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Ford outs 4th-gen self-driving platform with better sensors, cleaning tech, and improved batteries

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Ford and Argo AI today released details about its fourth-generation self-driving test vehicle. Built on the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid, the vehicle has everything needed to standup a self-driving service, the Detroit automaker said. It’s equipped with an improved battery system, new sensors, and sensor cleaning technology.

The previous three generations of test vehicles used the Ford Fusion sedan.

For this latest platform, Ford upgraded the LiDAR sensor suite with an all-new system that sports a higher resolution 128-beam array to provide a 360-degree view. Ford says this helps the test vehicle better detect fix and moving objects closer to the vehicle. Near-field cameras and short-range LiDAR look ahead and to the vehicle’s side while rear-facing sensors help with objects behind the SUV.

The Escape Hybrid’s platform better serves the self-driving technology with improved battery cooling. Ford says that modified high voltage batteries help supply the self-driving system while also reducing the gasoline consumed by the vehicle.

Ford is rolling out this new testbed to its testing cities of Austin, Detroit, Miami, Palo Alto, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. And in each of these regions, the improved sensor cleaning technology should help the vehicle in its self-driving efforts.

Ford says it reworked the systems tasked with ensuring the sensors are free of dust, rain, snow, and ice. More spray nozzles shoot out liquid cleaning solutions at a higher pressure than previous models. The LiDAR sensors have a newly-developed hidden, forced-air cleaning system, too.

Ford said in 2018 it intended to spend $4 billion on autonomous vehicles by 2023, and recent developments make it clear Ford is pushing forward in this effort. In 2018 the automaker purchased the defunct Michigan Central Station and surrounding buildings in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Since then, it has been making additional investments in the area as it retrofits the massive train station. Two months ago, it teamed with Bosch and Bedrock to announce an automated valet parking garage.

Despite’s today’s news, the company’s self-driving service is still a few years out. In April 2020, Ford said it was postponing its autonomous vehicle service until 2022, as the COVID-19 crisis caused a rethink of the strategy.

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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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