First test of driverless minibus in Paris

PARIS (AFP): The French capital's transport authority will on Saturday carry out its first test of a driverless minibus, in the hope that regular routes for the hi-tech vehicles will be up and running within two years.

The electric-powered driverless EZ10 minibus, able to carry up to 12 passengers, has already been tested on closed circuits in Japan, Singapore and California and in a road test in Helsinki.

One of the self-driving shuttle buses, made by French hi-tech firm Easymile, will on Saturday run along a special circuit in Paris on a pedestrianised street near the River Seine. The bus will travel at 25 kilometres (15 miles) an hour and for RATP, the transport authority for the Paris region, it is the start of a series of tests.

The second test, to be held in the French capital before the end of the year, will see the EZ10 running between two major transport hubs, the Lyon and Austerlitz train stations.

"The autonomous vehicle presents an opportunity for new services notably in less densely populated areas," RATP president Elisabeth Borne said in a statement.

The east-central French town of Lyon carried out its own test on a driverless minibus this month.

 

 

 

Facebook apologises for overstating key ad metric

CALIFORNIA (Reuters): Facebook Inc on Friday apologized for an error in the way it measured a key metric of video viewership that significantly amplified users' viewing times on its platform.

The social media giant had said a few weeks ago that a metric for average user time on videos was artificially inflated as it only counted videos viewed for over three seconds.

At the time, Facebook had said that the "discrepancy" did not impact advertising billings and introduced newer metrics to replace the previous method.

Facebook has made a significant strides into video, which has attracted significant advertising interest and has benefited from the shift in advertising spending towards the internet and other mobile platforms.

Revenue from advertising was the biggest driver to company's total revenue in the latest quarter, surging 63 percent to $6.24 billion.

"While this is only one of the many metrics marketers look at, we take any mistake seriously," David Fischer, vice president of business and marketing partnership at Facebook, said in a post on Friday.

"This could pose a serious blow to Facebook's video proposition, which has had so much of momentum over the last two years," said Sarah Wood, co-CEO of ad tech company Unruly, which is owned by News Corp.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. (http://on.wsj.com/2cH0W7L)

Publicis Groupe SA's advertising unit was informed by Facebook that the earlier method likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60 percent and 80 percent, according to the WSJ report.

Shares of Facebook closed down 1.6 percent at $127.96 on Friday.

 

 

 

SpaceX blast investigation suggests breach in oxygen tank's system

DALLAS (Reuters): A SpaceX rocket that burst into flames on its launch pad at the beginning of this month likely suffered a large breach in its upper-stage helium system, the company said on Friday.

SpaceX, owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, was fueling a Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad in Florida on Sept. 1 in preparation for a routine test-firing when a bright fireball suddenly emerged around the rocket's upper stage.

"At this stage of the investigation, preliminary review of the data and debris suggests that a large breach in the cryogenic helium system of the second stage liquid oxygen tank took place," SpaceX said in a statement posted on its website.

SpaceX spokesman Dex Torricke-Barton declined to speculate on what triggered the breach of the helium system, saying the company was still investigating a range of possible causes.

No one was hurt in the explosion, which could be heard 30 miles (48 km) away from SpaceX's launch pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

SpaceX said it had learned enough to conclude that whatever triggered the fireball was not related to a June 2015 accident that occurred about two minutes after liftoff. That accident destroyed a load of cargo heading for the International Space Station.

The company traced that problem to a faulty bracket that was holding a bottle of helium in the oxygen tank of the rocket's upper stage. SpaceX replaced thousands of brackets throughout its fleet and resumed flying six months later.

"We have exonerated any connection with last year's mishap," SpaceX said in Friday's statement.

The Sept. 1 launch pad fire damaged "substantial areas" of SpaceX's primary launch site but key areas were unaffected. The company did not provide an estimate of what repairing the damage would cost, nor how long it would be out of service.

Pad 40 would be repaired, Torricke-Barton said, adding it was too early to say when it would be completed.

The California-based firm said it would shift some missions to a new launch site at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, adjacent to the Air Force base. SpaceX also operates a launch site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, which it uses for high-inclination and polar-orbiting missions.

The company is aiming to resume flights in November.

SpaceX has more than 70 missions on its manifest, worth more than $10 billion, for commercial and government customers.