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Telegram CEO's Court Appeal Tests Russia Eavesdropping Laws, Technical Acumen

Telegram founder Pavel Durov has announced plans to appeal a Moscow court's decision Monday to fine the encrypted messaging service some $14,000 (800 thousand rubles) for failing to provide law enforcement agencies with user information and access to private correspondences. Providing security services with encryption keys to read users' messaging data violates Russia's constitution, he said in a post on Vkontakte, Russia's version of Facebook, which he co-founded in 2007. "Everyone has the right to privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraphic and other communications," Durov said, quoting constitutional excerpts. Russian special services need decryption keys to "expand their influence at the expense of the constitutional right of citizens," he said, building on similar comments Durov made in September, when he announced that FSB officials had requested backdoor access to Telegram. Russian security officials have said encryption codes are vital to protecting citizens against terror attacks such as those earlier this year in St. Petersburg, in which perpetrators, Kremlin officials says, communicated via Telegram. According to Pavel Chikov, a prominent Russian human rights lawyer, the FSB state security organization (formerly KGB) is trying to gain technical access by announcing ultimatums and making threats. While fines levied aren't too burdensome for a company of Telegram's size, they do indicate an FSB willingness to block Telegram from continuing to operate in the country. Third-party hackers The situation, Chikov said, is similar to legal proceedings that resulted from FBI requests for encryption access to Apple iPhones — a request that ultimately was dropped, leaving federal investigators to rely on third-party hackers. Secrecy, anonymity and "the ability to communicate in such a way that representatives of the state do not hear these conversations," should also be respected in Russia, Chikov told VOA Russian. "Generally speaking, if we are talking on [a conventional] telephone, the conversation is protected by constitutional guarantees," Chikov said. However, Russian police and various state security agencies can obtain court-ordered warrants to tap the phone of specific individuals suspected of a plotting criminal activities — and they have the technical acumen required to do it. Although privacy laws are generally the same for peer-to-peer text-messaging devices, Russian security agencies lack the technical sophistication to hack Telegram's encrypted conversations. Durov 'most likely right' Professor Ilya Shablinsky, a constitutional law expert with Moscow's National Research University, says Durov is "most likely right" that FSB demands represent a constitutional violation, as allowing FSB access to Telegram would allow for users' correspondence to be read. "When that constitutional norm was drafted, correspondence was typically drafted on paper," he said. "And the Russian Constitution's authors never envisaged a technological variant [such as Telegram]. In this case, we do not know exactly what kind of information the FSB requested, and what it means for Telegram to provide that information." According to Shablinsky, although a Russian court can demand access to correspondences of a specific individual who is suspected of committing a crime, it is not known whether the provision covers access to the decryption devices for an entire network of users. The free instant-messaging app, which lets people exchange messages, photos and videos in groups of up to 5,000 people, has attracted about 100 million users since its launch in 2013. Telegram threatened In June, Roskomnadzor, Russia's state communications watchdog, threatened to ban Telegram for failing to provide user registration documents, which were requested as part of a push to increase surveillance of internet activities. Although Telegram later registered, it stopped short of agreeing to Roskomnadzor's data storage demands. Companies on the register must provide the FSB with information on user interactions; starting from 2018, they also must store all of the data of Russian users inside the country, according to controversial anti-terror legislation passed last year, which was decried by internet companies and the opposition. Telegram has 10 days to appeal Monday's decision. 'No planned block' Asked about a potential block of the service, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday said, "As far as I know ... there is no discussion of a block at this time." But observers like Chikov say the risk is quite high. "It is not necessarily going to happen right after the decision on the penalty comes into effect, as I believe that the authorities will still take a pause and try to negotiate with the company's management," he said. "However, with its refusal to provide access to correspondence, Telegram entered into direct conflict with the interests of the special services. Consequently, the political weight of people who decide to block is significantly higher than that of the same Roskomnadzor." Telegram, one-tenth the size of Facebook-owned rival WhatsApp, has caught on in many corners of the globe, including for a while with Islamic State as an ultra-secure way to quickly upload and share videos, texts and voice messages. Durov, who has been described as "the Russian Mark Zuckerberg," spent years fending off intrusions into his users' communications, forging an uncompromising stance on privacy after founding VKontakte, only to lose control of that social media company for refusing Russian government demands to block dissidents. Since leaving Russia in 2014 to set up Telegram in self-exile, Durov and his core team of 15 developers have become perpetual migrants, living only a few months at a time in any one location, starting in Berlin, then London, Silicon Valley, Finland, Spain and elsewhere. The company is incorporated in multiple jurisdictions, including Britain. This story originated in VOA's Russian Service. Some information for this report provided by AFP.  

