California restores net neutrality protections

California restores net neutrality protections

California restores Obama-era net neutrality protections

Lawmakers in California passed new legislation that will restore virtually all of the net neutrality protections first introduced during the Obama administration.

The bill is the most sweeping state legislation since current FCC chairman Ajit Pai led a campaign to repeal those Obama-era regulations, arguing at the time that they were too imposing on the multi-billion dollar telecommunications conglomerates that control most of the country’s internet infrastructure.

Predictably, the industry’s largest lobbying group came out forcefully against California’s new bill, which now goes to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto. He has yet to indicate whether he will sign the measure.

If he does, the new law, which passed the legislature on Friday, will prohibit internet service providers (or ISPs) from forking the web traffic of their customers into slower or faster lanes of service based on whether certain websites pay more.

It will also ban ISPs from blocking or slowing down access to certain subsets of data, like video. And it will greatly reduce the degree to which providers can “zero-rate” certain kinds of data, effectively giving certain companies favorable treatment over others. The bill closely mirrors the net neutrality protections President Barack Obama fought for during his administration and imposed with the help of his FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.

On Friday, shortly after the state senate passed the final version of California’s net neutrality bill, a spokesman for the industry’s top lobbying firm tried to paint California’s new bill as a matter of state vs. federal governance, disingenuously suggesting that the industry opposed the bill because it means they will have to abide by different sets of rules based on which state the operate in.

“The internet must be governed by a single, uniform and consistent national policy framework, not state-by-state piecemeal approaches,” said USTelecom president and CEO Jonathan Spalter in a statement.

What he neglected to mention was the fact that USTelecom — which counts Verizon and AT&T as members—has constantly opposed all efforts to introduce net neutrality, whether at the national or state level. That includes the Obama-era federal regulations.

USTelecom has already threatened to sue California should Gov. Brown sign the bill into law. He has until the end of the month to make a decision.

Originally posted here… 


Bugatti unveiled a new $5.8 million supercar and it’s already sold out


Bugatti unveiled its stunning Divo super sports car Friday in Monterey, California, showcasing a vehicle that the French luxury brand is listing for $5.8 million.

Named after French racing driver and two-time Targa Florio winner, Albert Divo, who won multiple races in the Type 35 Bugatti, the Divo super sports car looks to take Bugatti into the future.

“To date, a modern Bugatti has represented a perfect balance between high-performance, straight-line dynamics and luxurious comfort,” Bugatti President Stephan Winkelmann said in a statement.

Compared to the Bugatti Chiron, hyper grand tourer, the Divo is much more focused on driving dynamics. The hypercar’s is 77 pounds lighter while its aerodynamics generate an additional 198 pounds of downforce.

“The Divo has significantly higher performance in terms of lateral acceleration, agility, and cornering. The Divo is made for corners,” Winkelmann added.

However, both the Divo and Chiron share Bugatti’s 1,500, quad-turbo, W-16 engine. The company did not reveal the Divo’s zero-to-60 mph time, but did confirm that its top speed is limited to “just” 236 mph.

The car carries with it key elements of other classic Bugatti-brand cars including the horseshoe-shaped front grille, the famed Bugatti signature line on the vehicle’s side, and the familiar fin that showcases the longitudinal axis of the car when seen from above.

“The Divo is a further example of our design philosophy ‘Form follows Performance’. In this case, the engineers and designers aimed to create a vehicle focusing on cornering speeds and lateral dynamics,” said Achim Anscheidt, Director of Design of Bugatti Automobiles, in a statement.

Parts of the car are colored “Titanium Liquid Silver,” while other parts are painted in “Divo Racing Blue” two striking hues that were developed specifically for the Divo.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t already ordered a Divo, you’re already too late. After being shown to a handful of chosen Bugatti customers, the Divo’s limited production run of 40 vehicles has sold out.

New Trump power plant plan would release hundreds of millions of tons of CO2 into the air

 coal-fired power plant

President Trump plans next week to unveil a proposal that would empower states to establish emission standards for coal-fired power plants rather than speeding their retirement — a major overhaul of the Obama administration’s signature climate policy. The plan, which is projected to release at least 12 times the amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere compared with the Obama rule over the next decade, comes as scientists have warned the world will experience increasingly dire climate effects absent a major cut in carbon emissions.

