Displaying items by tag: safety

Germany and Canada both considering banning Huawei from 5G

Written on Tuesday, 22 January 2019 06:07

The Canadian and German government are reportedly both seriously considering excluding Chinese telecommunications behemoth Huawei from its 5G networks due to security concerns.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Uber’s new CEO has jetted into London for negotiations with the city’s transport regulator following the TFL’s (Transport for London) decision to suspend the license of the global ride-hailing service. The TFL deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and refused to renew its license.

The decision by the TFL left Uber reeling, as the UK, and in particular London is a massive market for the US firm. It was the latest setback in a long line of controversies and blows endured by Uber who have in recent months had allegations of sexual harassment within its work environment labelled at them.

In addition to this, Uber has faced countless legal battles in different markets all over the world – and pressure from stakeholders forced former CEO and founder Travis Kalanick to resign. TFL stated that it didn’t renew Uber’s license due to the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences – and also highlighted safety issues in relation to Uber’s vetting process on its drivers.

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is also chairman of the TFL, told Uber that it would serve the organization better to actually attempt to address the concerns raised by the transport regulator, instead of hiring a team of PR experts and lawyers.

However, it has emerged that Uber’s new CEO, former Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi has arranged a face-to-face meeting with TFL commissioner Mike Brown who is tasked with the responsibility of running TFL’s day-to-day operations. It was further disclosed that Khan, a member of the Labor Party had sanctioned the meeting.

While Uber’s license was suspended with immediate effect on September 30th, its 40,000 drivers can still pick up fares until an appeal process has been exhausted, and that is likely to take up to several months.

Uber’s CEO facing a tough task to restore order to a firm which has been battered by a host of controversies, and his job hasn’t been helped by the calling of a board meeting in San Francisco which will look at curbing the influence of former CEO Kalanick.

Many expect Uber to resolve the issue with the TFL and claimed that Khosrowshahi made a good start by penning an open letter to Londoners in which he acknowledged that the company had made mistakes, before vowing to adopt a new approach to penetrate new markets globally.

It has been reported that Uber will learn its fate when a judge will rule on its appeal when it is officially submitted on October 13th. Uber’s competitors have wasted no time in attempting to gain its business. London’s second-biggest private hire firm Addison Lee said on Friday it was planning to increase its driver numbers in London by up to a quarter.

Published in Apps

A woman suffered burns to her face, neck and hands after the batteries in her headphones exploded on a flight from Beijing to Melbourne. The incident occurred just two hours into the flight. It has been reported that the passenger dozed off to sleep while listening to music on her own battery-operated headphones when the device caught fire. The passenger woke after hearing a loud explosion - she then felt a burning sensation on her neck and face. The incident only serves to highlight the dangers of using battery-operated devices in-flight.

The passenger, who was not identified - gave the following account to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, she said, “As I went to turn around I felt burning on my face. I just grabbed my face which caused the headphones to go around my neck. I continued to feel burning so I grabbed them off and threw them on the floor. They were sparking and had small amounts of fire.”

The fire was extinguished after flight attendants poured a bucket of water on the headphones, but already at that stage the battery and its cover had melted and was embedded into the floor. Pictures which emerged showed the passenger with a blackened face and neck. Fellow passengers had to endure an overwhelming smell of melted plastic, burnt electronics and singed hair for the duration of the flight.

The transport safety bureau, which did not identify which airline was involved, assessed that the lithium-ion batteries in the device likely caught fire. "As the range of products using batteries grows, the potential for in-flight issues increases," it said, adding that such devices needed to be stored safely if they were not being used.  Spare batteries should be kept in carry-on luggage, and not checked in, the bureau said.

Stuart Godley, of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, said it was the first official report of headphones catching fire in Australia - but added that there had been a series of incidents in relation to phone and battery incidents onboard flights. Twelve months ago, a flight that was due to leave for Sydney was evacuated when smoke bellowed from a passenger's hand luggage. It later emerged that lithium batteries stored inside the case had caused fire.

