Google Is No Longer Working on High-Altitude Drones

Google has suspended research on its solar-powered drone, the company confirmed on Wednesday, less than three years after inheriting the project through its acquisition of Titan Aerospace.

First reported by 9to5Google on Wednesday, the drone cancellation took place early in 2016, according to a representative from the X subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. The representative told PCMag that X plans to refocus its efforts on development of a high-altitude balloon called Loon that can deliver internet access to remote areas, as well as the Project Wing drone delivery service.

 
 

«The team from Titan was brought into X in late 2015,» X Communications Manager Jacquelyn Miller wrote in an email to PCMag. «We ended our exploration of high altitude UAVs for internet access shortly after.»

Miller explained that the decision to stop drone research was one of several reorganizations that occurred after Alphabet was established, but that X’s overall mission to expiriment with alternative ways of delivering Internet access hadn’t changed.

«By comparison, at this stage the economics and technical feasibility of Project Loon present a much more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world,» she wrote. «Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other high flying projects at X, including Loon and Project Wing.»

The challenges of delivering Internet access via solar-powered drones have not deterred Facebook, which performed a test flight of its own Aquila drone last year. That flight ended in disaster, however, when the prototype crashed due to a structural failure.

Facebook was also rumored to be interested in Titan Aerospace before Google acquired it in 2014. The company instead picked up UK-based Ascenta, which had also been working on solar-powered drones.


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Comcast Is America’s Most Hated Company

In business, perception is everything: A single bad experience can burn a brand name and ruin a company’s reputation.

So it’s no surprise that well-known tech companies including Comcast, Facebook, Dish, Sprint and Charter Communications landed on a list of America’s most hated businesses.

 
 

Financial news site 24/7 Wall St. this week released a report identifying «12 companies hated by customers, employees and the general public.» Their findings are based on consumer satisfaction surveys and worker reviews.

Comcast topped the list, boasting a «significantly worse» score than the internet and subscription TV service industry averages, according to 24/7 Wall St. In J.D. Power’s rating of major wireline services, the firm received the worst scores in cost to consumer, performance, billing and reliability.

Clients are understandably perturbed: The Federal Communications Commission in the fall fined Comcast for $2.3 million over allegations the cable company charged customers for services they never authorized.

But it seems service providers can’t catch a break: Dish Network came in at No. 8 with one of the lowest employee satisfaction ratings of any major company reviewed on Glassdoor. Sprint customers report the lowest customer satisfaction of any wireless telephone enterprise.

«Sprint is in the midst of a multi-year turnaround and in the past 12 months we’ve made substantial improvement in important metrics including customer and employee satisfaction levels,» a company spokeswoman told PCMag. «We know we have more work to do, but with an internal motto of ‘Getting Better Every Day,’ we will continue enhance our experience for our customers and our employees.»

Fresh off its Time Warner Cable acquisition, Charter Communications, meanwhile, has one of the poorest reputations for customer service in the subscription TV industry, 24/7 Wall St. said.

Surprise entry Facebook landed at No. 6, thanks to recent criticism over its privacy policies and mass user data collection, not to mention the spread of fake news leading up to the U.S. presidential election.


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Watch Incredible Footage of a Drone Crashing Into Seattle’s Space Needle

The above video posted by GeekWire shows just what the headline of this story implies: a drone’s eye view of a nosedive into the Seattle Space Needle’s observation tower.

“It looks like the drone tractor beam we installed on the Space Needle is working,” Space Needle CEO and president Ron Sevart joked in a statement. “This is the third time we’ve recovered a drone on our property.”

Related: There Is Now a Global Competitive Drone Racing League. Seriously.

Geekwire identifies the drone as a DJI Inspire 1 with a 4K camera that sells for about $1,700. Now in possession of the Seattle Police Department, it is going to take a lot of willpower to resist taking it out of the evidence room for a joy ride in the parking lot.

