Google’s Self-Driving Car Project Is A City Street Reality

Google has made a lot of progress on its self-driving car project in the past few years, and just this week it began ferrying journalists around Mountain View in the autonomous vehicles. The company shared with us a heap of information about the project, its history and how it came to be in light of its recent advancements – and while it’s been hard going, you might be surprised at how far they’ve come, and just how successful they’ve been in their testing to date.

Google cites the 1939 World’s Fair ‘Futurama’ ride for GM as the inception point of the passion for self-driving vehicles, but the self-driving car project kicked off at Google in 2009 under Sebastian Thrun, with an initial focus on the relatively uncomplicated (but still monumental) task of negotiating freeways. The past year or so has been focused on tackling city street driving, with improvements including pedestrian and cyclist detection, sign reading via improved computer vision, and more advanced software models to predict a full spectrum of possible roadway incidents.

To build a comprehensive model of city driving involves painstakingly slow development, however; Google says that it’s adding new streets in Mountain View every week, but that’s just a single city – presumably tackling new urban centers, and dealing with varying municipal and state driving laws and different driver behavior will involve additional work as well. Google also says it needs to do more work with situations that humans handle via social signals (including hand gestures, head movements and eye contact) like 4-way stops, lane changes and merging with other traffic.

Google’s self-driving cars have other super powers that we mere humans do not, however, and that probably has something to do with the project’s 0 percent accident rate in its five-year history – yes, the autonomous vehicles have been involved in exactly no incidents or collisions over the course of the trial. For instance, a Google car can “see” 360 degrees, using a combination of lasers, positional and orientation sensors, and radar. All of this info is fed to a processor that checks it for accuracy and relevance, and then creates a detailed map of the cars surroundings and process that for event data in real-time.

The entire purpose of the self-driving car project is to make it possible for cars to react to their environment with 100 percent accuracy, avoiding the 93 percent of accidents that happen on the road each year due to human error. So far, it has managed around 700,000 autonomous miles driven, using specialized Lexus SUVs modified with Google’s sensor, processor and imaging tech. It’s still a long way away from being something a majority of us use everyday in place of our current cars, but Google is in talks with automotive manufacturers to begin work on production vehicles, with a projected time frame of around six years before the first (limited) model could come to market. It’s a distant dream still, but far less so than it was 75 years ago at the World’s Fair.

Viral Mother’s Day Video: Seeds through Google Glass

Google Glass uploads an emotional video on YouTube which immediately goes viral the moment it was published after it earned over 56,000 views within the day.

The film entitled Seeds which was captured entirely on Google Glass features a man’s long journey to his home in India to surprise his mother.

. It was produced by alumni and students from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts as part of the Glass Creative Collection.

The clip shows a first person perspective of a man packing his things in a bag. His wife handed him a brown envelope to bring along. He then takes a cab, pulls a train card, and rides a train with the brown envelope constantly on his hands.

He proceeds to the airport and pulls up his passport. He gets his boarding pass and rides the plane. While on the plane ride, he still keeps the brown envelope handy and reads a book.

When he arrived in India, he adjusted his watch to the local time and took a motorcycle which was the local mode of transportation in the country. He takes a train and watches the panoramic view of the rural life as he passes by.

Finally, he takes a tri-bicycle, rides a small boat, and reaches his own village where his young relatives meet him.

When he goes inside the home and taps the shoulder of her Mother, the surprise expression on her face is undeniable. They had a heartwarming reunion and feast on the food.

He then takes out the brown envelope and gives it to her Mom who is fixing the hanging clothes. His mother turned to tears. He had been carrying a picture of an ultrasound all along.

In an article from Mashable, the 23-year old filmmaker Chaganty revealed that the 2.30-minute film was shot in a span of 10 days in four different locations: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tokyo, and India. He stated: “It was the first introduction to acting I’ve ever had.” He also revealed that throughout the production of the Mother’s Day-themed story, he had the same clothes, and a wedding ring.

As for the production style, Chaganty stated: “We made it a very clear point to never show … if someone was not aware that I was shooting, we would never show their full face. In fact there’s one part we blurred.”

What a heart-rending film fit for Mother’s Day indeed!

