<![CDATA[NBC New York - Tech News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/tech http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usThu, 24 Aug 2017 03:16:58 -0400Thu, 24 Aug 2017 03:16:58 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man 'Furious' After Daughter's Disturbing Encounter on Game App]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 23:36:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dad+fb+post.jpg

Warning: Details in this story may be disturbing for some users

A suburban Chicago dad has issued a now-viral warning to parents after he made a disturbing discovery on a popular app being used by his 7-year-old daughter.

Brad Summer, of Batavia, said he and his wife allowed their daughter to use the app Musical.ly on their phones while under supervision by an adult.

“She used this app to connect with her cousins and make goofy duets of songs together,” he wrote on Facebook.

But what he said was a fun, family-friendly game, quickly made him “furious.”

Summer said someone pretending to be 9 years old had messaged his daughter via the app and his daughter alerted him to the disturbing exchange.

“First I want to say how proud of our daughter I am and want this to be a warning to your families,” he wrote.

In screenshots posted by Summer, the messages show someone identified only as “Jessy” asking the young girl how old she is. The person then asks the girl to send a photo of herself.

When the girl sends a selfie, the person says “looking nice” and “send me your pics without t-shirt.”

“I like to see your body without t-shirt,” one message read.

The girl tells the person she can’t, but they continue to press for photos, saying “don’t tell to anyone” and “it’s secret between us only.”

Then, the young girl’s father chimes in.

“I am her father and I am a police officer,” the message reads. “We have documented your ip address and location. I recommend that you refrain from any other contact.”

Summer said he called police and handed the phone over so they could pull information in hopes of tracking the person down.

He said he knows some might criticize his parenting but said “we never thought like predators and I guess we were naïve in thinking our daughter safe on what we thought to be a kid friendly app.”

“We live and learn and I continue to do so everyday as a parent,” he wrote. “This post is meant as a warning call to others that let their children use this app. This post wasn't meant for people telling me how to raise my child. My child came and told me and it didn't get any further luckily. She followed what I taught her. I'm sure that others families aren't so lucky. The world we live in needs focus on these types of things, say what you will.”

Summer’s post has been shared more than 80,000 times and liked more than 18,000 times.

Musical.ly did not respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment, but the app’s rules prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from using it.

The app’s website also provides resources for parents on internet safety and cyberbullying and details how to change message settings so only approved followers can message an account.

“If you’d like to make sure that only approved followers can send messages via direct.ly, we recommend enabling the ‘only friends can direct.ly me’ on the settings page,” the website reads. “With these private settings enabled, only approved followers can view your teen’s videos and send them messages.”

Summer said since his posting, he’s received support from parents across the world.

“This story has spread through almost every continent and the replies have been overwhelmingly touching,” he wrote. “From those who comment, to those of you who send me a PM, I read each and every one. I have been given advice, other sites to look out for and most appreciated, the encouragement to keep fighting.”



Photo Credit: Brad Summer
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<![CDATA[Meet 'Pepper' the Robot Priest]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 17:35:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_ROBOT_PREIST_082317_1-150352176110200001.jpg

Japanese telecommunications company Softbank has built a robot programmed to fulfill religious duties. The robot, named "Pepper," is on display at a funeral and cemetery expo in Tokyo.

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<![CDATA[Samsung Unveils New Galaxy Note 8, Successor to Note 7]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:44:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_SAMSUNG_NOTE_082317_1-150351962828700001.jpg

Samsung announced its newest smartphone, the Galaxy Note 8, on Aug. 23. The new phone is the successor to the Galaxy Note 7, which was recalled when dozens caught fire because of a battery problem.

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<![CDATA[Apple, Aetna Meeting to Bring Apple Watch to Aetna: Sources]]> Mon, 14 Aug 2017 14:25:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/applewatchcolorful-1200x675.jpg

Apple and Aetna held secret meetings last week to bring Apple's health- and fitness-tracking device, Apple Watch, to Aetna customers, according to three sources who spoke with CNBC. 

Aetna, which covers an estimated 23 million people, is negotiating a deal with Apple to either provide the smartwatch for free or at a discounted rate to its members. 

