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Uber Wants Self-Driving Scooters and More Car News This Week

Yeah, WIRED Transportation loves new car tech. But this week, we were all about alternatives to driving around on four wheels. We thought about what might make public transit more comfortable for more than half of the population—you know, women. We pondered the feasibility of self-riding bikes and scooters. (Uber is really working on them!) We wondered what might happen to the nation’s aviation system now that the federal government is open again—and came away depressed. And we took a close look at Amazon’s delivery robots. Why leave your house at all?

It’s been a week—let’s get you caught up.

Headlines

Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week

A new analysis estimates that American cities will only be able to keep up with electric-vehicle charging demand if they build 20 percent more chargers—every year between now and 2025.Self-riding bikes and scooters sort of make sense, business-wise, but Uber’s new robotics team will have a hard time building them.Women said they avoided a new LA Metro light-rail line because they were worried about safety.Amazon will start testing adorable delivery robots in Washington state. But the retail giant will have plenty of technical and regulatory issues to iron out.Digital license plates are now allowed in more states than ever. Will car drivers ever really want them?Boeing engineers in Virginia got an electric “flying taxi”—OK, a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft—to hover in the air for less than a minute and land without incident. It doesn’t sound that cool, but the demo could be the Kitty Hawk moment for the flying car sector.The “multicultural toilet,” a number two solution to aviation’s number one problem.The federal government shutdown is over for now, but the aviation sector may feel its effects for months—maybe years.Out-of-Left-Field Hero of the Week

When was the last time New York’s LaGuardia Airport did something nice for you? The airport, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the country and was famously likened by former vice president Joe Biden to a “third world country”, may have played an instrumental role in the conclusion of the nation’s longest federal shutdown. On Friday the airport had to halt all traffic due to “staffing issues” at a nearby air traffic control center. Just hours later, President Trump said he and congressional leaders had reached an agreement to open the government for three weeks. Thanks, LaGuardia? (Also, the air traffic controllers.)

Stat of the Week30.5%

According to a new study by UCLA medical researchers, nearly a third of the 249 electric-scooter-related injuries that brought people to two LA-area hospitals between September 2017 and September 2018 were fractures—mostly arm, shoulder, and leg fractures. Other top injuries included head injuries (40.2 percent) and contusions and sprains (26.9 percent). Five patients were admitted to emergency hospitals with intracranial hemorrhaging.

Required Reading

News from elsewhere on the internet

Apple lays off 200 workers from its ultra-secretive autonomous vehicle group, Project Titan.A passenger on Waymo One, Waymo’s “self-driving” car service in Arizona, gets real about the program’s limitations. (Reminder: There’s still a safety driver behind the wheel of these Waymo vehicles.)Business Insider reports California regulators fined Tesla almost $30,000 over safety issues related to a production tent in its Fremont factory.Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn steps down two months after his arrest by Japanese authorities for alleged financial crimes.Uber’s new rewards program is bad for traffic.In the Rearview

Essential stories from WIRED’s canonFrom last year: Why use a car when you can ride a bike at 184 mph?

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Why'd the Polar Vortex Cancel So Many Flights? 2019-01-31 20:39:48Freezing temperatures may not bother airplanes, but they are no good for the people on the ground who make them fly.

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Tesla Moves to Build the Model Y After 2019-01-30 20:03:03Elon Musk’s car company just announced its second profitable quarter in a row, but keeping the momentum going requires more focus on costs, and

Lyft Sues New York Over Driver Minimum Wage 2019-01-30 19:06:59The ride-hail company says the new rules, set to roll out Friday, would advantage the market leader—Uber.

CarVi Wants to Help Cure the Common Pothole 2019-01-30 09:00:00It would update its windshield-mounted devices to identify the scourges, then share the info with local governments.

Why Electric Cars Struggle in the Cold—and How 2019-01-30 07:00:00Cold weather is no fun for battery-powered cars, but experienced owners have a few tips for getting by when the mercury drops.

Mercedes’ EQC SUV Makes Everyday Electric Elite 2019-01-29 09:00:00With some clever tricks and flair-free styling, Mercedes sets off down the battery-powered path.

The Need for Carbon Fiber Could Ground the 2019-01-29 08:00:00The many companies racing to launch air taxis face the gnarliness of building aircraft from the lightweight but finicky material.

Los Angeles and Via Hook Up to Offer 2019-01-28 13:30:00The city and ride-share company are trialling a new service meant to get more people onto public transit.

Uber Wants Self-Driving Scooters and More Car News 2019-01-27 09:00:00Plus: Making public transit work better for women, the government shutdown messes with air traffic control, and more.

