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NTSB says software flaws were found in self-driving Uber vehicle involved in fatality
by Paul Hill
A new report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the United States has found that an Uber self-driving test vehicle, which hit a woman in Arizona in March 2018, had software flaws which meant that it was unable to identify her as a pedestrian crossing the street. The report comes ahead of a meeting planned for November 19 which will determine the probable cause of Elaine Herzberg’s death as she was wheeling a bicycle across the street at night.
From September 2016 to March 2018, Uber’s self-driving vehicles had been involved in 37 crashes, with 33 of those involving another vehicle. After the incident involving Herzberg, Uber suspended all its self-driving car operations until December. During the break it revised the software on-board, adding new restrictions and safeguards.
According to the NTSB, the vehicle didn’t recognise the bicycle as an imminent collision until 1.2 seconds before impact so there was not enough time for the crash to be averted. The NTSB said that Uber’s software did not take jaywalking pedestrians into account. With the new software, Uber’s simulations show that the car would have noticed Herzberg 4.5 seconds before impact with the car having 4 seconds to engage the brakes.
While Arizona prosecutors did not hold Uber criminally liable, the police did investigate what the safety driver was doing when the crash happened. The police consequently said that the crash was “entirely avoidable” and that the driver was watching a TV show leading up to the crash.
By Ather Fawaz
Tesla's biggest software update to date is now rolling out, bringing a host of new features
by Ather Fawaz
Tesla just announced that their biggest update to date has begun rolling out today. Software Version 10.0 for Tesla's vehicles is what the automobile manufacturer is extolling as its 'biggest software update' to date. And indeed, there are a plethora of new features that come bundled in with it.
Tesla has tried to bring in a bit of everything with this update. From entertainment, music, convenience, and gaming, Version 10.0 dabbles in everything.
First up, we have Tesla Theatre, whereby customers of the Model 3, Model X, and the Model S will be able to connect their central displays to global entertainment and streaming services. Integration with Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu or Hulu + Live TV accounts to stream multimedia content while the car is parked, will now be possible. Customers in China can expect to get iQiyi and Tencent Video access. Similarly, Tesla is also making a bunch of video tutorials on Tesla Theatre to help customers learn more about their cars.
Alongside video capabilities, Tesla has also introduced Spotify premium and Ximalaya integration in addition to the currently available music and podcast offerings such as Slacker Radio and TuneIn Radio. "Car-aoke" is another feature that, as the name sounds, introduces karaoke to the Teslas with support for multiple languages.
Then there's Smart Summon. This feature does exactly what it sounds like, it summons your car from a parking lot to right in front of you. While some customers have had early access to it, Smart Summon will now be generally available to all Full-Self-Driving-enabled cars. Here's a video by a YouTube channel named Dirty Tesla showcasing the feature:
Next up, Tesla also included a feature quite similar to Google's "I'm feeling lucky". With “I’m Feeling Lucky” and “I’m Feeling Hungry” Tesla customers will now be navigated to a point of interest, a restaurant, national park, landmarks, etcetera. Search results for queries in the map will now be sorted according to the distance and users will be able to gain more information by tapping on them.
Furthermore, Tesla's dash-cam footage will now be better-managed when the car is protected with Sentry Mode. Video clips will now be stored in a separate folder in the USB and older clips will now be automatically deleted if storage space starts running short.
A new "Joe Mode" has also been included to avoid waking up sleeping passengers by lowering the sound of some chimes and bells from the vehicle. Tesla's app will now allow greater control over the car as well. Windows, temperature, defrosting, opening and closing garage doors using HomeLink will all now be doable straight from the Tesla app.
There is something for gamers too. Tesla Arcade brings the famous Cuphead to its cars in Cuphead Tesla Edition. The game's first full level will be playable using a USB controller and single-player and co-op modes will be available.
Finally, streaming and browser support for all Model 3 variants will be included in this update. With it, streaming media access to Spotify, Slacker, and TuneIn while connected to WiFi will be available.
According to Elon Musk's tweet, customers who have paid for the Full-Self-Driving option when purchasing their cars will be receiving the update first. However, within a week the update should be available to everyone over-the-air.
