Six reasons why Google’s autonomous car director thinks public sale is still five years away

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Google’s self-driving cars may have notched up 700,000 accident-free miles without anyone needing to press the big red Stop button, but project director Chris Urmson’s personal deadline to have the cars on sale to the public is still five years away, reports the MIT’s Technology Review.

Most tech-heads know that the cars rely on inch-perfect modelling of the specific streets they will use, the cars unable to drive anywhere else, but the piece revealed that this is just one of the challenges ahead …  Read more

California governor signs bill requiring all smartphones to have remote killswitches by July 2015

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As we’ve previously covered, the state of California has been in the process of passing a bill that would require all smartphones sold within the state to come with a remote killswitch option to deter thieves. The bill was passed by the state legislature earlier this year, and today it was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, as noted by CNET.

The law goes into effect in July 2015, and will require all smartphones sold within the state to include an option for remotely disabling a stolen device. Google has already plans to meet the requirements of this law with its upcoming Android L release, but now such features will be required by law on all future Android, Windows Phone, and other handsets by default, meaning OEMs distributing older versions of Android will need to find a new solution.

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Google Shopping Express’ overnight delivery now available throughout Northern California

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Google Shopping Express is now overnighting purchases in Northern California. Starting today, East Bay residents in Berkeley, Concord, Danville, Dublin, Fremont, Oakland, Pleasanton, Richmond and Walnut Creek can take advantage of the search giant’s slick delivery service. Further expanding its operations, the company says that in the next few months it plans to bring Google Shopping Express’ overnight service to the California-Oregon border, Fresno and Visalia.

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California close to issuing licenses to self-driving cars

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Google’s home state, California will start granting driver’s licenses to driverless cars in September. The DMV will charge $150 a pop for an autonomous car’s driving permit and will allow the self-driving vehicles to cruise public roads as long as the automobile meets the state agency’s strict requirements. California will issue licenses to autonomous vehicles if its test drivers are employed by its manufacturer and have the proper permits and documentation. The car’s driver/passenger must remain behind the wheel at all times and be ready to take over if needed. This doesn’t sound too bad, right? But here comes the boom.

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California passes bill forcing smartphone makers to offer kill switch by July 2015

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Bloomberg reports California’s Senate has passed a bill that will force smartphone makers like Samsung to implement “technology that would let customers remotely wipe data from their devices and render them inoperable when stolen.” Officials have been attempting to pass similar bills with no luck but have since made tweaks to the legislation removing tablets and other terms.

Under the new bill, smartphones sold in California must include the technology starting in July 2015. While the bill was passing 25-8, the margin in the Democratic-controlled Senate can change as absent members continue to enter votes. The state Assembly, also controlled by Democrats, will consider the legislation next.

Last year Apple and Google introduced new theft deterrent features just as government officials in San Francisco were increasing pressure on smartphone makers to implement such features. While Apple’s new “Activation Lock” feature requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a stolen phone after being remotely erased/wiped by the owner, it fell short of a full-on kill switch feature that officials were hoping for and required the user to enable it. Google has since introduced similar features for Android devices.

Samsung and Google have yet to respond to comment on the bill, but an Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg the following: Read more

Google fights to have iPhone privacy case dismissed from UK courts

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Google, which was fined $22.5M by the FTC for illegal use of tracking cookies on iPhones even when the user had set Safari to reject them, is asking the UK’s High Court to reject a claim for compensation from a group of British iPhone owners, reports The Guardian.

Google is arguing that any case should be held in the U.S., and that UK courts have no jurisdiction in the matter. It also observes that a similar claim in the USA was dismissed two months ago.

Google has been called “arrogant and immoral” for arguing that a privacy claim brought by internet users in the UK should not be heard by the British legal system [...]

In the first group claim brought against Google in the UK, the internet firm has insisted that the lawsuit must be brought in California, where it is based, instead of a British courtroom …  Read more

Legality of driving with Google Glass questioned as Californian woman ticketed

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The legality of driving while wearing Google Glass appears set to face its first test after Glass Explorer Cecilia Abade was ticketed by a California cop.

