Techlife News #503

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1 min
self-driving car pioneer waymo gets $2.5b to fuel ambitions

Waymo, the self-driving car pioneer spun off from Google, isn’t allowing a recent wave of executive departures to detour its plans to expand its robotic taxi service. The Mountain View, California, company made that clear Wednesday by announcing it has raised another $2.5 billion from a group of investors ranging from venture capital firms such as Andreessen Horowitz to a major car dealer, AutoNation. With the latest fundraising, Waymo has raised a total of $5.7 billion in the past 15 months as it tries to build upon a driverless ride-hailing service that it has been operating in the Phoenix area. The latest fundraising comes after Waymo’s longtime CEO, John Krafcik, stepped down in April, followed by the departures of the company’s chief financial officer and head of automotive partnerships. Waymo is now being led…

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1 min
louisiana creates rules for self-driving delivery devices

Louisiana has created a framework for self-driving delivery robots to drop off packages on the state’s streets, under a bill backed by lawmakers and Gov. John Bel Edwards. The new personal delivery device law sponsored by Republican Sen. Rick Ward of Port Allen took effect immediately after the Democratic governor signed the legislation. Edwards’ office announced the bill signing Wednesday. Grocery stores, pizza delivery restaurants and Amazon have started working on delivering items with self-driving robots. Ward told his colleagues he envisioned pharmacies, restaurants or other stores near local neighborhoods possibly using the devices to make short-distance deliveries. “Your constituents would be able to place an order for any number of things, and that personal delivery device would be able to pick that up from a store location and go throughout the neighborhood…

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2 min
internet outages briefly disrupt access to websites, apps

A wave of brief internet outages hit the websites and apps of dozens of financial institutions, airlines and other companies across the globe Thursday and Friday. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange said in a post on Twitter Thursday afternoon Hong Kong time that its site was facing technical issues and that it was investigating. It said in another post 17 minutes later that its websites were back to normal. Internet monitoring websites including ThousandEyes, Downdetector.com and fing.com showed dozens of disruptions, including to U.S.-based airlines. Many of the outages were reported by people in Australia trying to do banking, book flights and access postal services. Australia Post, the country’s postal service, said on Twitter that an “external outage” had impacted a number of its services, and that while most services had come back online,…

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2 min
cassill to be paid in cryptocurrency in deal with voyager

Landon Cassill will be the first NASCAR driver paid entirely in cryptocurrency in a sponsorship deal with Voyager that begins at Nashville Superspeedway this weekend. Voyager, a cryptocurrency brokerage platform, reached a 19-race deal to sponsor Cassill in the Xfinity Series in his JD Motorsports entry. Voyager will pay the funds in Litecoin to Cassill, who has been avid in the market for several years. Cassill first met Voyager CEO Steve Ehrlich at a crypto conference two years ago when Cassill was speaking on a panel. He’d been pitching the sponsorship idea ever since. “Landon Cassill’s focus and determination on the race track translates across everything he does,” said Ehrlich. “Landon also shares our vision of widespread crypto adoption, and we’re proud to be the first company to secure a primary NASCAR sponsorship…

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1 min
amazon allots $300 million for housing near mass transit

Amazon is providing $300 million in low-interest loans to support housing located near mass transit in the Washington, D.C., area and the Seattle and Nashville, Tennessee, regions. The largest amount, $125 million, is earmarked for the nation’s capital region, where Amazon is building a second headquarters that will support 25,000 jobs, the company announced Wednesday. Amazon is working with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which runs the region’s Metrorail system. The money will be used to fund 1,000 affordable housing units or low- and moderate income families. Amazon’s second headquarters is being built in the Crystal City neighborhood of northern Virginia, which is served by Metrorail and other forms of mass transit. Amazon also has dedicated $100 million to create 1,200 new affordable housing units near light rail stations across the Puget…

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1 min
can you mix and match covid-19 vaccines?

Can you mix and match two-dose COVID-19 vaccines? It’s likely safe and effective, but researchers are still gathering data to be sure. The authorized COVID-19 shots around the world are all designed to stimulate your immune system to produce virus-fighting antibodies, though the way they do so varies, noted Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of the World Health Organization’s vaccine unit. “Based on the basic principles of how vaccines work, we do think that the mix-and-match regimens are going to work,” she said. Scientists at Oxford University in the United Kingdom are testing combinations of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer-BioNTech. Smaller trials are also ongoing in Spain and Germany. “We really just need to get the evidence in each of these (vaccine) combinations,” O’Brien said. So far, limited data suggests an…

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