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Ford and Miami to form test bed for self-driving cars

Published: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 11:26 AM
Updated: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 @ 11:25 AM

            In this undated image made from a video provided by Ford Motor Co. a self-driving vehicle from Ford Motor Co. and Ford partner Argo AI drives in Miami, Fla. Ford is making Miami-Dade County its new test bed for self-driving vehicles. (Ford Motor Co. via AP)
In this undated image made from a video provided by Ford Motor Co. a self-driving vehicle from Ford Motor Co. and Ford partner Argo AI drives in Miami, Fla. Ford is making Miami-Dade County its new test bed for self-driving vehicles. (Ford Motor Co. via AP)

Ford Motor Co. is making Miami-Dade County its new test bed for self-driving vehicles.

The automaker and its partners — Domino's Pizza, ride-hailing company Lyft and delivery company Postmates — are starting pilot programs to see how consumers react to autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Self-driving startup and Ford partner Argo AI already has a fleet of cars in the area making the highly detailed maps that are necessary for self-driving. Ford also will establish its first-ever autonomous vehicle terminal in Miami, where it will learn how to service and deploy its test fleet.

More services will likely be introduced as the partnership goes on, including Chariot, an app-based shuttle service owned by Ford. It's all part of Ford's effort to find viable business models for fully autonomous vehicles and get them on the road by 2021.

"This is, I think, the future of any automotive company or mobility company. If a majority of the world's population is going to be living in cities, we need to understand how to move those people around," said John Kwant, Ford's vice president of city solutions, who inked the deal with Miami-Dade.

Ford isn't the first automaker to run test fleets of autonomous vehicles. General Motors Co. will start testing autonomous vehicles in New York City this year, while Nissan Motor Co. is launching an autonomous taxi service in Yokohama, Japan, next week. Technology companies like Waymo — a division of Google — are also testing self-driving vehicles on public roads in Phoenix, San Francisco and Singapore, among other cities.

But the partnership with a specific metropolitan is less common. Both sides envision a deep relationship where Ford can help Miami-Dade solve specific issues, like how to most efficiently move people from its suburbs to its downtown monorail, and Miami-Dade can offer solutions like dedicated lanes for automated vehicles or infrastructure projects like advanced traffic lights that can send signals to connected cars.

"We want to be on the forefront of this because we want to give our people choices," said Carlos Gimenez, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, which is home to 34 cities and 2.7 million people.

Sherif Marakby, Ford's vice president of autonomous vehicles and electrification, says the company also intends to work closely with local businesses. The company wants to learn, for example, how a florist might use an autonomous delivery vehicle.

"Autonomous vehicle technology is interesting, but it's a whole lot more interesting with a viable business model," he said.

The city of Miami is the fifth-most congested in the U.S., according to a recent traffic study by the consulting firm Inrix. After more than a century of selling people vehicles, Kwant says Ford now wants to figure out ways to move people more efficiently in order to cut down on that time in traffic.

Sam Abuelsamid, a senior research analyst with the consulting firm Navigant Research, says Ford and others must figure out how to make money on self-driving cars.

"If this does take off, if people do adopt automated vehicles and use them for ride-hailing, that's going to result in a decline in retail vehicle sales," Abuelsamid said. "They need to figure out, if we're going to have a decline in the number of vehicles we sell to consumers, how do we keep our business stable?"

Kwant says the testing will also help Ford determine what its future self-driving vehicles need to look like and how they must perform.

"If you don't have steering wheels, how do you begin to use that package space? How do you begin to look different in terms of carrying more people?" he said.

Ford won't say how many vehicles it will have on the road in Miami-Dade, but says it will be Ford's largest test bed for autonomous vehicles by the end of this year.

All of the vehicles will have backup safety drivers. Domino's experimental vehicles aren't even technically autonomous; they're equipped to be, but for now they have actual drivers. The windows are blacked out so customers can experience how to get pizza from the car without dealing with a person.

