In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology news:
- Ford sees autonomous cars by 2021
- A tesla catches fire at a promotional event
- Google to direct voters to ballot boxes
- Gawker is sold
- Ford to invest $75M in autonomous vehicle sensor company
Ford Motor Co. intends to have a fully driverless vehicle – no steering wheel, no pedals – on the road within five years. The car will initially be used for commercial ride-hailing or ride-sharing services; sales to consumers will come later.
“This is a transformational moment in our industry and it is a transformational moment for our company,” said CEO Mark Fields, as he announced the plan at Ford’s Silicon Valley campus in Palo Alto, California.
Ford’s approach to the autonomous car breaks from many other companies, like Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors, which plan to gradually add self-driving capability to traditional cars. Just last month, BMW AG, Intel Corp. and the automotive camera maker Mobileye announced a plan to put an autonomous vehicle with a steering wheel on the road by 2021.
Instead, Ford is taking the same approach as Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which supports moving directly to self-driving cars once the technology is perfected.
(Watch a video about Ford’s efforts at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NcscWN0dh8)
- Tesla car catches fire during promotional event in France
A Tesla electric car caught fire during a promotional tour in southwest France, and those aboard escaped unharmed.
Tesla said in a statement that it is “working with the authorities to establish the facts” about Monday’s fire in Bayonne.
The driver was quoted in local newspaper Sud Ouest as saying he answered a Facebook ad offering test drives of the Model S sedan.
The driver said he saw smoke, and the three people aboard got out before seeing it catch fire.
Regional administration spokesman Patrice Abbadie said Tuesday that nobody was hurt and no property was damaged.
- Google’s search engine directs voters to the ballot box
Google is pulling another lever on its influential search engine in an effort to boost voter turnout in November’s U.S. presidential election.
Beginning Tuesday, Google will provide a summary box detailing state voting laws at the top of the search results whenever a user appears to be looking for that information. The breakdown will focus on the rules particular to the state where the search request originates unless a user asks for another location.
Google is introducing the how-to-vote instructions a month after it unveiled a similar feature that explains how to register to vote in states across the U.S.
The search giant said its campaign is driven by rabid public interest in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As of last week, it said, the volume ofsearch requests tied to the election, the candidates and key campaign issues had more than quadrupled compared to a similar point in the 2012 presidential race.
- Gawker sold to Univision in aftermath of Hulk Hogan case
Spanish-language broadcaster Univision won an auction Tuesday for Gawker Media, which was put on the block in the aftermath of a $140 million judgment against it in the Hulk Hogan invasion-of-privacy case.
Univision is paying $135 million for the online gossip and news publisher, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the deal had not been formally announced.
Expanding from its Spanish-language base, Univision has been investing in media properties aimed at young people, including taking a stake in satirical website The Onion in January. In April, it said it was taking full control of Fusion, a TV channel and website aimed at English-speaking young people it had launched with ABC in 2013.
Univision outbid Ziff Davis, the owner of tech and gaming sites, in the auction forGawker Media. They were the only two bidders, according to a person familiar with the bankruptcy auction. A judge must still approve the sale at a hearing Thursday.