safety

Massachusetts State Police test Boston Dynamic’s robot dog Spot

Massachusetts State Police test Boston Dynamic’s robot dog Spot

Massachusetts State Police was officially the first police department in the United States to test the use of a robotic dog named Spot from Boston Dynamics. News of the test was first revealed in documents obtained by the ACLU; the robotic dog was in use for non-weaponized purposes from August to November of this year. The test raises concerns over the potential use of intelligent robots by law enforcement.

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GM recalls 640,000 pickup trucks over carpet fire risk

GM recalls 640,000 pickup trucks over carpet fire risk

General Motors has recalled approximately 640,000 pickup trucks primarily located in North America due to a fire risk. The recalled vehicles include 2019 and 2020 model year GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 trucks, as well as 2020 model year Silverado 2500 and 3500 trucks, and the Sierra 2500 / 3500 heavy-duty models. As with other vehicle recalls, eligible owners will get the potential defect repaired for free.

News of the recall first surfaced in an advisory dated November 14 from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The recalled vehicles all feature carpeted rather than vinyl flooring, according to the recall notice; the issue revolves around the potential for that carpet to catch on fire due to the technology used for the front seat belts in these trucks.

Recalled models feature front seat belt pretensioners that deploy as a result of certain types of crashes. When this happens, GM explains that exhaust produced by the activated pretensioner could be diverted through an opening in the system’s bracket. The exhaust may then ignite the fibers in the truck's carpeting located near the interior B-pillar, resulting in a visible fire.

Carpet that is on fire may, of course, put people in the car at greater risk of injury in the event of a crash. The recall notice explains that the opening through which exhaust is expelled was intended to be used as a locator hole during the vehicle’s assembly process but was ultimately never used. The hole isn’t actually part of the pretensioner system’s design and isn’t needed for it to work.

The potential risk was discovered following the report of a fire that happened in a truck this past summer. The automaker’s review of the case ultimately led to an official product investigation launched on September 3. Fast-forward to the newly announced recall and GM explains that dealers will install a component in affected trucks that closes the openings in the pretensioner bracket. This will keep the exhaust gases away from the carpet, removing the fire risk. Owners of recalled vehicles will be notified about the recall directly.

CDC links another E. coli outbreak to lettuce: Here’s what we know

CDC links another E. coli outbreak to lettuce: Here’s what we know

The CDC reports that yet another E. coli outbreak has been linked to romaine lettuce. The agency is warning the public to avoid consuming romaine lettuce that originates from the Salinas, California, area due to the risk of contracting the illness. As of November 22, the agency was aware of 40 reported E. coli cases across 16 states, including 28 hospitalizations. Another romaine lettuce recall has been initiated.

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US Army combat dogs get special hats to protect their hearing

US Army combat dogs get special hats to protect their hearing

The U.S. Army has unveiled a special new type of hearing protection designed specifically for military dogs working in combat environments. Unlike existing hearing protection gear for canines, this padded hood has a low profile and is designed to fit snugly on the dog's head without the need for straps or otherwise cumbersome attachments. The hearing protection can be used on helicopters, during training, and more.

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Uber will soon record audio on trips for safety purposes

Uber will soon record audio on trips for safety purposes

Uber may have helped start a new industry but it has quickly become the object of scorn over a multitude of issues and accusations. In addition to questionable business and labor practices, the ride-sharing company that started it all has come under fire for its failure to keep both passengers and even drivers safe, sometimes from each other. That is why it is testing a new safety feature that will provide needed evidence and safety incentives by potentially violating privacy in audio recording trips.

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Tesla Autopilot can now detect traffic cones

Tesla Autopilot can now detect traffic cones

It may be called Autopilot but Tesla's semi-automated driver assistance feature isn't as self-driving as many, including Tesla owners, presume it to be. It can't even detect traffic cones, which is essential to keeping away from dangerous road construction. That is slowly changing now that Tesla is rolling out pylon detection to its Autopilot feature but drivers should still keep their eyes on the road anyway.

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Xbox One adds fine-grained control over offensive text messages

Xbox One adds fine-grained control over offensive text messages

While not generally true, some gamers do have a reputation for having a rather loose tongue, especially during competitive gameplay. That's probably fine if you're simply among peers of the same age range but can be a problem when a more heterogeneous mix is involved. It especially becomes dangerous when there are younger gamers in play, like when using a family-owned console. At long last, Microsoft is finally giving Xbox One owners the ability to censor some potentially harmful speech and even gives an almost ridiculous amount of control over it.

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Lyft partners with security company ADT for new safety features

Lyft partners with security company ADT for new safety features

Ridesharing company Lyft has announced a new partnership with the security company ADT to offer new features on its platform. Under the partnership, Lyft will launch a pilot early next year that'll allow customers in select markets to directly contact ADT if there's a security issue. The ADT-powered feature will be available in Lyft's mobile app; the company indicates it will be the first of multiple new features.

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Tesla Smart Summon unreliable and error-prone according to Consumer Reports

Tesla Smart Summon unreliable and error-prone according to Consumer Reports

Futurists and car makers envision a day when cars would drive themselves while humans sit back and relax or chat on the way to their destinations. that future is still far away given innumerable considerations but one can always start with baby steps, like getting out of the parking space on its own. That's what Tesla newly released Smart Summon was supposed to deliver but, confirming increasing reports from owners, Consumer Reports' review found it to be severely lacking, even dangerous.

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California power shutdown: Why the west coast went offline

California power shutdown: Why the west coast went offline

There's an event happening in California of which you should be aware. The power is out for over 500,000 people on the west coast of the USA because of a threat of wildfire. The power is not out - this was voluntary. The company Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) initiated a Public Safety Power Shutoff that's now in effect - and will be spreading over the next few days.

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Pixel 4 Car Crash Detection is a feature you hopefully won’t have to use

Pixel 4 Car Crash Detection is a feature you hopefully won’t have to use

They say that the best tool is the one that you always or often have on hand and, these days, that is probably people's smartphones. While often portrayed as a corrupting influence, these smartphones can also be used to promote well-being. Accessibility features open up a new world for those with handicaps while health and safety apps try to keep people in one piece, like a new car crash detection and alert system that users will hopefully never have to use in the foreseeable future.

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California public health officials report seventh vaping-related death

California public health officials report seventh vaping-related death

Public health officials with the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency in California have reported the seventh death linked to the unnamed lung condition impacting hundreds of people who had a history of recent vape use. The death impacted an adult over the age of 40, according to an announcement from the county, which says this was related to electronic cigarette use.

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