Ford is setting up for an autonomous ride-hail and delivery business in Miami

An Argo AI-powered Ford vehicle driving down the streets of Miami.

The company is beginning to test its cars in a delivery service, mapping out the streets for a driverless ride-hail service, and has set up a fleet-management center.

Ford is laying the groundwork for its autonomous vehicle business in Miami, Fl. It’s a three-pronged approach that is still in its infancy, but includes a delivery pilot in partnership with Dominos and Postmates, testing self-driving cars around the city, and setting up a fleet-management center.

Many other companies in the self-driving space have begun testing both delivery and ride-hail services, but few have established dedicated fleet-management centers that will facilitate the maintenance and operation of these driverless vehicles. Determining how best to manage a fleet of driverless vehicles will figure largely in any company’s ability to launch and expand its service.

Without drivers, the company has to determine who or what will take on both the responsibility and the costs of maintaining these vehicles. There’s no longer an Uber driver in the front seat to take the car to get detailed on their own dime.

Sherif Marakby, Ford’s VP of autonomous vehicles and electrification, said the company has yet to decide whether it will operate this network of fleet-management centers on its own or partner with another company.

“We can do it in many different ways,” Marakby told Recode. “We’re going to be open to that, but for us to learn how it works and what the issues are, we needed to do it on our own for the first time.”

Other companies have opted to work with car-rental companies with an existing network of locations.

Alphabet’s self-driving arm, Waymo, for instance partnered with Avis — a deal that gives Waymo access to both places to store their cars when they’re not in use, as well as a nationwide web of maintenance and repair shops. Apple, long rumored to be working on self-driving cars, struck a deal with Hertz. General Motors, on the other hand, operates its own car-sharing service called Maven that could serve the same purpose for its self-driving arm, Cruise.

This self-driving terminal, as Marakby referred to it, helps build a foundation upon which Ford can launch both its driverless ride-hail and delivery services by 2021. Marakby contends that this announcement indicates that Ford has launched its business in the city.

“We’re not announcing going to our first city,” he said. “We’re announcing that we are in the first city. We have a depot, we’re mapping the city and we’re operating a business.”

However, the other two prongs of its launch are largely foundational.

Like most other companies in the self-driving space, Ford will begin testing its self-driving cars on public roads. In Miami, however, the cars — powered by self-driving startup Argo.AI, which Ford bought a majority stake in — are still mostly mapping out the city’s streets for now. The company said they are also operating in a closed loop in autonomous mode.

Those cars will eventually be available in a commercial ride-hail network. The company recently partnered with Lyft and is currently working on creating the interface for the system and the API into the company’s network, Marakby said. There’s no word on when consumers will be able to hail a Ford vehicle on the Lyft app just yet.

At the same time, Ford is beginning a test of its delivery partnerships with Dominos and Postmates, but it won’t be autonomous at first. Instead, the company is simply trying to learn more about the customer interactions with a delivery vehicle. The company is attempting to understand things like how far customers are willing to walk to a car to get their delivery, for instance.

In the pilot phase, there will be two separate fleets dedicated to either delivery or ride-hail, but Marakby said that could change once the company launches the businesses, depending on the volume of deliveries or goods that need to be delivered.

If a vehicle that Ford is building from the ground up to be autonomous has a high rate of utilization by a delivery partner, then it will likely only serve in that delivery partner’s fleet. If not, those vehicles could serve multiple purposes.

“By bringing all of our different development tracks together to test in unison, we’re putting ourselves in the best position to analyze our execution, determine what works well and improve what doesn’t,” Marakby wrote in a blog post. “This way, we can quickly expand our service and take it to other cities when the time comes.”

Recode – All

Next week’s T-Mobile Tuesday will include Auntie Anne’s pretzel deal, grand prize trip to Miami

Next Tuesday is just a few days away, and now we know exactly what gifts and prizes T-Mobile will have in store for it. For the January 9th edition of T-Mobile Tuesdays, T-Mo customers will get either a free original pretzel or a Buy One, Get One pretzel deal from Auntie Anne’s. Free pretzels will be given every week from January 9th through January 30th, so you’ll need to check back each week to see when … [read full article]

The post Next week’s T-Mobile Tuesday will include Auntie Anne’s pretzel deal, grand prize trip to Miami appeared first on TmoNews.


