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Top Auto Dealer Says Robo-Taxi Hype Has Reached ‘Peak Absurdity’



tesla self driving car

The auto industry is a long way from seeing autonomous vehicles and ride-hailing companies put an end to traffic deaths and personal car ownership, according to one of the top U.S. auto dealers.

“We have reached peak absurdity on this topic,” Wes Lutz, the chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said of driverless cars. “Self-driving vehicles are theoretically safer. But we don’t know if they are actually safer. And we don’t know because there just isn’t anywhere near enough data to prove it one way or another.”

Traditional auto dealers have been cast as Luddites in the shift to the autonomous age, when robo-taxis are expected to replace car ownership and put an end to the more than 37,000 highway deaths annually in the U.S. as precise robots replace distracted humans. In a speech to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit, Lutz called on the media to scrutinize claims about the technology’s potential against its costs and current capabilities.

Lutz cited a recent AAA study that found the annual cost of using a ride hailing service as a primary mode of transportation is $20,118, compared to a $10,049 yearly cost to own a car, including fuel, maintenance, repairs, insurance, license, registration, taxes and parking.

“This should have been front page news in Detroit, on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley,” he said in prepared remarks. “Why? Because it disproves one of the central pillars holding up the argument that people are going to stop buying cars, which is that it’s cheaper to use ride-hailing services.”

Lutz, who has a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealership in Jackson, Michigan, welcomed semi-autonomous technology, such as automatic emergency braking, that he said is improving the performance of human driving. He suggested that’s where the billions being spent on driverless technology should be directed.

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Lutz also cited recent research from New York City’s former deputy transportation commissioner Bruce Schaller, who found that Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. increase traffic congestion by adding 2.8 new vehicles miles on the road for every one mile of personal driving they replaced.

“This is because the majority of people aren’t taking Uber and Lyft instead of driving themselves,” Lutz said. “They’re taking Uber and Lyft instead of using public transportation, biking or walking.”

Lutz encouraged the automotive media to challenge conventional wisdom, even when it sounds more exciting that the reality of about 17 million new cars sales in the U.S. annually.

“We are not only living in exciting times, but also in an era that rewards bold predictions more than gritty reality, especially when reality isn’t that exciting,” Lutz said. “But I don’t think it’s a bridge too far to expect reporting on our industry to always be rooted in the reality and facts as we know them today — not the spin that gets Wall Street all jazzed up.”


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9-year-old genius to graduate university




Laurent Simons

(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.

Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.

Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.

He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.

His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.

“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.

Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But Lydia has her own theory.

“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.

“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”

Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.

“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”

Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”

His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.

“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.

“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”

While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.

“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”

Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.

However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.

In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.

Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.

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New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne




Lena Horne

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Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem




Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem

Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.

The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.

Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.

Father and son were both knocked through a gate.

The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.

One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.

McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.

McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.

Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.


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