Social Media Agency Of The Year Award For Not Doing Social Media

Bob:

But if you want to work in our business you can’t just come out and say that. You need to hide it under steaming piles of jargon. Otherwise, you might lose your job for being “traditional.”

No, you have to do what MediaPost does — take the obvious and make it incomprehensible.

Anyone with a pulse and an IQ above 20 knows that social media marketing is largely a pile of horseshit and the only way to get any value out of Facebook is to buy ads.

Car Dealers Are Dangerously Uneducated About New Safety Features

Aarian Marshall:

If you go by the news coming out of CES and the Detroit auto show, the future of driving is luminescent. Cars are getting safer, swankier, smarter. But between showcase and wide, open road, there’s a transaction process stubbornly rooted in the 20th century: actually selling these things at the car dealership.

That’s a problem, and not just because nobody enjoys haggling with the sales folks. By virtue of their entrenched position between automaker and consumer, dealers aren’t just responsible for selling new cars to people. They’re the ones who have to explain those cars, and how to use their myriad, confusing, wonderful new features. And, to the surprise of nobody who’s spent time in a dealership lately, they’re sometimes lousy teachers.

Cartapping: How Feds Have Spied On Connected Cars For 15 Years

Thomas Fox-Brewster:

The rapid spread of connected devices that can listen and locate has been a boon for law enforcement. Any new technology hooked up to the web has the potential to become a surveillance device, even if it’s original purpose was benign, as shown in a 2016 Arkansas murder investigation where Amazon was asked to hand over audio from a suspect’s Echo.
 
 But such information and much more, I’ve learned, has long been retrievable from cars. Indeed, court documents reveal a 15-year history of what’s been dubbed “cartapping,” where almost real-time audio and location data can be retrieved when cops order vehicle tech providers to hand it over.
 
 One of the more recent examples can be found in a 2014 warrant that allowed New York police to trace a vehicle by demanding the satellite radio and telematics provider SiriusXM provide location information. The warrant, originally filed in 2014 but only recently unsealed (and published below in full), asked SiriusXM “to activate and monitor as a tracking device the SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio installed on the Target Vehicle for a period of 10 days.” The target was a Toyota 4-Runner wrapped up in an alleged illegal gambling enterprise.

How Electric Vehicles Could End Car Ownership as We Know It

Christopher Mims:

If I say “personal electric vehicle,” you might think “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” or maybe “exploding hoverboards.” You don’t think global transportation revolution.
 
 But in the past few years, with the convergence of better battery technology, lighter materials and smaller, more powerful electric motors, entirely new kinds of transportation have bloomed. The electric powertrain, unlike that of the internal combustion engine, scales smoothly from tiny to huge, powering everything from 10-pound electric skateboards to 20-ton electric buses.
 
 This Cambrian explosion of new vehicles enables two other revolutions: self-driving technology, and the shift from vehicle ownership to transportation as a service.

What if Uber kills off public transport rather than cars?

Greg Lindsay:

The perceived wisdom is that Uber has disrupted taxis and that private automobiles are next, but what if we’ve misread what is happening in our cities?

Traditional thinking would suggest that UberPool, which allows users to split the cost of trips with other Uber riders heading in the same direction, will always be inferior to public transport. Sitting in the backseat of a Prius may be more comfortable than standing on a crowded bus or train, continues this reasoning, but carpooling can’t substitute for mass transit at rush hours without massively increasing congestion.

This is wrong. In the last six months, Uber has begun offering shared rides for as little as $1 (81p), introduced optimised pickup points that algorithmically recreate bus stops, and started testing semi-autonomous vehicles it hopes will solve its increasingly contentious labour issues.

How time-saving technology destroys our productivity

Rory Sutherland:

In 1929 John Maynard Keynes predicted that by 2029 people in the developed nations could enjoy a perfectly civilised standard of living while working for 16 hours a week. His hope was for our precious hours of extra leisure to be devoted to such edifying pursuits as playing Grand Theft Auto and watching kittens skateboarding on YouTube. (Actually he didn’t predict that bit — he suggested we’d be listening to string quartets and attending poetry recitals but, hey, that was the Bloomsbury Group for you.) Today, however, not only has the work week stayed constant but, in direct contradiction of the theory, the better-paid now work disproportionately longer hours.
 
 In 2008 some of the world’s leading economists contributed to a series of essays (Revisiting Keynes, MIT) discussing why Keynes’s dream now seems so wide of the mark. Between them, they furnished a number of competing theories. Some posited that people like working and that being busy now has the kind of social cachet that being leisured used to.

