Google’s driverless cars are already testing better than humans

tesla-google-driverless-car-1(image via Electrek.co)

Depends on the human, amirite?

Once the realm of futurists, driverless cars are now on par with humans and often doing better according to recent data presented at robotics conference in Santa Clara, California by Chris Urmson, leader of Google’s autonomous-car project. The claims emanate from two studies of data from the hundreds of thousands of miles Google’s vehicles have logged on public roads in California and Nevada.

“We’re spending less time in near-collision states,” claimed Urmson. “Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers.”

There’s a lot more at MIT Technology Review on the data and its implications.

The inevitable uptake of driverless cars by consumers will be interesting to watch with other vehicle visionaries like Tesla CEO Elon Musk advocating for a stepped “Auto-Pilot” type of rollout where 90% of driving is autonomous with the last 10% done by the driver.

The two views aren’t mutually exclusive because of Google’s override capability which is similar to how Airplane pilots operate auto-pilot.  Read more

Could this be Google’s floating Google Glass showroom for the east coast?

Google-Floating-barge-Maine

When reports emerged that a massive floating building in San Francisco Bay could possibly belong to Google, it wasn’t long before the original rumor was shot down. While it might not be the floating data center reported in the original story, CBS followed up with a report claiming that the barge would actually be a floating Google Glass showroom that Google could move from city to city to show of its new wearable and distinguish itself from the typical retail experience. Lending more weight to that theory over the data center rumor is the fact that another similar mystery barge has recently been spotted in Portland Harbor in Maine.

Portland Press Herald reported last week that a four-story structure is currently docked on a barge at Portland Harbor. The marina owner and workers aren’t talking about who the client is, but they did confirm that Maine will not be the structure’s final destination. At the time the report, like the original report about the barge in San Fran, speculated it could be Google’s floating data center detailed in a patent from 2009.

If these buildings are indeed floating Google Glass retail stores and not data centers like CBS claimed, it would make sense for Google to have a store on either side of the country to move to cities along the coasts. The structure certainly look quite similar to the floating building spotted in San Francisco. Read more

Google faces class-action lawsuit over do-not-hire arrangements with other companies

apple

A federal judge ruled that a lawsuit against Google and several other companies can proceed as a class-action suit today after determining that a significant number of employees across the tech industry were hurt by “do-not-hire” arrangements between their employers and other companies. The policies in question were practiced by Google, Apple, Adobe, Pixar, and more as a way of keeping their own employees from defecting to competitors for higher pay. Essentially the agreements barred two companies from offering jobs to competing employees for a higher salary. Because doing so gave employees leverage with which to bargain for higher pay at their own jobs, employers were often faced with the decision to either pay any given employee more to keep them around or lose them to a competitor willing to pay more.

Read more

Google could be working on a floating data center [Update: or retail presence) in SF

UpdateCBS San Francisco reckons it’s actually going to be a floating Glass showroom:

There has, of course, been speculation about the barge’s purpose, much of it centering on the belief that it’s a water-based data center for Google.

KPIX 5 has learned that Google is actually building a floating marketing center, a kind of giant Apple store, if you will — but for Google Glass, the cutting-edge wearable computer the company has under development.

Although Google wouldn’t respond to requests for comment for this story, sources close to the project told KPIX 5 that Google hopes to tow the completed structure from Treasure Island across the Bay to San Francisco’s Fort Mason, where it would be anchored and open to the public.

It looks big for a store, but it could make sense as Google’s first full retail presence.

Original story:

According to a new report from Cnet, something big is currently under construction in San Francisco Bay and evidence shows that it could possibly be a new Google project. The four story floating structure hasn’t been officially linked to Google, but Cnet has discovered some evidence that Google could be working on a secret data center related project in the building.

Perhaps more persuasive is that in 2009, Google was granted a patent for a “water-based data center,” defined as a “system [that] includes a floating platform-mounted computer data center comprising a plurality of computing units, a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units, and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the…computing units.”

The patent, however, isn’t the only evidence linking Google to the project. Cnet also notes that the contact for the company that is leasing the location has ties to Google:  Read more

Samsung fined again for posting fake product reviews on forums

laptop-typing1

Image: growingleaders.com

Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has fined Samsung $340,000 after finding it guilty of paying bloggers and staff to post fake product reviews on forums, praising Samsung products and criticizing competitor ones, reports Phys. Taiwanese company HTC is believed to have been the main victim of the campaign.

The FTC set Samsung’s fine at New Taiwan dollars 10 million ($340,000). It also levied smaller fines on two Taiwanese trading companies it said were responsible for mounting the Internet campaign.

Earlier this year the FTC fined Samsung NT$300,000 for misleading advertising about the camera functions on its Galaxy Y Duos GT-S6102 phone …  Read more

T-Mobile’s un-carrier initiative for tablets arriving in November, 200MB of free data/month, devices for $0 down

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.44.03 PM

T-Mobile today announced that it is launching a new un-carrier initiative for tablets next month (November). The plan will offer tablets to T-Mobile customers (new and existing) for no money down. Like with smartphones, the customers will be able to pay for the device over the life of a 24-month plan. T-Mobile is yet to provide pricing specifics for tablets other than the iPad, but those details will arrive soon. What is known now: customers on T-Mobile with tablets will be able to get 200MB of data per month for free. T-Mobile recently announced the Simple Choice international unlimited data free roaming plan, and T-Mobile will likely support this for tablets.

Read more