Study: Self-driving Cars Could Ease Traffic, but Increase Sprawl

A new study inspired by Boston's early experiments with self-driving cars finds that the technology could ease congestion, but might also lead to more cars on the road and further encourage urban sprawl. The report, released Tuesday by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum, is a mostly optimistic take on how autonomous vehicles could change cities. Three companies are now testing self-driving cars in Boston's Seaport District. One of them, NuTonomy, has also partnered with ride-hailing service Lyft to research how passengers book and route a self-driving car. The consulting group's study included a computer simulation of how downtown Boston traffic would change with the advent of self-driving taxis, buses or private cars. It would likely add vehicles to roads while simultaneously reducing traffic time and cutting pollution because of smoother driving patterns, such as steadier speeds and more gradual braking. At the same time, the efficiency and convenience of autonomous technology could encourage more people to live in the suburbs. "Urban sprawl is definitely one of the biggest challenges," said Nikolaus Lang, a co-author of the study. "If people don't really see commutes as a painful exercise, they might tend to live further away." The research adds to another study published this month by researchers at the University of California, Davis, who found users of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are less likely to use public transit. The Davis study — which looked at Boston and six other metropolitan regions — says that the trend away from public transit could have broader implications once autonomous vehicle technology becomes commercially viable and a feature of ride-hailing apps. All of this raises questions for city planners, said Nigel Jacob, co-chair of Boston's Office of New Urban Mechanics, which has partnered with the consulting group and autonomous car developers as part of a long-term plan to improve to transportation safety and equity. "All these companies are going to make money off the public infrastructure without actually paying back into it," Jacob said. In the meantime, Jacob said the city is working to help companies as they try to understand the future market for self-driving vehicles, as well as the technical challenges of navigating the city's "old, bizarre roadway system that's constantly subject to freezing and thawing." "If you can pass the Boston test, you can drive anywhere," Jacob said. "That's basically been the idea."

Google's Pixel 2: A Phone Built for Artificial Intelligence

What's most fascinating about Google's new Pixel 2 phone is what's to come. The phone sets itself apart with promises to bake in Google's powerful artificial-intelligence technology for quick and easy access to useful, even essential information. But much of the neat stuff will come later. The phone coming out Thursday is more of a teaser. To be sure, the Pixel 2 is a solid phone. It's not as elegantly designed as an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy phone. But it delivers a strong tie-in to Google's services, including those intended to fetch what you need automatically. Visual search engine The Pixel 2 comes with Google Lens, a way of searching Google just by pointing your camera at a landmark, object or storefront. This can give you quick access to reviews and store hours. It might help identify that mysterious building you walk by every day. Google Lens will also pull out web addresses and phone numbers from signs so you can browse or call with just at tap. The feature correctly identified paintings of obscure figures in American history at a museum in New York, and it knew which Starbucks I was standing in front of, out of several in the neighborhood. But it's not foolproof: The iconic United Nations building came across as a generic tower. I found Google Lens slightly more reliable than a similar Samsung feature, Bixby Vision. Bixby tended to miss on identifying businesses; a Chinatown bakery serving pork buns was thought to be a CrossFit gym — quite the opposite. On the other hand, Bixby identified a plaque dedicated to a Titanic victim, while Google just said, "Hmm." It's a good start, but both still have work to do. And for now, Google Lens requires you to take a photo first. Seamless, instant analysis is "coming soon." All you'll have to do is squeeze the bottom of the phone for the Google Assistant to pop up. Last year's Pixel phone will also get Google Lens, though without the squeezing capability. Eventually, other Android phones and iPhones should get it, too, but Google isn't saying when. Better camera Last year's Pixel had a great camera, but it fell short in some shots because software processing made colors look too strong and clean at times. With the Pixel 2, colors look good without looking fake. The Pixel 2 also introduces a "portrait" mode, which blurs out backgrounds to focus attention on the subjects. Apple's iPhone 7 Plus and 8 Plus and Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 manage this effect via a second camera lens to sense depth. Google does it all with software, so the regular-size model gets the capability as well, not just the larger XL. Google says the feature works best with people and small objects. I got it to work for flowers and selfies (yes, it works with the front camera, too, something limited elsewhere to Apple's upcoming iPhone X). But I couldn't blur out tourists ambling behind statues; Apple and Samsung phones managed that with the depth lens. Not to mention that second lens offers a 2x zoom without a reduction in quality. More smarts When locked, the phone continually listens for songs and automatically identifies the name and artist. There have been times songs ended before I could pull up SoundHound to do this. Google says all this is done on the phone itself, so it's not sending your music tastes to its servers. Google says the battery drain should be minimal. Next month, $159 wireless headphones called Pixel Buds will offer real-time audio translation, so two people can communicate using different languages, while hearing instant translations in a native tongue. A separate Google Translate app offers this now, but having the feature built into Pixel should make it easier to use. And speaking of translations, I'm hoping Google Lens will one day translate signs instantly when traveling. A camera feature in the Translate app isn't as automatic as Lens tends to be. Google says more capabilities are coming to Lens, but it didn't provide details. Patience, please The fact that the Pixel is unfinished shouldn't deter would-be buyers. This is common these days, as more power comes through software updates rather than hardware. Samsung's Galaxy S8 phones shipped this spring without its much-touted Bixby assistant ready. What you get in the $650 Pixel 2 is a great workhorse. For elegance, you need the $700 iPhone 8 or the $750 Galaxy S8. The larger Pixel 2 XL starts at $850, more than the iPhone 8 Plus and the S8 Plus. Apple and Samsung include headphones; Google doesn't. But the Pixel 2 comes with a USB-C adapter so you can plug in ordinary headphones; like the latest iPhones, the Pixel 2 has eliminated the standard headphone jack. Verizon is again the only U.S. carrier to offer the latest Pixel, although you can buy models that will work with other carriers — and Google's own Project Fi service — at Google's online store. The phone is also coming to the U.K., Canada, India, Australia, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Microsoft Rolls Out New Windows 10 Update, Laptops