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Are Self-Driving Cars Finally Ready for Consumers? What Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Yes, I know. We’ve been waiting for the self-driving car revolution for what seems like forever. Google seemed on top of things in the years after 2009, when the company first started its self-driving car project. But now it’s 2017, and we still aren’t surrounded by fleets of autonomous vehicles. What gives?

Related: Google, Automakers Object to California Rules for Self-Driving Cars

Well, if recent developments are any indication, 2017 could be the year that self-driving cars finally start to go mainstream. And as a business owner, you need to be prepared for the ramifications of this quickly approaching massive technological and cultural shift.

What entrepreneurs need to watch for

So, how might the emergence of autonomous vehicles affect your business?

  • Consumer needs. For starters, consumers who have access to fully autonomous vehicles are going to have new needs that, as an entrepreneur, you’ll have to accommodate. Any products designed for drivers may have to be completely reimagined, and people will have more free time to fill if they’re able to move and focus on tasks during their hour (or longer) total commute time every day. Think ahead and prepare for that change.
  • Cost of goods. Self-driving trucks will function more cheaply and efficiently than their manually driven counterparts, which means the cost and ease of transporting your goods are going to decrease. Prepare your logistics division to transition early and take advantage of these changes before your competitors do, so you can lower your prices accordingly.
  • Space. With less need for roads and other transportation institutions, there’s going to be far more space for residential and business constructions. Depending on the nature of your business, this could be a major opportunity for expansion.
  • Employee commutes. If you encourage your employees to opt for self-driving cars, or even have autonomous company cars that enable easy carpooling, your employees will suddenly have far more time every day to do their work. They’ll be simultaneously more productive and less stressed, which means your business stands to thrive.

Related: Ford Doubling Silicon Valley Workforce in Push Toward Self-Driving Cars

Where we stand

So, where exactly are we with self-driving cars? Is 2017 a realistic possibility?

Google’s self-driving car project is now called Waymo, and is looking to partner with auto manufacturers to get a fleet of cars on the street shuttling consumers by 2020. We may start seeing early versions, or not yet-fully autonomous cars hitting the streets before then.

Google isn’t the only company on the verge of a breakthrough, however. Self-driving taxi service nuTonomy is fully active in Singapore, though ride availability is limited, and there have been some complications already with the service. Uber isn’t far behind, with its goal to convert its fleet of drivers into a fleet of autonomous vehicles as soon as possible.

Uber is now testing in multiple states, with those tests supervised by engineers, so it may be a little ambitious to expect its effort to expand nationwide in 2017. In any case, both companies stand to make significant progress this year, and are only a few rounds of testing away from the next stage.

The big obstacles

So far, there have been only a handful of collisions involving self-driving cars, most of which were the fault of a human driver, and only one of them was fatal. So, what’s stopping autonomous cars from rolling out?

  • Snow and weather. Most self-driving car tests have been in California, Arizona, Florida and other areas with predictable, calm states of weather. In the American Northeast, where snow, hail and other complicated weather conditions are commonplace, autonomous cars still have many problems to solve. It’s much harder to make predictions and judgments about the environment there.
  • Ethical dilemmas. Driving choices won’t always be black and white; for example, should an autonomous car kill its own driver if that action saves multiple other lives? Engineers have contemplated, but not come close to, solving these ethical dilemmas. In fact, they’re hypothetically unsolvable. What we really need to solve is how self-driving cars should approach these problems, should they come up.
  • Legality. Legal concerns have always been a main stopping point for autonomous driving technology, but recently, companies like Uber have escalated the intensity. Uber has been involved in a vicious legal battle with the state of California since its autonomous test vehicles were caught running red lights, but the complexity of new laws poses a problem everywhere. Currently, even the testing of self-driving vehicles is legal only in California, Michigan, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, Tennessee and the District of Columbia.
  • Certainty. No amount of PR in the world could salvage the reputation of a company whose self-driving cars cost innocent human lives. For tech companies, being 99.9 percent certain about the success of their software isn’t enough — they need to be as close to 100 percent as possible, and that means testing far beyond what any of us feel is “enough.”

