Russia will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned.
His comments follow Nato’s accusation on Tuesday that Russia has already broken the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned both countries’ use of all short and medium-range missiles.
But Mr Putin says the accusation is a pretext for the US to leave the pact.
In televised comments, the Russian leader said many other countries had developed weapons banned under the INF treaty.
“Now it seems our American partners believe that the situation has changed so much that [they] must also have such a weapon,” he said.
“What’s our response? It’s simple – in that case we will also do this.”
US President Donald Trump has previously said the country would leave the treaty because of Russian actions.
Analysts say Russia sees the weapons as a cheaper alternative to conventional forces.
Arriving for talks with Nato foreign ministers, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini urged the two countries to save the treaty, saying it had “guaranteed peace and security in European territory for 30 years now”.
What has Nato said?
On Tuesday, the Western military alliance formally accused Russia of breaking the treaty.
“Allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a missile system, the 9M729, which violates the INF Treaty and poses significant risks to Euro-Atlantic security,” the Nato foreign ministers’ statement read.
The statement said the member nations “strongly support” the US claim that Russia is in breach of the pact, and called on Moscow to “return urgently to full and verifiable compliance”.
Speaking after the release of Nato’s statement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia had 60 days to return to compliance with the treaty, after which time the US would suspend its own compliance.
“During this 60 days we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we’ll see what happens during this 60-day period,” he said.
Russia has repeatedly denied breaking the Cold War treaty.
What is the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty?
An accident in a swimming pool left Chieko Asakawa blind at the age of 14. For the past three decades she’s worked to create technology – now with a big focus on artificial intelligence (AI) – to transform life for the visually impaired.
“When I started out there was no assistive technology,” Japanese-born Dr Asakawa says.
“I couldn’t read any information by myself. I couldn’t go anywhere by myself.”
Those “painful experiences” set her on a path of learning that began with a computer science course for blind people, and a job at IBM soon followed. She started her pioneering work on accessibility at the firm, while also earning her doctorate.
Dr Asakawa is behind early digital Braille innovations and created the world’s first practical web-to-speech browser. Those browsers are commonplace these days, but 20 years ago, she gave blind internet users in Japan access to more information than they’d ever had before.
Now she and other technologists are looking to use AI to create tools for visually impaired people.
For example, Dr Asakawa has developed NavCog, a voice-controlled smartphone app that helps blind people navigate complicated indoor locations.
Low-energy Bluetooth beacons are installed roughly every 10m (33ft) to create an indoor map. Sampling data is collected from those beacons to build “fingerprints” of a specific location.
“We detect user position by comparing the users’ current fingerprint to the server’s fingerprint model,” she says.
Collecting large amounts of data creates a more detailed map than is available in an application like Google Maps, which doesn’t work for indoor locations and cannot provide the level of detail blind and visually impaired people need, she says.
“It can be very helpful, but it cannot navigate us exactly,” says Dr Asakawa, who’s now an IBM Fellow, a prestigious group that has produced five Nobel prize winners.
NavCog is currently in a pilot stage, available in several sites in the US and one in Tokyo, and IBM says it is close to making the app available to the public.
‘It gave me more control’
Pittsburgh residents Christine Hunsinger, 70, and her husband Douglas Hunsinger, 65, both blind, trialled NavCog at a hotel in their city during a conference for blind people.
“I felt more like I was in control of my own situation,” says Mrs Hunsinger, now retired after 40 years as a government bureaucrat.
She uses other apps to help her get around, and says while she needed to use her white cane alongside NavCog, it did give her more freedom to move around in unfamiliar areas.
Mr Hunsinger agrees, saying the app “took all the guesswork out” of finding places indoors.
“It was really liberating to travel independently on my own.”
A lightweight ‘suitcase robot’
Dr Asakawa’s next big challenge is the “AI suitcase” – a lightweight navigational robot.
It steers a blind person through the complex terrain of an airport, providing directions as well as useful information on flight delays and gate changes, for example.
The suitcase has a motor embedded so it can move autonomously, an image-recognition camera to detect surroundings, and Lidar – Light Detection And Ranging – for measuring distances to objects.
When stairs need to be climbed, the suitcase tells the user to pick it up.
“If we work together with the robot it could be lighter, smaller and lower cost,” Dr Asakawa says.
The current prototype is “pretty heavy”, she admits. IBM is pushing to make the next version lighter and hopes it will ultimately be able to contain at least a laptop computer. It aims to pilot the project in Tokyo in 2020.
“I want to really enjoy travelling alone. That’s why I want to focus on the AI suitcase even if it is going to take a long time.”
IBM showed me a video of the prototype, but as it’s not ready for release yet the firm was reluctant to release images at this stage.
AI for ‘social good’
Despite its ambitions, IBM lags behind Microsoft and Google in what it currently offers the visually impaired.
Microsoft has committed $115m (£90m) to its AI for Good programme and $25m to its AI for accessibility initiative. For example, Seeing AI – a talking camera app – is a central part of its accessibility work.
And later this year Google reportedly plans to launch its Lookout app, initially for the Pixel, that will narrate and guide visually impaired people around specific objects.
“People with disabilities have been overlooked when it comes to technology development as a whole,” says Nick McQuire, head of enterprise and AI research at CCS Insight.
But he says that’s been changing in the past year, as big tech firms push hard to invest in AI applications that “improve social wellbeing”.
He expects more to come in this space, including from Amazon, which has sizeable investments in AI.