Self-driving and self-parking cars in Sweden – video

A new pilot project is being launched which will introduce us to self-driving and self-parking cars. The project called ‘Drive Me’, is being trailed in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, with 100 self-driving Volvos due to take to the roads. The scheme is aimed at reducing accidents and cutting down fuel consumption.

World’s Smallest 3D-Printing Pen

Humans are accustomed to drawing in the air. We gesture with our hands when talking and will try to illustrate charade secrets by “drawing” objects in space. 3D-printing pens takes those gestures, makes them tangible and, in the hands of an artists, beautiful. Recent 3D-printing pens have been cool, but clunky affairs. LIX Pen, however, is something different. It’s light, small and apparently needs no more power than you can draw from your run-of-the-mill laptop. Now it’s coming to Kickstarter.

Measuring 6.45 inches long, 0.55 inch in diameter and weighing just 1.23 ounces, the aluminum 3D-printing pen (which also comes in black) really is pen sized. You hold it just like a pen, and plug a 3.5mm-like jack into the base and the other end of your cable into your computer. The juice allows LIX to heat to over 300-degrees Fahrenheit, though the plant-based PLA filament (it can also use the stronger ABS plastic) only needs to heat to 180-degrees to work. That filament is fed in through a hole in the base and emerges as a super-heated liquid on the tip so you can start doodling in the air.

Unlike 3D printers, there is no program guiding the printing tip. Instead, to create 3D objects, you simply start drawing in the air with the LIX Pen, moving slowly as the melted filament draws out. It cools quickly so that your structure remains rigid. Each filament rod is about 10 centimeters long and should, according to the company, last for about two minutes of air-drawing.

Netflix Internet Scam: Beware of a New Breed of Scammers Pretending To Be Netflix Tech Support

Netflix subscribers beware: There’s a scheme floating around the Internet that you should watch out for. If you’re not careful, you could end up about $400 poorer and with a stolen identity.

It works like this: A group of crammers purporting to be Netflix tech support sends you a phony email. It sends you to a fake Netflix login page, sets a phony notice that your account has been suspended and then persuades you to call a support service to get it back. Once they have you on the phone with fake tech support, they persuade you to download software that allows them to crawl through your computer and snap up anything of interest.

When it’s all over, they’ll send you a bill and run away with any good data they can find.

It’s a common scheme, which affects numerous other websites and services. But this particular instance provides a rare step-by-step glimpse into the particulars of the con.

The scheme was discovered and documented in the YouTube video below by Malwarebytes Unpacked cybersecurity writer Jérôme Segura.

It all starts when you think you’re logging into your Netflix account, based on the fake email from Netflix. You can enter whatever incorrect login information you want. No matter what, it’ll bring you to a page that says your account was suspended for unauthorized use and ask you to call an 800 number on the screen.

So, Netflix users: Watch out. And as a general rule, don’t let random IT dudes poke around your computer. Don’t download any sketchy computer programs with tech support; don’t send them credit card info or agree to pay fees. Those are dead giveaways you’re dealing with scammers.

Microsoft’s Answer to Siri

As we await the official announcement of Microsoft’s next update to its mobile operating system, rumored to be named Windows Phone 8.1, leaks of said update continue to surface.

The latest: a video of what looks to be a working version of Windows Phone’s own Siri-like voice assistant, Cortana (named after the AI from the Halo video games).

Apple’s Operating System for Cars Could Launch This Week, with a Siri-Controlled Ferrari

Apple is reportedly set to launch its “iOS in the Car” operating system — which would bring basic Apple-made applications like Apple Maps, phone and iMessage directly on your inboard screen — in partnership with Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo this week.

The operating system will allow drivers to access various iPhone functions through a car’s built-in screen. It also allows you to access the Siri voice control feature from the driver’s seat.

The report surfaced in the Financial Times.

Now, the idea of iOS in the Car isn’t mere speculation. Apple had talked up iOS in the Car at its Worldwide Developers Conference last year. Apple VP Eddy Cue, also a Ferrari board member, showed a mock-up of a car’s LCD with Apple menu buttons for maps, phone, music and messaging. You can watch that demo above.

Cue said that the functions could be accessible via Siri as well, adding that Chevrolet, Ferrari, Honda, Jaguar, Mercedes, Nissan Volvo and others would be introducing iOS integration this year.

Meanwhile, the official announcement is said to take place at the Geneva Motor Show.