Ford patents removable wheel and pedals for future autonomous cars

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Lawmakers have cautiously supported automakers’ experiments with self-driving vehicles, but they’ve been split on whether cars need a steering wheel at all times in case humans need to take over. But with more and more concepts ditching control elements (wheels, pedals, gear shifts) entirely, it’s likely a matter of time before those wholly autonomous options head to consumers. In the meantime, Ford has received a patent that splits the difference: A wheel and pedals that are completely removable.

Ford actually filed the patent in February 2016, and it was awarded to the automaker last week on August 10th, as originally reported by Motor1. It’s not a perfect solution, the document notes: Designers will have to reconsider how they implement airbags, which are traditionally situated in the steering wheel. Ford’s patent proposes one in both the wheel and dashboard behind it, electronically switching off the latter if the wheel column is locked in.

But it isn’t just about popping a wheel in and out: This redesign would probably require major structural changes, as the steering column is an integral part of any car’s frame. While this is only a patent, it shows that automakers are thinking hard about steering and control compromises that will let them sell autonomous vehicles in countries with different legal requirements — along with users who might just want to take the wheel from time to time.


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Google wants to save you from allergies with new pollen forecasts

© Provided by The Next Web Google wants to save you from the sniffles. Today the internet giant announced that it will soon begin displaying detailed pollen level forecasts straight into Search.

The new feature practically helps users avoid seasonal allergy symptoms by letting them know in advance how high the pollen levels in their area will be.

Once the functionality goes live, you will be able to access this data by searching for the key phrase ‘pollen forecast’ in Search. The integration will then proceed to show you the expected pollen-density levels for the next five days.

Here is how it looks:

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To make this happen, the Big G teamed up with The Weather Channel to source reliable reliable data like pollen indices and display this information directly in Search.

What would come in handy to users suffering from pollen allergies is that Google will also offer the feature to send you notifications anytime it expects a high pollen count in your area. This ought to make it easier for you to prepare accordingly.

We tried testing the feature, but it appears the Mountain View heavyweight has yet to roll out the functionality to everyone.

In any case: I’m personally excited about not having to carry around my allergy pills anytime I drag my ass out of the house during pollen season.

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Jay Taruc rides again

ALL THINGS MOTORCYCLE – Those who miss Jay Taruc’s “Motorcycle Diary” (like this columnist) will be happy to learn that he’s back on GMA News TV starting this Sunday, Aug. 20, 10 p.m. via “Ride PH.” The new show is a half-hour tele-magazine focused on all things motorcycle, darting from one end of the Philippines to the other as it participates in the largest motorcycle gatherings.

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At the recent media launch of “Ride PH,” friends joined Jay. The likes of Onemig Bondoc, Randy Santiago, Drew Arellano, Jamir Garcia, and Dody Arcaya of Dickies (one of the show’s sponsors). Common love for motorcycle cements their friendship.

Also around was Jay’s wife, June, a cross between Sen. Loren Legarda and Jean Garcia.

Randy said his brother Raymart is a motorcycle buff and might guest in “Ride PH.” Ryan Agoncillo’s Himalayan Adventure on wheels will be featured. Perhaps Jay could also invite Dingdong Dantes and Jericho Rosales.

SEGMENTS – Featured in “Ride PH” are segments like:

“Rider’s Profile” and “My Ride” – riders and their exceptional love affairs with their bikes.

“Bike Tribes” – sharing experiences on the road.

“Jay Riding” – discovering compelling stories during the rides.

“Motor Trends” – the latest motorcycle products and services.

By the way, Jay rides his motorcycle daily and owns six.

GROWING MORE AND MORE – The motorcycle riding community grows more and more… even as road accidents occur more often.

Colleague Aster Amoyo recalls sadly that two nephews and one cousin died in motorcycle accidents.

Jay assures “Ride PH” tackles the issue. Hindi natin mapipigilan ang paglaki ng bilang ng mga gumagamit ng motor.

Kasabay niyan, dapat mapa-alalahanan din sila na hindi lang puro saya ang ride. May responsibilidad din sa sarili at sa ibang gumagamit ng kalye.”


Source: Tempo

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Uber ready to pay up to P30M in fine for ‘misunderstanding’ LTFRB order

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Transport Network Company Uber Systems, Inc. on Wednesday said it is ready to pay the fine for the “misunderstanding” that led to its one-month suspension by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

“We’ll take responsibility for any misunderstanding and so if we can pay a fine as part of rectifying what happened there, we will do that,” Uber regional manager Mike Brown told reporters in the Senate.

A report by GMA News’ Saleema Refran on 24 Oras said Brown had a five-hour closed-door meeting with the Senate Committee on Public Services and LTFRB officials on Wednesday.

