Ford is betting big on Detroit

The Ford Motor Company now owns one of Detroit’s iconic buildings in the Michigan Central Station. The monumental building looms over Detroit’s oldest neighborhood. It’s long been a symbol of Detroit’s decay, and now it could become the symbol of Detroit’s revival, and Ford’s along with it. The building is set to become the anchor of Ford’s 1.2 million-square-foot campus in the Detroit neighborhood. The Michigan Central Station will house more than just Ford employees, though. The auto company says it will be a mixed-use facility with facilities for up to 5,000 office workers and space for shops, restaurants and maybe even residential housing. Ford has a substantial undertaking before employees and businesses move into the building. The Michigan Central Station is nearly literally a shell of its former self. The station was built in 1913 by the same firm responsible for New York’s Grand Central Terminal. In its
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Bag Week 2018: Pad & Quill Heritage Satchel is a modern leather classic

Welcome to Bag Week 2018. Every year your faithful friends at TechCrunch spend an entire week looking at bags. Why? Because bags — often ignored but full of our important electronics — are the outward representations of our techie styles, and we put far too little thought into where we keep our most prized possessions. Leather bags are the best bags. That’s a fact. Pad & Quill has been making some fine leather products for years and the new Heritage Leather Satchel is stunning. I love it. This bag is constructed out of tough leather. It’s thick, well conditioned and sturdy. It smells like a artisanal boot store in Austin, Texas and that’s the best smell in the world. That’s also a fact. [gallery ids="1647893,1647894,1647895,1647896"] The bag is styled in a modern craftsmen look. It doesn’t exactly look like a horse riding bag, but it approaches the look with exposed
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Bag Week 2018: WP Standard built the leather messenger bag you want

Welcome to Bag Week 2018. Every year your faithful friends at TechCrunch spend an entire week looking at bags. Why? Because bags — often ignored but full of our important electronics — are the outward representations of our techie styles, and we put far too little thought into where we keep our most prized possessions. The WP Standard Vintage Leather Messenger Bag is a few years old. It helped launch the Whipping Post brand six years ago. I’ve used mine for about three years and it’s always been fantastic because the leather is amazing. The WP Standard Vintage Leather Messenger Bag is truly a wonderful bag. It starts with the design. It’s simple and a nod to the classic postman’s bag of generations ago. But instead of mail, it’s designed to carry a laptop. There’s a main interior pocket that’s large enough to hold notebook or rangefinder, but not a
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Ford’s latest taxis use diesel and hybrid powertrains

The taxi of tomorrow might be dead but Ford today announced two new models that combine forward-looking technology with proven body styles. For the first time, Ford is offering a hybrid powertrain in a taxi model that is said to get a 40 mpg in the city. This news comes several weeks after Ford’s bombshell that it was dramatically reducing the number of traditional cars it will sell in the North American market. The Fusion Hybrid Taxi is Ford’s first hybrid taxi model and is said to be Ford’s most fuel-efficient taxis to date. In addition to the new powertrain, the model features additional bits that should make cabbies happy. The midsize sedan shares parts with the Ford Police Responder Hybrid such as a police-tuned suspension, higher ride and improved brakes. And steelies. Got to have steelies. Ford also today announced the Transit Connect Taxi that rocks a 1.5-liter
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Ford buys historic Detroit train depot to house advanced technology groups

Michigan Central Station long stood as a symbol of Detroit’s decline. Now, thanks to Ford, it could represent Detroit’s return. Today at a press conference in front of the Detroit icon, it was announced that Ford’s bid to purchase the train depot was accepted and the deal was done. The large building will be at the center of Ford’s move to turn Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood into its automotive technology groups campus. “The deal is complete,” Matthew Moroun, whose family has owned the station since 1995, said at today’s event. “The future of the depot is assured. The next steward of the building is the right one for its future. The depot will become a shiny symbol of Detroit’s progress and its success. This deal was Detroit’s worst-kept secrets. It’s been known about for months. It will bring life to the desolate Corktown area, which though right next to the thriving
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Hans Vestberg to take over as Verizon’s CEO in August