“But it’s really Microsoft and Google… in the last 12 months that have made the big focus in this area,” he says.
Mr McQuire says the focus on social good and disability is linked to “trying to showcase the benefits [of AI] in light of a lot of negative sentiment” around AI replacing human jobs and even taking over completely.
But AI in the disability space is far from perfect. A lot of the investment right now is about “proving the accuracy and speed of the applications” around vision, he says.
Dr Asakawa concludes simply: “I’ve been tackling the difficulties I found when I became blind. I hope these difficulties can be solved.”
China was preparing to launch a ground-breaking mission early Saturday to soft-land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and U.S.
With its Chang’e 4 mission, China hopes to be the first country to ever successfully undertake such a landing. The moon’s far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.
If successful, the mission scheduled to blast off aboard a Long March 3B rocket will propel the Chinese space program to a leading position in one of the most important areas of lunar exploration.
China landed its Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit.” rover on the moon five years ago and plans to send its Chang’e 5 probe there next year and have it return to Earth with samples—the first time that will have been done since 1976. A crewed lunar mission is also under consideration.
Chang’e 4 is also a lander-rover combination and will explore both above and below the lunar surface after arriving at the South Pole-Aitken basin’s Von Karman crater following a 27-day journey.
It will also perform radio-astronomical studies that, because the far side always faces away from Earth, will be “free from interference from our planet’s ionosphere, human-made radio frequencies and auroral radiation noise,” space industry expert Leonard David wrote on the website Space.com.
It may also carry plant seeds and silkworm eggs, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Chang’e is the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology.
China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so. It has put a pair of space stations into orbit, one of which is still operating as a precursor to a more than 60-ton station that is due to come online in 2022. The launch of a Mars rover is planned for the mid-2020s.
To facilitate communication between controllers on Earth and the Chang’e 4 mission, China in May launched a relay satellite named Queqiao, or “Magpie Bridge,” after an ancient Chinese folk tale.
China’s space program has benefited from cooperation with Russia and European nations, although it was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station, mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation amid concerns over its strong military connections. Its program also suffered a rare setback last year with the dialed launch of its Long March 5 rocket.
China’s latest mission closely follows the touchdown of NASA’s InSight spacecraft on Mars on Monday, at a site less than 400 miles (640 kilometers) from the American rover Curiosity, the only other working robot on Mars.
Uber is ceding control of the Russian market by agreeing to merge its ride-hailing business in the country with Yandex, the Russian search-engine leader that also runs a popular taxi-booking app.
For Uber, the deal marks the exit from another big market after it sold its operations in China last year to local rival Didi Chuxing.
Yandex said in a statement on Thursday that Uber and Yandex Taxi would combine into a new company in Russia as well as in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Yandex will own 59 percent, Uber roughly 37 percent, and employees the rest. The CEO of Yandex Taxi, Tigran Khudaverdyan, will become the chief executive of the new combined company.
San Francisco-based Uber will invest $225 million in the new company and Yandex $100 million, putting its value at over $3.7 billion. The companies said that together they deliver over 35 million rides a month, with $130 million in gross bookings in June. Yandex is the bigger company, with roughly the twice the business Uber currently has in the region.
In both Russia and China, Uber was having trouble competing against larger ride services that have the advantages of being the hometown company and knowing cultural differences, said independent technology analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research in California. “It’s like competing with Google in the U.S.,” he said. “They just weren’t really making headway against the local competitors.”
At this stage of its development, the money-losing Uber is looking to move to profitability, reviewing regions to see if there are prospects for making money. If the prospects aren’t good, Uber is likely to get out, Dawon said.
In the Yandex case, Uber will exit “in a dignified way” with the 37 percent stake in the new company. Uber had invested $170 million in Russia and is adding $225 million to the new company. So for about $400 million, it’s getting a stake in Yandex that’s worth over $1 billion, Dawson said.
Shares in Yandex jumped 15 percent on the Moscow stock exchange on news of the deal. The company is one of Russia’s most successful Internet enterprises, accounting for some 65 percent of all searches and operating popular maps and public transit apps.
Once the deal is closed toward the end of this year, consumers will be able to use both Yandex and Uber apps to hail rides while for drivers, the apps will be integrated.
Russian internet giant Yandex disappointed tech enthusiasts on Monday by failing to unveil what many hoped would be a highly anticipated Russian-made smartphone.
Speculation has been mounting for years that Yandex—which dominates internet services in Russia—will put forward its own mobile device to rival giants like Apple, Samsung and Huawei.
Excitement reached fever pitch when Yandex announced it would be holding a presentation at its glossy Moscow headquarters, with Russian media reports anticipating a smartphone launch that would be a major step for the company.
But Yandex instead announced a new smart speaker that uses the voice of “Alisa”—a virtual assistant similar to Amazon’s Alexa—that will cost around 40 euros.
Asked by disappointed journalists about the potential smartphone, Yandex representatives said only: “We are not commenting on this question.”
Yandex started in the 1990s as a search engine similar to Google but has since expanded into every corner of the Russian internet, developing maps, taxi and food order apps that Russians use every day.
A Russian-designed smartphone—the YotaPhone—was launched in 2013 but has failed to catch on and tech observers have been waiting anxiously for Yandex to jump into the field.
Tom Morrod, research director at IHS Markit, said that once Yandex does enter the market it will likely be with a mid-range option aimed at supporting its services.
