Privacy

New Privacy Threat: Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection 1

Posted by Soulskill
from the shades-of-minority-report dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning against a new potential privacy threat: cameras that look inside cars and try to identify how many people are inside. This technology is a natural combination of simpler ones that have existed for years: basic object recognition software and road-side cameras (red light cameras, speeding cameras, license plate readers — you name it). Of course, we can extrapolate just a bit further, and point out that as soon as the cameras have high enough resolution, they can start running face recognition algorithms on the images, and determine the identities of a vehicle's occupants.

"The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a government umbrella group that develops transportation and public safety initiatives across the San Diego County region, estimates that 15% of drivers in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes aren't supposed to be there. After coming up short with earlier experimental projects, the agency is now testing a brand new technology to crack down on carpool-lane scofflaws on the I-15 freeway. ... In short: the technology is looking at your image, the image of the people you're with, your location, and your license plate. (SANDAG told CBS the systems will not be storing license plate data during the trial phase and the system will, at least for now, automatically redact images of drivers and passengers. Xerox's software, however, allows police the option of using a weaker form of redaction that can be reversed on request.)"
Transportation

The Engineer's Lament -- Prioritizing Car Safety Issues 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the backseat-engineering dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Malcolm Gladwell has an article in The New Yorker about how automotive engineers handle issues of safety. There have been tons of car-related recalls lately, and even before that, we'd often hear about how some piece of engineering on a car was leading to a bunch of deaths. Sometimes it was a mistake, and sometimes it was an intentional design. But we hear about these issues through the lens of sensationalized media and public outrage — the engineers working on these problems understand better that it's how you drive that gets you into trouble far more than what you drive.

For example, the Ford Pinto became infamous for catching fire in crashes back in the 1970s. Gladwell says, "That's a rare event—it happens once in every hundred crashes. In 1975-76, 1.9 per cent of all cars on the road were Pintos, and Pintos were involved in 1.9 per cent of all fatal fires. Let's try again. About fifteen per cent of fatal fires resulted from rear collisions. If we look just at that subset of the subset, Schwartz shows, we finally see a pattern. Pintos were involved in 4.1 per cent of all rear-collision fire fatalities—which is to say that they may have been as safe as or safer than other cars in most respects but less safe in this one. ... You and I would feel safer in a car that met the 301 standard. But the engineer, whose aim is to maximize safety within a series of material constraints, cannot be distracted by how you and I feel."
Transportation

Smart Headlights Adjust To Aid Drivers In Difficult Conditions 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute are developing smart headlights that not only trace a car's movement around bends, but are programmable to assist a driver in a wide range of driving conditions. The research team, at the institute's Illumination and Imaging Laboratory, is looking into designing headlights which do not highlight raindrops and snowflakes in bad weather, instead passing light around the individual drops and improving visibility. Its near-future design would also be able to avoid glare even when the high beam is in use, detecting up-coming vehicles and disabling the range of light that is directed at it. They also hope to incorporate GPS data to adjust the direction of the headlights according to the lane that a driver is occupying, illuminating it more brightly compared to surrounding lanes. The technology is supported by a looped system which will constantly read, assess and react to driving conditions. The prototype also features a built-in camera to capture visual data before transferring it to a computer processor installed in the vehicle, where it can be analyzed.
Communications

Traffic App Waze To Alert L.A. Drivers of Kidnappings and Hit-and-Runs 84

Posted by timothy
from the target-audience-is-rubberneckers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Traffic-alert app Waze has announced a partnership with Los Angeles to share information on hit-and-runs and kidnappings taking place across the city, alongside traffic data and road closure updates. The deal forms part of a data-sharing agreement between L.A. authorities and the Google-owned tech startup detailed yesterday by the city's mayor Eric Garcetti. He assured that the data provided to the city by Waze would be "aggregated" and completely anonymous. According to the councillor the collaboration was mutually confirmed on Monday following a "very good meeting" between Waze and LAPD chief officer Charlie Beck. This move signals a considerable turn of events after Beck argued at the end of last year that the traffic alert app posed a danger to police due to its ability to track their location. The complaint followed the shooting of two police officers in New York after the shooter used the app to track his targets.
Education

