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Nissan’s Pitch-R robot is here to put field stripers out of work

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Reminiscing about warm summer nights at the ballpark always evokes thoughts of hot dogs, fresh cut grass, and watching field stripers meticulously line the diamond with chalk or spray paint. Soon, this nostalgia won’t exactly consist of middle-aged field stripers but rather, autonomous fleets of robots — if the car manufacturer Nissan has its way.

Called the Pitch-R, Nissan’s field-striping robot made its first appearance in May’s Champions League Final between soccer clubs Liverpool and Real Madrid in Kyiv, Ukraine. In just 20 minutes, the diminutive machine accurately and efficiently painted all the necessary lines needed for the match, producing a finished product capable of passing a rigorous pre-match inspection. Inspired by the company’s ProPILOT driver-assistance tech found in the new Nissan Leaf, the Pitch-R boasts four cameras, built-in GPS location tracking, and an advanced collision avoidance system.

Outfit with environmentally friendly and dissolvable white paint, the Pitch-R is able to work on either gravel, grass, or pavement and can stripe lines even if a playing surface is uneven or has various obstacles. After quickly analyzing its environment to assess where to accurately stripe, the battery-powered bot gets to work. No matter if it’s a field designed for five-a-side, seven-a-side, or 11-a-side matches, it’s capable of completing the job in 20 minutes or less.

Although it’s unknown if Nissan plans to put the Pitch-R into production, the company used the bright lights of the Champions League Final to further showcase what it calls Nissan Intelligent Mobility. According to the company, the project is designed to change “how cars are driven, powered, and integrated into society.” Similar to the way Tesla or Google are hoping to disrupt the auto industry with their own self-driving tech, Nissan Intelligent Mobility appears to be yet another stab at perfecting vehicle autonomy.

So, what does that have to do with a field-striping robot? On a much smaller scale than deploying a self-driving car on the highway, the Pitch-R allows Nissan to easily highlight its budding driver-assistance tech without running the risk of any serious damage. By putting a robot to work to accurately stripe a field used for one of the biggest soccer matches of the year, Nissan not only gets to test its tech in a fun way but does so with millions of people watching. The company says it’s the “first in a series of advanced prototypes being developed using Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies.”

“[The passion for soccer] drove our design and engineering team to create Pitch-R,” Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Nissan Europe’s vice president for marketing, said in a statement. “It injects the best of Nissan technology into an innovation which can benefit grassroots football and excite and engage young fans.”

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/outdoors/nissan-pitch-r-soccer-field-robot/

Foto: Nissan

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Spotify Wrapped will tell you which songs and artists you loved the most in 2018

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If you’re like me, you spend hours upon hours listening to Spotify each and every single week. Sure, there are competitors out there from the likes of Apple and Google, but Spotify seems to have simply nailed the overall user experience in a way that others still haven’t been able to match.

With 2019 right around the corner, Spotify, as it did last year, updated its Spotify Wrapped website which provides subscribers with an interesting and comprehensive snapshot of their music listening habits over the past year. So if you’re at all curious about how many hours you’ve spent listening to Spotify or which songs you listened to the most over the past few months, SpotifyUnwrapped is there to help you out.

Once you navigate over to the website, one of the first things you’ll see is how many hours you spent listening to Spotify over the last year. As for me, I apparently spent 8,031 minutes listening to music this year. It may seem like quite a bit, but some die hard music lovers out there have spent in excess of 80,000 minutes on the streaming site over the past few months.

Beyond that, Spotify Unwrapped will also tell you which artists you listened to the most, which songs you had in heavy rotation, and which genre you tend to gravitate towards to the most. Perhaps the coolest thing, though, is that Spotify gives users an option to check out a Tastebreakers playlist which is described as follows:

Start 2019 by broadening your horizons. We’ve made you a playlist of songs from genres and artists you don’t normally explore – and we think you’ll like it.

I was skeptical at first, but the Tastebreakers playlist Spotify’s algorithm curated just for me was surprisingly great. It’s definitely worth a shot if you’re looking for some new artists and genres to enjoy.

Source: https://bgr.com/2018/12/06/spotify-wrapped-2018-stats-top-songs-artists/

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N.Y. Today: Why Police Drones Are Coming

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Drones, but not for ‘warrantless surveillance’

What they’ll use them for: The New York Police Department announced on Tuesday that officers will use 14 drones to map crime scenes, watch over large events and aid search-and-rescue operations. But they won’t be used for “warrantless surveillance.”

