommend we "arrive two hours before a domestic flight, and three hours before an international trip."
Transportation

Hyperloop One Reveals Its Plans For Connecting Europe (engadget.com) 213

Hyperloop One has revealed its plans for connecting Europe via its Hyperloop transportation system that can move passengers/cargo at airlines speeds for a fraction of the cost of air travel. The company is currently considering nine potential routes in Europe, "running from a 90km hop to connect Estonia and Finland, through to a 1,991km pan-German route," reports Engadget. "The UK [...] gets three proposes routes: one to connect its Northern Cities, one to connect the North and South, and one to connect Scotland with Wales." From the report: Several of the routes, including ones between Estonia and Finland, Corsica to Sardinia and Spain -- Morocco, all cross bodies of water. The company has, on several occasions, spoke of its love of tunnels, and plans to use them extensively in construction. Although rather than using tunneling machines, which can be slow, submerged box tunnels or archimedes bridges may be cheaper and faster to build. CNBC notes that the proposals for Europe connect more than 75 million people in 44 cities, spanning 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).
Transportation

US Insurer Hikes Tesla Premiums Due To 'Higher-Than-Average' Claim Rates (theverge.com) 125

An anonymous reader writes: "National insurer AAA is raising its prices for Tesla's Model S and Model X, citing higher-than-average claim rates and repair costs for the two cars," reports The Verge. "According to a report from Automotive News, AAA said it could raise its premiums by as much as 30 percent for the vehicles. Other large insurers including State Farm and Geico told the publication they couldn't say whether or not they would also increase prices, but noted that data about claim frequency is always used to calculate insurance premiums." Musk claims that AAA doesn't know what they are doing, but fails to be specific as to what is incorrect about their data or its usage. [The company says the AAA has made its decision based on faulty information from the Highway Loss Data Institute.]
Republicans

Trump Wants To Modernize Air Travel By Turning Over Control To the Big Airlines (theverge.com) 341

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Today, President Donald Trump endorsed a plan to hand over oversight of the nation's airspace to a non-profit corporation that will likely be largely controlled by the major airlines. Republicans argue that privatizing air traffic control will help save money and fast track important technological upgrades. But Democrats and consumer groups criticize that plan as a corporate giveaway that will inevitably harm passengers. The air traffic reform proposal, which fell short in Congress last year, would transfer oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a government-sanctioned, independent entity that would be made up of appointees from industry stakeholders. The effort picked up steam when the union representing air traffic controllers endorsed the plan, citing years of understaffing by the FAA. Some passengers may balk at the idea of handing over day-to-day management of the nation's highly complex air traffic control system to the same companies that rack up tens of thousands of customer complaints a year, and occasionally physically assault or drag passengers off their planes. But the Trump administration argues this is the only way to modernize a system that still runs on technology that's been around since World War II. The FAA is already years into a technology upgrade known as NextGen, which involves moving from the current system based on radar and voice communications to one based on satellite navigation and digital communications. The FAA wants to use GPS technology to shorten routes, save time and fuel, and reduce traffic delays by increasing capacity.

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