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United Kingdom

UK Company Wants To Deliver Parcels Through Underground Tunnels 105

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.
Security

Calling Out a GAO Report That Says In-Flight Wi-Fi Lets Hackers Access Avionics 113

Posted by timothy
from the this-postcard-is-just-an-atom-bomb dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that in-flight W-Fi, including wireless entertainment and internet-based cockpit communications, may allow hackers to gain remote access to avionics systems and take over navigation. At the same time, a cyber expert and pilot called the report "deceiving" and said that "To imply that because IP is used for in-flight WiFi and also on the avionics networks means that you can automatically take over the avionics network makes about as much sense as saying you can take over the jet engines because they breathe air like the passengers and there is no air gap between passengers who touch the plane and the engines which are attached to the plane."
Businesses

Chinese Ninebot Buys US Rival Segway 131

Posted by samzenpus
from the lean-into-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Xiaomi-backed startup Ninebot, a Chinese maker of electric-powered personal transportation products, has acquired U.S. rival Segway – the two-wheeler upright scooter which has become a running joke, synonymous with various comedic appearances (such as in U.S. sitcom Arrested Development and the 2009 comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop), and the death of its owner at the hands of an unfortunate Segway-induced cliff fall. However Gao Lufeng, chief executive, still recognizes the potential of the Segway and has bought the U.S. company for an undisclosed amount. Lufeng confirmed that Ninebot had also secured $80mn in funding from Xiaomi and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Transportation

GAO Warns FAA of Hacking Threat To Airliners 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-agile-enough-to-respond dept.
chicksdaddy writes: A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration may be failing to address cyber security vulnerabilities that could allow remote attacks on avionics systems needed to keep the plane airborne. In a report issued Tuesday (PDF), the GAO said, "significant security-control weaknesses remain that threaten the agency's ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system." Among those: a lack of clear certification for aircraft airworthy readiness that encompasses cyber security protections. That lapse could allow planes to fly with remotely exploitable vulnerabilities that could affect aircraft controls and guidance systems.

The GAO report did not provide details of any specific vulnerability affecting any specific aircraft. Rather, GAO cited FAA personnel and experts, saying that the possibility exists that "unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems," in part by moving between Internet-connected in-flight entertainment systems and critical avionics systems in the aircraft cabin.

Security researchers have long warned that hackers could jump from in-flight entertainment systems in the passenger cabin to cockpit avionics systems if airlines did not take proper precautions, such as so-called "air gapping" the networks. At last year's Black Hat Briefings, researcher Ruben Santamarta of IOActive demonstrated a method of hacking the satellite communications equipment on passenger jets through their WiFi and inflight entertainment systems.
Hardware

Fifty Years of Moore's Law 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-over-the-hill-but-the-hill-keeps-getting-steeper dept.
HughPickens.com writes: IEEE is running a special report on "50 Years of Moore's Law" that considers "the gift that keeps on giving" from different points of view. Chris Mack begins by arguing that nothing about Moore's Law was inevitable. "Instead, it's a testament to hard work, human ingenuity, and the incentives of a free market. Moore's prediction may have started out as a fairly simple observation of a young industry. But over time it became an expectation and self-fulfilling prophecy—an ongoing act of creation by engineers and companies that saw the benefits of Moore's Law and did their best to keep it going, or else risk falling behind the competition."

Andrew "bunnie" Huang argues that Moore's Law is slowing and will someday stop, but the death of Moore's Law will spur innovation. "Someday in the foreseeable future, you will not be able to buy a better computer next year," writes Huang. "Under such a regime, you'll probably want to purchase things that are more nicely made to begin with. The idea of an "heirloom laptop" may sound preposterous today, but someday we may perceive our computers as cherished and useful looms to hand down to our children, much as some people today regard wristwatches or antique furniture."

