Chanje is a new electric truck company with former Tesla execs

A company in California called


has emerged from stealth mode today to announce it will build electric medium-duty

delivery trucks

. The company is looking for a place to build the vehicles in the U.S., and Chanje says it already has volume orders that it will deliver this year.

Change’s executive roster includes VP and General Counsel

James Chen

(who left


for Faraday Future in 2016), Chief Operating Officer

Jeorg Sommer

(who left


for Faraday Future in 2016), and VP of Manufacturing Jeff Robinson (who previously worked at Tesla,







Chanje’s first vehicle will be an all-electric panel van, called V8070, capable of hauling up to 6,000 pounds in its 580 cubic-feet of cargo space. The V8070’s 70-kWh battery estimated driving range of 100 miles on a single charge, which is more than enough to meet the average urban delivery truck’s 70 miles of daily driving. The company says that third-party testing shows the vehicle to offer more than 50 miles per gallon equivalent (more specs


). It will feature connectivity features to provide fleet managers with real-time data for route and energy optimization, driver profile studies and emissions


. Chanje will offer over-the-air software update, and Ryder will be its service and distribution partner.

After the launch of the electric van, Chanje will expand its all-electric vehicle lineup to include larger trucks and shuttle buses of various sizes.

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from Autoblog

How Your Phone Number Became the Only Username That Matters

Before it was the world’s most popular messaging app, WhatsApp wasn’t even a messaging app. Founder Jan Koum simply thought it would be neat to open his address book and see a status message—at the gym, in a meeting—next to everyone’s names. He also knew no one wants to endure the rigamarole of creating a username and password, maintaining a buddy list, and joining yet another social network just to know what their friends are up to. So Koum let people log into WhatsApp using only a phone number. He also used the iPhone’s Address Book API to automatically scan your contacts to see who you knew that was already using the service.

Great growth-hacking, yes, but helping people find friends proved more of a side effect than anything. "I was just lazy and couldn’t remember my Skype password," Koum says. "I kept having to get new usernames and start all over. I went through, like, three different accounts in the matter of a summer, and I was like, ‘Screw this.’" Looking back, though, he considers the decision central to WhatsApp’s massive success. "You look at the painful experience you’d have with some of the legacy messaging apps on a desktop, and the elegance and simplicity of SMS," Koum says. "To us, it was just like, well, if SMS can do it, why shouldn’t we?"

WhatsApp was among the first apps to equate your account with your phone number. Now apps like Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger do it, too. Starting this fall, setting up your iPhone will be as easy as punching in your number. The supposedly super-secure way of logging into apps involves texting you a secret code to verify your identity. Phone numbers are killing the username, killing the password, and making it easier than ever to go wild online. So guard it with your life, because it is your life.

But Who Are You?

Virtually every powerful company has tried to assert itself as The One True ID. Facebook Connect followed you around the web, making your Facebook credentials a virtual passport to other sites and services. Twitter always hoped to turn your @username into a similarly powerful login, and your profile page into your personal website. The +YourName convention of Google Plus might have turned into something similar, if only anybody used Google Plus.

Beyond the tech giants, the popular open source tool OpenID united your many emails, screen names, and profiles with a simple URL. The Fido Alliance brought Google, Visa, Samsung, Intel, and others together to create a powerful, secure login device you could use anywhere. The Obama administration even got in the game, developing the controversial National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. Under the that system, every user would have a "single credential," like a card or a piece of software, that could be used to log into any website or platform. Some of these programs made real headway, but none could get universal support.

But a phone number? Everyone has one. The universality of smartphones turned the address book into a gold mine for anyone building a social app. Facebook Messenger’s explosive growth happened largely because you only needed a phone number to sign up. When Google created the Duo and Allo messaging apps, the company opted not to associate your profile with your Google account, but with your phone number. "Your contact list is fully populated with lots of your friends’ phone numbers," Nick Fox, Google’s VP of messaging, said at the time. "You don’t need to manage new contacts. Whatever contacts are in your phone, work within the app." It also helped that you could send someone a message in Allo, and if they weren’t using the app they’d get your message as a plain ol’ SMS—with a nudge to sign up.

As more of your personal life moves online, having a single way to identify yourself matters. It helps you find people, helps people find you, and helps keeps you safe. And while people change email addresses when they switch jobs or tire of being, a phone number has remarkable staying power. Now that you can port your number between phones, plans, and even carriers, you have no reason to change yours. And the odds are your phone’s area code indicates where you were living when you first got a cell phone—like a badge of honor, a statement of personality wrapped up in three numbers.

Can I Have Your Number?

Your phone number provides far greater security than a password, but it isn’t perfect. Scammers can steal your identity using only your digits, and spoofing someone’s number or even stealing it right off a SIM card remains shockingly easy. There are other problems, too: You’ve probably never told Amazon your Wells Fargo password, but they both know your phone number. "Your cell phone number is… tied to the same portals of information that is aligned with your social security number," private investigator Thomas Martin wrote earlier this year. "The little known secret is the cell phone number is more useful because it is connected to hundreds of databases not affiliated with your social security number."

So be careful who has number. You may even want to pick up a burner, or use a service like Sideline and Burner that provides disposable phone numbers. "Dating and Craigslist were the two primary use cases at the beginning," says Greg Cohn, Burner’s co-founder. Over time, Cohn says, the Burner crew was amazed at "how many different use cases people had for phone numbers, and extra phone numbers." Customers include celebrity users who don’t want their primary number getting out, and people in sales looking to separate work from personal calls on a single device.