Also last year, an electronic device began belching smoke then caught fire on a Qantas flight from Los Angeles to New York, with a crew member needing to use a fire extinguisher to put it out, the ATSB reported. In another Qantas incident in 2016, attendants were alerted to smoke on a flight from Sydney to Dallas. They found a crushed and burnt out device wedged tightly in the seat. "We've also had a case of a person using personal air purifier and the batteries in that have caught on fire on a flight," Godley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Published in Gadget

Apple dismiss safety concerns after iPhones combust in China

Written on Wednesday, 07 December 2016 11:18

US electronic giants Apple have shrugged off safety concerns over its iPhones following reports that a number of phones spontaneously combusted while being used or charged. It is reported that in one incident an iPhone actually exploded which left the back of the phone and battery completely blackened.

A consumer watchdog in Shanghai disclosed details of at least eight incidents which have been reported in relation to iPhones catching fire, combusting or exploding in China. However, Apple dismissed safety concerns over its products and blamed external damage for the flaming iPhones.

Apple’s problems have emerged hot on the heels of Samsung’s disastrous worldwide Galaxy Note 7 safety fiasco in which it was forced to recall 2.5 million units of the phone due to serious issues and concern following reports of it catching fire. Apple firmly declared that safety is treated as a top priority for the company, but insisted that following analysis and tests on the iPhones they found no concern with the products.

In statement a spokesman for Apple said, "The units we've analysed so far have clearly shown that external physical damage happened to them which led to the thermal event. We treat safety as a top priority and have found no cause for concern with these products."

Apple also vehemently denied in accusations that it was very slow to respond to the issues raised, after the state-run Shanghai Consumer Council had reportedly urged it to address consumer complaints immediately.The watchdog's report quoted one woman as saying her iPhone 6s exploded in August, shattering the screen and leaving the battery and back of the phone blackened.

The council said it had received a six-fold surge in total complaints against Apple in the past two months, including sudden shutdowns of the iPhone6 and 6s even though batteries still had enough power.The council did not say where the complaining iPhone users were located. Apple last month offered to change iPhone 6s batteries for Chinese users who complained of the sudden shutdowns, but said the problem did not constitute a safety issue.

Published in Devices

Tesla and Google both agree that autonomous vehicles will make streets safer. The two tech giants are racing towards a driverless future. The benefits of Tesla’s autopilot feature were proven recently when a Tesla Model X vehicle navigated 20 miles of highway on autopilot, saving its passengers’ life. 37-year-old Joshua Neally was driving home in Springfield, Missouri, when he suffered a blockage of his lung arteries which could have killed him if not for his vehicles’ autonomous technology. But the story’s a stark contrast from an incident in May when a man was killed using Tesla’s autopilot mode.

A recent post on Slate.com reveals Joshua Neally’s frightening story of survival and how his Tesla’s incredible technology saved his life. When he was driving home, Neally says he suddenly felt something like “a steel pole through my chest.” He was surrounded by mounting traffic on the highway when the pain started to hit him hard. He knew he needed help as soon as possible. In that moment, Neally told Slate, he calculated that he could more likely reach the hospital by using his car’s autopilot capability as opposed to pulling over and calling for an ambulance.

Neally instructed his Tesla Model X to drive autonomously along the highway to the nearest hospital. The vehicle drove for more than 20 miles before reaching an off-ramp near a hospital in Branson. Having made it that far, Neally took the wheel for the final stretch, and then made his way to the emergency room. Luckily for Neally, he was treated and walked away unharmed. He had suffered a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of lung arteries that reportedly kills 50,000 people a year.

Neally’s story is a milestone in autonomous vehicle history. Autonomous vehicles have received no small amount of criticism in the past year – particularly Tesla – a company at the forefront of the technology along with Google. Tesla suffered a big blow to its reputation after the sustainable automaker announced the first known death caused by a self-driving Tesla model.

