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AI Robotics Transportation Technology

BMW Showcases Self-Driving Concept Car 99

SmartAboutThings writes: We've just been given a glimpse of what the future of motoring could look like, with BMW showing off its latest concept car, and it's self-driving. The Vision Next 100 was unveiled on Monday, at a ceremony celebrating BMW's 100th birthday, at Munich's Olympic Hall. This comes just a few days after BMW made official its intentions of competing with Google to build software for Self-Driving cars.

The Vision Next 100 has two driving modes, a driver mode and an autonomous mode, or 'ease' as its known. In driver mode the car operates mostly like cars do now, except the BMW indicates the ideal driving line and speed, but when the car is set to autonomous mode the steering wheel retracts and the two front seats turn to face each other. Perfect for two people to have a chat, and if it's only you in the car, put your feet up and relax.
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BMW Showcases Self-Driving Concept Car

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is it 3D printed in space ?

    • My first reaction to the seats turning to face each other was "so if the driver has to take control.... huge delay." My second reaction was "...and if you hit something, you'll be oriented sideways, which seems like a really bad idea."

      Hmmm.

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        Not to mention how uncomfortable it will be to bump knees with the other passenger. I'm not sure how much room they think they have inside the car but very few cars on the road now have the interior space to effectively pull this off.
        • Not to mention how uncomfortable it will be to bump knees with the other passenger.

          Not to mention how comfortable it will be to jump bones with the other passenger.

          Forget your Mile High Club . . . this one will be the difficult Beanie Baby to get in the set . . .

          • by koan ( 80826 )

            Shannon Hamilton: That's it. You're dead, mallrat! I'm gonna fuck you up beyond repair!

            Brodie: Ladies and gentlemen, this tall drink of water headed my way is a pillar of the shopping community who informed me earlier today of a nefarious plan of his to screw my girlfriend in an extremely uncomfortable place.

            Gil Hicks: What... like the back of a Volkswagen?

        • Not to mention how uncomfortable it will be to bump knees with the other passenger. I'm not sure how much room they think they have inside the car but very few cars on the road now have the interior space to effectively pull this off.

          Could be great for car secks tho'!

      • by N1AK ( 864906 )
        It's all about balancing risk and benefit. If drivers only have to take control once every couple of hours and then being able to use the couple of hours better likely outweighs the small delay in those circumstances; from a safety perspective it is unrealistic to expect someone to be poised ready to act for hours straight while the car drives itself so the drivers ability to react to sudden dangers the car can't handle is very low anyway.

        From a crash safety perspective if travelling in a self-driving ca
        • This is my biggest problem with self driving cars at the moment. They still aren't good enough that you can take a sleep or watch a movie while they drive you around. You are still expected to be ready to take over at any moment. I really don't see too many advantages of such a feature. I'm much more likely to be paying attention if I'm actively engaged in controlling the car. I think that many people would try to watch a movie or read a book anyway, which would make the self driving car more dangerous tha

          • by fisted ( 2295862 )

            This is my biggest problem with self driving cars at the moment.

            Yes, it's really a shame they're on the market for so long already, yet /still/ suck ass.

            They still aren't good enough that you can take a sleep or watch a movie while they drive you around.

            Fully agree. It's a pain in the ass to sit there, every morning, watching my car drive me to work but not being allowed to distract myself. Why are they selling those cars already? Obviously the technology isn't there yet. Come to think of it, you also still have to manually remove the dead hookers from the trunk. How autonomous is that?!

          • by N1AK ( 864906 )

            This is my biggest problem with self driving cars at the moment.

            There's been an argument that more automation in driving has made drivers more careless and distracted. There may be some truth to it but thus far the safety figures are still trending down so it's not a massive concern to me. Clearly there's a risk that we enter a dangerous period where cars are almost good enough to drive themselves but still get into dangerous positions they can't get out of safely on a regular basis but I don't think this i

        • The problem is that drivers **cannot** take control, unless it's pre-planned. You can't expect drivers to have their hands on the wheel, ready to take over at a moment's notice. It's simply impossible; if you require that, humans will fail nearly every single time it happens. Humans just can't do that.