Trump plans to announce the measure as soon as Tuesday during a visit to West Virginia, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House was still finalizing details Friday.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s own impact analysis, which runs nearly 300 pages, projects that the proposal would make only slight cuts to overall emissions of pollutants — including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides — over the next decade. The Obama rule, by contrast, dwarfs those cuts by a factor of more than 12.

The new proposal, which will be subject to a 60-day comment period, could have enormous implications for dozens of aging coal-fired power plants across the country. The EPA estimates that the measure will affect more than 300 U.S. plants, providing companies with an incentive to keep coal plants in operation rather than replacing them with cleaner natural gas or renewable energy projects.

By 2030, according to administration officials, the proposal would cut CO2 emissions from 2005 levels by between 0.7 percent and 1.5 percent, compared with a business-as-usual approach. Those reductions are equivalent to taking between 2.7 million and 5.3 million cars off the road.

By comparison, the Obama administration’sClean Power Plan would have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 19 percent during that same time frame. That is equivalent to taking 75 million cars out of circulation and preventing more than 365 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

Under the EPA’s new plan, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that help form smog would be cut between 1 percent and 2 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. Under Obama, the agency projected its policy would reduce those pollutants by 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively, by the end of the next decade.

The EPA did not respond to a request for comment, and the White House said it was looking into the matter.

Since taking office Trump has sought to roll back several major climate regulations, proposing earlier this month to freeze tailpipe emissions standards for cars and light trucks starting in 2020 for six years. He delivered on a key campaign promise more than a year ago when he announced that the United States would pull out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, under which America pledged to cut its overall carbon output between 26 percent and 28 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels.

As the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, the United States has targeted the burning of fossil fuels that is driving climate change. The power sector ranks as the second-biggest contributor to the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA, accounting for 28.4 percent of the total in 2016. Transportation made up 28.5 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions that year.

Although the EPA projects that the U.S. power sector’s overall carbon output will decline over time because of market pressures and other factors after the new rule takes effect, the policy shift would make it increasingly difficult for the United States to meet the international climate goals it adopted under the previous administration.

Joseph Goffman, executive director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Program and one of the architects of the Obama-era rule, said in a phone interview that the higher emissions that would result from the Trump proposal would damage the climate as well as public health.

“These numbers tell the story, that they really remain committed not to do anything to address greenhouse gas emissions,” said Goffman, who served as associate assistant administrator for climate in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation between 2009 and 2017. “They show not merely indifference to climate change but really, opposition to doing anything about climate change.”

Elements of the proposed rule were first reported by the New York Times on Friday evening.

Utility companies, which had joined states in suing to block the Obama climate rule, would save annual compliance costs for the industry by about $400 million a year.

Many utilities have moved to retire coal plants in recent years and switch to either natural gas or renewable power, which are more economically competitive. But the proposed rule, which focuses on improving their heat efficiency and would allow for upgrades without triggering the kinds of pollution controls currently required under federal law, could shift that dynamic.

Since the outset of the administration, officials have said they intended to replace the Clean Power Plan because EPA exceeded its legal authority in crafting the policy. The rule, which has been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, established a program under which states could achieve emissions reductions by having utilities promote energy efficiency or build renewable power projects such as solar or wind.

“We’re going back to the agency’s historical interpretation and application of its authority” under the Clean Air Act, one official said in an interview. “That is respectful of the boundaries established by Congress.”

Utility industry executives hailed the administration’s proposal as one that adheres to the law and would ease the financial crunch they would have faced under a more sweeping rule. Jim Matheson, chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, said in a statement Saturday that it appears the measure will “provide electric co-ops the certainty and flexibility they need to meet their consumer-members’ energy needs.”

“The Clean Power Plan would have resulted in stranded assets and stranded debt, significantly increasing electricity costs for many consumers,” added Matheson, whose members get 41 percent of their energy from coal-fired generation.

The proposed rule, which does not yet have a name, has a 200-page preamble laying out the EPA’s reasoning for the sweeping changes.

Rather than identifying specific reduction targets and tasking state officials with devising plans to achieve them, it will define what constitutes the “best system of emission reduction” that utilities can undertake with technology that has been demonstrated to work. States will conduct a unit-by-unit analysis of plants in their state and will have three years to develop a plan to make their operations more efficient.

The EPA will have one year to determine whether to approve a state’s plan, and if it does not meet the agency’s guidelines the EPA will have another year to impose a federal plan on the state.