Vaclav Smil writes about "Moore's Curse" and argues that there is a dark side to the revolution in electronics for it has had the unintended effect of raising expectations for technical progress. "We are assured that rapid progress will soon bring self-driving electric cars, hypersonic airplanes, individually tailored cancer cures, and instant three-dimensional printing of hearts and kidneys. We are even told it will pave the world's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies," writes Smil. "But the doubling time for transistor density is no guide to technical progress generally. Modern life depends on many processes that improve rather slowly, not least the production of food and energy and the transportation of people and goods."

Finally, Cyrus Mody tackles the question: what kind of thing is Moore's Law? "Moore's Law is a human construct. As with legislation, though, most of us have little and only indirect say in its construction," writes Mody. "Everyone, both the producers and consumers of microelectronics, takes steps needed to maintain Moore's Law, yet everyone's experience is that they are subject to it."
Privacy

Denver TSA Screeners Manipulated System In Order To Grope Men's Genitals 293

Posted by Soulskill
from the classiest-thing-you'll-read-about-the-TSA-all-week dept.
McGruber writes: The CBS affiliate in Denver reports: "Two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers." According to law enforcement reports obtained during the CBS4 investigation, a male TSA screener told a female colleague in 2014 that he "gropes" male passengers who come through the screening area at DIA. "He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female. When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area." Although the TSA learned of the accusation on Nov. 18, 2014 via an anonymous tip from one of the agency's own employees, reports show that it would be nearly three months before anything was done."
Transportation

Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-where-the-algorithm-lets-you dept.
New submitter arctother writes: Taxicab Subjects has posted a response to a Morgan Stanley analyst's recent take on how driverless cars will shape society in the future. From the article: [R]eally, 'autonomy' is still not the right word for it. Just as the old-fashioned 'automobile' was never truly 'auto-mobile,' but relied, not only on human drivers, but an entire concrete infrastructure built into cities and smeared across the countryside, so the interconnected 'autonomous vehicles' of the future will be even more dependent on the interconnected systems of which they are part. To see this as 'autonomy' is to miss the deeper reality, which will be control. Which is why the important movement reflected in the chart's up-down continuum is not away from 'Human Drivers' to 'Autonomous' cars, but from a relatively decentralized system (which relies on large numbers of people knowing how to drive) to an increasingly centralized system (relying on the knowledge of a small number of people)."
Transportation

How Flight Tracking Works: a Global Network of Volunteers 50

Posted by timothy
from the tapping-into-ocd dept.
An anonymous reader writes If a website can show the flight path and all those little yellow planes in real time, how can they not know where Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went down? Answering that involves understanding a little about how flight-tracking sites work, where they get their data, and the limitations of existing technologies. It also involves appreciating a relatively new approach that the two large flight-tracking companies, Texas-based FlightAware and Sweden-based Flightradar24 are rushing to expand, a global sensor system known as ADS-B, which broadcasts updates of aircraft GPS data in real time. ADS-B is slowly superseding the ground-based radar systems that have been used for decades, becoming central not only to flight tracking but also to the future of flight safety. And it's powered, in part, by thousands of dedicated aviation hobbyists around the globe.
Businesses

Amazon Gets Approval To Test New Delivery Drones 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-equipped-with-defense-lasers-and-defense-grenades dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has been vocal in its complaints about how slow the FAA is in approving drones for test flights. In March they were finally given permission to test a drone they had developed six months prior, and they said the drone was already obsolete. Their complaints appear to have worked — yesterday, the FAA gave permission to test a new, updated delivery drone. According to the FAA's letter (PDF), the drone must stay at an altitude of less than 400 feet and at speeds of less than 100 mph.
Transportation

Uber Finally Accepts Cash -- For Autorickshaws In Delhi 62

Posted by timothy
from the diffusion-of-innovations dept.
An anonymous reader writes Car-hailing giant Uber has launched a new service called UberAUTO in Delhi, which will not only make no charge for hailing an autorickshaw, but will permit customers to pay cash for the first time in the company's history. As there seems to be no specific reason why the three-wheeled carriers should be exempt from Uber's online-only payment policy, the move invites speculation that the $40 billion firm is experimenting with unlocking another revenue stream.
Businesses

