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Toyota Recall Affects 682,000 Camry, Venza & Tacoma

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Toyota Recall Models

Toyota recall is affecting around 682,000 cars and trucks in the US. Safety concerns and the Toyota recall is not helping their reputation get back on track after numerous recalls in the recent years. Toyota’s title of being the largest carmaker in the world was taken by General Motors in 2008.

On Wednesday, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. (NYSE:TM) announced it’s recalling nearly 700,000 vehicles because of various problems. Toyota said it will recall 495,000 Tacoma trucks from the 2005 to 2009 model years to replace the steering wheel spiral cable assembly. They detected some friction in the cable assembly that could prevent the driver’s airbag from deploying during a crash.

Also, the Toyota recall includes 2009 Camry sedans and 2009 to 2011 Venza vehicles to replace the stop lamp switch. Approximately 70,500 Camrys and 116,000 Venzas are being recalled. At this moment, the Toyota Camry is the best-selling passenger car in the United States.

Toyota reported, “During the installation of the switch at one of the North American assembly lines, silicon grease may have reached the inside of the switch and caused an increase in electrical resistance. If this occurs, warning lamps on the instrument panel may be illuminated, the vehicle may not start, or the shift lever may not shift from the ‘park’ position. In some cases, the vehicle stop lamps may become inoperative.”

Toyota is in the process of getting replacement parts for the recall and once they do, they will notify owners. If you are an owner of a Toyota affected by the recall, you should see your recall notice in the mail around early April. Drivers can then take the vehicle in for repair free of charge when the parts become available.

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Startups

TuSimple self-driving trucks is the future of cargo delivery

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Photo: TuSimple website
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Cargo and mails have been delivered inside Arizona by self-driving trucks that people don’t even know about as UPS has only announced this week that they have been using TuSimple, a self-driving car startup, to move cargo around the state for quite some time.

The announcement comes with the disclosure that UPS has also made a funding venture to help the startup. Since May, TuSimple autonomous trucks have been hauling UPS loads on a 115-mile route between Phoenix and Tucson.

The shipping and cargo company confirms that this is the first time that they have used TuSimple’s autonomous trucks to deliver mails across the state.

TuSimple is a shipping and cargo startup that prides itself with autonomous and self-driving trucks, which, according to their website, would cut the average cost of shipping in a tractor-trailer by 30 percent. “Our proprietary AI is capable of long-distance highway driving, and complex surface street driving – enabling fully autonomous deliveries from one depot to another,” read’s TuSimple’s website.

They also advertise that they have road-safe autonomous trucks designed with an AI that is trained to respond to road incidents in the shortest possible time.

“At highway speeds, 1000 meters provides 35 seconds of time to react, enabling the system to make the safest and most efficient driving decisions,” reads the startup’s website. “Our perception system is designed to identify objects and obstacles, even in adverse weather conditions.”

The promising pitch of the startup has awakened the interest of huge shipping and cargo companies like UPS. In an announcement about their funding for the startup, UPS Ventures managing partner, Todd Lewis, said the venture arm “collaborates with startups to explore new technologies and tailor them to help meet our specific needs.”

The startup is also what shipping companies are looking at as a solution to the declining number of truck drivers in the United States.

“Long-haul routes with short turnaround times, such as this 22-hour journey, are well suited for self-driving trucks because they are normally accomplished with driving teams of two. Driving teams are challenging to recruit due to overnight driving requirements, the need to share close quarters with another person and a significant truck driver shortage,” said TuSimple in a press release.

In the partnership announcement from UPS, the shipping giant said that TuSimple has been helping them understand how to get to Level 4 autonomous driving where a vehicle is fully autonomous and able to reach a particular location. Right now, the TuSimple self-driving trucks still have an engineer and a safety driver tagging along the trip, but UPS is hopeful that with the help of the startup and the backing of huge shipping companies, they will be able to find a way to automize their delivery trucks fully.

Right around the time that UPS announced its partnership with TuSimple, the same deal was made between the startup and the United States Postal Service (USPS) to have a two-week pilot operation to deliver mail between Phoenix and Dallas, a 1,000-mile trip.

