Three persons missing in lethal mudslides in California

In recent developments in the deadly California mudslides, three people were reported as missing. Searchers looked through the rubble and debris in Montecito. 20 people have been reported to be killed by the onslaught of these mudslides.
Among these people were John Cantin, 17 and Faviola Benitez, 28. A child of two years of age, Lydia Sutthithepa was also missing. The young girl’s  father Pinit Sutthithepa was killed on Saturday. The sheriff narrowed down the people from a list of about 100 missing people.
This is the worst number of deaths that a mudslide has caused in California in the past 13 years. The fallen trees, power lines and debris made it harder for searchers to dig through. Montecito, the affected area is a rich neighbourhood 137 kilometres away from Los Angeles.
Post intimation, the White House released a conciliatory statement on behalf of President Trump and the First Lady.
The destruction affected close to 78 square kilometres and razed 65 homes to the ground while damaging 450 others. The residents from this side, the southeastern corner have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Sources – Reuters, CNN

Mudslides in California kill 13

BBC informed that mudslides due to heavy rains and flooding kill 13 people in California, USA. 163 people have been hospitalized. 20 complained of storm-related injuries, while four others were critically wounded. 300 people have been trapped at Romero Canyon in Santa Barbara.

Police sources described the scene as a First World War battlefield. “This has weakened the foundation of houses and caused major property devastation due to the mudflow,” mentioned Mike Eliason, a spokesman at County fire department in Santa Barbara.

CNN reported that 101 freeways in Santa Barbara and Montecito will be closed in the next 48 hours as a safety measure. Mandatory evacuations for 26,000 have been conducted in Goleta, Carpentaria, Montecito and other parts of the region. The area was also affected recently by Thomas Fire, a wildfire. Gina De Pinto, a spokeswoman for the country mentioned.

A 14-year-old girl was rescued from her Montecito home by firefighters. She was trapped for hours around wooden debris. It is impossible to trace any roads or housing in the locality due to the mud and debris. The storm happened around 3 am early morning. The sheriff received 600 rescue plea telephone calls from the area.

Sources – BBC, CNN

Samsung acquires permit to test self-driving cars in CA

Four months after i-Phone maker and rival Apple Inc. secured permit to test self-driving cars, Samsung electronics joined the league in California on Thursday. The Samsung group sought permission from the South Korean authorities to test self-driving cars that have the company’s manufactured sensors and software systems.

The South Korean officials have confirmed that the car is being developed using a self-driving algorithm that enables it to safely drive in even adverse weather conditions. The website of California Department of Motor vehicle displayed Samsung’s name in the list along with a dozen other companies with similar permit.

The company which is mainly into manufacturing of electronic equipment such as Television, washing machines and cell-phones told Reuters that the procurement of the permit for this is to facilitate ‘smarter and safer’ transportation.

Samsung’s foray into the United States’ self-driving car market will be a huge step after the company’s  $8 billion purchase of car audio maker Harman International Industries. Other rivals in the market include Waymo, a division of Google parent Alphabet Inc besides Apple Inc.

In the early 1990s, Samsung had tried its hand in the automobile business but huge losses incurred due to Asian financial crisis forced the company to hand over its business to Renault.



Uber Removes Self-driving Cars from San Francisco

Facing a regulatory crackdown, Uber Technologies Inc. has removed its self-driving cars from the roads of San Francisco, one week post the launch of its autonomous program.

The registration of 16 self-driving cars was revoked by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, citing lack of proper permit as the reason. The agency had been demanding that Uber shut down its program for the past week, asking them to follow regulations and get the right permit to test the self-driving cars on public roads.

On the other hand, Uber has emphasised that a permit was not acquired, as their vehicles require continuous monitoring by the driver in the car.

After the initial launch in Pittsburgh, in September for ground-testing, San Francisco was picked as the second city to test-drive the cars. The company is now looking for other locations to launch their cars, with California remaining as the primary location for test-drives, reports The Indian Express.

The state of California defines autonomous vehicles as having the potential to drive “…without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person”. Uber, however, argues that its vehicles don’t fall under this category as it relies on a driver and an engineer to handle the car in all traffic situations.

It is yet to be seen whether Uber will try to get the permit or shift to another state altogether.


Sources: Reuters, Live Mint

Nokia and Apple file lawsuits over patent violation in US and Europe

For the second time in the past seven years, Apple Inc. and Nokia Corp. have filed competing lawsuits over intellectual property used in the iPhone and other Apple products.

Last time, a two-year patent case was settled with Nokia in 2011, where Apple had agreed to pay licensing royalties for use of some Nokia patents in its phones.

This week, Apple filed the suit in the state of California, on Tuesday, arguing that Nokia excluded some patents from the earlier agreement and has been using them for “extorting excessive royalties” from them by transferring these patents to third-party companies. The company has requested the court to compensate it for its damages and rule that Nokia has indulged in a breach of contract.

On the other hand, Nokia filed a suit on Wednesday in the District Court of Eastern Texas (U.S.) and the Regional courts in Dusseldorf, Mannheim and Munich (Germany). It has alleged that the Apple products infringed on 32 Nokia patents covering technologies such as video coding, antenna and display.

As per a report in the Wall Street Journal, Apple has accused Nokia of not licensing their patents on a fair basis and now using such tactics to extort money from the company. Incidentally, Nokia won a settlement worth $720 million from Apple in the previous patent dispute.

SOURCES: USAToday, Bloomberg, WSJ