Microsoft has begun rolling out an update to its Windows 10 operating system, hoping to spark enthusiasm for its virtual- and augmented-reality ambitions.   The Windows 10 update became available Tuesday.   Several of Microsoft's partners — Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo — are simultaneously launching their first "Windows Mixed Reality" headsets Tuesday. Samsung is also releasing one early next month.   Microsoft is also announcing a new generation of laptops in its Surface line. Two versions of the new Surface Book 2 — one 13.5 inches and the other 15 inches — will go on sale next month.

A New Generation of Weather Tech on Display in Amsterdam

What's it like outside? In this era of extreme weather events, it's more than an idle question, because an accurate answer can save lives. A new generation of weather technology is ready to be deployed to provide those answers. VOA's Kevin Enochs reports.

Cybersecurity Firm: North Korea Likely Behind Taiwan SWIFT Cyber Heist

Cybersecurity firm BAE Systems Plc said on Monday it believes the North Korean Lazarus hacking group is likely responsible for a recent cyber heist in Taiwan, the latest in a string of hacks targeting the global SWIFT messaging system. "The likely culprit is Lazarus," BAE cyber-intelligence chief Adrian Nish told Reuters by telephone. The British firm has previously linked Lazarus to last year's $81 million cyber heist at Bangladesh's central bank, as have other cyber firms including Russia's Kaspersky Lab and California-based Symantec Corp. BAE's claim that Lazarus is likely responsible for the hack on Taiwan's Far Eastern International Bank demonstrates that North Korea continues to seek to generate cash through hacking. Nish said he expects the group to continue to target banks. "They are not just going to go away. They've built the tools. They are going to keep going back," he said. Still, he noted that the group appears to have had difficulty in pulling funds out of the banking system, after the massive Bangladesh heist, which prompted SWIFT and banks to boost security controls. Taiwan's Central News Agency reported last week that while hackers sought to steal some $60 million from Far Eastern Bank, all but $500,000 had been recovered by the bank. BAE previously disclosed that Lazarus attempted to steal money from banks in Mexico and Poland, though there is no evidence the effort succeeded. A security executive with SWIFT, a Belgium-based co-operative owned by banks, last week told Reuters that hackers have continued to target the message system this year, though many attempts have been thwarted by the new security controls. SWIFT declined comment on the findings, which BAE detailed in a report on its website. The report provides technical details on malware samples that BAE believes were likely used to target the Taiwan bank.

