California will require half of heavy truck sales to be electric by 2035

California will require more than half of all heavy trucks sold in the state to be electric by 2035. The rule received approval from the Biden administration today, allowing it to take effect next year, according toThe New York Times. California approved the mandate in 2020 but needed an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) waiver because it exceeded federal standards.

The rule aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. By 2035, it requires 55 percent of delivery vans and small trucks sold in California to be entirely electric-powered. Similarly, 40 percent of tractor-trailers and 75 percent of buses and larger trucks must be all-electric by the same deadline.

California Governor Gavin Newsom sees the mandate as a bellwether for the nation. “This is a moment to mark because it’s a preview of the order of magnitude of the change in the industry,” Newsom told The New York Times. “There’s a power in these waivers and that power is emulation. We adopt through these waivers the principles and policies that lead to innovation and investment.” Given the size and centrality of California’s economy (it would be the world’s fifth-biggest economy if it were a sovereign nation), the rule would, in practice, essentially apply nationwide — similar to the state’s ban on sales of gas-powered vehicles by 2035.

The trucking industry has criticized the move for its costs and infrastructure requirements. “Drivers don’t want to work in California anymore,” said Jay Grimes, director of federal affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “They’re skeptical of the rapid timeline on this transition to electric trucks. Can a trucker get a charge that will take them on a highway for two or three days? Is the technology ready for prime time?” He adds that batteries for electric trucks can weigh thousands of pounds more than combustion engines, potentially limiting hauls. Other truckers have questioned whether the charging station rollout will be adequate for long trips. Finally, electric trucks are more expensive, starting at around $100,000 and stretching into high six figures (although the pricing discrepancies compared to gas trucks could drop over time).

Unsurprisingly, attorneys general from 17 Republican-led states are suing to block the legislation. That list includes (among others) Texas AG Ken Paxton, who has received over $3.9 million in fossil fuel donations since 2002, and Louisiana AG Jeff Landry, who has raked in over $875,000 from oil and gas industries. Their lawsuit is scheduled for the US Court of Appeals for Washington, DC, later this year and could move to the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court afterward.

Clean energy groups acknowledge the mandate’s difficulties but strike an optimistic tone. “There’s a great deal of challenge with the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation. “But there are elements that lead to optimism.” For example, he points out that government tax incentives and savings from not having to buy gasoline will help with long-term costs. “Companies like FedEx look at the bottom line over the total life span of a vehicle. And when they look long-term, the calculations for this become more optimistic.”

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GOG’s Spring Sale deals include ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ for $30

GOG is winding down its annual Spring Sale, and this is a good opportunity to score some hit games at steep discounts. For starters, Cyberpunk 2077 is down to just $30. If you haven't yet tried the Keanu Reeves-starring action RPG, now might be a good time to jump in.

Other major deals tend to revolve around classics. Witcher 3 Complete is available for $15, while the Alien: Isolation Collection is down to $10. Hollow Knight is on sale for $7.50, as isHellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. The enhanced version of the legendary RPG Planescape: Torment is selling for $5, and you can snag XCOM 2for $3. Not that this is the end of the bargains. Over 4,500 titles are discounted, so the odds are that a game you want available on the cheap.

The sale ends April 3rd at 6PM Eastern. As of this writing, GOG is also giving away the survival-tinged turn-based combat game Deep Sky Derelicts. All games in the store are DRM-free and thus don't need activation or an internet connection to play. While this won't get you many cutting-edge releases, it might help build your collection — or at least, add to your backlog.

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Jeep just mushed together a 1970s Cherokee with a modern hybrid Wrangler

This isn’t an early April Fool’s gag. Jeep just unveiled a mashup of a 1978 Cherokee with a 2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4xe, a higher-end hybrid SUV, to create a Frankenstein vehicle that is heavy both on delicious retro looks and modern performance metrics. The 1978 Jeep Cherokee 4xe Concept vehicle is an old-school two-door affair with a modern Starburst yellow paint job that could actually be mistaken for a lovingly cared-for, decades-old vehicle.

Underneath the hood is where all of the modern technology resides. For the uninitiated, 4xe vehicles are 4x4 plug-in hybrid electric SUVs, so there are “two electric motors, a high-voltage battery pack and a high-tech 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 engine,” as Jeep describes it. An eight-speed automatic transmission and custom 37-inch tires wrapped around 17-inch “slotted mag” style wheels round out the design. The interior is also a custom job, with low-back bucket seats trimmed in leather, a four-point safety cage instead of a rear bench seat and a rear cargo space complete with a full-size spare tire.

This is just one of many concept vehicles Jeep unveiled as part of its annual Easter Jeep Safari event held in Moab, UT, where the company likes to show off some wild prototypes. The other highlight is the fully-electric Magneto 3.0 Wrangler prototype, based on the two-door 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. It features a custom-built electric motor that operates up to 6,000 rpm connected to a six-speed manual transmission. That’s right, this EV is a stick shift.

Jeep Wrangler Magneto 3.0 Concept car.