Recently, Apple has focused on developing new health sensors for people with chronic disease, according to a CNBC report in April.

Apple Watch recently surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling health-tracking device, after shipments reached an estimated 22 million in early 2017. 



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Google Cancels 'Town Hall' on Diversity at Last Minute]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 06:57:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/182*120/GettyImages-474984752.jpg

Google canceled a company town hall on diversity at the last minute Thursday afternoon out of concerns about people's safety, worrying they may be publicly outed for asking a question, according to a Google spokesperson.

The questions that were planned by "Googlers" appeared externally this afternoon and some employees are being named on "some websites," CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email sent to employees.

The tech giant planned the town hall meeting for Thursday following days of scrutiny over a controversial memo on the company’s diversity initiatives written by engineer James Damore.

Pichai was expected to lead the town hall with other members of the company’s leadership.

After the anti-diversity memo was made public, Pichai released a memo of his own on Tuesday addressing the importance of self-expression in the workplace while being aware of the company’s code of conduct.

"To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” Pichai said in his memo sent to Google employees.

In the controversial 3,000 word memo written by Damore, the 28-year-old engineer blamed the gender pay gap in the tech industry on biological differences between men and women. He also criticized what he called a politically correct bias in the Google culture.

"People get offended because it goes against the left’s ideology," Damore said during an interview on a conservative talk show on YouTube. “And then they just think, ‘OK, it offends people, therefore it’s wrong and there it’s an opinion."

After the canceled event, Pichai took the opportunity to make a surprise appearance at a women-in-tech awards event later Thursday. He talked directly to dozens of young female engineers from around the world and offered a short but poignant message. 

"There’s a place for you in this industry. There’s a place for you at Google," he said. "Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise."

The event is the culmination of a yearlong global competition for young women to use technology to address a problem. It’s one of several initiatives that Google helps fund in order to diversify its workforce.

It comes as the company conducts damage control over Damore's memo and firing.

"It’s definitely a defining moment for Google, for our culture," said Maggie Johnson, Google vice president of education. "It’s something that we’re working through."



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[How Your Phone Can Detect Card Skimmers]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:39:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/skimmer-gas-pump-tda.jpg

Card skimmers at gas pumps and ATMs are a growing problem, but did you know your cell phone can protect you?

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made a video explaining a few tips to remember when filling up your gas tank.

First, avoid pumps at the end of gas stations. They're often too far for the store clerk to have a clear view of the pump.

Next, leave your debit card in your wallet. It's all too easy for a thief to skim your debit card's magnetic strip. If they catch your pin number, you can bet your bank account is up for grabs.

Have a look around the pump. Look for tampering, a loose credit card reader or a broken seal on the pump's cabinet.

The best way to check for skimmer devices is using your phone, Miller said. Thieves often use Bluetooth technology to transmit card and pin information. Just turn on Bluetooth and search for a device. If you see a long string of numbers trying to connect, that's a bad sign.

As NBC Responds in DFW reported in April, law enforcement across the U.S. have seen a spike in skimming cases this year, and it's expected to keep rising. More credit and debit cards are using chip technology, making it increasingly difficult for thieves to skim your information.

Miller also noted to always print a receipt. You'll need the receipt to file a claim with the gas station's insurance in case you pump bad fuel, or if your identity is stolen.

If it looks like a pump or ATM has been tampered with, move to another pump or pay inside. If you notice suspicious charges on your account, contact your financial institution immediately, the TDA said.



Photo Credit: Texas Department of Agriculture
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<![CDATA[Disney to Remove All Content on Netflix for Own, New Service]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:48:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/207*120/11-11-2015-bob-iger-disney-GettyImages-492431088.jpg

Disney wants to own a piece of the streaming pie.

The company announced during its latest earnings report on Tuesday it intends to pull all its content from Netflix for its own streaming service in 2019, CNBC reported. 

CEO Bob Iger told CNBC's Julia Boorstin Disney had a "good relationship" with Netflix, but decided to exercise an option to move its content off the platform. Movies to be removed include Marvel as well as Disney titles.

