Hackers can stop or speed up Xiaomi’s M365 electric scooter

Hackers can stop or speed up Xiaomi’s M365 electric scooter


Bloomberg via Getty Images

As if there weren’t enough safety concerns surrounding electric scooters, here’s a new one. Researchers at mobile security firm Zimperium discovered a bug in the Xiaomi M365 scooter that allows a hacker to remotely access the device. Once the have taken over, the attacker can make the scooter accelerate or brake without the rider’s input.

The exploit relates to an issue with the Bluetooth module on the scooter that is designed to let the device communicate with a rider’s smartphone. The researchers were able to connect with a scooter via Bluetooth without being prompted for a password or any other form of identification. Once connected, the researchers found that they could control the scooter from their phone, telling it to slow down or speed up regardless of what the rider was doing, potentially putting them in a dangerous situation. They also discovered it was possible to upload malware to the machine.

Making matters even worse, after Zimperium reported the bug to Xiaomi, the company informed the researchers that they can’t fix the issue on their own. The company got the Bluetooth implementation module used on the M365 model scooter from a third-party developer and will have to work with that firm to fix the issue. Until then, the M365 scooters will remain at risk of falling victim to Bluetooth hijacking.

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Networked freezers at grocery stores are vulnerable to hacking

Networked freezers at grocery stores are vulnerable to hacking


NurPhoto via Getty Images

Security researchers at Safety Detective revealed vulnerabilities in the temperature control systems found in freezers that could allow an attacker to hijack the devices and destroy its contents. The security hole, which stems from weak passwords, affect internet-connected thermostats manufactured by Resource Data Management (RDM). The company’s products are used by grocery stores, hospitals pharmaceutical firms, among others.

The researchers used Shodan, an internet search engine that shows specific devices connected to the internet, to find more 7,419 RDM products suffering from the vulnerability, many of which control multiple devices. Most of the thermostats are still using the default password, which makes them incredibly easy for an attacker to gain control of. Once a malicious actor hijacks the device, they are able to adjust temperatures, change alarms and obtain floor places of facilities where the freezers are located.

Unfortunately, much like the issue that is plaguing Nest cameras at the moment, the issue with RDM’s products comes from users failing to follow the necessary steps to secure their products. When approached by Safety Detective about the issue, RDM said the issue is related to the use of default passwords and users are encouraged to change them. Of course, companies could take action to force users to set up new passwords rather than rely on them to take action on their own, but for now, the firm is passing the blame onto users.

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Computer program aids food safety experts with pathogen testing

Computer program aids food safety experts with pathogen testing

An innovative computer program could be a big help for food safety professionals working to keep production facilities free of food-borne pathogens.

Cornell University scientists have developed a computer program, Environmental Monitoring With an Agent-Based Model of Listeria (EnABLe), to simulate the most likely locations in a processing facility where the deadly food-borne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes might be found. Food safety managers may then test those areas for the bacteria’s presence, adding an important tool to prevent food contamination and human exposure to the pathogen through tainted food.

The computer model, which is described in the Jan. 24 issue of Scientific Reports, has the potential to be modified for a wide range of microbes and locations.

“The goal is to build a decision-support tool for control of any pathogen in any complex environment,” said Renata Ivanek, associate professor in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences and senior author of the paper. The study was funded by the Frozen Food Foundation through a grant to Martin Wiedmann, professor of food science, who is also a co-author of the paper.

The researchers, including first author Claire Zoellner, a postdoctoral research associate in Ivanek’s lab, want to eventually apply the framework to identifying contamination from pathogens that cause hospital-acquired infections in veterinary hospitals or E. coli bacteria in fruit and vegetable processing plants.

Food safety professionals at processing facilities keep regular schedules for pathogen testing. They rely on their own expertise and knowledge of the building to determine where to swab for samples.

“Whenever we have an environment that is complex, we always have to rely on expert opinion and general rules for this system, or this company, but what we’re trying to offer is a way to make this more quantitative and systematic by creating this digital reality,” Ivanek said.