What officials won’t say: The Times reports that police officials rejected recommendations that would have required them to disclose regularly how often they were using drones and why.

What officials will say: The police will voluntarily report “aggregate data” regarding the drone program, said Devora Kaye, a department spokeswoman.
What critics say: It’s unclear whether the police have the legal authority to fly the drones or whether they need authorization from the City Council.

Flying drones in the city could be considered reckless endangerment, and current laws may not carve out an exception for law enforcement.

Why it matters: “Like any tool, drones can be used for good or for less-than-honorable purposes,” said Jim McKinley, who edits criminal justice stories for The Times’s Metro Desk.
The drones could reach remote crime scenes, getting close to hostages or examining bombs — but “they could also be used to peer into people’s windows.”

Critics, he said, want the government “to keep an eye on the people keeping an eye on us.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/nyregion/newyorktoday/new-york-news-police-drones-strand-bookstore.html

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Project Fi is now Google Fi, and it will work with iPhones and most Android devices

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Three years after it first launched, Google is making its cell service a little more official today. Project Fi is graduating into something a little more ambitious and getting a new name in the process: Google Fi. But the bigger news is that it’s also going to support more phones — a lot of phones — including the iPhone and “the majority of Android devices.”

This isn’t the first time that Fi has worked with Apple devices; you could get a data-only SIM for iPads as secondary devices before. And technically, a Fi SIM has always worked in an iPhone, provided you adjusted the data settings on the phone. But now Google is supporting iPhones directly for new customers, though it says that the support is in beta and requires “a few extra steps to get set up.” There will be a new Google Fi iOS app to help ease the process along.

More specifically, you’l find that Visual Voicemail won’t work anymore, but iMessage will. iOS won’t pull the right MMS and data connections automatically, but it does work with just a few copy-and-pastes into settings.

For Android phones, setup should be a lot more straightforward. Though by going with Fi instead of a more traditional carrier, you should be aware that all customer support happens online or over the phone. In my experience, that hasn’t been a big issue, but sometimes it is nice to have a store to walk into to get in-person help.

Google Fi is an MVNO, which stands for “mobile virtual network operator.” That means that your actual service comes from larger carriers; Fi uses T-Mobile, Sprint, and US Cellular as its backbone. However, only a few phones (like the Pixels and others that Google sells) are able to dynamically switch between those carriers’ networks, and that doesn’t change today. Like before, phones that aren’t explicitly “designed for Fi” are stuck on T-Mobile’s network. Here’s how Google Fi will work with iPhones, for example.

Whatever network you’re technically on, Google allows people with phones running Android 9 Pie to route their data through its own VPN. However, Google Fi still has some catching up to do with other carriers when it comes to other features, including support for the RCS Universal Profile for texting and number sharing for things like LTE smartwatches.

But the real difference with Fi is the pricing model: it’s much simpler than what most other networks offer. It’s $20 for a phone line and $10 per gig of data you use — capped at $60 under a newer program it calls “Bill Protection.” The reason I like it is that you can get a data-only SIM, which costs no additional money per month beyond the data you use it on it. I think it’s one of the best deals in wireless. But depending on your data habits, the same might not be true for you.

Until now, I’ve had a shadow of a doubt about Google’s commitment to the Project Fi service. It’s not just that it was dubbed a “project,” but also that Google has, shall we say, a mixed record when it comes to providing communication services. Fi grew out of Google Voice in some ways, a service that has had sporadic stretches of stagnated support. And that’s to say nothing of Google Fiber, the broadband service that started with an aggressive rollout before faltering.

The expanded support helps to alleviate some of those concerns. And perhaps in another sign to show that it’s serious, Google is looking to juice sign-ups and sales with a deal that essentially pays for your phone, though it’s only going to be offered today, November 28th. It applies to both new subscribers and current customers:

For any phone you purchase [from Google Fi], you’ll receive the same value back in your choice of travel gift cards, which you can spend on flights with Delta and Southwest or lodging with Airbnb and hotels.com. Alternatively, if you’d rather set up Google Fi on your current phone, you’ll earn $200 of Fi service credit when you sign up today.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/28/18115264/google-fi-iphone-android-project-official

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