Uber Set To Acquire 24,000 Volvo Cars

Taxi agency, Uber, says it will purchase many thousands of Volvo off-road vehicles to build up fleet of self-driving cars.

“The vehicles are set to be delivered between 2019 and 2021,” Volvo announced on Monday in Berlin.

According to a report from financial news agency Bloomberg, the deal is said to involve 24,000 cars from the Swedish manufacturer.

Uber already modified Volvo XC90 SUVs for its first attempt at self-driving cars in 2016.

Moreover, the agreement has showed that Uber is pushing on with the development of its autonomous cars programme, in spite a legal feud with Google’s sister company, Waymo.

Report says the Google offshoot which specialises in autonomous cars, accuses Uber of using technology stolen from them.

The taxi agency, however, denied the claim.

Proceedings in the dispute are due to begin in December.

Honda To Recall 900,000 Minivans Over Seat Safety

Honda Motor Co (7267.T) said on Saturday that it was recalling about 900,000 minivans because second-row seats may tip forward if not properly latched after being adjusted.

 

The Japanese automaker said the recall covered 2011-2017 Honda Odyssey minivans, all but 2,000 of which are in North America, and that it had 46 reports of minor injuries related to the issue. Honda said it was working on a recall fix to help ensure proper latching and, in the interim, had posted a detailed instruction sheet on how to ensure seats are properly latched.

Source: Reuters

Facebook Launches App For Video Creators

Facebook wants to make creation of videos for its site as easy and seamless as possible as it looks to lure publishers away from its main rival: YouTube.

To do just that, the social media company has launched an app exclusively for video creators.

“The Facebook Creator app is a one stop shop for creators of all kinds, to help take their passions to the next level,” Facebook video product manager Chris Hatfield said in a blog post. “With the app, creators can easily create original video, go live with exclusive features, and connect with their community on Facebook all from their pocket.”

The app features tools that enable users to more easily create personalized, live broadcasts that include openers, outros, custom live stickers and graphic frames. A Community Tab enables creators to engage fans and collaborators with a unified inbox that centralizes comments from Facebook and Instagram, and messages from Messenger.

Creators will have access to “fun camera effects and frames,” the ability to crosspost content to other platforms and access Facebook Stories to interact with their fans.

An Insights tool, meanwhile, enables creators to access metrics, including analytics about their Page, videos and fans.

The Facebook Creator app is launching worldwide for iOS and will roll out to Android users in the coming months.

“The app is open to individuals on Pages or profiles, and you will be able to download it in the Apple App Store today,” Hatfield said. “We will be gathering feedback and iterating on the app to create the best experience for creators.”

Facebook has also launched Facebook for Creators, a website that offers creators resources and tips on how to up their video game, connect with fans and grow their following.

Tesla Announces Electric Semi-Truck And Flashy Roadster

Tesla has unveiled a snazzy new car that puts the electric vehicle company in direct competition with other premium sports car manufacturers.

The media and a handful of lucky future customers got a peek at the sleek, new Tesla Roadster Thursday night during a special ceremony. Priced at a whopping $200,000, the reservation price for the baseline model comes in at $50,000. There will also be 1,000 ‘Founders Edition’ Roadsters available to anyone willing to fork over $250,000.

The Roadster, which will be up for gabs in 2020, can go from zero to 60 in 1.9 seconds, and can do a quarter of a mile in 8.8 seconds. With a top speed of more than 250 miles per hour, it just might live up to Tesla’s boast of it being “the quickest car in the world.”

CEO Elon Musk said the Roadster is “a hardcore smack-down to gasoline cars.”

With its 620-mile range per charge, the four-seater may live up to Musk’s promise.

“You’ll be able to travel from LA to San Francisco and back at highway speed without recharging,” Musk said, adding that, “driving a gasoline sports car is going to feel like a steam engine with a side of quiche.”

Musk also announced Tesla’s entry into the big rig industry with its electric semitractor-trailer. With production slated to begin in 2019, prospective customers can reserve their model with $5,000 down.

The semi will be able to haul an 80,000-pound load for 500 miles on each electric charge making it, Musk said, more cost-efficient than diesel models.

“Owners can expect to gain $200,000 or more in savings over a million miles based on fuel costs alone,” the company said in a press release.

The vehicles will come with Tesla’s autopilot system, enabling a convoy of the transports to autonomously follow the lead vehicle.

The plan, Musk said, is to install a network of solar-powered “megachargers” across the globe to accommodate the electric vehicles.

Twitter Removes Verification From White Nationalists’ Accounts

Twitter is removing its verification badge from accounts tweeting offensive content.

The microblogging site for years has placed a blue checkmark atop Twitter accounts of verified users — usually celebrities, athletes, politicians, the media and other well-known figures. The problem, Twitter says, is the checkmark badge appears to be a stamp of approval rather than a verification that the user is authentic.

“Verification has long been perceived as an endorsement. We gave verified accounts visual prominence on the service which deepened this perception. We should have addressed this earlier but did not prioritize the work as we should have,” reads a tweet from Twitter.

“This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.”

The people Twitter is referring to in this case are white nationalists Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler. Spencer is president of white supremacist think tank, the National Policy Institute, while Kessler is an alt-right activist and  the main organizer of the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Both lost their badges on Wednesday.