          What *can* work is the car acting autonomously in certain places (like on highways), and then requiring the driver to take over outside of those situations, *as long as* the driver is given ample warning to

      • My first reaction to this car was BMW's shoddy PR approach. They simply shit all these little video clips around 1 minute long onto the internet, and various automotive outlets reposted them to youtube. My second is that you could not possibly build a car which let the occupants swivel around or put their feet up on the dash, for safety. There are actual laws which your design would fall afoul of.

        • by dwsobw ( 2723483 )
          Well they also actually showed it on their "birthday" event, their PR is probably betting on everyone (or at least the automobile-centrics, e.g. journalists) watching the CG commercials thinking that can not be possibly real and then seeing the real thing.

          Also they are most likely driving this prototype only on private property, much laxer laws there ...
      • Re:I don't know (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @10:16AM (#51665377)

        My first reaction to the seats turning to face each other was "so if the driver has to take control.... huge delay."

        This is one of those things that everyone thinks, but seems completely unreasonable if you think about it a little more deeply. I know that self-driving cars right now require the operators to be attentive and take over when necessary -- because they are still being "trained" in their early phase.

        However, this is simply not a reasonable thing to expect the general public to do with a self-driving car. The first mass-market car that truly claims to be "self-driving" should NEVER require human intervention to "take control" suddenly. The car needs to be able to handle all situations adequately, and if it can't (e.g., case of impending major mechanical failure), it should have a backup system that will at least exit the current traffic pattern to the side of the road and come to a halt safely.

        Anything less is a huge safety problem.

        The idea that a human driver will just "take over" control in an emergency is incredibly stupid and naive. Think about how many accidents are caused by drunk drivers. And most of them are caused because drunk drivers have impaired reaction ability -- and a few tenths of a second is an issue.

        Now imagine some rich guy who buys a BMW to drive him to work every day. He'll bit sitting there drinking coffee and reading a newspaper, and you somehow expect him to suddenly "take the wheel" when the AI can't cope? Forget about seats turned sideways or whatever -- you're talking a couple seconds minimum before (1) he realizes there is a problem, (2) manages to get rid of his newspaper, coffee, and breakfast sandwich before he can, (3) hit the button to take control, and (4) actually adjust his body to the controls. And with that amount of delay and breakfast bits flying around the car, there's no guarantee that a human driver would even be able to respond well and make safe maneuvers for a few seconds even after he takes control.

        Three seconds at 65 mph is almost the length of a football field. Once we get to the point that drivers expect a car to drive itself MOST of the time, we simply cannot rely on the idea that drivers will be alert and ready to take over at a moment's notice. Moreover, I think it will be actually MORE dangerous to have a human driver take over in most such scenarios when unprepared and emerging from distraction.

        So, actually, some ideas about the BMW design are better -- assuming that the AI actually functions flawlessly (which I think we're still a long way from). But once we get that level of AI, it's probably better to encourage people to act like they're not really a "driver" anymore.

        My second reaction was "...and if you hit something, you'll be oriented sideways, which seems like a really bad idea."

        We already have plenty of buses, shuttles, long limos, etc. which have some sideways oriented seating. I realize those seats aren't generally at the front of the vehicle, but still -- if AI is not demonstrably better than most bus or limo drivers in completely autonomous driving, then it shouldn't be allowed on the roads.

        • This is one of those things that everyone thinks, but seems completely unreasonable

          Right it's entirely unreasonable to believe that unforeseen failures can occur those things never happen. It's been decades since the last time a car had a re-call because it caused a dangerous and possibly fatal failure. It's not like people, birds, and other wild life have ever ran out in front of cars without warning and I have never seen a new car broken down on the side of the road.

          • by dwsobw ( 2723483 )
            GP's claim seems to be that there should never be a reason for the driver to take control, i.e. that the car can autonomously handle people, bird, other wildlife and any condition the road can be in. Sure if that system is faulty then the passengers are in trouble, but that is not in any way a fundamental difference from the way it is now. Just one of the software systems in your car is a bit more complex. Probably not by that much since you already have all those fancy assistance systems anyway (e.g. line
            • The problem is we already have people causing accidents because they are distracted by cell phones and what not, giving them a self driving car based on technology that isn't up to the task because it won't be at a price they can afford is just silly.

              • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

                One assumes that you're either going to get the adequate software, or they're not going to sell the automatic option at all. If the price is too high for a safe self-driving car, they're not going to get any self-driving car.

                If there is one thing I am happy about, it is the fear of self-driving cars ensuring that no one dares to cut corners on it.

                Look, humans can be really good drivers, but they're also extremely shitty drivers. And it can shift from one to another with the same driver, based on their cir

                • I don't think we will have a safe self driving car like we might imagine them, we would have to rethink much of what we have imagined and possibly redefine our concept of a car.

                • Other times you have slow people in the fast lane, yapping on their phones without even as much as handsfree. Just removing those people from driving responsibilities would do wonders for traffic, as well as aggressive driving and road rage. And if you took the road ragers out of the loop and put their cars on full auto, their overblown reactions to similar scenarios would also improve safety.

                  You'd improve safety on both ends. The nincompoops wouldn't be holding up traffic or causing wrecks through their c

          • This is one of those things that everyone thinks, but seems completely unreasonable

            Right it's entirely unreasonable to believe that unforeseen failures can occur those things never happen. It's been decades since the last time a car had a re-call because it caused a dangerous and possibly fatal failure. It's not like people, birds, and other wild life have ever ran out in front of cars without warning and I have never seen a new car broken down on the side of the road.

            You touch upon an important thing. It seems to be that the Autonomous worshippers believe that there is no hardware in a vehicle - only software that will apparently be the first 100 percent flaw free software ever.

          • Re:I don't know (Score:5, Insightful)

            by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @11:21AM (#51665789)

            Right it's entirely unreasonable to believe that unforeseen failures can occur those things never happen.

            Of course failures can happen. What I'm saying is putting a so-called "self-driving" car on the road which can fail in such a way as to require a person to take over SUDDENLY is a major safety hazard, both for the "driver"/passengers and for those cars around it.

            It's not like people, birds, and other wild life have ever ran out in front of cars without warning

            If an AI can't respond to such things, it should NOT be allowed on the road. Period.

            And if the "failure mode" in these scenarios is to suggest that the distracted businessman reading the newspaper while eating his breakfast is supposed to suddenly take the wheel... well, that's just not reasonable. And you can say, "Oh, but these 'drivers' should be alert," but that's just not how people are going to use a "self-driving" car in the real world.

            If the distracted guy on his commute who takes 3 seconds to take the wheel is going to do better than the AI in avoiding "people, birds, and other wildlife," then I definitely would not buy such a car, and I would propose that such an AI is a TERRIBLE driver and should be banned from the roads.

            and I have never seen a new car broken down on the side of the road.

            Different scenario. Re-read my post. If a major failure happens, there needs to be a backup system that can get the car to the side of the road and to a stop safely. Clearly, in your scenario, the human driver was able to do that. Why precisely should we demand less of an AI "driver"?

            I didn't say that mechanical failures would be impossible on future cars -- but the AI should be designed in such a way (with various backup systems) that it's basically the LAST thing that will fail... and if it does so, such a failure should never be sudden and in the middle of a highway.

            In all but the most catastrophic of failures, the human should NEVER have to suddenly take control. It's dangerous, and it's a stupid idea.

            • Sorry, autonomous or self driving cars just piss me off, I already have people texting while driving hitting my parked cars on more than one occasion. The technology we have is not ready to take over driving for these people but I see more and more stories and talk about it.

              I'm afraid one day I'm going to have cars crashing through my living room and the not driver will still have not looked up from candy crush.

              • I actually agree with you. I think true self-driving cars are farther off in the future than most people think, precisely because of the reasons I articulated. Until cars can be THAT autonomous, they won't be safe.
                • I think that in order to make a safe self driving vehicle we will have to rethink how we imagine that vehicle operating.

                • I completely disagree. Human drivers are already so horrible that it's hard to do worse with autonomous vehicles, even if they have errors sometimes.

