Uber robocar hits and kills pedestrian in Arizona

Update: Did the woman cross 3.5 lanes of road before being hit?

It's just been reported that one of Uber's test self-driving cars struck a woman in Tempe, Arizona during the night. She died in the hospital. There are not a lot of facts at present, so any of these things might be contradicted later.

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What happens if/when Bitcoin stabilizes in price

I've been doing some analysis of the "HODL" movement (which attempts to use social pressure to convince people to hold on to Bitcoin and other holdings, rather than taking the normal profit-taking steps after such a large appreciation.) I believe that HODL goes against what a cryptocurrency is supposed to be about, since to be valuable it has to be useful, and to be useful, people need to be using it, not holding it. I will explore this in another article next week.

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Waymo goes totally unmanned, arbitration and other news

One of the biggest milestones of the robocar world has gotten just a little coverage. Waymo, which last year removed the safety driver from behind the wheel of their cars in Phoenix, still had a supervisor sitting in the back with a kill switch. That supervisor is now gone and the car comes to pick up passengers entirely unmanned.

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Kitty Hawk "Cora" comes out of stealth

In the world of flying cars, another big step was taken with the partial unveiling of the Kitty Hawk Cora. Kitty Hawk is a project involving some friends of mine who made the Google car project happen, and while it's very nascent it could have some big effects.

Never ask a lawyer how much lawyering you need, and other advice on the use of lawyers.

Lawyers are highly disliked in our society, at least until you need one. This is because we primarily use lawyers like weapons, offensive and defensive, and who likes the weapon? I think lawyers can serve the world better if we take different attitudes about what clients wish from lawyers. Here are some lessons about using lawyers I have learned over the years.

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A modern paternoster elevator (for cars and maybe people)

Earlier this week, I wrote about making a subway for robotic vans which just has tunnels and ramps to the surface, rather than the vastly more expensive system of giant stations we use for today's underground transit. It offers the chance to save immense amounts of money because stations are expensive to build and maintain.

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The paradox on robocar accidents

I have written a few times about the unusual nature of robocar accidents. Recently I was discussing this with a former student who is doing some research on the area. As a first step, she began looking at lists of all the reasons that humans cause accidents. (The majority of them, on police reports, are simply that one car was not in its proper right-of-way, which doesn't reveal a lot.)

This led me, though to the following declaration that goes against most early intuitions.

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How robots might alter hiking

A hiker online asked me about when we might see a robotic "pack mule" to make long hikes easier. The big problem is energy (and noise) since right now the walking robots that exist use a lot of energy to travel, and most hikes involve some terrain you can't do on wheels.

He hoped for solar charging, but most hikers like to hike under cover away from the burning sun. The robot probably wants to be electric since nobody wants a loud engine on a pack robot on the trail. That's a problem.

Making tunnels for robocars would be vastly cheaper than subways for trains like SF's new Central Subway

San Francisco is building its new Central Subway -- an underground light rail line. Ground was broken in 2010 but due to delays it will not open until 2021. This line will finally make the Caltrain commuter rail (which otherwise dumps passengers into an industrial zone far from where most of them wish to go) more useful, and offer travel not slowed by SF's terrible central district congestion.

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Using video and telepresence for below-average academic conference talks

A sad reality today at most academic conferences is that it's fairly common for at least one speaker to not make it due to visa problems. This is not just true because of the USA's reduced welcome to foreigners, it happens in other places as well.

A flood of deliverbots arise as California makes unmanned testing legal

California announced that come April, it will be legal to operate robocars with no safety driver inside. There will need to be a remote operator, monitoring the vehicle at all times during testing.

Moving gun regulation to the states from the federal level

(Warning: An explosive topic. Those who only want to talk robocars, you can subscribe to only that feed if you wish to!)

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Waymo a ride service, highway deaths and other news

Waymo has applied for, and been granted, a licence to operate as a "Transportation Network Company" (fancy name for app-summoned taxi like Uber) in Arizona. This has been expected for some time, and shows they are continuing their plan to open up their pilot service in Phoenix to the public.

Designing a metric to measure robocar safety -- what does insurance teach?

The most challenging problem for robocars today is proving they are safe. Yes, making them safe is very important, but they'll only be let on the roads by the companies making them if that safety levels can be demonstrated.

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Olympics Notebook 2018 -- streaming and Curling

Every 2 years I watch the Olympics and publish notes on the games, or in particular the coverage. Each time the technology has changed and that alters the coverage.

This year the big change is much more extensive and refined availability of streaming coverage. Since I desire to "cut the cord" and have no cable or satellite, this has become more important. Unfortunately the story is not all good.

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Local Motors hopes to win with 3D printed robocars

There are lots of players in the robocar space now -- car companies, startups, suppliers, high-tech companies, and two I did not talk as much about -- shuttles and delivery robots.

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Uber and Waymo settle lawsuit in a giant victory for Uber

In a shocker, it was announced that Uber and Waymo (Google/Alphabet) have settled their famous lawsuit for around $245 million of Uber stock. No cash, and Uber agrees it won't use any Google hardware or software trade secrets -- which it of course had always denied that it ever did.

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Review of the Light L16 computational camera

If you read my article about computational photography you will know I am very interested in the Light L16 camera which uses 16 small cameras (with cell-phone level sensors and different focal length lenses) to produce an image they hope will rival high end cameras like DSLRs.

The plan is an excellent one. I purchased the L16 but must sadly report it is "not yet the camera of the future" though I feel the general idea points the way there.

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New "Shared Mobility Principles" have too much 2018 thinking.

A new group has released a document called the "Shared Mobility Principles" for livable cities. It was started by Robin Chase (who built companies like ZipCar and others) and has had several of the mobile app taxi companies like Uber, Lyft, Didi and others sign on, though not Waymo, Cruise or the automakers.

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Robocars enter phase two as different strategies abound

At CES 2018, autos took over the show, and self-driving took over autos. At least in the industry, it's now mainstream. So what new approaches are teams taking, and how do they hope to win?

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