Don't call Google for a ride home from the bar yet

19 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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Good news and bad news about self-driving cars from the California department of motor vehicles. The good news is that the DMV will allow cars to drive themselves; the bad news is that you still need to have a licensed driver in the front seat who “must be capable of taking over immediate control in the event of an autonomous technology failure or other emergency”. In other words, no robotic designated drivers.

The restrictions don’t suit Google, which has been in the forefront of developing autonomous cars in California, according to a story in the San Jose Mercury News

“We’re gravely disappointed that California is already writing a ceiling on the potential for fully self-driving cars to help all of us who live here,” said Google spokesman Johnny Luu in a statement.


Google gets reminder that blocking California traffic is a sin

12 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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A Mountain View cop pulled over Google’s self-driving car to find out why it was holding up traffic by driving too slowly along a heavily travelled section of El Camino Real. According to PD’s blog post

A Mountain View Police Department traffic officer noticed traffic backing up behind a slow moving car traveling in the eastbound #3 lane on El Camino Real, near Rengstorff Ave. The car was traveling at 24 mph in a 35 mph zone.


Google's broadband balloons are almost perfected exec says

24 October 2015 by Steve Blum

Project Loon is closer to being a commercially useful platform for broadband connectivity in remote areas. That’s what Wael Fakharany, Google’s business lead in South Africa told a trade show audience in Cape Town. According to Mobile World Live, Fakharany said that the technology needed to use semi-randomly floating balloons to relay Internet traffic is nearly ready for prime time…

“For the last two years we have almost perfected the technology, it’s time for us now to scale in this part of the world,” he said in a session discussing rural broadband coverage.


The Apple car coming in 2019, rumors say

17 October 2015 by Steve Blum
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Apple’s plans to get into the car business – supposedly code-named Project Titan – are taking on a firmer shape, according to an article in Information Week. It lists the top eight Apple car rumors floating through the automotive and high tech communities. Number one on the hit parade is a supposedly leaked target date of 2019 for the launch. That’s considered ambitious in automotive terms, where development cycles can run as long as a decade or more.… More

Manufacturers willing to accept some liability for driverless cars

10 October 2015 by Steve Blum
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Taking the blame, up to a point.

Self-driving cars might be less than five years away. Toyota is planning to put one on the road in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and Elon Musk has said that Tesla might have one even earlier than that. In fact, Musk has said that some existing Teslas could soon get a software update that will let them go driverless – or at least do the driving while a human watches – on highways and parallel park themselves.… More

Google Fiber adds two California cities to the prospect list

13 September 2015 by Steve Blum
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Click for a larger version.

Irvine and San Diego join San Jose (and surrounding Silicon Valley communities) as possible expansion targets for Google Fiber. The announcement, which was made in a blog post, also included Louisville, Kentucky.

All three are now “potential fiber cities”, which means that Google Fiber intends to talk with local officials about what’s needed to move it up the classification list to “upcoming fiber city”…

Our next step is to begin a joint planning process with city leaders, just as we did when we began working with nine metro areas last year.


Apple ready to do to autos what it did to mainframes and flip phones

20 August 2015 by Steve Blum
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The automotive assembly line of the near-future.

Rumors of an Apple-built car appear to be true. The Guardian, in a story written by Mark Harris, tells of enquiries made by Apple engineers to GoMentum Station, a test site for driverless cars located on the old Concord Naval Weapons Station in the East Bay Area. With military-grade security still in place, the site is run by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and is billed as the largest secure test bed site in the United States.… More

San Antonio confirmed as Google Fiber's next stop

6 August 2015 by Steve Blum
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San Antonio opens the gate for Google.

San Antonio has officially gone from being a “potential” Google Fiber city to an “upcoming” one. Google made the announcement yesterday in its blog

Fast growing cities need Internet speeds that can keep up with their progress. For the 1.4 million residents of San Antonio, one of the biggest and fastest growing cities in the country, this is truer than ever. Which is why, today, we’re proud to announce that Google Fiber is coming to San Antonio—the largest Fiber city to date…

Soon, we’ll enter the design phase of building our fiber network in San Antonio.


Arizona appears to be next for Google Fiber expansion

4 August 2015 by Steve Blum
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So far, no love for the Pacific Time Zone.

Google continues to lay the groundwork for expanding its fiber to the home project into more metro areas. According to a story by Darren DaRonco and Parker Leavitt in the Arizona Republic, Google is negotiating agreements with cities in the Phoenix area to get access to public right of ways. The first city to approve a deal is Tempe…

The agreement “gives us approval to build a network in the city of Tempe,” said Angie Welling, Google’s public policy and government affairs manager.


Texas regulators put Google Fiber in the fast lane

1 July 2015 by Steve Blum
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It seemed odd that San Antonio wasn’t on the list earlier this year when Google announced four new cities for its fiber to the home initiative. The city bent over backwards making Google welcome and it’s a short drive – less than a six pack, as they measure such things in Texas – from its current base in Austin.

Now it turns out that Google has been keeping its eye on the Alamo City. A story by Mark Reagan in the San Antonio Current says that Google asked for and quickly received permission to expand its fiber system from the Public Utility Commission of Texas.… More