Verizon today announced CEO Lowell McAdam is stepping down from his post as August 1, 2018, seven years to the day he took the spot. He will stay on as Executive Chairman of the Board through the end of 2018 and as Non-Executive Chairman thereafter. Hans Vestberg, Chief Technology Officer of Verizon as well as Executive Vice President and President of Global Networks (that’s a long title), will take over as the Chief Executive Officer of the telecom giant who also owns Oath and therefore TechCrunch. McAdam has led Verizon as its CEO since August 2011 and became Chairman on January 2012. In addition to various mergers and acquisitions in the telecom industry, McAdam acquired AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017 to form a digital media and advertising subsidiary. Vestberg is relatively new at Verizon. He joined the company a year ago. He was previously the chief executive of
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Autonomous driving is coming to all Cadillac models, other GM brands

Starting in 2020, Cadillac will start to offer autonomous driving on every Cadillac model. The Super Cruise system is already available today but limited to just the full-size CT6 sedan. General Motors is also announcing today that the SuperCruise system will start hitting other GM brands — such as Chevrolet, GMC, and Buick —  after 2020. And then by 2023, an unnamed, high-volume Cadillac crossover will have vehicle-to-everything communication to let it speak to similarly equipped vehicles, infrastructure and other connected devices. Super Cruise launched earlier this year and only works on expressway in the United States. When active, Super Cruise controls the steering and speed, but again, only on an expressway. This is done through on board sensors and using GPS and mapping data. GM employed GeoDigital, a startup in GM Venture’s portfolio, to map 160,000 miles of expressways in the U.S. and Canada . The car company then used
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Play for the Philadelphia Eagles? Take a virtual tour of the White House with this new app

There is now a free app that lets Android and iOS users virtually tour the White House and surrounding area. Developed by Cuseum and the White House Historical Association, the app provides three separate tour experiences. Users can walk through the various rooms of the White House, from the Oval Office, Lincoln Bedroom, to the Press Office, without the peer pressure to wear a MAGA hat. The White House Historical Association released this statement credited to Melania Trump. “I am so pleased that the White House Historical Association has taken these forward-thinking steps to offer more opportunities for the American people to visit the People’s House. Thank you to the White House Historical Association, Amazon Web Services, and Cuseum for their creative and innovative collaboration in designing this app. Whether people are visiting in-person or virtually, this new feature offers a chance for everyone to see many of the mansion’s
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Apple to bring iOS apps to macOS

Today at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, Craig Federighi, SVP, Software Engineering, announced Apple is working to bring the best of the iPhone to the Mac. But this will not happen overnight, Federighi basically said. This is a multi-year project, he stressed, adding the first iOS apps Apple will bring to macOS will be made by Apple. “There are millions of iOS apps out there, and some of them would be great on the Mac,” Federighi said. It’s important to note that Apple is not merging the two operating systems. In fact Federighi started out this announcement by stating loud and clear that they will continue to be separate products.
Right now, the first phase of the project is to bring native iOS apps and basic frameworks to macOS. Sinc right now, macOS uses AppKit and iOS uses UIKit, porting apps between the systems is not trivial. The first step Federighi
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This DIY smart mirror is small, stunning and full of features

Several years ago Google X engineer Max Braun published a medium post on a smart mirror he made and now he’s back with a new version that’s smaller and smarter. This is a smart mirror I can get behind though I still find smart mirrors completely frivolous. He published his project on Medium where he explains the process and the parts a person would need to build their own. This isn’t a project for everyone, but Max gives enough instructions that most enterprising builders should be able to hack something similar together. I recently reviewed a smart mirror and found it a bit silly but still useful. Ideally, like in Max’s smart mirrors, the software is passive and always available. Users shouldn’t have to think about interacting with the devices; the right information should be displayed automatically. It’s a balancing act. At this point, smart mirrors are little more than
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Nvidia prices Jeston Xavier AI platform developer kit at $1,299