“Non-hardware companies are often happy to take a mid-market position, without hoping to make money. Yandex’s smartphone would likely run on Android but they would put their own environment on it, with all their apps that you probably will not be able to delete,” he said.
“It’s about getting people locked into their ecosystem, collect data and advertise,” he added.
Along with Huawei’s success has come suspicion about the company’s ties to China’s government, its willingness to overlook U.S. sanctions and the security of its systems.
By Jason Abbruzzese
The arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada on Saturday was the most recent and public chapter of an ongoing battle between the U.S. government and one of the world’s biggest tech companies — Huawei.
The arrest, which came on U.S. extradition charges, featured a heightened level of intrigue due to the profile of the person arrested: Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei’s secretive founder, Ren Zhengfei, who is one of the most powerful businessmen in China. The arrest came amid reports that Huawei had been sending U.S. technology to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions against the country.
Huawei is not a household name in the U.S., but the company has emerged as one of the largest tech firms in the world in the past decade thanks to its success in producing telecommunications equipment including cell towers and equipment for next-generation 5G wireless networks. Huawei is also second in the global smartphone market, having surpassed Apple earlier in 2018.
“Huawei is effectively an arm of the Chinese government, and it’s more than capable of stealing information from U.S. officials by hacking its devices,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said in February when he introduced legislation to block the U.S. government from buying telecom equipment from Huawei or ZTE, another Chinese hardware maker. President Donald Trump signed the the bill in August.
In 2017, Fortune magazine ranked Huawei as the seventh-biggest tech company in the world by revenue, with more than $89 billion. The company has more than 180,000 employees.
Despite its size and global reach, only 38 percent of Americans said they had heard of Huawei, according to the survey company Morning Consult. The company’s name has also been something of a mystery for some in the West who wonder how to pronounce it. The company even made a humorous video for the U.K. about how to pronounce Huawei.
China’s rise as a global power has coincided with the emergence of the internet as a major av
TOKYO — North Korea has informed a United Nations aviation agency it will not conduct unannounced missile tests or further intercontinental ballistic missile launches because its nuclear arms program is now complete and it no longer needs to do such testing.
According to a statement released Friday, the pledge was made in meetings between North Korean officials and representatives of the U.N.’s International Civil Aviation Organization who were in Pyongyang for talks this week.
The pledge could open the way for airlines that had been avoiding North Korean airspace to take faster, more direct routes that require less fuel.
The hue and cry on the propriety of the Federal Government payment for 12 unit of A-29 Tuccano Super Fighter Jets without due consent from the National Assembly still remain a mystery in public discussions. Clear facts revealed that several terror groups are challenging Nigerians’ security and killing innocent civilians on daily basis; the Nigerian Army need better air support to dislodge these terror groups especially the Boko Haram from their entrenched hideouts; it is a fact that the Tuccano is cheaper and retained all capabilities of more advanced fighter jets avionics; the Tuccano are also designed and has been used for guerrilla warfare and low level fast attack operations in areas similar to the Northeast Nigeria terrains, which make them ideal for the current security challenges in Nigeria; and to top these, the aircrafts have one of the lowest operation costs in the industry –at less than $1000USD per flight hour.
Incredible credentials for a turboprop trainer converted for low-intensity combat operations, so why the challenges on the purchase. We have tried to assuage two major facts behind the obstreperous challenges of this payment of $496 million for 12 A29 Tuccano Super Fighter Jets by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Average costs of the Nigerian purchase for these jets remained the highest ever paid. The airframe cost of the Tuccano as paid by the Dominican Republic for training purposes was a mere $8m. Industrial facts put the costs of a Tuccano at about $12m for a fully equipped versions though recent American buys of Super Tuccano for Afghanistan have come out to between $20 and $30 million because of inflation, different equipment, the inclusion of long-lead spares, and other factors.
The Nigeria government paid a total of $496m for 12 aircrafts giving an average of $41.33m each. Discounting the fact that four of the order were filled for basic airframe suited for Pilot trainings, the average could go higher than $50m per aircraft. Experts reasoned that Nigeria could have purchased better equipment for the price we are currently expending on these Tuccanos.
Given the expediency of current security challenges in Nigeria and the attendant-growing spate of attacks in the country, the purchase of the Tuccano would have been a welcome idea if the jets will be available to join in the fray immediately. The delivery dates for these equipment by the American government is in 2020. The jets might not come into formal usage before the end of 2020 give need for training of pilots and tests of equipment before formal commissioning and deployment.
For a nation with a depressed economy fighting serious on-going battle with terrorists using current scarce resources to purchase equipment that might not come into service to aid current security onslaught could be “technically flawed”.
BMW and the MotoGP Championship have been enjoying a close relationship for years now, the German manufacturer being one of the official sponsors of the last two decades. For the better part of the last 20 years, the Bavarians have also been offering a so-called BMW M Award for the fastest qualifying rider in the championship. This year, the fastest man on the grid will take home a brand new BMW M3 CS model in Frozen Dark Blue.
This year’s winner’s car is particularly special since the BMW M3 CS is a special edition limited to 1,200 units worldwide. The BMW M Award winner’s car for 2018 was officially unveiled at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez de la Frontera this Saturday. This year will also mark the 16th time this award has been offered, the tradition kicking off in 2003. The record holder is Marc Márquez, who has already claimed the BMW M Award five times in a row. Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner each have three wins to their name.