Miami Art Basel: where art reckons with technology

The Moon glowed against tufts of eerie night clouds. A few hundred people joined Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta, the Dutch founders of Studio Drift to wait in anticipation. If the winds kicked up, the hours of work invested in their installation would be for naught, but the sea looked calm. At 10PM an illuminated pack of 300 drones rose above the Miami beach shoreline, over high-rise hotels, and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean horizon.

The work was called “Franchise Freedom” and what was most impressive about it was the impact. The drones hovered in the night sky and moved in formation. In synchronicity, they became objects of delicate beauty, like the migratory birds they mimicked. It wasn’t the technical feat to make drones fly…

Continue reading…

The Verge – All Posts

First public art exhibition using Apple’s ARKit to open in Miami on Dec. 5

Article Image

Perez Art Museum Miami will be home to the first-ever public exhibition using Apple’s ARKit, leveraging iOS devices to showcase how augmented reality can be used to create new forms of expression.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

The Washington Post, Miami Herald, InfoWars and other U.S. sites spread Russian propaganda from Twitter

Tweets from 2,752 fake Twitter accounts created by Russian government trolls found their way into U.S. news stories.

The tweet that opened a story in the Washington Post on Feb. 11, 2016 seemed innocuous: It was an attempt to illustrate Syrian territory occupied by clashing government and ISIS forces.

Problem is, the account behind that tweet — @WarfareWW — was one of 2,752 Twitter trolls identified this week as tied to the Russian government and suspended for spreading disinformation.

U.S. lawmakers are probing the extent of the Kremlin’s campaign to disrupt last year’s presidential election and have focused their latest efforts on tech platforms like Twitter.

But new data show that many news publications — from established outfits like the Post, the Miami Herald (owned by McClatchy), Buzzfeed, CBS and even Vox, to controversial alt-right hubs like InfoWars — were duped into citing some of these nefarious tweets in their coverage, perhaps unwittingly amplifying the reach of Russian propaganda.

The Post was one of the most prominent news organizations to include the bogus, misleading tweets in their stories. On at least eight occasions since early 2016, the paper cited Twitter accounts that since have been pegged as Kremlin-sponsored trolls, according to an analysis by Recode with the aid of Meltwater, a media-intelligence firm.

To perform the study, Meltwater analyzed online news sources in the U.S. — from major sites and services like the Associated Press to community pages like Patch — between Jan. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017. It specifically sought to identify accounts that have been linked to the Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin’s online troll army.

The firm recorded those pages at the time of their publication. Some of the links are now defunct. And it’s impossible to know if the tweets were written by Russian trolls at the time they ended up in stories at the Post or elsewhere, or if the accounts were genuine for a time — then later hijacked by Russia’s IRA — before being shuttered.

In many cases, though, the tweets were presented as authentic community voices on an issue — the digital man-on-the-street interview, so to speak. And some still live intact online.

Brought to the Post’s attention, the newspaper on Thursday night updated at least one of its stories — its piece on Syria. It replaced the troll tweet in question with a note flagging that it had been tied to the Russian government.

And the Post’s executive editor, Marty Baron, told Recode on Friday that his newspaper would rethink the way it approaches tweets in stories.

“Obviously, we regret linking to any Twitter account that we have learned is illegitimate,” he said in a statement. “We’ll seek to rectify any stories that contain such links, and we’ll now assess our policy regarding the publication of links to Twitter accounts.”

Twitter declined to comment.

Other affected stories include a 2016 piece about Sen. Ted Cruz. The Post sought to parse online criticism of the lawmaker, after he accused Donald Trump during the GOP presidential primary of harboring “New York values.”

Cruz’s comment suggested Trump secretly endorsed NYC-style liberalism, and the paper quoted a number of tweets, including one from the account @jenn_abrams, which appeared to describe their outrage at Cruz’s comment. That account is a troll. Some time after its inclusion in the Post story, it was suspended on Twitter.

In a March 2017 piece, meanwhile, the Post cited a tweet from @SouthLoneStar as an example of racist, alt-right trolling online. That’s certainly a problem on Twitter, no stranger to such abuse — but the account is the work of Russian agents that are unidentified in the story.

The same account cropped up in a number of other stories, including a post by The Hill in February 2017. There, the tweet encouraged readers to buy Ivanka Trump’s line of jewelry.

To that end, the extent of the Kremlin’s disinformation efforts — and its leap from the depths of social media to the webpages of the country’s most well-read publications — raised alarms with top Democrats investigating Russia’s disinformation campaign.

“The fact that these fake accounts were able to fool legitimate news outlets into repeating their messages shows just how difficult it is for even well-informed Americans to identify Russian-produced propaganda on social media,” said Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on his chamber’s intel panel, in a statement to Recode.

