Transportation

Munich Planning Highway System For Cyclists 4 4

An anonymous reader writes: The German city of Munich has been looking for solutions to its traffic problem. Rush hour traffic is a parking lot, and public transit is near capacity. They think their best bet is to encourage (and enable) more people to hop on their bikes. Munich is now planning a Radschnellverbindungen — a highway system just for cyclists. Long bike routes will connect the city with universities, employment centers, and other cities. The paths themselves would be as free from disruption as possible — avoiding intersections and traffic lights are key to a swift commute. They'll doubtless take lessons from Copenhagen's bike skyway: "Cykelslangen (pronounced soo-cool-klag-en) adds just 721 feet of length to the city's 220 miles of bicycle paths, but it relieves congestion by taking riders over instead of through a waterfront shopping area."
Television

Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May Making Show For Amazon 189 189

mrspoonsi writes: Amazon has announced that former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will be reuniting to create “an all-new car show” that will be exclusively on Amazon Prime. The first season will be made available worldwide in 2016 and will be produced executive producer Andy Wilman. The BBC reports: "The move follows their departure from the hit BBC Two show earlier this year. Clarkson's contract was not renewed following an 'unprovoked physical attack' on a Top Gear producer. His co-hosts then followed him in leaving the show. They will now make the unnamed new programme with former Top Gear executive producer Andy Wilman, who also quit the BBC following the 'fracas.' In a statement from Amazon, Clarkson said: 'I feel like I've climbed out of a biplane and into a spaceship.'"
Transportation

Hacker's Device Can Intercept OnStar's Mobile App and Unlock, Start GM Cars 39 39

Lucas123 writes: Security researcher Samy Kamkar posted a video today demonstrating a device he created that he calls OwnStar that can intercept communications between GM's RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service in order to unlock and start an OnStar equipped car. Kamkar said that after a user opens the OnStar Remote Link app on his or her mobile phone "near the OwnStar device," OwnStar intercepts the communication and sends "data packets to the mobile device to acquire additional credentials. The OwnStar device then notifies the attacker about the new vehicle that the hacker has access to for an indefinite period of time, including its location, make and model. And at that point, the hacker can use the Remote Link app to control the vehicle. Kamkar said GM is aware of the security hole and is working on a fix.
Transportation

Indian Ocean Debris Believed To Come From Missing Flight MH370 84 84

McGruber writes that air crash investigators, though maintaining that it is "too early to tell" with certainty, have 'a high degree of confidence' that a piece of wreckage found on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion is from a Boeing 777 — the same model as the doomed MH370 which disappeared in March 2014. Investigators will need to examine closely the wreckage to link it to MH370, but MH370 was the only Boeing 777 ever lost over water.
Transportation

Are We Reaching the Electric Car Tipping Point? 835 835

HughPickens.com writes: Geoff Ralston has an interesting essay explaining why it is likely that electric car penetration in the U.S. will take off at an exponential rate over the next 5-10 years rendering laughable the paltry predictions of future electric car sales being made today. Present projections assume that electric car sales will slowly increase as the technology gets marginally better, and as more and more customers choose to forsake a better product (the gasoline car) for a worse, yet "greener" version. According to Ralston this view of the future is, simply, wrong. — electric cars will take over our roads because consumers will demand them. "Electric cars will be better than any alternative, including the loud, inconvenient, gas-powered jalopy," says Ralston. "The Tesla Model S has demonstrated that a well made, well designed electric car is far superior to anything else on the road. This has changed everything."

The Tesla Model S has sold so well because, compared to old-fashioned gasoline cars it is more fun to drive, quieter, always "full" every morning, more roomy, and it continuously gets better with automatic updates and software improvements. According to Ralston the tipping point will come when gas stations, not a massively profitable business, start to go out of business as many more electric cars are sold, making gasoline powered vehicles even more inconvenient. When that happens even more gasoline car owners will be convinced to switch. Rapidly a tipping point will be reached, at which point finding a convenient gas station will be nearly impossible and owning a gasoline powered car will positively suck. "Elon Musk has ushered in the age of the electric car, and whether or not it, too, was inevitable, it has certainly begun," concludes Ralston. "The future of automotive transportation is an electric one and you can expect that future to be here soon."
The Military