Miami will give Ford new challenges. Previously, it tested Domino's cars in suburban Michigan, where parking wasn't an issue. But in busy Miami Beach, the cars will have to figure out where they can go to allow apartment-dwellers to safely retrieve their pizzas. An autonomous delivery vehicle from Postmates might have to switch between Spanish and English commands when it picks up a meal and delivers it to a customer. Self-driving Lyft vehicles will be tasked with mapping out the best places to wait for customers without causing more traffic headaches.

Kwant says Ford will announce more city partnerships as this year progresses. But Miami-Dade was a natural, since it has good weather, lots of different urban and suburban terrain and support from Gimenez and other government leaders.

Gimenez, who began talking to Ford in 2017 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, says he's not worried about consumer acceptance of self-driving cars. He thinks his community will embrace them as companies prove that shared autonomous vehicles can be cheaper and safer than regular ones.

Gimenez says self-driving vehicles also can potentially improve traffic flow without significant new investments in roadways. They can travel more closely together, for example, because they're always watching the car in front of them and can brake automatically.

"That's why I'm really high on this technology," he said.

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Man facing child porn charges after 'gingerbread house' full of explicit photos found in forest

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 2:03 AM

Photo via FBI
Photo via FBI(FBI)

A Mill Creek, Washington, man is facing charges after a treehouse was found in the Snoqualmie National Forest with child pornography hanging on the walls inside.

>> Watch the news report here

KIRO-TV first reported on the discovery off the middle fork of the Snoqualmie River in February. The unauthorized treehouse was reported by an employee of the Department of Natural Resources, according to court documents. A DNR worker took a couple of the photographs off the wall to show law enforcement and called the King County Sheriff's Office.

The DNR employee took a detective to the treehouse, which was described in court documents as "an elaborate tree house that resembled a fairy or gingerbread house." The treehouse was about 8 feet off the ground with a porch surrounding it.

>> On Treehouse filled with child porn found near North Bend

Investigators say that inside the treehouse they found photographs of naked young girls framed on the walls. There was also a bed, food, supplies, a book and an electronic keyboard.

They found an envelope with more pornographic images.

The King County Sheriff's Office handed the case over to the FBI to investigate. The FBI sent KIRO-TV new photos of the house on Monday.

The FBI searched the cabin in April 2017 and collected items to test for fingerprints and DNA to find out who built the cabin.

They took construction photos, smoking material, bedding, glasses, photos of girls, bags of batteries and glass from the photograph frames.

They sent the items to the FBI laboratory in Quantico.

Federal investigators said they also talked to a Search and Rescue volunteer who said he had seen an SUV near the cabin on multiple occasions, and he had the license plate information. Investigators tracked down the owner of the vehicle and watched him.

>> Read more trending news 

Investigators said they took a swab from the handle of his motorcycle and later got a paper drinking cup he discarded. Those items were also sent to the lab in Quantico.

According to court documents, the items tested at Quantico positively identified the 56-year-old Mill Creek man. Court records show Daniel Wood, of Mill Creek, has been charged with two counts of child pornography possession.

FBI agents searched Woods condominium in Mill Creek in February and collected his computers, Amazon Fire, SD cards, Polaroid tablet, VHS tapes and video recorder.


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Parents of bullies could face $500 fine if Pennsylvania bill becomes law

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 1:31 AM

Being A Parent Of A Bully Could Land You In Jail Under New Anti-Bullying Law

A Pennsylvania lawmaker has introduced legislation that could have parents footing the bill if their child bullies another kid at school.

>> Watch the news report here

It started out as a rule in Sharpsburg.

>> On Parents face fines in new anti-bullying ordinance

WPXI checked with the police officer who enforces the law and he said it is working as a deterrent.

He also said it's raised awareness of how serious bullying is, and the potential consequences.

After Brentwood and Sharpsburg passed local anti-bullying ordinances that fine parents of bullies, a state lawmaker is proposing more encompassing legislation.

State Rep. Frank Burns' bill gives parents three strikes. He's from Cambria County.