For the system to work, Zoellner, Ivanek and colleagues entered all relevant data into the model — including historical perspectives, expert feedback, details of the equipment used and its cleaning schedule, the jobs people do, and materials and people who enter from outside the facility.

“A computer model like EnABLe connects those data to help answer questions related to changes in contamination risks, potential sources of contamination and approaches for risk mitigation and management,” Zoellner said.

“A single person could never keep track of all that information, but if we run this model on a computer, we can have in one iteration a distribution of Listeria across equipment after one week. And every time you run it, it will be different and collectively predict a range of possible outcomes,” Ivanek said.

The paper describes a model system that traces Listeria species on equipment and surfaces in a cold-smoked salmon facility. Simulations revealed contamination dynamics and risks for Listeria contamination on equipment surfaces. Furthermore, the insights gained from seeing patterns in the areas where Listeria is predicted can inform the design of food processing plants and Listeria-monitoring programs. In the future, the model will be applied to frozen food facilities.

Food-borne Listeria monocytogenes infects about 1,600 people in the U.S. each year with flu-like symptoms, with about one in five of those infections ending in death.

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The Morning After: Galaxy S10 leaks and Amazon’s robot safety vest

The Morning After: Galaxy S10 leaks and Amazon’s robot safety vest

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

Welcome to your weekend! This week included Nike’s real self-tightening basketball shoes, a Model 3 road trip assisted by AutoPilot and Google’s big smartwatch purchase. Also, we might have gotten an early look at Samsung’s Galaxy S10.


Here we go again.Galaxy S10 leak suggests a lineup with three variants

Prolific phone leaker Evan Blass tweeted a family Galaxy S10 photograph that’s supposedly showing off three versions wrapped in cases. Left to right, you’re apparently looking at the S10E, S10 and S10+. The Plus seems to have a double-hole punch up front, while the rear cameras have a different multiple-lens alignment and count than the quad-camera Galaxy A9 that Samsung released last year. All should be revealed February 20th, one way or another.


Must protect squishy organics.Amazon made a vest to keep robots from pummeling humans

TechCrunch reports that this Robotic Tech Vest signals to robots that a human is entering a space to avoid any sort of collision. Amazon is rolling out the device to improve safety as it increases the use of automated systems in its warehouses.


Wear OS could certainly use the help.What does Google get out of buying Fossil’s smartwatch tech?

Google has long believed in creating “a diverse set of devices” for its smartwatch platform. Fossil’s ability to churn out model after model of what was essentially the same device except with different designer clothes makes it a great match for that vision.


The perfect fit.A closer look at Nike’s Adapt BB auto-lacing basketball shoes

So why would anyone need shoes that tighten themselves? Edgar Alvarez put on the $350 Adapt BB to find out, testing not only the automatic tightening but also the shoe’s manual controls and ability to set a fit via smartphone app.

Right now they’re set up for basketball players who might need to change tightness as their feet swell during a game, but the FitAdapt tech could also make life easier for people who are unable to tie their own shoes. For now, though, they measure up by being much more comfortable than last year’s HyperAdapt 1.0.

But wait, there’s more…


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Amazon made a vest to keep robots from pummeling humans

Amazon made a vest to keep robots from pummeling humans


TechCrunch

Amazon is using an electric vest to help improve worker safety when dealing with automated systems and robots inside its warehouses, according to a report from TechCrunch. The Robotic Tech Vest, which is really just a pair of suspenders connected to a belt, signals to robots that a human is entering a space to avoid any sort of collision.

The way the so-called vest works is by arming human workers with sensors that can communicate with robotic systems. On occasion, a human worker will need to enter an area primarily dominated by automated machines in order to perform maintenance or to pick up items that have fallen to the floor. With the vest on, robots can detect the human presence and adjust their behaviors. The bots will slow down and steer away from humans, allowing work to continue rather than shutting down the operation entirely for a quick fix.

Amazon’s sensor-filled belt solution comes just one month after a robot-involved accident in one of the company’s warehouses resulted in the hospitalization of 24 workers. Reports at the time indicated that one of Amazon’s robots managed to puncture a can of bear repellant and release the spray inside the warehouse. More than 50 workers in total were affected by the incident.