The incident occurred on May 7 in Williston, Florida, after driver Joshua Brown, 40, put his Tesla Model S into Tesla’s autopilot mode, which is capable of driving the car on highways. The vehicle’s sensor system reportedly failed to distinguish a large white 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the highway before it. Tesla says the car attempted to drive full speed under the trailer, “with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S.” It was a horrific incident, with a police report in the Levy County Journal saying the top of the vehicle “was torn off by the force of the collision.”

The incident raised serious concerns about the safety of autonomous vehicles. Tesla attempted to avoid blame for the man’s death, claiming that it was Tesla’s first known autopilot death in some 130 million vehicles driven by its customers. “Among all vehicles in the U.S., there is a fatality every 94 million miles,” the company noted in a statement, which continued to highlight that the car’s autonomous software is designed for users to keep their hands on the wheels to ensure they’re paying attention. “Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still required the driver to remain alert,” said Tesla.

America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the accident. The company said: “Preliminary reports indicate the vehicle crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla at an intersection on a non-controlled access highway. The driver of the Tesla died due to injuries sustained in the crash.”

Another unfortunate incident in July once again thrust Tesla into the spotlight regarding its autonomous technology. According to reports, an art dealer called Albert Scaglione claimed that Tesla’s autonomous feature was responsible for a crash that rolled his Model X on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on July 1. Police said the car crashed into a guard rail and hit the median before landing on its roof. Thankfully Scaglione survived.

This time, however, the blame wasn’t immediately directed at Tesla. Police said the driver was likely to blame seeing as there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that the vehicles’ autopilot was at fault. In a statement Tesla completely rejected any blame, saying that it had “no reason to believe” that the car’s autopilot was activated at the time of the crash.

"We received an automated alert from this vehicle on July 1 indicating airbag deployment, but logs containing detailed information on the state of the vehicle controls at the time of the collision were never received,” said Tesla in a statement. “This is consistent with damage of the severity reported in the press, which can cause the antenna to fail. As we do with all crash events, we immediately reached out to the customer to confirm they were ok and offer support, but were unable to reach him. We have since attempted to contact the customer three times by phone without success. Based on the information we have now, we have no reason to believe that Autopilot had anything to do with this accident."

It’s not all negative feedback for Tesla’s autonomous mode. A report by The Guardian suggests that Tesla has generated massive fanfare with its autopilot mode and has inspired its consumers, regardless of the risk, to discover what they can do while letting the car drive autonomously. For example, a popular video posted online depicts a man taking a nap while his car navigates busy traffic. But another user claimed that his Tesla was unable to see lines on the road before it during bright sunlight in the morning or at dusk.

At the end of the day, Tesla’s autonomous technology is a game-changer, and could revolutionize driving as we currently know it. The major issue many reports have highlighted regarding autonomous technology in cars is people being too trusting. It can be tempting for a driver to use autopilot as a scapegoat to relax and completely ignore the road, when in reality, companies like Tesla strictly advise drivers using autonomous mode to concentrate on the road ahead. It also presents an opportunity for drivers to shift the blame of their actions on the technology in the vehicle, which puts companies like Tesla in a difficult position where it has to defend itself against tough questions about its responsibility in collisions.

When Google tested its self-driving car prototype a few years ago on its employees, the testers noticed that once behind the wheel of the modified Lexus SUV, the drivers quickly got distracted with rummaging through their bags or playing on their phones and taking their hands off the steering wheel – all while travelling on a freeway at 60mp/h.

“Within about five minutes, everybody thought the car worked well, and after that, they just trusted it to work,” said Chris Urmon, head of Google’s self-driving car program. “It got to the point where people were doing ridiculous things in the car.” After witnessing these incidents, Google opted to work on its algorithms until they are completely human proof before allowing people to use its autonomous technology in public.

The important thing to remember, in reference to the recent incident with Mr. Neally, is that his Tesla’s autonomous mode increased his chances of survival by taking away the burden of having to drive the vehicle the whole way to the hospital himself, but he still had to drive at the end. In its current form, autopilot mode is only able to be used for navigating highways. Even companies as advanced as Tesla are still far from producing a completely autonomous vehicle that needs no assistance at all.

 

Published in Reports