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

Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 10:07 AM
Updated: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 10:06 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.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Newest cellphone is only that -- a phone

Published: Friday, March 09, 2018 @ 9:54 AM

FILE PHOTO (DTL/ license
FILE PHOTO (DTL/ license

Your kids are begging for the latest and greatest cellphones to hit the market.

They may not like a new one that’s being introduced, but you sure will like them to have it.

It is called  Light Phone 2 and it has only a few functions. First and foremost is a phone, ABC News reported.

It can call and it can text. But it cannot use Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or any other social media.

>> Read more trending news 

Light Phone 2 can also message, use maps and call for an Uber, the Telegraph reported.

Basically, it’s an old-fashioned flip phone without the flip phone look.

It also uses E-Ink for the display and operates on a modified version of the Android operating system, the Telegraph reported.

“Unlike a flip phone, however, to children the Light Phone is seen as ‘cool’ amongst their peers,” Joe Hollier, co--founder of Light told “Good Morning America.” “We have been working with parents on the idea of a parental app to support their child’s Light Phone 2 as well.”

Light launched it’s first phone in 2016. It could only make calls and store nine numbers, the Telegraph reported. The company sold 10,000 devices, but they were too simple for many and were not practical for some, the Telegraph reported.

Light Phone 2 are expected to ship next year and will cost about $250, the Telegraph reported.

If you want to get in on the new technology, the company launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $250,000. So far it has exceeded that amount by 335 percent and has more than $836,000 pledged from supporters.

Trending - Most Read Stories

This man bit into an iPhone battery and it exploded in his face

Published: Thursday, January 25, 2018 @ 5:13 AM

Apple Admits To Slowing Phones Down As Their Batteries Age

If you needed a reason not to bite your iPhone battery, here it is.

>> On How to tell if Apple is slowing down your iPhone — and how to fix it

According to Taiwan News, a man entered an electronics store in China hoping to purchase a replacement battery for his iPhone.

>> Read more trending news 

In an attempt to test its authenticity, the customer reportedly bit into the battery and as he removed it from his mouth, the product ruptured, exploding in his face.

Luckily, no one was injured.

>> Apple admits to throttling iPhone CPU speed as battery ages

CCTV posted footage of the bizarre incident to, and the video eventually made its way to YouTube.

The episode came soon after outrage over Apple’s admittance to slowing down older iPhone models with aging batteries led to big discounts on replacement batteries around the globe, including in China.

>> Apple faces multiple lawsuits over iPhone battery speed

“However,” Taiwan News reported, “Chinese electronics stores are notoriously replete with fake goods, thus the man was in his own – but obviously wrong – way trying to test its authenticity.”

Lesson of the story: Don’t bite into your iPhone battery

Trending - Most Read Stories

Apple faces multiple lawsuits over iPhone battery speed

Published: Friday, December 22, 2017 @ 11:09 AM

Apple Admits To Slowing Phones Down As Their Batteries Age

Soon after news emerged that Apple admitted to slowing down iPhone performance as the devices’ batteries age, multiple lawsuits have been filed against the company.

CNBC reported that Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Apple, claiming the company never asked for consent from them to alter the performance of their phones.

>> Read more trending news 

The lawsuit says Apple breached the implied contracts with Bogdanovich and Speas “by purposefully slowing down older iPhone models when new models come out and by failing to properly disclose that at the time that the parties entered into an agreement,” according to WCBS.

The complaint also says that the two are entitled to compensation because the slowdown of their devices cause them to suffer “economic damages and other harm.”

Related: Apple admits to throttling iPhone CPU speed as battery ages

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple said in a statement to The Verge about performance of the devices.

“Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future,” Apple said in the statement.

Apple is being sued after it said it slowed down the performances of older iPhones as the batteries in the devices age.(Sean Gallup/Getty Images/Getty Images)

Bogdanovich and Speas are trying to get the case certified to cover all U.S. owners of iPhones older than the iPhone 8, according to CNBC. Their suit is not the only one against Apple since the company released its statement about iPhone battery speed. WCBS reported that a second class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois on Thursday night.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the suit was filed in Chicago by two people in Illinois as well as by Ohio, North Carolina and Indiana residents with iPhone models 5 through 7.

The suit says Apple “needlessly subjects consumers to purchasing newer and more expensive iPhones when a replacement battery could have allowed consumers to continue to use their older iPhones.”

Unspecified damages are being sought in the suit.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Obama had the most-liked tweet of 2017; here's what it said

Published: Sunday, December 10, 2017 @ 1:44 AM

Obama’s Tweet about Charlottesville Most-Liked Tweet of All Time

Twitter has released its end-of-year stats and revealed that former President Barack Obama had the most-liked tweet of 2017.

>> Read more trending news

His tweet, sent in August after white nationalists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia, has been liked 4.6 million times. The tweet reads, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion,” accompanied by a picture of him looking up at a group of children.

The tweet, a portion of a quote from late South African President Nelson Mandela, was followed up by two more tweets from Obama, which finished the quote.

>> See the tweet here

 “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” the quote, in whole, reads.

>> Obama's Charlottesville response becomes most-liked tweet of all time

Obama’s tweet following the Charlottesville march wasn’t his only top tweet. He also took the third spot for most-liked, and the second, fifth, and eighth spots for most-retweeted tweets.

His other top tweets included his tweet to Sen. John McCain after the Arizona Republican was diagnosed with cancer; the final line of his presidential farewell address in Chicago; and his farewell after leaving the Oval Office for the last time.

Other top tweets included Ariana Grande’s tweet after the bombing at her Manchester, England, concert; LeBron James’s tweet when he called President Donald Trump a “bum"; a tweet promising to donate 6 pounds of dog food to Houston dogs affected by Hurricane Harvey for every retweet it received; another tweet asking for retweets to raise donations for Houston;, a photo from Linkin Park of its former frontman, Chester Bennington, after he committed suicide earlier this year; the number to the suicide hotline tweeted by social media star Seth Joseph; and finally, the most-retweeted tweet of the year came from 16-year-old Carter Wilkerson begging for retweets so he could win free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s for a year.

While Trump didn’t win a top spot for any of his own tweets, he was the most-tweeted-about world leader.

President Trump And Twitter

Trending - Most Read Stories