Virtual Reality Games Can Improve Memory Retention of Safety Instructions 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget dept.
vrml writes: Using a virtual reality (VR) headset to experience risky situations as immersive 3D games improves memory retention of passenger safety instructions, according to research published in the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, and illustrated by a YouTube video. Researchers recruited occasional flyers: half of them played a VR gaming experience of an airliner water landing and evacuation, while the other half studied a real airline safety card. After one week, passengers who had studied the safety card suffered a significant loss of knowledge, while passengers who had played the VR game fully retained the safety knowledge gained. The research group has now made available its emergency water landing experience also for the Oculus Rift.
Transportation

Maglev Train Exceeds 600km/h For World Record 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the zoom-zoom dept.
nojayuk writes: An experimental Japanese magnetic levitation train has reached a speed of 603 km/h, breaking the world speed record the same train set last week of 590 km/h. "Central Japan Railway (JR Central), which owns the trains, wants to introduce the service between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027. The 280km journey would take only about 40 minutes, less than half the current time. However, passengers will not get to experience the maglev's record-breaking speeds because the company said its trains will operate at a maximum of 505km/h. In comparison, the fastest operating speed of a Japanese shinkansen, or "bullet train" is is 320km/h. ... Construction costs are estimated at nearly $100bn (£67bn) just for the stretch to Nagoya, with more than 80% of the route expected to go through costly tunnels, AFP news agency reports."
The Courts

Supreme Court Rules Extending Traffic Stop For Dog Sniff Unconstitutional 400

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-allowed-to-hound-you-anymore dept.
bmxeroh writes: The Supreme Court ruled today (PDF) that a police officer may not extend a traffic stop beyond the time needed to complete the tasks related to that stop for the purposes of allowing a trained dog to sniff for drugs. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority (6-3) that police authority "ends when tasks tied to the traffic infraction are — or reasonably should have been — completed." The case, Rodriguez v. United States, 13-9972, all started with Rodriguez was stopped in Nebraska for driving out of his lane. After he was given the ticket for that infraction, he was made to wait an additional seven to eight minutes for a drug dog to arrive which promptly alerted to the presence of drugs in the car. Upon search, the officers found a small bag of methamphetamine in his possession.
Transportation

Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars 649

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-down-the-wrench-and-back-away dept.
Mr_Blank writes Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.
Google

Elon Musk Bailed Out of $6bn Google Takeover To Save Tesla From 2013 Bankruptcy 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Elon Musk almost sold Tesla to Google in 2013 when the company was close to bankruptcy. "Elon Musk had a deal to sell his electric car company Tesla, to Google for $6bn (£4bn) when it was heading for bankruptcy with just two weeks' worth of cash left in the bank. During the first week of March 2013, Musk spoke to his friend Larry Page, chief executive of Google, about the search giant buying his car company, which at the time was suffering from falling sales amid technical problems with the few Model S luxury sedan cars it had delivered. Ashlee Vance, author of upcoming book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, claims in an extra for Bloomberg two people 'with direct knowledge of the deal' said Musk and Page agreed to the buyout and shook on a price of around $6bn. This was plus promises from Google to invest $5bn for factory expansion and to not break Tesla up or close it down."
Transportation

How Uber Surge Pricing Really Works 96

Posted by timothy
from the has-a-catchy-name-regardless dept.
minstrelmike writes with this analysis from Nicholas Diakopoulos of the Washington Post: At the core of Uber's wild success and market valuation of over $41 billion is its data and algorithmically fueled approach to matching supply and demand for cars. It's classic economics, supposedly....but is Uber's surge pricing algorithm really doing what they claim? Do surge prices really get more cars on the road?

My analysis suggests that rather than motivating a fresh supply of drivers, surge pricing instead re-distributes drivers already on the road.
Adds minstrelmike: The writer goes on to analyze 4 weeks of pricing info from 5 areas in D.C. and plotted prices versus wait times. "Price surging can work in any of three ways: by reducing demand for cars (less people want a car for a higher price), by creating new supply (providing an incentive for new drivers to hit the roads), or by shifting supply (drivers) to areas of higher demand."

