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Auto-driving technology leads to safer roads, smoother traffic

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China’s Chongqing municipality and Wuhan, Hubei province recently kicked off commercial operation of fully unmanned auto-driving business, allowing autopilot robotaxis – without human safety operator in the passenger seat – to offer ride-hailing services on open roads.

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It is not the first policy supporting the auto-driving business issued by China in the recent days.

On Aug. 1, the country’s first regulation tailored for smart and connected vehicle management went into force in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province. In July, Beijing issued permits to services providers that allow autopilot vehicles with a human safety operator in the passenger seat to collect fares.

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These supporting policies demonstrated the country’s confidence in and expectation for Chinese autopilot technology.

Chinese tech giant Baidu, as well as autonomous vehicle technology companies Pony.ai and WeRide have been running commercial auto-driving business at different levels in a number of Chinese cities.

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Chongqing citizens are now able to hail driverless vehicles on Apollo Go, anrobotaxi hailing app developed by Baidu. Apollo Go’s robotaxis are equipped with laser radars on the rooftop, and they are able to carry passengers to destinations safely.

Apollo Go robotaxis would give way to pedestrians crossing the street when driving at night. When making a left turn at intersections, they would make sure that the oncoming lanes are clear. Besides, they are able to maintain a constant speed in heavy traffic.

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Pony.ai is now testing its autopilot car-hailing services in a pilot area of auto-driving in Yizhuang, Beijing. Its vehicles make decisions based on actual traffic conditions and running speed.

For instance, they can overtake the vehicles that are running slowly in front of them, and in another scenario where the traffic signal goes yellow and there’s no vehicle around, Pony.ai robotaxis would go through the intersection at a constant speed rather than slamming on the brakes.

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Robotaxis have a great performance even when it’s raining or dark, as they have their “visions” – laser radars, cameras and millimeter-wave radars. With the equipment, they are better than human drivers at recognizing and tracking barriers, and comprehending traffic information.

They can “see” their surroundings clearly in different road conditions, weathers and environments. Even in extreme weathers, they can drive safely.

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There are even “drivers” standing by in control rooms that would take over the robotaxis and control them via 5G network when emergencies happen.

Vice president of Pony.ai Zhang Ning told People’s Daily that robotaxis consider safety, efficiency and comfort when making decisions on roads.

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With deep-learning algorithms, great engineering design, big data and system optimization, some auto-driving vehicles are even more skilled than experienced drivers. They perform well even in dangerous but rare scenarios.

At present, Baidu has a testing fleet of over 500 vehicles that are running on open roads in nearly 30 cities of multiple countries and they have amassed a total of 32 million kilometers of real world driving data, said Xu Baoqiang, general manager of Baidu’s autonomous driving vehicle department.

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According to Xu, Baidu’s Apollo Go service has received more than a million car-hailing orders in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

China will enjoy bright prospects in developing autopilot technologies. “Though China is a latecomer, it is leading the world in autopilot R&D and application thanks to its policy support and leading enterprises, as well as its advantages in capital, human resource, technology and industrial chain,” said Zhang Xiang, head of a new energy vehicle technology academy under Jiangxi New Energy Technology Institute.

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After 138 days: Journalist detained for allegedly exposing Ogun state Gov, finally released

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Prince Olamilekan Hammed, blogger and publisher of Eagles Foresight has been released on bail after spending 138 days in detention.

His lawyer, Habeeb Whyte, confirmed his release to The PUNCH in a phone conversation.

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“Yes, he has been released. The case was struck out,” he said.

The journalist was detained by the DSS, also known as the State Security Service (SSS), on the orders of Dapo Abiodun.

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According to his lawyer, he was invited by the agency over a report he published exposing the criminal activities of Abiodun.

The Ogun State Command of the State Security Service (SSS) has arrested and detained blogger and publisher of eaglesforesight.com.ng, Prince Olamilekan Hammed (Lahbash) for reasons yet to be disclosed,” the lawyer had said in a statement.

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However, it was reported that Ogun State Government denied Governor Abiodun’s involvement in the blogger’s arrest and detention.

He was detained for publishing a story relating to Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun’s credit card fraud in the United States of America.

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It was gathered that Hammed, who appeared before the Federal High Court 1, Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital, was released on Tuesday.

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Confusion as Court nullifies all PDP primaries in Ogun elections

governorship, Osun, campaign
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* Bars INEC from recognising
as governorship candidate

*Orders another primary in 14 days

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By Francesca Iwambe

A Federal High Court sitting in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital, on has nullified all the primary elections conducted by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in choosing candidates for the 2023 general elections in the State.

