Self-driving Waymo robo-car set on fire...

PLUS: Robotic surgeon heads to space

Welcome, Tech enthusiasts.

Autonomous vehicles are on fire in San Francisco — and not in a good way.

A Waymo self-driving car was vandalized and set on fire this weekend, with tensions continuing to ignite over the tech’s rise across the city. Let’s investigate…

In today’s tech rundown:

  • Waymo driverless car set on fire as tensions grow

  • Tiny space robot simulates remote surgery

  • 8 new products

  • Amazon faces class-action lawsuit over price manipulation

  • Xbox rumored to be moving multi-platform

  • Temu doubles down on Super Bowl ad spending

Read time: 3 minutes

TODAY’S HEADLINES

WAYMO

Image source: Reuters

The Rundown: A crowd surrounded and lit fire to a Waymo self-driving taxi during a weekend celebration in San Francisco, destroying the vehicle and highlighting tensions around the tech’s use in the city.

The details:

  • A crowd surrounded the autonomous vehicle, breaking the glass and throwing fireworks inside to engulf it in flames.

  • No passengers were in the vehicle, and the motives for the vandalism were unclear.

  • Distrust of driverless tech is reportedly high in San Francisco after recent Waymo accidents and traffic issues.

  • Past disruptions include last year’s ‘Week of Cone’, which saw groups disrupt autonomous vehicles with traffic cones, and individual attacks on Cruise robotaxis.

Why it matters: The battle between U.S. cities and self-driving tech continues — and the event highlights the human factor that companies must consider when developing autonomous tech. This is why we can’t have nice things!

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ROBOTIC TECH

Image source: University of Nebraska

The Rundown: MIRA, a 2-pound robotic assistant, just arrived at the International Space Station — becoming the first surgical robot in space and practice zero gravity operations.

The details:

  • Invented at the University of Nebraska, MIRA will perform a simulated surgery with remote guidance from a surgeon in Nebraska.

  • MIRA aims to assess the feasibility of telesurgery for future space travel, as well as address surgeon shortages around the globe.

  • Weighing 1,000x less than existing technologies, MIRA was designed for portability.

  • After 20 years in development, data from the current mission will help dictate the next steps for surgical robots in extreme environments.

Why it matters: By sending robotic surgery capabilities to space, researchers are pushing boundaries on two fronts — potentially expanding access to remote medicine across the globe, as well as providing new medical capabilities to astronauts in space.

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SNIPPETS

Threads is testing a new feature in the US that displays currently popular discussion topics, akin to a trending topics function, on the platform.

A class action lawsuit alleges that Amazon manipulates its platform, causing most of its US customers to overpay for items by promoting higher-priced options through its biased "Buy Box" algorithm.

Phil Spencer will discuss the future of Xbox and potential multi-platform developments on the Official Xbox Podcast on February 15.

A federal judge has ordered Elon Musk to comply with an SEC subpoena to testify regarding his acquisition of Twitter.

Russian forces claim to be using Starlink terminals on the front line of battles in Ukaraine, though Elon Musk called the reports ‘categorically false’.

Chinese e-commerce platform Temu doubled down on its Super Bowl push with a series of TV ads and $15M+ in giveaways, garnering attention for its heavy spending during the big game.

X announced that advertisers can now target ads next to a curated list of creators to avoid appearing with controversial content, aiming to lure creators amid a 50% ad revenue drop in 2023.

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THAT’S A WRAP

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