Mobile Fact Sheet

Pew Internet:

In contrast to the largely stationary internet of the early 2000s, Americans today are increasingly connected to the world of digital information while “on the go” via smartphones and other mobile devices. Explore the patterns and trends that have shaped the mobile revolution below.

Move Over Mobile Phone: The Next Ad Frontier is the Windshield

Alex Webb:

The next frontier in digital advertising may be your car’s windshield.

Automakers, technology companies and glass manufacturers are teaming up to turn the display that graces the front of an iPhone into the windshield of a car — one that can show ads, directions and vehicle information to the person behind the wheel.

The advent of connected cars is creating a new sales battleground, and using a vehicle’s windshield may be the next way to pitch more products and services to consumers. McKinsey & Co. estimates that mobile and data-driven services in autos will generate $1.5 trillion by 2030. At least part of that will be spent projecting information to drivers and passengers right before their eyes.

“When you think of a person driving and what your needs are when you’re on a typical trip, it’s food, it’s fuel and it’s rest stops,” said John Butler, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst. “Owning the inside of the car is critical, it’s really where the money is made. The real value is locked up in the ad opportunity.”

78% of Global Smartphones Will be Sold to Replacement Buyers in 2017

Linda Sui:

According to the latest report from our Wireless Smartphone Strategies (WSS) services: Global Smartphone Sales by Replacement Sales vs. Sales to First Time Buyers by 88 Countries : 2013-2022, global smartphone replacement sales outweighed sales to first time buyers in 2013, for the first time ever. In 2017, we expect 78% of global smartphones will be sold to replacement buyers. We forecast replacement smartphone sales will continue to dominate smartphone sales across all 6 regions by 2022.
 
 This extensive report forecasts global smartphone sales by replacement sales and sales to first time smartphone buyers for 88 countries worldwide, from 2013 to 2022. Almost every major country worldwide is covered, including United States, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. This report can be used by operators, software developers, content developers, smartphone vendors, component makers, car manufacturers and other stakeholders to determine the distribution of smartphone ownership across the huge global smartphone market.

Facts and figures can be powerful weapons for technology’s giants

Alexandra Frean:

Uber’s decision this week to start releasing its traffic data from dozens of cities worldwide is a reminder that information can be as important to digital companies in shaping markets and creating value as the software and hardware used to access their services.
 
 Uber says that sharing average travel times gleaned from millions of trips will produce a public benefit. We can safely assume it is also acting for its own benefit. Not only is Uber probably hoping to buy loyalty from the city authorities with which it frequently clashes, it may also be seeking to gain a foothold in a key area of its business model presently outside its control: urban planning and traffic management.

Let’s Talk About Self-Driving Cars

Artur Kiulian:

I love everything about self-driving cars to the extent of even taking the Self-Driving Car Engineer Degree at Udacity. That’s why this particular video from the a16z Summit really caught my attention. Frank Chen (a16z partner) goes over the most commonly asked questions about autonomous cars and I’ve decided to dive deeper into each of those here on Medium.
 
 Level by level or straight to level five?
 The major assumption is that “Everything that moves will go autonomous”, and we are not only talking about cars, all the trucks on our roads, drones in the sky, shopping cars and even toys will move by itself to the extent that our involvement will become rudimentary, undesired or even illegal.

6.S094: Deep Learning for Self-Driving Cars

MIT:

This class is an introduction to the practice of deep learning through the applied theme of building a self-driving car. It is open to beginners and is designed for those who are new to machine learning, but it can also benefit advanced researchers in the field looking for a practical overview of deep learning methods and their application.

Nissan’s Self-Driving Car Solution Relies on Human-Operated Call Centers

Alex Davies:

“THIS IS IT!” Maarten Sierhuis says. “I mean, look at this.” He points to a photo of road construction at an intersection in Sunnyvale, California, near Nissan’s Silicon Valley research center, which Sierhuis runs. A line of cones shunts traffic to the left side of the double yellow line. The light is red. A worker holds a “Slow” sign. It’s the sort of seemingly unremarkable situation that can trigger convulsions in the brain of an autonomous vehicle.
 
 “There is so much cognition that you need here,” Sierhuis says. The driver—or the car—has to interpret the placement of the cones and the behavior of the human worker to understand that in this case, it’s OK to drive through a red light on the wrong side of the road. “This is not gonna happen in the next five to ten years.”

NYC to Collect GPS Data on Car Service Passengers—Good Intentions Gone Awry or Something Else?