US Navy Tests 3D Printing Custom Drones On Its Ships 66 66

itwbennett writes: Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School are testing the use of 3D printers on ships to produce custom drones outfitted for specialized missions. The idea, said Alan Jaeger, a faculty research associate at the school, is that ships could set sail with kits of the core electronics parts, since they are common to most drones, but have the bodies designed according to specific requirements for each mission. A prototype drone was designed by engineers on shore based on requirements of the sailors at sea, and the 3D design file was emailed to the USS Essex over a satellite link. Flight tests revealed some of the potential problems, most of which were associated with operating the drone rather than the printing itself, Jaeger said. 'Even with a small amount of wind, something this small will get buffeted around,' he said. They also had to figure out the logistics of launching a drone from a ship, getting it back, how it integrated with other flight operations, and interference from other radio sources like radar.
Transportation

Amazon Proposes Dedicated Airspace For Drones 142 142

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has published two new position papers which lay out its vision for future drone regulation. Under Amazon's plan, altitudes under 200ft would be reserved for basic hobbyist drones and those used for things like videography and inspection. Altitudes between 200ft and 400ft would be designated for "well-equipped vehicles" capable of operating autonomously out of line of sight. They would need sophisticated GPS tracking, a stable data uplink, communications capabilities with other drones, and sensors to avoid collisions. This, of course, is where Amazon would want to operate its drone delivery fleet. From 400ft to 500ft would be a no-fly zone buffer between the drone airspace and integrated airspace. Amazon's plan also makes room for "predefined low-risk areas," where hobbyists and other low-tech drones can fly higher than the 200ft ceiling. "Additionally, it is Amazon's view that air traffic management operations should follow a 'managed by exception' approach. This means operators are always aware of what the fleet is doing, yet they only intervene in significant off-nominal cases."
Space

Poor Pilot Training Blamed For Virgin Galactic Crash 83 83

astroengine writes: SpaceShipTwo co-pilot Michael Alsbury was not properly trained to realize the consequences of unlocking the vehicle's hinged tail section too soon, a mistake that led to his death and the destruction of the ship during a test flight in California last year. Responsibility for the accident falls to SpaceShipTwo manufacturer Scaled Composites, a Mojave, Calif., company owned by Northrop Grumman Corp, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined at a webcast hearing on Tuesday (PDF). Poor oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial spaceflights in the United States, was also a factor in the accident, the NTSB said.
Transportation

Fiat Chrysler Hit With Record $105 Million Fine Over Botched Recalls 83 83

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has levied a record fine against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to punish them for failing to adequately recall and fix defective cars. (If Fiat sounds familiar, it's the same company that issued a 1.4 million-vehicle recall on Friday over a remote hack.) The NHTSA's $105 million fine is half-again as much as the next biggest fine (given to Honda last year over faulty airbags). Fiat Chrysler "admitted to violating federal rules requiring timely recalls and notifications to vehicle owners, dealers and regulators." The company will be forced to buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles (at the owners' discretion, of course) that have problems with the suspension that could lead to a loss of control. A million more Jeep owners will be given a chance to trade in their vehicle at a higher rate than market value because of rear-mounted gas tanks that are prone to catching fire.
Privacy

After Progressive Insurance's Snapshot Hacked, Manufacturer Has Been, Too 3 3

An anonymous reader writes: Progressive Insurance sells a tracking device called Snapshot that is advertised as a "little device [that] turns your safe driving into savings." However Snapshot itself has been hacked, and Xirgo Technologies, which makes Snapshot, is currently hacked due to out-of-date software on their website — and has been that way since at least May 5th of 2015. Given that Chrysler just did a recall of 1.4 million cars, people should really think twice before blindly trusting the safety of their cars to any random company, especially if that company can't even keep their WordPress up-to-date or remove hacked code from their site.
Transportation

When Do Robocars Become Cheaper Than Standard Cars? 252 252

Hallie Siegel writes: With all the extra sensors and technology that have to go into autonomous cars, you might expect them to cost more. After all, autonomous features like park assist and auto lane changing are added-value components that you pay extra for on current vehicles. But autonomous car expert Brad Templeton thinks it could be that the overall cost of autonomous vehicles per mile driven will lower than traditional cars. Not only because features of traditional cars, like dashboards and steering columns, will not be necessary in robocars, but also because autonomous cars are more likely to be shared and constantly in use, rather than sitting in your driveway 90% of the time.
Transportation

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 1.4 Million Autos To Fix Remote Hack 157 157

swinferno writes: Fiat Chrysler announced today that it's recalling 1.4 million automobiles just days after researchers demonstrated a terrifying hack of a Jeep that was driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour. They are offering a software patch for some of their internet-connected vehicles. Cybersecurity experts Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller have publicly exposed a serious vulnerability that would allow hackers to take remote control of Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) cars that run its Uconnect internet-accessing software for connected car features. Despite this, the researchers say automakers are being slow to address security concerns, and are often approaching security in the wrong way.
Transportation

