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Inside Automotive (Jun 14th, 2019)

1. A key Tesla Autopilot engineer, Zeljko Popovic, is leaving the automaker for autonomous trucking startup Embark. Popvic developed and operated Tesla’s perception team for the automaker’s Autopilot division. Popvic’s team was able to create a sensor fusion system that combined data from multiple cameras, radars and sensors, while also developing highly accurate maps of highways in the US for Tesla, which are used by Autopilot. Embark confirmed the hire. Amazon is one of Embark’s most high-profile partners, using its technology to run automated truck deliveries in California. — CNBC

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2. A request from Uber and Bird to be relieved from tariffs on Chinese-made bicycles and scooters was denied by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office. Uber and other companies will continue to face a 25 percent tariff on imported electric bicycles. The ridesharing company said tariffs have caused “disproportionate harm to the innovation and competitiveness of U.S. digital transportation platforms.” Bird said it did not have an alternative to low-speed electric scooters imported from China, saying foreign imitators have tried to copy Bird’s success. — REUTERS

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3. Follow Friday: Bonnie Norman 

In Bonnie Norman’s Twitter bio, she writes: “Unabashed #Tesla #EV fan.” 

When you follow Bonnie, you’ll see why. She is incredibly passionate about electric vehicles and Tesla, to be more specific. She also shares tons of fun and cool EV-related content. For instance, a few days ago, she took a road trip to Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting, where she documented some of her favorite Tesla destination chargers along the way and told a hilarious story on how a hotel contractor was potentially yelled at by his wife by “ICE-ing” out her vehicle from one of the chargers. Bonnie also shared this cool series of “Drive Electric” commercials worth watching. Follow her here

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4. Tesla drivers will be able to play “Fallout Shelter” and stream YouTube to their vehicles in the near future. “Fallout Shelter” is a free, post-apocalyptic title that was released for mobile devices in 2015, which will be modified for Tesla’s in-vehicle screen. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made the announcement during a panel at E3 in Los Angeles, also showing a demo of “Beach Buggy Racing 2,” which is a racing game built for Android. Drivers can play games on the in-vehicle screen when they are not driving the vehicle. — THE VERGE

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5. As a part of a restructuring of its service department, Tesla fired many service employees across the US. The company maintains, however, that it is expanding service headcount. It is unclear how many employees Tesla fired or when they were let go. — ELECTREK

6. It’s official: Bird is acquiring competing shared scooter startup Scoot. The deal is reportedly worth around $70 million, which is a significantly lower price than its latest valuation. — WSJ

7. Former Ford CEO Doug Fields said the auto industry will likely face a “reckoning,” suggesting the industry should ease its expectations on electrification. — AUTO NEWS

8. Uber and Lyft are actively lobbying against a bill in California that would make independent contractors eligible for benefits and bargaining rights, advocating for alternatives. — CITY LAB

9. Electric utility company Southern California Edison is making it easier for potential EV buyers to estimate the cost of ownership of a vehicle within its jurisdiction. — CLEANTECHNICA

10. Uber has reportedly signed on to back Facebook’s upcoming block-chain project, Libra. Facebook has signed on more than a dozen companies, including Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, to back Libra. — WSJ

Shameless plug: Inside.com will be covering Facebook’s upcoming crypto-currency project, Libra, in our 50th newsletter, Inside Libra.  

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This newsletter was written and curated by Johan Moreno. Johan is based out of Los Angeles, CA and has covered technology and automotive extensively for a variety of publications, including Forbes and The Orange County Register. Follow him on Twitter @dudejohan

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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