Transportation

Jeep/Chrysler's New Gearshift Appears To Be Causing Accidents (roadandtrack.com) 559

bartle writes: The new gearshift design for the Jeep Grand Cherokee appears to be causing rollaway accidents: 121 crashes and 30 injuries so far. The gear shifter is designed to look and feel similar to a traditional automatic gear shift lever but it is meant to cycle through the gears rather than move directly to a certain gear. A driver who is used to placing their vehicle in park by pressing the shifter all the way forward may instead be setting it to neutral before exiting the vehicle. The NHTSA is investigating.
United Kingdom

Are Roads Safer With No Central White Lines? 592

Press2ToContinue writes: White lines along the center of roads have been removed in parts of the UK, with some experts saying it encourages motorists to slow down. So is it the beginning of the end for the central road marking? You are driving along the road when the dotted white line that has been your companion — separating your car from oncoming traffic — suddenly disappears. One theory is that you will slow down, making the road safer. What could possibly go wrong?
Google

Google Working On Wireless Charging For Self-Driving Cars (inhabitat.com) 60

MikeChino writes: New FCC filings suggest that Google is currently installing wireless charging systems for self-driving cars at its headquarters in Mountain View. The documents suggest that the systems will be installed by Hevo Power and Momentum Dynamics. Both companies offer technology that can wirelessly charge an electric car via plates that are embedded in the ground.
Businesses

The Hyperloop Industrial Complex 216

Jason Koebler writes: Two and a half years after Elon Musk pitched the technology, actually traveling on a hyperloop is still theoretical, but its effect on business is not. There is a very real, bonafide industry of people whose job description is, broadly speaking "make the hyperloop into a tangible thing." The SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Design Weekend at Texas A&M University earlier this weekend was the coming out party for people in that industry.
Space

SpaceX Sets Feb. 24th Target Date For Next Launch 42

Rei writes: After some consternation about the pacing of Falcon 9 upgrades, SpaceX has announced that it plans to launch again from Cape Canaveral with a target date of February 24th. While the primary mission will be to place the SES-9 communications satellite in orbit, this will also mark their fourth attempt to land the first stage on an autonomous drone ship, after their last launch touched down softly but fell over when one leg failed to latch. SpaceX is working to significantly accelerate the rate of production and launches — they are reportedly moving the factory from 6-8 cores produced per year to 18 at present, and expect to reach 30 by the end of the year. After the upcoming launch, they expect to launch one rocket every two to three weeks.
Transportation

Elon Musk's Next Great Idea? Electric Air Travel (bgr.com) 345

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from BGR: Elon Musk is changing the world one idea at a time. First, with Tesla, the man so many people call the real life Tony Stark has done an incredible job of bringing electric vehicles to the mainstream. Second, Musk has been doing an impressive job over at SpaceX in the realm of space travel. And third, Musk's effective rough draft of a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop is being contemplated and conceptualized in a very real way by some extremely smart people. So where does Musk go from here? Why, Mars of course. Recently, Musk said that he plans to unveil SpaceX's Mars roadmap next September. But on another front, Musk has also been thinking about developing an electric airplane capable of taking off and landing vertically. While answering a few questions during a Q&A session at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Award Ceremony last week, Musk was asked what his 'next great idea' was. The answer? Electric-powered air travel.
Power

Porsche Builds Photovoltaic Pylon, Offsetting Luddite Position On Self-Drive (thestack.com) 213

An anonymous reader writes: Porsche has just completed an impressive 25-meter high photovoltaic pylon. The construction, lonely in its current position and strongly resembling the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, comprises 7,776 solar cells and is capable of generating up to 30,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. From 2017 it will power the elite car manufacturer's new Berlin-Adlershof Porsche center. Porsche is keen to show a progressive stance on its new range of electric vehicles, considering that it has no intention of joining the movement towards self-driving.
Moon

Russia Begins Work On a Lunar Lander (examiner.com) 93

MarkWhittington writes: Whether and when Russia will try to send cosmonauts to the moon is an open question. The Putin government has heavily slashed spending on the Russian space program, a measure brought on by declining oil and gas revenues. But, as Popular Mechanics reports, Russian engineers have gone ahead and have started to design a lunar lander for the eventual Russian lunar surface effort. When money is going to be forthcoming for such a vehicle is unknown, though Russia could partner with another country with lunar ambitions, such as China or the European Union.
Businesses