>> Read more trending news 

The first time a child bullies someone, the school is required to inform his or her parents how it handled the situation. If it happens a second time, parents would have to take a class on bullying and attend a bullying resolution conference.

The third time, parents would receive a court citation and pay up to a $500 fine.

Punishing parents for the actions of their kids —> Pa lawmaker proposes fining parents $500 for child's bullying.

Posted by WPXI Courtney Brennan on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

In a statement issued last week, the Democrat said bullying can lead to physical assaults and suicide.

He said holding students, parents and officials accountable "is the only way to put an end to this scourge."

The proposal also includes an anonymous bullying reporting system requiring the state education department to track bullying incidents and file monthly reports.

Sharpsburg police have yet to file any citations against parents.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

How to Talk to Kids About Bullying

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Pit bull bites children inside North Carolina elementary school

Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2018 @ 12:54 AM

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Police have found a dog that they said got into a south Charlotte, North Carolina, elementary school Monday afternoon and injured several children.

>> Watch the news report here

It happened around 1:30 p.m. at Lansdowne Elementary School on Prett Court, near Providence Road.

Animal Care and Control officials said a pit bull came into the playground area while children were outside. The children were rushed into the school by staff, but the dog managed to get inside the school.

Some of the children were frightened and tried to run, but officers said the dog reacted by jumping on and biting some of the children. Incident reports indicate that the dog bit the children in the leg, the thigh and the stomach.

>> Read more trending news 

A teacher was eventually able to confine the pit bull and contacted the animal’s owner from the information on the dog's collar. The owner, who was visiting from Fayetteville, picked up the dog named "Bro" and left before Animal Care and Control officers arrived at the school.

Seven children suffered minor injuries, authorities said, but paramedics were not needed.

Animal Care and Control officials said they have located the owner of the dog and confirmed that its rabies vaccination is current.

Charlotte's leash law says animals not on a leash must be contained within a fence or an operable and marked invisible fence. 

>> Click here to read the law

Why Pit Bulls Have A Bad Reputation


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How did crucifixion kill Jesus?

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 11:46 PM

Actor James Burke-Dunsmore playing Jesus drags the cross during the Wintershall's 'The Passion of Jesus' production on Good Friday in Trafalgar Square on April 3, 2015 in London, England. Good Friday is a Christian religious holiday before Easter Sunday, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Wintershall's theatrical production of 'The Passion of Jesus' includes a cast of 100 actors, horses, a donkey and authentic costumes of Roman soldiers in the 12th Legion of the Roman Army.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Actor James Burke-Dunsmore playing Jesus drags the cross during the Wintershall's 'The Passion of Jesus' production on Good Friday in Trafalgar Square on April 3, 2015 in London, England. Good Friday is a Christian religious holiday before Easter Sunday, which commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Wintershall's theatrical production of 'The Passion of Jesus' includes a cast of 100 actors, horses, a donkey and authentic costumes of Roman soldiers in the 12th Legion of the Roman Army. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)(Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

On Friday, Christians around the world commemorate with prayers and fasting the death of Jesus Christ, three days before the arrival of Easter and the hope of the Resurrection.

The church calls on believers to solemnly reflect on the pain and suffering of Jesus of Nazareth, particularly beginning at 3 p.m. when it is believed Jesus died as he hung on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem.

While the Bible gives agonizing details of the crucifixion of Jesus, what do we know about what happens to a body undergoing this sadistic method of execution?

How does crucifixion kill you?

First, the history

Crucifixion is a gruesome mode of execution, and that’s why the Romans in Jesus’ day used it. A method of control and intimidation, Roman authorities used crucifixion to rid their cities of slaves, heinous criminals and, most important to the empire, insurgents.

Crucifixion was likely first used in what is modern day Iran. The vicious method of eliminating one’s enemies spread throughout the ancient world to Greece where Alexander the Great was known to have used it.

From there, the Romans adopted the practice and elevated it to a level that was unprecedented – at one point crucifying 500 people a day. It was practiced from the 6th century BC until the 4th century AD. The Roman emperor Constantine I banned the practice in 337 AD.