“BMW M GmbH has outdone itself once again with the selection of the BMW M Award winner’s car in its anniversary season,” said Pau Serracanta, Managing Director of the Commercial Department of Dorna Sports, at the unveiling. “The new BMW M3 CS is an impressive high-performance car, and I am confident that the prospect of this fantastic prize will provide our riders with even more motivation to give it their all in qualifying. We are excited to see who will claim this car as their own at the end of the season.”
“It goes without saying that 2018, as our anniversary season in the MotoGP, is something very special to us,” added Vladimir Bistrivoda, head of MotoGP collaboration at BMW M GmbH. “Which is why we are excited, in our exclusive high-performance limousine BMW M3 CS, to be able to present another very special model from our range of products as the BMW M Award winner’s car. It makes us proud that the BMW M Award has been a coveted award for many years among the MotoGP family – and we want to say thank you for this appreciation by choosing highlights such as the BMW M3 CS as winner’s cars.”
China on Friday rejected US allegations that Chinese nationals shone military-grade lasers at American pilots in Djibouti, dismissing the claims as “inconsistent with facts”.
Beijing, which operates a naval base in the Horn of Africa country, denied Pentagon accusations that Chinese personnel have targeted US pilots in the country with the beams, resulting in minor injuries to airmen and creating the potential for an accident.
“After careful verification, we have told the US explicitly that the so-called accusations are totally inconsistent with facts,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.
DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra has made a bold promise to investors that the Detroit automaker will make money selling electric cars by 2021.
What Barra has not explained in detail is how GM intends to do what, so far, no major automaker has done.
The answer is a big bet on combining proprietary battery technology, a low-cost, flexible vehicle design and high-volume production mainly in China, according to six current and former GM and supplier executives and six industry experts interviewed by Reuters.
If GM can meet Barra’s ambitious profitability target, then it will house two different businesses by the mid-2020s: A traditional focus in North America on trucks, sport utility vehicles and cars fueled with petroleum, and a global electric car company centered in China, branching into pay-per-use services such as robotaxis.
Barra’s promise to turn a profit is a bold claim in a market segment that has been driven more by government policy than consumer demand, and where Tesla Inc – the world’s largest electric-vehicle manufacturer – is burning through more than $1 billion in cash each quarter selling premium-priced vehicles.
Barra and GM have invested heavily in the electrification strategy, and worked during the past year to persuade investors that GM can compete with Tesla by building on the success of the automaker’s latest electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and cutting costs along the way.
A key element of the plan, according to two people familiar with the company’s strategy, is slashing the amount of cobalt in GM’s new EMC 1.0 battery system. The price of cobalt – the single most costly ingredient in current lithium-ion battery cells – has soared in the past two years in expectation of a surge in demand from automakers. Cobalt prices hit a record high this month on the London Metal Exchange.
GM’s new battery design increases the amount of nickel, which enables batteries to store and produce more energy, these people told Reuters.
GM engineers are also working on other design and technological advances, according to executives and company patent filings, including more efficient packaging of batteries in vehicles and improved systems for managing energy flow and cooling the battery cells.
Without providing details, GM has said it expects these changes to cut the cost of battery cells by more than 30 percent, from $145 per kilowatt-hour to less than $100 by 2021.
Battery experts said the full cost of a GM battery pack, such as the one used now in the Bolt EV, is $10,000-$12,000, or nearly one-third of the car’s $36,000 sticker price.
By 2021, however, that price could drop to $6,000, according to consultant Jon Bereisa, a former GM engineering director who helped develop the Chevrolet Volt hybrid and spearheaded much of the automaker’s early lithium-ion battery development.
With improvements in battery chemistry and packaging, Bereisa said, the next-generation Bolt “could deliver a 45-percent increase in range for about the same (battery) pack cost, or the same range at 45 percent less pack cost.”
Pam Fletcher, vice president in charge of GM’s global electric vehicle programs, and other GM executives would not comment on specifics of the new battery system, which is slated to be introduced in 2020-2021.
To be sure, electric vehicles account for only a small fraction of global auto sales. Like other manufacturers, GM is banking not only on reducing its own costs and improving vehicle performance, but also on increased demand driven by higher government-mandated electric vehicle quotas in China that are intended to help reduce pollution and the country’s dependence on petroleum.
In addition to improving battery and vehicle design and performance, GM is working with Chinese partner SAIC to reduce the cost of assembling electric cars. Sources said GM and SAIC are designing dedicated electric vehicle factories in China that are far smaller, less complex and more efficient than a conventional car plant.
BARRA’S BOLD CLAIM
GM has more capital for electric vehicle development because of Barra’s decisions to sell money-losing European operations, exit other unprofitable markets and invest in a new generation of highly profitable, petroleum-fueled large pickup trucks, launching later in 2018.
The automaker now has more than 1,700 engineers, designers and researchers working on batteries and electric vehicles, many of them at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, where the company opened a dedicated battery research center in 2009, a week after it filed for bankruptcy reorganization.
Automotive experts say GM’s battery and EV group is one of the largest in the world, rivaled only by Toyota Motor Corp in Japan and Daimler AG in Germany.
Toyota has patented more battery technology in recent years than GM, although its focus has been mainly the Prius family of hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles, rather than on pure battery-powered cars like GM’s Bolt EV.
GM was issued 661 U.S. patents on battery technology from 2010 through 2015, the latest that such data is available from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, trailing only Toyota’s 762 battery patents among global automakers.