A 'Multicultural Toilet' and Other Innovations to Fix 2019-01-26 08:00:00This year's Crystal Cabin nominees offer new ways to make the most of precious space.

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Automotive News Breaking

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Bosch faces possible fine in Germany for diesel 2019-02-08 11:21:41Prosecutors in Stuttgart are looking into a possible fine for auto supplier Robert Bosch for providing Volkswagen with engine management software that

Audi readies entry-level EV concept for Geneva show 2019-02-08 11:14:41Audi will give Geneva auto show visitors a glimpse of a future battery-powered car destined to become the automaker's smallest EV.

GM Oshawa plant stops output after Unifor walks 2019-02-08 10:16:32Production at General Motors' plant in Oshawa, Ontario, stopped Friday afternoon after the automaker exhausted its on-hand supply of seats from

Adient cuts losses but warns of 2019 challenges 2019-02-08 09:57:14The automotive seating supplier, challenged by operational and launch problems, is still losing money. It warned that sales and adjusted earnings will

Ghosn to reimburse Versailles palace for 2016 wedding 2019-02-08 07:39:17Carlos Ghosn plans to pay back the Chateau de Versailles for costs related to his Marie Antoinette-themed wedding party after Renault disclosed that i

France denies Renault will cut Nissan stake 2019-02-08 06:27:30France's finance ministry denied a report that it was open to reducing Renault's stake in alliance partner Nissan, as the Japanese automaker tries t

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FCA paid $77 million in 2018 for U.S. 2019-02-07 17:09:12Fiat Chrysler said it paid $77 million in U.S. civil penalties late last year for failing to meet 2016 model year fuel economy requirements, the first

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2020 Subaru Legacy First Look: Hello Again, Turbocharger! 2019-02-07 10:30:30Show Floor Update: It may seem that Subaru is simply chasing trends with the Legacy’s large touchscreen display. But according to North Ame

2019 Chicago Auto Show Car Gallery … PHOTOS! 2019-02-07 10:30:12The 2019 Chicago auto show hosts the latest automotive reveals—and there’s more activity than you might think. The 2020 Toyota Tacoma hits

2020 Kia Sportage Gets Mild Exterior Refresh, New 2019-02-07 09:00:53The refreshed 2020 Kia Sportage debuted at the 2019 Chicago auto show with a revised front fascia and other subtle changes. Additionally, a new S trim

2020 Toyota Sequoia Gets the TRD Pro Treatment 2019-02-07 00:01:47Toyota is adding the Sequoia to its list of vehicles with a TRD Pro variant. Debuting at the Chicago auto show, the 2020 Toyota Sequoia TRD Pro gets a

2020 Toyota Tacoma First Look: Popular Truck Gets 2019-02-07 00:01:35When we compared midsize trucks recently, the Toyota Tacoma came up short. Way short. It looks great, promises to be dead reliable, and should continu

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Electrified car sales in Romania up 65% in 2018 2019-02-08 11:01:00The number of electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars sold last year in Romania was 4,572, up 65.7% compared to 2017, according to statistics fr

Daimler starts production of new gearbox in Romania 2019-02-08 09:12:00Daimler has started production of a new automatic gearbox type at its factory in Sebes, central Romania.

Paris open to reducing Renault stake in Nissan 2019-02-08 06:41:00The French government has informed Tokyo that it is willing to consider reducing Renault's stake in Nissan Motor as part of a broader review of the c

Daimler eyes closer ties with Geely 2019-02-08 06:17:00Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has said the carmaker was in talks about deepening cooperation with Volvo Cars and London Taxis parent Geely, though German

CATL to supply batteries for new Honda EV 2019-02-08 05:40:00Honda Motor has signed a new partnership agreement with Chinese electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) to s

Tenneco appoints Denise Gray to board 2019-02-08 05:36:00Tenneco has appointed Denise Gray to its board of directors effective 1 March.

Skoda invests in developing EV infrastructure 2019-02-08 05:33:00Skoda is carrying out tests using more than 300 charging points to optimise charging infrastructure and charging times ahead of its EV launc

Navya and Insavalor open academy to develop AV 2019-02-08 05:25:00Navya and Insavalor, a subsidiary of Insa Lyon Research and Development have opened the Navya Academy by Insavalor to offer a range of training course

Russia growth stalls to 0.6% as VAT rise 2019-02-08 04:58:00Russia's remarkable run of surging sales came to something of a halt in January with a slender rise of just 0.6%.

Autoliv pays tribute to founder Lennart Lindblad 2019-02-08 03:59:00Autoliv has paid tribute to founder, Lennarat Lindblad, who has died aged 89.

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