NTSB head says Tesla must address ‘basic safety issues’ with semi-autonomous features

Tesla isn't about to get a sympathetic ear from US regulators as it rolls out more semi-autonomous technology. New National Transportation Safety Board head Jennifer Homendy told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that Tesla needs to tackle "basic safety issues" before it expands features like Autopilot and Full Self Driving to more parts of the road. She also wasn't thrilled with Tesla beta-testing upgrades on public streets.

Like other critics, the NTSB leader took issue with Tesla's naming schemes for its driver assists. The Full Self Driving label is "misleading and irresponsible," Homendy said, leading some to "misuse and abuse" it. Despite its name, the current FSD package only enables limited autonomy in some situations, and requires drivers to be ready to take the wheel at any moment. Tesla ultimately hopes for true autonomy to enable robotaxis and other hands-off uses, but hasn't yet demonstrated such a system.

Tesla and its chief Elon Musk have long argued that Autopilot (and by extension FSD) is overall safer than full manual control despite concerns over crashes where the technology was involved. The automaker has used FSD betas as a way to improve semi-autonomous features through real-world use, not just the ideal conditions of a closed circuit.

Homendy's remarks won't necessarily lead to policies meant to limit or ban Tesla's technology. However, it does set the tone for the NTSB's approach to Tesla during the Biden administration. The agency might not be receptive to Tesla's autonomous driving strategy, particularly if there's an increase in collisions.

ICYMI: We test out the GoPro Hero 10 Black action cam

This week we’ve got a few reviews for music and photography enthusiasts. First, James Trew put the GoPro Hero 10 Black through its paces and was impressed by the capabilities of the new GP2 processor. Next, Billy Steele listened to Jabra’s $80 Elite 3 earbuds and, due to the combination of price and features, deemed them one of the company’s best gadgets. Lastly, Terrence O’Brien played around with the Arturia SQ80V synth emulator only to be charmed by its fluid user interface and timeless sounds.

The GoPro Hero 10 Black benefits from a new processor

GoPro Hero 10 review.
James Trew / Engadget

James Trew is plain about the new GoPro Hero 10 Black: it is remarkably similar to last year’s model, save for the impressive, new GP2 processor. That chip brings a boost in frame rates across the board, including 5.3K at 60fps. It’s also responsible for the updated HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilization technology, which makes for smoother shooting scenarios, a speedier user interface, faster offloading of media and even improvements to the front-facing display. GoPro says the GP2’s capabilities can help produce improved photos and videos as well.

In James’s testing, this was well born out: He saw noticeably better image quality from the Hero 10 Black than from the Hero 9. James said the difference in detail was instantly noticeable at 100-percent crop, where the Hero 10 was able to capture textures like road surface or leaves. He also enjoyed the added flexibility that came with the new resolution and frame rate combinations — another bonus of the GP2 processing power. The Hero 10 Black also adds a hydrophobic lens coating, which keeps water droplets from gathering in blurry drips, 4K video at 120fps for respectable slow-mo, and a good, old-fashioned wired transfer. With one of the only drawbacks being a shorter battery life, James says that the Hero 10 takes everything that was working for GoPro devices and builds on it.

The Jabra Elite 3 earbuds offer excellent value and impressive sound

Jabra Elite 3
Billy Steele/Engadget

The Jabra Elite 3 earbuds have a lot going for them: they’re affordable, have functional controls, a comfortable fit courtesy of a new design, impressive sound quality and a solid feature set. Billy Steele says they far exceeded his expectations and offer an incredible value for their $80 price tag. During testing, he was immediately impressed by the sound quality, which was adept at highlighting details like the rattle of a snare drum. While he found the call quality to be only serviceable, he found other features — like a mute control on the earbuds — well thought-out. He was also pleased with the nearly seven-hour battery life.

However, low-cost models will forgo some things you may take for granted on other earbuds, and here, the Elite 3 buds lack wireless charging and active noise cancellation. Billy said one of the few drawbacks with the Elite 3’s was the missing auto-pause feature — he found it annoying, but not a dealbreaker. He also mentioned that the only EQ customizations are available in presets, but that the Elite 3 outperformed similar models here due to its balanced tuning and great clarity. With few drawbacks, Billy deemed them one of the best wireless products from Jabra.