Related: Google Makes Progress on Self-Driving Cars as it Hits the 2 Million Mile Mark

I think it’s a bit ambitious to say that 2017 will be the year self-driving cars take over, but it’s reasonable to expect massive progress throughout the year. If I had to put a date on it, I’d project that we’ll see self-driving cars transforming our economy by 2020, and that means you need to start thinking now about how your business is going to adapt.

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The Surprising Reason Why This Founder Says Not to Be Afraid of the Competition

Editor’s Note: Entrepreneur’s “20 Questions” series features both established and up-and-coming entrepreneurs and asks them a number of questions about what makes them tick, their everyday success strategies and advice for aspiring founders.

In 2013, Chieh Huang and his three co-founders were feeling ambitious. They decided to take on Amazon and big-box retailers.

They launched Boxed, a company that is dedicated to shipping bulk groceries and home products to customer’s doors at competitive prices.  

“We just identified a problem we had in our daily lives,” explains Huang. “Before, people would drive an hour for price, but with technology, value is a function of price and convenience now. That changing of the formula allows us to come in and take advantage of that.”

Related: First, It Was College Tuition for His Employees’ Kids. Now, This CEO Launches Program to Foot the Bill for Employees’ Weddings.

Four years ago, Huang was running the business out of his garage. The first item the team ever shipped was some rolls of paper towels. Today, the company operates four fulfillment centers around the country, including its home base of Edison, New Jersey. Boxed has raised more $100 million in funding and surpassed $100 million in annual sales.

Boxed has also been in the news for some of its company wide initiatives, like a college fund for employee’s children and putting money towards the weddings of employees.

Related: This Company Is Offering Discounts to Fight Sexist Product Pricing

We caught up with Huang for our 20 Questions series to find out what motivates him and makes him tick.

Interview was edited for length and clarity.

1. How do you start your day?
I start the day just with the family. I don’t check emails until my commute, and I make sure my phone isn’t close to me until I’m out the door. I’m guilty just like everyone else. When you’re at the dinner table with family and checking email, you make nobody happy. I try to keep true to that and that’s why I don’t check it.

2. How do you end your day and
I end my day reading a [physical] book. It is the way I actually wind down. It gives me a little bit of clarity on things. I do it because I read this article about how right before you go to bed, the blue light [from mobile devices] disrupts your sleep. I do think I wake up more rested, but it could be the placebo effect.

3. What’s a book that changed your mind
50 Strategies That Changed History by Daniel Smith. It just basically went down this list of interesting moments in history. It kind of changed the way I thought about people who do things that change the arc of history. When I read the book and how they did what they did, most of these people were random people who had to step up and make a strategy to make it happen. You don’t have to be a superhero to change the arc of history.

Related: 10 Successful Entrepreneurs Reveal the Books That Changed Their Lives

4. What’s a book you always recommend
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. Every entrepreneur out there has challenging days. What you read about what he’s gone through, you think it is tough, but he still got through it. Definitely recommend that one.

5. What’s a strategy to keep focused?
Having a chief of staff. They aren’t just managing a calendar, they can fill in the gaps for you. My chief of staff writes me an email at the end of every day, and makes a list of the decisions that I need to make that people are counting on. Having someone to send that every day has made my life better and made things here a lot clearer for everyone.

6. When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew I did not want to be a doctor, my parents kept talking to me about that. I wanted to be an NBA player but around freshman and sophomore year I stopped growing, so that was the end of that.

Related: 6 Tips for Goal-Setting That, Trust Me, They Don’t Teach You in College

7. What did you learn from the worst boss you ever had?
I learned just what not to do when it was my turn to be the boss. When it comes to running a business and interacting with people, you need to be very transparent.

8. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?
I think it would have to be my mom. My mom started off as a cashier at a fast-food restaurant and ended up being an EVP of a decent sized company. Throughout that time, she never complained once. She just got up and did what she needed to do. In the morning if I’m sluggish I think if my mom could do that, I could do this.