                  However, peoples' fear of autonomous vehicles and lack of understanding about death rates (it's better to have 1000 deaths/year because of software errors than 30,000 deaths/year because of stupid human errors) will delay the deployment of fully-autonomous vehicles, I'm sure.

                  But what I do believe will happen is that we'll see partially autonomous vehicles, nam

              • by delt0r ( 999393 )
                I think your being irrational because you believe that human cognition is somehow magic. It is not. Machines will be better drivers than 99.9% of current drivers in the near future, and better than all humans a little while after that.
                • Machines fail all the time and the more complex the more likely it will fail regardless of whether it is a better driver. My computer does math many times faster and more accurately than I do but not when the hard drive fails then it doesn't even boot and a self driving car will be the same.

                  • by delt0r ( 999393 )
                    Yea cus having a human at the end of all that complex mechanical machinery we already have is somehow magic and make failures not serous. Like when a human has a tire blowout. Or if the breaks fail, human cognition will intervene and change everything. NOT. We already have life critical software/machinery everywhere. Traffic lights, fly by wire, brake systems, aircraft hydraulics, air traffic control systems, medical equipment,.. etc.
          • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

            You miss the point. He's not saying it is unreasonable because nothing bad is ever going to happen.

            It is unreasonable because if something bad does happen, it will already be outside the range where a human could successfully intervene.

            The scenarios where a human taking manual control would be better would be the first scenarios that they would have to ensure the computer dealt with as well, or better than a human, when it comes time to release the vehicle to the general public.

            Note I did not say that auto

          • by delt0r ( 999393 )
            And its like most of the things that run out in front of cars get run over. Whats your point. That the magic of human cognition will somehow change the laws of physics? That they can somehow see into the future if the force is strong with them and despite reacting thousands of times slower somehow change the cars direction through sheer willpower alone?

            Basically even on a geeks tech website we have a bunch of Luddites that are irrational when it comes to car they can't drive. Guess what your a shit drive
        • I seriously doubt they will expect the driver to take over at a moments notice. The cars vision seems to be good enough that it can stop in reasonable time for any reasonable issue. The only time I'd expect a car like this to want to drive to take over is construction/badly marked roads. The car should be able to have enough information to be able to force the drive to take over a good half mile before any such issues arise, or at worse case slow to a stop until the driver has taken over. No need to be "ins

        • The idea that a human driver will just "take over" control in an emergency is incredibly stupid and naive. Think about how many accidents are caused by drunk drivers. And most of them are caused because drunk drivers have impaired reaction ability -- and a few tenths of a second is an issue.

          To listen to the proponents of autonomous cars speak, people get in a fatal accident every time they get behind the wheel, and we're all dead now.

          Spare us, just a little, eh? Untold millions of miles are driven by meatbags without incident, and unless autonomous cars are never ever going to fail, never ever going to ever be involved in any incident forever, at best, they are merely an incremental improvement in safety.

          • To listen to the proponents of autonomous cars speak, people get in a fatal accident every time they get behind the wheel, and we're all dead now.

            Just to be clear, I am most definitely NOT a "proponent of autonomous cars." If they ever get up to the standards I'm proposing, I'd consider them -- but I think such AI is still quite a ways off.

            Also, according to the CDC, approximately 1 out of every 100 people in the US will visit a hospital due to a motor vehicle accident in a given year. Approximately 1 in 10,000 people will die in such an accident. They are a leading cause of serious injury and death among accidental causes.

            So, no -- we're not

        • Now imagine some rich guy who buys a BMW to drive him to work every day. He'll bit sitting there drinking coffee and reading a newspaper, and you somehow expect him to suddenly "take the wheel" when the AI can't cope? Forget about seats turned sideways or whatever -- you're talking a couple seconds minimum before (1) he realizes there is a problem, (2) manages to get rid of his newspaper, coffee, and breakfast sandwich before he can, (3) hit the button to take control, and (4) actually adjust his body to the controls. And with that amount of delay and breakfast bits flying around the car, there's no guarantee that a human driver would even be able to respond well and make safe maneuvers for a few seconds even after he takes control.

          I think you've perfectly articulated why this kind of design -- allowing the "driver" to essentially lay back, pop open a newspaper and ignore the road -- is a Really Bad Idea.