“The extent to which legitimate, mainstream news outlets picked up and amplified Russian misinformation is an illustration of its pernicious reach,” he said.

The reach is so vast that other respected news brands did not escape unscathed, either.

Consider a story by the news service McClatchy on Dec. 1 about “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, who had sparred with conservative talking head Tomi Lahren about Black Lives Matter. The recap, which appeared on a number of McClatchy-owned sites like the Miami Herald, included a tweet from the account @BlackToLive.

Twitter has since identified that handle as tied to Russia’s official troll farm, the IRA. In many cases, including the @BlackToLive account, such trolls specifically sought to pose as activists or other organizations on both sides of debates about touchy subjects like immigration, gun control, gay rights and race.

Another tweet from @BlackToLive appeared on CBS Sports in a story this August about Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who has been protesting racial inequality. Months after that story ran, U.S. lawmakers began to realize that the account and other, similar Russian trolls had been trying to stoke tensions around pro football’s anthem demonstrations.

“Throughout the 2016 election and since, it’s clear that Russian online efforts have some very real impact in shaping news coverage, as we saw recently with the NFL protests,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Recode this week. “We may never know the full effect of the Russians’ pernicious efforts online, but we must continue to expose these tactics wherever possible and inoculate ourselves against future interference.”

Even, a sister site of Recode, was not immune: A tweet from a Russian troll appeared in an October 2016 piece about Emmett Till. (Vox Media owns Vox and Recode.)

Nor was Buzzfeed. One story from November 2016 featured a tweet about “an illegal alien trying to vote” from a since-suspended, Russian-linked account. The piece, however, called out the substance of that tweet as false. Another, from around the 2016 presidential election, included a tweet from the Kremlin-supported @BlackToLive account.

And in many cases, conservative-leaning or alt-right sites peddled considerable Russian disinformation. Kremlin troll accounts appeared repeatedly over two years on Infowars, the infamous, conspiracy-minded site helmed by Alex Jones.

It also surfaced at The Daily Caller. This August, the publication sought to raise hell around Charlie Hebdo, a satirical publication in France. The piece accused the French newspaper of making light of those affected earlier this year by Tropical Storm Harvey. (“God Exists! He Drowned All the Neo-Nazis of Texas,” read the headline in question.)

To make its point, The Daily Caller pointed to negative reactions from folks including Twitter user @thefoundingson. That account has been identified as a Russian government troll.

On certain days, Russia’s disinformation efforts appeared to have exceptional reach. That included Dec. 1, 2016, when Russia-backed Twitter accounts were cited in 164 stories, according to Meltwater data. A key driver appears to have been Patch, which is controlled by investment firm Hale Global with minority ownership by Verizon’s Oath. The subject: Cereal-maker Kellogg’s had ceased advertising on the alt-right site Breitbart.

The widely duplicated piece included tweets from @TEN_GOP. For months, that account sought to impersonate the official Republican Party of Tennessee, until Twitter shut it down in August 2017. Its widespread disinformation efforts recently have been chronicled by a number of publications, including HuffPost.

A similarly named account — @10_gop — surfaced in a story about Hurricane Irma that ran in the Independent Journal Review this September, and another about immigration surfaced that same month in The Blaze. Even President Trump once retweeted the Russian troll account.

The second-biggest day for these Russian-tied Twitter trolls came on Aug. 17, 2016, Meltwater data show, with 140 mentions in news stories across the web. Some of those stories focused on Russia bombing Syria, and they cited tweets from @WarfareWW, the same handle that had appeared in the Post months earlier. Perhaps its interest in Syria is no accident: Russia had been an ardent supporter of its leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Since then, though, the handle has been shuttered, and some of the stories citing it — which also appeared on sites like the Idaho Press-Tribune and the Missourian — have disappeared online.

To lawmakers, at least, these and other tweets still illustrate the sheer pervasiveness of Russia’s efforts — and the reasons why tech companies and others must act swiftly to guard against future attempts to meddle in U.S. politics.

“Those who have tried to downplay the potential influence these fake accounts had on American voters ought to reflect upon the many ways in which these messages were echoed and intensified across several platforms,” Sen. Warner told Recode.

Recode – All

Recode Daily: Hurricane Irma takes aim at Miami, and hackers stole Equifax data from 143 million U.S. consumers

Plus, Facebook cooperates with special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian election interference, and Siri finds a new voice.

