One Woman Dead, One in Critical Condition from Exposure to Dry Ice Vapors in Car

Coolers of dry ice in the trunk are responsible for the death of one woman and near suffocation of another in Seattle, reports ABC News.

An ice cream salesman had four coolers full of dry ice in the trunk of his car. Dry ice, which is frozen carbon dioxide, is significantly colder than water ice, -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for keeping ice cream and other frozen items cold for extended periods of time.

The salesman's wife borrowed his car to drive his mother home on Friday. They never arrived, and a search began hours after they had left. The car was found just blocks away from the salesman's home. The mother, Hildegard Whiting, was dead. The wife barely survived and remains in critical condition.

In normal temperatures, dry ice doesn't melt but turns directly into carbon dioxide gas. (It's called "dry ice" because it skips the liquid phase of matter entirely.) This gas apparently leaked out of the coolers and filled the interior of the car. Unlike carbon monoxide, which is deadly when inhaled, carbon dioxide is harmless in the small quantities that it naturally exists in the atmosphere. Dry ice is commonly used for harmless smoke effects at concerts, shows, and parties.

But carbon dioxide gas, by itself, is denser than air. That's why the smoke that comes from dry ice sticks to the floor rather than rising up like smoke from a fire. In confined places, such as the interior of a car, carbon dioxide can invisibly displace our natural oxygen-rich atmosphere. With a large amount of dry ice stored in the car's trunk, this appears to be what happened in this case.

Abu Dhabi Launches Drone Trials for Construction Site Monitoring and Inspection

General Manager of Abu Dhabi City Municipality, Saif Bader Al Qubaisi, has launched the trial stage of implementing drones as aerial monitoring and inspection tools for the city’s engineering projects and construction sites, according to the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities press release via Thomson Reuters

The Municipality stated that taking advantage of modern technologies which could maximize businesses and improve service operations was a priority for the city, and using camera-fitted drones to assist in inspections and monitoring construction projects falls right in line with that ethos. The press release makes reference to the exponential growth of technological innovation, and how our global culture is “moving fast from the Word culture to the Image culture.”

For the Municipality’s Director of Building Permits, engineer Mohammed Omar Basaleeb, utilizing drones as part of a construction project is only logical, and serves to guarantee that all requisite zoning or legal requirements are in order. “With the launch of the trial phase of using drones, the Municipality has become one [of] the leading entities in the UAE that uses these technical resources in monitoring and inspecting project works and progresses,” he said. “The aim of this step is to ensure that works undertaken are compatible with the applicable standards as well as the licensing conditions set by the Municipality.”

Meanwhile, Singapore is about to experience similar unmanned assistance regarding urban drone applications, as the city-state’s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority recently selected the Future Flight Consortium to develop an unmanned traffic management (UTM) system to expand commercial drone operations within the city. Drones in construction inspection have garnered increasingly viable appeal to those in the industry, as both autonomous technology and imaging capabilities continue to grow impressively. For a city as technologically progressive as Abu Dhabi, leading the way in these respects not only makes sense, but only doing so now even seems unexpectedly late.

“This modern technology for using drones contributes to shortening the time taken by engineers and saves the hassles of moving from offices to construction sites,” said Basaleeb. “They can coordinate with the site contractor the operation of the drone whenever needed and enable the examination, viewing and inspection of all details of project components.”

The press release makes sure to mention that replacing traditional transportation elements (such as workers driving to and from construction sites) with drones is a purportedly more environmentally friendly option. “The technology also contributes to achieving sustainability standards through saving fuel consumption by reducing the movement of vehicles of engineers, engineering inspectors and accordingly reducing carbon emission and protecting the environment,” said Basaleeb.

While this initial trial run is essentially Abu Dhabi dipping its toes in the unmanned waters, the Municipality is eager to ramp up drone implementation in other industries, as well, provided all the requisite training and legislative measures are in order. “Following the completion of the trial run, the Municipality is keen to widen the scope and use of this technology to all projects within the domain of the Municipality,” said Basaleeb. “The scope of using drones will be broadened to improve other services.”

UPS Teams up with Startup Thor Trucks on Electric Delivery Vehicles

UPS will test a prototype electric delivery truck from Los Angeles-based startup Thor Trucks later this year. If testing goes well, UPS may order additional vehicles from Thor, augmenting a growing fleet of alternative-energy vehicles.