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New zoning tool provides global topographic datasets in minutes

New zoning tool provides global topographic datasets in minutes

Fluvial landscapes and the availability of water are of paramount importance for human safety and socioeconomic growth. Hydrologists know that identifying the boundaries of floodplains is often the first crucial step for any urban development or environmental protection plan.

Floodplain zoning is usually performed using complex hydrodynamic models, but modeling results can vary widely across methods and until now there has been no available unifying framework for global floodplain mapping.

With the increased availability of remote sensing technologies, however, scientists now have access to high-resolution datasets on Earth’s surface properties at the global scale.

As a result, an international team of scientists, including ASU professor and hydrologist Enrique Vivoni of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, has published the first comprehensive high resolution map of Earth’s floodplains in the Nature journal Scientific Data.

“Progress made in remote sensing has truly revolutionized our capacity to monitor the Earth,” says Vivoni, who also holds a joint appointment at ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “Since floodplains are so important to population centers, economic activities and transportation, it is indeed critical to be able to identify their extents. With this new view of Earth’s floodplains, we can now characterize the human footprint on these globally-significant environments.”

The international research project team, which includes ASU’s Vivoni, was led by hydrologist Fernando Nardi of the Water Resources Research and Documentation Centre of the University for Foreigners in Perugia (Italy). Additional hydrologists on the team include Antonio Annis also of the University for Foreigners, Salvatore Grimaldi of the Tuscia University of Viterbo (Italy), and Giuliano Di Baldassarre of Uppsala University (Sweden).

The geomorphic floodplain zoning tool known as GFPLAIN — for Global Floodplain — is an open source program that can be shared with scientists and professional around the world. It will allow them to identify floodplain boundaries, identify morphology and landscape patterns and process regional topographic datasets in minutes or even seconds on a continental scale.

“Observing any aerial image of fluvial corridors, one can clearly distinguish floodplain boundaries by their unique shapes and colors,” explains lead author Fernando Nardi, associate professor and director of the Water Resources Research and Documentation Centre at University for Foreigners of Perugia.

“These unique floodplain properties are linked to water-driven erosion and deposition processes, mainly associated to historical flood events, that give shape to fluvial landforms,” Nardi says. “We found and exploited the principle that global topographic datasets implicitly contain the floodplain extent information and we have released the first global geomorphic model of Earth’s floodplain together with a easy to use tool that both researchers and professional can use for their floodplain mapping projects.”

By sharing the dataset of global floodplains as open data, the research team has provided novel opportunities for scientists and professionals worldwide to develop sustainable water management plans and to gain a better understanding of complex floodplain-urban interactions, especially in data-poor river basins that are stressed by growing human populations.

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DJI drones can fly over crowds, if they pack a parachute

DJI drones can fly over crowds, if they pack a parachute


Indemnis/Vimeo

Most of the time, commercial and personal drones are not allowed to fly over groups of people. For safety, obviously. Indemnis’ drone parachute changes that. The company’s product was just certified to allow operators to legally fly drones over small groups of people. This is the first time such a device received the certification.

According to Indemnis, the Nexus system straps onto DJI drones and acts as a safety measure in case the drone fails. The system is equipped with sensors that can determine if any anomalies are occurring during a flight. If something goes wrong, the parachute is deployed by a ballistic launcher. The company claims the chute comes out at a speed of 90 miles per hour, taking just 30 milliseconds. It comes out of a tube that inflates to keep the parachute lines away from the drone’s body and propellers.

In order to get approved for use over the head of passersby, the Nexus parachute had to pass 45 functionality tests that examine the system’s use in five different failure scenarios. Indemnis’ system is available starting today for the DJI Inspire 2. The company plans to offer a version of the parachute for the Matrice 200 and 600 series of drones before the end of 2019. The former suffered from an issue last year that caused the drones to unexpectedly fall out of the sky.