It will also be making a "significant investment" in exclusive movies and television series for the new platform.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Google Manifesto' Fuels Debate on Gender Bias in Tech World]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 12:17:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/google-campus1.jpg

A 10-page document known as the "Google Manifesto" that criticizes the company's diversity practices and says that women aren't suited for engineering jobs is adding further controversy to the debate around gender bias in Silicon Valley, NBC News reported.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the memo violates the company's code of conduct, but also added that minority viewpoints cannot be discounted. NBC News could not independently confirm reports that the author of the report, said to be a Google engineer, was fired.

"I am just kind of tired of it," said former Google engineer Cate Huston. "These things keep happening and the details change but the substantive portion of it is that women shouldn't be engineers are we aren’t welcome."

While Google and other tech companies are making efforts to hire a more diverse workforce, they are still grappling with how to fix a bro culture after a number of headline-grabbing stories this year. Stories of harassment in the tech investment world have led to resignations and, at Uber, at least 20 firings.



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Instagram Posts May Reveal Signs of Depression: Study]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 21:58:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Instagram-Logo-GettyImages-540936038.jpg

Scientists have created an algorithm that can determine whether an Instagram user is showing signs of depression based on their posts to the app, according to a study published Monday by EPJ Data Science.

Researchers used almost 44,000 pictures from 166 people. Of the sample, 71 participants had a history of depression. The computer algorithm successfully identified markers of depression 70 percent of the time, according to the study.

It was able to spot markers of depression based on Instagram posts even before participants were clinically diagnosed.

The photos were examined based on their colors, the number of faces and the number of likes a post received. Researchers concluded that participants who posted photos with blue, gray or dark light tended to be depressed. Depressed Instagram users were also more likely to post photos with faces, but fewer faces per photo than their less-depressed counterparts. Depressed users also tended to receive fewer likes and were more likely to post photos without a filter. 

However, the co-authors of the study, Andrew Reece and Christopher Danforth, caution that their study was limited by its relatively small sample size. Roughly 43 percent of their initial participants refused to share their Instagram data out of privacy concerns. Reece and Danforth did not immediately return NBC's request for comment. 

The findings cannot be generalized to every Instagram user, but could serve as a "blueprint for effective mental health screening in an increasingly digitalized society."

Reece and Danforth concluded that their algorithm helped prove that mental illness and social media use have a scientifically calculable correlation.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Mystery Solved: Why a Va. Driver Dressed as a Car Seat]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 11:38:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/080717+car+with+hidden+driver.jpg

A van that appeared to have no driver made headlines when it was spotted in Arlington, Virginia, last week. But when News4's Adam Tuss saw the van on Monday and looked inside, he saw that it did have a driver: a man dressed in a costume made to look like just a car seat.

From the road, the unmarked gray van eerily looks like it's moving without a driver. The entire front seat looks empty. But when Tuss looked inside, he saw a man wearing a beige and black costume that covered his entire torso.

His arms poked out of the bottom of the costume to steer. His face was completely covered, like that of a sports mascot who can see out, but no one can see in.

"I looked out and I said, 'Oh my God, there's a guy in a seat costume," Tuss said. "How's that possible? Your brain can't get around it for a second."

Tuss went to the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington on Monday to talk with ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck about the vehicle he saw in Clarendon and Courthouse on Thursday night

As Tuss left the ARLnow.com offices, he saw the 2017 Ford Transit Connect himself. He and a News4 photographer followed the vehicle in Clarendon and Ballston for about 20 minutes. 

Tuss went to knock on the window. At first, he thought he saw an empty seat. Then, when he looked below the wheel, he saw a man's hands and legs.

"Brother, who are you? What are you doing? I'm with the news, dude," Tuss said. "Dude, can you pull over and we can talk for a second?"  

But the driver didn't say a word.

After multiple inquiries by News4, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said Monday afternoon that the van and van driver are part of a study they are conducting on driverless cars. The worker was wearing the uniform he was supposed to wear. 

"The driver's seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings," a statement from the institute says. 

Virginia Tech declined to make the half car seat, half man -- as Tuss put it -- available for an interview. 

Arlington County officials were involved in the planning for the study, a Virginia Tech spokeswoman said. Arlington was selected because "it is representative of the urban areas for which automated vehicles are currently being considered," she said. 