The report quoted Senator JV Ejercito as saying that Uber offered to pay P20 million to P30 million in fine.

The LTFRB slapped a one-month suspension on Uber for “willfully and contumaciously” violating its order for it to halt the activation of new drivers. It also junked Uber’s appeal.

Brown, during Wednesday’s interview, said what happened was a misunderstanding.

“They (LTFRB) are our regulator. We are here to respect the regulator and in this case, if there’s a misunderstanding, then I apologize for that. I didn’t mean to have any misunderstanding,” he said.

Brown also said they are ready to compensate its drivers while its operations are suspended. 

The LTFRB, meanwhile, said the suspension order will remain.

“The order stands. As I’ve said, until such time that they will file the pleading and what we also have agreed is to hear it next week,” said LTFRB chairman Martin Delgra III.

Sen. Grace Poe, chair of the Senate public services committee, called Uber’s offer “generous” to drivers while Delgra said Uber must apologize to those they have “adversely affected.”

Meanwhile, several transport group leaders filed criminal complaints against Uber at the Quezon City Prosecutors Office for allegedly allowing “colorum” vehicles to operate.

Uber refused to comment on the transport groups’ insistence on the TNC’s “repeated breach and violation” of LTFRB orders. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News

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LTFRB orders ride-sharing startup Arcade City to stop operations

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The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday ordered Arcade City, a ride-sharing startup, to cease its operations.

In an advisory, the board said that Arcade City, which it considered another type of Transport Network Company (TNC), “has not coordinated with the LTFRB and, as such, cannot operate.”

The LTFRB also “strongly warned” Arcade City “to stop all bookings made with the use of this kind of application/platform.”

“Otherwise, it will be constrained to take legal actions against Arcade City and its illegal Transportation Network Vehicle Service (TNVS) operators considered as colorum,” it added.



Arcade City, which was just launched on Wednesday, claims to be an “Uber alternative, that aims to “provide service in the gap left by Uber’s abrupt withdrawal.”

In a statement posted on its Facebook account, Arcade City said that drivers are free to set their own rates while riders are also free to choose their own driver.

The LTFRB on Monday night suspended the accreditation of Uber for a month, ordering it to “cease and desist its operation on their online booking application during the period of suspension.” — BM, GMA News

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Peso licks losses as traders take profits in dollar

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The Philippine peso trimmed losses earlier in the session to close slightly weaker against the greenback on Wednesday, as traders unload stale dollar holders and cashed in on gains from the US currency.

The local unit shed 1 centavo to P51.35:$1 from 51.34 on Tuesday. This was the weakest for the peso since August 25, 2006, when the pair finished at 51.38:$1.

“The market cut long dollar positions. That’s why the peso closed only 1 centavo weaker,” Bank of the Philippine Islands lead economist Emilio Neri Jr. told GMA News Online.

“It can also be attributed to profit taking. Nothing unusual, this was just market determined,” he added.

During the morning trade, the peso hit an intra-day low of P51.60:$1 after opening at 51.45 as strong retail sales in the US boosted the dollar.

ING Bank Manila senior economist Joey Cuyegkeng said the market perceives the Duterte economic managers as tolerant of a weaker peso and the central bank as dovish.

“A strong second quarter GDP (gross domestic product)  should attract investors and deliver some much needed strength for Philippine peso,” Cuyegkeng noted.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is scheduled to release the second-quarter and first-half economic growth figures on Thursday, August 17. — VDS, GMA News

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PHL, World Bank launch $206-M natural disaster insurance program

The Upi Disaster Response Team takes a breather before diving back into the Matuber River in Cotabato on Monday, July 10, 2017, to search for the body of a farmer who was reported missing last July 6. Amiel Cagayan © Provided by Mediamerge Corporation The Upi Disaster Response Team takes a breather before diving back into the Matuber River in Cotabato on Monday, July 10, 2017, to search for the body of a farmer who was reported missing last July 6. Amiel Cagayan

The Philippine government and the World Bank has launched a $206-million (P10.6 billion) natural disaster risk management insurance coverage program for government assets and local governments.

In a statement on Wednesday, the World Bank said the insurance provides $206 million in coverage against losses from major typhoons and earthquakes to national government assets, and to 25 participating provinces against losses from major typhoons.

“Under the program, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) … provides the government and the 25 participating provinces with catastrophe risk insurance,” the multilateral lender said.

The World Bank’s  International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) acts as an intermediary to transfer the risk from the GSIS to a panel of international reinsurers  – Nephila, Swiss Re, Munich Re via the subsidiaries NewRe, Axa, and Hannover Re –  which were selected through a competitive bidding process.

Catastrophe risk modeling software provider Air Worldwide provides the underlying risk modeling for the transaction, the multilateral lender said.

