Several years ago, I tech edited a book on the Internet of Things. Prior to that, I had not thought that deeply about the complex issues surrounding self-driving cars, except (as a person with severe spinal arthritis) looking forward to owning one in my future. After editing that chapter, I came away with a much greater understanding on the infrastructural changes that will need to happen and the profound moral and legal questions that will need to be addressed before this technology becomes commonplace. My takeaway: I won't be owning an autonomous car in my lifetime. This is technology that is 20 or more years away.
In this video, part of Kevin Kelly's The Future Of series, he discusses autonomous cars. His takeaway: the infrastructural changes that will need to happen and the profound moral and legal questions that will need to be addressed mean that self-driving cars will not be commonplace for another 15-20 years. Read the rest
Petition demands recall of 500,000+ cars over alleged defect
Electric car maker Tesla said on Monday there was no unintended acceleration in its vehicles, as petition signature-gatherers demanding a federal safety investigation have claimed. Read the rest
Last night, a lost horse was trotting around the busy A48 road in Cardiff, Wales. Police and passers-by weren't quite sure what to do but a kind Cardiff Bus driver stopped and offered to take the horse to meet its owners at a safe location. From BBC:
"The police arrived and we were all a bit flummoxed of what to do because we couldn't get a horse box there in time," (said Harley Stephens, a citizen who assisted in the rescue).
She said the Cardiff Bus driver suggested putting it on a bus, so they put the disabled ramp down and "it went on quite happily".
Accompanied by Ms Stephens the horse was then taken to the hospital Park and Ride stop, with one other passenger sitting close by.
"He was quite chill about it," she said.
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Everyone is pissed.
In Mexico City, many people who travel on the subway system blame authorities for the many broken escalators at train stops. Metro officials blame something else: “vast amounts of pee,” reports A-Pee.
Nobody's clear exactly how it happens, but human urine, in really large amounts, is “penetrating and corroding the drive wheels and mechanisms of the escalators that carry riders up from underground stations,” AP reports:
In a list published Tuesday, the Metro system listed “corrosion due to urine” as one of the top five causes of escalator breakdowns. Fermin Ramirez, the system’s assistant manager for rails and facilities, said riders appear to be urinating on escalators at off-peak hours and lightly used stations, “even though it seems hard to believe.”
“When we open up escalators for maintenance, there is always urine,” Ramirez said. Most stations have no public bathroom facilities, a fact Twitter users were quick to point out, noting there are not even any pay toilets.
Of the system’s 467 escalators, 22 are out of service on any given day.
The biggest problem, subway authorities admit, is that the many escalators are old, or have been damaged by rough use.
Mexico city plans to replace about 55 escalators over the next two years.
Read more: Mexico City subway says pee causes escalator breakdowns Read the rest
Amazon has reinstated FedEx as a ground delivery carrier for Prime members' shipments. The online retailer said today the shipper consistently met its delivery requirements, after suspending it last month. Read the rest
Finally! Holy cow this is huge news. Beginning on September 23, 2019, Amtrak will offer weekday nonstop service from the nation's political capital to its financial and media capital. Washington DC to New York and NYC to DC, weekdays only. Read the rest
From its archives, RTÉ floats an Irishman with a motorized bar stool. It turns out that "I shall motorize this bar stool" is a frequent independent innovation, as many videos on YouTube attest. I've stacked a bunch after the jump for your education and amusement. Read the rest
Whether you love them or hate them, rideshares like Uber and Lyft have become a daily part of life for millions of New Yorkers. These app-based services make it easy to pay for your ride, but while the privacy cost isn’t always as clear, it’s about to get a lot larger. These apps have tracked our movements since they launched, but as of this month, the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) started tracking us too.
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When my friend David Hyman is passionate about something -- whether it's digital music, online games, or audio gear -- he immerses himself in the subject entirely, completely, obsessively. Once he's deep in it, he tries to find problems that if solved would improve the experience for the user. As a result, David has turned his personal, obsessive interests into a string of successful businesses! For the last year, David's been all about electric scooters. ALL about them. And now he's launched Unagi, a beautifully-designed electric scooter that David says is, well, the best in the world. I haven't ridden one yet but the folks at Gizmodo, The Verge, and Elektrek were pretty damn impressed. I helped David with some writing for his project and I hope he sends me the scooter I was promised soon.
Unagi is now accepting discounted pre-orders via a Kickstarter with shipping in February. (UPDATE: Kickstarter was successfully funded!)
Unagi: The Ultimate Electric Scooter
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Greyhound announced that it was pulling its buses out of western Canada earlier this year. For anyone that owns a car? No big deal. For those living in remote western communities without access to a vehicle of their own or other means of transportation to shuttle them to more populous locales, it's a disaster. On October 31st, decades of being able to rely on a Greyhound ride to take an inexpensive trip into the city to access government services, make a visit to the hospital or see far-flung friends or family will come to an end.
From the CBC:
When Lillian Sylvestre heard Greyhound Canada was ending its western bus service, she made arrangements to visit her children in Red Deer on the route she's taken for the last four decades.
Sylvestre lives in Sprague, Man., minutes from the Minnesota and Ontario borders. It lost its bus service to Winnipeg several years ago.
"It was sad when all the small communities lost the bus route," she said. "It is very hard because I used to hop on the bus in Sprague ten o'clock in the morning, go do my business — doctor, whatever in the city here, six o'clock — eight o'clock I'm home. Now I can't do that. I got to rely on my kids, in-laws, friends."
The closure will effect almost all routes west of Sudbury, Ontario. As part of Greyhound's spinning down their western services, 415 people will lose their jobs. In total, 400 communities will lose access to Greyhound's services. Read the rest
In this video from Cariacica, Brazil, bus drivers sit on stationary bikes as a bus whizzes past. Why? To give the drivers a visceral sense of what it feels like when a 30,000 pound metal behemoth flies by less than two meters from your exposed body. The goal is to educate the drivers on why they should respect the mandatory 1.5 meter gap.
(Bicycling via Weird Universe) Read the rest
Brian McManus looks at the engineering challenges behind the Curiosity's thin aluminum wheels, which are sustaining significant damage on the Martian surface. Read the rest
Bicyclists who also own motorcycles and motorscooters have come up with some clever ways to mount their human-powered two-wheeler on their motor-powered vehicles. Read the rest
Unlike most airports, London's Heathrow is privately owned, so it's a great case study for how airports make money. Wendover Productions explains. Read the rest
Designed by French engineer Victor Bouffort, the Suitcase Scooter sold for a whopping $245 in 1962. That's steep even with its 2.8 horsepower engine and 35 MPH speeds. Unfortunately, it was also ahead of its time or perhaps behind it. From FOTO:
...Despite being extensively marketed in America, Europe, and Japan, Bouffort's little titan missed the scooter craze of the 1950s, and was overshadowed by countless Japanese mopeds flooding world markets in the 1960s. Still, according to the folks at Motorcylepedia "it did sell in small numbers in America … [and] was also far superior to any of the American models."
"In Praise of the 'Suitcase Scooter'" (FOTO)
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Five years ago, New Yorkers got to participate in the city's first bikeshare experiment, the Citibike, and people were very worried!
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