Go here to learn more about the study

The Virginia Department of Transportation was not aware of the vehicle, a representative said. The Arlington Police Department was "shocked" by news of the van, one representative said.

Several "invisible driver" prank videos can be found on YouTube. The drivers are entirely hidden by costumes that look just like car seats.

CORRECTION (Aug. 8, 2017, 9:30 a.m.): An earlier version of this story said the driver ran a red light, in apparent attempt to evade News4. But a spokeswoman for the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute says a thorough review of the in-vehicle camera showed the driver passed through a yellow light. 



Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[Texas Professors Work to Stop Spread of 'Fake News']]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 13:41:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/computerhandstyping_1200x675.jpg

A team of professors from the University of Texas at Arlington is working to create a program that will help stop the spread of fake news.

“What we’re talking about – the President uses that term to refer to media in general – but what we’re talking about are stories that are entirely fictitious or largely fictitious,” said Mark Tremayne, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communications at UT Arlington.

The project to root out fake news on social media is titled, “Bot vs. Bot: Automated Detection of Fake News Bots,” and will eventually result in a computer program that will be designed to alert people when posts they’re seeing, or even comments on social media posts, have likely been generated by automated social media accounts.

The researchers have made assurances that their motivations are not political.

“This is not targeted for or against any one party or any one candidate,” said Christoph Csallner, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department. “This project is really about national security. You could imagine some real threats [being spread through ‘fake news’ posts] like another country trying to start confusion among residents, or the military.”

“At some point this could be considered a danger to democracy or a danger to national security if these platforms, Facebook and the other social networks, are being used as propaganda tools,” Dr. Csallner added.

Part of the problem of combating automated efforts to spread ‘fake news’ is that bots can simultaneously share posts that contain deliberate falsehoods in a single instant across multiple platforms that will be seen and potentially shared by millions of real people.

“The stuff can be generated automatically by a program,” Dr. Tremayne said. “So you don’t know as you are scrolling through, especially with the comments, you don’t know which one is an actual person [who] sat there and typed them out and which ones were just spit out by some algorithm. And wouldn’t you like to know?”

The challenge, Dr. Csallner said, will be sorting through the massive amount of content that is published on social media and keying in on indicators that increase the likelihood that any particular post was made by a bot.

The team is in its early stage of development for its program, and expects to have a working result within a year.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Email Prankster Says He Duped White House Officials]]> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 06:49:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/laptop1234578.jpg

An online prankster showed emails to CNN alleging that he was able to trick top White House officials into thinking they were chatting with other members of the administration, NBC News reported.

The U.K.-based man, who goes by @SINON_REBORN on Twitter, tweeted screenshots of some of the correspondence that he claims he had with former communications director Anthony Scaramucci. The prankster said he was pretending to be ousted White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Scaramucci did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment.

CNN also reports that the prankster pretended to be President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner while talking with Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who provided his personal email in the messages.




Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Group Files Complaint Over Google's Tracking of In-Store Purchases]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 14:43:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-4862340082.jpg

A watchdog group on Monday is expected to file a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against Google over a new program that links customers' web activity to in-store purchases.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is asking for a full investigation into the tech giant's Store Sales Measurement program, which aims to show advertisers that clicks online do lead to purchases at brick-and-mortar stores.

According to EPIC's complaint, Google’s consumer profiling technology can allegedly track 70 percent of all credit and debit card transactions in the U.S. without revealing how they got the information.

The group alleges Google is also putting shoppers' personal information — including product searches, location searches and payment information — at risk of hacks by not revealing what encryption it's using to protect the data from breaches.

Critics worry that the personal information could end up in the wrong hands. But Google argues that the program helps prove the effectiveness of online ads. The Mountain View-based company adds that it does not share or give a third party company access to customers' information and that customers can opt out of the program.

The complaint accuses Google of failing to provide customers with a reasonable way to opt out, calling the process "burdensome, opaque and misleading."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[TSA to Implement New, Stronger Airport Screening]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:55:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_TSA_NEW_MEASURES_072617_1-150109909395300001.jpg

The Transportation Security Administration is rolling out new and stronger screening methods for carry-on baggages at airports across the United States.

