An hour after debut, driverless Vegas shuttle bus gets into fender bender

Explain this one to the insurance agent

Someday, as we whiz down the road in our levitating mag-lev self-driving orb-cars while spending times with friends in Virtual Facebook World, we’ll look back on that bygone era of early self-driving cars and chuckle at their primitive technology, like that time in Las Vegas when they deployed an early self-driving shuttle bus, and one of the first things it did was get hit by a truck driven by a careless human.

The self-driving people mover was on the road for just over an hour when it apparently came to a stop near a delivery truck that was backing up. Problem was it stayed stopped as the human driver of the truck promptly backed into it at low speed. Fortunately, no one was hurt in either vehicle. So… who’s fault was it?

The city of Las Vegas weighed in by saying that if the human-driven delivery truck would have had the same sensor suite – and by extension, a robot driver – like the robotic shuttle, there would not have been a collision. Supporters of human drivers might claim that if a fleshy bio-pod would have been at the wheel of the shuttle, it would’ve backed the vehicle out of harm’s way. So, self-driving vehicles are the future? They are. But maybe not quite the immediate future.

Print, wrap, connect

Got some dead spots in your wifi coverage? Who doesn’t. So what to do, outside of investing in a super-spendy My-mo wifi router or creating your own in-home router mesh network, which also isn’t cheap – or easy to do? Researchers at Dartmouth have combined a trick as old as time with the latest tech to help solve the problem. That’s right, they 3D-printed up some specially shaped reflectors and then turned to the ultimate tech tool: tin foil.

By wrapping the reflectors in foil and pointing them toward the wifi dead zones, the Dartmouth team was able to boost the wifi signal by up to 55 percent. Most impressive! Now, you’ll need to work up a 3D map of your house using Google Tango or Microsoft’s Hololens, and after that, your PC needs to do some heavy lifting to come up with the right shape for the reflector. We’ve got the full rundown on how it was done and what to do, so go here to get started.

It’s supposed to be a timesuck

If you think the people that built Facebook were just a bunch of college kids looking to hook friends up for a good time back in the day, you’d be right, but what Facebook has become is something quite a bit different – and very much intentional. That’s the word from Sean Parker, the founding president of the social network, which was created by Mark Zuckerberg. Parker recently talked about the history and magnitude of Facebook at an Axios event.

With a user base on its way to nearly half the people on Earth, it’s pretty clear Facebook is the digital addiction of our time, and Parker had some interesting tales, insights and even some regrets at the event, where he talked about the history and future of the portal. Parker touched on many aspects of Facebook, including how it very much intentionally works to make people use the service more and more, and how he fears it may be affecting young people.

It’s a good read and there’s a video of his remarks as well, so check it out, and be sure to check out the Digital Trends Facebook page just as soon as you can and for as long as you can…

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.