Arturia’s SQ 80V is a synth emulator modeled after a classic

Arturia SQ80 V
Terrence O'Brien/Engadget

Terrence O’Brien spent some time tweaking the knobs on Arturia’s new SQ 80V, a synth emulator designed to mimic the dusty charm of the Ensoniq SQ-80. The device contains the original 75 waveforms as well as “hidden” waves from the SQ-80 to provide users with a wide range of sound design possibilities. The majority of the controls, three LFOs and four envelopes, are on a mouse-friendly synthesis tab, while you can change the oscillator waves and tweak the filter right from the device itself.

Terrence says the SQ80 V is ideal for crushed digital sounds, and the two sound packs released alongside the emulator are right in line with that feel. While those packs made it easy to find sounds in the included presets, Terrence said it’s simple to build your own patches as well because of the dropdown menus and tabs. He called the interface “clean, charmingly retro and easy to navigate.” Overall, Terrence said he digs the SQ80 V because it’s approachable to synth players while providing warm, timeless sound.

ICYMI: We test out the GoPro Hero 10 Black action cam

This week we’ve got a few reviews for music and photography enthusiasts. First, James Trew put the GoPro Hero 10 Black through its paces and was impressed by the capabilities of the new GP2 processor. Next, Billy Steele listened to Jabra’s $80 Elite 3 earbuds and, due to the combination of price and features, deemed them one of the company’s best gadgets. Lastly, Terrence O’Brien played around with the Arturia SQ80V synth emulator only to be charmed by its fluid user interface and timeless sounds.

The GoPro Hero 10 Black benefits from a new processor

GoPro Hero 10 review.
James Trew / Engadget

James Trew is plain about the new GoPro Hero 10 Black: it is remarkably similar to last year’s model, save for the impressive, new GP2 processor. That chip brings a boost in frame rates across the board, including 5.3K at 60fps. It’s also responsible for the updated HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilization technology, which makes for smoother shooting scenarios, a speedier user interface, faster offloading of media and even improvements to the front-facing display. GoPro says the GP2’s capabilities can help produce improved photos and videos as well.

In James’s testing, this was well born out: He saw noticeably better image quality from the Hero 10 Black than from the Hero 9. James said the difference in detail was instantly noticeable at 100-percent crop, where the Hero 10 was able to capture textures like road surface or leaves. He also enjoyed the added flexibility that came with the new resolution and frame rate combinations — another bonus of the GP2 processing power. The Hero 10 Black also adds a hydrophobic lens coating, which keeps water droplets from gathering in blurry drips, 4K video at 120fps for respectable slow-mo, and a good, old-fashioned wired transfer. With one of the only drawbacks being a shorter battery life, James says that the Hero 10 takes everything that was working for GoPro devices and builds on it.

The Jabra Elite 3 earbuds offer excellent value and impressive sound

Jabra Elite 3
Billy Steele/Engadget

The Jabra Elite 3 earbuds have a lot going for them: they’re affordable, have functional controls, a comfortable fit courtesy of a new design, impressive sound quality and a solid feature set. Billy Steele says they far exceeded his expectations and offer an incredible value for their $80 price tag. During testing, he was immediately impressed by the sound quality, which was adept at highlighting details like the rattle of a snare drum. While he found the call quality to be only serviceable, he found other features — like a mute control on the earbuds — well thought-out. He was also pleased with the nearly seven-hour battery life.

However, low-cost models will forgo some things you may take for granted on other earbuds, and here, the Elite 3 buds lack wireless charging and active noise cancellation. Billy said one of the few drawbacks with the Elite 3’s was the missing auto-pause feature — he found it annoying, but not a dealbreaker. He also mentioned that the only EQ customizations are available in presets, but that the Elite 3 outperformed similar models here due to its balanced tuning and great clarity. With few drawbacks, Billy deemed them one of the best wireless products from Jabra.

Arturia’s SQ 80V is a synth emulator modeled after a classic

Arturia SQ80 V
Terrence O'Brien/Engadget

Terrence O’Brien spent some time tweaking the knobs on Arturia’s new SQ 80V, a synth emulator designed to mimic the dusty charm of the Ensoniq SQ-80. The device contains the original 75 waveforms as well as “hidden” waves from the SQ-80 to provide users with a wide range of sound design possibilities. The majority of the controls, three LFOs and four envelopes, are on a mouse-friendly synthesis tab, while you can change the oscillator waves and tweak the filter right from the device itself.

Terrence says the SQ80 V is ideal for crushed digital sounds, and the two sound packs released alongside the emulator are right in line with that feel. While those packs made it easy to find sounds in the included presets, Terrence said it’s simple to build your own patches as well because of the dropdown menus and tabs. He called the interface “clean, charmingly retro and easy to navigate.” Overall, Terrence said he digs the SQ80 V because it’s approachable to synth players while providing warm, timeless sound.