Joel Reidenberg:

During the holiday season, New York City through its Taxi & Limousine Commission (the “TLC”) proposed a new rule expanding data reporting obligations for car service platform companies including Uber and Lyft. If the rule is adopted, car services will now have to report the GPS coordinates of both passenger pick-up and drop-off locations to the city government. Under NY’s Freedom of Information Law, that data in bulk will also be subject to full public release.
 
 This proposal is either a classic case of good intentions gone awry or a clandestine effort to track millions of car service riders while riding roughshod over passenger privacy.
 
 The stated justification for the new rule is to combat “driver fatigue” and improve car service safety. While the goal is laudable and important, the proposed data collection does not match the purpose and makes no sense. Does anyone really think GPS data measures a driver’s hours on the job or is relevant for the calculation of a trip’s duration? If the data collection were really designed to address driver fatigue, then the relevant data would be shift length (driver start/stop times, ride durations, possibly trip origination), not pick up/drop off locations.
 
 The reporting, though, of this GPS data to the city government poses a real and serious threat to passenger privacy. The ride patterns can be mined to identify specific individuals and where they travel. In 2014, for instance, The Guardian reported that the TLC released anonymized taxi ride data that was readily reverse engineered to identify drivers. A 2015 paper shows that mobility patterns can also be used to identify gender and ethnicity. Numerous examples—from the Netflix release of subscriber film ratings that were reverse engineered to identify subscribers to the re-identification of patients from supposedly anonymous health records—show that bulk data can often be identified to specific individuals. Disturbingly, the TLC proposal only makes one innocuous reference to protecting “privacy and confidentiality” and yet includes neither any privacy safeguards against identification of individual passengers from ride patterns nor any exemption from the NY State Freedom of Information Law.

Now we’re talking How voice technology is transforming computing

The Economist:

ANY sufficiently advanced technology, noted Arthur C. Clarke, a British science-fiction writer, is indistinguishable from magic. The fast-emerging technology of voice computing proves his point. Using it is just like casting a spell: say a few words into the air, and a nearby device can grant your wish.

The Amazon Echo, a voice-driven cylindrical computer that sits on a table top and answers to the name Alexa, can call up music tracks and radio stations, tell jokes, answer trivia questions and control smart appliances; even before Christmas it was already resident in about 4% of American households. Voice assistants are proliferating in smartphones, too: Apple’s Siri handles over 2bn commands a week, and 20% of Google searches on Android-powered handsets in America are input by voice. Dictating e-mails and text messages now works reliably enough to be useful. Why type when you can talk?

More, here.

16 Questions about Self Driving Cars

Frank Chen – vimeo.

The ad tech renaissance

bokonads:

Given the data above, I think it’s fair to say that Alphabet and Facebook as media companies are dominating the digital advertising space. However, if you look only at their ad technology assets, Google is flat year-on-year (with declining margins) and Facebook has effectively exited the ad tech space.
 
 I believe we are on the verge of a renaissance in ad technology, and this current phase – a cull, if you will – is necessary for us to get from here to there. Let’s be clear: this cull is not because Google and Facebook have won in ad:tech! Quite the contrary. It’s because today, if you’re a marketer and you want results, you usually get a better outcome buying inventory on Facebook than you do buying inventory on the open internet. However, we’ve seen Criteo demonstrate that through thoughtful inventory curation, the application of machine learning, and a focus on e-commerce, you can get outstanding results on the open internet. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
 
 The next cycle of ad technology will be based on a few key elements:

Toyota unlocks its engine technology, could sell to rivals

Naomi Tajitsu and Maki Shiraki

Long guarded about what was beneath the hood of its pioneering Prius cars, Toyota Motor plans to open up its powertrain technology to rivals, hoping this will boost sales and speed up the industry’s shift to lower-emission vehicles.
 
 Announcing last week it would expand its gasoline hybrid technology development, Toyota said it would consider selling complete powertrain modules – engines, transmissions and other drive components – to its competitors.

Self-Driving Cars Could Cause a Massive Organ Shortage

Jay Bennett:

One of the most highly-lauded advantages of self-driving cars is that a world filled with interconnected autonomous vehicles will significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents and resulting deaths. But this comes with an unintentional consequence: fewer organs will be available to hospitals for patients who need transplants.

As a new report from Slate points out, hospitals around the country already struggle with organ supply shortages. About 6,500 Americans die every year waiting for a transplant, and the waiting list for organs has nearly doubled in the past 18 years, from about 65,000 to more than 123,000.