As a result, it is difficult to determine exactly when the new measure will be fully implemented. While the proposed rule analyzes its effects through 2035, officials said, it may not be fully in compliant until 2037.

Bracewell LLP partner Scott Segal, who represents utilities that run coal-fired plants, said in an email that the Trump administration has sought to empower the states as it curbs the excesses of its predecessor.

“The previous administration’s effort to address greenhouse gases was a complex and unnecessarily burdensome overreach that took much of the responsibility for power systems away from the state regulators, who know them best,” Segal said. “It is why 29 states pushed back against the rules and the Supreme Court blocked their implementation with an unprecedented stay.”

Trump has repeatedly praised the U.S. coal industry, and his deputies have sought to enact an array of policies aimed at bolstering it. Those proposals range from relaxing rules for storing toxic waste from coal burning to ordering grid operators to buy power from coal-fired utilities.

The EPA’s analysis estimated that even under the new proposal, the power sector’s overall CO2 emissions would decline between 33 percent and 34 percent compared with 2005 by the time the rule is fully implemented.

Conrad Schneider, advocacy director for the environmental group Clean Air Task Force, said emissions may not drop as much as anticipated because of several policies the Trump administration has adopted to boost coal.

“This is the latest in the Trump administration’s effort to make coal great again,” Schneider said.

While the country’s greenhouse gas emissions continues to decline, scientists say the United States cannot meet the Obama administration’s Paris climate goal without policies such as the Clean Power Plan.

Carbon-dioxide emissions from energy use in the United States declined by 0.5 percent last year, according to the International Energy Agency, because of an uptick in renewable energy and reduced overall energy demand. Globally, CO2 emissions from the energy sector rose 1.4 percent, reaching a historic high after remaining flat for three years.

The original article was posted here…

Google Is Testing a New App That Would Let Anyone Publish a Local News Story

Nashville is one of two cities that gets to test Google’s new journalism toy.

Google is testing a new tool for people to report and publish local news stories, called Bulletin.

A website first spotted online Thursday describes Bulletin as “an app for contributing hyperlocal stories about your community, for your community, right from your phone.” It’s designed to make it “effortless” to tell “the stories that aren’t being told” via your smartphone. It’s not just for techie early adopters: “If you are comfortable taking photos or sending messages, you can create a Bulletin story!”, the site says.

The app is in a “limited pilot” in just two cities: Nashville and Oakland.

Google confirmed the project Friday morning. “This is very much in the testing phase and aimed at hyperlocal stories and events for people to share, and for local media to take advantage of,” spokeswoman Maggie Shiels told me. “People everywhere want to know what is going on in their own backyard at a very local level, ranging from local bookstore readings to high school sporting events to information about local street closures.”

Sami Cone, an author and blogger, reported via Twitter that she had been invited to Google’s announcement of the new tool in Nashville on Thursday. (Hat tip: Stefan Constantinescu*.) She published a blog post and a smartphone video of the launch event on YouTube.

The announcement appears to have flown entirely under the radar of the national media and tech press—perhaps illustrating a point that Google hoped to make. Both Oakland and Nashville have burgeoning tech industries and are Google Fiber cities. But they also have high poverty rates and lie beyond the klieg lights of the big media hubs.

A Google spokesman at the Nashville launch event, whom Google identified to me as product manager James Morehead, described Bulletin in the video as a progressive web app—a website that looks and functions like an app. “Creating a website, creating a blog is a pretty high bar for a lot of people,” he said. So a team of designers at Google asked the following, he said:

What if it was effortless to capture these stories publicly from our smartphones? What if it was possible to publish them instantly to the web without having to do any setup? And what if it was accessible to anyone in our community. So, not just the people we know—there are excellent tools for connecting content to people we know. But connecting content to people we know and to people we don’t know but who share a particular interest. That’s what we’re trying to do with Bulletin.

It sounds like a super-lightweight content management system, aimed at amateur journalists or anyone else who wants to live-blog a news event or report a news story in a way that has a chance to reach a broad audience. Examples from the presentation included “extraordinary volunteers,” “high school sports,” “weather events,” “civic meetings,” and “social justice,” among others. An app screenshot on the Google Bulletin site shows a post with the headline, “Winter storm floods river, wipes out Nelson Road.”

Morehead said the company will work with local news organizations to help them find and potentially publish some of those stories, giving credit to their authors. The author controls the content and can take it down anytime they want.