“Insurance payouts are made when pre-defined parametric triggers are met,” it added.

The World Bank said the Philippines is among the world’s most vulnerable countries to natural disasters with an estimated $3.5-billion average assets losses each year due to typhoons and earthquakes.

The multilateral lender said the program acts as the “last line of defense” complementing other funding sources such as the national and local disaster risk reduction management funds and contingent credit that protect against less severe natural disasters.

“The program is the first of its kind in the Philippines and builds on six years of intensive partnership with the World Bank, including the preparation of the first catastrophe risk model for the country and the adoption of a Disaster Risk Finance Strategy by the Department of Finance,” it said.

“This is the first time that the World Bank has entered into a reinsurance agreement with a governmental agency, and the first time it is executing a catastrophe risk transaction in local currency,” it added. — Ted Cordero/VDS, GMA News

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PSEi up 0.46% ahead of Q2 GDP report

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The PSEi climbed above the 8,000 level on Wednesday, ahead of the second quarter economic numbers.

The bellwether PSEi rose by 37.18 points or 0.46 percent to 8,046.59. The broader All Shares climbed 21.36 points or 0.45 percent to 4,751.09.

“The market was strong. We have positive expectations for the GDP (gross domestic product) tomorrow. Basically, that’s what we’re looking at,” Carlo L. Capacillo, senior dealer at AP Securities Inc., said.

More than 1.539 billion shares, valued at P12.737 billion, were traded. Winners led losers, 121 to 68, and 55 issues were unchanged.

Foreign funds bought P3.407 billion of shares during the session and sold P3.372 billion for a net buying position of P34.677 million.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is scheduled to release the second-quarter and first-half economic growth figures 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 17.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia earlier expects the second-quarter GDP to have outperformed the first quarter output growth of 6.4 percent.

“We are optimistic. In Southeast Asia, Japan was better than expected. Hopefully, the region will follow suit,” Capacillo said, noting that the market expects the GDP to settle between 6.3 percent and 7.0 percent. — VDS, GMA News

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Mighty Corp. tax settlement to boost gov’t coffers – DOF

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The tax settlement of cigarette maker Mighty Corp. will boost government coffers and cover the unexpected costs of several calamities, the Department of Finance (DOF) said Wednesday.

“This will be the largest sum of taxes collected ever from a single taxpayer in Philippine history. It brings windfall revenues for government during a time when calamities inflicted unexpected spending burdens for the government,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in an emailed statement.

Mighty Corp. is settling P25 billion, but the amount is expected to go up to P30 billion with P5 billion to be collected from the value-added tax (VAT) from the sale of the company to Japan Tobacco International.

The bird flu outbreak in San Luis, Pampanga will require at least P50 million to compensate the poultry farmers for birds that will be culled to prevent the outbreak from spreading.

In general, Dominguez said sin tax collections are likely to increase as a result of its tough stand against Mighty Corp.

“Our future sin tax collections are expected to rise by at least P1 billion a month. This can be used to pay for additional medicines, commodities, and services that will prevent and control the deadly diseases caused by tobacco use, and improve our health care facilities,” he said.

The DOF in July said it already received an initial payment of P3.44 billion from Mighty Corp. — Jon Viktor Cabuenas/VDS, GMA News

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Cebu Pacific announces new routes, promo fares

Cebu Pacific © GMA News Cebu Pacific

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific on Wednesday announced new domestic and international routes, in efforts to increase connectivity within the country and the region starting October.

In an emailed statement, Cebu Pacific said it will start flying to and from Kalibo in Aklan and Clark in Pampanga.

The thrice-a-week Kalibo-Clark flight will begin on October 30, 2017 with flights on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Meanwhile, the return Clark-Kalibo flight will start on October 31, 2017 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Cebu Pacific subsidiary CebGo will start Cagayan de Oro-Caticlan and Cagayan de Oro-Dumaguete routes on October 20, 2017.

CebGo will also operate its first international route out of Zamboanga with flights going to Sandakan, Malaysia starting October 29, 2017.

Flights will be available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

“Sandakan has had centuries of trade and cultural linkage with the southern Philippines, and we are especially proud to put in place infrastructure to further enhance these ties,” CebGo president and CEO Alexander Lao said.

“Now, the previous 14-hour travel by sea is cut down to just a 40-minute airplane ride,” he added.

In line with the new routes, Cebu Pacific said it will offer an introductory all-in seat sale of P599 for all domestic trips until August 18, 2017, with a travel period starting October 20, 2017 to March 15, 2018.

Flights from Zamboanga to Sandakan will also be on sale at P1,299 until August 21, 2017. The travel period will be from October 29, 2017 to December 31, 2017. — Jon Viktor D. Cabuenas/BM, GMA News

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