Eventually, your phone itself could replace your number as your primary identity—at least when it comes to authentication. Some apps don’t require a password at all, but text you a code each time you log in. Smart home devices are programmed to spot your phone, and assume it’s never more than a few feet from its owner. You are your phone, and your phone is you. The trend will only accelerate as wearables become more popular and you start strapping stuff to your body instead of shoving it in your pocket. You’ll unlock your phone with your face, pay for stuff with your thumbprint, and log into Facebook with your voice.

For now, though, there’s nothing more personal than your phone number. So hang onto it, treasure it, be choosy about who you give it to and what you type it into. Those digits represent you more than any username or email address or password. So next time you give someone your number, make sure they know just how honored they should feel.

from Wired Top Stories

Tesla quietly upgrades Autopilot hardware in new cars

Tesla may have promised that all its newly-made vehicles from October 2016 onward would have the groundwork for self-driving capabilities, but that doesn’t mean its technology is set in stone. Electrek has learned that Tesla is quietly equipping new Model 3, S and X production units with upgraded Autopilot hardware (HW 2.5). Don’t put your barely-used P100D up for sale, though, as this isn’t a night-and-day upgrade. Although Electrek says the new gear includes a secondary node to enable more computing power, a spokesperson says 2.5 is really about adding "computing and wiring redundancy" that "very slightly" boosts reliability.

Every HW 2.0 or later car should still have the foundations for self-driving functionality, in other words. And while it’s "highly unlikely" that these vehicles will need an upgrade when fully autonomy is an option, Tesla will upgrade them to 2.5 for free.

The improvement underscores the fine line Tesla has to walk with when it comes to upgrades. The electric car maker revolves around constant iteration, but it also has to meet the expectations of customers who bought expensive add-ons assuming they’d eventually get full self-driving features. Tesla likely has more headroom for vehicle upgrades than this, but it can’t do anything that would limit driverless tech to post-2.0 vehicles.

Via: The Verge

Source: Electrek

from Engadget

LG V30’s camera has the lowest f-stop in a smartphone

After focusing on audio for the V20, LG decided to shift its successor’s selling point to something else: its camera. We still have a few weeks before V30’s launch, but the phonemaker has followed up a leak of its hands-on footage with the revelation that the device will have the largest aperture on a smartphone yet. LG has incorporated an f/1.6 lens into the phone’s dual camera — as you might know, the lower the f value, the bigger the aperture is and the more the light gets in. An f/1.6 lens lets 25 percent more light in than an f/1.8 lens, for instance.

V30’s aperture is complemented by the camera’s glass lens that can reproduce colors better than plastic lenses can. LG says the phone’s camera is just better than its predecessors’ overall — it even reduces edge distortion for wide angle shots like landscape images and (ahem) "groufies" despite being slimmer.

"LG boasts an unrivaled heritage in smartphone photography," the Korean electronics maker said, "and our decision to adopt glass in the V30 camera is specifically because this has traditionally been the realm of DSLRs. For the users for whom the V series was designed, this kind of innovation is significant." We’ll know for sure how good the phone’s image quality truly is after it launches on August 31st.

Source: LG

from Engadget

NASA’s plasma rocket making progress toward a 100-hour firing

Enlarge /

With 200 kW of solar power, the VASIMR engine could be used as a lunar tug.

Ad Astra Rocket Company

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Almost everyone recognizes that if humans are truly to go deeper into the Solar System, we need faster and more efficient propulsion systems than conventional chemical rockets. Rocket engines powered by chemical propellants are great for breaking the chains of Earth’s gravity, but they consume way too much fuel when used in space and don’t offer optimal control of a spacecraft’s thrust.

NASA recognizes this, too. So in 2015, the space agency awarded three different contracts for development of advanced propulsion systems. Of these, perhaps the most intriguing is a plasma-based rocket—which runs on Argon fuel, generates a plasma, excites it, and then pushes it out a nozzle at high speed. This solution has the potential to shorten the travel time between Earth and Mars to weeks, rather than months.

But to realize that potential, Houston-based Ad Astra Rocket Company must first demonstrate that its plasma rocket, VASIMR, can fire continuously for a long period of time. The three year, $9 million contract from NASA required the company to fire its plasma rocket for 100 hours, at a power level of 100 kilowatts, by 2018.

This week, Ad Astra reported that it remains on target toward that goal. The company completed a successful performance review with NASA after its second year of the contract, and it has now fired the engine for a total of 10 hours while making significant modifications to its large vacuum chamber to handle the thermal load produced by the rocket engine.

When Ars visited the company early in 2017, the company was pulsing its rocket for about 30 seconds at a time. Now, the company is firing VASIMR for about five minutes at a time, founder Franklin Chang-Diaz told Ars. “The limitation right now is moisture outgassing from all the new hardware in both the rocket and the vacuum chamber,” he said. “This overwhelms the pumps, so there is a lot of conditioning that has to be done little by little.”

As the company continues to test the new hardware, it is gradually building up to longer and longer pulses with inspections in between. As Astra remains on target to perform the 100-hour test in late summer or early fall of 2018, Chang-Diaz said.

Initially, the company foresees the plasma rocket as a means for pushing cargo between Earth and the Moon, or on to Mars. With solar powered panels, the rocket would have a relatively low thrust and therefore would move loads slowly but efficiently. But with more power, such as from a space-based nuclear reactor, it could one day reach much higher velocities that would allow humans to travel rapidly through the Solar System.

from Ars Technica