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Uber suspends its self-driving cars from Roads after crash in US

Uber had refused to apply for a $150 permit to test the vehicles in the city

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Uber began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and is now rolling out the service in San Francisco. (Uber), VOA
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Washington, March 26, 2017: US ride-hailing company Uber has suspended its self-driving cars from the roads after one such vehicle crashed in Arizona, the media reported on Sunday.

Pictures posted online showed the car on its right side on a street, next to another badly damaged vehicle, the BBC reported.

US-based Fresco News posted the images and video on Facebook on Saturday and wrote: “No injuries yet reported in an accident involving a self-driving Uber.”

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A police official said the accident occurred when the other vehicle “failed to yield” to the Uber car at a left turn.

“There was a person behind the wheel. It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision,” the official said.

The company pulled its self-driving vehicles off the road in Arizona at first, followed by test sites in Pennsylvania and California — all three states where it operated the vehicles.

Uber began testing its self-driving cars in Arizona in February after California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the registrations of the company’s fleet operating in San Francisco.

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Uber had refused to apply for a $150 permit to test the vehicles in the city.

Already mired in several controversies, this crash is the latest in a string of highly public incidents involving the ride-sharing company.

The company lost several big executives since February.

Last week, Uber President Jeff Jones said he was quitting after six months on the job. The company confirmed Jones’ departure.

“We want to thank Jeff for his six months at the company and wish him all the best,” the company said in a statement.

Uber’s head of growth and product, Ed Baker, resigned from the company early in March. Also, an India-born Uber executive quit over an old harassment claim.

Amit Singhal, who was born in Uttar Pradesh, left his job for not disclosing an allegation of sexual harassment by his former employer Google.

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Uber is also fighting a legal battle after Google’s self-driving car company Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber for allegedly stealing trade secrets and technology from it.

The lawsuit, filed on March 9 against Uber’s self-driving vehicle unit Otto that it bought last year for $680 million, argued that former Waymo manager Anthony Levandowski took information when he left the company and later co-founded Otto in January 2016.

The company said it found that six weeks before his resignation, Levandowski downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s custom-built “Light Detection and Ranging” (LiDAR) and circuit board.

Levandowski copied the data to an external drive. He later wiped and reformatted the laptop in an attempt to erase forensic fingerprints. (IANS)

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Blind Facebook employee is developing tech for sightless

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform.

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A visually impaired Facebook employee is developing technology to make Facebook more fun for the sightless. Pixabay
A visually impaired Facebook employee is developing technology to make Facebook more fun for the sightless. Pixabay
  • A blind Facebook employee is developing AI to make social network for sightless fun
  • He is developing AI which will verbalise images and videos
  • This technology will enable alt-text for images and videos

A blind Facebook employee is developing a technology that will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to verbalise the content of an image or video and enable the visually impaired to “see” and determine appropriate content for people and advertisers.

Facebook engineer Matt King is leading a project that is making solutions for visually impaired people on the platform that could eventually be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook’s terms of use or that advertisers want to avoid.

Also Read : Facebook might bring Stories on desktop 

This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters
This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters

“More than two billion photos are shared across Facebook every single day. That’s a situation where a machine-based solution adds a lot more value than a human-based solution ever could,” CNBC quoted King as saying late on Saturday.

King, who was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, lost his vision by the time he got his degree and started working at IBM with the tech giant’s accessibility projects.

He worked on a screen reader to help visually impaired people “see” what is on their screens either through audio cues or a braille device. IBM eventually developed the first screen reader for a graphical interface.

He worked with the accessibility team till Facebook hired him from IBM in 2015.

The man behind this development is Matt King.
The man behind this development is Matt King.

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform, like adding captions to videos or coming up with ways to navigate the site using only audio cues.

“Anybody who has any kind of disability can benefit from Facebook. They can develop beneficial connections and understand their disability doesn’t have to define them, to limit them,” King said.

Also Read : Facebook Profit Escalates with No Major Impact from Russia and it’s Advertisements

One of his main projects is “automated alt-text,” which describes audibly what is in Facebook images.

When automated alt-text was launched in April 2016, it was only available in five languages on the iOS app. Today it is available in over 29 languages on Facebook on the web, iOS and Android.

Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay
Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay

“The things people post most frequently kind of has a limited vocabulary associated with it,” the Facebook engineer said.

“It makes it possible for us to have one of those situations where if you can tackle 20 per cent of the solution, it tackles 80 per cent of the problem. It’s getting that last 20 per cent which is a lot of work, but we’re getting there,” he said.

In December 2017, Facebook pushed an automatic alt-text update that used facial recognition to help visually impaired people find out who is in photos. IANS