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Take a Test Drive into the Future with this Look at Google's Self-Driving Car That Will Hit the Road This Summer: VIDEO

Google

Google embarks on next step in its automotive future this summer with the debut of its prototype self-driving vehicles on the streets of Mountain View, California.

Writes Chris Urmson, Director of Google's Self-Driving Car Project:

CarWe’ve been running the vehicles through rigorous testing at our test facilities, and ensuring our software and sensors work as they’re supposed to on this new vehicle. The new prototypes will drive with the same software that our existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses. That fleet has logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since we started the project, and recently has been self-driving about 10,000 miles a week. So the new prototypes already have lots of experience to draw on—in fact, it’s the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience. 

Each prototype’s speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and during this next phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. We’re looking forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with the vehicles, and to uncovering challenges that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle—e.g., where it should stop if it can’t stop at its exact destination due to construction or congestion. In the coming years, we’d like to run small pilot programs with our prototypes to learn what people would like to do with vehicles like this. If you’d like to follow updates about the project and share your thoughts, please join us on our Google+ page. See you on the road!

See what the future has in store, AFTER THE JUMP...

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'Q' Wants To Be The First Social Network For Queer-Identified Folks: VIDEO

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Q, the new social network developed by Eric Cervini, wants to do away with the left-swipe. As apps like Grindr and Tinder have come to changed the way that we date and interact with one another, online dating has become something akin to a digital meat market. Q, as Cervini’s Kickstarter describes, envisions a different future for romantic, virtual connections. Rather than separating its users by gender identity and sexuality indiscriminately, Q promises to be the first social network for people who explicitly identify as queer.

Q“Right now, the largest gay app prevents access to everyone but men, and it has an irrevocable license “to reproduce, distribute, [and] publicly display” everything we share. It’s exclusive, and it invades our privacy—we deserve better,” Cervini expressed via the project’s Kickstarter page. “That’s why I’ve created Q, a community-driven social networking app for humans - of all genders and sexual orientations - who identify as queer.”

Q wants to incorporate all of the progressive measures that companies like Facebook have implemented as they’ve worked to become more inclusive spaces for queer people. Where networking apps like Grindr and Scruff have generally limited their users to identifying as male, Q aims to be open and accessible to all people regardless of their gender identities.

Cervini’s project is looking to raise some $25,000 and as of the publishing of this post his Kickstarter has raised nearly $4,000. If you’re interested in bringing the first queer-positive social networking app to market then click through here, and let us know if a service like Q is something you think is worth investing in the comments AFTER THE JUMP...

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NYC and SF Pride Urged to Ban Facebook as Sponsor Over Company's Continued Freezing of Drag Queen Profiles

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Despite promising that it would no longer antagonize its LGBT users, Facebook is still freezing the accounts of people who aren’t using their legal names. Last fall Sister Roma and other vocal members of the San Francisco queer community rallied together in protest of Facebook’s policy, demanding that people be allowed to use whichever personae they chose.

Many queer-identified people, Roma and others have asserted, use social media as a means of maintaining identities separate from the ones embody with their friends and family. For many drag performers and those yet to come out, being able to have LGBT-centric digital identities not tied directly to their legal names can prove to be a powerful and necessary.

After initially asserting that the social networking giant would stand by the policy, Facebook executives eventually backtracked, apologized, and promised that the company would actively work to “fix” it problems. Apparently, however people who’re being reported for using stage and performance names are still being frozen out of their accounts.

Roma"We've met with Facebook four times, and we kept trying to stress to them the importance of identity and that their real name policy is being used to discriminate and bully our community," Sister Roma intoned. "When you can report a profile as using a fake name, anybody can be one click away from being suspended."

To its credit, Facebook has made some headway with the way that it handles accounts that have been flagged. The social network no longer demands that people provide government-issued identification to verify people’s identities. People are now able to submit other forms of identification that align with the names they assert online, but Facebook still insists that people stick to their birth names.

"We are committed to ensuring that all members of the Facebook community can use the names that they use in real life,” Facebook reps explained to the San Jose Mercury News. “Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech."