Justices to Hear Government's Email Dispute With Microsoft

The Supreme Court is intervening in a digital-age privacy dispute between the Trump administration and Microsoft over emails stored abroad. The justices say Monday they will hear the administration's appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of Microsoft. The court held the emails sought in a drug trafficking investigation were beyond the reach of a search warrant because they were kept on a Microsoft server in Ireland. The case is among several legal clashes that Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and other technology companies have had with the government over questions of digital privacy and authorities' need for information to combat crime and extremism. Privacy law experts say the companies have been more willing to push back against the government since the leak of classified information detailing America's surveillance programs. The case also highlights the difficulty that judges face in trying to square decades-old laws with new technological developments. In 2013, federal investigators obtained a warrant under a 1986 law for emails from an account they believe was being used in illegal drug transactions as well as identifying information about the user of the email account. Microsoft turned over the information, but went to court to defend its decision not to hand over the emails from Ireland. The federal appeals court in New York agreed with the company. The administration said in its Supreme Court appeal said the decision is damaging "hundreds if not thousands of investigations of crimes — ranging from terrorism, to child pornography, to fraud." Wherever the emails reside, Microsoft can retrieve them "domestically with the click of a computer mouse," Justice Department lawyer Jeffrey Wall told the court. Microsoft had urged the court to stay out of the case and instead allow Congress to make needed changes to bring the 1986 Stored Communications Act up to date. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Microsoft said the high court's intervention would "short-circuit" the congressional effort. Privacy scholars also have worried that the court may have trouble resolving difficult issues in a nuanced way. Data companies have built servers around the world to keep up with customers' demands for speed and access. Among the issues the court may confront is whether the same rules apply to the emails of an American citizen and a foreigner. Another is whether it matters where the person is living. The Stored Communications Act became law long before the advent of cloud computing. Judge Gerard Lynch, on the New York panel that sided with Microsoft, called for "congressional action to revise a badly outdated statute." The case, U.S. v. Microsoft, 17-2, will be argued early next year.

How North Korea Builds Sophisticated Missiles

The rapid expansion of North Korea’s missile technology has puzzled many around the world. How does a country whose citizens are often on the brink of starvation develop technology for building sophisticated systems like ballistic missiles? VOA’s George Putic explains.

Small Scale Farmers in Kenya Turn to Mechanized Agriculture

Efforts are underway to modernize Kenya’s agriculture sector after a significant drop in farmers' earnings last year. Drought and an invasive insect known as fall armyworm played a big role. But poor seed varieties and a lack of equipment, like tractors, are also persistent problems. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA.

Tesla Fires Hundreds of Workers After Annual Reviews

Tesla Motors fired hundreds of workers after completing its annual performance reviews, even though the electric automaker is trying to ramp up production to meet the demand for its new Model 3 sedan. The Palo Alto, California-based company confirmed the cuts in a Saturday statement, but didn’t disclose how many of its 33,000 workers were jettisoned. The San Jose Mercury News interviewed multiple former and current Tesla employees who estimated 400 to 700 workers lost their jobs. The housecleaning swept out workers in administrative and sales jobs, in addition to Tesla’s manufacturing operations. An unspecified number of workers received bonuses and promotions following their reviews, according to the company. Tesla is under pressure to deliver its Model 3 sedan to a waiting list of more than 450,000 customers. The company so far has been lagging its own production targets after making just 260 of the vehicles in its last quarter. Including other models, Tesla expects to make about 100,000 cars this year. CEO Elon Musk is aiming to increase production by five-fold next year, a goal that probably will have to be met to support Tesla’s market value of $59 billion, more than Ford Motor Co. Unlike Ford, Tesla hasn’t posted an annual profit yet. Despite the mass firings, Tesla is still looking to hire hundreds more workers.

Lab-grown Diamonds Grow Into $14 Billion a Year Market

The diamond industry has fallen on hard times lately. Sales of the traditional wedding gemstones are sluggish as millennials delay marriage, and expensive diamonds aren't the go-to proposal gemstone they once were. Another factor is that lab-grown diamonds are slowly moving into the market. VOA's Kevin Enochs reports.

Twitter CEO Vows to Police Sexual Harassment, Hate, Violence

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is promising the company will do a better job weeding out sexual harassment, hateful symbols and violent groups from its short messaging service. The pledge issued in a series of tweets late Friday followed a boycott organized by women supporting actress Rose McGowan after she said Twitter temporarily suspended her account for posting about the alleged misconduct of film producer Harvey Weinstein. The movie mogul was fired last Sunday by the company he co-founded amid accusations that he sexually harassed or sexually assaulted women. Dorsey acknowledged Twitter hasn't been doing enough to ensure voices aren't silenced on the service despite policy changes made since 2016. He said the new rules will be announced next week, with the changes taking effect soon after.