The pilot operation with USPS will involve five round trips totaling over 2,100 miles, estimated at about 45 hours of driving, and will pass through major interstates spanning Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The partnership with huge shipping companies could help the San Diego-based startup be more commercialized, the founder said. “Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system, and expedite the technological development and commercialization progress,” Dr. Xiaodi Hou, ‘TuSimple’s founder, said in a statement.

“It is exciting to think that before many people ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck,” added Dr. Xiaodi Hou.

The startup aims to be the pioneer in providing autonomous trucks to serve shipping companies in the U.S., and it aims to boost the shipping industry as well.

“TuSimple is aiming to boost the $800-billion U.S. trucking industry by increasing safety, reducing carbon emissions and transportation costs, and optimizing logistics for fleet operators. With a 1000 meter vision range, TuSimple autonomous trucks are safer because they can see more and react faster than humans – rain or shine, day or night,” reads a press release.

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Alibaba’s Joe Tsai buying Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center for $3.5 billion

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Joe Tsai buys Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center
Photo: RISE | Flickr | CC BY 2.0
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Joe Tsai is reportedly buying the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center for around $3.5 billion. The agreement could be announced as soon as Friday.

The Taiwan-born Tsai is among the 18 co-founders of Alibaba. He currently sits as the executive vice-chairman of the company. Forbes estimates his worth to be around $9.9 billion. He is Alibaba’s second-largest shareholder after Jack Ma. The Yale-educated businessman is presumed to take on an even bigger role once Ma steps down from Alibaba. 

The deal would give Tsai control of the Brooklyn Nets. In May 2018, Tsai was able to buy 49% of the Brooklyn Nets from Mikhail Prokhorov for $1 billion.  

Upon closing the deal last year, Prohorov welcomed Tsai into the organization and said: “We are excited to have Joe as a partner. He brings tremendous global experience, a passion for basketball, and shares our vision for the development of the Nets”

In last year’s deal, Tsai was given the option to buy the remaining stake of the team in 2021. However, it seems that the deal would be coming earlier than expected. Prohorov currently owns 59% of the basketball franchise. 

If the deal between Tsai and Prohorov has been finalized, this would give the former full ownership of the team — two seasons earlier than anticipated.  With the team’s valuation of $2.35 billion, this deal would make it the highest price ever paid for a sports team franchise in history.  

The current record is held by David Tepper and Tilman Fertitta. Tepper bought the NFL’s Carolina Panthers in 2018 for $2.2 billion. In 2017, the owner of multi-brand corporation Landry’s, Fertitta bought the Houston Rockets for the same amount.  

The ownership of the Brooklyn Nets is not the only deal that Tsai is reportedly making with Prokhorov. In a separate deal, Prokhorov is selling his stakes in the Barclays Center to Tsai. The arena is where the Nets play during their home games. This follows the NBA’s preference for the team and the arena where they play to be under one ownership. If both deals are combined, it would amount to a record-breaking $3.5 billion.

Joe Tsai is no stranger to sports team ownership. Before buying his stakes of the Nets, Tsai bought box lacrosse team — San Diego Seals. In January 2019, he headed a group that bought the WNBA’s New York Liberty from The Madison Square Company. A month after, Tsai joined The Raine Group and The Chernin Group in investing in a new lacrosse league — the Premier Lacrosse League.  

With the Nets deal, this would make Tsai as the eight richest sports team owner in the world. In the NBA, he becomes second only to the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer.  

The change in the principal owner of the Brooklyn Nets comes after the team’s good run in the NBA last season. The team made it to the playoffs for the first time in four years.  

Before the new NBA season starts, the Brooklyn Nets have already gotten the services of two free agents — Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.  With the addition of the pair to the team roster, attendance is expected to increase. Last season, the Nets ranked 14th in terms of attendance with an average 14,941 per game. 

While Tsai’s take over of the Nets is still subject for approval by the NBA, this move is seen as something positive and beneficial to and for the league. The NBA is currently growing at a rapid speed in China. To add, Joe Tsai is part of NBA China’s board. NBA China conducts the league’s business in the country.  

With the NBA’s growth in the country, it has become such a massive business. The NBA has become China’s most popular sports league. With its growing fanbase, the NBA has also expanded its reach by opening NBA stores in China. In April of this year, the NBA opened its biggest official store outside of North America in Beijing.

Dubbed as the “Joe Tsai effect,” the Brooklyn Nets will be joining the Los Angeles Lakers in the 13th edition of the NBA China Games. The two teams will play two preseason games in Shanghai and Shenzhen in October.

