Tech

SPACE Administration would streamline federal oversight of commercial launches

As part of an ongoing effort to improve the regulatory conditions weathered by companies doing business in space, the Commerce Department has proposed to unify several offices under a new banner: the Space Policy Advancing Commercial Enterprise Administration. The Trump administration offered hints, but few hard details, on how it aims to streamline federal oversight of space in a statement issued this week. Space Policy Directive 1 had to do with pursuing missions to the moon and Mars, and Directive 2 is more about housekeeping. Part of that housekeeping directs Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr to “transmit a plan to create a ‘one-stop shop’ within the Department of Commerce for administering and regulating commercial space flight activities,” and he seems to have been eager to comply...

Gillmor Gang: Auto Immunity

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Michael Markman, and Steve Gillmor . Recorded live Sunday, May 27, 2018. Digital cars, food, Hollywood, and other disruptions. G3: Firedrills and Fascinators — Mary Hodder, Elisa Camahort Page, Francine Hardaway, Maria Ogneva, and Tina Chase Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, May 18, 2018. @stevegillmor, @denispombriant, @fradice, @mickeleh, @kteare Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor Liner Notes Live chat stream The Gillmor Gang on Facebook G3: Firedrills and Fascinators G3 chat stream G3 on Facebook

This sensor stops your quadcopter before it can cut you

The folks at Spectrum have found a truly cool project for quadcopter pilots. It’s a spinning sensor that will stop the rotors if your finger gets too close to the blades, thereby preventing you – or your kids – from getting cut. Researchers at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia created so-called Safety Rotor to help prevent accidents with more powerful quadrotor drones. The system constantly senses for a “finger” – in this case a hot dog – and then slams the rotor to a stop within 0.077 seconds. A cage around the propellers spins more slowly than the propellers and is constantly on the lookout for biological material approaching the blades. The measured latency [of the Safety Rotor’s braking response] was 0.0118 seconds from the triggering event to start of rotor decelerat...

Pandora now offers a Premium Family plan for $14.99 a month

Pandora just launched a family version of its Premium service. For $14.99 a month, up to six users can access Premium features (the individual version costs $9.99 a month). The new subscription option was added with little fanfare and spotted earlier today by Android Police. This better positions Pandora to compete with Spotify Premium and Apple Music, at least from a pricing perspective. Both of those services also offer family plans covering up to six people for $14.99 a month. An annual subscription to Pandora’s Premium Family is also available for $164.98 a year. In addition to other Premium features, Premium Family includes a personalized playlist called Our Soundtrack that selects a mix of songs based on every family member’s listening habits. Pandora just finished rolling out person...

Saul Klein joins TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin, tickets on sale now

TechCrunch Disrupt is coming back to Berlin this winter, and you can already buy tickets. It will feature technologists, investors, entrepreneurs and media outlets; Startup Alley, where over 400 pre-Series A companies exhibit; Startup Battlefield, our premier startup pitch competition where a curated group of tech’s top early-stage startups will compete for the $50,000 grand prize, the coveted Disrupt Cup and intense media and investor interest. Disrupt Berlin will feature workshops, world-class networking and after-parties. It’s time to place buying Disrupt Berlin tickets at the top of your priority list. Our two-for-one Innovator pass promotion goes live in just 48 hours with a limited number of passes, and it won’t last long. Sign up today. We’re also beginning to announce our first spe...

Sign up: 2-4-1 Innovator passes for Disrupt Berlin available Wednesday

We love Berlin. It’s the epicenter of Europe’s vibrant startup scene, and we can’t wait to see what the continent’s tech titans and rising stars will bring to Disrupt Berlin 2018 on November 29-30. These two action-packed days offer tremendous value at full freight but, on this Wednesday, May 30 at 12pm CEST / 6am EDT we’re offering a limited number of two Innovator passes for just €695. Simply sign up for our newsletter and we’ll notify you when to jump online and grab some for you and a friend. Budget-minded startup fans take heed — this limited-time offer won’t stick around forever. Just imagine how much better you’ll feel knowing you got the best deal possible. And let’s face it, if you want to showcase your company, products and ideas in front of the international tech startup communi...