Phone App That Watches Your Driving Habits Leads To Privacy Concerns 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the buying-your-privacy dept.
Toshito writes Desjardins Insurance has launched a smartphone app that tracks driver behaviour in return for the promise of substantial savings on car insurance. Two years ago, Desjardins began offering a telematic device that plugs into a vehicle's diagnostic port, to track acceleration, hard braking and the time of day you were driving, for instance. Now, there's no plug-in device required. With Desjardins's new Ajusto app, all you need is your smartphone. But this comes with great concerns over privacy, and problems have been reported where the device was logging data when the user was riding a bus instead of driving his own car.
AI

Back To the Future: Autonomous Driving In 1995 53

Posted by timothy
from the past-futures dept.
First time accepted submitter stowie writes This autonomous Pontiac Trans Sport minivan that drove 3,000 miles was built over about a four-month time frame for under $20,000. "We had one computer, the equivalent of a 486DX2 (look that one up), a 640x480 color camera, a GPS receiver, and a fiber-optic gyro. It's funny to think that we didn't use the GPS for position, but rather to determine speed. In those days, GPS Selective Availability was still on, meaning you couldn't get high-accuracy positioning cheaply. And if you could, there were no maps to use it with! But, GPS speed was better than nothing, and it meant we didn't have to wire anything to the car hardware, so we used it."
Transportation

Planes Without Pilots 460

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-now-for-the-overreaction dept.
HughPickens.com writes: John Markoff writes in the NY Times that in the aftermath of the co-pilot crashing a Germanwings plane into a mountain, aviation experts are beginning to wonder if human pilots are really necessary aboard commercial planes. Advances in sensor technology, computing and artificial intelligence are making human pilots less necessary than ever in the cockpit and government agencies are already experimenting with replacing the co-pilot, perhaps even both pilots on cargo planes, with robots or remote operators. NASA is exploring a related possibility: moving the co-pilot out of the cockpit on commercial flights, and instead using a single remote operator to serve as co-pilot for multiple aircraft. In this scenario, a ground controller might operate as a dispatcher, managing a dozen or more flights simultaneously. It would be possible for the ground controller to "beam" into individual planes when needed and to land a plane remotely in the event that the pilot became incapacitated — or worse. "Could we have a single-pilot aircraft with the ability to remotely control the aircraft from the ground that is safer than today's systems?" asks Cummings. "The answer is yes."

Automating that job may save money. But will passengers ever set foot on plane piloted by robots, or humans thousands of miles from the cockpit? In written testimony submitted to the Senate last month, the Air Line Pilots Association warned, "It is vitally important that the pressure to capitalize on the technology not lead to an incomplete safety analysis of the aircraft and operations." The association defended the unique skills of a human pilot: "A pilot on board an aircraft can see, feel, smell or hear many indications of an impending problem (PDF) and begin to formulate a course of action before even sophisticated sensors and indicators provide positive indications of trouble." Not all of the scientists and engineers believe that increasingly sophisticated planes will always be safer planes. "Technology can have costs of its own," says Amy Pritchett. "If you put more technology in the cockpit, you have more technology that can fail.""
Transportation

Uber's Hiring Plans Show Outlines of Self-Driving Car Project 45

Posted by samzenpus
from the joining-the-club dept.
itwbennett writes The most interesting people that Uber is now hiring aren't drivers: they're engineers. The mobile ride-hailing app has listed a slew of jobs at its new Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. In particular, Uber is looking for engineers in the areas of robotics, machine learning, communications, traffic simulation, vehicle testing, and software and hardware development.
United States