The Thor truck will have a range of 100 miles, and will be deployed in UPS' delivery fleet for six months to evaluate its performance, a UPS press release said. In addition to regular delivery service, the test program will include "off-road evaluation to address durability, battery capacity, technical integration, engineering, and any items found during on-road testing," UPS said. "Depending on the success of the deployment, UPS may make additional purchases of the electric vehicle."

Thor Trucks made headlines late last year when it unveiled the ET-One, an electric semi truck seemingly aimed at the much-discussed Tesla Semi (which UPS has placed orders for). When it revealed the ET-One in December 2017, Thor promised a 300-mile range and a price tag of $150,000. The UPS delivery truck may not be as glamorous as the Tesla-baiting ET-One, but it may be a safer bet. Delivery trucks operate on relatively short, predictable routes that never take them far from a central terminal, so range and charging infrastructure are less of a concern.

Thor is the second startup UPS has tapped to help electrify its fleet. In February, the company announced that it would buy 50 electric vans from Workhorse. The vans will be built to a design specified by UPS, and the company may place a larger follow-up order at a later date. UPS was also the first U.S. customer for Daimler's Fuso eCanter electric box truck.

UPS previously said that it had 300 all-electric and 700 hybrid vehicles in its U.S. and European fleets. The company also operates a handful of natural gas and propane-powered vehicles in the U.S.

Electric commercial trucks are starting to gain traction. In addition to the Fuso eCanter, Daimler has unveiled electric trucks under its Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner brands. Volvo Trucks (a separate entity from the automaker) is planning a production electric as well, while startup Nikola Motors plans to take on Tesla with a hydrogen fuel-cell semi.

Mike Beam Wants to Buy NASCAR Team BK Racing

Mike Beam, President of GMS Racing, which competes in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck series, has submitted a bid of 1.8 million for BK Racing, which fields the No. 23 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

"It's quite a process,” Beam said. "It's exciting for me to have the opportunity to do it, and we'll see what kind of shakes out. I'm very blessed [GMS Racing owner Maury Gallagher] would help me do that.”

If Beam is the winning bidder, BK Racing will be affiliated with GMS Racing, according to an report. GMS previously considered a move to the Cup Series but that plan was never carried out.

BK Racing will be sold Aug. 20. A bankruptcy judge approved a plan for the sale July 26. Bids for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race team must be made by Aug. 13, and a hearing to approve the purchase by the winning bidder is scheduled for Aug. 21, according to a report from NBC Sports.

Since the team filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, the NASCAR team Ron Devine has been run by Matthew Smith, a court-appointed trustee. Creditors of the team included Union Bank & Trust, and BK Racing also had received multiple tax liens from the IRS. Smith determined that the best course of action is the sale of the race team.

“One of the reasons, and I know that Mr. Devine is in the room and probably doesn’t want to hear this, but I think one of the reasons this team is in trouble is it had the wrong owner,” Smith said in court last week. "So I believe the right owner, transition of ownership, would be the best thing for this team.”

Smith also said last week that 29 parties have shown interest in BK Racing.

Devine said during the hearing in which the plan to sell was approved that he plans to submit a bid to reclaim his race team. Since control of BK Racing was put in Smith’s hands, Devine has had no say in the day-to-day operations.

The sale includes a NASCAR charter that guarantees race starting positions and other assets, including equipment. BK Racing formerly was a two, and sometimes three, car team, but in 2018, the team fields only a No. 23 Toyota entry.

Faraday Future Completes First FF 91 Body-In-White

With the clock running down, Faraday Future is steadily working toward its goal of delivering its first FF 91 electric SUV before the end of the year. The beleaguered electric-car startup just completed the first FF 91 body-in-white at its Hanford, California factory.

Body-in-white is the industry term for the bare body shell of a car. It's the basic foundation onto which all other components are added to make a complete vehicle. That Faraday can now build one is the first real sign that the company will make good on its promise of selling the FF 91 to customers. Faraday's future has always been difficult to predict.

The FF 91 was unveiled at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Boasting a claimed 1,050 horsepower, zero-to-60 mph in 2.3 seconds, and 378-mile range, the lozenge-shaped SUV certainly drew a lot of attention. Faraday announced plans to build a new factory in North Las Vegas, Nevada, securing government incentives as part of the deal. But then things began to unravel.