 A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!

The exact line says: Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass). Is #GoogleGlass  illgal while driving or is this cop wrong???

Any legal advice is appreciated!! This happened in California. Do you know any other #GlassExplorers that got a similar ticket anywhere in the US?  Read more

Court docs reveal email exchange between Eric Schmidt and Steve Jobs over poaching employees

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Earlier this month, a U.S. District Judge in California ordered Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and others to give depositions in an ongoing private lawsuit. Employees brought on the private lawsuit alleging  “no-poach” agreements the companies entered would drive down wages. Today, new details have emerged after a request to keep court documents secrets was denied by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh.

While emails exchanged between Steve Jobs and former Palm CEO Ed Colligan have been the focus on the documents, The Verge also pointed us to emails exchange between Jobs and Google execs. Below we have an email form Jobs to Schmidt asking to put a stop to Google recruiting employees from its iPod team, as well as one where Schmidt discussed not wanting to create a paper trail: Read more

On eve of US elections, Google’s Sergey Brin makes plea to end political parties

Late last night, Google’s Sergey Brin took to his Google+ account to post his thoughts on the eve of the U.S. elections and offer a plea to the winner. Brin explained he is “dreading today’s elections,” while describing government as “a giant bonfire of partisanship”:

I must confess, I am dreading today’s elections…Not because of who might win or lose…Not because as a Californian, my vote for President will count 1/3 as much as an Alaskan (actually it won’t matter at all — I’m not in a swing state)…Not because my vote for Senate will count 1/50 as much as an Alaskan…But because no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship

His request for the winner? Withdraw from any political party and govern independently:  Read more

Google invests in state lobbying to make markets for driverless cars of the future (Video)

The Wall Street Journal just published a lengthy report detailing how Google convinced Nevada state assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, as well as other states’ transportation committees, to introduce legislation that would help legalize its driverless cars for streets.

“This will save taxpayers countless millions of dollars and revolutionize driving as we know it. No more being distracted, no more accidents, and not another DUI attorney again.”

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company persuaded lawmakers, according to The Wall Street Journal, with “demonstrations and rides in its exotic cars,” and it subsequently earned “legislative wins” in Nevada, California, and Florida. There are even bills pending before legislators in Hawaii, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia:

In the process, the Mountain View, Calif., company is building its credentials as an astute political operator. Google has been “pretty savvy” at navigating state capitols, said Frank Douma, a transportation-policy author and associate director at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. With its self-driving cars, Google “knew what they were doing by moving forward in Nevada” before approaching bigger states, he said. “If you blow it in the first state, you’ve really got problems.”

Success at legalizing self-driving car technology has broader implications for Google. Skills learned from lobbying state lawmakers could aid other endeavors that will require local policy-making, including the potential expansion of its Google Fiber Internet and TV service into markets dominated by cable companies.

Google spent roughly $9 million during the first and second quarters of 2012 lobbying in Washington and coaxing lawmakers and U.S. Department of Transportation officials, but Google did not disclose how much went toward lobbying state officials.

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US court reverses Apple’s injunction on Samsung Galaxy Nexus

U.S. Judge Lucy Koh granted Apple’s request for a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone in June, and the decision resulted in the temporary removal of the device from Google Play pending a software fix with Android 4.1. Today, Reuters reported that Apple’s U.S. injunction on the Galaxy Nexus has been reversed. 

TheNextWeb got its hands on the official order. Samsung argued that its product would “sell almost as well without incorporating the patented feature” :

Samsung argued, somewhat humiliatingly, that the sales of the Galaxy Nexus were so poor that they didn’t pose a threat to Apple’s iPhone and that the unified search feature was not essential to the success of its device. The appeals court apparently agrees, as it states in its official order:

…it may very well be that the accused product would sell almost as well without incorporating the patented feature. And in that case, even if the competitive injury that results from selling the accused device is substantial, the harm that flows from the alleged infringement (the only harm that should count) is not.

According to Reuters, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled the court “abused its discretion in entering an injunction” and will send the case back to the California court for consideration.
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