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Potholes in Panama City are Tweeting Complaints to the Local Government

Tired of trying to get the attention of your city government? Why not let the thing you planned to complain about do the work for you?

Ad agency P4 Ogilvy & Mather has teamed with local Panama City news channel Telemetro to do just that. The group has placed sensors inside a number of the potholes plaguing city roads. Whenever a car drives over one, the pothole sends a tweet to the city's Department of Public Works.

The account, El Hueco Twitero (The Tweeting Hole), delivers, in Spanish, silly messages from the anthropomorphic pits—one recent tweet from El Hueco complained of a headache from listening to cars bump over it all day. (El Hueco Twitero is also tracking the locations of complaints to map the streets most in need of attention.) The missives may be goofy, but in the two weeks the account has existed, they’ve had a real impact. (No penis drawings necessary.)

“I am sure that response has not been 100 percent, but it is evident, and serious cases have been attended in less than 24 hours,” P4 Ogilvy & Mather's vice president of strategic planning, Pinky Mon, tells Fast Company.

For more on The Tweeting Hole, check out the video above, and click on over to @Elhuecotwitero.

[h/t Fast Company]

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Wisconsin Considers Building a Highway Lane for Self-Driving Cars
iStock
iStock

Self-driving cars are already a reality, as companies like Google and Tesla have demonstrated. But the logistics of getting them on the roads with human-operated cars have slowed down their long-anticipated takeover. In Wisconsin, highway planners are looking into one way to accommodate autonomous vehicles when they arrive. Dedicated lanes for driverless cars are being considered for I-94, USA Today’s Journal Sentinel reports.

The project is supported by Foxconn, the Taiwanese tech supplier building a new facility 20 miles outside of downtown Milwaukee. Once the site is complete, it will cover 20 million square feet and employ up to 13,000 people. According to the company, setting aside space for self-driving vehicles could ease traffic congestion, both from new workers and cargo trucks, after the factory opens.

Officials were already planning to expand I-94 from six lanes to eight to accommodate the eventual increase in traffic, but Foxconn says that may not be enough. “We’re thinking about two years down the road; they’re thinking 20 years down the road,” Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said at a meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

While Sheehy said the autonomous car lane proposal is “on the table,” he didn’t make any promises regarding the plan’s future. Wisconsin isn’t the only state looking ahead to new developments in road travel: In October, tech investors pitched an idea to Washington state officials to convert Interstate 5 into a corridor for autonomous vehicles between Seattle and Vancouver.

[h/t Journal Sentinel]

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Ford Tests Exoskeletons That Make Overhead Tasks Easier for Workers
Ford
Ford

Engineers have already developed exoskeletons capable of supporting elderly people and helping paralyzed people walk. But the technology offers benefits to able-bodied wearers as well. That's what employees are learning at Ford's U.S. factories. As Road Show reports, workers there are suiting up in upper body exoskeletons designed to alleviate fatigue and decrease their chance of injury.

Assembling car parts requires workers to reach their arms above their heads thousands of times a day. While most healthy individuals would have no problem doing this type of work for a few minutes at a time, the rate at which these employees are completing the tasks puts an enormous strain on their bodies. This can lead to back and shoulder fatigue, soreness, and even injury.

In an effort to make their workforce more comfortable and productive, Ford has been testing the EksoVest from Ekso Bionics in two of its American auto plants. The non-powered suits fit people between 5 feet and 6 feet 4 inches tall. The lightweight design provides up to 15 pounds of support to each arm without weighing wearers down or restricting their movements. According to Ford, the pilot program has contributed to an 83 percent drop in the number of incidents that led to time off between 2005 and 2016. And on top of staying healthy enough to go to work, employees have reported feeling more energized during their off hours.

The EksoVest has already helped workers launch several new vehicles, including the 2018 Ford Mustang and the 2018 Lincoln Navigator. Following the trial program's success, the automobile company next plans to test the technology in factories in Europe and South America.

[h/t Road Show]

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