Why use crucifixion?

The Romans did not lack for ways to kill their enemies, but crucifixion allowed for two things – humiliation and a slow, painful death. The punishment was a method of intimidation that the Romans raised to an art form.

One Roman historian wrote of an event that saw 2,000 crucified on one day for the amusement of an emperor.

The process

Crucifixion followed a bloody script of sorts that maximized the suffering and prolonged death. It began when the one being crucified was stripped of his clothing then beaten with a flagrum, a short-handled whip made with lengths of leather that had bone and iron balls woven into the strips.

The person was beaten savagely with the whip which tore flesh then muscle, weakening the victim through blood loss and shock. While the aim was to inflict maximum injury, that part of the process was not intended to kill. 

After the beating -- where ribs were often broken from the repeated blows -- the victim would be forced to pick up and carry the beam of the cross he was to be hanged on.

Crucifixions were held outside of the city, and while the upright part of the cross, called the stripe, was permanently placed in the area the crucifixions took place, the crossbar, called the patibulum, had to be transported there. The patibulum usually weighed between 75 and 100 pounds.

We often see images of Jesus Christ nailed to a cross that is high above the ground, but this likely isn’t a true representation of Roman crucifixions.

The first crucifixions had the victims suspended just above the ground so their feet would not touch holy ground. By the time the Romans were crucifying people, the crosses were probably from 7 to 9 feet tall

Not all crosses were the familiar “t” shape we see depicted in art. Some resembled the letters “X” and “Y,” while some looked like an uppercase “T.” Some people, like the Apostle Peter, were crucified upside down on an inverted cross.

Some researchers say Jesus may have been crucified on a stake instead of a cross, which was another method of crucifixion.

While we read in the Bible of Jesus’ hands and feet being nailed the cross, that wasn’t always the case, either. When the hands were attached to the cross, it was usually done with spikes being driven into the wrists, not the hands, to better support the weight of the victim. Most victims, according to the writing of historians of the day, had their hands tied to the cross with rope, their feet nailed into the sides near the bottom of the cross.

The victims knees would be bent at around 45 degrees before their feet were nailed to the cross. The position eventually makes it impossible to hold one’s self upright, and the person would begin sag on the cross. The body’s weight would eventually pull the shoulders out of socket, thrusting the chest forward where it would become impossible to take in a breath.

It is written in the Bible that at one point Jesus was offered a drink of wine and a mild pain killer called gall or myrhh, and he declined it. The practice of offering those being crucified the drink is documented in other historical accounts. It was a service provided by a group of women from Jerusalem. 

How do you die?

If you survived the shock and blood loss from the beating, then were able to carry the patibulum to the place where you were to be crucified, then lived through your feet and your hands having spikes driven into them, your final misery was just beginning.

There are many theories as to what kills you as you hang on a cross. From blood loss from the beating, to shock and dehydration, it could be any combination of the factors, scientists believe.

The Royal Society of Medicine in 2006 published an article that centered on Jesus’ crucifixion, chronicling nine possible causes of death. And while suffocation from the weight of one’s body dangling from a cross has long been believed to be the cause of death in crucifixion, others think the process is a more complicated chain reaction of events.

The researchers from the RSM study believed death came to those crucified by one or more of the body’s failing processes.

The study suggested that as the person suspended on a cross struggles to breath, that lack of oxygen would trigger damage to tissue and veins causing blood to leak into the lungs and the heart. The lungs would stiffen and the heart become constricted from the pressure, making it difficult, then impossible to pump blood throughout the body. The lack of oxygenated blood would eventually cause each body system to fail and death would follow.

It could take hours, or, in some cases, days, but it was only a matter of time before death would come. 

In the biblical accounts of Jesus’ death, the process took six hours, and, in the end, he cried out to God.

Matthew 27:50-51 "And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up the ghost. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.…"

Sources: GizmodoBelieve.comNIM; The Guardian

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