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The Lede – Take Your Hands Off the Wheel

The Lede, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018
By David Royse

Good Afternoon,

The LEDE

On this day in 1911, Charles F. Kettering demonstrated his electric automobile starter in Detroit by starting a Cadillac’s motor with just the press of a switch, instead of hand-cranking.

And it’s just been getting easier ever since.

Two big stories today on how some of us may be getting around at least some of the time, in a few years, with announcements about driverless cars from Ford and the state of California. While the stories are geographic-specific in a sense – with Ford announcing it will test its driverless cars in South Florida and the California story about the future of driverless cars in, well, California, they’re important more broadly because they signal even further acceptance of this new technology.

As big states and big cities go, so will the rest of the nation, eventually.

The biggest story of the day so far in how the future is getting closer: Miami and Miami Beach will be the test sites for Ford, which wants to have autonomous cars giving people rides in them in a partnership with Lyft by 2021.

The company has already started testing the cars on Miami streets as it works on its mapping system there. It soon will be using them for initial testing as delivery vehicles for Domino’s Pizza and Postmates.

Read the full story on Ford’s announcement here.

While the Florida announcement by Ford is a big deal in terms of actually getting people accustomed to seeing and using driverless cars, what may be an even bigger story popped yesterday in California, where the state gave autonomous cars the green light.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The DMV spent close to a year drafting regulations and seeking public input before submitting the rules to a legal-compliance agency, the state Office of Administrative Law, which approved them on Monday. Companies now can apply to the DMV for permits to test the driverless cars, with the first permits possible by April 2.”

And,

“This is a major step forward for autonomous technology in California,” Jean Shiomoto, director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said in a statement. “Safety is our top concern and we are ready to begin working with manufacturers that are prepared to test fully driverless vehicles in California.”

As Quartz notes, the world of driverless cars changes in April, with California getting in on this.

The Follow:

The states on the coast aren’t the only ones moving forward with driverless car acceptance.

Other states in recent days have made news, with Utah lawmakers considering legislation to allow the vehicles, putting it among the states farthest along in proactively moving to be the next to allow them.

Indiana lawmakers are trying to figure it out – though a bill in progress there is yet to reach consensus.

Technically, the vehicles are legal in several other states that have passed legislation allowing them, at least in principle, though some still have details to work out. Nevada was the first state to vote to allow autonomous vehicles – back in 2011!

Other states that have passed legislation authorizing some level of autonomous vehicle use of roads, or authorizing testing programs for AVs, include Florida, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan, New York and North Carolina, among others.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a full list, including what each state’s law allows.

Gun Injury Research

For yet another day, the national discussion is focused on guns and laws around guns, following the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

And for yet another day, debate about how we should deal with guns in our society is hampered by – among several other things – a lack of good, hard data on gun injuries and deaths.

You’ve likely heard of the Dickey Amendment – or at least what it did. It was part of a law that passed in the 1990s that blocked federal funding from being used on any sort of firearms research.

WLRN Radio in Miami aired a piece earlier today and put it on their website – reviewing how we got here – serving as a discouraging reminder that politics has kept us from even studying the problem of gun violence. (One minor thing the story fails to mention is that Jay Dickey – who is featured in the story – died last year, after coming to regret the amendment that bore his name.)

“I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time,” Dickey told the Huffington Post in 2015, according to his obit last year in the Washington Post. “I have regrets.”

So do many.

BUSINESS NEWS

Delta Force

Delta Airlines made plenty of people mad with its decision to distance itself from the NRA by discontinuing a discount program for NRA members. Among those angered by Delta’s move were the leaders of the state Senate and the lieutenant governor in Delta’s home state of Georgia.

If you’ve flown Delta much, you undoubtedly know that it’s deeply entrenched at Atlanta’s airport, since it’s hard to fly anywhere on the airline in the eastern U.S. without changing planes there. Delta is headquartered there and employs more than 30,000 Georgians.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise that Georgia was set to give Delta a break on fuel taxes – to the tune of $50 million. Until the whole NRA thing, after which the planned tax break went away faster than you can walk from the Sweetwater Brewhouse in Terminal A to board through Gate B 36.

A lot of politicians took the opportunity to suggest that Delta relocate, from the Minneapolis and Birmingham mayors to the governor of Virginia, who tweeted that “Virginia is for lovers. And airline hubs.”

More here

NOTES FROM THE AGE OF DISRUPTION: 

Airbnb
Is Airbnb planning to launch an airline? One wonders whether they’ll give NRA discounts. USA Today

Virgin
Virgin is showing off what its hyperloop pod cabin would look like. de Zeen

Facebook
Wants to help local news publishers. TechCrunch

You may have noticed we’ve shortened The Lede – something many of you requested. You guys are apparently a busy bunch of people who don’t have time to read much. I appreciate you spending any of your valuable time reading this email – and welcome your continued feedback. @daveroyse or dave.royse@ledetree.com

In this day when none of us has any time anymore, the old idea of the “daily newspaper” bringing you “all things” is, perhaps, a bit dated.  But it’s not like we’re going to stop bringing you news and information – we’re considering some additional ways of getting it to you (other newsletters, for example) that may focus more on particular issues – so you can subscribe to emails that are likely to be mostly about things you want to read about, and not have to be subjected to as many of my random tangents.

The Lede will continue to be about some of the most interesting items we’re covering, trying to stick most days to our original plan – bringing you something new and interesting about where we’re going as a society – something that you’re not likely to have read in all the other stuff you read every day. When we look at issues other media are covering, we want at best avoid them, or at least look at them in a different way.

And hopefully, we’ll be able to continue to focus on news that’s more about solutions and progress, rather than simply pointing out problems.

We’d love it if you’d follow us on Twitter and on Facebook for LedeTree news throughout the day

To take us out, let’s go to the original driverless car, Kit.

About David Royse

David Royse
David Royse is the Editor-in-Chief of Ledetree.com. He has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years, including stints with The Associated Press and The News Service of Florida. He enjoys writing about health and medical science, and hopeful stories about scientific breakthroughs and new technology.

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