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The presiding judge, Justice O. O Oguntoyinbo in his judgement ordered the party to conduct another primaries within the next 14 days.

The court also barred the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from recognising Hon. Ladi Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party in the state.

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The party had on May 25 conducted the primary election which produced Adebutu as the governorship candidate of the party.

But three members of the party, Taiwo Olabode Idris, Kehinde Akala and Alhaji Ayinde Monsuri had dragged the party, Ladi Adebutu and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court challenging the authenticity of the delegates’ lists used for the conduct of the primaries.

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The plaintiffs argued, the persons on delegates’ list used by electoral panel for the primaries were not democratically elected at the ward, local government and state congresses, hence the panel “cannot unilaterally or arbitrarily impose” the list on the party for the primaries.

The plaintiffs in their originating summons, had prayed the court among others to nullify or set aside the state congress/indirect primary election, held by the 1st defendant (PDP) on 25th of May, 2022 “for the purpose of choosing the candidate which the 1st Defendant intends to nominate/sponsor at the 2023 Governorship election in Ogun State based on the list of delegates who were not democratically elected at the ward congress.”

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They also sought an order directing the 2nd Defendant (INEC) “to disregard and/or refrain from giving effect to the results of the alleged 1st Defendant’s indirect primary election held on the 25th of May, 2022 based on the list of ad-hoc delegates who were not elected at the ward congresses constituted by the 1st Defendant for that purpose”.

Reacting to the judgement, Counsel to the plaintiffs, Thaddeus Idenyi said, the court nullified the election “because it was conducted using a list of ad-hoc delegates who were not elected.

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“The implication of the judgement is obvious, the PDP will have to put their house together and then conduct a fresh primary as ordered by the court.

“This time around, the court was specific that they have to use the list that has been certified by INEC because after the primary, those lists were submitted to INEC as parts of its report of covering those ward congresses held, so the court has now said that is the list which must be considered in the conduct of the fresh primaries, so the PDP had to just put their house together and use those lists to conduct a fresh primary.”

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The Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Akinloye Bankole said, the party would study the judgement before any action is taken.

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Jubilation in Rivers as Wike receives aircraft abandoned in Germany

Wike
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By Francesca Iwambe

There was Jubilation in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital on Tuesday as governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, said the recovery and eventual return of an asset of the State, Legacy 600 Aircraft, was a reality and not mere politics.

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The governor had earlier on Tuesday morning returned to Nigeria from London, where he had traveled to for an undisclosed reason, along with his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom.

Wike spoke after receiving the Legacy 600 aircraft that touched down on Tuesday at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa in Ikwerre local government area of the State.

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He explained that it took intelligence report for his administration to discover such asset, owned by the state government.

“The immediate past administration flew the aircraft to far away Germany, without any record of it made available to his administration.

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“To the glory of God, the plane is back and Rivers people can see, Nigerians can see. It is not that we are playing politics. All we are saying, we never knew, nobody told us until we got intelligence that we have this asset somewhere”, he said.

Wike recalled that the Legacy 600 Aircraft was purchased by the Dr. Peter Odili-led administration to serve the interest of Rivers people, but was abandoned with the General Atomics Aerotec in Munich, Germany by the Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi-led administration since 2012.

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The governor said: “What is very important to all of us here today is that when we came into power in 2015, nobody handed over any report or gave us handover note to let us know where such asset of the State was, only for us to hear in 2019 that this asset is somewhere.”

He said that because air transportation is a more technical area, great care was taken to put the Legacy 600 Aircraft into its best form to undertake air travel effectively.

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Wike stated that so much money was expended by the state government on the aircraft, money that would have gone into other development projects if his administration had known of the Aircraft quite early.

“In fixing the aircraft, certificate of air worthiness issued by the Nigerian government, was secured for the aircraft to return to Nigeria.

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“Of course, we did everything we could do and we told Nigerians that by the grace of God we will not allow this asset to go that way. We must return it for the people of the State to decide what they are going to do with it.

“I am so elated that at the end of the day, all of our struggles are not in vain. I thank Rivers people for the support. I thank the Rivers State House of Assembly for the support. I thank the Executive for the support.

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“But for their support, it would not have been possible to spend the money we spent. If you hear the money we spent, it’s money that would have been put in other development projects if we were told on time of it.”

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