For Sister Roma, though, requiring any form of identification whether it be governmental or informal is too much of a burden to place on people. A petition urging Facebook to further change its policy is currently circulating with nearly 2,000 signatures, and a protest outside of the company's HQ is scheduled for June 1st. The petition calls for Facebook to change its policy or be banned from marching in upcoming LGBT Pride parades in San Francisco and New York. 

"What we've been saying until we're blue in the face to Facebook is there are many people, especially LGBT and in the transgender community specifically, who don't have a piece of paper or a government issued ID that proves authentic identity," she insisted.


VIDEO: Pilot Takes Drone Aeronautics To New, Frightening Heights

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A drone pilot posted a video to YouTube showing off his impressive, yet frightening drone piloting abilities with his tiny but incredibly nimble quad-rotor drone. The pilot has the drone perform several tricks such as barrel rolls and loops at dizzying speeds with deadly precision that evokes ideas of its potential future implementation in combat situations.

Watch as the pilot puts the drone through its paces, which the drone handles rather easily, AFTER THE JUMP

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Elon Musk's Tesla Energy Wants To Be The Future of Clean Power: WATCH

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Last night Elon Musk took to the stage to unveil the next step in his ultimate plan for a more accessible energy efficient future. While Tesla, Musk’s company, is best known for its high-end electric battery powered cars, Musk explained that the next big sustainable push he wants to bring to the market lies in a smarter energy grid. Tesla Energy, the company’s newest product category, consist of two affordable home battery systems--the Powerpack and the Powerwall. Both batteries that can be wall mounted inside or outside of the home, and are able to soak up enough solar energy to efficiently power households without relying heavily on the traditional power grid.

TeslaAccording to Musk the Powerwall and the more scalable Powerpack will allow consumers to create micro smart grids of their own that can run on solar energy as well as storing excess energy generated by the regular grid when it isn’t under heavy use. At different points in any given day the cost of electricity fluctuates based on a number of factors like the total number of people accessing the grid and how much electricity they’re using. According to Musk, Tesla Energy products monitor the overall stress being put on the grid and intelligently saps energy from it when it’s at its cheapest.

Check out Elon Musk’s keynote speech introducing Tesla Energy AFTER THE JUMP...

Both Tesla Energy products are priced competitively with the Powerwall ranging between $3,000-$3,500 for different configurations, but Musk’s vision of a carbon neutral future isn’t without some economic drawbacks. Tesla Energy presumes that homeowners already have their residences outfitted with the necessary solar infrastructure that the batteries rely on to capture energy.

Additional costs include buying an AC/DC power inverter and having an electrician install the batteries. The biggest challenge facing Tesla Energy at this point is the market for energy. Put simply--fossil fuels and other traditional energy sources still work out to be way cheaper as opposed to a blend of solar and something like gas. Writing for Gizmodo, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering professor Dan Steingart explains that even under optimal conditions, Tesla Energy shakes out to being cost-prohibitive:

“On a per-kW basis installed it’s roughly 10x the cost of a standard generator system, not accounting for the price of gas. Assuming gas is ~$0.03 to $0.05/kWhr and the generator setup is 20% efficient, the cost of energy is 4x to 8x, depending on hours of use.

Musk himself admitted that while he currently uses two Powerwalls in his own home, the “configuration of his roof” isn’t quite what it needs to be to take himself completely off the grid. Tesla’s vision is ambitious, to be sure, but it isn’t quite attainable as of yet.

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1 World Trade Center Serves Up Stunning, Time-Traveling NYC Skyline Elevator Visuals: VIDEO

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1 World Trade Center’s elevator to the building’s observatory level offers a time-lapse display of New York’s urban development history that plays within the elevator as it ascends toward the observatory reports The New York Times.

The video is presented from the perspective of where the 1 World Trade Center building stands, spanning from the year 1500 to the present. Although animated displays are hardly new, the elevator’s visuals are composed in a fresh manner including stylish elevator level and timeline indicators superimposed over the developing New York skyline; as the elevator ascends, the visuals progress through time.

Watch the elevator ride for yourself, AFTER THE JUMP

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