It moves current drivers from one side of town to the other. It does not put new drivers on the road. It can't because the prices change every 3-5 minutes."
Transportation

Dutch Prosecutors Launch Criminal Investigation Against Uber For Flouting Ban 48

Posted by timothy
from the red-lights-and-red-tape dept.
An anonymous reader writes Dutch prosecutors have announced that they are prosecuting taxi-hailing giant Uber for continuing to disregard last December's ban on the company offering its unlicensed UberPOP service in the Netherlands. The statement declares 'The company Uber is now a suspect...This means a preliminary examination will be started to collect evidence that Uber is providing illegal transportation on a commercial basis,'. Dutch police presented evidence to the prosecutors of UberPOP drivers in Amsterdam ignoring the ban, and at the time of writing the UberPOP service is still available via Uber's Amsterdam website [https://www.uber.com/cities/amsterdam]. Though Uber inspires new litigation on a weekly basis in the territories in which it is seeking to consolidate its services, this is the first time it has been the subject of a criminal prosecution.
Space

Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 75

Posted by timothy
from the partially-electric-is-still-cool dept.
New submitter Adrian Harvey writes The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.
United Kingdom

UK Company Wants To Deliver Parcels Through Underground Tunnels 117

Posted by samzenpus
from the mole-mail dept.
Zothecula writes Drones flown by Amazon aren't the only way we could be getting our parcels delivered in the near future. UK firm Mole Solutions is exploring the possibility of using small robot trains running on underground tracks to manage deliveries, and it's just received funding from the British government to help test the viability of the proposal.
Security

Calling Out a GAO Report That Says In-Flight Wi-Fi Lets Hackers Access Avionics 113

Posted by timothy
from the this-postcard-is-just-an-atom-bomb dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that in-flight W-Fi, including wireless entertainment and internet-based cockpit communications, may allow hackers to gain remote access to avionics systems and take over navigation. At the same time, a cyber expert and pilot called the report "deceiving" and said that "To imply that because IP is used for in-flight WiFi and also on the avionics networks means that you can automatically take over the avionics network makes about as much sense as saying you can take over the jet engines because they breathe air like the passengers and there is no air gap between passengers who touch the plane and the engines which are attached to the plane."
Businesses

Chinese Ninebot Buys US Rival Segway 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the lean-into-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Xiaomi-backed startup Ninebot, a Chinese maker of electric-powered personal transportation products, has acquired U.S. rival Segway – the two-wheeler upright scooter which has become a running joke, synonymous with various comedic appearances (such as in U.S. sitcom Arrested Development and the 2009 comedy Paul Blart: Mall Cop), and the death of its owner at the hands of an unfortunate Segway-induced cliff fall. However Gao Lufeng, chief executive, still recognizes the potential of the Segway and has bought the U.S. company for an undisclosed amount. Lufeng confirmed that Ninebot had also secured $80mn in funding from Xiaomi and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.
Transportation

GAO Warns FAA of Hacking Threat To Airliners 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-agile-enough-to-respond dept.
chicksdaddy writes: A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration may be failing to address cyber security vulnerabilities that could allow remote attacks on avionics systems needed to keep the plane airborne. In a report issued Tuesday (PDF), the GAO said, "significant security-control weaknesses remain that threaten the agency's ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system." Among those: a lack of clear certification for aircraft airworthy readiness that encompasses cyber security protections. That lapse could allow planes to fly with remotely exploitable vulnerabilities that could affect aircraft controls and guidance systems.

The GAO report did not provide details of any specific vulnerability affecting any specific aircraft. Rather, GAO cited FAA personnel and experts, saying that the possibility exists that "unauthorized individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems," in part by moving between Internet-connected in-flight entertainment systems and critical avionics systems in the aircraft cabin.

