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Happenings in Geekland

Horse-drawn fiber, driverless cars, and Anon's on about something (again)

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Putting the fiber before the horse

When we think fiber installation, we think of conduits running under city streets, guys in orange vests stringing cable along utility poles, and … horses?

Vermont is in the process of wiring up the entire state for broadband and cellular service. Doing so in the more remote areas of the state is a logistical headache.

Enter Fred the Belgian draft horse. According to Reuters, Fred, and his owner Claude Desmarais, are helping a Vermont utility company string cable along back country roads where utility trucks fear to tread. Fred is hooked up to a draft harness and can pull the heavy lengths of cable as utility crews attach it to existing poles.

In heavily wooded areas (or during the mild Vermont winters with four feet of snow on the ground), Fred is invaluable, foreman Paul Clancy said in the article: “It would probably take 15 guys to do what Fred and Claude can do.”

 

Driverless car crashes. Cause? Driver error.

If this doesn’t help champion the cause of the driverless car … various sources reported on a self-driving Google Streetview car that was involved in a five-car pileup. The kicker? The vehicle’s human driver was in control of the Toyota Prius at the time of the crash.

Given that human error caused the incident, Google’s self-driving cars can still claim a perfect driving record with more than 140,000 miles driven. That impeccable safety record is a key factor in the state of Nevada’s decision to start licensing driverless cars.

No word on when Google will have the poor sod who was behind the wheel executed.

 

Skynet’s going to be delivering pizzas next

Not to be outdone by Mountain View, the Chinese are developing a driverless car, too.

The Chinese car, the Hongqi HQ3, developed by the National University of Defense Technology, recently completed a 155-mile drive, and what’s interesting is that it did it without GPS.

The Hongqi HQ3 used video cameras and radar sensors connected to a proprietary artificial intelligence system in the trunk to drive 175 miles on a 55MPH expressway, changing lanes, avoiding slow drivers, and otherwise driving entirely unlike a teenager.

While the drive was made during daylight under ideal conditions (situations like nighttime driving or heavy fog could interfere), the test is a huge step in proving driverless technology.

Protests in protest of thwarted protest

In response to BART shutting down cellular service in an attempt to stop protests over a Bay Area man being shot by police, hacktivist group Anonymous is at it again. Several online sources reported that first the group hacked a website for BART customers, stealing contact info for at least 2,400 users and in some cases posting their personal information online.

Following the website breach, a second protest Monday in the Civic Center station slowed the evening commute, BART
officials said. This time, however, cell service wasn’t cut.

Contributor Nicholas Walter thinks that, while not as cool as commuting via jetpack, commuting via driverless car is still pretty rad. Send him your ideas for what the future should hold via Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach at aschwellenbach@newtimesslo.com.

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