Monday, June 29, 2015

Shooting A Drone Out of The Sky? Not so fast, private property rights still exist...

It may sound funny, or perhaps even your right, to blast an unmanned aerial vehicle out of the skies over your property. But, in California at least, private property rights still prevail. Further, many suggest that shooting down a drone with a gun should technically be a federal felony offense. Because the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to consider drones "aircraft" (and has fought for that distinction in court) and has not yet created specific rules about their use, shooting at one should be a violation of federal code 18 §32, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The judge ruled that "McBay acted unreasonably in having his son shoot the drone down regardless of whether it was over his property or not." Though it’s not necessarily precedent-setting, it’s still an important case, according to Brendan Schulman, an attorney at Kramer Levin who has more experience in drone law than anyone else in the country.

"Even though it’s from small claims court, it supports the proposition that destruction of someone’s property is not an appropriate way to respond to the presence of a drone," Schulman told me. "Even if a drone is causing a nuisance, potentially invading privacy, creating a hazard, or violating some other law, the appropriate way to respond is to call the authorities, not to take self-help measures involving firearms. Notably, the verdict states that the discharge of the firearm was unreasonable regardless of whether the drone was being flown over the shooter’s property. I think this case is more about the response to the drone operation than it is an indication of what laws apply to the operation of the drone itself."

So before you go off half-cocked, remember to respect others' properties. And know the privacy laws of your jurisdiction.

Read more here...

Do the French, Communist all, Hate the Sharing Economy?

In Paris, taxi drivers are rioting against Uber... In protest against the ride-sharing app service, in particular targeting areas around airports and train stations, as well as blocking the Périphérique ring-road. Uber's app connects private, non-professional drivers with passengers, circumventing the French law for mandatory 250 hours training required for commercial drivers.

French hoteliers have taken up arms against AirBnb, penning an open letter to the prime minister urging protectionism to "even out" the competition.

According to this site, France is the most visited country in the world, with 83 million tourists a year. The tourism sector accounts for seven percent of the country’s GDP, with annual spending by foreign tourists amounting to €36 billion.

Why all the hate towards these innovative, consumer-friendly services? When somebody uses one of these apps (or websites) to find a ride or a passenger, or a place to stay, they’re only doing what countless others have done via old-fashioned bulletin boards, but with the help of the internet.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Robot Cars Fight it Out!

This past Thursday, two self-driving prototype cars, one operated by Google Inc and the other by Delphi Automotive Plc, had a close call on a Silicon Valley street, according to Reuters -- possibly the first such incident involving two vehicles specially equipped for automated driving.

The incident occurred Tuesday on San Antonio Road in Palo Alto, said John Absmeier, director of Delphi's Silicon Valley lab and global business director for the company's automated driving program, who was a passenger in one of the cars. No collision took place. The Delphi vehicle was a prototype Audi Q5 crossover vehicle equipped with lasers, radar, cameras and special computer software, with a person at the wheel as a backup.

As the Delphi vehicle prepared to change lanes, a Google self-driving prototype - a Lexus RX400h crossover fitted with similar hardware and software - cut off the Audi, forcing it to abort the lane change, Absmeier said.

Google declined to comment.

Check out The Register...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Ethics of Robotic Decisions - the Trolley Dilemma

Given an emergency situation, would you save one life, but eliminate others in doing so? Or, visa-versa? In the world of autonomous vehicles, this becomes a very real problem, potentially. As this article discusses, how your self-driving car responds in an accident scenario may very well be the most challenging problem for computer scientists to tackle.

Friday, June 5, 2015

GoogleCar in the wild...

While some of Google’s self-driving vehicles have been involved in (but not the case of) a few crashes, Google is now producing monthly progress reports. Google has made a dedicated site to catalog the vehicles being tested, the total amount of miles traveled in both autonomous and “manual” mode, along with “interesting situations.”

The first report provides a broad view and compiled all the crashes GoogleCars have been involved in since the project began in 2009.