          Cars already have bits and pieces of autonomous capability today -- radar cruise control, lane control, etc. But in all of those cases, the driver has not only the the ability to instantaneously take over when the driver sees that the technology is making a poor choice, but the expectation to do so. Airplanes are even more autonomou

          • I think you've perfectly articulated why this kind of design -- allowing the "driver" to essentially lay back, pop open a newspaper and ignore the road -- is a Really Bad Idea.

            And that's precisely why I've been arguing here for years that AI cars a lot far off than many people think. Because until we get to a situation where the kind of design under discussion is safe and practical, true "self-driving cars" won't be feasible.

            Airplanes are even more autonomous -- the vast majority of any commercial flight you take these days is controlled by autopilot, yet there are humans -- plural -- sitting at attention for the inevitable moment when something goes wrong. And that's up in the big, largely empty sky. Why in the world would we want it to be any different for millions of cars tearing around in close proximity?

            The problem with this analogy is that airline pilots are paid to ensure the safety of hundreds of people on their aircraft. Their reason for being there is to ensure that the autopilot works and if it doesn't to take control.

            The reason most people get int

            • And that's precisely why I've been arguing here for years that AI cars a lot far off than many people think.

              Agreed -- likely infinitely so. It's an interesting network effect problem, where roads mostly or completely filled with autonomous cars likely would be much safer on balance, but where there are only a handful it's unclear that net safety goes up, and it may even go down (witness Google's recent conundrum over their AI being "too law-abiding").

              It's not clear to me that people will have the collective appetite to push through that first phase to try to reach the second, if that's even possible to reach wit

          • Commercial aircraft are different because they're carrying hundreds of people at a time, and any serious failure is likely to result in scattered, flaming wreckage and death on a massive scale, not to mention the loss of millions of dollars in aviation hardware. In other words, the stakes are much higher than for that of a personal passenger vehicle on the road.

            Short of head-on collisions at freeway speeds or driving off a cliff, most vehicular accidents are quite survivable in modern airbag-equipped cars,

          • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

            My BMW X3 was the same price as a fucking Chevy. I think you need to look at car prices and see how the poor man's Chevy and Ford are now priced only for rich people.

            A freaking Civic.. the worlds iconic economy base car for the poor person is over $18,000.00! That is utterly insane.

            • The Civic is not a poor person's car. If you're on a budget and want a Honda, the Fit is the car for you: it's smaller and cheaper and crappier than the Civic.

              Just because the Civic carries the same name as the low-end car Honda sold in the 70s doesn't mean it's aimed at the same market.

              And if you're really poor, new cars probably aren't a good choice for you anyway. That's why we have used cars. The average age of a car on the road now is over 11 years. Poor people are driving the cars middle-class peo

        • You are spot on. Here are my two cents:

          1. Most driving decisions require context and I would venture that it's not possible to acquire context within a second or two for a driver that was in distraction mode
          2. I think that the current AI generation is already better then most drivers on US roads.
          3. From a human driver's pespective, I would like to see an identifier on a vehicle if it's in autonomous mode

      • This car is a concept car and is no where near a production model. There are two things concept cars are used for one is to put in radical designs that get people talking about your products. The other is to learn how to integrate new features into the car.
      • My first reaction to the seats turning to face each other was "so if the driver has to take control.... huge delay."

        Cars which are already on the streets now (including cars by BWM themselves, but also other constructors like Volvo) are already able to brake on their own to avoid a collision.
        The driver is never expect to suddenly jump at the wheel (or at the brakes with the current generation of assisted-driving cars) in a split second.
        But the driver might be required to do some intervention eventually.

        E.g. with modern cars: You're on the highway, there's a traffic jam in front of you. You don't need to put back your fee

    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Is it 3D printed in space ?

      Where else?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would be nice if the AI can act like a BMW driver. No turn signals, swerving into lanes if there is a gap wide enough... then slamming on the brakes to show supremacy. Oh, and making sure the AI's algorithm when parking is to take as many parking spaces as possible.

    Of course, to protect the sides, add e-ink paint, so the vehicle looks like it already saw the business end of a key.