9. What’s a trip that changed you?
Emotionally, it was a trip to Tibet. I definitely saw not only the beauty of the place but what some folks in life are truly going through. I didn’t have an easy childhood but compared to kids who are growing up in poverty in China and Tibet, that changed the way I thought about opportunity.

A trajectory changer for my professional life was teaching English in Japan for two years. I was sent off into the countryside. I felt like I wasted those two years at first, but it turned out that our first investor in Boxed actually grew up in that area. Without that initial spark, I don’t think we’d be here today.

Related: 11 Strategies for More Efficient Business Travel

10. What inspires you?
The folks in our performance centers who do a very difficult job. My life at Boxed started there — the CEO was packing boxes at the start, too. There are a lot of people counting on us to make the right decisions to make sure that we do well, so they can put food on the table and that inspires me.

11. What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?
When I was in fifth grade I sold candy to all the kids on the block. I saw how much they loved the ice cream truck, but it only came around once a day. So, being outside with the kids from the neighborhood, I was always around. That was my start.

12. What was an early job that taught you something important or useful that you still use today?
One of my first jobs was an internship with this consulting firm going through international strategy for them. Even big companies needed help with strategy. On the outside it would seem like they have it figured out, but on the inside there’s a lot of things that need figuring out.

Related: The Top 20 First Jobs in the U.S. According to Facebook

13. What’s the best advice you ever took?
It’s to trust your gut. It’s what got me here today, and it seems like it’s served us pretty well, so why change that.

14. What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
When I was working at a law firm, I was thinking about leaving, and a co-worker said not to leave the comfort of the job to start my first company. I didn’t take that person’s advice, and I’m better for it.

15. What’s a productivity tip you swear by?
I try to do inbox zero. I get pretty close most nights. That allows me in the morning to not have to get to emails and know that nothing really pressing is waiting. In the morning I’m sharpest. I can use that time to think about how to make things better for the company, instead of focusing on email.

Related: Entrepreneur’s Best Advice for Super Productivity

16. Is there an app or tool you use to get things done or stay on track?
It’s a little cliche, but honestly it’s Uber. Uber has a pick up at a certain time feature that is really helpful. It gets me where I need to go on time.

17. What does work-life balance mean to you?
It means that you’re not having regrets on either front. You got to this point where you’re not worrying about what you should have done with your job or your family.

I’m not perfect and sometimes I do have regrets, but that is what it means to me overall: getting to that place where you don’t have them.

18. How do you prevent burnout?
I don’t know if I’m built differently, but I found something that I love and enjoy and I’m decent at it. When you find that marriage in life, you don’t feel burned out. I could do this all day, and it’s what I want to do during the waking hours.

Related: How to Recognize and Beat Burnout

19. When you’re faced with a creativity block, what’s your strategy to get innovating?
I separate myself from email and internet and sit down with pen and paper. Some of my most productive time is on airplane. Being forced to sit down with just your thoughts is really helpful to me.

20. What are you learning now?
A few years ago we were a tiny company in my garage. I have to learn something new every day. I can’t even enumerate them. Every day is something new.

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Watch Mark Zuckerberg 3-D-Print a Mini Version of His Dog

Forget about tennis balls or generic pet toys — why not get your dog a miniature 3-D-printed version of him or herself? That’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did.

For the sixth birthday of his Hungarian Sheepdog Beast, Zuckerberg — with the help of some crafty Oculus staff members — created a 3-D-printed mini replica of his furry friend.

Zuckerberg turned to his cuddly canine to help put the recently announced Oculus Medium software in the spotlight. With more than 4 million video views on Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Beast seemed to have done the trick.

So if you’ve ever wondered how 3-D printing works — or better yet, how you can 3-D print a version of your pet, watch Zuckerberg and the Oculus staff make some magic. If beast was expecting a chewy bone toy — maybe next birthday.

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This Is the Year of the Machine Learning Revolution

In San Francisco, self-driving cars roaming around and people having conversations with Siri have become common sights. Just yesterday, Alexa told me that the meaning of life is 42. As machines become even more woven into our daily lives, we’re witness to a new revolution that’s taking over the world.

