Elon Musk’s Boring Company reportedly pitching wider tunnels that could transport freight

The Boring Company has been pitching potential clients on a much wider tunnel than any it has built so far, Bloomberg reported, which could be used to transport freight. Since its inception in 2016, the Elon Musk-helmed tunneling startup has been focused on tunnels that would transport passengers, with a goal to “solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic” in cities. But the new pitch deck Bloomberg obtained shows how wider tunnels could be used for transporting freight, something that would greatly expand Boring’s potential business.

According to Bloomberg, the company’s new pitch includes tunnels that are 21 feet in diameter, nearly twice the size of the 12-foot tunnels the company has built so far, which could accommodate two shipping containers side by side.

The company most recently completed 1.7 miles of tunnel under Las Vegas. That’s part of a larger proposal to build a massive tunnel system running under the whole city, including the Las Vegas Strip and McCarran International Airport. The Boring Company has claimed such a system could handle roughly 50,000 passengers per hour. The current tunnel under Las Vegas is meant to eventually transport some 4,400 people each hour, but a TechCrunch report suggested that company documents show it may only be able to transport 1,200 people per hour.

The Boring Company didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment Friday.


Spotify acquires podcast discovery specialists Podz

Spotify has acquired Podz, a startup whose technology generates preview clips of podcasts, the streaming service has announced. Unlike other services podcasters can use to manually create clips, TechCrunch says Podz automates the process of finding key moments from episodes using machine learning trained on over 100,000 hours of audio.

The acquisition is aimed at improving podcast discovery, letting users browse short clips rather than 30-minute plus podcast episodes. Spotify says this will make it “easier for listeners to find the content they want to listen to, and for creators to be discovered and build a fan base.” Podz tells TechCrunch that users on its platform typically follow up to 30 podcasts, up from an average of seven.

The acquisition follows Spotify’s subscription podcasting announcement, in which it would allow select partners to charge for access to their content. Although Spotify isn’t planning on taking its 5 percent cut of subscription revenue until 2023, eventually it’ll have a direct financial incentive to encourage its listeners to find and subscribe to as many podcasts as possible. Especially since it’s now competing with Apple Podcasts’ own in-app subscriptions, which launched this week.

Spotify says it plans to integrate Podz’ technology into its platform, and that some of the results should be visible before the end of the year.


Lincoln vehicles getting hands-free driving feature and native Android

Lincoln, Ford’s luxury brand, has announced plans to make its entire lineup either hybrid or all-electric by 2030 as part of its parent company’s new business plan. The brand will reveal its first all-electric vehicle in 2022, and it expects that half of its global sales will be zero-emissions vehicles by around 2025.

In addition, Lincoln vehicles are gaining a hands-free advanced driver assistance feature based on Ford’s BlueCruise system, though the luxury marque will call its version “ActiveGlide.” New Lincoln vehicles coming in 2023 will also feature Google’s native Android Automotive operating system, which is is being added to “millions” of Ford vehicles that same year.

Four of Lincoln’s electric vehicles will be built on the new flexible EV platform that Ford announced in May when it laid out its new $30 billion “Ford Plus” business plan. That platform can power vehicles with all- or rear-wheel drive setups, and it “allows [Lincoln] to reimagine the interior space, and deliver the power of sanctuary in a new way for our clients,” John Jraiche, the company’s global director for luxury vehicles, said in a briefing.

In April, Lincoln announced a concept car in China called Zephyr that the company said offers a good picture of what its future vehicles might look like, inside and out. It featured a dashboard-spanning screen and new user interface that Lincoln refers to as “Constellation.” Lincoln released a short video on Wednesday of what that new UI might look like. The company said its “designers and engineers are also experimenting with digital scenting techniques, exploring how warm, pleasant scents positively affect the mood and overall well-being of the passengers.”

Lincoln was previously working on co-developing its first all-electric vehicle with EV startup Rivian, of which Ford owns at least a 10 percent stake. But the luxury automaker announced last year at the beginning of the pandemic that the project was canceled. While it seemed at the time that Lincoln had said it was still working with Rivian on another EV, the company said this week that this was a miscommunication. Rivian is still working with Ford on a future product, but its involvement with the Lincoln brand ended last year.

In more near-term news, Lincoln announced that the 2021 Nautilus will receive its first over-the-air software updates starting this summer. Those will upgrade the onboard navigation system and improve the Apple CarPlay experience. Later this year, an update will add hands-free capability for the built-in Amazon Alexa digital assistant.


Windows 11 Screenshots Leak, Show 10X-Like Changes

(Image credit: sdra_owen on Baidu)

Two screenshots from Windows 11 appear to have leaked on Baidu, a Chinese forum. The two screenshots show off a new, refreshed Start menu as well as the settings screen, which shows the name Windows 11 Pro.

The image of the Start menu is the big reveal. It shows a new, centered task bar, similar to what was seen in Windows 10X prior to its cancelation. The menu doesn’t have Live Tiles and lets you pin software in place. There’s also a power icon to shut down or restart your computer. It all looks far more touch-friendly, and is likely part of the Windows 10X project being folded into Windows 11.

(Image credit: sdra_owen on Baidu)

The second image is far less revealing. It lists the name “Windows 11 Pro,” suggesting that Microsoft will stick to the Home, Pro and Enterprise naming system.

There’s also a small hint of a new desktop background, but it’s unclear if that belongs to the user or if it’s a new default.

The very little we see otherwise looks very similar to Windows 10, including the rest of the taskbar and the shortcuts on the desktop.

Microsoft didn’t respond to a request for comment prior to publication. This story will be updated if it responds.

Microsoft will host an event on June 24 to announce what’s next for Windows. The company has been dropping hints at it being Windows 11, including an 11-minute video of Windows startup sounds and an image showing two lights coming through a window that form the number 11. It’s likely we’ll learn more then.