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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 1:00 am


GM buying laser sensor developer

Staff, news services

DETROIT – General Motors is buying a small company that is developing laser light sensors for autonomous cars, which the automaker says will speed use of self-driving technology.

GM says it bought Strobe Inc. of Pasadena, California, for a small but undisclosed sum. Strobe will work with GM's Cruise Automation team in San Francisco to develop the laser sensors, which use a technique called Lidar.

Cruise Automation is testing autonomous electric Chevrolet Bolts on the streets of San Francisco with human backup drivers. The company says Strobe technology will reduce the cost of the vehicles while speeding large-scale deployment. But GM didn't say when the technology would ready to carry passengers.

Lidar supplements radar and cameras and is needed for autonomous cars to function in conditions with poor visibility.

Holiday shopping forecast to grow

The predictions for this year's holiday shopping season are upbeat, with several forecasts for an industrywide sales increase of 3.5 percent to 4.5 percent.

The National Retail Federation last week predicted a 3.6 percent to 4 percent sales gain to a range of $678.75 billion to $682 billion. That's in line with earlier projections from Deloitte, the International Council of Shopping Centers and AlixPartners.

A big unknown is the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on spending along the Gulf Coast and Florida. Consumers who have to repair or rebuild their homes may have to limit holiday shopping. And some heavily damaged stores might not reopen for the holidays.

It's also not known how much online shopping will hurt business at brick-and-mortar stores. Forrester, a business research company, forecasts that online holiday sales will be up 12 percent from the 2016 season, reaching $129 billion.

In Touch breaking ground on 2nd spa

In Touch Salonspa owner Cindy Kirkland is investing $1.6 million in a second, larger building at 4005 E. Dupont Road, just east of the Parkview Regional Medical Center campus. Groundbreaking is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. today.

The 6,000-square-foot salon and spa will create more than 50 jobs for hair stylists, barbers, massage therapists, skincare specialists, nail technicians and others. Opening is tentatively scheduled for the spring.

The original location, which employs 30, will continue to operate at 939 E. Dupont Road, just east of Coldwater Road.

Goodyear's new 'blimps' take flight

Goodyear says the second of three semi-rigid airships replacing its original blimps has left the company's hangar in Ohio for its permanent base in California.

Officials at the Akron-based Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. say Wingfoot Two left the company's hangar in Portage County on Sunday on its way to the hangar in Carson, California, near Los Angeles. Wingfoot Two will fly over 10 states and make tour stops before arriving in Carson by the end of the month.

Goodyear says the new airships are easier to maneuver than the original ones.

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that the tire maker calls the new airships blimps. Purists say that although they look similar and use helium, they are technically semi-rigid dirigibles, because a fixed structure holds the balloon in place.