FILE PHOTO: A 2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV is displayed during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., January 9, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo
In addition to the battery work, GM engineers are developing a new dedicated “plug and play” structure for its next-generation electric vehicles that is flexible and modular, meaning it will be able to accommodate battery systems of different sizes, as well as hydrogen fuel cells, one of the sources said.
In an interview, Mark Reuss, head of global product development, said GM’s strategy to reduce battery cost is not tied to a single improvement such as a change in battery chemistry, but rather a series of continuous enhancements in battery technology and packaging.
“There are no silver bullets here,” Reuss said. GM also has not solved all the problems required to achieve its goal, he said. “It’s called ‘product development’ for a reason,” he said.
The most recent developments and enhancements in battery technology have not been made public, according to GM’s Fletcher.
“There’s a lot of stuff that we choose not to patent because we don’t want to make it visible” before the new technology goes into production, Fletcher told Reuters.
LESSONS OF BOLT
GM’s patent history since 2010 shows a focus on improvements in battery technology, packaging and processing, some of them designed to help boost the battery’s energy and extend vehicle range between charges, according to company filings.
FILE PHOTO: 2016 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric vehicle REUTERS/Gary Cameron/File Photo
GM jointly developed its current battery know-how with Korea’s LG Group, which makes batteries and electronic components for the Bolt. Introduced in October 2016, Bolt was the first mass-produced electric vehicle to go more than 200 miles between charges, and sell at a sticker price of under $40,000. GM sold 23,297 Bolts in 2017.
Tesla reported producing just 1,770 of its $35,000 Model 3 sedans in 2017, well short of the company’s original targets.
The launch of the Bolt and its warm reception by reviewers, customers and investors was a watershed event for Barra and GM’s top management.
“It was a ‘holy shit’ moment that made us rethink what might be possible,” said one GM insider.
Reporting by Paul Lienert and Joseph White in Detroit; Editing by Edward Tobin
Nigeria Air Nigeria Air Force recently took delivery of some Mi-35M Antonov Russian designed helicopter gunships. The 2 additional brand new Mi-35M helicopter gunships were offloaded at the Nigerian Air Force NAF Base in Makurdi, Benue state by Cargo aircraft.
Top military personnel were on ground to take delivery of the brand new helicopter gunships.
Receiving the aircraft at the flight line of the Tactical Air Command (TAC) of the NAF Base, in Makurdi, on Monday, Chief of Aircraft Engineering, NAF Headquarters, Abuja, AVM Abdulganiyu Olabisi, disclosed that the newly-acquired aircraft would, in a few days time, be assembled and taken to Kaduna where they would be officially inducted as part of the 54th NAF Day celebration.
“The helicopters in a few days from now will be assembled. We are happy that we have a team of Russian engineers who are going to assist in the reassembling of these helicopters. Thereafter, they would be taken to Kaduna where they will be officially inducted as part of the 54th NAF Day celebration. Thereafter, the helicopters will be deployed to conflict zones,”
Also speaking, Director, Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters Abuja, AVM Olatokunbo Adesanya said that the MI-35M helicopter is one of the most sophisticated aircrafts in the category of the MI-35 gunships which has a unique feature of night fighting capacity.
LONDON (Reuters) – British parliamentarians said they were prepared to issue a formal summons for Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to appear before them and answer questions over a data scandal which has engulfed the technology giant.
The social network has faced questions on both sides of the Atlantic over how millions of users’ details got into the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, and over its wider handling of personal data.
Zuckerberg previously declined to come in person to answer questions from British lawmakers, instead sending Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer to face a four-hour grilling last month. Schroepfer apologized for errors made by the firm and vowed to do more to improve transparency.
But the head of parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Damian Collins said on Tuesday he still wanted Zuckerberg to appear before lawmakers, ideally by May 24, and listed 39 questions or points which remained unanswered.
“While Mr Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country,” Collins wrote in a letter.
“We hope that he will respond positively to our request, but if not the Committee will resolve to issue a formal summons for him to appear when he is next in the UK.”
(Reporting by Costas Pitas, editing by Estelle Shirbon)
NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) — Facebook will roll out a series of features to facilitate dating, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday. He said the service will be optional and, to preserve people’s privacy, not viewable to users’ friends. It will also only suggest possible partners who are not already Facebook friends with a user.…
(Picture: Daimler AG)Mercedes has released a luxury concept car with a hidden tea-making station. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach Ultimate Luxury SUV was premiered at the Auto China 2018 event in Beijing this week. The electric vehicle has many swanky features, but the one that caught our… Read the full story
A European Commission statement explicitly referenced the scandal over the massive leak of Facebook user data to British consultancy Cambridge Analytica for use in the election campaign of US President Donald Trump.
“The recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica revelations demonstrated exactly how personal data can be exploited in electoral contexts, and are a timely reminder that more is needed to secure resilient democratic processes,” the statement said.
Brussels has repeatedly raised concerns over meddling in elections including alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential ballot and the Brexit vote in Britain the same year.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in an address to the US Congress on Wednesday that “to protect our democracies, we have to fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news”.
The EU plans come after a group of 40 media experts including AFP produced a report on the issue earlier this year.
Brussels meanwhile also pressed Silicon Valley firms like Google to be more transparent about how their search results work amid concerns that they are squeezing out small businesses.
“We must make sure they are not abusing their power,” Gabriel said.
Google was hit last June with a 2.4-billion-euro (more than $2.7 billion) EU fine for illegally favouring its shopping service in search results, after which it proposed fixes including running the shopping arm as a standalone business.