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New model in the fight against African swine fever

New model in the fight against African swine fever

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a new scientific report on the current status of the spread of African swine fever (ASF) within the EU. The report describes, among other things, which management measures EU member states should take if an isolated outbreak of the virus infection occurs, i.e. if it is detected far away from the current spread. The scientific basis for these recommendations comes from a modelling team based at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig.

Compared with the previous year, African swine fever has continued to spread. New outbreaks far from the actual centre of the epidemic in north-eastern Europe have been recorded in Romania and Bulgaria. And even in Belgium, just 60 kilometres from the German border, numerous dead wild boars have been found. It is clear that the virus has found its way into Belgium by humans and not by wild boars movements or free-range domestic pigs. There is great concern in the EU that African swine fever may occur suddenly everywhere, thereby having a significant economic impact.

The UFZ modelling team led by Dr Hans-Hermann Thulke was therefore commissioned by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to investigate three different baseline scenarios and evaluate current management measures: Firstly, ASF-free areas located far away from the current centre of the epidemic. Secondly, areas still free of ASF but located close to ASF-infected areas and at higher infection risk due to wild boars. Thirdly, those areas where the virus suddenly occurs as an isolated case located far away from the current ASF epidemic requiring immediate action.

The third scenario — isolated cases of African swine fever — is currently of particular public interest and therefore in the focus of the UFZ modellers. “The challenge is the impossibility to predict when, where and to what extent swine fever will occur,” says Hans-Hermann Thulke. In response to an isolated ASF case in wild boar, the EFSA proposes three surrounding management zones: The central core zone is fenced to hinder wild boars from leaving the innermost zone and people from entering it. The core zone is encircled by the buffer zone, which itself is enclosed by an even larger intensive hunting zone, in which hunters should actively chase wild boars.

The UFZ researchers simulated different scenarios by varying strategy parameters e.g. the size of the management zones, the hunting intensity, the proportion of dead wild boars that is removed, the permeability of the protective fence or the likelihood of carcasses being discovered. The model results were used to assess which control measures would be most likely prevent further spread of ASF.

The model outcome reveals the importance of fast collection and disposal of dead wild boars considering strict biosafety conditions to control virus spread. This is reasonable since healthy wild boars may acquire infection by close contact to the carcass of an animal succumbed to ASF. For example, if 20% of the dead wild boars are removed, the probability of successfully controlling virus spread was 80% given that also wild boars are intensively shot in the hunting zone. By establishing the central core and buffer zone, valuable time can be gained to preventively decimate the wild boar population in the surrounding hunting zone before ASF spread will expand beyond the buffer zone. Furthermore, the faster wild boar carcasses are removed from the central zone, the greater the chances of success. Further to the example above, if twice as many carcasses — i.e. 40% — could be removed promptly, the chances of success would be equally high but without the need for intensive hunting.

However, the management considerations to fight African swine fever only make sense in the event of isolated cases. “If the virus has already spread over a large area and long borders need to be protected, our simulation showed that the focal control approach is no longer effective,” says Dr Thulke. This matches the practical experience that the continued spread of the disease can hardly be prevented once it has become established. “In this respect, I see the consistent implementation of measures for isolated cases as a chance that should not be squandered,” explains Dr Thulke. The recent analyses built on the UFZ’s 20 years of experience of modelling to support animal health decisions regarding combat of rabies, foot-and-mouth disease and ASF.

According to the UFZ researcher, Germany and other EU member states could draw key conclusions from the EFSA’s scientific report. “Based on the report, the regional disease management could very well prepare contingency plans for a possible isolated outbreak of African swine fever,” explains Dr Thulke. At what point should the authorities intervene? What type of fence is necessary for the central zone? Whom to involve in shooting the wild boars? Where will the carcasses be disposed of? These are questions for which each federal state should have concrete answers based on the EFSA report. “Federal states therefore have an opportunity to add more detail to existing emergency plans and to base them on resources,” says Dr Thulke.

The EFSA provides the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU member states with scientific advice about food safety. Every year it publishes a report on ASF for the European Commission, which not only reflects the current epidemiological situation of ASF in EU member states, but also addresses specific issues.