The AI revolution has clearly arrived, and it’s here to stay. Just like past revolutions, the entrepreneurs who go all in will become tomorrow’s giants. Henry Ford of the Industrial Revolution and Jeff Bezos of the Internet Revolution grew their companies because they envisioned a future that was very different from their present. They lived in the future.

Related: Has Artificial Intelligence Arrived At The Sales Function Yet?

Machine learning became mainstream in 2016. For the first time in history, machine learning is not only available to big companies like Google, Amazon or Apple. Startups have started building products and services using machine learning.

So, what is machine learning? Machine learning is learning from data. To predict the future, we look at the data we have about the past. Statistics and predictive analysis have been around for a long time. What’s different today is that we now have the tools to use them for practically everything. For example, we have new specialized machine learning programming languages that can enable a junior programmer to build amazing things. We can now easily use machine learning for things like speech and facial recognition, language translation, data classification and object detection. Many tasks that previously could only be done manually, can be automated today using machine learning.  

When Bezos started Amazon in 1994, he wasn’t an expert on everything internet. He left a well-paying job on Wall Street, and he bet on the internet — what he considered to be the future. He was a businessman, not a technical person. However, he took great efforts to understand the internet, and he used his business knowledge to find ways to take advantage of it.

Related: Tech Moguls Such as Musk and Bezos Declare Era of Artificial Intelligence

In the same way, you don’t need to be a computer science expert to build your own machine learning startup. In fact, it is probably better to be knowledgeable in another industry and then solve problems in your industry by utilizing machine learning. You are more likely to be very familiar with the biggest problems in your industry that could benefit from machine learning in a major way.

Startups building on machine learning.

Companies are taking advantage of machine learning to create more powerful experiences. There are hundreds of them but let’s take a look at some concrete examples.

  • Forkable uses machine learning to figure out what you want for lunch before you know it — automatically delivers it.
  • Dark Trace listens to your company’s network traffic and uses machine learning to detect emergent security threats.  
  • Nova uses machine learning to write personalized sales emails. It knows which emails performed better and suggests changes to your sales emails.
  • Blue River Technology creates equipment for farmers that uses machine learning and computer vision to diagnose and treat each plant individually.  
  • Sift detects online fraud and prevents chargebacks using machine learning.

Machine learning as a competitive advantage.

Machine learning can also be a competitive advantage for your company. Let me give you an example from my own company. We are in the online forms industry. Our industry is in deep trouble with phishers. These criminals attempt to use our product to create phishing forms to trick people into entering their credentials for other websites. Our machine learning-based tools allow us to detect who should be banned and who should have access to our product. As a result, we‘re able to continue to serve our legitimate users while our competitors embarrassingly block their websites to entire countries. Using machine learning to detect possible phishing activity allows us to continue to provide our free service all over the world, while keeping the bad guys out.

Another area where we use machine learning is marketing. We classify our users by looking at individual words and phrases used on their forms. Using this classification process, our marketing team sends customized email campaigns to different segments of users who haven’t personally provided us with demographic information. 

Related: 4 AI Technologies Impacting Business Operations Right Now

The revolution.

Look carefully at each thing that is currently being done manually in your industry. Every one of those tasks will be done tomorrow using machines. Entrepreneurs who disrupt their industries with machine learning will be the big winners of tomorrow. The machine learning revolution is here to stay. Join the revolution.

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Take Control of Your Career: Trends to Look Out for in 2017

Entrepreneur has an affiliate partnership with TradePub so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

Trying to find a career that identifies with your passions and aligns with the level of income you want is not an easy task. You may be asking yourself: What path do I take? What are my options? How do I know if I can do it? Am I qualified enough?

By looking at the career trends of 2017, you can finally get answers and put your mental career interrogation to rest. It’s no secret that money is a huge motivating factor. We all want to live our life to the fullest without any financial roadblocks in our path to freedom. Below, you’ll find one free resource that illustrates the 20 occupations with the highest median pay, allowing you to delve into more information on any career. Another resource supplies you with tips and tricks to make the move of living independently an easier, stress-free transition. Not only will it help you with the essentials of autonomy, it will also provide you with the money-management skills of 2017 that you’ve been looking for.