We don’t have enough donated organs to take care of the patients who need transplants as it is, and one in five organs used in transplants come from vehicular accidents. When the number of automotive-related deaths plummets from self-driving cars, one of the most reliable sources of healthy human organs and tissues will plummet as well. Most analyses suggest that autonomous vehicles will eventually prevent over half of the 35,000 deaths that occur on American roads each year, and some reports are much more optimistic.

When A Rookie Auto Executive Arrives In China

Michael Dunne:

Veteran: How many Chinese carmakers do you know?
 
 Rookie: It’s like the 1920s in America. They have not gone through consolidation like we did in America. I heard there are more than a hundred spread all over the country. Just a mess. Funny names like Lifan and Zotye and Avics. That’s why my main customers will be Ford, GM and FCA.
 
 Veteran: You mean Guangzhou-FCA, right?
 
 Rookie: That’s what I said. FCA.

Customer Loyalty Is Overrated

A.G. LafleyRoger L. Martin:

Marketers spend a lot of time—and money—trying to delight consumers with ever-fresher, ever-more-appealing products. But their customers, it turns out, make most purchase decisions almost automatically. They look for what’s familiar and easy to buy. This package explores that idea and the science behind it, offers a counterpoint, and includes conversations with the cochairman of the LEGO Brand Group and the chairman of Intuit.

Carmakers Are Learning Japan’s Tech Talent Doesn’t Come Cheap -

Jie Ma:

Headhunter Casey Abel spent four months trying to hire a data-center architect for a Japanese automaker, including five meetings with the client — one with the top executive. In the end, the IT specialist joined an e-commerce company abroad for significantly more money.
 
 “There’s just a massive mismatch in salaries,” said Abel, managing director at recruiter HCCR K.K., who has spent as long as a year trying to land some IT candidates. “You’ve got some engineers making 20 million yen ($170,000) a year. Then you try to fit them in the traditional manufacturer-based salary structure where it should be 7 to 9 million yen.”

California Now Mandating EVs from Volkswagen

Bent Halvorson:

Of the approximately 83,000 U.S. Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche models from the 2009 through 2016 model years with emissions-cheating 3.0-liter TDI V-6 engines—some of which will be bought back through a massive settlement—about 16,000 are registered in California. And California, which has set its own ZEV mandate requiring electric vehicles, has taken what might be seen as a disproportionately strong role in determining how Volkswagen makes amends—to the point where Sacramento is dictating the automaker’s product lineup.

The federal Secondary Consent Decree released this week for those vehicles included a separate document for California. The California Partial Consent Decree, ancillary to the massive federal Consent Decree that lays out how that will happen, has several state-specific stipulations that have little connection to SUVs and luxury sedans equipped with the TDI V-6. They go well beyond stating to whom Volkswagen should pay fines or how the state should spend its $800 million share of the $2 billion VW is mandated to spend for infrastructure updates. It could be the first time ever in which an automaker is required by regulators to build a particular product—a product that might not even have been in the pipeline—as punishment for wrongdoing.

Tesla’s New Competitor: The Electric Utilities

Chuck Jones:

The State of California’s Public Utility Commission has authorized Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to install 7,500 electric car charging stations in Northern California which is in addition to 5,000 for San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. This places very large utility companies squarely in the mix of the electric car revolution. Since one of electric car buyers biggest concerns is “range anxiety” having so many available may not eliminate the concern but should help to mitigate it.
 
 Having an additional 12,000 electric car charging locations in California would be close to the 13,500 gas stations in the state. Many of the stations will be at work-places and multi-unit apartment buildings. While they are not equivalent since gas stations are located in public places and easy to spot you also have to consider that there are already thousands of charging locations that can found in apps such as Blink, ChargePoint, Open Charge Map and PlugShare. And there are probably thousands if not more than 10,000 people who “fill-up” at home. Overall the electric car “refueling” distribution ecosystem will be very different than gasoline stations.

VW to Purchase PayByPhone For Undisclosed Sum

John D Stoll:

Volkswagen AG’s financing arm has acquired a Canadian mobile payments company, the latest move by a car maker investing heavily to compete in a mobility arms race that is heating up in the auto industry.
 
 The German auto maker’s Volkswagen Financial Services AG will dish out an undisclosed sum to acquire PayByPhone, a Vancouver-based company that allows people to pay for certain parking spaces by mobile apps, phone calls or texts. PayByPhone, founded in 2000, says it processes $300 million in transactions annually.

