500 Intel drones to replace fireworks above Travis Air Force Base for Fourth of July

The Fourth of July will be a little different tomorrow at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif. Instead of fireworks, 500 Intel Shooting Star drones will take to the sky to perform an aerial routine in honor of the holiday and the base’s 75th anniversary.

These are the same drones that preformed at Disney World, the Super Bowl and the Olympics.

One person controls the fleet of drones thanks to a sophisticated control platform that pre-plans the route of each drone. Intel engineers told me that the system can control an unlimited amount of drones. In the version I saw, the drones used GPS to stay in place and the drones lacked any collision detection sensors.

It’s an impressive show of technology. I was in attendance for the first show at Disney World and the drones are a wonderful alternative to fireworks. Sure, fireworks are a Fourth of July tradition, but they can’t do the things these drones can do, plus, because they’re much more quiet, more people can enjoy the show.
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Smart ForTwo Electric Drive quick spin review

For $24,650, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive — I’ll decline to make any jokes about the ED initials of early electric Smart models, but know that the humor is not lost on me — offers up a range of 58 miles on a full charge of its 17.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. We’ll get back to that little specification shortly. What little forward thrust is available comes from a three-phase synchronous electric motor that produces 80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. 0-60 takes 11.4 agonizing seconds, and the top speed is mercifully limited to 81 miles per hour. My test car was equipped with a few options that pushed its price up to $29,810 and added an ironic “Passion” script just ahead of the side-view mirrors.

We’ll address the elephant in the room right now. For $30,875, the 2018 Nissan Leaf offers more range — in fact, at 151 miles, almost three times as much range — more power, more seats, [...]  read more

Back to life: ZTE’s 7-year ban gets eased by the US government

ZTE is getting a reprieve on its ‘death sentence’ today, as the US government has begun to ease the seven-year ban on American companies doing business with the Chinese company.

It’s a limited repeal of April 15’s Denial Order against the Shenzhen-based company , according to an authorization order put out by the US Department of Commerce.

This means ZTE will be able to fix existing networks and equipment, work to disclose cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and support phones already in the marketplace with software updates. ZTE also has the power for a limited transfer of funds.

Today’s Commerce order not only limits ZTE in the scope of what it can do (it can’t make and sell new smartphones, for example), but it also expires on August 1. That gives ZTE less than a month to fix and update software on existing equipment.

The end to the seven-year ban for ZTE seems to be in sight, however. US President Trump tweeted in May that he and China’s President [...]  read more

Facebook quietly relaunches Apps For Groups platform after lockdown

Facebook is becoming a marketplace for enterprise apps that help Group admins manage their communities.

To protect itself and its users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook locked down the Groups API for building apps for Groups. These apps had to go through a human-reviewed approval process, and lost access to Group member lists, plus the names and profile pics of people who posted. Now, approved Groups Apps are reemerging on Facebook, accessible to admins through a new in-Facebook Groups apps browser that gives the platform control over discoverability.

Facebook confirmed the new Group apps browser after our inquiry, telling TechCrunch “What you’re seeing today is related to changes we announced in April that require developers to go through an updated app review process in order to use the Groups API. As part of this, some developers who have gone through the review process are now able to access the Groups API.”

Facebook wouldn’t comment further, but [...]  read more

The Bitter Battle to Turn an Old Factory Into a 21st Century ‘Eco-Village’

This story originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Ford’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul, Minnesota opened in 1925 to build Model Ts in a state-of-the-art facility powered by a hydroelectric dam on the Mississippi River. At its peak, the factory employed 1,800 well-paid UAW workers in a 2 million-square-foot facility about 7 miles from both downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis. When the last vehicle, a Ranger pickup truck, rolled off its line just before Christmas in 2011, it was Ford Motors’ oldest factory. About 7 million vehicles were built here over 86 years.

The closure left behind an economic hole in St. Paul, and a formidable environmental challenge: The site was laced with residue from decades of automaking—petroleum compounds, paint solvents, lead, and arsenic.

Today, all that remains of the Ford factory is an expansive tract of bare land in the middle of the middle-class Highland Park neighborhood, where a lone smokestack [...]  read more