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<![CDATA[Zuckerberg and Musk Spar Over Artificial Intelligence]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 15:17:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/muskzuckerbergnew.jpg

Tech giants Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are feuding on social media on the impact of artificial intelligence.

The Facebook CEO referred to Musk's beliefs on AI as "pretty irresponsible" in a Facebook Live session on Sunday, according to NBC News. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO is known for his "doomsday" views and believes that AI could become humanity's "biggest existential threat" if left unchecked.

When asked about Zuckerberg's comment, Musk said he had discussed the subject with the Facebook CEO.

"I’ve talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited," Musk wrote on Twitter.

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<![CDATA[Microsoft Paint Is 'Here to Stay,' Despite What You Heard]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:57:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/microsoftpaintlove.jpg

Despite nostalgic articles and disappointed tweets mourning the end Microsoft Paint, the apparently beloved application is not going anywhere.

The application, which has been featured on every Windows release since 1985, was listed as "Deprecated" in the company’s Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

While Microsoft did not say specifically that MS Paint would be removed, the company defined features and functionalities that are "Deprecated" as those that "are not in active development and might be removed in future releases."

Outcry from users and coverage by news organizations about the loss of the classic image-editing application prompted Microsoft to set the record straight.

"MS Paint is not going away. In addition to the new 3D capabilities, many of the MS Paint features people know and love like photo editing and 2D creation are in Paint 3D - the new app for creativity, available for free with the Windows 10 Creators Update," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

"In the future, we will offer MS Paint in the Windows Store also for free and continue to provide new updates and experiences to Paint 3D so people have the best creative tools all in one place."

On Monday, a blog post shared by Windows Experiences acknowledged the "incredible outpouring of support and nostalgia" around the application.

"MS Paint is here to stay."



Photo Credit: Microsoft]]>
<![CDATA[Twins Born Conjoined at the Heart]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 10:55:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Joined_at_the_heart-150093339088500001.jpg

Twin baby girls Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez were born conjoined at the chest, with their hearts fused together. Doctors from University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital used groundbreaking technology to separate them.

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<![CDATA[Pokémon Go Fest Attendees Refunded as Glitches Plague Event]]> Sun, 23 Jul 2017 12:19:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Pokemon+Go+Fest+-+10005609_28152926.png

Thousands of people descended on Chicago Saturday for Pokémon Go Fest – an event that was billed as a celebration of the smartphone game’s first year but instead became a debacle plagued by massive lines and connectivity issues.

Organized by the game’s developer, Niantic, the all-day festival in Grant Park was the company’s first official live event for players of the augmented reality game.

However, upon arrival, the roughly 20,000 attendees were met with hours-long lines to enter the festival, and then technical problems preventing play once inside the event.

Niantic’s chief marketing officer addressed the crowd to boos in the late morning, citing three specific problems that rendered attendees unable to access the game.

“One is a network issue. One of the providers is trying to pump in some more bandwidth so that’s something that we’re working with them closely on,” CMO Mike Quigley said onstage.

“The other two issues are on the Niantic side. There’s a crash bug issue that we’ve identified. I know some of you have had that issue, as well as an authentication issue, so we’ve got it completely pinpointed to those three things.”

Quigley said the company would offer players a refund on the $20 ticket price, as well as $100 in the game credit Pokecoins.

However, even with a refund, many attendees – some of whom traveled to Chicago from around the world – will only receive a fraction of what they actually paid.

Tickets to the festival, which promised rare Pokémon encounters, special challenges and exclusive rewards, sold out in just minutes last month.

Many were then listed for resale on sites like eBay for as high as $400.

Despite the connectivity issues, the festival was scheduled to continue as planned while the engineering team worked on a fix, Quigley said.



Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[How Would the East Coast Hyperloop Compare to World’s Largest Tunnels?]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:05:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_TUNNELS_LONGEST_072117_2-150066193265500001.jpg

Elon Musk’s proposed Hyperloop from New York to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., would stretch over 250 miles. If built, how would that compare to the world’s largest tunnels?