Jeep has been messing with this Magneto EV concept for a few years, but this year’s version more than doubles the peak amps available in the propulsion system and offers a 20 percent increase in range. The motor delivers up to 900 pounds of torque and 650 horsepower.

These are concept/prototype vehicles, so you can’t walk into a local showroom and try one out, though you could see them in person if you are in Utah from April 1st to April 9th. Jeep has been making massive inroads lately in the hybrid and EV space, making good so far on its promise to release hybrid versions of each of its primary models by 2025.

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Jack Dorsey’s Bluesky is building a ‘marketplace of algorithms’

Jack Dorsey’s Twitter alternative Bluesky is still invite-only, but its leaders are sharing more about their vision for the open-source platform. In a new blog post, CEO Jay Graber said that Bluesky intends to create a “marketplace of algorithms” that will allow users to control how content is filtered and sorted.

“For developers, an open marketplace of algorithms will provide the freedom to experiment with and publish algorithms that anyone can use,” Graber wrote. “For users, the ability to customize their feed will give them back control of their most valuable resource: their attention.”

Bluesky was originally conceived as a Twitter-backed side project to create a new, decentralized standard for social media platforms. But it officially broke off from Twitter in 2021, and has since joined the ranks of upstart Twitter clones that have sprung up following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company,

Like much of Bluesky, the idea of an algorithmic marketplace seems to be in a relatively early stage. Graber said Bluesky is currently working on feed APIs for developers, as well as a ‘feed selection system” that will eventually allow users to browse third-party feeds they can integrate into their timelines.

Of note, Dorsey has been a longtime proponent of “algorithmic choice” and even raised the idea of an algorithm marketplace while he was still running Twitter. In her post, Graber said that allowing users to choose their own algorithm, including a chronological feed, could address “backlash against the perceived algorithmic manipulation of people’s timelines.”

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Stricter guidance means fewer EVs will qualify for $7,500 federal tax credit

The US Treasury Department issued updated guidance today about which electric vehicles qualify for the federal $7,500 EV tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that President Biden signed last year. Although the new guidelines add more confusion than clarity, it’s evident that fewer EVs will be eligible.

The updated rules target mineral sourcing in EV batteries, stating that they must be sourced from the US and approved trading partners. That rules out China, which is labeled as a “foreign entity of concern.” Although it’s understandable for the US to limit its dependence on its most powerful adversary, most EVs today run on Chinese-made batteries, making the path forward for receiving the credit on purchases made after April 18th as clear as mud.

To receive tax credits, battery makers must source a significant portion of their materials and manufacturing from North America. Battery components must be 50 percent made or assembled in North America to qualify for a $3,750 credit; critical minerals must be 40 percent sourced from the US or free trade partners for another $3,750 credit. The requirements grow stricter over time, as batteries must be made 100 percent in North America by 2029.

Although some EVs may qualify for partial credits, it’s unclear which models will be eligible after the deadline. “Some EVs will certainly qualify for a partial credit,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, in a statement to Autoblog. “Given the constraints of the legislation, Treasury's done as well as it could to produce rules that meet the statute and reflect the current market.” However, US officials admit some models will either be reduced or eliminated from the program. The government will publish a revised list of qualifying models by April 18th.

The US and Japan signed a trade agreement on Tuesday that could help long-term by adding the Pacific power to the list of approved partners. In October, the Biden administration announced $2.8 billion in grants for 20 companies to spark domestic EV battery materials and production. The funding, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will support the new “American Battery Materials Initiative,” which aims to secure critical EV minerals and boost battery supply to meet Biden’s goal of making EVs half of US vehicle sales by 2030.

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Waymo brings its fleet of new self-driving SUVs to Austin

Waymo is bringing a fleet of driverless cars to Austin, Texas as a test of its new fifth-generation automated driving system. The vehicles will be tested all over the city, including downtown, the Capitol, Market District and other locations. The vehicles that Waymo is testing in Austin are new all-electric Jaguar SUVs, a switch from the hybrid Chryslers it previously used.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, chose Austin as its next city for testing as an homage, of sorts, as it hosted the first prototype driverless car in 2015. Back then, the tests were conducted on Waymo’s retired Firefly prototype vehicle, which ran the first generation of Waymo’s Driver system. Nowadays, they use a fifth-generation system that has been refined and adjusted throughout the past seven years.

Another likely reason they chose Austin? A Texas state law passed in 2017 dictates that cities cannot regulate self-driving cars. To that end, the city already hosts a couple of competitors. Ford started testing its Argo driverless system in Austin last year and GM-backed startup Cruise has also set up shop. The city also plays host to plenty of autonomous delivery bots.

Waymo will also take advantage of its presence in the city to make connections with and provide services for local community organizations, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

This is a technology test and not a full-fledged rollout of a self-driving taxi fleet like the company already operates in Phoenix and San Francisco. Still, if the test goes well, Waymo could eventually bring legitimate driverless ride-hail services to Austin.