Watch Ken Block’s Hoonigan team build a real life ‘Halo’ Warthog vehicle

Ken Block's Hoonigan Industries has built a fully functional Warthog vehicle, and the team is showing us the process it went through in a new series on YouTube. While it's far from the first life—size version ever made of Halo's famous armored vehicle, this one actually works — it even debuted at the world premiere of the movie Free Guy, which stars Ryan Reynolds, a bank teller who discovers he's but an NPC in an open-world game. 

The Hoonigan team created its real life Warthog using a custom rock crawler chassis. As Autoblog notes, it doesn't have a mounted gun, but it undeniably looks like the Warthog with its chunky body, futuristic shape, curved windshield and enormous tires. Even its interior is a replica of its virtual counterpart, and the team also made sure it has a four-wheel steering system. To power the beast, the team took a Ford V8 engine and added two turbos to it, giving it a 1,060 horsepower capacity.

The Warthog appears across games in the Halo franchise as a driveable military vehicle, and the Hoonigan team built a replica of it to promote the upcoming Halo Infinite game that's launching in December. Hoonigan, the brainchild of rally driver Ken Block who was also behind The Gymkhana Files, will upload new episodes showing how the Warthog was built every week until October 14th. You can watch the first one below:

Watch Ken Block’s Hoonigan team build a real life ‘Halo’ Warthog vehicle

Ken Block's Hoonigan Industries has built a fully functional Warthog vehicle, and the team is showing us the process it went through in a new series on YouTube. While it's far from the first life—size version ever made of Halo's famous armored vehicle, this one actually works — it even debuted at the world premiere of the movie Free Guy, which stars Ryan Reynolds, a bank teller who discovers he's but an NPC in an open-world game. 

The Hoonigan team created its real life Warthog using a custom rock crawler chassis. As Autoblog notes, it doesn't have a mounted gun, but it undeniably looks like the Warthog with its chunky body, futuristic shape, curved windshield and enormous tires. Even its interior is a replica of its virtual counterpart, and the team also made sure it has a four-wheel steering system. To power the beast, the team took a Ford V8 engine and added two turbos to it, giving it a 1,060 horsepower capacity.

The Warthog appears across games in the Halo franchise as a driveable military vehicle, and the Hoonigan team built a replica of it to promote the upcoming Halo Infinite game that's launching in December. Hoonigan, the brainchild of rally driver Ken Block who was also behind The Gymkhana Files, will upload new episodes showing how the Warthog was built every week until October 14th. You can watch the first one below:

Ford will spend $250 million to boost F-150 Lightning production

Ford's electric F-150 Lightning is clearly in high demand, and the company is determined to keep up. The automaker has paired news of pre-production work with a promise to invest an extra $250 million and create 450 new jobs to increase production capacity. That should help Ford build 80,000 Lightning trucks per year — little comfort when the company now has 150,000 reservations, but the move should reduce wait times.

Most of the jobs will go to workers assembling the electric F-150 at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, while others will build more batteries at the Rawsonville Components Plant and motors at the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center. The first trucks should be available in spring 2022.

The production numbers won't compete with conventional trucks for a while. As Autoweekobserved, Ford averaged sales of about 900,000 regular F-150 trucks per year before the pandemic and chip shortages came into play. While the Lightning may be more than a niche product, it's not yet at the point where Ford would have to reconsider its conventional truck production.

There's also a certain amount of posturing involved with the news. Ford is clearly eager to please a government promoting made-in-America EVs. However, it's still a recognition of pent-up demand for electric pickups, both from Ford and from the industry as a whole. Not that Ford might have much choice. With Rivian already producing its first trucks, Ford risks losing sales to competitors if it doesn't ramp up manufacturing.

Ford will spend $250 million to boost F-150 Lightning production

Ford's electric F-150 Lightning is clearly in high demand, and the company is determined to keep up. The automaker has paired news of pre-production work with a promise to invest an extra $250 million and create 450 new jobs to increase production capacity. That should help Ford build 80,000 Lightning trucks per year — little comfort when the company now has 150,000 reservations, but the move should reduce wait times.

Most of the jobs will go to workers assembling the electric F-150 at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, while others will build more batteries at the Rawsonville Components Plant and motors at the Van Dyke Electric Powertrain Center. The first trucks should be available in spring 2022.