The EU has taken an increasingly tough stance on US tech firms, with plans announced in March for a digital tax on Silicon Valley giants riling Washington.
As the industry marches toward greener cars, battery and hybrid drivetrains are expanding into vehicle segments never before concerned with fuel economy ratings or much with emissions. No segment is excluded from this progress, not even luxury grand tourers. Toyota, along with its luxury division Lexus, is the king of hybrids, so it was no […]
Over the course of nearly 600 miles of highway driving at over 70 mph the LC 500h averaged 28.7 mpg according to the onboard trip computer.
In mixed suburban driving over the course of over 100 miles the onboard trip computer indicated an average of 23.5 mpg.
The experienced real-world fuel economy falls short of the 26 mpg city, 35 highway, and 30 combined EPA ratings.
A few factors could easily account for the discrepancy, including the chilly weather during the mixed suburban driving (at one point it was in the low 30s), which hinders battery performance and keeps the gasoline engine running more often, and highway speeds higher than the the EPA tests account for.
The hybrid variant of the LC 500 drops the throaty 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8 for a 3.5-liter V-6 hooked to two electric motors, a 44-kw lithium-ion battery, and 4-speed automatic transmission for a combined output of 354 horsepower.
To make this luxury grand tourer feel more natural and powerful than other Toyota and Lexus hybrids the company redesigned its two-motor hybrid system, mating it to a four-speed automatic transmission that, combined, give the LC 10 forward speeds to play with using titanium paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel.
The system garners the fuel economy gains of a hybrid while letting the driver feel torque build and eliminating the transmission “rubber-banding,” that makes enthusiasts cringe behind the wheel of a Prius.
One of those electric motors can move the large coupe at low speeds while the second adds power to the gasoline engine at a wider, and higher, range of speeds.
With the 44-kw battery containing 84 cells generating only 1.1 kilowatt-hours of power, the LC 500h is only capable of 4 miles on battery power alone.
Performance is stout at 4.7 seconds for a 0-60 mph sprint–a mere 0.3 seconds slower than the V-8 model–with a top speed of 155 mph.
While both the hybrid and non-hybrid LC 500 are sublime cruisers, the hybrid doesn’t provide the same level of aural excitement as the V-8 model. That’s not to say it’s quiet, as Lexus creates a synthetic soundtrack that is surprisingly loud, though at times can be artificially buzzy.
Off the line the hybrid seems to have the same level of punch as the V-8 due to the torque provided by the electric motors, but power drops off quicker than in the non-hybrid model, which builds power from its naturally aspirated V-8 as the revs climb. What’s more, the cabin is incredibly hushed cruising down the highway, even on broken pavement.
Steering is precise though the feedback that comes through doesn’t always give you a clear picture of what’s happening with the wheels.
The Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ drive modes mesh the powertrain and suspension into a rhythm, though there’s more noticeable difference in the powertrain performance than the suspension with each mode.
Despite reporting blowout earnings, and beating on every single line time, Twitter failed to close in the green today, fading a 13% early spike, and continuing the curse of the Q1 earnings season in which the more powerful the beat, the more shocking the Fed.
So will Facebook succeed where its smaller social media peer failed, especially with the world so keenly focused to see if Facebook indeed suffered a sharp drop in users as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the #DeleteFacebook campaign?
Well, moments ago Facebook reported earnings and, just like Facebook it too beat on the top and bottom line, reporting revenue of $11.97BN, above both the average consensus exp. of $11.41BN and the highest sellside estimate of $11.73BN. The revenue in the quarter was just shy of record, and only Q4 2017 surpassed it.
Furthermore, advertising revenue was $11.80BN, or virtually all, while mobile ad revenue was 91% of total.
EPS likewise beat, with FB reporting $1.69, also beating both the average and highest sellside estimates of $1.35 and $1.52 respectively.
s worth noting that while revenue rose by 49% Y/Y, costs rose by 39% to $6.5BN, which resulted in a 46% operating margin, above the 41% from a year ago.
The company also reported that its effective tax rate was only 11%.No surprise here.
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When it comes to the all important DAU and MAU, Facebook reported monthly active users of 2.20BN, just beating estimates of 2.19BN, while daily active users came in line with expectations at 1.45BN. More operational and financial highlights:
Daily active users (DAUs)– DAUs were 1.45 billion on average for March 2018, an increase of 13% year-over-year.
Monthly active users (MAUs)– MAUs were 2.20 billion as of March 31, 2018, an increase of 13% year-over-year.
Mobile advertising revenue– Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 91% of advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2018, up from approximately 85% of advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2017.
Capital expenditures– Capital expenditures for the first quarter of 2018 were $2.81 billion.
Cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities– Cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities were $43.96 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2018.
Headcount– Headcount was 27,742 as of March 31, 2018, an increase of 48% year-over-year.
So how is Facebook doing so well despite all the controversy? Well, as Bloomberg notes, the company remains the best option for advertisers on mobile phones, especially now that we know how much discrete information the company collects about everyone. In the online ad space, Facebook and Google continue to capture the majority of the growth in digital advertising.
Commenting on the results, GBH Insights head of tech research Dan Ives said:
“Facebook delivered its much anticipated 1Q18 (March) results which came in ahead of Street expectations and should give the bulls finally something to hang their hat on after the company (and its investors) have just gone through the darkest chapter in Facebook’s history post Cambridge.”