Faraday has largely relied on Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting and his LeEco tech company for funding. So when LeEco's fortunes took a nosedive, so did Faraday's. The company abandoned plans for the Nevada factory, opting to repurpose an existing Pirelli tire factory in Hanford, California, instead. Many executives jumped ship, and the need to switch factory sites and secure more funding delayed the start of FF 91 production.

Fortunes have shifted over the past few months. Jia, who is now Faraday's CEO, secured a $2 billion investment. Faraday was also able to get the Hanford factory up and running in a relatively short period of time. Initial preparation work started in March, and the first equipment was installed in June. However, it's unclear how quickly Faraday will be able to ramp up production beyond just one body shell.

Faraday said it will deliver the first cars to customers in December. It's possible that Faraday will only deliver a handful of cars at first and ramp up production later, as Tesla has done with vehicle launches in the past. Assuming FF 91s finally make it into customer hands, the next question will be whether Faraday's creation can stand up to the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace, and forthcoming Audi e-tron electric SUVs.

Thieves Steal Swedish Crown Jewels, Evade Police in Speed Boat Chase

A pair of thieves in Sweden stole several pieces of royal jewelry from a display in a church on Monday before departing via speedboat, evading police boats and aircraft long enough to vanish into the wind with the priceless artifacts.

The jewelry, consisting of the funeral crowns worn by 17th century Swedish king Karl IX and his wife Kristina and and a sort of orb Swedish radio reportedly described as a "riksapple," was kept in a locked display in a cathedral in Strängnäs, according to news reports. No one was injured in the theft.

The two crowns, as well as the

According to the police, the two thieves are believed to have left the cathedral on a pair of black women's bicycles, which they rode down to the waterfront, at which point they switched modes to a small open-roofed powerboat.

"One of my friends saw two people running," said Tom Rowsell, according to the Daily Mail. "I saw the boat just there, a white little boat with a motor on the back. The two men hurriedly jumped on board. We contacted the police and told them and they told us they had taken something from the cathedral."

Police then gave chase, going after the boat-driving duo by several vehicular methods, including via helicopter.

“We are on land, in the water, and in the air,” a police spokesperson said, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Strängnäs harbor

Nevertheless, the duo managed to evade capture, as police eventually lost track of their boat's whereabouts. Due to Strängnäs's position on Lake Malar, police say the thieves could have fled to the west via water, or transferred to a car and driven east towards Stockholm.

Police have declined to say how much the stolen crown jewels are worth. "It is not possible to put an economic value on them," chief police spokesperson Thomas Agnevik said. "These are invaluable objects of national interest."

Editor's Note: Yes, that's a screengrab from the 1973 James Bond film Live and Let Die pictured at top, not a shot from the actual boat pursuit. Hey, it was either that, or the picture of Strängnäs harbor.

Lyft Will Pay Chicagoans $550 to Ditch Their Cars for a Month

Lyft is getting serious about replacing privately-owned cars. Beginning in August, the ride-hailing company will offer 100 Chicago residents $550 to ditch their personal cars for a month. The money will come in the form of credits for Lyft and other mobility services.

Chicagoans who accept Lyft's offer will get a $300 credit for carpool rides such as Lyft Line. They will also get a $45 one-month Divvy bike-sharing pass, a $100 Zipcar car-sharing credit, and $105 for public transit, including subways and buses.

Anyone interested in the offer must prove they own a car in order to qualify, David Katcher, Lyft's general manager for the Midwest, said in an interview with The Verge. When it comes to ensuring that participants actually ditch their cars, Katcher said Lyft will rely on the honor system. The company will conduct interviews before and after the monthlong challenge to gain customer feedback and, naturally, customers will be encouraged to post about their experiences on social media.

Katcher told The Verge that Lyft will follow up the Chicago challenge with an expanded version in Portland, Oregon, in which Rose City residents will be asked to abandon their cars for an entire year. Lyft is also reportedly planning to offer discounts to riders that use public transit like scooter and bike-sharing services as part of its application to start a scooter-sharing service in San Francisco.

Both Lyft and its much larger rival, Uber, are expanding beyond ride-hailing in an effort to become one-stop shops for urban transportation. Lyft recently bought bike-sharing giant Motivate, giving it control of operations like New York's CitiBike. The company has also discussed plans to link its services more closely with public transit. Uber owns a much smaller bike-sharing company, Jump, and is investing in bike and scooter-sharing startup Lime.

