Uber’s Flying Taxis Could Hit the Skies as Soon as 2020

Uber
Uber

In October 2016, Uber released an outline of the company's plan to have flying taxis ferrying passengers through the skies within a decade. Six months later, at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas held in last month, chief product officer Jeff Holden revealed that the project could be taking off even sooner than that. As Reuters reports, the ride-hailing service hopes to have its vehicles in the air over Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth area by 2020.

The vertical takeoff and landing aircrafts (VTOLs) will be able to discreetly travel between rooftop landing pads around the cities. They’ll run on electricity, making them clean, quiet, and cheap. Uber expects fares to start at $1.32 per passenger mile, which falls between the prices for an Uber X ($0.85 per mile) and an Uber XL ($1.35 per mile) in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The company's plan is to eventually make using the service less expensive than owning a car. It also promises to be convenient: According to Uber’s estimates, a two-hour car trip from San Francisco’s Marina to downtown San Jose would take 15 minutes by VTOL. The taxis will be flown by certified human pilots at first, but Uber hopes to eventually replace those pilots with autonomous flying technology.

Construction on the VTOL landing hubs will begin in Dallas in 2018. The company is also working with Dubai to get the craft airborne in time for the city’s World Expo in 2020. If everything goes according to plan, the taxis should be giving commercial rides by 2023.

[h/t Reuters]

Your Smart TV Is Vulnerable to Hackers, According to the FBI

Ahmet Yarali / iStock via Getty Images
Ahmet Yarali / iStock via Getty Images

By this point, many of us have had the experience of mentioning a product or service out loud during a conversation, only to have an ad for that very thing pop up on a smart device mere moments later. And, although you may have gotten used to the idea of your gadgets keeping tabs on you, you might not realize that your new smart TV’s monitoring capabilities make it extra vulnerable to hackers.

KATV reports that the Portland, Oregon branch of the FBI released guidelines last week as part of its “Tech Tuesday” initiative to warn people about the risk of hackers gaining access to unsecured televisions through the routers. Because smart TVs likely have microphones and even cameras, successful hackers could do anything from petty mischief to serious stalking.

“At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos,” the FBI says. “In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”

Before you head back to Best Buy, brandishing your receipt and begging for a refund, there are a number of safety precautions you can take to make yourself less of an easy target for cyberattacks.

The first step is knowing exactly what features your TV has, and understanding how to control them—the FBI recommends doing an internet search with the model number and the words microphone, camera, and privacy.

After that, you should delve right into those security settings. Disable the collection of personal information if you can, and learn how to limit microphone and camera access. If you don’t see an option to shut off the camera, black tape over it does the trick.

And, even if it’s not the most riveting reading material, it’s worth perusing the fine print on your device and streaming services to find out what data they collect, where they store it, and how they use it.

Check out all of the tips here, and then see what other everyday objects might be susceptible to hackers.

[h/t KATV]

Hotel in Japan Is Offering Rooms for $1 Per Night—If You Agree to Livestream Your Stay

DragonImages/iStock via Getty Images
DragonImages/iStock via Getty Images

Many people are happy to document their vacations online without getting paid to do it. Now, as The Washington Post reports, exhibitionists who can't resist low prices are now eligible to book a hotel room in Fukuoka, Japan for just $1 a night. In return, they must agree to livestream their experience.

Tetsuya Inoue, the manager of Asahi Ryokan in Fukuoka, got the idea for the marketing stunt after one of his guests broadcast his stay voluntarily. Inoue figured that if people are already comfortable sharing their private moments in the hotel with the world, he might as well use that to his advantage.

The "One Dollar Hotel" promotion is a way for Inoue to bring attention to the 30-year-old guesthouse, which is owned by his grandmother. For $1—a fee that covers lodging, taxes, and tips—customers have access to a room that normally costs $27 a night. As guests eat, sleep, and get ready for the day, a camera installed in the room livestreams their every move to the hotel's YouTube channel. The only place where they have privacy is in the bathroom. Signs in the room warn guests not to engage in any "lewd acts" and to keep passports and credit cards out of the camera's field of view.

In addition to generating publicity for Asahi Ryokan, Inoue hopes that his YouTube videos will eventually become popular enough to monetize. Five guests have agreed to the deal so far, and after launching in October, the One Dollar Hotel YouTube channel already has close to 15,000 subscribers.

[h/t The Washington Post]

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