Uber: Our self-driving semi trucks are already on the road in Arizona

So many Windows

Microsoft has come in for a bit of criticism for the “S” version of Windows 10, and now they’re going to change things up next year for the “lite” version of the OS. According to BGR, the “S” version of Windows will be a “mode” of Windows users can opt for in the future – or buy their way out of.

Because here’s the thing: The S version of Windows is actually a full version of the OS operating in a sort of a restricted mode that only allows the use of the Edge browser and “first party” apps from the Microsoft App store. But the whole OS is still there, waiting to be unleashed, which BGR says will cost $50 if you want to upgrade to the Pro version with all restrictions removed.

Let’s face it, for some people, the S version is all the OS they’ll ever need, and since it limits exposure to some of the tech nastiness out there, we can’t say it’s a bad thing. But, at least there will be options in the future.

Let Google Google it

Ever been traveling and seen something cool and wondered what it was, or what the story is behind it? Well, if there’s no roadside placard explaining things, just whip out your Android phone and fire up Google Photos, which now incorporates Google Lens, the search giant’s now widely available AI-powered helper that can identify things you point your phone’s camera at. It can also translate text such as road signs and those all-important foreign food menus.

Google says the Lens feature is out today for higher-end Android devices that have enough horsepower to run it and are updated to the latest version of Google Photos. An iOS version is also in the works, although no release date has yet been specified.

Once again, The Simpsons predicts the future

Remember how Uber bought up that self-driving semi tech company called Otto? The technology driving the trucks was one of many elements in the Waymo-Uber court battle, but while we were all distracted by the ongoing lawyering, Otto – now Uber Freight – was actually out making deliveries in Arizona using real self-driving semi trucks.

As Uber Freight explains it, actual truck drivers pick up the loads like normal, but then hand it off to a self-driving truck for the “long-haul” part of the trip. There’s still a driver in the self-driving truck at this point, but as the semi is going down the open road, he – or she – is mostly just along for the ride. Near the end of the journey, another human trucker picks up the load for the more technical delivery part of the trip.

Uber says this “hand-off” system will eventually be common, and will retain the need for truck drivers, while improving efficiency, safety and speeding up shipments – because robot drivers don’t need to sleep. They’ve also shrunk the tech need to drive the truck down to a smaller package as well. This system makes good sense, actually. It lessens the stress on long-haul drivers, and would seem to increase safety.

For now, there will always be a driver on board, but in the future, Uber thinks that the “long haul” part of the delivery could be done without a human minder, with truckers completing the loading and unloading parts of the cycle, which would give them more time to be at home – something any trucker will tell you is the one thing they miss most while out on the road.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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