This multi-modal approach will likely be necessary in order for Lyft and Uber to expand without choking cities to death with traffic. A recent report found that even carpool services like Lyft Line and UberPool can increase urban traffic congestion, in part because they draw people away from public transit. Ride hailing is still central to Lyft and Uber's business, but adopting other transportation modes is crucial to maintaining a sense of social responsibility.

Here’s How Harley-Davidson Will Make Itself More Accessible to Riders Worldwide

We’ve talked about the new products coming out of Harley-Davidson’s recently announced “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” plan, but there’s more to it than a few new bikes. It’s a big, multi-faceted plan to get H-D out of its slump and it’s all about attracting new riders globally and improving the customer experience.

On top of introducing a naked bike, a new custom model, the Pan America adventure bike, and the LiveWire electric motorcycle by 2021, Harley-Davidson is providing broader access to the brand and strengthening its dealer network.

Other fresh products include smaller bikes for emerging markets in Asia, especially India which is one of the fastest growing motorcycle markets in the world. We don’t know much about them yet, but according to a Harley press release, they’ll be between 250-500cc which will make them the smallest Harley-Davidson motorcycles since the AMF days.

Small bikes are exactly what H-D needs to grow its presence in fast-growing Asian markets where much smaller brands like Royal Enfield are seeing massive growth thanks to small, desirable, affordable motorcycles. Don’t expect to see anything smaller than 500cc from H-D here in the States.

Products aside, Harley-Davidson is planning on “improving and expanding the company’s global digital capabilities by evolving the experience.” That’s a little vague and we’re not sure how heavily the brand’s website is going to be revamped or what the new site will entail.

Harley is also switching up its retail strategy. To quote the Miluakee brand, it’s opening “smaller, urban storefronts globally to expose the brand to urban populations and drive sales of the expanded Harley-Davidson product portfolio and expand international apparel distribution." Harley-Davidson has a heavy reliance on selling apparel alongside its bikes so it sounds like they’ll be pushing more Harley branded t-shirts and teddy bears in India.

This also means that H-D is going to try what’s actually worked out pretty well for luxury car brands like Lincoln and Tesla. It’s going to put more storefronts in malls, which might sound like an odd strategy, but it’s all about Harley-Davidson putting its name and logo in front of shoppers for the brand exposure and to add to the customer experience.

On top of the new storefronts, Harley-Davidson also wants to strengthen its existing dealer network. We’ve heard complaints from commenters about Harley-Davidson having a dealer problem where shoppers looking for anything smaller than a Softail get funny looks. H-D dealers have a reputation of only trying to push big, expensive bikes and not being very accommodating to anyone who isn’t already a brand loyalist.

Another slightly vague part of the plan: Harley-Davidson says it will “implement a performance framework to significantly enhance the strength of the dealer network and the customer experience, enabling the best-performing and most entrepreneurial dealers to drive innovation and success for themselves and Harley-Davidson.” That kind of dealer incentivization sounds like how it already works across the industry. We’re assuming more details about this will be provided for dealers in the near future so they know what exactly the plan is.

We think there are a few hits and a few misses with this plan and there are still a few questions to be answered. We’re excited about the new products that are outside of Harley-Davidson’s usual bread and butter, but we’d like to know more about how the brand is planning on revamping its dealer network. In the meantime, we’re rooting for Harley that its ambitious new plan gives the company the boost that it needs to remain an industry leader.

Richard Petty Motorsports Keeps NASCAR Driver Darrell Wallace Jr.

Darrell Wallace Jr. will be the driver of the iconic No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports entry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series beyond his rookie season of 2018, according to an announcement by the race team during the Pocono Raceway weekend that culminated in the July 29 running of the Gander Outdoors 400. Team co-owner Richard Petty announced July 28 that RPM had picked up the multi-year option on Wallace’s contract.

"We have faith in Bubba [Wallace] and in our team that we'll continue to get better, together,” Petty said. "This confirmation allows our partners to start building for next season and beyond. It also allows the different companies that we're talking to now know that we're very serious about building our future with Bubba as our driver.”

Wallace has a top-five and two top-10 finishes, 21 races into his rookie Cup Series season with a best finish of second in the season-opening Dayton 500 in February.

