Tech Digest daily roundup: US agency officially investigates Tesla


The US federal agency in charge of road safety is opening an official investigation into Tesla’s “self-driving” Autopilot system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was acting following 11 Tesla crashes since 2018 involving emergency vehicles. In some cases, the Tesla vehicles “crashed directly into the vehicles of first responders”, it said. The investigation will cover roughly 765,000 Tesla cars made since 2014. That includes those in the Model Y, Model X, Model S and Model 3, the NHTSA said – the entire current range. The agency was primarily concerned with an apparent inability of Tesla vehicles to cope with vehicles stopped in the road – specifically emergency vehicles attending an incident. BBC

Ticket re-sale sites such as viagogo and Stubhub should face a tough new licensing regime which could see companies that break the rules shut down, the UK competition watchdog has said. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had taken strong action in recent years to protect customers but there was a limit to what regulators could do under present powers. It said “swift and effective” action to tackle resellers who rip off or mislead sports and music fans was “not possible under the current law”. The CMA said that with music festivals and large sporting events resuming over coming months it was recommending changes to the law and existing regulations to protect consumers. Sky News

Last year, as the pandemic turbocharged demand for online shopping, Amazon hired 500,000 people. Ocado, meanwhile, brought in the robots. The internet grocer made a series of investments in automated warehouses and robotics companies to deal with an unexpected spike in home orders, as well as a lucrative tie-up with Marks & Spencer. At its latest warehouses, robots outnumber humans, and the balance is only going in one direction. “Retailers now understand that it is only through investment into automation they can deliver excellent experiences to their customers in a way that is still profitable for them,” the company declared in its annual report. Telegraph 

In the game of fitness wearables, it’s hard to give everyone what they want. That’s why Garmin offers a seemingly endless array of watches, Apple currently sells no less than three Apple Watches, and Fitbit has an array of wearables from kid-centric trackers to a smartwatch the company hopes can one day detect early symptoms of COVID-19. The Fitbit Luxe, which retails for $150, is the latter’s latest style-focused fitness tracker. It attempts to provide some smartwatch luxuries in a device that looks like a piece of jewelry. The Luxe is a cute tracker, but it has some questionable choices and oversights to be aware of—most of which are endemic to Fitbit devices. If you’re looking for an ultracasual fitness tracker and a stylish smart device for your wrist, the Fitbit Luxe could be one of your best options. If you’re looking to get active and stay active, though, you may want to look elsewhere. Ars Technica

School and college leaders have condemned the government’s plan to ban mobile phones from classrooms as outdated and out of touch, arguing that schools should be allowed to decide on appropriate rules. Responding to a Department for Education (DfE) consultation on student behaviour, the Association of School and College Leaders said education leaders already had student mobile phone use under control and warned that some students, such as those caring for a relative, may be disadvantaged by a strict approach. Julie McCulloch, the director of policy at ASCL, said: “School and college leaders are slightly mystified about the education secretary’s fixation with banning mobile phones in classrooms because they have been dealing with the practicalities of this issue for many years now.” She added: “Our view remains that schools and colleges already have strong tried-and-tested policies and they are best placed to make their own decisions.” Guardian

Chris Price
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