Auto-tech convergence reshaping industry shows

Michael Wayland:

Traditional auto shows are increasingly taking a back seat as automakers premiere new cars and trucks at their own private events and at non-traditional venues, such as the CES technology trade show.
 
 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will have a substantial presence on the Detroit auto show floor next month, but isn’t expected to pull the wraps off any new vehicles. However, Fiat Chrysler is expected to debut an all-electric concept vehicle a week before at the CES show in Las Vegas.

Power surge: Chinese electric car battery maker charges for global market

Jake Spring:

A dusty village on the outskirts of Ningde, a third-tier city in China’s southeast, seems an unlikely place for the headquarters of a potential global leader in future automotive technology.
 
 Yet China’s top-down industrial policy diktats – move up the value chain, clean up polluted urban skies, and shift to plug-in cars – have Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) poised to go from hometown hero to national champion, and beyond.
 
 China’s answer to Japan’s Panasonic Corp and South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd has tripled its production capacity for lithium-ion car batteries in the past year to keep up with a surge in China’s sales of electric cars.

How Self-Driving Cars Work

GUILBERT GATES, KEVIN GRANVILLE, ANJALI SINGHVI and KARL RUSSELL

Autonomous cars have arrived — Uber has fleets in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, Google’s parent company is spinning off its driverless car project in a sign it is closer to coming to market, and the federal government has begun to issue guidelines on how the cars should work.

President Signs Law Protecting Your Right to Review

Elliot Harmon:

President Obama recently signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (H.R. 5111), which passed both houses of Congress unanimously. The bill addresses a dangerous trend: businesses inserting clauses into their form contracts that attempt to limit their customers’ ability to criticize products and services online. We’re pleased to see Congress taking a big step to protect free speech online and rein in abusive form contracts.
 
 The CRFA tackles two different ways that businesses attempt to squash their customers’ reviews. The first is rather straightforward: simply inserting clauses into their form contracts saying that customers can’t post negative reviews online, or imposing a fine for them. For instance, the Union Street Guest House used such a contract and attempted to fine guests over their bad reviews.

Coding a Deep Neural Network to Steer a Car: Step By Step

Oliver Cameron:

You may have seen this incredible video from NVIDIA, one of our Nanodegreepartners, which highlights their efforts of teaching a car how to drive using only cameras and deep learning. The second challenge for the Udacity Self-Driving Car initiative is to replicate these results using a convolutional neural network that you design and build! End-to-end solutions like this, where a single network takes raw input (camera imagery) and produces a direct steering command, are considered the holy-grail of current autonomous vehicle technology.
 
 The top scoring network (measured by how close the steering angles generated were to a human) for Challenge #2 was built by the amazing Ilya Edrenkin, a Senior Researcher at Yandex. He generously wrote an iPython Notebook explaining how his neural network was constructed, and I thought it needed to be shared with the world. Enjoy!

Inside a Zombie Shopping Mall

John Nova Lomax:

Does Northwest Mall have a chance in its current form? Will malls come back into fashion? Who would be their tenants, as Internet-based retail continues to erode bricks-and-mortar? And won’t those driverless cars eliminate the need for 98 percent of that vast parking lot?
 
 Those dilemmas are hardly unique to Northwest Mall. If present trends continue, the space given over to retail and parking will shrink considerably in the coming years. Northwest Mall’s future is contingent on those trends and other vast forces beyond its control, and its fate is as unclear and mysterious as that doll’s in the strange jail diorama.

Automakers prepare for an America that’s over the whole car thing

Doug Boudette:

FOR decades, automakers have been able to count on a fundamental fact of American life: You pretty much need a car to get around.
 
 But lately, novel technologies, including ride-hailing services like Uber and advances in self-driving cars, are creating new alternatives for commuting, shuttling children and going to the store — particularly in urban settings.
 
 There are also demographic and economic trends in play. Many younger Americans do not consider owning a car a goal or necessity — or a necessary expense. So carmakers are looking ahead to a day when the automobile plays a smaller role, or even no role at all, in many people’s daily routines.
 
 “The historical model is you buy a car and it’s in your garage most of the time,” said Glen DeVos, vice president for engineering and services at Delphi Automotive, a big developer and supplier of automobile technology. “It’s the second-most expensive thing you buy after your home, so if you can get around without owning a car, there are a lot of economic reasons people may not own a car, or own only one instead of two.”

VW will unveil Uber-challenging electric minibus

Paul McVeigh:

Volkswagen will unveil a concept for a self-driving electric minibus at the Detroit auto show next month as the automaker prepares to challenge Uber with its new Moia mobility services division.
 