Hurricane Irma scraped past Puerto Rico and is headed toward Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous county. Called one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, Irma devastated the islands of the Caribbean. Google Maps is marking road closures in real time ahead of the storm’s U.S. landfall, projected for Sunday morning. [The New York Times]

Hackers breached Equifax, accessing sensitive data from 143 million U.S. consumers. Equifax, one of the three major consumer credit-reporting agencies, acknowledged a data breach left credit card, Social Security and driver’s license numbers and other sensitive information vulnerable. Three senior Equifax executives, including the CFO, sold shares worth almost $ 1.8 million soon after the company discovered the breach on July 29. [Tony Romm / Recode]

Facebook has turned over all information about U.S. election ads it believes were bought by Russians operatives to former FBI director Robert Mueller, the special counsel in charge of investigating alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. On Wednesday, Facebook said it had shut down several hundred accounts believed to be created by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin and used to buy $ 100,000 in ads pushing divisive issues during and after the election campaign.[Michelle Castillo / CNBC]

Amazon wants to build a second HQ in North America, and said it would start soliciting bids from cities for a complex that would house up to 50,000 employees. But the online retail giant’s pursuit of tax credits to build quickly got some pushback from Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley; Khanna cautioned that it would become a “race to the bottom” if cities tried to woo Amazon by offering overly favorable financial terms. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]

Two-thirds of American adults are getting their news from social media — 67 percent, exactly, more than ever before. Among the platforms, Facebook dominates, with 45 percent getting news on the social network; YouTube is next, with 18 percent; followed by Twitter, with 11 percent. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

The familiar voice of Siri will sound noticeably different when iOS 11 hits millions of iPhones and iPads next week. After auditioning and sampling the voices of hundreds of people, Apple’s voice-controlled assistant now takes more pauses in sentence, knows more languages and generally sounds less robotic and more human. Chinese researchers recently found that they could command and potentially hack Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and other voice devices using a frequency too high for humans to hear.[David Pierce / Wired]

Top stories from Recode

There’s a new rival to the mostly male networking organizations that make deals happen in Silicon Valley.
Prominent voices are about to blast “self-perpetuating men’s clubs” as sexist social institutions.

Here’s how Alphabet’s self-driving cars learn to navigate a tricky intersection.
When the self-driving car comes across something it’s never seen, engineers recreate it in simulation.

U.S. college students can now buy a Spotify/Hulu bundle for $ 5 a month.
That would normally cost at least $ 13 a month. It may also be a new business model for Spotify.

Fixed broadband speeds are getting faster — what’s fastest in your city?
Comcast’s Xfinity is the fastest ISP nationwide, CenturyLink the slowest.

Which Android phone should I buy?
On the latest Too Embarrassed to Ask, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn talks with Kara Swisher and Lauren Goode about the new Android phones coming out this fall, including the recently released Samsung Galaxy Note 8, the company’s first Note-branded device since last year’s exploding-phone debacle.

This is cool

How many times has your personal information been exposed to hackers?

Recode – All

You’ll need your phone to get into Miami Heat home games

You can't collect ticket stubs for Miami Heat home games anymore, because the team is shifting to mobile-only entry. Even if buy your ticket from American Airlines Arena's box office, you'll still have to present your phone at the entrance to get in….
Engadget RSS Feed

Uber CEO Kalanick advised employees on sex rules for a company celebration in 2013 ‘Miami letter’

“Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS …”

In what is arguably an unusual email for the very top executive to send to employees, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick advised his staff in case they decided to have sex at a company outing in Miami in 2013.

Internally called the “Miami letter,” it is a saucy rulebook for the then 400 employees at the company, who were headed to Florida’s Shore Club for what was a party-focused celebration of the car-hailing company’s success.

Titled: “URGENT, URGENT – READ THIS NOW OR ELSE!!!!!,” he also noted at the top: “You better read this or I’ll kick your ass.”

The event, which came after Uber rolled out its 50th global city, used a Chinese symbol for the number nine. “It is a symbol that has internal meaning at Uber but is something we do not discuss externally,” wrote Kalanick.

Let us translate for you from the original bro language: It means a goal to reach a billion-dollar run rate, or 10 to the 9th, which Uber did that year just before the party.

Among the dos that Kalanick advised: “Have a great fucking time. This is a celebration! We’ve all earned it.” He also noted that “Miami’s transportation sucks ass,” the first shot in what became a battle to have Uber serve that city.

