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An anonymous reader writes with news about an affordable way to integrate touch screen technology in any car. "Although touchscreen controls are appearing in the dashboards of an increasing number of vehicles, they're still not something that one generally associates with economy cars. That may be about to change, however, as Continental has announced an "infrared curtain" system that could allow for inexpensive multi-touch functionality in any automobile. The infrared curtain consists of a square frame with a series of LEDs along two adjacent sides, and a series of photodiodes along the other two. Each LED emits a beam of infrared light, which is picked up and converted into an electrical signal by the photodiode located in the corresponding spot on the opposite side of the frame."
52 comments | 3 hours ago
jones_supa writes Trafi, the Finnish Pilots' Association and STUK, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority have launched a joint campaign against air traffic interference with the title "Lasers Are Not Toys". Ilkka Kaakinen from Trafi says that laser pointers interfering with air traffic is a real problem in Finland. "We receive reports of several cases of laser interference every month and every one of them is potentially dangerous", Kaakinen says. Last year, 60 cases of laser pointer interference were reported in Finland, and the figure for this year was at 58 in November. Despite the continuing interference, only one person has been caught misusing a laser pointer in this way in Finland. That single person was not convicted of a crime, as the court was not able to establish intent. Kaakinen says that other countries hand down severe punishments for interfering with air traffic, even years-long stretches in prison. He also reminds that it is important for users of laser pointers to understand that the devices are not toys, and that children should be warned of the potential danger in using them irresponsibly – or ideally, not given one at all.
80 comments | 9 hours ago
An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica summaries a study by the Chicago Tribune (paywalled) that found red light cameras do not improve driver safety. "[W]hile right angle crash incidents have been reduced, rear-end crashes that resulted in injuries went up 22 percent." Chicago officials recently claimed that the cameras led to a 47% reduction "T-bone" injury crashes, using that statistic as evidence that the program is worthwhile. But the study's authors, who "accounted for declining accident rates in recent years as well as other confounding factors, found cameras reduced right-angle crashes that caused injuries by just 15 percent."
They also noted that the city chose to install many cameras at intersections where crashes were rare to begin with. Chicago has raised roughly $500 million from red light camera tickets since 2002. "[O]fficials recently admitted to the city inspector general that they had quietly dropped the threshold for what constitutes a red light camera ticket, allowing the tickets even when cameras showed a yellow light time just under the three-second federal minimum standard. That shift earlier this year snared 77,000 more drivers and $7.7 million in ticket revenue before the city agreed to change the threshold back.
228 comments | yesterday
vasanth (908280) writes India on Thursday moved forward in rocket technology with the successful flight testing of its heaviest next generation rocket and the crew module . The 630-tonne three-stage rocket, Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, carried active solid boosters, liquid core stage and a passive cryo stage and a crew module to test its re-entry characteristics. This rocket is capable of doubling the capacity of payloads India can carry into space and it can deposit up to four tonne class of communication satellites into space. India also plans to use this rocket for ferrying Indian astronauts into space. For India, ISRO (the Indian space agency) perfecting the cryogenic engine technology is crucial as India can save precious foreign exchange by launching heavy duty communication satellites by itself.
56 comments | 3 days ago
cartechboy writes The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Times published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article, Josh Barro, wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case? Good background on the current system of dealership sinecure can be found in this short 2009 Competition Advocacy Paper from the U.S. Department of Justice, which delves into the history and effects of the dealers-only system which still prevails.
139 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC reports on the construction of Prelude, a new ship that will be the world's longest vessel. It is 488 meters long and 74 meters wide, built with 260,000 tons of steel and displacing five times as much water as an aircraft carrier. Its purpose is to carry an entire natural gas processing plant as it sits over a series of wells 100 miles off the coast of Australia. Until now, it hasn't been practical to move gas that comes out of the wells with ships. The gas occupies too much volume, so it is generally piped to a facility on shore where it is processed and then shipped off to energy-hungry markets. But the Prelude can purify and chill the gas, turning it into a liquid and reducing its volume by a factor of 600. It will offload this liquid to smaller (but still enormous) carrier ships for transport.