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Patent describes how Lyft’s self-driving cars might communicate

Patent describes how Lyft’s self-driving cars might communicate


Chris Helgren / Reuters

Safety is a major concern when it comes to autonomous vehicles, for both the people they’re transporting as well as those who are nearby. And it’s not yet clear how or even if self-driving cars will communicate with the people around them. But Lyft has just been granted a patent that gives us a look at how it might be planning to address this issue. The patent describes a system that would first detect the location of individuals around the autonomous vehicle and then choose an appropriate message that could be displayed to them via screens and signs on the car itself.

“Drivers and pedestrians are accustomed to interacting in particular ways, removing a driver from some vehicles can lead to uncertainty and miscommunication,” says the patent. And the document shows some ways the described system could be used to communicate with the humans surrounding an autonomous vehicle. One image shows a car displaying the intended passenger’s name as it approaches them while another depicts a self-driving car notifying a pedestrian that it’s safe to walk in front of the car. The patent also includes images showing a self-driving car letting another vehicle know it’s yielding and informing a cyclist that it’s safe to pass.

Lyft autonomous vehicle patent

Other companies have explored similar systems for enabling communication between autonomous vehicles and humans. Uber has also applied for a patent regarding communication technology, while Drive.ai vans feature displays that communicate the vehicle’s intent. And Daimler’s autonomous EQ Fortwo concept car includes a panel for displaying information.

Lyft has been working on its own self-driving cars since 2017 and while this patent, like plenty of others, may never be put into action, it’s interesting to see where Lyft’s technology might be headed.

Images: Lyft/USPTO

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Uber allegedly ignored safety warnings before self-driving fatality

Uber allegedly ignored safety warnings before self-driving fatality


Aaron Josefczyk / Reuters

Just days after Uber announced its plans to resume testing of its self-driving taxis, new information reveals that a whistleblower had made the company aware of the technology’s safety failures before the incident in Arizona last March, which saw a pedestrian struck and killed by one of Uber’s vehicles, and which led to the suspension of all testing activity.

According to The Information, Robbie Miller, a manager in the testing-operations group, sent a cautionary email to a number of Uber’s executive and lawyers, warning that the vehicles were “routinely in accidents resulting in damage. This is usually the result of poor behavior of the operator or the AV technology.”

It appears the email was prompted by an incident in Pittsburgh, where just a few days before Miller sent the message an Uber prototype swerved completely off the road and onto the sidewalk, where it continued to drive. According to Miller’s email, the episode was “essentially ignored” for days, until Miller raised it with other managers. He also noted that towards the end of 2017, it took two weeks for engineers to investigate the logs of a separate Arizona incident, in which an Uber vehicle almost collided with another car.

“This is not how we should be operating,” Miller wrote in the email, the assertions of which have been backed up by interviews with current and former Uber employees. Miller said the group has to “work on establishing a culture rooted in safety,” and offered a range of suggestions for improving matters, including reducing the size of the autonomous fleet, having multiple backup drivers per vehicle and giving authority to lower-level employees to shut down testing if they suspect the software is unsafe.

According to a colleague of Miller’s at Uber, none of the executives responded to the email, and Miller left the company three days after sending it. The Information reports that Uber has declined to comment on the email, but has released a more general statement that says, “The entire team is focused on safely and responsibly returning to the road in self-driving mode. We have every confidence in the work that the team is doing to get us there.” Indeed, the company has just hired a former National highway Traffic Safety Administration official for its autonomous vehicle team.

Of course, with all eyes on the company given the incident that occurred in March, Uber must publicly demonstrate that it’s taking steps to prevent a similar reoccurrence. But as Miller’s email demonstrates, the company may have to improve how it handles allegedly limitations in its self-driving technology before expanding its tests wider.

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Young aphids piggyback on adult aphids to get to safety faster

Young aphids piggyback on adult aphids to get to safety faster

Young aphids may ride on the backs of adult aphids to get back to the safety of a host plant quicker, according to an article published in Frontiers in Zoology.