Today at Computex in Taipei, Nvidia CEO and founder Jensen Huang announced the availability of a drastically upgraded version of Issac. Nvidia calls the next-gen robotics system the next step in autonomous machines as it reportedly brings AI capabilities to a new set of industries. The company has been talking about this platform some time, touting its capabilities and use cases. A Jetson Xavier SoC provides the processing with more than 9 billion transistors, it delivers over 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second). Inside the Xavier is a Volta Tensor Core GPU, an eight-core ARM64 CPU, dual NVDLA deep learning accelerators, an image processor, a vision processor and a video processor. The platform developer kit will be available in August for $1,299 and includes the Isaac robotics software. “AI is the most powerful technology force of our time,” said Huang in a released statement. “Its first phase will enable new
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Steve Case and JD Vance are speaking at Disrupt SF on startup opportunities outside of Silicon Valley

We’re excited to announce Steve Case and JD Vance will sit down for a fireside chat at Disrupt SF this September. There’s plenty to talk about, too, including the pair’s latest venture: A massive $150 million seed fund backed by an impressive group of investors that are targeted at startups outside of Silicon Valley. As The New York Times put it after the fund’s announcement, the complete list of investors in the Rise of the Rest fund “may be the greatest concentration of American wealth and power in one investment fund.” It includes among others Jeff Bezos, Eric Schmidt, John Doerr, Jim Breyer, Dan Gilbert and members of the Walton, Koch and Pritzker families. This fund is core to what Case and Vance are championing at Revolution . The Washington, D.C.-based venture capital firm primarily backs companies outside of major tech hubs. At Disrupt New York in May, Case told the
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GM’s Cruise gets $2.25b from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, $1.1b from GM

General Motors today announced a large investment into its self-driving unit, Cruise. SoftBank’s Vision Fund will invest $2.25 billion in GM Cruise Holdings LLC and when the deal closes, GM will invest an additional $1.1 billion. The investments are expected to inject enough capital into Cruise for the unit to reach commercialization at scale beginning in 2019.

“Our Cruise and GM teams together have made tremendous progress over the last two years,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra . “Teaming up with SoftBank adds an additional strong partner as we pursue our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.” “GM has made significant progress toward realizing the dream of completely

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This is the first look at Nvidia’s wild new 750,000 sq ft building

Nvidia is preparing a new, massive building in Santa Clara, CA and this is it. Called Voyager, it will be larger than the building Nvidia just finished constructing by 250,000 square feet. And just like the other building, Endeavor, Voyager will share the same wild, distinctly Nvidia design. Nvidia opened the first building, Endeavor, in 2017 and it feels like if a person could go into an Nvidia GPU. There’s green and sharp angles everywhere. Triangle skylights pepper the roof, which is also a triangle. It’s just two stories due to local zoning laws and it appears the new building will following much of the same trends. Voyager will be 750,000 square feet and situated next to the Endeavor in Santa Clara. This puts the combined buildings’ square-footage at 1.25 million, which is a little less than half of Apple’s new HQ in Cupertino. Nvidia tells me the company
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Review: A week in an Audi R8 Spyder, an everyday supercar

It’s the sounds. The wisps and growls and gargles. Hit the red Start Engine button on the steering wheel and the world wakes up to the sounds of rumbling V10. The Audi R8 Spyder is a marvelous cup of coffee and a great way to start the day. What’s more, after a week as treating this red R8 as my daily driver, I can plainly state the supercar is surprisingly easy to live with as long as some concessions are made. Sometimes, when slogging through a daily routine, it’s easy to forget you’re driving a mid-engine supercar. And then you put your foot down and the sun explodes.