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<![CDATA[Mom Bitten by Shark Gets High-Tech Prosthetic Arm]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:17:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Hand0721_MP4-150064505952500001.jpg

Tiffany Johnson lost her arm to a shark while on vacation in the Bahamas back in June. Only a month later and the mother of three keeps a positive attitude about the incident and continues to make progress with her responsive prosthetic arm.

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<![CDATA[6,000 Pound Mars Rover Concept Vehicle Starts Tour]]> Thu, 20 Jul 2017 17:19:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_MARS_ROVER_072017_1-150058425058900001.jpg

A Mars rover concept vehicle is on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The electric vehicle seats four and maxes out at 6 mph. The vehicle was commissioned by the Kennedy Space Center to inspire the public about space exploration.

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<![CDATA[NY to DC in 29 Minutes: Musk Gets Go-Ahead for Hyperloop]]> Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:50:29 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hyperloop+one+1.jpg

New York to Washington in 29 minutes? Elon Musk says it's possible and he has the government's approval to do it (though it's anyone's guess how long it would take to build). 

"Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins," the billionaire inventor and entrepreneur tweeted Thursday afternoon.

"City center to city center in each case, with up to a dozen or more entry/exit elevators in each city," he said in another tweet. The Boring Company is Musk's tunneling venture. 

"Still a lot of work needed to receive formal approval, but am optimistic that will occur rapidly," Musk said about an hour later. He waited until Friday morning to acknowledge, again via Twitter, that the verbal approval was at the federal level only.

"Still a lot of work before formal, written approval, but this opens door for state & city discussions," he added.

In a statement to News 4 New York on Thursday, a Boring Company spokesperson said the company has had a number of promising conversations with local, state and federal government officials. 

"With few exceptions, feedback has been very positive and we have received verbal support from key government decision-makers for tunneling plans, including a Hyperloop route from New York to Washington," the person said, adding the company hopes to "break ground later this year." 

LEVITATING PODS

Passengers traveling via Hyperloop would board magnetically levitating pods moved by electric propulsion.

The U.S. Department of Transportation referred inquiries about the project to the White House. The Trump administration acknowledged Musk's tweet while not getting into any specifics about a possible project.

"We have had promising conversations to date, are committed to transformative infrastructure projects, and believe our greatest solutions have often come from the ingenuity and drive of the private sector," a White House spokesman said.

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Representatives for both the New York City and Washington, D.C. mayors said they were unaware of approvals for the project. 

"This is news to City Hall," tweeted Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"This is the first we’ve heard of it, but we can't wait to hear more," said LaToya Foster, spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

The D.C. Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to an inquiry. The Federal Transit Administration deferred to the Transportation Department.

In February, Musk tweeted photos from a tunnel in D.C., sparking a flurry of speculation. NBC Washington learned he toured the 2 1/2-mile-long Anacostia River Tunnel and saw the tunnel-boring machine that created it. A spokesman for Musk declined to speak at the time about the purpose of the tour.

Baltimore officials, in statements to local media, said they supported the project and would not stand in its way. 

SKEPTICS CHALLENGE

Skeptics wasted no time in challenging Musk on the details of his announcement Thursday, including the BBC's Silicon Valley reporter, who asked whether the CEO was announcing prematurely in a bid to drum up support.

"Support would be much appreciated!" he replied. 

In a later response to an inquisitive follower, Musk did say the work on the New York-to-Washington tunnel would run in parallel to an existing project to build tunnels in Los Angeles.

"Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop," he tweeted. He gave no estimate for how long any of these projects would take or what they might cost. 

He also indicated that adding Boston and Providence to the NY-DC route would be a "natural extension," and said his company had been approached by Chicago officials about an O'Hare-to-downtown tunnel as well. 

Musk is best known for his electric car company Tesla and his space venture SpaceX, as well as co-founding PayPal.

The inventor first proposed the Hyperloop electromagnetic tube system in 2013. Earlier this year the California tech company Hyperloop One unveiled a plan for a NY-to-DC system.

Musk's system appeared to be different from theirs, though.

In April, former D.C. Department of Transportation head Gabe Klein said he thinks Hyperloop will happen.

"I think it's going to become a reality," he said. "I think it may take longer than people think to get through all the right-of-way clearances and the sort of government regulations. But I think we are in for a sea change in terms of long-haul transportation."

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