That was the tame part of the email, which Kalanick actually sent again the next year when there were 1,800 employees at Uber.

The don’ts advice was much more specific, giving information about everything from vomiting (a $ 200 “puke charge”) to drug use to throwing beer kegs off buildings to, well, proper fornication between employees (and sometimes, apparently, more than one).

Wrote Kalanick: “Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic ‘YES! I will have sex with you’ AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML.”

FML, in internet slang, means “Fuck my life.” Welcome to Silicon Valley startup culture.

According to sources, while many companies send out warning emails before events, Kalanick was advised not to send this email because of its tone, which some execs thought too cavalier. Some worried that building a global public company required a more mature tone from the CEO.

Still others thought it contributed to an increasingly pervasive culture of sexism at the company, where some did not welcome the top execs making persistent jokes about partying. In fact, it was at the Florida event that one top exec got in trouble for inappropriate sexual behavior, which resulted in his firing earlier this year after complaints.

The reason the email has also gotten more pertinent recently is because two law firms — Perkins Coie and Covington & Burling — working on investigations about corporate misbehavior at Uber have the email and are looking at whether it helped created the party atmosphere that led to the sexism and sexual harassment, as well as general corporate mismanagement.

But sources said Kalanick was proud of his letter to the team and spoke about it often. But later staff memos about company gatherings were much less frat brother in tone. Ahead of one in Las Vegas, when Uber had 4,000 people going, then head of policy and communications Rachel Whetstone told staffers to be discrete and also to be respectful to hotel staff.

She wrote:

I understand that some of these feel like tough rules but it will be much more fun for everyone (not just the comms team) if the media leaves us alone for the week. And while staying under the radar might feel like wishful thinking, other equally prominent companies have managed to do this successfully in the past. Travis and ATeam have all agreed that there will be serious consequences for folks who fall foul of these guidelines.

Here is the Kalanick letter in its entirety about Miami, so you can be the judge of the difference:

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Travis Kalanick

Date: Friday, October 25, 2013


To: Uber Team

Hey guys, I wanted to get some important information out there. I’ve put together a Q&A that we can use when other folks ask what we’re doing here, and have some DOs and DON’Ts for our time here in Miami.

You better read this or I’ll kick your ass.


Q&A – If I’ve missed anything, or you just have a random question, please reply to all on this thread!

Q: What is Uber doing here?

A: Uber has recently rolled out to its 50th global city. We are celebrating this company milestone and others and have organized a local grassroots movement to help bring Uber to Miami. #MiamiNeedsUber

Q: What does the Chinese symbol 九 stand for?

A: 九 translates to the number 9. It is a symbol that has internal meaning at Uber but is something we do not discuss externally.

Q: Is this an Internet bubble boondoggle?

A: It’s a celebration of a major milestone for the company, as well as a chance for us to hold a company-wide retreat and organize our efforts globally. It’s the one time that everyone in the company can meet in person all the people we work with every day.


I have gotten a list of concerns from the legal department. I have translated these concerns into a clear set of common sense guidelines. I’ve also added a few items of my own.


1) No lives should begin or end at 九

2) We do not have a budget to bail anyone out of jail. Don’t be that guy. #CLM

3) Do not throw large kegs off of tall buildings. Please talk to Ryan McKillen and Amos Barreto for specific insights on this topic.

4) Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic “YES! I will have sex with you” AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML

5) Drugs and narcotics will not be tolerated unless you have the appropriate medicinal licensing.

6) There will be a $ 200 puke charge for any public displays on the Shore Club premises. Shore Club will be required to send pictures as proof.

7) DO NOT TALK TO PRESS. Send all press inquiries to Andrew – Additionally, stay vigilant about making sure people don’t infiltrate our event. If and when you find yourself talking to a non-Uber (look for the wristband), keep confidential stuff confidential… no rev figures, driver figures, trip figures… don’t talk about internal process, and don’t talk about initiatives that have not already launched.



1) Have a great fucking time. This is a celebration! We’ve all earned it.

2) Share good music. Digital DJs are encouraged to share their beats poolside.

3) Go out of your way to meet as many of your fellow uberettos as you can.

4) If you haven’t figured it out yet, Miami’s transportation sucks ass. #Slang as many Miamians, drivers, influencers as you can as passionately as you can and let them know why Uber will make this great city an even better place. Every slang matters. #MiamiNeedsUber…

5) If someone asks to meet the CEO and Founder of Uber, kindly introduce him to Max Crowley.

Recode – All