Review

Spring arrived in Michigan just in time for some cruising with the Audi R8 Spyder. The snow is gone and the trees are budding. The sun is bright and warm and perfect for a bit of driving with the top down
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Techstars in Detroit outgrows Ford Field and is moving to WeWork

Techstars Mobility has a new home. The accelerator program is moving from its in Ford Field to the 7th floor of WeWork Merchant’s Row. This puts the program in a central location in Detroit’s growing tech scene, giving participants the opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs looking to be, as they say in Detroit, a big fish in a small pound. Techstars Mobility has made in impact in Detroit since its first program in 2014. The program has invested in 33 startups who have raised $45 million. Focusing on all areas of mobility, the program leverages partnerships with top automakers and suppliers to utilize Detroit’s long history of innovating mobile transportation. The 2018-2019 program will work with CSAA Insurance Group, Bosh, Ford Motor Company, Honda, Volvo and others. It’s an impressive group spanning the mobility space from automakers to insurers. I’ve long pointed to Techstars programs as a good example
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The 8 features Amazon and Google must add to the Echo and Home

The Amazon Echo and Google Home are amazing devices and both have advantages over the other. In my home, we use the Amazon Echo and have them around the house and outside. I have the original in the living room, a Dot in bedrooms, my office and outside, a Tap in my woodworking workshop and Spots in the kids’ room (with tape over the camera). They’re great devices but far from perfect. They’re missing several key features and the Google Home is missing the same things, too. I polled the TechCrunch staff. The following are the features we would like to see in the next generation of these devices.

IR Blaster

Right now, it’s possible to have the Echo and Home control a TV, but only through 3rd party devices. If the Echo or Home had a top-mounted 360-degree IR Blaster, the smart speakers could natively control TVs, entertainment systems,
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This is the first look at Uber’s air taxi concept

Uber sees a future where users can request a flying uber. And it’s what, as CEO Dara Khosrowshahi calls it, a big, bold bet. He says in an interview with CBS This Morning that big bold bets are what built Uber. “We want to create the network around those vehicles so regular people can take these taxis in the air for longer distances when they want to avoid traffic at affordable prices,” said Khosrowshahi. The goal is for the flying taxis to be driverless and hold four riders per vehicle to keep the cost lower for the passengers. Users would haul the air taxi from an app and then meet it at an uber rooftop facility. According to the CBS interview, Uber says the taxis will be relatively quiet thanks to multiple props and electric motors. The company plans to launch trials as early as 2020. Uber is set to
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Netgear put a cable modem in latest Orbi wifi router

Generations ago, the internet spoke of an old saying that involved a man exhibiting excitement about hearing of a person’s love of an object, so he did favor, and put that something inside of something else. That’s what Netgear did here. Netgear heard people like the internet so much that the company put an internet modem inside a wifi router. The Orbi WiFi System with Built-in Cable Modem is just that. It’s an Orbi wifi router with a DOCSIS® 3.0 cable modem built in. In theory this setup would make for easier setup and troubleshooting of internet issues while providing the home with great wifi. I have an Orbi system in my house and it’s wonderful. The system does a far better job at covering my home with wifi than my previous single router setup. Including the cable modem in the setup, though, just makes sense and other networking
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Volvo cars and trucks can now share real-time traffic information

Starting in Norway and Sweden, vehicles from Volvo cars and Volvo trucks are now able to share traffic information through Volvo’s Connected Cloud. Let’s say car A runs into a road hazard. Car A will then upload that information to the Volvo Connected Cloud where it will broadcast the information to Volvo Cars and Trucks warning Truck B, which is carrying a load of chickens, to avoid the road hazard. It’s important to note Volvo cars and trucks are independent vehicle manufacturers though they clearly share some DNA. This is an extension of the Volvo Connected Cloud that the auto maker launched in 2016. Right now the service is only available in Sweden and Norway, where Volvo cars and trucks make up a significant amount of the vehicles. Vehicle to vehicle communication is among a growing market to improve data presentation to the driver, and in the future, autonomous vehicles.
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