Grab launches a food delivery service in Southeast Asia

Fresh from completing its acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asia business, ride-hailing firm Grab has officially launched its food delivery business — GrabFood — today. The service is already available in beta in a handful of countries, including Thailand, but now it is available in Singapore (Grab HQ) with plans to reach Grab’s core six markets in Southeast Asia in the coming months. As part of its acquisition of Uber Southeast Asia, Grab took charge of UberEats in the region and moved its merchants and customer base to GrabFood before shuttering the Uber service. GrabFood is available as a standalone app in Singapore, but in countries where Grab offers motorbikes on-demand the service is integrated into the core Grab app. The service will compete against the likes of Deliveroo, FoodPanda, ...

Customer opinions of ISPs somehow drop even lower

Disliking one’s internet provider is such a common condition that it’s hard to imagine that ISPs have anywhere to go but up in the eyes of their customers. Nope! There are new lows ahead, if the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index is any indication. Charts ahead! The ACSI compiles thousands of interviews with consumers and produce a score for various companies and industries based on a number of metrics. And this year, internet providers fell from last place to last place minus. (Note: Verizon owns Oath, which owns TechCrunch. Believe me, it doesn’t affect our coverage.) “An all-time low for the industry that along with subscription TV already had the poorest customer satisfaction among all industries tracked by the ACSI,” the report reads. “Customers are unhappy with the high pric...

Review: Cult of the Machine at the de Young

Let’s flash back to the Machine Age, the period in American history that gave us the assembly line, the first nonstop transcontinental flight, regular radio broadcasts, and the first robot capable of performing more than 20 movements. These technological advancements inspired a style of art called Precisionism, popularized by big names like Georgia O’Keefe, Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth. The Cult of the Machine exhibit at the de Young museum in San Francisco is a reflection of attitudes toward machines and robotics during the Machine Age, the period between the two world wars during which industrial efficiency was the reigning mantra. In an era where efficiency was seen as both beautiful and as a threat, there was an influx of art inspired by anxieties people had about the rise of ind...

Vermont passes first first law to crack down on data brokers

While Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are hogging the spotlight, data brokers that collect your information from hundreds of sources and sell it wholesale are laughing all the way to the bank. But they’re not laughing in Vermont, where a first-of-its-kind law hems in these dangerous data mongers and gives the state’s citizens much-needed protections. Data brokers in Vermont will now have to register as such with the state; they must take standard security measures and notify authorities of security breaches (no, they weren’t before); and using their data for criminal purposes like fraud is now its own actionable offense. If you’re not familiar with data brokers, well, that’s the idea. These companies don’t really have a consumer-facing side, instead opting to collect information on people...

Desperate for jobs, Venezuelan immigrants turn to ride-hailing services across Latin America

Matthew Carpenter-Arévalo Contributor Matthew Carpenter-Arévalo is a former Google and Twitter Manager and current CEO of Céntrico Digital, a Latin American based digital agency. One month ago, Yonathan Segovia, a Cabify driver originally from Venezuela, was allegedly attacked by a mob of taxi drivers on the streets of Quito in Ecuador. In the video that documents the aftermath of his alleged assault, a short-of-breath Segovia narrates to his cell phone what happened. Behind him stand a few traffic police and a contingent of semi-formally dressed taxi drivers donning sunglasses and gesticulating to the police. Segovia directs the camera to the broken windshield and claims that he and his vehicle were attacked by xenophobic taxi drivers yelling fuera Cabify (get out Cabify) and regresa a tu...

The well-funded startups driven to own the autonomous vehicle stack

At some point in the future, while riding along in a car, a kid may ask their parent about a distant time in the past when people used steering wheels and pedals to control an automobile. Of course, the full realization of the “auto” part of the word — in the form of fully autonomous automobiles — is a long way off, but there are nonetheless companies trying to build that future today. However, changing the face of transportation is a costly business, one that typically requires corporate backing or a lot of venture funding to realize such an ambitious goal. A recent funding round, some $128 million raised in a Series A round by Shenzhen-based Roadstar.ai, got us at Crunchbase News asking a question: Just how many independent, well-funded autonomous vehicles startups are out there? In shor...