San Francisco Airport uses tech to meet runway safety standards

For the most part, major airports like San Francisco International avoid closing runways whenever possible. But on May 17, SFO will cut its number of active runways in half just as the summer travel season begins.

The reason isn't the low clouds that often slow air traffic at the Bay Area's largest airport, but rather the last phase of a $214 million project designed to bring SFO's runways up to federal safety standards. Airport officials insist the project will result in only minimal delays, but a looming deadline to complete the work means that the airport has … Read more

With VTOL X-Planes, DARPA aims for a futuristic lift

The helicopters of the future may not look much like helicopters at all, at least in one scheme that DARPA is cooking up.

That's because DARPA, the arm of the Pentagon known for its fanciful and even sci-fi approach to military technology, wants "radical improvements" in aircraft that are capable, as helicopters are and fixed-wing planes are not, of vertical takeoff and landing, or VTOL.

The brainstorming agency has now moved a bit closer to realizing its vertical-lift ambitions. Through its VTOL X-Plane program, DARPA has awarded contracts to four companies -- heavyweights Boeing and Sikorsky, and … Read more

Volvo cars become road maintenance probes

Many automakers and governments are developing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, which lets cars instantly communicate safety information to traffic in the immediate vicinity, but Volvo puts a uniquely Swedish spin on the tech with a new pilot project. Its cars will communicate data from wheel-slip sensors to not only alert other cars to icy road conditions, but also to road maintenance authorities.

Volvo announced that 50 cars would participate in the pilot program, and that the "fleet would grow considerably" for next winter. The program is being run in conjunction with the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public … Read more

New Jersey joins Arizona and Texas in Tesla sales ban

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) met today to approve a new regulation banning Tesla from selling its Model S in the state. The ban will take effect on April 1. Two other states, Arizona and Texas, enforce similar rules that prevent auto manufacturers from making direct sales to consumers.

As CNET covered in an earlier story, Tesla had been in talks with New Jersey administration officials and the NJMVC over the rule change. On Monday, the NJMVC abruptly notified Tesla that it would meet to approve the rule change at a session today, bypassing a legislative process.

The … Read more

Tesla fighting dealer rule change in New Jersey

If you were planning to buy a Tesla Model S in New Jersey, you might have to go to New York. On Monday, New Jersey fast-tracked a rule change that would effectively eliminate direct sales from a manufacturer such as Tesla to consumers. The new regulation was supported by an association of New Jersey auto dealers.

Tesla currently has two stores and one service center in New Jersey. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJMVC) had, up to this week, approved licenses for the stores to sell vehicles. Tesla had been in discussions with the NJMVC and members of the … Read more

Drones allowed to fly the US skies, for now

Drone enthusiasts should get flying while they can. All commercial use of small drones became legal in the US on Thursday -- but it's unclear how long it will last.

National Transportation Safety Board Judge Patrick Geraghty ruled Thursday that the Federal Aviation Administration's six-year ban on drone flying isn't actually legally binding, according to Motherboard. This means people are now allowed to fly small unmanned aerial devices.

The ruling centers on a case in which the FAA fined drone-maker and Team BlackSheep founder Raphael Pirker $10,000 for filming the University of Virginia campus with a … Read more

This 'Back to the Future' hoverboard will blow your mind

A hoverboard, like the wondrously 1980s pink variety Marty McFly cruises on in "Back to the Future Part II," is universally accepted as the most awesome thing we don't yet have. The wheel-less skateboard that floats above the ground and travels as if by magic has even become a bit of a pop culture trope recently for semi-sarcastically lamenting the slowness of technological innovation, of wanting the future right now. Sure, we have cell phone computers, car-sized roving science labs on Mars, and gigantic particle accelerators capable of recreating miniature versions of the Big Bang, but a hoverboard? Now that will be the day.

Unfortunately, anyone who stumbled onto a quickly-going-viral video Tuesday from a mysterious company called HUVr were probably devastatingly disappointed to learn, almost immediately depending on your incredulousness, that it was too good to be true. The hoverboards in the video don't just surpass the most advanced superconducting research of as little as three years ago, but blow it completely out of the water.… Read more

Tesla Model S wins 'best overall' car by Consumer Reports

The story of Tesla is a bit like that of "The Little Engine That Could." It's a smaller company, which makes a product different than the rest, that's been working to stay afloat in a world of giant car companies.

Well, it appears Tesla has just made it over the mountain.

The company's all-electric Model S sedan was selected by Consumer Reports as 2014's "best overall" car.

Here's what Consumer Reports writes about the car:

Sure, you can talk about this electric luxury car's blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling, compliant ride, … Read more

Rolls Royce said to be developing drone cargo ships

Who needs maritime crews to run cargo ships?

That seems to be the question Rolls-Royce is trying to ask, as it works to develop what amounts to drone freighters, ships that could one day radically disrupt the massive global shipping industry.

According to Bloomberg, Rolls-Royce's Blue Ocean development team has been working on the drone freighters in a bid to make shipping cheaper, cleaner, and safer. The organization is running a virtual-reality prototype at an office in Norway that mimics a 360-degree view from the ship's bridge. Bloomberg reported that the ships could be deployed in regions like … Read more

'The map comes alive': Nokia Here boss dreams of drones, self-driving cars

BARCELONA, Spain -- "Mapping 1.0 is done," says the head of Nokia Here. He envisions a world of constantly-updating, infinitesimally precise maps guiding us on through the world on our smartwatches and smartphones, as self-driving cars zoom past and delivery drones soar overhead.

"First we had paper maps with lots of colourful lines," says Christof Hellmis, head of map platforms at Nokia Here, "but now the world is moving to the next generation of maps, which will be 3D, and will include Augmented Reality, like our CityLens app."

I met with Hellmis at … Read more