Study: Push Notifications As Distracting As Taking a Call 60 60

itwbennett writes: Researchers at Florida State University have found that simply being aware of a missed call or text can have the same damaging effect on task performance as actually using a mobile phone. 'Although these notifications are short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind-wandering,' the researchers wrote in their paper. In further bad news for chronic multitaskers, a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut finds that 'students who multitasked while doing homework had to study longer, and those who frequently multitasked in class had lower grades on average than their peers who multitasked less often.'
Security

Remote Control of a Car, With No Phone Or Network Connection Required 158 158

Albanach writes: Following on from this week's Wired report showing the remote control of a Jeep using a cell phone, security researchers claim to have achieved a similar result using just the car radio. Using off the shelf components to create a fake radio station, the researchers sent signals using the DAB digital radio standard used in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. After taking control of the car's entertainment system it was possible to gain control of vital car systems such as the brakes. In the wild, such an exploit could allow widespread simultaneous deployment of a hack affecting huge numbers of vehicles.
Wireless Networking

Cell Service At US Airports Varies From 1st Class To Middle-seat Coach 40 40

alphadogg writes with this NetworkWorld story about the wide disparity in wireless coverage available at airports across the U.S.. Atlanta scores very high while Los Angeles International is less than mediocre. According to the story: You can download an episode of your favorite show in less than a minute and a half on Verizon Wireless at Atlanta's airport—or spend 13 hours doing the same over T-Mobile USA at Los Angeles International. The comparison of 45-minute HD video downloads illustrates the wide variation in cellular service at U.S. airports, which RootMetrics laid out in a report for the first half of 2015 that's being issued Thursday. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson is the best place to go mobile and Verizon covers airports best overall, but just like security lines and de-icing delays, it all depends.
Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Transportation

U. Michigan Opens a Test City For Driverless Cars 76 76

An anonymous reader writes: The University of Michigan has opened Mcity, the world's first controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars. Mcity is a 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment that includes a network of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. The types of technologies that will be tested at the facility include connected technologies – vehicles talking to other vehicles or to the infrastructure, commonly known as V2V or V2I – and various levels of automation all the way up to fully autonomous, or driverless vehicles.
Transportation

Remote Exploit On a Production Chrysler To Be Presented At BlackHat 173 173

Matt_Bennett writes: A scary remote exploit is going to be published that enables someone connected to the the same wireless (mobile data) network to take over many [automobile] systems, including braking. This is an exploit in Chrysler's Uconnect system. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek also demonstrated exploits in 2013 that could be done via a direct connection to the system, but this is vastly expanded in scope. The pair convinced Wired writer Andy Greenberg to drive around near St. Louis while they picked apart the car's systems from 10 miles away, killing the radio controls before moving on to things like the transmission.
Transportation

Ford's New Smart Headlights For Tracking Objects At Night 192 192

An anonymous reader writes: Headlights have been around since the 1880's, and while the source of their light has changed over the years, their functionality has remained virtually the same, until now. Ford has unveiled a new advanced illumination system that should make driving your car at night a lot safer. The new headlight system uses a standard and infrared camera to detect objects near the road. The new technology can locate and track up to eight people or animals up to 12 meters. Ford reports: "Building upon Adaptive Front Lighting System and Traffic Sign Recognition, the system interprets traffic signs to better illuminate hazards that are not in the direction of travel, and uses GPS information for enhanced lighting when encountering bends and dips on a chosen route. Where GPS information is not available, a video camera detects lane markings and predicts the road’s curvature. When next the driver uses the same road again, the headlights adapt to the course of the road automatically. We expect this technology to be available for customers in the near term."
EU

Europe's Top Court To Decide If Uber Is Tech Firm Or Taxi Company 193 193

An anonymous reader writes: A Spanish judge has requested that the European Court of Justice determine whether or not Uber is a generic "digital service," as it claims, or a "mere transport activity." If the court rules that Uber is a transportation firm the company may have to follow the same licensing and safety rules as taxis and other hired vehicles. "Today's news means that the European Court of Justice will now determine if the national rules currently being applied to digital services like Uber are legal and appropriate under European law," said Mark MacGann, Uber's Head of Public Policy for EMEA, on a conference call with journalists.