The production numbers won't compete with conventional trucks for a while. As Autoweekobserved, Ford averaged sales of about 900,000 regular F-150 trucks per year before the pandemic and chip shortages came into play. While the Lightning may be more than a niche product, it's not yet at the point where Ford would have to reconsider its conventional truck production.

There's also a certain amount of posturing involved with the news. Ford is clearly eager to please a government promoting made-in-America EVs. However, it's still a recognition of pent-up demand for electric pickups, both from Ford and from the industry as a whole. Not that Ford might have much choice. With Rivian already producing its first trucks, Ford risks losing sales to competitors if it doesn't ramp up manufacturing.

Ford, Walmart and Argo AI to launch autonomous vehicle deliveries in three cities

Ford, Walmart and Argo AI plan to launch autonomous vehicle delivery services in Miami, Austin, Texas and Washington DC later this year, Ford has announced. The service will focus on last mile deliveries and use Ford vehicles equipped with Argo's AI self-driving system to deliver Walmart orders. Don't count on driverless ghost cars pulling up to your house with groceries, however, as Argo emphasized that the new venture is all about "testing" and "potential." 

"Our focus on the testing and development of self-driving technology that operates in urban areas where customer demand is high really comes to life with this collaboration," said Argo AI founder and CEO Bryan Salesky. "Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale."

Ford, Walmart and Argo AI will launch autonomous vehicle deliveries in three cities
Jared Wickerham/Argo A

Deliveries will be available in those cities "within defined service areas" and expand over time, Ford said. It will focus on next day or same day deliveries in urban cores, helping the players learn about autonomous technology as it relates to deliveries, particularly for logistics and operations. 

Ford and Walmart previously announced a collaboration with Uber's PostMates to deliver goods in Miami, and it has been operating with Argo AI in Miami and Washington DC since 2018. All current testing is done with safety drivers at the wheel. 

The Walmart delivery effort "marks a significant step toward scaling a commercial goods delivery service," according to Ford. Left unsaid, however, is that level 4 and higher autonomous driving is still a distant dream, even after many years of development. As such, vehicles are nowhere near ready to ply city streets without a safety driver at the wheel.

Rivian starts building R1T electric trucks for customers

At the start of the month, Rivian achieved a major milestone. The Environmental Protection Agency published official range estimates for the company’s R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV, putting both vehicles one step closer to an official launch. Rivian has now hit another important milestone. 

In a tweet spotted by Roadshow, Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe announced on Tuesday that the company produced its first R1T EV for a customer. “After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal,” Scaringe wrote on Twitter. "Can't wait to get these into the hands of our customers!"

Getting to this point has been something of a journey for Rivian. The company had initially planned to start deliveries of the R1T in 2020 but was forced to delay the truck’s debut to 2021 when it couldn’t get its manufacturing facility, a former Mitsubishi plant, retooled quickly enough. The coronavirus pandemic only added to the automaker’s problems, forcing it to push bach the launch of the R1T and R1S from July to September. "Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic," Scaringe wrote at the time.

But even with you factor in those setbacks, the R1T is making its way to consumers before the Tesla Cybertruck and Ford F-150 Lightning. Both of those vehicles won’t debut before the start of 2022.

Rivian starts building R1T electric trucks for customers

At the start of the month, Rivian achieved a major milestone. The Environmental Protection Agency published official range estimates for the company’s R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV, putting both vehicles one step closer to an official launch. Rivian has now hit another important milestone. 

In a tweet spotted by Roadshow, Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe announced on Tuesday that the company produced its first R1T EV for a customer. “After months of building pre-production vehicles, this morning our first customer vehicle drove off our production line in Normal,” Scaringe wrote on Twitter. "Can't wait to get these into the hands of our customers!"

Getting to this point has been something of a journey for Rivian. The company had initially planned to start deliveries of the R1T in 2020 but was forced to delay the truck’s debut to 2021 when it couldn’t get its manufacturing facility, a former Mitsubishi plant, retooled quickly enough. The coronavirus pandemic only added to the automaker’s problems, forcing it to push bach the launch of the R1T and R1S from July to September. "Everything from facility construction, to equipment installation, to vehicle component supply (especially semiconductors) has been impacted by the pandemic," Scaringe wrote at the time.

But even with you factor in those setbacks, the R1T is making its way to consumers before the Tesla Cybertruck and Ford F-150 Lightning. Both of those vehicles won’t debut before the start of 2022.