Court Mulls Revealing Secret Government Plan To Cut Cell Phone Service 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the latest in the ongoing legal battle over revealing details of Standing Operating Procedure 303, the government's plan to cut mobile phone service during an emergency. "A federal appeals court is asking the Obama administration to explain why the government should be allowed to keep secret its plan to shutter mobile phone service during 'critical emergencies.' The Department of Homeland Security came up with the plan—known as Standing Operating Procedure 303—after cellular phones were used to detonate explosives targeting a London public transportation system. SOP 303 is a powerful tool in the digital age, and it spells out a 'unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.'"
Transportation

Hyundai To Release "Semi-Autonomous" Car This Year 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the joinging-the-club dept.
jfruh writes While self-driving cars from Google and others remain in the prototype stage, Korean carmaker Hyundai intends to release a premium sedan called the Equus this year that includes self-driving features. While a car's ability to navigate complex urban environments on its own is still a ways off, the Equus will allow the driver to take their hands off the wheel and feet off the brakes during highway driving.
AI

A Robo-Car Just Drove Across the Country 258

Posted by timothy
from the road-trip-redefined dept.
Press2ToContinue writes with this news from Wired: Nine days after leaving San Francisco, a blue car packed with tech from a company you've probably never heard of rolled into New York City after crossing 15 states and 3,400 miles to make history. The car did 99 percent of the driving on its own, yielding to the carbon-based life form behind the wheel only when it was time to leave the highway and hit city streets. This amazing feat, by the automotive supplier Delphi, underscores the great leaps this technology has taken in recent years, and just how close it is to becoming a part of our lives. Yes, many regulatory and legislative questions must be answered, and it remains to be seen whether consumers are ready to cede control of their cars, but the hardware is, without doubt, up to the task." That last one percent is a bear, though.
Transportation

Inexpensive Electric Cars May Arrive Sooner Than You Think 330

Posted by timothy
from the I'll-take-it dept.
catchblue22 writes According to an article in MIT Technology Review, a new peer reviewed study suggests that battery-powered vehicles are close to being cost-effective for most people: "Electric cars may seem like a niche product that only wealthy people can afford, but a new analysis suggests that they may be close to competing with or even beating gas cars on cost. ... The authors of the new study concluded that the battery packs used by market-leading EV manufacturers like Tesla and Nissan cost as little as $300 per kilowatt-hour of energy in 2014. That's lower than the most optimistic published projections for 2015, and even below the average published projection for 2020. The authors found that batteries appear on track to reach $230 per kilowatt-hour by 2018. The authors found that batteries appear on track to reach $230 per kilowatt-hour by 2018. If that's true, it would push EVs across a meaningful threshold."
Privacy

DHS Wants Access To License-plate Tracking System, Again 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the lesson-not-learned dept.
schwit1 writes: The Department of Homeland Security is seeking bids from companies able to provide law enforcement officials with access to a national license-plate tracking system — a year after canceling a similar solicitation over privacy issues. The reversal comes after officials said they had determined they could address concerns raised by civil liberties advocates and lawmakers about the prospect of the department's gaining widespread access, without warrants, to a system that holds billions of records that reveal drivers' whereabouts. "If this goes forward, DHS will have warrantless access to location information going back at least five years about virtually every adult driver in the U.S., and sometimes to their image as well," said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology. ... The largest commercial database is owned by Vigilant Solutions, which as of last fall had more than 2.5 billion records. Its database grows by 2.7 million records a day.
Transportation

Coding For Cars: The Next Generation of Mobile Apps 24

Posted by samzenpus
from the code-and-drive dept.
snydeq writes Developers will need to rethink UIs, connection strategies, and how to capitalize on new data streams — especially as autonomous cars start rolling off the lots, writes InfoWorld's Peter Wayner, in a forward-thinking article on developing apps for cars, including autonomous cars to come. "Delivering data to cars, autonomous or not, will take a whole new way of thinking. Rectangles will always be rectangles, but automobile network connections are spotty and the user interface needs to compete — if that's the right word — with the objects on the road for the right amount of attention from the driver. Here are eight ways developers will need to rethink their app strategies when it comes to delivering apps for cars."