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Uber Wants Self-Driving Scooters and More Car News This Week

Yeah, WIRED Transportation loves new car tech. But this week, we were all about alternatives to driving around on four wheels. We thought about what might make public transit more comfortable for more than half of the population—you know, women. We pondered the feasibility of self-riding bikes and scooters. (Uber is really working on them!) We wondered what might happen to the nation’s aviation system now that the federal government is open again—and came away depressed. And we took a close look at Amazon’s delivery robots. Why leave your house at all?

It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

A new analysis estimates that American cities will only be able to keep up with electric-vehicle charging demand if they build 20 percent more chargers—every year between now and 2025.Self-riding bikes and scooters sort of make sense, business-wise, but Uber’s new robotics team will have a hard time building them.Women said they avoided a new LA Metro light-rail line because they were worried about safety.Amazon will start testing adorable delivery robots in Washington state. But the retail giant will have plenty of technical and regulatory issues to iron out.Digital license plates are now allowed in more states than ever. Will car drivers ever really want them?Boeing engineers in Virginia got an electric “flying taxi”—OK, a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft—to hover in the air for less than a minute and land without incident. It doesn’t sound that cool, but the demo could be the Kitty Hawk moment for the flying car sector.The “multicultural toilet,” a number two solution to aviation’s number one problem.The federal government shutdown is over for now, but the aviation sector may feel its effects for months—maybe years.Out-of-Left-Field Hero of the Week

When was the last time New York’s LaGuardia Airport did something nice for you? The airport, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the country and was famously likened by former vice president Joe Biden to a “third world country”, may have played an instrumental role in the conclusion of the nation’s longest federal shutdown. On Friday the airport had to halt all traffic due to “staffing issues” at a nearby air traffic control center. Just hours later, President Trump said he and congressional leaders had reached an agreement to open the government for three weeks. Thanks, LaGuardia? (Also, the air traffic controllers.)

Stat of the Week30.5%

According to a new study by UCLA medical researchers, nearly a third of the 249 electric-scooter-related injuries that brought people to two LA-area hospitals between September 2017 and September 2018 were fractures—mostly arm, shoulder, and leg fractures. Other top injuries included head injuries (40.2 percent) and contusions and sprains (26.9 percent). Five patients were admitted to emergency hospitals with intracranial hemorrhaging.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

Apple lays off 200 workers from its ultra-secretive autonomous vehicle group, Project Titan.A passenger on Waymo One, Waymo’s “self-driving” car service in Arizona, gets real about the program’s limitations. (Reminder: There’s still a safety driver behind the wheel of these Waymo vehicles.)Business Insider reports California regulators fined Tesla almost $30,000 over safety issues related to a production tent in its Fremont factory.Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn steps down two months after his arrest by Japanese authorities for alleged financial crimes.Uber’s new rewards program is bad for traffic.In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canonFrom last year: Why use a car when you can ride a bike at 184 mph?

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WIRED

Why'd the Polar Vortex Cancel So Many Flights? 2019-01-31 20:39:48Freezing temperatures may not bother airplanes, but they are no good for the people on the ground who make them fly.

NYC Now Knows More Than Ever About Your 2019-01-31 18:18:27The city has an unusual amount of insight into what ride-hail companies do on its streets, and it uses the info to plan for the future.

Tesla Moves to Build the Model Y After 2019-01-30 20:03:03Elon Musk’s car company just announced its second profitable quarter in a row, but keeping the momentum going requires more focus on costs, and

Lyft Sues New York Over Driver Minimum Wage 2019-01-30 19:06:59The ride-hail company says the new rules, set to roll out Friday, would advantage the market leader—Uber.

CarVi Wants to Help Cure the Common Pothole 2019-01-30 09:00:00It would update its windshield-mounted devices to identify the scourges, then share the info with local governments.

Why Electric Cars Struggle in the Cold—and How 2019-01-30 07:00:00Cold weather is no fun for battery-powered cars, but experienced owners have a few tips for getting by when the mercury drops.

Mercedes’ EQC SUV Makes Everyday Electric Elite 2019-01-29 09:00:00With some clever tricks and flair-free styling, Mercedes sets off down the battery-powered path.