Google gives airtime to the Roav Bolt which brings smart features to dumb cars
by Paul Hill
Google has dedicated a blog post to the upcoming Anker Roav Bolt, a $49.99 device that upgrades your car with Google Assistant capabilities. The new device plugs into the car’s charging socket and connects to your phone’s Bluetooth and then to your car’s stereo. With the tool, you get a similar experience that a Google Home device would provide at home.
Once connected to the phone and stereo, users can begin issuing commands simply by saying “OK Google” or “Hey Google”. The Roav Bolt is equipped with far-field built-in mics so it should be able to hear everyone in the vehicle quite clearly. The kit seems as though it’d be particularly useful for those who still own a "dumb" car and aren’t planning to upgrade to a model with fancy gizmos built into the dashboard.
You’ll be able to use the device for lots of different actions, for example, Google says you can ask for navigation directions back home, ask how the traffic is in a particular place, share your ETA, and ask for directions to a gas station or another shop. It can also be instructed to play music, play podcasts, read the news, make calls and texts, and read messages. Additionally, it can help with reminders and even control smart home devices when you are travelling to and from your residence.
The Roav Bolt will be available from major retailers including Best Buy and Walmart but can be pre-ordered right now directly from Anker. The device will work best with Android but there will also be a beta iOS experience which offers more limited capabilities to begin with.
Tesla begins selling long awaited $35,000 Tesla Model 3
by Paul Hill
We’ve been hearing about it for a long time now but Tesla has finally announced the availability of the $35,000 version of the Tesla Model 3. The new standard Model 3 has a range of 220 miles, a top speed of 130 mph and able to reach 60 mph in just 5.6 seconds. Despite the lower cost, the product still achieves the 5-star safety rating like the longer-ranged version.
The firm also took the opportunity to announce a $37,000 version called the Model 3 Standard Range Plus which can go 240 miles on a charge, has a top speed of 140 mph, and reaches 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. For the slightly higher price tag, you also get most premium interior features.
In February, we learned that Tesla had cut its North America delivery team by 65% in the latest round of job losses. In today’s announcement, we find out why these cuts were made. In order to bring down the prices of all Model 3 vehicles and to introduce the $35,000 model, the firm decided that it was going to make sales an online-only process so that it could make savings by not having to maintain brick and mortar shops.
In North America, customers can buy a Tesla online in as little as one minute and this capability will soon be rolled out around the world. Rather than allowing test drives before purchase, the firm is allowing customers to buy the vehicle right away and test it for 7 days or up to 1,000 miles. In this period they’re eligible for a full refund if they find the car isn’t right for them.
Stores will be wound down over the coming months with a small number of stores in high-traffic locations remaining as galleries, showcases, and information centres. The savings will allow Tesla to funnel more money into its services. Most service work will be able to be done by Tesla employees coming to you rather than you having to travel to them. These services will be available anywhere in any country in which the firm operates.
Tesla also took the opportunity to mention that several firmware upgrades will be coming to existing Model 3 vehicles. The range of the Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive Model 3 will be extended to 325 miles, the top speed of the Model 3 Performance will be increased to 162 mph, and an average of 5% peak power will be applied to all Model 3s.
Hyundai shows off Elevate, a walking, climbing and jumping car
by Faheemmuddeen Patel
Hyundai has unveiled a walking car at CES called the Elevate. The Elevate will be able to walk at 5km/h (3mph) whilst also being able to climb 5ft (1.5m) and jump a 5ft gap. For reference, the average human walks at a speed of roughly 3.1 mph. The concept car has been in development for the last three years and was revealed at CES.
The Elevate is being touted as a car designed for rescue scenarios. In the event of an earthquake or tsunami, where a traditional car would only be able to safely drive to the edge of the debris, after which rescue workers would have to proceed on foot, the Elevate would be able to traverse any rocky and uneven terrain. Another usage scenario presented by Hyundai VP John Suh is the possibility of the car walking up to front doors of building with step-only access to pick up wheelchair users.
Whilst it is unlikely the everyday driver will be queuing up to buy the Elevate, it may gain traction in countries which face frequent natural disasters including Hyundai's home country of South Korea where flooding and typhoons are becoming more common. It will additionally be interesting to see whether the Elevate will actually be released given the plethora of concept cars which have never come to fruition. Embedded below is Hyundai's concept video.
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