It’s hard to say without more information how useful this will prove. But it’s part of a trend of the big tech platforms beginning to look at how they can help to repair the news economy that they disrupted. Facebook this week began testing in Olympia, Washington, a local news and events page that highlights stories from local media.

 There’s been a lot of hype over the years about how tools such as Twitter and Facebook mean that anyone can be a journalist. But Google’s tool could make that more of a reality than a myth. It’s true that social media posts can go viral, but that’s usually when they have national or global appeal of some sort. Google appears to be looking for a way to help people publicize worthwhile stories of more modest, local interest, which has not been one of social media’s strong suits. There are also, of course, some risks involved in promoting amateur news reporting. The potential for misinformation is probably higher when the reporters lack professional credentials or a news organization to verify and stand behind their work. It’s unclear what kind of editing, if any, will be a part of the undertaking.

It’s easy to see the need for such a tool, however. For people without a large following, even a newsworthy tweet or YouTube video can fall flat. Just look at Sami Cone, who as far as I can tell had the world exclusive on the launch of Google Bulletin. At the time that I wrote this, her tweets about it had garnered just one like; her YouTube video, 11 views.

*Update, Jan. 26, 2018, at 12:10 p.m.: This post was updated to add confirmation and comment from Google.

*Correction, Jan. 26, 2018, at 12:10 p.m.: This post originally misspelled Stefan Constantinescu’s last name.

Article by Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate’s senior technology writer. Email him at

Google has launched a new venture capital program focused on AI

Google has launched a new venture capital program focused on AI

Click Here for full article. Google is a prolific investor. You may not hear about it, but Google keeps investing in all sorts of companies from time to time. Along the same, the company is being said to have launched a new venture capital program led by Alphabet’s VP of engineering Anna Patterson.

Apparently, instead of your regular investors, this particular VC firm will have a bunch of Alphabet engineers, who will be part of the new fund on a rotational basis. Investments made through this fund will focus upon Artificial Intelligence.

A fund dedicated to AI and independent from Google Ventures sounds surprising, but isn’t really. The company has time and again talked of a future that has AI at its center. Considering this, it only stands to reason that Google would want to keep a tab on the developments in AI. And what better way to get cutting edge companies come to you, than creating a fund for them. This way, Google can also acquire stakes in the most promising of these firms.

Google’s Interest in AI goes way, way back of course, Of late, that interest has sen the company focus upon innovations like the Tensor units. Indeed, the company even announced that it was making a full stack of Tensor processing units free for researchers to use.

The new fund will invest anywhere between $1 million to $1- million into these startups, although what isn’t known, is the amount that the VC  fund is getting to start off with.

Shared from Mudit Mohilay

With Planet’s Explorer Beta, time travel your way through geospatial images of the planet

With Planet’s Explorer Beta, time travel your way through geospatial images of the planet

Planet shot to limelight after it acquired Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging business. The company is now introducing a brand new tool called Planet Explorer Beta. The feature will allow users to  view the changes wrought in earth with the passage of time.

The best part about this feature is the fact that you don’t even need to sign up or login in order to access it. And then, you can check out what any particular place looks like from high in the sky. However, that is not all. You can also check out what the place looked like a month or even a year ago.

So get a load of this: Planet has a network of over 149 orbital satellites that currently make their way around the earth. The company noticed that not only did most every place start displaying visible changes over a period of time, things changed almost invariably across the planet. As far as to how Planet arrived at this data, it is thanks to the fact that the company manages to grab a new snapshot of every piece of land on Earth everyday.

So how is Planet going to turn things around to its advantage. After all, the company is allowing folks to check out images without even logging in! However, the company has limited the use of the images to non-commercial purposes only. What happens next is that some of the users may go and sign up for a free account that will unlock access to not only monthly and quarterly change imagery, but also daily comparisons.

Next up, some of the free users just might go for a paid subscriber-ship that will allow image usage on a commercial basis as well. Of course, it may seem like the model involves a lot of ifs however, the model appears to be pretty sound on the surface.

Meanwhile, it would certainly be interesting to watch the shifting landscapes of the planet.

Shared by Audit Mohilay

SpaceX is sending two people on a trip around the moon next year

Yup, you read that right. And no, the two people aren’t part of  SpaceX’s moon exploration team or anything. They are two regular folks like you and me…..actually, probably throw in a lot of money as well.

