Ford concept uses drones and self-driving vans for deliveries

Autolivery was developed by Shanghai-based Ford designers Euishik Bang, James Kuo and Chelsia Lau for the company’s Last Mile Mobility Challenge. Automating the final stretch of the goods delivery process, from curb to door, is difficult, and many companies are working to solve the problem. Ford believes the pressure to develop mobility solutions in urban areas will grow in the near future due to the rise in local deliveries from online sales. Ideas like Autolivery can potentially reduce gridlock and air pollution, and allow people to move about more easily.

“It’s all about making life in the city easier. The possibility of harnessing autonomous and electric vehicle technology with drones to quickly and easily send and deliver parcels could help to make life better for everyone,” said Bang.

Autolivery is part of Ford’s attempt to adapt to a future where fewer people buy cars. It recently invested $1 billion in a relatively unknown self-driving technology startup called Argo AI. Argo’s software will be used to pilot fully autonomous delivery vehicles like Autolivery, as well as ride sharing and ride hailing vehicles. Ford plans to have its fleet on the road shuttling packages and people in 2021.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/ford-autolivery-drones-autonomous-vans/

Intel meets some of its key diversity goals

The company also says it beat its own hiring target for the year (45.1 percent diverse), and notes that representation for women is up to 25.8 percent, or 2.3 points more than in 2014. Other progress? Intel now has a more diverse roster of vice presidents (41 percent) and decision-making Fellows, and it’s spending more money with diverse suppliers.

As happy as Intel is, it’s quick to admit that not everything is going smoothly. The ratio of underrepresented minorities has barely moved, growing just 0.2 points to 12.5 percent. Minorities in technical roles even slid a bit — there’s a lower ratio of Hispanic tech workers than there was in the 2015 report. Intel’s hiring approach may do well for women and non-technical positions, then, but it still leaves something to be desired.

The findings are leading Intel to switch its focus for 2017. It’s going to focus more on improving minority representation, and will start to think about intersectionality between these groups. For example, it’s making sure that non-white women will have more opportunities for promotion. Also, every manager will go through training to help them create and run more inclusive teams. Intel isn’t certain to hit its 2020 diversity targets by any means, but it at least has an idea as to what needs the most work.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/intel-diversity-report-for-2016/

Google pulls the plug on its Pixel laptops

As TechCrunch notes, Google is trimming down the Pixel line to just the smartphones and the Pixel C tablet for now. Although there may be other devices carrying the name in the future, Osterloh said it was unlikely that its own laptops would be one of them. And don’t hold your breath if you were in the market for a Pixel 2 yourself: the company sold out of them back in August and has no plans to restock them. Chrome OS is staying put, however, and users will still be able to buy third-party Chromebooks. “Google hasn’t backed away from laptops,” Osterloh said. “We have the number two market share in the U.S. and U.K. — but we have no plans for Google-branded laptops.”

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/google-no-more-pixel-laptops/

Vizio’s new entry-level 4K TVs make HDR accessible

This is also your chance at getting a very large Vizio set without paying as much as you might expect, as the E-Series now includes 75-inch and 80-inch models. While we’d say the $3,400 price of the 80-inch set is a bit excessive, the $2,000 you’ll pay for the 75-inch set might hit the sweet spot if you want a gigantic picture at a semi-reasonable price.

All of the new sets have Chromecast support built-in, including Google Home integration if you have the smart speaker. The 75- and 80-inch sets are available now, and the rest of the line shouldn’t be far behind. The biggest dilemma may be deciding whether or not to forgive Vizio for its recent privacy issues.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/vizio-2017-e-series-tv/

Expect four new expansions for ‘Battlefield 1’ this year

This first expansion has you joining the fight as a French soldier to battle across four new maps including Verdun Heights, Fort De Vaux, Soissons and Rupture. There’s a new game mode, too, called Frontlines, which has two teams fighting for control points in what EA calls “a tug-of-war frontline.” The pack also includes two new tank units, an elite trench raider soldier class and a new stationary weapon, the Siege Howitzer.

The three other expansions, titled “In the Name of the Tsar,” “Turning Tides” and “Apocalypse” feature Russian battles, amphibious warfare, and the most infamous battles of the Great War, respectively.

Expect four new expansions for 'Battlefield 1' this year

The $49 Premium Pass will give you all current and future expansions, 14 superior Battlepacks (in-game loot), two-week early access to expansions as they release and 16 new multiplayer maps. In addition, you’ll be able to play with new elite classes, armies, 20 new weapons and extra game modes.

You’ll need the original game to take advantage of the Premium Pass. The Battlefield 1 standard edition currently retails for $30 with various bundles available for more.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/four-new-expansions-battlefield-1/

Amazon outage breaks large parts of the internet

Amazon hasn’t explained exactly what went wrong or offered an estimated time of repair, although its status page has narrowed the outage down to a North Virginia location. We’ve asked Amazon for more info and will let you know if it can share additional details.

No matter what’s at fault or how long the outage goes on, the incident underscores a mounting problem: an increasing dependence on a handful of services to power large swaths of the internet. AWS and its rivals make cloud features viable for companies that can’t always afford to run their own servers, but they also increase the chances that a failure will affect many people. Unless the tech industry can find a way to diversify its online data sources, these internet-wide crises aren’t going away any time soon.

The dashboard not changing color is related to S3 issue. See the banner at the top of the dashboard for updates.