Elon Musk Cancels Stewart Alsop's Tesla Order Over Complaints About Launch Event 339

New submitter umafuckit writes: Blogger Stewart Alsop wrote an open letter to Elon Musk following a supposedly badly run launch event for the Model X. Alsop complained that the event started almost 2 hours late and was unable to test drive the car (for which has put down a deposit). In response, Musk cancelled Alsop's pre-order saying "Must be a slow news day if denying service to a super rude customer gets this much attention." Alsop, who is known not just for his prolific blogging but for his role as a founding partner at VC firm Alsop Louie Partners, compares his treatment by Tesla to that of BMW, about which he's also said some unflattering things as a customer.
Open Source

Homemade Speed Trap Made By Former UVA CS Professor (cvilletomorrow.org) 582

An anonymous reader writes: Irritated by speeders in his neighborhood and frustrated with the City of Charlottesville's inability or unwillingness to enforce the speed limit, a former professor in the Computer Science department of the University of Virginia created a program in openCV to track vehicle speed on his residential neighborhood street: "You'll find that almost 85 percent of the cars going by are violators [of the neighborhood's 25mph limit]". This includes a city bus doing 34mph.
Privacy

Shopping Mall SMS Parking Notifications Could Be Used To Track Any Car (itnews.com.au) 42

Bismillah writes: Westfield's Scentre Group has removed SMS notifications for its ticketless parking system after it was discovered they could be used to track other people's cars unnoticed. The system allows you to enter any licence plate, which in turn will be scanned upon entry and exit at mall parking facilities — and when the free parking time is up, a notification message is sent to the mobile phone number entered, with the exact location of the car.
Businesses

How Uber Profits Even When Its Drivers Aren't Earning Money (vice.com) 180

tedlistens writes: Jay Cassano spoke to Uber drivers about "dead miles" and what work means when your boss is an algorithm, and considers a new frontier of labor concerns and big data. "Uber is the closest thing to an employer we've ever seen in this industry," Bhairavi Desai, founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told him. "They not only direct every aspect of a driver's workday, they also profit off the entire day through data collection, not just the 'sale of a product.'"
Transportation

Morgan, Maker of Classic Handmade Sports Cars, Is Going Electric (arstechnica.com) 51

Ars Technica reports that Morgan, idiosyncratic maker of idiosyncratic cars, is about to make a move that might seem surprising, in light of the company's tradition of conservative design. "Yes," says the article, "you'll be able to buy a wood-framed electric car in 2019." From the article: The Morgan Motor Companyâ"best known for still using postwar styling and wooden body frames for some of its carsâ"will have a full hybrid and electric range within the next three years. The British car maker is going to invest $8.6 million (£6 million) to develop hybrid and electric powertrains for all the models in its range by 2019, working in conjunction with Delta Motorsport and Potenza technology.
Transportation

EasyJet May Trial Hydrogen Fuel Cells For Taxiing (thestack.com) 150

An anonymous reader writes: Low-cost airline easyJet is discussing plans to install hydrogen batteries as part of a proposed zero emission fuel system, which would power its aircraft during taxiing. The budget service revealed designs for a hybrid plane this week, and said that it would begin trialling the technology later this year. The system will involve embedding a hydrogen fuel cell on board the aeroplanes, with the energy captured from the brakes on landing able to power the jet on the ground. As the only waste product from a hydrogen cell would be fresh, clean water, Ian Davies, head of engineering at easyJet, also suggested that this could be used to refill the planes' water systems during the flight, providing a water source for passengers to drink and for flushing toilets.
Transportation

Jaguar Land Rover To Test Autonomous Cars In 'Living Lab' (thestack.com) 24

An anonymous reader writes: British automaker Jaguar Land Rover has announced its £5.5 million investment in a 'living lab' for the testing and development of connected and self-driving car technologies. The UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment (CITE) will span 41-miles of public roads around Coventry and Solihull, and will be used to test new connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) systems in real-life conditions. The company is planning to install roadside sensor equipment around the lab route to monitor vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. The fleet will include 100 CAV cars, which will test four different connectivity technologies; 4G long-term evolution (LTE) and its more advanced version LTE-V, dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), and local Wi-Fi hotspots.
Transportation

The Feds' Freeway Font Flip-Flop (citylab.com) 182

McGruber writes: Citylab has the news that the U.S. Federal Highway Administration is revoking its 2004 approval of the "Clearview" font for road signs. Clearview was made to improve upon its predecessor, a 1940s font called Highway Gothic. Certain letters appeared to pose visibility problems, especially those with tight interstices (or internal spacing)—namely lowercase e, a, and s. At night, any of these reflective letters might appear to be a lowercase o in the glare of headlights. By opening up these letterforms, and mixing lowercase and uppercase styles, Clearview aimed to improve how these reflective highway signs read.