Security researchers have long warned that hackers could jump from in-flight entertainment systems in the passenger cabin to cockpit avionics systems if airlines did not take proper precautions, such as so-called "air gapping" the networks. At last year's Black Hat Briefings, researcher Ruben Santamarta of IOActive demonstrated a method of hacking the satellite communications equipment on passenger jets through their WiFi and inflight entertainment systems.
Hardware

Fifty Years of Moore's Law 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-over-the-hill-but-the-hill-keeps-getting-steeper dept.
HughPickens.com writes: IEEE is running a special report on "50 Years of Moore's Law" that considers "the gift that keeps on giving" from different points of view. Chris Mack begins by arguing that nothing about Moore's Law was inevitable. "Instead, it's a testament to hard work, human ingenuity, and the incentives of a free market. Moore's prediction may have started out as a fairly simple observation of a young industry. But over time it became an expectation and self-fulfilling prophecy—an ongoing act of creation by engineers and companies that saw the benefits of Moore's Law and did their best to keep it going, or else risk falling behind the competition."

Andrew "bunnie" Huang argues that Moore's Law is slowing and will someday stop, but the death of Moore's Law will spur innovation. "Someday in the foreseeable future, you will not be able to buy a better computer next year," writes Huang. "Under such a regime, you'll probably want to purchase things that are more nicely made to begin with. The idea of an "heirloom laptop" may sound preposterous today, but someday we may perceive our computers as cherished and useful looms to hand down to our children, much as some people today regard wristwatches or antique furniture."

Vaclav Smil writes about "Moore's Curse" and argues that there is a dark side to the revolution in electronics for it has had the unintended effect of raising expectations for technical progress. "We are assured that rapid progress will soon bring self-driving electric cars, hypersonic airplanes, individually tailored cancer cures, and instant three-dimensional printing of hearts and kidneys. We are even told it will pave the world's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies," writes Smil. "But the doubling time for transistor density is no guide to technical progress generally. Modern life depends on many processes that improve rather slowly, not least the production of food and energy and the transportation of people and goods."

Finally, Cyrus Mody tackles the question: what kind of thing is Moore's Law? "Moore's Law is a human construct. As with legislation, though, most of us have little and only indirect say in its construction," writes Mody. "Everyone, both the producers and consumers of microelectronics, takes steps needed to maintain Moore's Law, yet everyone's experience is that they are subject to it."
Privacy

Denver TSA Screeners Manipulated System In Order To Grope Men's Genitals 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the classiest-thing-you'll-read-about-the-TSA-all-week dept.
McGruber writes: The CBS affiliate in Denver reports: "Two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers." According to law enforcement reports obtained during the CBS4 investigation, a male TSA screener told a female colleague in 2014 that he "gropes" male passengers who come through the screening area at DIA. "He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female. When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area." Although the TSA learned of the accusation on Nov. 18, 2014 via an anonymous tip from one of the agency's own employees, reports show that it would be nearly three months before anything was done."
Transportation

Autonomous Cars and the Centralization of Driving 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-where-the-algorithm-lets-you dept.
New submitter arctother writes: Taxicab Subjects has posted a response to a Morgan Stanley analyst's recent take on how driverless cars will shape society in the future. From the article: [R]eally, 'autonomy' is still not the right word for it. Just as the old-fashioned 'automobile' was never truly 'auto-mobile,' but relied, not only on human drivers, but an entire concrete infrastructure built into cities and smeared across the countryside, so the interconnected 'autonomous vehicles' of the future will be even more dependent on the interconnected systems of which they are part. To see this as 'autonomy' is to miss the deeper reality, which will be control. Which is why the important movement reflected in the chart's up-down continuum is not away from 'Human Drivers' to 'Autonomous' cars, but from a relatively decentralized system (which relies on large numbers of people knowing how to drive) to an increasingly centralized system (relying on the knowledge of a small number of people)."
Transportation

How Flight Tracking Works: a Global Network of Volunteers 52

Posted by timothy
from the tapping-into-ocd dept.
An anonymous reader writes If a website can show the flight path and all those little yellow planes in real time, how can they not know where Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went down? Answering that involves understanding a little about how flight-tracking sites work, where they get their data, and the limitations of existing technologies. It also involves appreciating a relatively new approach that the two large flight-tracking companies, Texas-based FlightAware and Sweden-based Flightradar24 are rushing to expand, a global sensor system known as ADS-B, which broadcasts updates of aircraft GPS data in real time. ADS-B is slowly superseding the ground-based radar systems that have been used for decades, becoming central not only to flight tracking but also to the future of flight safety. And it's powered, in part, by thousands of dedicated aviation hobbyists around the globe.