Mystery Hacker Steals Australian Defense Data

A  mystery hacker who was given the alias of a TV soap opera character has stolen sensitive information about Australia's multi-billion dollar warplane and navy projects.  Intelligence officials say the break was significant, although the Australian government insists that only low-level data was taken.  The identity of the cyber criminal is not known.  The virtual break-in saw cyber thieves take illustrations of a major Australian naval project. About 30GB of data was stolen.  Details about new fighter planes, submarines and Australia’s largest warships were also compromised.  The breach began in July last year, but the Australian Signals Directorate, a domestic spy agency, was not alerted until November.  Intelligence officials say the hack, which targeted a private defence contractor in South Australia state, was - in their words - ‘extensive’ and ‘extreme.’ But the government is insisting there was no threat to national security. Australia’s Defence Industry Minister, Christopher Pyne, says only low-level data was taken. “I am pleased in a way that it reminds Australian business of the dangers that lurk out there," said Pyne. "The information that has been stolen is commercial information.  It is not classified information, so it is not military information.  The government is doing its job.  Australian businesses need to be thorough in providing for their cyber security otherwise they will not get contracts with the government.” It is thought the hacker had exploited a weakness in software being used by the government contractor in the city of Adelaide, which had not been updated for 12 months. Australian cyber security officials humorously dubbed the mystery attacker "Alf", after a character on the popular TV soap opera ‘Home and Away’.  They haven’t said if they suspect a foreign state was involved. Earlier this year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said cyber security was “the new frontier of warfare” and espionage, while announcing new measures to protect Australian governments and businesses from foreign interference. Last year, a foreign power, reported in sections of the Australian media to be China, installed malicious software on computers at Australia’s national weather bureau. 

Drones Steal the Show at Dubai Technology Week

Bigger and more powerful flying drones are slowly entering everyday life. At this year's international technology show in Dubai, a number of drone manufacturers displayed machines that could substantially increase the mobility of various public services, from police and firefighters to taxis. VOA's George Putic has more.

Water Gets Washed Before it Gets Anywhere Near Your Lips

It covers almost three-fourths of the planet, but it's probably not a good idea to fill your cup from a river. Drinkable water flows to most of our taps only after it gets a good scrubbing. VOA's Arash Arabasadi reports from a drinking water treatment plant in the Washington metropolitan area.

Richard Branson Takes Another Bet on the Future with Hyperloop One

British billionaire Richard Branson on Thursday placed another bet on the future with an investment in Hyperloop One, which is developing super high-speed transportation systems. Hyperloop One said Branson's Virgin Group would take the company global and rebrand itself as Virgin Hyperloop One in the near future. Branson has joined the board of Hyperloop One, which aims to develop pods that will transport passenger and mixed-use cargo at speeds of 250 miles per hour (402 km per hour). The pod lifts above a track using magnetic levitation and glides at airline speeds for long distances due to low aerodynamic drag. The company did not disclose the size of the investment. Hyperloop One was originally conceptualized by Elon Musk. In July, Musk said he had received verbal approval to start building the systems that would link New York and Washington, cutting travel time to about half an hour. Last month, Hyperloop One raised $85 million in new funding, bringing the total financing raised to $245 million since it was founded in 2014. Hyperloop One's co-founders, executive chairman Shervin Pishevar and president of engineering Josh Giegel, have previously worked at Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic is Branson's space company, which in 2016, was granted an operating license to fly its passenger rocket ship with the world's first paying space tourists once final safety tests are completed. "Virgin Hyperloop One will be all-electric and the team is working on ensuing it is a responsible and sustainable form of transport," Virgin Group said in a statement. Hyperloop One is also working on projects in the Middle East, Europe, India and Canada, according to the statement.