 The vehicle will have a roomy interior, long range and will be able to drive fully autonomously, VW said in a statement today.
 
 VW released teaser pictures of the vehicle, which is the second concept in its ID family of fully connected electric cars. The first ID concept was a Golf-sized electric hatchback premiered at the Paris show in September.
 
 The Detroit concept is based on VW’s new Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB) like the Paris show car. One of the pictures released by VW shows that it has an upright front end reminiscent of the automaker’s iconic Microbus van.

The White House predicts nearly all truck, taxi, and delivery drivers will have their jobs automated

Dave Gershgorn:

Like everyone else, the White House isn’t entirely sure how automation driven by advancements in artificial intelligence will affect the US economy. But the president’s office does feel confident about one thing: the outlook isn’t good for people who make their living as drivers.
 
 In a report published Tuesday, the White House estimated that nearly 3.1 million drivers working today could have their jobs automated by autonomous vehicles. However, the report doesn’t offer a timeline for when this automation could occur, just that the jobs as they exist now are at risk.

Big Utility Sees Pathway to $10 Oil

Francois De Beaupuy:

The oil industry must brace for five energy “tsunamis” that threaten to drag prices as low as $10 a barrel in less than a decade, according to Engie SA’s innovation chief.

The falling cost of solar power and battery storage, rising sales of electric vehicles, increasingly “smart” buildings and cheap hydrogen will all weigh on crude, Thierry Lepercq, head of research, technology and innovation at the French energy company, said in an interview.

“Even if oil demand continues to climb until 2025, its price could drop to $10 if markets anticipate a significant fall in demand,” Lepercq said at his office near Paris. Crude last slumped to that level in 1998.

“Solar, battery storage, electrical and hydrogen vehicles, and connected devices are in a ‘J’ curve,” he said. “Hydrogen is the missing link in a 100 percent renewable-energy system, but technological bricks already exist.”

The former French gas monopoly, which is now the world’s largest non-state power producer following a decade of acquisitions, is investing in renewables while selling coal-fired plants and exploration assets to shield itself from commodity-price swings. It plans to spend 1.5 billion euros ($1.57 billion) by 2018 on technologies including grid-scale battery storage, hydrogen output, “mini-grids” that serve small clusters of homes, and smart buildings that link up heating, lighting and IT systems to save energy and cut costs.

How A Hydrogen Fuel Cell Engine Works

Chris Clark:

Hydrogen fuel cell technology has come far in recent decades, from its early years launching rockets into space, to finally arriving on our roads as part of the energy revolution. While still a relatively young technology, hydrogen offers a real alternative to the polluting engines that have plagued the planet for the last century. Critics argue that hydrogen fuel cell engines are not as efficient as alternatives, and they are not 100% green due to the release of methane during hydrogen extraction. Nonetheless, we felt it was important to demonstrate how the hydrogen fuel cell works, and what is involved in making the wheels turn as we step ever so closer to a greener future.

What will US transportation look like three decades from now?

James Pethokoukis:

The most important change, will be the automation of vehicles – both private and public transport vehicles.
 The second most important change is the conversion of the vehicle fleet to being primarily electric.

The Chevy Bolt Is the Ugly Car of the (Very Near) Future

Kyle Stock:

If you’re in the market for a car, there are some good reasons not to buy Chevrolet’s new Bolt. Maybe you insist on leather seats, take long road-trips to the middle of nowhere, or have a boat to tow around. If not, GM’s new long range electric vehicle will be at the very least entirely sufficient for your needs. At best, it will be a giddy surprise.
 
 It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The first affordable electric car to top 200 miles on a single charge was expected to be a vehicle of compromise, a bundle of “buts.” Indeed, the most impressive things about the Bolt are the attributes it lacks. The car is not tiny, boring or slow. And it handily topped its goal, coming in with an EPA-estimated 238-mile range, almost exactly the distance between New York and Boston or Washington D.C.

OS builder Thundersoft buys UI maker Rightware for $68M to expand in automotive

Ingrid Lunden:

Thundersoft, a company out of China that designs operating systems for drones and other connected devices, has made an acquisition to drive deeper into automotive technology: it has paid €64 million ($68 million; RMB471 million) for Rightware, a company out of Helsinki that develops graphical user interfaces for connected devices, with a special focus on automotive: its Kanzi product is currently used in some 20 automotive brands, the company said.
 
 The deal should close in early 2017.

Why Aren’t More People Buying Green?