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YouTube and Google sued by creators over LGBTQ discriminatory claims

YouTube LGBTQ creators filed a lawsuit.

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LGBTQ filed lawsuit against Youtube
Photo by Rachit Tank on Unsplash
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LGBTQ creators are suing YouTube and, its parent company, Google over alleged claims that the platform has shown discriminatory behaviors by unfairly applying its policies and algorithms against content that feature LGBTQ-centered content, which is unmonetized and not seen by a wide audience.

A handful of YouTube creators joined to file a class-action lawsuit against the two companies, claiming that they have been affected by the platform’s practices. Notably, a class-action could include more plaintiffs under the same claims.

The lawsuit alleges that YouTube’s policies are not applied evenly across content, allowing LGBTQ content to be marked as “shocking” and “sexually explicit,” with hate speech proliferating on the platform.

YouTube deploys “unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBTQ+ plaintiffs and the greater LGBTQ+ community,” the suit says.

Furthermore, the suit says that YouTube removed advertising from videos featuring “trigger words” such as “gay” or “lesbian,” labels that are LGBT-themed videos and tagged as “sensitive” or “mature.” As a result, these videos are restricted from appearing in Youtube’s search results or recommendations.

Significantly, GNews!, one of the cited instances in the lawsuit, details that Google refused to let the creators of the show to advertise their program.

One of the plaintiffs alleges a Google employee explicitly telling creators that they cannot purchase an ad due to its LGBTQ-related content. Celso Dulay and Chris Knight, who produce GNews!, discussed how they’ve tried multiple times to buy an ad on YouTube to promote its Christmastime Show, but failed.

In response, YouTube detailed that rejection the ad was due to its “shocking content.” When Dulay and Knight tried to dispute YouTube’s decision, a content regulator allegedly told the two creators that their ad was likely rejected because of the “gay thing.”

The class-action is filed and led by Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers, who runs a joint YouTube channel with more than 850,000 subscribers, Amp Somers, who produces sex education videos, Chase Ross, who documents his experiences as a transgender man, and Lindsay Amer, who produces LGBT-themed educational videos.

In particular, Bria and Chrissy said that the effect of YouTube’s policies have meant the married couple is no longer able to make a living creating videos. The pair used to bring in 5 million views and $3,500 to $4,000 a month through their YouTube channel. But for the past two years, the couple’s revenue has dropped to earning a meager $400 to $500 a month.

“They are removing our thumbnails, they are not sending our videos out to our subscribers, they are removing subscribers. We are age-gated. We are age-restricted.” said Kam.

Ross, on the other hand, alleges that his videos are routinely placed in restricted mode by YouTube, even those talking about self-care. In other instances, the complaint says that Ross had his videos removed and account suspended, only for YouTube to reinstate him and say it was an error after he vented his frustration on social media.

In light of the current proceeding, YouTube continued to deny the allegations and told the press that they do not discriminate LGBT-related content creators nor the videos that they produce.

“Our policies have no notion of sexual orientation or gender identity and our systems do not restrict or demonetize videos based on these factors or the inclusion of terms like ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’,” spokesman Alex Joseph said.

“In addition, we have strong policies prohibiting hate speech and we quickly remove content that violates our policies and terminate accounts that do so repeatedly,” Joseph added.

YouTube said it had removed 220 million comments in the first three months of 2019, 99% of which had been detected automatically. Additionally, the platform also said that it had removed more than 3,000 channels for publishing hate speech.

However, YouTube was recently involved in another LGBT-themed online dispute between two YouTubers — Carlos Maza, who hosts for Vox, and Stephen Crowder, a conservative media personality.

YouTube faced criticism for not doing enough to avoid harassment and abusive language, and not being able to protect LGBTQ users in the platform’s community.

Apparently, the platform has been providing a convenient platform for Crowder’s videos that usually features bullying and homophobic speech. Crowder posted various videos involving Carlos Maza — where he made unnecessary comments with underlying and blatant tones on homophobia and racism, Maza claims.

YouTube only made a response and acted on the allegations after receiving multiple tweets and comments from people that Crowder should be penalized for his actions, which YouTube then said that they have demonetized his account but also affirmed that they will overturn it once Crowder has cleaned his account.

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