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Uber partners with anti-human trafficking organizations to help drivers report suspected sex slaves


Uber is teaming up with a number of anti-human trafficking organizations to help drivers spot sexual slavery victims, or those who are being held captive or forced into labor against their will.

To mark Human Trafficking Awareness Month, the ride-hailing giant is working with the Polaris Project, a nonprofit that works to combat modern-day slavery, with a view toward promoting resources and a hotline for reporting suspicious activity. Indeed, all U.S. drivers will receive in-app messages with the hotline number, in addition to information on how to spot possible human trafficking.

Additionally, Uber said that it has partnered with Thorn, an organization that focuses on the use of technology to prevent child pornography and the spread of sexual slavery through the internet. The organization was founded by Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher and has worked with the likes of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter to help thwart sexual abuse online.

While Uber isn’t a name that’s synonymous with good deeds, the company has been proactive in helping find missing children by opening its driver app to AMBER alerts, and it has also partnered with other anti-trafficking organizations, such as ECPAT-USA. Indeed, in 2016, Uber signed the ECPAT Code, which is a set of guidelines focused on helping tourism-related companies prevent child sex tourism and trafficking.

With hundreds of thousands of drivers across the U.S., Uber is in a strong position to disseminate information to people on the ground — those who may have direct access to human trafficking outfits. Back in 2016, an Uber driver actually helped save a 16-year-old sex slave after eavesdropping on a conversation in his car, so it’s clear that Uber drivers may be uniquely positioned to help.

“Both research and experience operating the National Human Trafficking Hotline has shown us that ride sharing services like Uber have a significant role to play in disrupting human trafficking and helping survivors to find freedom,” noted Polaris CEO Bradley Miles. “Ensuring that drivers who recognize the signs of human trafficking know that the hotline is available and can help is an important step toward turning awareness into action and making a real difference in people’s lives.”

Uber’s latest push is aimed only at U.S. drivers, however the company said that it plans to introduce similar initiatives in other countries.

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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