Twitter’s support page says it “reserves the right to remove verification at any time without notice.”

According to the post, a Twitter user may lose his or her authentication badge if he or she:

  • Intentionally misleads people by changing his or her display name or bio.
  • Promotes hate and/or violence against, or directly attacks or threatens other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. Supports organizations or individuals that promote the above.
  • Incites or engages in the harassment of other Twitter users.
  • Engages in violence or dangerous behavior by threatening or encouraging physical violence against an individual or any group of people, including threatening or promoting terrorism, posting violent, gruesome, shocking, or disturbing imagery or tweeting to the topics of self-harm or suicide.

Twitter says it has paused all general verifications while it works to solve the authentication problem “and will report back soon.”

Mozilla Releases Firefox Quantum

Mozilla has released Firefox Quantum, a browser that boasts speeds that are more than twice as fast as Firefox was even six months ago.

Version 57 of the popular browser was built on an overhauled core engine complete with new technology stolen from Mozilla’s advanced research group.

Quantum was “designed to get out of the way and let you do what you do best: surf a ton of pages, open a zillion tabs, all guilt free because Firefox Quantum uses less memory than the competition,” Mozilla said in a blog post.

Quantum also boasts a new user interface (UI), dubbed Photon. Mozilla’s new UI recreated the way people browse the Web so it can offer a seamless experience to its users.

“Our designers created a system that scales to more than just current hardware but lets us expand in the future,” Mozilla said. “Plus, our Pocket integration goes one step further, which includes Pocket recommendations alongside your most visited pages.”

Google is to be Firefox Quantum’s new default search provider in the United States and Canada.

The browser is available for Windows, Mac or Linux and will soon appear on on iOS and Android.

Volkswagen To Pay $69m In New Jersey Emissions Suits Settlement

Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) confirmed on Tuesday it has agreed to pay $69 million to settle New Jersey state diesel emissions claims, one of the last major outstanding diesel legal issues the German automaker faced in the United States.

 

VW has previously agreed to spend more than $750 million to resolve various state environmental and consumer claims. In total, VW has agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the United States to address claims from owners, environmental regulators, states and dealers and offered to buy back about 500,000 polluting U.S. vehicles.

New Jersey’s attorney general and the automaker confirmed the cases had been settled in a court filing on Tuesday. New Jersey had said previously that VW could have faced maximum penalties of more than $1.2 billion in the state.

“Volkswagen’s agreement with New Jersey resolves one of the most significant remaining legal exposures related to the diesel matter in the United States. It fully settles the state’s legacy consumer and environmental claims and is another important step forward for our company and our shareholders,” VW spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said Tuesday.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the state received roughly one-and-a-half times per vehicle the amount paid any other state settling with VW for deceptive practices.

“The company put market share ahead of integrity and profit ahead of lawful compliance, and we held them accountable,” Christie said in a statement.

In March, VW agreed to pay $157 million to settle environmental claims from 10 other U.S. states. In 2016, the German automaker reached a $603 million consumer fraud settlement with 44 U.S. states, also excluding New Jersey.

The settlement with 10 U.S. states required Volkswagen to offer at least three new electric vehicles in those states by 2020, including two SUVs. VW agreed in December 2016 to offer the vehicles in California in the same time frame.

In April, Volkswagen, which admitted to circumventing the emissions control system in U.S. diesel vehicles for vehicles sold since 2009, was sentenced to three years probation after pleading guilty to three felony counts and paid $4.3 billion in federal penalties.

Twitter Rolls Out 280-Character Tweet Limit To All Users

Twitter is officially rolling out expanded tweets to users worldwide, upping its character limit to 280 from the original limit of 140 characters.

The move comes after a brief test period during which a limited number of users were given access to the long tweets feature. After a little more than a month of testing, Twitter decided it was time to let more of its users express themselves in long form.

“We’re expanding the character limit,” Twitter said in a tweet. “We want it to be easier and faster for everyone to express themselves. More characters. More expression. More of what’s happening.”

Twitter product manager Aliza Rosen said one of the main reasons the company decided to up the character limit was to give people of all languages an equal opportunity to express themselves.

“In languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French,” Rosen said.

“We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean).”

Although many users expressed concern about their feeds being inundated with super-long tweets, Rosen said initial testing revealed that, once the novelty wore off, most users kept their tweets brief.

“During the first few days of the test many people Tweeted the full 280 limit because it was new and novel, but soon after behavior normalized,” she said. “We saw when people needed to use more than 140 characters, they Tweeted more easily and more often. But importantly, people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.”

Twitter stats showed that only five percent of tweets sent exceeded 140 characters while only two percent were more than 190 characters. But when people did take advantage of the increased limit, they received more likes, retweets and @mentions. They were also apt to attract more followers.

“People in the experiment told us that a higher character limit made them feel more satisfied with how they expressed themselves on Twitter, their ability to find good content, and Twitter overall,” Rosen added.

“We are making this change after listening and observing a problem our global community was having (it wasn’t easy enough to Tweet!), studying data to understand how we could improve, trying it out, and listening to your feedback. We’ll continue listening and working to make Twitter easier for everyone while making sure we keep what you love.”

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