Facebook Chief Absolutely' Supports Releasing Russia-linked Advertisements

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said Thursday she "absolutely" supports the public release of all advertisements produced by a Russia-linked organization during the 2016 presidential election. Sandberg said the company is "working on transparency" following the revelation last month that a group with alleged ties to the Russian government ran $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook promoting "divisive" causes like Black Lives Matter. "Things happened on our platform that shouldn't have happened," she said during the interview with Axios's Mike Allen. Later Thursday, Sandberg is set to meet with Congressional investigators who are looking into what role the advertisements which began running in 2015 and continued through this year may have played in the 2016 presidential election. The $100,000 worth of ads represent a very small fraction of the total $2.3 billion spent by, and on behalf of, President Donald Trump and losing-candidate Hillary Clinton's campaigns during the election. Multiple congressional investigations have been launched, seeking to determine what effect alleged Russian meddling may have played in the election. In addition, Robert Mueller, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is conducting a criminal probe, including whether President Trump's campaign colluded with Russian operatives during the election season. Trump has denied working with the Russians. Facebook had previously agreed to disclose the thousands of Facebook ads to congress. Sandberg said Thursday she thinks "it's important that [the investigators] get the whole picture and explain that to the American people." In response to the Russian ad buys, Sandberg said Facebook is hiring 4,000 new employees to oversee ads and content. She said the company is also using "machine learning and automation" to target fake accounts that spread fake news. She defined fake news as "things that are false hoaxes" and said Facebook is working to stamp out the bad information by teaming up with third-party fact checkers and warning users before they share news deemed fake by Facebook. She said it is important to be cautious when going after fake news because "a lot of what we allow on Facebook is people expressing themselves" and "when you cut off speech for one person, you cut off speech for all people." "We don't check the information posted on Facebook before people post it, and I don't think people should want us to," she said. Hundreds of fake accounts were used to distribute the Russia-linked advertisements, Sandberg said. But had those ads been posted by legitimate users, "we would have let them run," she said.

Report: Waymo Demands at Least $1 Billion to Settle Uber Suit

Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo sought at least $1 billion in damages and a public apology from Uber Technologies Inc as conditions for settling its high-profile trade secret lawsuit against the ride-services company, sources familiar with the proposal told Reuters. The Waymo self-driving car unit also asked that an independent monitor be appointed to ensure Uber does not use Waymo technology in the future, the sources said. Uber rejected those terms, said the sources, who were not authorized to publicly discuss settlement talks. The precise dollar amount requested by Waymo and the exact time the offer was made could not be learned. Waymo’s tough negotiating stance reflects the company’s confidence in its legal position after months of pretrial victories in a case that may help to determine who emerges in the forefront of the fast-growing field of self-driving cars. The aggressive settlement demands also suggest that Waymo is not in a hurry to resolve the lawsuit, in part because of its value as a distraction for Uber leadership, said Elizabeth Rowe, a trade secret expert at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Waymo recently persuaded a San Francisco federal judge to delay a trial to decide the dispute from October to early December, citing the need to investigate evidence Uber had not disclosed earlier. No further settlement talks are scheduled, the sources said. The judge overseeing the case mandated that the companies enter mediation with a court-appointed magistrate. Amy Candido, a Waymo attorney, declined to comment on any settlement talks, but said the company’s reasons for suing Uber are “pretty clear.” “Waymo had one goal: to stop Uber from using its trade secrets,” she said. “That remains its goal.” An Uber spokesperson declined to comment. Waymo sued Uber in February, claiming that former engineer Anthony Levandowski downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files before leaving to set up a self-driving truck company, called Otto, which Uber acquired soon after. Uber denied using any of Waymo’s trade secrets.

Dutch Team Wins 7th Australian Solar-Powered Car Race

A Dutch team won a solar-powered car race across Australia for a seventh time on Thursday, with a University of Michigan car likely to take second place in the biennial event. The Nuon team's Nuna 9 car averaged more than 80 kph (50 mph) to reach the World Solar Challenge finish line in the southern coastal city of Adelaide after five days of racing across 3,022 kilometers (1,878 miles) of Outback highway from Darwin in the north. The Delft University of Technology-based team has competed eight times. The U.S. car Novum had yet to finish but was in second place followed by the Punch Powertrain team from Belgium, Tokai University from Japan and Solar Team Twente from the Netherlands. Nuon team engineer Marten Arthens described the win as the “best feeling ever.” “We're going to celebrate, but first I'm going to take a shower. I haven't done that a week,” Arthens said. This year's race attracted 95 teams from more than 20 countries. The event marks 30 years since the first World Solar Challenge in 1987.

Cross Continent Solar Car Race Sets Grueling Pace

Every two years, Australia holds the World Solar Challenge. It is a grueling 3-thousand kilometer race across the Australian outback in cars powered only by the sun. Everyone from high school engineers to corporate sponsored giants is free to compete, and every year the cars go farther, and faster than before. VOA's Kevin Enochs reports.

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