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Jerk mode cost extra. And when you want to drive that way you can do it yourself. As a BMW owner it should be natural to you to do so ;-)

    • The last BMW driver I noticed not only took up a handicap spot near my bank's ATM, but carefully straddled his car over both handicapped zones, so as to make sure one of those pesky handicapped peons wouldn't get too close to his car. In fairness, it was during off hours, so there was unlikely to be someone who needed it, but the thing that killed me was that the handicapped spots were actually no closer to the ATM than the normal spots, which were also open. For some people, I guess the world truly does

    • I'n not a BMW owner but I would rather take that AI than one based on a Prius owners driving pattern ;-)

      Funny thing is, in my area, the local population consists mostly of BMW and Prius owners...a deadly combination if you ask me...

  • Joint-venture?!?
  • If only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @07:52AM (#51664841)
    If only making a few renderings and CG animations was all that was required to make those driverless car things.
  • Oh...Shiny Ones! Google's is a lot less fancy. but...they have real cars. :D
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      Windows 1.0 was not vaporware [wikipedia.org]. It was ugly, ran slowly and everyone kinda hated it, but it was a real product that was put up for sale.

      • See article:

        http://www.techradar.com/us/ne... [techradar.com] They were trying to sell it before it was ready and had to wait 2 years before an actual product. Microsoft put up a LOT of things for sale that weren't ready. Windows 1.0 wasn't even the worse. Try Windows ME (worst on record), Windows Vista (almost as bad). The best thing Microsoft ever designed were their keyboard (really nice!)

        Oh, and like a driverless car, Windows 7+ will also take you for a ride (if you don't turn off Windows Update using the Servic
        • gov needs to say no EULA for auto drive stuff the FAA does not let airbus or boeing pull that shit with autopilot software.

          Also how will that hold up in court when some 3rd party victim is hurt / killed by a auto drive car?

        • Vaporware is a product that is announced and/or sold without ever being made. Windows 1.0 was, in fact, inflicted on the world. It was a terrible product which was shipped late, but it existed.

    • by dwsobw ( 2723483 )
      The BMW car itself is also real. They actually showed it on their "birthday" party ...
      It is really hard to tell what is CG and what is not but this seems to be a actual photo: Vision 100 [bimmertoday.de]
  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @08:17AM (#51664893) Homepage

    BMW showing off its latest concept car, and it would be self-driving if it actually existed, which it doesn't

    FTW.

    In other news I will be unveiling my concept airplane/car/submarine/helicopter/spaceship.

  • That car looks really interesting even without the self-driving part.
    The wind-shield of the wheels of the car (side view) [auto-motor-und-sport.de] actually stretches (streched right) [auto-motor-und-sport.de] and relaxes (unstreched right) [auto-motor-und-sport.de] to get an nice drag coefficient (cW) of 0.18-0.19.
  • This is where forward-thinking entities (Businesses, governments, regulatory bodies) should be getting together to come up with "future-proof" requirements in order to operate on roadways. Businesses should be working to set the standards of operation and how, if any, inter-car communication should occur. Governments and regulatory bodies should be setting down the standards for safe operation, and what requirements must be met by all automated cars in order to be sold.

    Instead, it seems like we've got a

  • But does it only automatically drive to Poland?

  • when the car is set to autonomous mode the steering wheel retracts and the two front seats turn to face each other

    This means that the driver can't possibly have the situational awareness or the time needed to intervene should autonomous mode fail for any reason.

    • If the autonomous driver module is capable of independent operation, and yet unable to react fast enough to avoid a collision, there is no chance that a driver will be able to. A failure of the autonomous system wouldn't be apparent until it is too late for a human to react. And by failure, I mean a failure of both the autonomous system in operational mode, as well as a back-up system which is designed for fail-over control (and removal from the roadway/traffic).

  • Tesla has had self driving cars for two years.... all they had to do was push out a software change.

    So it seems that BMW is desperately trying to catch up to the ONLY car company actually innovating.

  • EVERY BMW driver needs a self-driving car.
  • If so, it must be a robot in command. BMW drivers don't know how to use them.

  • So will BMW market self driving Uber cars?

    (I missed that story if it was reported previously.)

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