The backup safety driver who was behind the wheel when one of Uber’s self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian in 2018 has been charged with negligent homicide, the New York Times reports. Rafaela Vasquez, who investigators say was watching an episode of The Voice at the time of the crash, has pleaded not guilty.
The crash, which happened on March 18th, 2018 and resulted in the death of Elaine Herzberg, is believed to be the first fatal collision involving a self-driving car. Investigators have said the car saw Herzberg, but did not automatically stop, and that Vasquez did not brake until it was too late. The case has raised important questions about how to safely test the new technology, and who should be held responsible when something goes wrong.
In March 2019, an Arizona prosecutor’s office ruled that Uber would not face criminal charges over the crash. However, a review by the National Transportation Safety Board later that year highlighted a number of safety issues at the company. It said that it had “inadequate safety risk assessment procedures,” “ineffective” monitoring of backup drivers, and a failure to address the “automation complacency” of its safety drivers, who needed to be able to step in at any moment to address problems.
The same review also called Arizona’s policies to regulate self-driving vehicles on its public roads “insufficient,” and suggested that Herzberg may have crossed the street outside of the crosswalk.
Uber temporarily halted its self-driving tests immediately following the crash, and when they resumed later that year in Pittsburgh they did so with much more stringent safety policies including having two safety drivers in each vehicle. Uber has subsequently expanded these new tests to more cities, including Dallas and San Francisco.
Astro’s $49.99 A03 is its first set of in-ear headphones made for gaming
Astro is debuting its first set of in-ear headphones, the A03. It’s an unexpected step for the company, which traditionally makes over-ear gaming headsets, like the new A20 Gen 2 and the mainstay A40. They’re $49.99, so while not the most affordable wired option, it’s a reasonable price considering they offer punchy sound, and a snug fit with three sets of silicon tips included, each of which provide quality sound isolation. And if you want to use them to listen to music, or stay on the phone, while you game with an over-ear headset, the A03 has a flat cable to sit comfortably between your skin and the ear cup.
The A03 plugs in via 3.5mm, so another perk is that it’s compatible with every current platform, like the PC, PS4, Xbox One, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite, as well as Android and iOS devices — assuming you have a dongle to convert from USB-C or Lightning to 3.5mm. It’s also compatible with the Xbox Series X and S controllers, as well as the PS5’s DualSense controller. As for inline controls and microphone support, the A03’s plug is built for the CTIA standard. And while that means the microphone will work with mobile and on the likes of the Switch and first-party Xbox One and PS4 controllers, Astro says the inline buttons won’t be functional.
Astro says each of the A03’s earbuds houses two drivers: one focused on the bass and lows, and another targeting the mids and highs. The company says the dual driver setup in each bud “delivers a powerful audio experience with a rich soundscape, revealing every detail of game environments and clearly separating voice chat.”
Interestingly, these look very similar to Logitech’s $49.99 G333 in-ear headphones that are certified for use with the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. The aluminum housing that contains the drivers and the flat cable is a match. This is strange, but it’s not a complete shock since Logitech owns Astro.
In terms of differences, the A03 has an in-line microphone, a soft case for storage, and comes in two different colors; purple buds with a white cable or red buds with a navy-colored cable. Since the A03 wasn’t made expressly for VR, it doesn’t come with the Velcro ties to shorten the cable, like the G333 does, though there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to use these.
It makes sense to offer something more compact like this to gamers, who normally have to leave their big headsets at home when it’s time to hit the road. If you’re looking for a new set of in-ear headphones that were made for making your games sound good, these might be worth considering.
Astro’s first wired earbuds are aimed at mobile gamers
The in-ear monitors use a metal bullet-like form factor, so they’re sturdy and sleek, but also not very secure in your ear canal. I wore them while washing dishes only to have one fall completely out, so these won’t be very good for any kind of physical activity like jogging or even just a brisk walk. Let’s hope you aren’t prone to moving about wildly when you’re in the middle of a match.
As a pair of earbuds dedicated to gaming, Astro built the A03 slightly differently, packing two drivers into each ear: one for bass, and the other for mids and highs. In games like Fall Guys and Persona 5 the music was perfectly balanced, with the bass present but not overwhelming. However, the tangle-free cord generates a lot of noise when it brushes against something, which carries to your ears. All wired headphones have this to some degree, but it seemed louder than usual with the A03. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s still something to be aware of if, again, you’re moving around a lot.
The cord is, of course, packed with a built-in mic and in-line controls. The three-button control panel is made of plastic and feels a bit cheap not only in contrast to the aluminum ear pieces, but also in comparison to some of the plastic headsets I have on hand. It’s still perfectly serviceable, but it doesn’t feel as premium as it could.
And how it feels will matter, given that wired earbuds are becoming increasingly passé when true wireless sets are getting better and cheaper. Even Razer sells a pair for $100 that it claims has low latency for gaming. But still, Astro’s A03 IEM is a good first try for the company, offering high-quality game audio in a pocketable package. It’s available today in red or purple color schemes for $50.
Twitter removed 130 Iran-linked accounts during last night’s debate
Twitter has removed 130 accounts that appeared to originate from Iran and were attempting to disrupt public conversation around the 2020 US Presidential debate. The social network’s Support account has revealed the deletion on the platform. It also posted sample tweets that show support for Trump and question whether moderator Chris Wallace truly is nonpartisan.
According to the announcement, Twitter found the accounts based on intel provided by the FBI. In a statement provided to CNET, the federal agency confirmed that it does share information with social networks but refused to discuss details about this specific deletion: “Although we cannot discuss the specific information provided, the FBI regularly shares information with social media companies so they can better protect their platforms. The FBI is actively engaged with our federal partners, election officials and the private sector to mitigate foreign threats to our nation’s security and our elections.”
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