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Self-Driving Car Faces Off Against Pro On Thunderhill Racetrack 151

Hugh Pickens writes "Rachel Swaby reports that a self-driving car and a seasoned race-car driver recently faced off at Northern California's three-mile Thunderhill Raceway loop. The autonomous vehicle is a creation from the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS). 'We tried to model [the self-driving car] after what we've learned from the best race-car drivers,' says Chris Gerdes (who talks more about the development of autonomous cars in this TED talk). So who won? Humans, of course. But only by a few measly seconds. 'What the human drivers do is consistently feel out the limits of the car and push it just a little bit farther,' explained Gerdes. 'When you look at what the car is capable of and what humans achieve, that gap is really actually small.' Because the self-driving car reacts to the track as if it were controlled in real time by a human, a funny thing happens to passengers along for the ride. Initially, when the car accelerates to 115 miles per hour and then brakes just in time to make it around a curve, the person riding shotgun freaks out. But a second lap looks very different. Passengers tend to relax, putting their faith in the automatically spinning wheel. 'We might have a tendency to put too much confidence in it,' cautioned Gerdes. 'Watching people experience it, they'll say, oh, that was flawless.' Gerdes reaction: 'Wait wait! This was developed by a crazy professor and graduate students!'"

Not Just Apple, How Microsoft Sidestepped Billions In State Taxes 595

reifman writes "Apple's not the only company to save billions in taxes through Nevada as The New York Times reported yesterday. Here's how Microsoft's saved $4.37 billion in tax payments to Washington State and how it's led indirectly to $4 billion in K-12 and Higher Education cuts since 2008. 18% of University of Washington freshman are now foreigners (because they pay more) up from 2% six years ago. Washington State ranks 47th nationally in 18-24 yo college enrollment and 48th in K-12 class size. This hasn't stopped the architect of the company's Nevada tax dodge from writing in The Seattle Times: 'it's [Washington] state's paramount duty to provide for the public education of all children. Unfortunately, steady declines in public resources now threaten our ability to live up to that commitment.' Yes, indeed."

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