“On the all-important user front with engagement and user defections a clear worry heading into earnings and causing major agita on the Street, Facebook delivered DAU of 1.45 vs. the Street at 1.45 billion and MAU of 2.20 vs. the Street’s 2.20 billion estimate, which we would characterize as a relief given fears of missing this number were running rampant.”
Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier was just as optimistic, noting that “nothing that investors were super worried about happened. No slowdown in user growth (though we didn’t get numbers on engagement). No problems with revenue.But you can bet that the call will still have difficult questions. Cambridge Analytica happened at the end of the quarter. We’re not seeing the impact in these numbers.“
But perhaps even more important than Facebook’s earnings and user numbers, was the news that in April, the company increased the amount authorized under its share repurchase program by an additional $9.0bn; originally FB was authorized to repurchase up to $6.0b of Class A common stock under the repurchase program. Which means that as Zuckerberg has been selling a record amount, Facebook itself has been buying.
Here are the key slides from the company’s Q1 presentation.
Daily Active Users:the US appears to have topped outat 185 million
Monthly Active Users:here the US and Canada saw a 2 million increase to 241 million. This means that two thirds of all Americans and Canadians are on Facebook at least once a month.
Revenue:all advertising, with US and Canada responsible for roughly half of total
ARPU:continues to rise on a Y/Y basis
Income from operations: second highest of all time.
Net income:thanks to the plunge in the tax rate, net income hit an all time high.
Capex:more than doubled
With all that said, shares have spiked, peaking at $167.25 so far after hours. Putting the move in context, if they open here on Thursday they’ll be just below where they began the week.
And here is Bloomberg’s take: “Looking at the share move, it’s positive but not a major sigh of relief — shares are still behind where they were when the Cambridge Analytica crisis first broke.Wall Street still wants to hear more from Zuckerberg.”
If you love the feeling of being behind the wheel then the thought of a future where you can only ride in autonomous cars can seem fairly bleak. Apparently Audi agrees that self-driving vehicles might end up being too boring for nostalgic folks in the years to come because the automaker’s newest ad takes on this potential driving dystopia.
The spot opens in a gorgeous city of tomorrow where an older man sits in a massive, gleaming office. He leaves work and his autonomous Audi arrives at the curb the moment that the man steps out the door. Despite living in a technological wonderland, the guy seems unhappy. The audience soon understands why.
More Audi News:
He laments that in the past (or our present) “driving wasn’t just about being carried from place to place but going somewhere and feeling something along the way.” Apparently, this guy was quite an Audi fan. As a teenager, he drove an Audi Sport Quattro, despite the Four Ringsproducing just 164 of them worldwide, making him quite a lucky guy. The man also has a first-genTT CoupeandR8 Spyder.
Once at home, the autonomous Audi retracts into the garage floor, and he sips a cup of coffee inside while looking out at the city’s twinkling lights. The guy can’t relax, though, and he suddenly flees, which makes his virtual assistant very upset. In the final shots, he speeds away in a new R8 Spyder.
Craig Gillespie, the director of films likeI, TonyaandLars and the Real Girl, was behind the camera for this spot, according toAdWeek.
The more you think about it, the darker this ad gets. The R8 Spyder at the end of the commercial is new today, but the fully autonomous Audi with no controls and an on-board virtual assistant is something that’s still years away from hitting the road. The spot subtly suggests that in the autonomous driving future only old cars can be fun.
The recall covers the 2013 to 2016 A4, the 2013 to 2017 A5, the 2012 to 2015 A6, and the Q5 SUV from 2013 to 2017. All have 2-Liter turbocharged engines.
The Volkswagen luxury brand says in U.S. government documents that the pumps can become blocked with cooling system debris, or moisture in the pump can cause an electrical short. An Audi spokesman in the U.S. said there have been reports of fires but he had no details.
Dealers will replace the pumps at no cost to owners. The spokesman said Tuesday that redesigned parts won’t be ready until November, but dealers will install a new version of the current pump until the redesigned ones are available.
Audi recalled the same vehicles last year and dealers did a software update. But the company says in documents posted Tuesday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that pump problems continued.
The overall length of the extended SUV, for example, is now longer by 3.5 inches compared to the standard model
In addition to that distinction, the Q5L also joins the A4L, A6L, and A8L as the only Audi models to come with an extended wheelbase. Seems pretty important, right?
To get an idea how the Q5L measures up against the standard Q5, you’ll need to think longer, as in reallylonger. The overall length of the extended SUV, for example, is now longer by 3.5 inches compared to the standard model. Likewise, its wheelbase also increases by 3.5 inches. The longer aesthetic is clearer from the outside, but the real benefits can be found in the interior, specifically in the rear section where rear seat passengers now have an extra 4.3 inches of knee room to enjoy. Cargo space, on the other hand, remains unchanged. That means that depending on the position of the rear seats; future owners can expect around 19.4 – 54.7 cu. ft. of space in the luggage compartment.
The obvious physical stature of the Q5L notwithstanding, the extended SUV is going to be offered in five different trim levels.
Nothing much has changed with the car’s exterior appearance. The Audi Q5L looks like the second-generation Q5. It’s just a lot longer. The obvious physical stature of the Q5L notwithstanding, the extended SUV is going to be offered in five different trim levels. These include the base trim Vogue, Lifestyle, Design, Sport, and the curiously named Sport Plus Line range-topper. Each trim will come with different exterior and interior details, though there is standard equipment across the board, including three-zone deluxe automatic air conditioning and theAudismartphone interface. Higher trim options obviously get more of the good stuff. The Design, Sport and, Sport plus lines get a Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound.
