By timothy from Slashdot's past-futures department
First time accepted submitter stowie
writes This autonomous Pontiac Trans Sport minivan that drove 3,000 miles was built over about a four-month time frame for under $20,000. "We had one computer, the equivalent of a 486DX2 (look that one up), a 640x480 color camera, a GPS receiver, and a fiber-optic gyro. It's funny to think that we didn't use the GPS for position, but rather to determine speed. In those days, GPS Selective Availability was still on, meaning you couldn't get high-accuracy positioning cheaply. And if you could, there were no maps to use it with! But, GPS speed was better than nothing, and it meant we didn't have to wire anything to the car hardware, so we used it."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's money-talks-when-nobody-else-will department
An anonymous reader writes: When Comcast announced it was pursuing a takeover of Time Warner Cable, many activists and internet users immediately submitted objections to the deal. Support came more slowly, but steadily, from organizations like the International Center for Law and Economics, and from politicians like Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS). Now, a NY Times report reveals that much of this support for the merger came in exchange for money from Comcast. Fortunately, even after spreading money around so liberally, Comcast is still struggling to find a coherent, believable message for regulators, and the deal is far from assured.
From the article: "Letters detailing the benefits of the Comcast deal were submitted to the Federal Communications Commission by staff members from Americans for Tax Reform, the American Enterprise Institute, the Institute for Policy Innovation, Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Free State Foundation and the Center for Individual Freedom, as well as by a professor at a technology program at the University of Pennsylvania, all of which received support from Comcast or its trade association, tax documents and other disclosures reviewed by The New York Times show. A similar pattern is evident with charities like the Urban League and more than 80 other community groups that supported the media company and that also accepted collectively millions of dollars in donations from the Comcast Foundation over the last five years, documents reviewed by The Times show."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-shakin' department
An anonymous reader writes: The New Yorker has a long investigative report on a recent geological phenomenon: man-made earthquakes. The article describes how scientists painstakingly gathered data on the quakes, and then tried to find ways to communicate the results — which are quite definitive — to politicians who often have financial reasons to disbelieve them. Quoting: "Until 2008, Oklahoma experienced an average of one to two earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater each year. (Magnitude-3.0 earthquakes tend to be felt, while smaller earthquakes may be noticed only by scientific equipment or by people close to the epicenter.) In 2009, there were twenty. The next year, there were forty-two. In 2014, there were five hundred and eighty-five, nearly triple the rate of California.
In state government, oil money is both invisible and pervasive. In 2013, Mary Fallin, the governor, combined the positions of Secretary of Energy and Secretary of the Environment. Michael Teague, whom she appointed to the position, when asked by the local NPR reporter Joe Wertz whether he believed in climate change, responded that he believed that the climate changed every day. Of the earthquakes, Teague has said that we need to learn more. Fallin's first substantive response came in 2014, when she encouraged Oklahomans to buy earthquake insurance. (However, many earthquake-insurance policies in the state exclude coverage for induced earthquakes.)"Read Replies (0)