"Our highs have been well documented and so have our lows,” Wallace said. "It's all a part of growing together as a team with a new alliance, a new shop, a new manufacturer, a new car and being a rookie driver. It's a wild ride, and I'm thankful to the Petty family for allowing me to be on it. Richard is competitive, and I think about winning in the 43 all the time. We both want the same thing and we're building that. Today, allows us to get this confirmed and continue to focus on the future.”

Richard Petty Motorsports formed a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing during the offseason that included a move to the RCR campus and a manufacturer switch from Ford to Chevrolet.

Wallace drove the No. 43 in four Cup Series races last season as one of the substitute drivers for the injured then-RPM driver Aric Almirola. In his four 2017 races with the team, Wallace posted a best finish of 11th at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, his last of those four races. In his stint as a fill-in, Wallace improved his finishing position with each race. When Almirola left the No. 43 team for Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of 2017, Wallace was named as his replacement.

Prior to going full-time in the Cup Series, Wallace raced in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck series, running two full-time seasons in each series. He went winless in the Xfinity Series but won six times in the Truck Series, most recently at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn last year.

DARPA’s Latest Software Lets Drone Navigate Small Urban Environments, Infiltrate Buildings

We’ve reported on DARPA’s stunning innovations in technology for quite some time. From its revolutionary fixed-wing, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) naval drone and its modular laser-centric anti-drone gun, to funding a disintegrating UAV for single-serving deliveries in remote locations, the government’s defense agency has overseen some truly incredible projects.

Most recently, DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program completed Phase 2, which saw advanced algorithms turn a drone into an autonomous reconnaissance aid, according to a press release from the agency. The results saw a small UAV navigate narrow interiors in simulated urban environments, infiltrate multi-story buildings, create 3D maps of their interior, identify objects, descend stairways, and find open exits.

DARPA’s researchers learned a lot from Phase 2 test flights in 2017, primarily that reducing the drone’s weight while modifying onboard sensors for more accurate performance would be the only way to achieve effective, autonomous navigation of the above-mentioned environments. To help them do so, engineers from MIT’s Draper Laboratory and the University of Pennsylvania lent a hand.

“This is the lightweight autonomy program, so we’re trying to make the sensor payload as light as possible,” said Nick Roy, co-leader of the MIT Draper Laboratory team. “In Phase 1 we had a variety of different sensors on the platform to tell us about the environment. In Phase 2 we really doubled down trying to do as much as possible with a single camera.” The Phase 2 flights took place in a mock town in Perry, Georgia, which was comprised of partially destroyed buildings, roads and rubble.

During the demo, DARPA’s FLA drone flew between multi-story buildings at rapid speeds, navigated narrow alleyways and windows, entered buildings, traveled down hallways, identified objects, descended staircases, exited through open doorways, and created 3D maps of everything it encountered. Frankly, the results are unbelievably impressive and terrifyingly ominous in equal measure.

The 3D mapping is not only helpful for those back at command who, in a search and rescue mission or military operation might want to know the geography of the building being aerially infiltrated, but for the drone itself, as well. “As the vehicle uses its sensors to quickly explore and navigate obstacles in unknown environments, it is continually creating a map as it explores and remembers any place it has already been so it can return to the starting point by itself,” explained Jon How, the other MIT Draper team co-leader.

Currently, the three-year-old FLA program’s main focus has been on aerial missions only, but DARPA Program Manager J.C. Ledé is confident the technological advancements could effectively pivot to autonomous ground-based vehicles as well.

“The outstanding university and industry research teams working on FLA honed algorithms that in the not too distant future could transform lightweight, commercial-off-the-shelf air or ground vehicles into capable operational systems requiring no human input once you’ve provided a general heading, distance to travel, and specific items to search,” explained Ledé. “Unmanned systems equipped with FLA algorithms need no remote pilot, no GPS guidance, no communications link, and no pre-programmed map of the area—the onboard software, lightweight processor, and low-cost sensors do all the work autonomously in real-time.”

If these advancements aren’t mind-boggling enough, Camillo J. Taylor of the University of Pennsylvania team said palm-sized smart UAVs are next. These would contain even more processing power than Phase 2’s FLA drones and would be portable enough for any search and rescue member or soldier to easily transport on their person. As it stands, we’re either extremely lucky not to see such advanced and efficient military theater operations, or terribly unfortunate not to have these cutting-edge tools for search and rescue missions at our disposal. One thing is certain: we’re living in the most technologically impressive era in recorded history.