Researchers at the University of Haifa, Israel, observed large groups of aphids dropping to the ground from the plants they were attached to as a defence against animals grazing on the plants. Following the escape, the authors noticed young aphids mounting the backs of adult aphids and “catching a ride,” which allowed them to reach the safety of a new plant faster.

Dr Moshe Gish, corresponding author of the study, said: “Since the ground is a hostile environment for an aphid, the faster it returns to a host plant, the higher the aphid’s chances of survival. Young aphids have difficulty travelling over cracks, stones and twigs, so riding on a back of a fast-walking adult can shorten the time a young aphid needs to spend off the plant. Since young aphids cannot survive very long on the ground, this behavior may improve their chances of survival.

“It is quite uncommon for a colony of non-social, mixed-age animals, to suddenly have to escape into a totally new and dangerous environment. In this case, it is “every aphid for itself” and interactions between individuals, which are normally rare when the aphids are on the plant, become a means of survival.”

The researchers observed the adult aphids frequently attempting to remove the young aphids from their backs and the young aphids trying to withstand the removal attempts. This behavior was found to slow the adults down, but the adults were not always successful at removing the young aphids.

Dr Gish said: “We were surprised to find that the adults do not seem to like young aphids climbing on their back. The fact that the riding behavior exists indicates that there is an overall benefit for the aphid colony; the help it provides for the young aphids outweighs the cost of slowing down the adults.”

Dr Gish added: “The fact that such a behaviour has been selected for suggests that the threat of large plant eaters to plant-dwelling insects may be quite significant. It also adds another degree of sophistication to these tiny pests, which are among modern agriculture’s biggest enemies.”

The researchers reared colonies of pea aphids on fava bean plants in a laboratory. They then simulated a plant-eating mammal by tipping each fava bean plant and gently tapping the base of the stem while breathing on it, causing the aphids to immediately drop to the surface. The authors then observed how young and adult aphids interacted and how long it took them to walk to a new plant. They also explored whether the adult aphids tried to remove the young from their backs, and tested the frequency of riding events performed by direct offspring compared to non-related aphids.

The authors found that the young aphids were no more likely to ride on an adult related to them than an adult they had no relation to. This supports the idea of a lack of parental care or recognition among these aphids.

The authors caution that these behaviors were observed in a laboratory, therefore care should be taken when generalising outside of this setting.

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Uber hires an NHTSA veteran to bolster its self-driving car plans

Uber hires an NHTSA veteran to bolster its self-driving car plans


ASSOCIATED PRESS

Uber has hired a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) official to join its autonomous vehicle team, Reuters reports. Nat Beuse will be joining the company after serving as the NHTSA’s associate administrator of vehicle safety research, and he’s doing so at a critical time when Uber is working to mend its safety image following a fatal crash involving one of its self-driving cars. “Uber’s approach to self-driving vehicles is an opportunity to make a difference in the safe commercialization of this revolutionary technology, which I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working with in recent years,” Beuse said in a statement. “It’s clear to me that the team here is dedicated to prioritizing safety.”

In March, an autonomous Uber SUV, with a safety driver behind the wheel, struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, causing Uber to suspend all of its self-driving tests across the country. Last month, the company requested permission to resume its self-driving tests, saying it would put two safety drivers in the front seats of its autonomous vehicles and keep its automatic braking system active at all times once it was allowed to test its cars on open roads again.

This is the latest public official to join a private company. In recent years, NHTSA and National Transportation Safety Board members have been hired by Waymo, GM, Zoox and Faraday Future.

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Waymo reportedly returns safety drivers to its autonomous cars

Waymo reportedly returns safety drivers to its autonomous cars


Natalie Behring / Reuters

Waymo is reportedly rolling out additional safety measures for its self-driving vehicle fleets, reintroducing safety drivers and installing cameras to monitor driver fatigue. The Information reports that these changes were put into place due to safety concerns, and they come after a handful of recent traffic incidents.