Apparently, these two individuals approached SpaceX on their own and requested to be flown around the moon. And if you are wondering if SpaceX sanctions such trips, it does assuming that you have money enough to sponsor it.

The company expects to conduct health and fitness tests and begin initial training, later this year. Meanwhile, the identity of the two highfliers — and they are literally taking the meaning of the word to a whole new level — has not been revealed. SpaceX said that it will reveal them after the individuals pass their health and fitness tests and give their nod to going public.

A SpaceX post on the topic read as follows:

 We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration.

Meanwhile, SpaceX’s behavior is very reminiscent of a private taxi company. Except of course, the turf here is Space. Gone are the days when you had to be a the model human, the one with science geek-iness in addition to a robust physique, and work at NASA in order to observe the moon from anywhere  considerably closer than the rest of the human race. Provided you have the money and that the journey won’t kill you, SpaceX will train you and will send you on your trip.

The trip will deploy the Falcon Heavy rocket — which after the Saturn V, is the most powerful rockets ever built for the purpose of space exploration. The launch will take place once SpaceX performs a manned mission to the ISS for NASA in the second quarter of 2018.

Post the launch, the two private individuals who are presently shrouded in anonymity, will become the humans to have traveled the furthest into space. Imagine the ice-breakers it will give them when they are back “So, I was traveling to the moon and suddenly……….”

Shared from Mudit Mohilay…

Amazon completes its first-ever commercial drone delivery in the U.K in just 13 minutes

Amazon completes its first-ever commercial drone delivery in the U.K in just 13 minutes

Amazon is looking to enhance your shopping experience one step at a time. Post the introduction of its walk-in ‘Amazon Go’ store which is the future of shopping, the e-commerce behemoth has today made it to the skies. The company had previously shared its ambitious vision of completing deliveries using unmanned drones but no one was aware of the gravity of the same.

But, Amazon has today achieved a major milestone by successfully completing its first drone-powered delivery. As shown in the promotion video of the service, the warehouse workers packaged a Fire TV and a bag of popcorn into a black box and that’s the only human interaction required with the product. The rest of the delivery process is completely automated and requires the workers to just provide the geolocation of the customer and the drone takes off with the product.

The company has promised to deliver your order within 30 minutes, whereas the very first order in the vicinity of Cambridge took a mere 13 minutes. These delivery quadcopter drones can carry products weighing no more than 5 pounds while being guided by GPS and flying below 400 feet. Also, the drones are only allowed to complete deliveries during daylight hours when its particularly sunny — no operations in rain, snow or even hail.

Amazon is conducting its commercial drone tests in the U.K because of stringent flight regulations in the United States. Here, the company has the freedom to operate drones beyond the line of sight and that too, more than one at a particular instant of time. The founder and CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos expressed his excitement for the successful flight on Twitter. Here is what he shared:

Amazon Tweet Drone

Talking more about the drone delivery program, Amazon mentions that the Cambridge beta program has been in the works for a long time and the company is operating a secret lab out of the area as well. Other such labs working on prototypes of Prime Air drone delivery service have also popped up in the US, Austria, and Israel. So one can expect to see pilot programs for the same in these areas as well.

The announcement of a successful commercial delivery comes about three years after the company first announced plans to deliver orders to its customers using specially-programmed drones. There had previously also been speculation that Amazon might kick off its delivery test in India but flight regulations in our country are also not as relaxed as those in the U.K.

The company might have just completed two drone deliveries but is planning to expand the scope of their test beyond the roughly 5-square-mile area in the coming months. Wouldn’t be awesome to just tap on the item you want to purchase and see them arrive at your doorstep (or backyard) in moments? It’s fricking awesome.

Amazon’s Flying Warehouse And Drone Fleet

Amazon has just been granted a patent for an “airborne fulfillment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery,” a fancy phrase for what’s essentially a flying warehouse. –

See more at: 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had already handed Amazon the go-ahead back in April, but only now have the plans surfaced online via the office’s website. What’s described in the patents, as others have opined, suggests that’s Amazon’s gearing up for a new-age commercial delivery service, closer to a semi-dystopian fiction than it is to reality.

But all words beeping on the radar, such as “drone,” “flying warehouse” or “airship” seem too steep for onlookers to comprehend – none-too-illuminating when read firsthand.

So, to disambiguate slightly, let’s break down the elements behind Amazon’s flying warehouse.