Now, just 12 years later, the FHWA is reversing itself: "After more than a decade of analysis, we learned—among other things—that Clearview actually compromises the legibility of signs in negative-contrast color orientations, such as those with black letters on white or yellow backgrounds like Speed Limit and Warning signs," said Doug Hecox, a FHWA spokesperson, in an email. The FHWA has not yet provided any research on Clearview that disproves the early claims about the font's benefits. But there is at least one factor that clearly distinguishes it from Highway Gothic: cost. Jurisdictions that adopt Clearview must purchase a standard license for type, a one-time charge of between $175 (for one font) and $795 (for the full 13-font typeface family) and up, depending on the number of workstations.

That doesn't seems like a very good use of tax money, for something that can be nondestructively reused once created.
Transportation

MIT Team Tops Hyperloop Design Competition (google.com) 144

The Dallas Morning News reports that a team from MIT has topped competitors from around 100 universities around the world at a competition held on the campus of Texas A&M by presenting a workable design vision for Elon Musk's dream of a hyperloop. The hyperloop concept, mentioned several times before on Slashdot, involves rapidly shuffling passenger pods through 12-foot-wide tubes evacuated of air, and would mean terrestrial transport at speeds topping those of commercial air travel. From the Morning News article: Delft University of Technology from The Netherlands finished second, the University of Wisconsin third, Virginia Tech fourth and the University of California, Irvine, fifth. The top teams will build their pods and test them at the world's first Hyperloop Test Track, being built adjacent to SpaceX's Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters.
Transportation

France To Pave 1000km of Road With Solar Panels (solarcrunch.org) 407

An anonymous reader writes: France is planning on a project to build 1000 kilometers of road with specially designed solar panels. This project will supply 5 million people in France with electricity if it is successful. Though many solar experts are skeptical of this project, the French government has given the go-ahead to this venture. According to France's minister of ecology and energy, Ségolène Royal, the tender for this project is already issued under the "Positive Energy" initiative and the test for the solar panels will begin by this spring.The photo voltaic solar panels called "Wattway" which will be used in the project are jointly developed by the French infrastructure firm "Colas" and the National Institute for Solar Energy. The specialty of "Wattway" is that its very sturdy and can let heavy trucks pass over it, also offering a good grip to avoid an accident. Interestingly, this project will not remove road surfaces but instead, the solar panels will be glued to the existing pavement.
Transportation

First Hidden Electric Motor In Cycling World Championship (cxmagazine.com) 262

An anonymous reader writes with the story that the world championship cyclocross competition this weekend in Zolder (Belgium) was scandalized by the first case of "mechanical doping." European champion Femke Van Den Driessche was caught with a bicycle with a hidden electric motor. From the article: The Union Cycliste Internationale said in a statement âoethat pursuant to the UCIâ(TM)s Regulations on technological fraud a bike has been detained for further investigation following checks at the Womenâ(TM)s Under 23 race of the 2016 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. This does not concern any of the riders on the podium. Further details will be shared in due course.â

The Belgian media outlet Sporza reported that the Belgian Cycling Federation had confirmed that the detained bike belonged to Van den Driessche. Ironically, Van den Driessche had abandoned the race due to a mechanical issue shortly before the bike was scrutinised. Van den Driesscheâ(TM)s name did not feature in the official results on the UCI website on Saturday evening.
Cyclocross Magazine adds some details.
Mars

Elon Musk To Unveil Mars Spacecraft Later This Year, For 2025 Flight (foxnews.com) 101

frank249 writes: Fox News is reporting that Space X and Tesla CEO Elon Musk expects to unveil plans for the spacecraft that would send humans to Mars within a decade. Speaking at an event in Hong Kong, Musk said he was 'hoping to describe the architecture' of the spacecraft at the International Astronautical Conference in Mexico in late September. "That will be quite exciting," Musk said. 'In terms of the first flight to Mars, we are hoping to do that around 2025.' As for his plans to go into space, Musk said he was hoping to reach the International Space Station 'four or five years from now.'

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