Update, 1:35PM ET: This story has been updated to reflect that Waymo will not be picking up passengers in its cars in Austin. Instead, they're doing testing to improve and evaluate their self-driving technology in more locations.

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GM is phasing out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in EVs

Many car makers tout smartphone connectivity as a selling point, but GM won't in the future. In a Reutersinterview, GM digital chief Edward Kummer and vehicle cockpit experience executive director Mike Hichme say GM will phase out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with upcoming electric cars, beginning with the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV. Instead, you'll have to rely on Android Automotive and its apps.

Users will get eight years of free Google Assistant and Google Maps use at no extra charge, GM says. The company doesn't mention what you'll pay if you still need those functions afterward. We've asked GM for comment. It will still offer CarPlay and Android Auto in combustion engine models, and you won't lose access on existing EVs. GM plans an all-electric passenger vehicle line by 2035.

The company argues that Android Automotive provides more control over the experience. There are upcoming driver assistance technologies that are "more tightly coupled" with navigation features, Hichme says, and GM doesn't want them to require a smartphone. Kummer also acknowledged that there are "subscription revenue opportunities." Don't be surprised if you're paying a recurring fee for certain features like you already do with some brands.

Android Automotive has a growing footprint. On top of GM, companies like BMW, Honda, Polestar, Stellantis, Volvo and VW are adopting it with or without Google apps. However, the platform doesn't preclude support for CarPlay or Android Auto. GM is deliberately dropping those features. While this could lead to some innovative driver aids, it could also force you to mount your phone if there's an app or function the EV's infotainment system doesn't support.

The decision is a blow to Apple. Its services may not have native support in GM EVs. The iPhone maker is also developing a next-gen CarPlay experience that can take over the entire dashboard — GM just ruled itself out as a potential customer. If Apple is going to have more control over your drive, it will have to turn to other marques.

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Watch us try to break Google Bard and Bing AI

The generative AI race is on, and the current frontrunners appear to be Google's Bard and Microsoft's Bing AI, which is powered by ChatGPT. The two companies are also rushing to stuff their AI into all their software and productivity offerings, and look set to change the way we search and interact with the internet. But right now, both Bard and Bing are highly experimental and flawed, as they begin to conduct conversations with larger groups of the population and learn how to work with humans. That makes it the perfect time for us to prod and poke at the pair of chatbots and see not only who's presently in the lead, but also how they might break. The results are not quite what we expected.

In our test, we asked both chatbots a series of questions to see which is better at delivering facts, replacing me at my job and participating in existential debates. We also looked at their speed, transparency and how likely they were to break if we started to push its buttons by being rude or flirty.

In just the short time that Bing and Bard have been open to the public, it seems like Microsoft and Google have updated their AI to be less "emotionally" reactive. Both chatbots tended to abstain from conversations that took accusatory turns or asked about human feelings like love. 

As we continue to explore the capabilities and limits of generative AI, it's important to keep in mind the ethics and potential harm that could happen if companies carelessly chase trends without pausing to think. Check out our video to see how Bing and Bard handled questions like "can you fall in love" and "how would you answer the trolley problem." 

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ASUS’ high-fashion gaming tablet is a must-have for hot dog vendors everywhere

Have you ever wanted a gaming tablet that coordinates with street-style fashion? No? You're getting one anyway. Hypebeastreports that ASUS is teaming up with German label Acronym to release the special edition ROG Flow Z13-ACRNM RMT02 gaming tablet. The hybrid PC includes a chassis platform that both protects the machine and lets you attach slings that attach to Acronym jackets, like one that hangs the system off your chest. If you just have to play a game before you sit down, you can — although you will look like you should be selling hot dogs at a baseball game.

Other customizations include the usual abundance of branding on-screen and off. Even the detachable keyboard is themed around Acronym colors, although you might appreciate that touch when it highlights the WASD key combo used by so many first-person shooter games.

ASUS ROG Flow Z13-ACRNM tablet

Thankfully, there's some substance to back up the style. The Acronym ROG Flow Z13 runs on a Core i9, 32GB of RAM, GeForce RTX 40-series mobile graphics and a 1TB SSD. You'll still get a 13.4-inch display with a full DCI-P3 color range and a 165Hz refresh rate. We wouldn't expect great battery life given the mediocre runtime of past models, but that's not really the point — this is a gaming PC that just happens to be usable as a Surface-style tablet in a pinch.

This isn't the first collaboration between the brands. ASUS and Acronym previously released the ROG Zephyrus G14-ACRNM RMT01 laptop in 2020. This is a more elaborate project, however, and certainly the first where the computer and clothing are meant to work together.

ASUS ROG Flow Z13-ACRNM tablet

The ROG Flow Z13-ACRNM RMT02 should be available April 3rd for $2,500 through Amazon and ASUS. That's a lot to pay for a gaming tablet, especially when you can buy the regular Z13 for $1,750. With that said, it's not often you can buy any tablet PC that truly stands out. This is as much a conversation piece as it is a computer, especially if you're determined to wear it as a fashion accessory.

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