The Need for Carbon Fiber Could Ground the 2019-01-29 08:00:00The many companies racing to launch air taxis face the gnarliness of building aircraft from the lightweight but finicky material.

Los Angeles and Via Hook Up to Offer 2019-01-28 13:30:00The city and ride-share company are trialling a new service meant to get more people onto public transit.

Uber Wants Self-Driving Scooters and More Car News 2019-01-27 09:00:00Plus: Making public transit work better for women, the government shutdown messes with air traffic control, and more.

A 'Multicultural Toilet' and Other Innovations to Fix 2019-01-26 08:00:00This year's Crystal Cabin nominees offer new ways to make the most of precious space.

Ending the Government Shutdown Won't Fix Flight Delays 2019-01-25 18:45:10The shutdown will have longterm effects, likely pushing aging air traffic controllers to retire and slowing the training of their replacements.

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Daimler starts production of new gearbox in Romania 2019-02-08 09:12:00Daimler has started production of a new automatic gearbox type at its factory in Sebes, central Romania.

Paris open to reducing Renault stake in Nissan 2019-02-08 06:41:00The French government has informed Tokyo that it is willing to consider reducing Renault's stake in Nissan Motor as part of a broader review of the c

Daimler eyes closer ties with Geely 2019-02-08 06:17:00Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has said the carmaker was in talks about deepening cooperation with Volvo Cars and London Taxis parent Geely, though German

CATL to supply batteries for new Honda EV 2019-02-08 05:40:00Honda Motor has signed a new partnership agreement with Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to s

Tenneco appoints Denise Gray to board 2019-02-08 05:36:00Tenneco has appointed Denise Gray to its board of directors effective 1 March.

Skoda invests in developing EV infrastructure 2019-02-08 05:33:00Skoda is carrying out tests using more than 300 charging points to optimise charging infrastructure and charging times ahead of its EV launc

Navya and Insavalor open academy to develop AV 2019-02-08 05:25:00Navya and Insavalor, a subsidiary of Insa Lyon Research and Development have opened the Navya Academy by Insavalor to offer a range of training course

Russia growth stalls to 0.6% as VAT rise 2019-02-08 04:58:00Russia's remarkable run of surging sales came to something of a halt in January with a slender rise of just 0.6%.

Autoliv pays tribute to founder Lennart Lindblad 2019-02-08 03:59:00Autoliv has paid tribute to founder, Lennarat Lindblad, who has died aged 89.

PSA to acquire TravelCar 2019-02-08 03:52:00PSA says it is acquiring TravelCar, offering parking and car rental solutions two years after its equity investment in the start-up.

EC green lights Stena and Glovis joint venture 2019-02-08 03:47:00European Commission (EC) officials have approved, through the EU Merger Regulation, the creation of a joint venture by Stena Rederi of Sweden, part of

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New Special Edition Chiron Celebrates 110 Years of 2019-02-07 21:00:51Happy 110th, Bugatti—you don’t look a decade over 70. The France-based, German-owned brand originally founded by an Italian is celebrating

Mazda Miata Celebrates 30th Anniversary With Orange Special 2019-02-07 18:45:23The much-anticipated 30th Anniversary version of the delightful Mazda MX-5 Miata is here. Every example will be painted Racing Orange and feature oran

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Ford Spending Big to Make New Explorer, Lincoln 2019-02-07 15:15:33Ford is investing $1 billion at its Chicago assembly and stamping plants to make the next-generation 2020 Ford Explorer, 2020 Lincoln Aviator, and the

FCA Still Deciding on Midsize Ram Pickup Truck 2019-02-07 14:45:10Fiat Chrysler has released its full-year financial results for 2018. Although the results were positive, some analysts are worried FCA won’t ach

Ford vs. Chevrolet vs. Ram: Heavy-Duty Truck Prioritizer 2019-02-07 14:37:55Answering these eight simple questions can help you determine which of the new heavy-duty trucks is the best fit for you. Read about the new 2019 Ram

2020 Nissan Rogue Sport Gets Fresh Exterior Tweaks, 2019-02-07 14:30:16At the Chicago Auto Show, Nissan took the wraps off the 2020 Rogue Sport, which now comes standard with a full suite of active driver aids. Called Saf

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