Another important skill to nail down is interviewing. It’s critical to have a professional demeanor and articulate your qualifications well to ensure you make the best impression possible. This free eBook coaches you on how to perfect the point you make to sell your strengths and experiences. If you’re serious about having a job you love, it’s smart to do your research. 

Learn about the 2017 career trends with these resources:

Highest Paying Occupations – Occupational Outlook  

        

On Your Own: Becoming Self-Sufficient – Career Outlook  

Employment Interviewing – Seizing the Opportunity and the Job  

Fastest Growing Occupations – Occupational Outlook Summary  

Your career possibilities are limitless and you deserve to live a life you love. By gaining knowledge of the free eBooks above, you’ll be in the driver’s seat to make educated decisions about what the future holds. Take control of your professional life today.

Disclosure: This is brought to you by the Entrepreneur Partner Studio. Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Have a deal you want to promote? Contact us here.

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5 Steps You Can Take Now to Get Wealthy in 2017

The end of 2016 is fast approaching, and while many of us area already caught up in all of the hustle and bustle that comes with the holiday season, there is actually no better time to regroup, refocus and to start thinking about 2017.

What are your goals for the coming year? For many people, these goals include financial motivations. If you want to finally get wealthy in 2017, here are five ways you can actually do it.

1. Work for your dreams, not someone else’s.

If you really want to start making money and finally be wealthy in 2017 then you need to do something that you are truly passionate about. Without this passion, you are never going to reach your full earning potential. Focus on doing what you love and what you are passionate about, not just something that happens to be in a highly paid field.

Really ask yourself and dig deep to think about what you can see yourself becoming obsessed with. Obsession is the key to true success and it can lead you to real wealth. As real, lasting wealth is not just about money.

Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life

2. Dream big but start small.

Everyone wants big success fast but it’s better to go slowly. Optimize your process first before you try to go big. Take my top student, Tim as an example. He started stock trading with just $1,500, grew it to $1 million in three years and then over $3.3 million in four years. He bets bigger now that he is more confident, thanks to his early education. He is one of my favorite examples of starting small and working your way up slowly to something much more.

Related: How to Scale From a Small Business to a Billion-Dollar Empire

3. Give to others instead of yourself. 

Most people find this tough to do, but trust me, you can only have so many Lamborghinis and Ferraris and Porsches. Trust me, as someone who has had all three, they are not as fulfilling as giving back to charities, such as my Timothy Sykes Foundation is infinitely more rewarding and fulfilling. Remember that true wealth is not just about having the most money, but the most inner peace too. You will truly feel successful, established and wealthy if you start giving to others.

Related: The 15 Most Profitable Small-Business Industries

4. Get healthy.

 I know it sounds a little corny, but it is actually true: health is wealth. You can have all of the money in the world, but if you are sick, or dead, you can’t enjoy it. As much as you work and as hard as you work, don’t forget to focus on your health, your body and your mental well-being.

Related: 10 Misused Words That Make Smart People Look Stupid

5. Learn online.

We live in such an exciting time, where the world centers around the internet. It is a time where you have unprecedented access to a wealth of information. Thanks to the internet you don’t need fancy degrees, connections or inherited wealth. Everything you need to learn is online with video lessons and free guides, as well as vast educational resources like the Entrepreneur Library.  People always ask me where I learned about stock trading. It was all online. 

I wish I had a mentor to help speed up my education, but I didn’t. This is why it is my goal to be the mentor to others that I never had. In summation, if you want wealth and success in the year 2017, you need to study and prepare and start with your online education, it is only the beginning of your success, but it will set a strong foundation for your future.

These five steps can go a long way in helping any individual be wealthier in the year 2017. The new year is right around the corner so don’t waste this opportunity to have a more secure financial future for yourself. 

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