Within the last few weeks, Waymo has put safety drivers back behind the wheels of its more advanced vehicles, which have been operating without such drivers for some time, and across its broader fleet, the company has added co-drivers to its daytime shifts as well as its night time shifts. The co-drivers are part of Waymo’s effort to keep its safety drivers alert, and The Information reports that the company has also been installing cameras aimed at drivers’ faces for the purpose of monitoring when they might be nodding off.

In June, a safety driver appeared to fall asleep while behind the wheel of one of Waymo’s Pacificas, causing an accident after he inadvertently turned off the driving software.

Waymo has also now appointed Deborah Hersman as its chief safety officer. Hersman, who was previously the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, will join Waymo in January and will focus on promoting safety throughout Waymo’s self-driving fleet. “I’ve dedicated my career to promoting safety in our communities, and I’m joining Waymo because of the potential to make an even greater impact on reducing road injuries and fatalities,” she said in a statement.

Waymo has been gearing up for a self-driving taxi service in Phoenix, and some reports say it could be launched as early as next month. But these added safety precautions could mean that’s not the case. CEO John Krafcik said during a conference earlier this month that the service might not be open to all Phoenix residents at launch and a safety driver may be stationed behind the wheel. “This is a very long journey. It’s a very challenging technology, and we’re going to take our time,” he said.

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NASA launching safety review of SpaceX because Elon Musk smoked pot

NASA launching safety review of SpaceX because Elon Musk smoked pot

When NASA tapped SpaceX and Boeing to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, the companies likely expected the government agency would keep a close eye on things. But they probably didn’t expect a probe prompted by a podcast. According to the Washington Post, NASA is conducting a safety review of both companies because some officials were annoyed when they found out SpaceX CEO Elon Musk smoked weed with Joe Rogan.

While NASA hasn’t specifically said the review has to do with Musk’s behavior, a spokesperson for the agency told the Washington Post the probe would “ensure the companies are meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment.” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was also cited as saying “culture and leadership start at the top.” Both statements seem like a not-so-thinly veiled shot at Musk, even though the review will extend to Boeing.

While NASA’s apparently invasive and intensive review, set to take place next year, may seem like a bit of an overreaction, it’s not even the first government agency to take a closer look at its relationship with SpaceX as a result of Musk smoking pot. The Air Force also reportedly looked into Musk’s behavior. Use of illegal drugs, including weed, is prohibited for someone with a government security clearance.

Aside from Musk’s appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast, NASA investigators have plenty to keep an eye on as it monitors SpaceX and Boeing. The companies both have multi-billion dollar contracts to take astronauts to the ISS, and both have suffered noteworthy setbacks in the last few years. SpaceX has struggled with its craft’s parachute system, while Boeing suffered a propellant leak and has fallen short on a number of safety tests. SpaceX plans to launch a crewed craft by June 2019, while Boeing is targeting August 2019.

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Lime puts $3 million toward promoting e-scooter safety

Lime puts $3 million toward promoting e-scooter safety


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E-scooter companies have faced plenty of criticism for allegedly doing too little to foster safety (not to mention basic respect for the law) among riders, and Lime appears to be tackling this issue head-on. It’s launching a $3 million “Respect the Ride” campaign to both promote safety and educate customers. The initiative will venture beyond existing efforts, such as safer scooters and a safety ambassador program, to include “multi-channel” ads asking riders to wear helmets, park properly and honor local laws. There’s a new Head of Trust and Safety to manage the company’s strategy, and there will be a summit to discuss safety and policies with key partners and governments.

Lime is also relying on another, simpler tactic to promote safety: it’s offering freebies. The first 25,000 users who promise to adopt a Respect the Ride pledge will get a free Lime helmet in the mail, with 250,000 free helmets reaching people worldwide in the space of the next six months.

The push could raise awareness of safety and legal issues that many riders simply ignore. This is also a pragmatic business move on Lime’s part, though. The campaign could help burnish Lime’s image, assuaging skeptical officials who aren’t convinced it has the public interest at heart. Not that it’s guaranteed to work — it may convince some riders to wear a helmet during their commutes, but regulators may want more drastic action.

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