Self-driving Carts and Self-driving Cars

The US government granted Walmart a patent for a system of Roomba-like self-driving shopping carts.

What Happened?

It was a big week. You might have missed something.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Seven months ago to much fanfare, New York City installed new wifi kiosks. They were a supposed to be replacements for phone booths, and city officials imagined they’d be used to charge phones, check maps, and surf the internet. But as some suspected, they were used for unsavory purposes–mainly lots of porn watching. On Wednesday LinkNYC, the operator of the kiosks, announced they would be disabling the internet functions.

On the Road
Uber rolled out self-driving cars in Pittsburgh this week, but riders might be disappointed to find a real human in the driver seat–it’s a backup driver. The noticeable differences for riders are the radar device on the top of the car and the large backseat tablet displaying details on the trip and the surroundings. “The idea is to give riders an idea of what the car sees, so they don’t wonder if the robot has noticed that truck up ahead,” writes Wired.

Human Uber drivers are understandably concerned. An Uber spokesperson told MarketWatch, “Even when these technology issues are fixed, we believe ride-sharing will be a mix—with rides provided by drivers and Self-Driving Ubers.”

But at the Code conference in 2014, Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick said “…the reason Uber [is] expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car, you’re paying for the other dude in the car [or the driver]…And so, when there’s no other dude in the car the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.” As for those drivers who will lose their jobs? “Look, this is the way the world is going…The world isn’t always great,” Kalanick said.

Prime Podcasts
Prime members will have access to podcasts and audio from Amazon-owned Audible, including content through Audible Channels, the company announced this week. Channels, which launched in July, includes short spoken word recordings from The New York Times, McSweeney’s, The Onion, and other publications. The company also plans to release original audio shows, like the true crime series West Cork, or Amazon’s answer to Serial.

Longer Tweets are coming to Twitter on Monday, reports the Verge. Expect to see a lot more GIFs but not long written rants. Twitter is just changing which types of content won’t count toward the 140-character limit including GIFS, videos, and quoted Tweets.

This week during Techcrunch’s Disrupt SF 2016, 25 startups competed in the Startup Battlefield for $50,000 and the Disrupt Cup. The winner was Mobalytics, a company hoping to bring coaching to more competitive gamers. “Mobalytics is aiming their service primarily toward gamers looking to add to their skills and break into the upper echelon of kicking butt,” writes TechCrunch.

Other highlights from Disrupt SF 2016 included:
A conversation with Adam Mosseri, the head of Facebook’s News Feed, who said the company will roll out tech to combat fake news stories and who insisted that Facebook is not a media company.
An interview with NBA star Stephen Curry who spoke about his social media startup Slyce.
And US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter who made an argument for splitting up the NSA and Cyber Command.

It’s Here (Sort of)
The iPhone 7 and 7 plus go on sale today, but you’ll have a hard time getting them in stores. The company announced that it has sold out of the initial supply of the larger iPhone 7, and its stores will have limited quantities of the iPhone 7 in all colors except jet black, which is totally sold out. This news did not deter fans from lining up at Apple stores around the World.

Really Recalled
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was officially recalled yesterday, but it seems customers don’t want to part with the problematic phone that’s been known to catch fire. Only about 10% of phones have been exchanged.