115 comments | 4 days ago
mpicpp sends this report from CNN: Uber has rolled back employee access to its "God view" mode, which allows the company to track riders' locations and other data. The ride service company was faced with questions about its privacy policies from U.S. Senator Al Franken, following a series of recent privacy debacles. Uber's updated policy is detailed in its response to the senator's questions. Franken sent Uber a letter (PDF, Uber's response) in November after news reports made two things clear: The ride service company collects lots of data on customers — and some executives don't exercise that power responsibly. In one case, an Uber employee using "God View" easily tracked a reporter's movements on her way to a meeting.
76 comments | 5 days ago
MojoKid writes Recently, Carnival cruise lines gave tours of their CSMART facility in Almere, the Netherlands. This facility is one of a handful in the world that can provide both extensive training and certification on cruise ships as well as a comprehensive simulation of what it's like to command one. Simulating the operation of a Carnival cruise ship is anything but simple. Let's start with a ship that's at least passingly familiar to most people — the RMS Titanic. At roughly 46,000 tons and 882 feet long, she was, briefly, the largest vessel afloat. Compared to a modern cruise ship, however, Titanic was a pipsqueak. As the size and complexity of the ships has grown, the need for complete simulators has grown as well. The C-SMART facility currently sports two full bridge simulators, several partial bridges, and multiple engineering rooms. When the Costa Concordia wrecked off the coast of Italy several years ago, the C-SMART facility was used to simulate the wreck based on the black boxes from the ship itself. When C-SMART moves to its new facilities, it'll pick up an enormous improvement in processing power. The next-gen visual system is going to be powered by104 GeForce Grid systems running banks of GTX 980 GPUs. C-SMART executives claim it will actually substantially reduce their total power consumption thanks to the improved Maxwell GPU. Which solution is currently in place was unclear, but the total number of installed systems is dropping from just over 500 to 100 rackmounted units.
42 comments | 5 days ago
cartechboy writes We've all been there, driving down a city street and we miss that pedestrian or bicycle because they are in our blind spot. Not the blind spot behind us, but covered up by the A-pillar on your vehicle. This is a growing concern as pillars and cars in general bulk up to meet new, ever stricter safety standards. Now Jaguar and Land Rover might have come up with a solution that eliminates the risk: transparent pillars. Imagine having zero blinds spots as you pull up to that intersection. No concerns about not seeing something or someone that's hidden by that large A-pillar. The technology is called 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen and it provides a 360-degree view out of the vehicle. How does it work? Essentially, a screen embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car relays a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car. To avoid overloading the driver the screens are off in default mode, and are only activated automatically when the driver uses a turn signal or checks over their head to switch lanes. While there's zero mention of when this tech will go into production, it's clear, this is the future and it's crazy.
191 comments | about a week ago
KindMind writes According to AP, Waze has caused trouble for LA residents by redirecting traffic from Interstate 405 to neighborhood side streets paralleling the interstate. From the article: "When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled. When word spread that the explosively popular new smartphone app Waze was sending many of those cars through their neighborhood in a quest to shave five minutes off a daily rush-hour commute, they were angry and ready to fight back. They would outsmart the app, some said, by using it to report phony car crashes and traffic jams on their streets that would keep the shortcut-seekers away. Months later, the cars are still there, and the people are still mad."
594 comments | about a week ago
Bennett Haselton writes Sidecar is a little-known alternative to Lyft and Uber, deployed in only ten cities so far, which lets drivers set their own prices to undercut other ride-sharing services. Given that most amateur drivers would be willing to give someone a ride for far less than the rider would be willing to pay, why didn't the flex-pricing option take off? Keep reading to see what Bennet has to say.
190 comments | about a week ago
littlesparkvt writes The SpaceX manufacturing plant in McGregor, TX is set to spend $46 million on an expansion that would create 300 full-time jobs. SpaceX is proposing to invest $46.3 million in the site during the next five years. They will spend $32.4 million in real property improvements and $13.9 million in personal property improvements.
43 comments | about a week ago
mrspoonsi writes Parisian taxi drivers have vowed to block roads leading into the French capital on Monday to protest a court's refusal to ban urban ridesharing service UberPOP. Like their counterparts in large cities across the globe, Parisian taxi drivers are fed up with what they see as unfair competition from Uber's popular smartphone taxi service. UberPOP, which uses non-professional drivers using their own cars to take on passengers at budget rates, has 160,000 users in France, according to the company. A commercial court in Paris ruled on Friday that a new law making it harder for Uber drivers to solicit business could not be enforced until the government had published full details of the restrictions. "It's the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Ibrahima Sylla, president of France Taxis, whose organisation has joined several others in calling for the early morning protest on Monday. They have urged taxi drivers to gather at the northern Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and the southern Orly airport at 05:00 am before slowly converging on the city in a bid to block arterial highways. "This is a fight against Uber. We're fed up. Allowing UberPOP means leaving 57,000 French taxis high and dry, and thus 57,000 families. And that is out of the question," said Sylla.