The Audi Q5L comes with just one engine, and it’s not a hybrid. Instead, the SUV will be powered by one of Audi’s most reliable engine units, and one that also happens to be a fan-favorite in China: the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder TFSI. It comes with two different power outputs — 190 horsepower and 252 horsepower — which would be enough to help the SUV accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 8.6 seconds or 6.7 seconds, respectively.
The SUV is expected to go on sale sometime in the next few months
There’s no word yet on how much the Q5L is going to cost in China, but the SUV is expected to go on sale sometime in the next few months. Don’t hold out any hope, though, of seeing this model here in the U.S. It’s unlikely that we’ll get to see it hit our roads and highways.
In line with its status as the game changer in telecommunications services provision in Nigeria, @globacomlimited has again taken another step towards the transformation of the ICT landscape in Nigeria with the construction of a multi-billion naira optic fibre submarine cable.
Tagged Glo 2, the road map for the project was unveiled at a contract-signing ceremony between the national operator, Globacom, and global telecom solutions vendors, Huawei at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Tuesday.
According to Globacom’s Regional Director, Technical, Mr Sanjib Roy:
“The new submarine cable will be approximately 850 kilometres long and will be integrated to Globacom’s existing terrestrial Backbone Network to provide additional service redundancy”, especially in Abuja and other parts of the country.
#Glo2 will have the capacity of 12 Terabytes per second and will provide ultra-high speed connection to oil platforms and communities to empower data coverage and support Enterprise market growth in this part of Nigeria.”
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Huawei Nigeria, Mr Li Beifang, said that:
“Huawei is proud to partner with Globacom to build a revolutionary submarine cable using innovative and leading technology. We believe the cable would bring a new era of digitalization to Nigerian economy”.
https://ift.tt/2Jg8cXO While autonomous driving may be just one subcategory of the automobile industry, it’s actually quite broad when you dive into it. There are all sorts of different technologies to make it work and even different ways to get the same result. Even the companies involved are broad-based, ranging from big-tech like Alibaba Holding Group (BABA) […]
There are all sorts of different technologies to make it work and even different ways to get the same result. Even the companies involved are broad-based, ranging from big-tech like Alibaba Holding Group (BABA) to Intel Corporation (INTC) , Alphabet Inc (GOOGL) (GOOG) and Nvidia Corporation (NVDA) — with Nvidia and Alphabet being holdings in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. There’s startups big and small, ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft, as well as seemingly every automaker getting involved.
With that in mind, how many cars can we expect in 2025 to have autonomous driving capabilities? According to ABI, a marketing firm, roughly 8 million vehicles will be shipped that year with self-driving capabilities of level 3 or higher.
In any regard, 8 million level 3-and-higher autonomous driving cars doesn’t sound like that many. In 2017, 94.5 million vehicles were sold globally. Using that figure, just 8.5% of sales would be for these autonomous cars.
But also consider how impressive level 3 driving is. A big shift happens from level 2 to level 3 autonomous driving, that being that the vehicle is capable of monitoring its surroundings rather than requiring the driver to do so.
Many consider Tesla Inc (TSLA) , with its Autopilot feature, to be one of the best self-driving features on the road today. That however is only considered level 2 driving and only one company has a production car coming with level 3 right now, which is the Audi A8.
That doesn’t mean the driver shouldn’t pay attention, only that the car is capable of maneuvering most of the scenarios it encounters. Level 4 driving puts us close to fully autonomous driving.
Given that we have essentially 0 cars on the road today that are level 3, 8 million in just 6.5 years sounds pretty impressive.
The Future of Driving
Honestly though, I’m wondering if it will even take that long. It’s a good over/under to shoot against though.
When I talked to Nvidia’s senior director of automotive earlier this year, Danny Shapiro told me that we’re getting close to fully autonomous capabilities. For years the biggest issue was computing power. Nvidia’s solved that. So now it’s on to training these self-driving systems and Nvidia’s new product can expedite that process exponentially.
Tesla is shipping its cars with all the necessary self-driving hardware already included. Over-the-air updates can then add new pieces of software to the car, so that it can safely activate and use these autonomous driving functions in the future.
In that light, consider this: If Ford and GM are capable of level 5 autonomous taxis by 2021, would it really take four more years for the auto market as a whole to reach 8 million units annually of level 3, 4 and 5 combined?
There are a lot of inputs to consider here. First, there’s component supply, be it from LiDAR, radar, chips, GPUs and a whole lot of other factors. A shortfall here could mean limited output of autonomous cars. There’s also the economy to consider. Self-driving cars won’t be cheap and if the economy is in a recession, auto sales will suffer. More specifically, auto sales of higher cost cars will too. And don’t forget about regulations. While the U.S. has been pretty open to autonomous cars so far, it’s not a guarantee it will stay that way, or that other countries will remain open to autonomous driving.
Still, I’m of the personal belief that we’re closer to autonomous driving than many consumers realize and because of that, automakers have the potential to surpass 8 million annual units before 2025. There’s too much money to be made and to be saved with the use of these cars, and too many lives that can be saved to keep them off the roads. Plus, the technology is moving a lot faster than many currently realize.
Given how far away we are from 2025, it’s ultimately impossible to say what the sales figure will be. 8 million seems pretty reasonable, but the optimist in me thinks this may be a conservative mark.