Christie Schweinsberg:

Well, another test cycle of Wards 10 Best Engines is over, and every year I say the same thing: These green cars are the real deal. There is no sacrifice in performance – in many cases torque is plentiful and immediate – and you get better fuel economy and reduced tailpipe emissions.
 
 This year we have four, count ’em, four green cars on the Wards 10 Best Engines list, out of a very good field of three hybrids, seven plug-in hybrids and one electric vehicle.
 
 The BMW 330e PHEV narrowly missed and we found a lot to like about the new Hyundai Ioniq EV, too. Both cars have awesome regenerative braking ability. Judge Bob Gritzinger added more than 10 miles (16 km) of range on his stop-and-go-heavy commute home in the Ioniq.

Switching gears, Canada’s BlackBerry to open autonomous vehicle hub

Alastair Sharp

Blackberry, once known for its phones but now betting its future on the more profitable business of making software and managing mobile devices after largely ceding the smartphone market to the likes of Apple and Samsung, is expanding subsidiary QNX’s Ottawa facility to focus on developing advanced driver assistance and autonomous vehicle technology.
 
 After a detour where QNX’s industrial-focused software was used to reinvent the now-discarded BlackBerry phone operating system, BlackBerry is focused on how its embedded software interacts with the explosion of sensors, cameras and other components required for a car to drive itself.

Toyota, Qualcomm join consortium on self-driving tech

nikkei:

Toyota Motor and U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm are among the 27 companies forming a global consortium to bring self-driving technology onto the road.
 
 The group aims to lead a private-sector push to establish safety standards and other rules for varying degrees of autonomous driving. The World Economic Forum, which formed a working committee in May to discuss the future of self-driving cars, had called for such an initiative.
 
 The auto industry represents 12 of the participants, including Toyota, Nissan Motor, General Motors, Volkswagen, BMW, Hyundai Motor and Volvo Car. Insurers include Liberty Mutual Group and Japan’s Sompo Holdings, with Qualcomm and Sweden’s Ericsson among the information technology companies. Uber Technologies, the company behind the ride-hailing app, and U.S. logistics giant UPS are also taking part.

On automotive vertical integration

Stephen Wilmot:

For car makers looking to board the electric bandwagon, building battery plants may be a sign of weakness, not strength.
 
 Batteries are by far the most expensive component in electric cars, costing roughly $7,500 a piece, estimates stockbroker Liberum. Battery technology also determines crucial performance features such as power and range that have held back sales.
 
 Even so, it may be a mistake for car makers to assume battery production is a core competence. Changing consumer tastes and the emergence of self-driving technology suggest driving experience will eventually take a back seat to digital experience—presumably in the form of software that helps drivers or entertains passengers.

How Sweden Has Redesigned Streets To Route Around Bad Human Behavior

Charlie Sorrels:

If a car almost hits a pedestrian when the car is turning right on a red, whose fault is it? According to Matts-Åke Belin, Sweden’s traffic safety strategist, the blame is on whoever designed the intersection.
 
 “Why should we put the whole responsibility on the individual road user, when we know they will talk on their phones, they will do lots of things that we might not be happy about?” Belin told CityLab in an interview. “So let’s try to build a more human-friendly system instead.”
 
 Belin is one of the creators of Vision Zero, a Swedish policy instigated in 1997 that has the aim of eliminating road deaths. But unlike almost every other scheme to make roads safer, Vision doesn’t try to blame the victim or the perpetrator. Instead, it tries to design the system itself to be safer. And it’s working. Since its beginning, Vision Zero has more than halved road deaths, to below three fatalities per 100,000. Compare that to the U.S., where the figure is 11.6 per 100,000.

World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That’s Cheaper Than Wind

Tom Randall:

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity.
 
 This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Electric Trucking Charges Up

Erica Phillips:

Officials in Colorado are planning a public-road test of battery-charging technology capable of powering electric trucks while they drive.
 
 In the pilot project, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S., vehicles equipped with “receiving coils” will draw power from another coil buried in the road. The Colorado Transportation Department and infrastructure developer Aecom Inc. are scouting potential sites, including busy roads near Denver International Airport, with a goal of launching in 2018.

Improving Supercharger Availability

Tesla:

We envision a future where cars move themselves once fully charged, enhancing network efficiency and the customer experience even further. Until then, we ask that vehicles be moved from the Supercharger once fully charged. A customer would never leave a car parked by the pump at a gas station and the same thinking applies with Superchargers.
 