295 comments | about a week ago
plover writes Scientific American notes that a new hydrogen refueling station has been added in Sacramento, bringing the state's total to ten. This was timed to coincide with Toyota's Japan release of their first commercially available fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai. Toyota is scheduled to start selling cars in Northern California next year.
87 comments | about a week ago
schwit1 (797399) writes A French lawmaker lashed out at Airbus for daring to consider SpaceX as a possible launch option for a European communications satellite. "The senator, Alain Gournac, who is a veteran member of the French Parliamentary Space Group, said he had written French Economy and Industry Minister Emmanuel Macron to protest Airbus' negotiations with Hawthorne, California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp. for a late 2016 launch instead of contracting for a launch on a European Ariane 5 rocket. "The negotiations are all the more unacceptable given that, at the insistence of France, Europe has decided to adopt a policy of 'European preference' for its government launches," Gournac said. "This is called playing against your team, and it smacks of a provocation. It's an incredible situation that might lead customers to think we no longer have faith in Ariane 5 — and tomorrow, Ariane 6."
168 comments | about a week ago
Rambo Tribble writes: Reuters reports that flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, and many other airports have been shut down "due to a computer failure." The information comes from European air traffic control body Eurocontrol. No official word as yet as to the nature of the failure. "One source told the BBC the problem was caused by a computer glitch that co-ordinates the flights coming into London and puts the flights in sequence as they come into land or take off. He described it as a 'flight planning tool problem.'" Incoming flights are still being accommodated.
68 comments | about two weeks ago
Freshly Exhumed writes: Ford's in-car infotainment system known as Sync will soon evolve to add a capacitive touch screen, better integration with smartphone apps and, eventually, support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in version 3, thanks to a switch of operating systems. After years of teaming with Microsoft, the automobile giant has switched to BlackBerry's QNX, a real time operating system renowned for stability.
232 comments | about two weeks ago
First time accepted submitter Amanda Parker writes In July the US warned of a terrorism risk which led countries, such as France and the UK, to step up their security screening for flights to the US. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson directed the TSA to implement enhanced security measures. In his statement on 6 July, Johnson warned that passengers could also be asked to "power up some devices, including cell phones" and stated that "powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft". In light of the US Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) recent tightening of airport security to include stricter screening of electronic devices, is the TSA right to be cautious or have its actions caused unnecessary hassle for passengers?
184 comments | about two weeks ago
MTorrice writes The 2008 recession hammered the U.S. auto industry, driving down sales of 2009 models to levels 35% lower than those before the economic slump. A new study has found that because sales of new vehicles slowed, the average age of the U.S. fleet climbed more than expected, increasing the rate of air pollutants released by the fleet.
In 2013, the researchers studied the emissions of more than 68,000 vehicles on the roads in three cities—Los Angeles, Denver, and Tulsa. They calculated the amount of pollution released per kilogram of fuel burned for the 2013 fleet and compared the rates to those that would have occurred if the 2013 fleet had the same age distribution as the prerecession fleet. For the three cities, carbon monoxide emissions were greater by 17 to 29%, hydrocarbons by 9 to 14%, nitrogen oxide emissions by 27 to 30%, and ammonia by 7 to 16%.
176 comments | about two weeks ago
New submitter dubner writes Simply hand the law enforcement officer your mobile phone. That's what you can do in Iowa rather than "digging through clutter in your glove compartment for an insurance card." And soon your driver's license will be available on your phone too, according to a story in the (Des Moines Register). Iowans will soon be able to use a mobile app on their smartphones as their official driver's license issued by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Some marvelous quotes in TFA: "The new app should be highly secure ... People will use a pin number for verification." And "Branstad (Iowa governor)... noted that even Iowa children are now working on digital development projects." A raft of excuses ("battery's dead") and security problems come to mind; how would you implement such a system?
207 comments | about two weeks ago