Real-world Knight Rider

Remember when we wrote about how robot-controlled cars could save us lots of gas money? Turns out they could save our lives, too -- and what's more, the whole endeavor is becoming less science-fiction theoretical by the minute. A team of engineers at Stanford have developed a prototype called "Junior," a VW Passat equipped with a trunkload of computers and GPS receivers, and a bevy of roof-, side- and front-mounted laser range-finders to image obstacles in 360 degrees. What all this means is, unlike TV's Knight Rider, there's nobody standing just out of the shot holding a remote control; this baby does all its own stunts.

Therefore, says project leader Sebastian Thrun, robotic cars like Junior could take a lot of the burden off of US highways. It seems that only about 8% of American highway surface is used at peak hours -- the trouble isn't the amount of surface area we've paved, it's how we use it. All this stop-and-go, unpredictable, emotional driving would be a thing of the past, and cars, suddenly, would function a lot more like trains. Really convenient trains that would go anywhere you told them to go, while you read the paper, work on your laptop or take a snooze. Added bonus: if the robots work like they're supposed to, traffic fatalities would be greatly reduced. (Even if they malfunctioned occasionally, I can't imagine it would be worse than what we've already got on our freeways today -- in addition to countless wrecks, there have been several road-rage-related shootings on LA's 710 freeway recently.)

Some specs on what makes Junior tick, after the jump.


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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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