 The Tesla app allows owners to remotely monitor their vehicle, alerting them when their charge is nearly complete and again once fully charged. For every additional minute a car remains connected to the Supercharger, it will incur a $0.40 idle fee. If the car is moved within 5 minutes, the fee is waived. To be clear, this change is purely about increasing customer happiness and we hope to never make any money from it.
 
 We’re excited to increase availability during long distance travel and think this change will make the Supercharging experience far better for everyone.

Disruption is not a strategy, it’s an outcome

Bob

It’s hard to imagine an industry more in need of disruption than the fossil fuel industry.

There is no question that the burning of fossil fuels creates toxic byproducts that cause serious illnesses and death.

There is compelling evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is contributing to what might turn out to be irreversible damage to the environmental stability of our planet.

Geopolitically, the economics of attaining fossil fuels has caused hundreds of billions of dollars to be transferred from Western countries to places bent on our destruction.

And individually, purchasing fossil fuels for automobiles is a major financial burden on many low income consumers.

It’s hard to draw up a more compelling case for the need for disruption.

Strangely, there is a very obvious technological solution to a substantial aspect of the problem — battery powered vehicles, or as we call them, electric cars.

Traffic Is Fake, Audience Numbers Are Garbage, And Nobody Knows How Many People See Anything

Leigh Beason:

How many living, breathing human beings really read Techdirt? The truth — the most basic, rarely-spoken truth — is that we have no earthly idea. With very few exceptions, no media property big or small, new or old, online or off, can truly tell you how big its audience is. They may have never thought about it that way — after all, we all get as close as we can to what we think is a reasonably accurate estimation, though we have no way of confirming that — but all these numbers are actually good for (maybe) is relative comparisons. What does it really mean when someone says “a million people” saw something? Or ten or a hundred million? I don’t know, and neither do you. (Netflix might, but we’ll get to that later.)
 Where should we start? How about this: internet traffic is half-fake and everyone’s known it for years, but there’s no incentive to actually acknowledge it. The situation is technically improving: 2015 was hailed (quietly, among people who aren’t in charge of selling advertising) as a banner year because humans took back the majority with a stunning 51.5% share of online traffic, so hurray for that I guess. All the analytics suites, the ad networks and the tracking pixels can try as they might to filter the rest out, and there’s plenty of advice on the endless Sisyphean task of helping them do so, but considering at least half of all that bot traffic comes from bots that fall into the “malicious” or at least “unauthorized” category, and thus have every incentive to subvert the mostly-voluntary systems that are our first line of defence against bots… Well, good luck. We already know that Alexa rankings are garbage, but what does this say about even the internal numbers that sites use to sell ad space? Could they even be off by a factor of 10? I don’t know, and neither do you. Hell, we don’t even know how accurate the 51.5% figure is — it could be way off… in either direction.
 Okay, so what about TV ratings? Well, there’s a reason they’ve been made fun of on the shows themselves for as long as our culture has been able to handle “meta” jokes without getting a headache. Nielsen ratings in their classic form are built on monitoring such a tiny sample of households that the whole country’s viewing profile can probably be swayed because someone forgot to turn off the TV before going on vacation. They sucked before DVRs and digital distribution began transforming the single household television into a quaint anachronism, and now it’s just chaos. Nielsen was slow to catch up with DVRs, and now the TV industry juggles scattered measurements including three or seven days of viewing beyond live air, and constantly complains that the ratings are off — specifically, that they’re too low. And they might be right, in the sense that they are too low by comparison to the garbage ratings from the pre-digital age that everyone eventually embraced as a standard for relative rankings. How big are these audiences really, in terms of real living breathing human beings? I don’t know, and neither do you.

Porsche race car engineer Hitzinger joins Apple, report says


 Edward Taylor and Ilona Wissenbach:

Apple poached the technical director of Porsche’s race car program earlier this year, Manager Magazin reported today, hiring a project manager who helped engineer the sports car company’s victorious return to the Le Mans endurance race.
 
 Alexander Hitzinger is the latest auto specialist to be recruited by technology giant Apple as it explores building its own car.
 
 Earlier this month, Apple urged regulators not to impose too many restrictions on developers of self-driving cars.
 
 Hitzinger, an Automotive News Europe Rising Star in 2014, could not be reached for comment.
 
 Porsche confirmed Hitzinger had left the company in the spring. Apple was not immediately available for comment.
 
 Hitzinger helped Porsche, owned by Volkswagen, return to endurance racing and to develop the 919 hybrid sports car from scratch, much in the same way Apple is now looking into building its own vehicle.