— Amazon Web Services (@awscloud) February 28, 2017

The moment the presenter realizes S3 is down. #AWS #S3 #Amazon pic.twitter.com/S8gY1J9lrH

— Ian Sherwood (@ian_surewould) February 28, 2017

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/amazon-aws-outage/

Amazon wants Alexa to answer customer service calls

Amazon Web Services has reportedly codenamed the new software package “Lily” and it is expected to be formally announced around the middle of March. Baked into Lily’s suite of products are Lex and Polly — two AWS developer services that use the same natural language processing as Alexa to power third-party apps as well as voice and text chatbots. The software is designed to be completely self-service from a caller’s perspective, although companies will still need to hire (or outsource) service representatives for matters that need a human touch. The service also integrates with Salesforce and promises a real-time access to a customer’s call history, so frustrated callers should be able to skip the endless phone menus when they dial that customer service line the second or third time.

On the other hand, it’s been a rough day for AWS, so Amazon may have a hard time getting companies with time-sensitive customer service needs to put their trust in a cloud-based solution.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/amazon-aws-alexa-customer-service-call-centers/

Wink’s connected home tech uses Alexa to lock your doors

To get started, add your smart locks to the Wink app. Once you set unique names for each one (if you have multiple), you’ll need to enable the Wink skill inside the Alexa app. After linking that Wink account and saying “Alexa, discover new devices,” you should be good to go in less than a minute. You can then ask Amazon’s virtual assistant to actually lock the door or to check and see if you forgot to do so. Now you don’t have to leave your seat when your dinner guests leave.

Update: This post originally stated that the new capability could lock or unlock your smart door assemblies. That was incorrect, the system can only lock them and confirm that the deadbolts are engaged.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/wink-compatible-smart-locks-alexa-control-iot/

Tesla engineer sues over sexist workplace culture (updated)

To make matters worse, Vandermeyden claims that management retaliated whenever she brought up workplace sexism. Higher-ups would say that she could only get a promotion if she hit targets loftier than those expected from men, and that she wasn’t given overtime pay or breaks (including meal breaks) when she was in a sales role. She also maintains that she was punished for whistleblowing when she raised the alarm over cars knowingly sold with defects.

We’ve reached out to Tesla for a response. In a statement to the Guardian, it didn’t directly address the points mentioned lawsuit but did say that it believes in “fostering an inclusive workplace” and that there’s “more we can do to promote diversity.” It also downplayed Vandermeyden’s case, maintaining that there would always be a “small number” of people who make claims against the EV company.

As with Uber, the question isn’t so much whether or not Tesla understands the importance of fighting sexism as whether it’s willing to implement deep structural reforms that would help prevent and punish sexist behavior. Right now, it’s not clear that this is the case — there’s no mention of organizational and policy decisions that would let women like Vandermeyden feel safe and valued.

Update: Tesla now directly disputes Vandermeyden’s claims. A spokesperson tells us that an independent investigator determined the discrimination and harassment claims “have not been substantiated.” Also, it maintains that the engineer’s advancement into “at least one other role” is proof that it rewards skilled workers of all stripes. You can read the full statement below. There’s no guarantee that the court will agree with Tesla’s findings, but it’s important to take them into account.

“Tesla is committed to creating a positive workplace environment that is free of discrimination for all our employees. Ms. Vandermeyden joined Tesla in a sales position in 2013, and since then, despite having no formal engineering degree, she has sought and moved into successive engineering roles, beginning with her work in Tesla’s paint shop and eventually another role in General Assembly. Even after she made her complaints of alleged discrimination, she sought and was advanced into at least one other new role, evidence of the fact that Tesla is committed to rewarding hard work and talent, regardless of background. When Ms. Vandermeyden first brought her concerns to us over a year ago, we immediately retained a neutral third party, Anne Hilbert of EMC2Law, to investigate her claims so that, if warranted, we could take appropriate action to address the issues she raised. After an exhaustive review of the facts, the independent investigator determined that Ms. Vandermeyden’s ‘claims of gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation have not been substantiated.’ Without this context, the story presented in the original article is misleading.”

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/tesla-engineer-sues-over-sexist-workplace-culture/

Windows 10 will soon block non-Store apps like OS X does

The feature, noticed by Twitter user @vitorgrs (below) is disabled by default, so it won’t bother you unless you search for it and turn it on. It might be incredibly annoying to power users, as it would block Photoshop, Firefox and other desktop apps. it could be a boon for your parents or grandparents, though, as it’ll stop them from accidentally installing bloatware or other problematic apps.

Starting with 15042, you can block installation of Win32 apps on ANY edition. Even Enterprise. pic.twitter.com/MHzpBkNLE3

— Vitor Mikaelson 🦄 (@vitorgrs) February 26, 2017

Microsoft already blocks unknown Windows 10 software from being installed with a message that “the publisher could not be verified.” However, it’s relatively easy for bad actors to get around that and users can just bypass the error message.

With the new security settings, Windows 10 blocks any app that isn’t in the Windows Store, whether it’s a UWP or desktop app (Microsoft only recently allowed third-party desktop apps in the Windows Store). That means its policy will be very similar to Mac’s OS X, which makes you jump through hoops to install non-App Store software.

Microsoft is reportedly testing a “Windows Cloud” service that’s basically a Chrome OS-like version of Windows 10. The software giant may eventually offer it for free or at a discount to try to claw back hordes of educators and other uses that have switched to Google’s OS. If the rumors are right, that new OS doesn’t allow you to install regular Windows apps either, but it’s apparently not the same thing as with the new Windows 10 Creators Update feature.

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Source URL:http://www.engadget.com/2017/02/28/windows-10-will-soon-block-non-store-apps-like-os-x-does/