How Amazon’s Flying Warehouse And Drone Fleet Will Work

The patent illustrations somewhat elaborate the logistics of Amazon’s patented delivery scheme – but barely. First off, a large airship elevates up the sky, then a goods-saddled warehouse is hooked onto the bottom of the blimp. The sequence is undeniably off here, but the patents are too vague to surmise from.

Nonetheless, that warehouse will be constantly restocked – mid-air – by airships smaller in size, gravitating toward it piecemeal. These smaller airships will load personnel and goods from the ground, while also carrying waste.

People from the ground will browse a selection of items that are floating above their heads at a given time, which suggests that a library or catalogue specific to the airship will be put up, apart from the main site. Or, Amazon could simply add a label to items on its store that will inform customers that the product is eligible for airship delivery. Both scenarios are likely to be fused, for a more synergized perusal system, but Amazon hasn’t worded its plans at this point

Once a customer selects an item, the drones will pick it up from the main airship, slice through the clouds, then trickle down toward the set delivery location. The person at the receiving end is handed the product, then the drone flies back home.

A Huge Leap From Amazon’s Current Drone Deliveries

To put it even simpler, this new flying warehouse scheme is basically Amazon’s drone delivery service – which has started initial testing this month in the UK – on steroids. What the Federal Aviation Administration thinks of this patent is still to be determined, but as it stands, the FAA is typically apprehensive of air-based commercial operations, having strict measures set in place before anyone can fire up drones in the U.S. airspace.

Anyhow, you can check out the patent illustrations below; have a crack at it yourself.

Amazon’s recently granted patent for what’s essentially a flying warehouse is equal parts groundbreaking and perplexing. Here’s an attempt to parse the retail company’s futuristic vision of the commercial delivery system. ( Amazon ) - See more at:

Amazon’s recently granted patent for what’s essentially a flying warehouse is equal parts groundbreaking and perplexing. Here’s an attempt to parse the retail company’s futuristic vision of the commercial delivery system. ( Amazon ) - See more at:
Amazon’s recently granted patent for what’s essentially a flying warehouse is equal parts groundbreaking and perplexing. Here’s an attempt to parse the retail company’s futuristic vision of the commercial delivery system. ( Amazon ) - See more at:’s recently granted patent for what’s essentially a flying warehouse is equal parts groundbreaking and perplexing. Here’s an attempt to parse the retail company’s futuristic vision of the commercial delivery system. ( Amazon ) - See more at:

Uber, Lyft, Google, Volvo, Ford form self-driving car

self driving volvo

Uber, Lyft, Google, Volvo, Ford form self-driving car

Volvo and Ford are teaming with Google and ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft to advance the interests of self-driving cars.

On Tuesday the companies announced the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, a group that aims to push the development of self-driving vehicles among lawmakers, regulators, civic groups, businesses and local governments. The group’s spokesman is David Strickland, chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 2010 to 2014.

The coalition plans to work with policymakers to facilitate the deployment of self-driving cars, Strickland said in a statement, including creating “one clear set of federal standards” for autonomous vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that last year there were 33,000 fatalities on U.S. roads. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among young people 15 to 29 years old, and an estimated 94 percent of road accidents are caused by human error. The Transportation Department believes self-driving vehicles could help to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of crashes.

“Self-driving technology will enhance public safety and mobility for the elderly and disabled, reduce traffic congestion, improve environmental quality, and advance transportation efficiency,” the coalition said in a statement.

Are American’s Ready For Self Driving Cars?

Nearly 46 percent of U.S. drivers surveyed in April said their preferred level of automoation is “no self-driving,” according to a survey from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. Another 38.7 percent said they prefer “some” self-driving, while 15.5 percent said the are ready for “completely” self-driving vehicles.

The poll, which surveyed 618 licensed drivers in the U.S., also found that 94.5 percent of respondents said they’d prefer it if self-driving cars have a steering wheel, as well as gas and break pedals.

Any new technology is sure to hit some bumps in the road, so it’s understandable consumers would be skittish about it. Even so, automakers and technology companies alike are confident self-driving technology will deployed in just a matter of years. BMW, for instance, wants to have its first fully driverless vehicle on the roads within five years. Jim McBride, technical leader in Ford’s autonomous vehicles team, similarly told ZDNet recently that the technology should be widely available in four or five years.

Meanwhile, government regulations could address some of the concerns consumers have. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to release a set of policy guidelines for self-driving cars in July that should address questions of safety and issues like whether or not steering wheels should be required.

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