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Waymo Releases a Self-Driving Open Data Set For Free Use By Research Community

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Waymo is opening up its significant stores of autonomous driving data with a new Open Data Set it’s making available for the purposes of research. The data set isn’t for commercial use, but its definition of “research” is fairly broad, and includes researchers at other companies as well as academics. The data set is “one of the largest, riches and most diverse self-driving data sets ever released for research,” according to Waymo principal scientist and head of Research, Drago Anguelov, who was at both Zoox and Google prior to joining Waymo last year. Anguelov said in a briefing that the reason he initiated the push to make this data available is that Waymo and several other companies working in the field are “currently hampered by the lack of suitable data sets.”

The Waymo Open Data set tries to fill in some of these gaps for their research peers by providing data collected from 1,000 driving segments done by its autonomous vehicles on roads, with each segment representing 20 seconds of continuous driving. It includes driving done in Phoenix, Ariz.; Kirkland, Wash.; Mountain View, Calif.; and San Francisco, Calif., and offering a range of different driving conditions, including at night, during rain, at dusk and more. The segments include data collected from five of Waymo’s own proprietary lidars, as well as five standard cameras that face front and to the sides, providing a 360-degree view captured in high resolution, as well as synchronization Waymo uses to fuse lidar and imaging data. Objects, including vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and signage is all labeled. “We decided to contribute our part to make, ultimately, researchers in academia ask the right questions — and for that, they need the right data,” Anguelov said. “And I think this will help everyone in the field; it is not an admission in any way that we have problems solving these issues. But there is always room for improvement in terms of efficiency, scaleability, amount of labels to need. It’s a developing field. Mostly we’re trying to get others into thinking about our problems and working with us, as opposed to doing work that’s potentially not so impactful, given the current state of things.”

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Africa: Greener, Longer Life – More Trees Reduce Premature Deaths in Cities

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Tbilisi — City dwellers tend to live longer if they are in leafy neighbourhoods, according to a study that links green areas to lower rates of premature death

City dwellers tend to live longer if they are in leafy neighbourhoods, according to a study published on Wednesday that linked green areas to lower rates of premature death.

Trees in cities are already credited with cooling and cleaning the air and absorbing planet-warming gases, now researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health have found they also keep death at bay.

“More green space is better for health,” said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, director of the institute’s urban planning, environment and health initiative. “People actually live longer if there is more green space around.”

The research, which pulled data from nine other studies involving more than eight million people in seven countries from China to Canada, was the largest ever conducted on the subject, the authors said.

Researchers used satellite images to quantify how much vegetation, including trees, grass and shrubs, was within 500 meters (550 yards) of people’s homes.

Levels of vegetation were ranked on a scale under a system known as normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI).

Those involved in the study were followed for several years. Any premature deaths caused by health conditions such as heart or respiratory diseases were factored in.

The study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, found that in cities from Barcelona to Perth, a 10% increase in greenery led to an average 4% reduction in premature mortality.