When Can I Buy a Self-Driving Car?

Three autonomous BMW cars in a factory
BMW Group

Self-driving cars have been on our minds for a while now, and manufacturers seem to be making progress every day. But when will you have a self-driving car in your driveway?

Well, the answer is a bit complicated. To answer it, we need to understand where we are with self-driving cars right now, and what steps we need to take to make fully autonomous cars a reality in the future.

When is a Car Fully Autonomous?

According to SAE International standards, autonomous cars are rated with a “level” on a scale from 0 to 5. Level 0 cars have no autonomy and must be controlled by a human at all times. Level 5 cars are fully autonomous and don’t require any help from a human to operate.

a chart describing the 6 levels of autonomous vehicles
NHTSA/SAE

The car that you’re driving right now is, more than likely, a Level 1 autonomous vehicle. It has cruise control features, and it might even have a backup camera. But there’s a chance that you’re driving a Level 2 or Level 3 semi-autonomous car, like a Tesla, a Cadillac CT6, a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, or a Volvo S90. These cars have features like Auto Pilot or Super Cruise, which allow you to take your hands off the wheel while your car maintains a steady speed and changes lanes.

Okay, glorified cruise control is super cool, but you’re trying to buy a fully self-driving car. Are there any Level 4 or Level 5 autonomous cars on the market? The answer is a resounding “no,” but you could find yourself in a genuine self-driving car very soon.

RELATED: What Are the Different Self-Driving Car “Levels” of Autonomy?

2019 is the Year of Level 4 Autonomous Cars

We haven’t talked about Level 4 autonomous vehicles yet, but they’re an important step in the journey to self driving cars. The dividing line between Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous cars is, essentially, flexibility. While Level 5 autonomous cars can traverse anywhere on a whim and safely maneuver through novel locations, Level 4 cars are stuck in predetermined areas, like a city or a state. Level 4 cars are also fed roadmaps and travel data that make everything super easy and safe. While Level 5 cars are comparable to hyper-aware human drivers, Level 4 cars are comparable to a near-blind person walking the streets of a familiar city.

That’s why Level 4 autonomous cars are being built specifically for driverless ride-sharing and delivery services, not for the retail car market. These cars run on a predetermined track, but they’re capable of maneuvering between lanes and avoiding collisions with cars or pedestrians. They’re reliable, safe, and good for collecting data that will be useful for Level 5 cars in the future. Manufacturers are already using Level 4 autonomous cars in some cities, and there’s a decent chance that you’ve seen (or been inside of) a Level 4 autonomous car.

a white waymo self driving car outside of chandler city hall
Waymo

Waymo, the self-driving car company that was founded by Google, is one of the forerunners of Level 4 self-driving cars. The company has been working on autonomous cars for almost a decade, and Waymo vehicles are currently used for ride sharing (by a select group of people) in Chandler, Arizona and San Francisco, California. Residents of the Metro Phoenix area that want free rides in a Waymo autonomous taxi can sign up for an Early Rider program right now, but spaces are limited, so don’t spend too much time thinking.

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How to Be the Next Hemingway: Three Editing Tools for Writers

Ernest Hemingway, the author of classics like The Sun Also Rises and The Old Man and the Sea, is famous for
his terse and direct writing style. But as influential and compelling the
storyteller he was, his grammar wasn’t always on par.

When it came to present participles, Hemingway
loved to leave his e’s, as with “loveing”
and “moveing.” His excuse to editors?
“Well, that’s what you’re hired to correct!” Not that grammatical errors kept
him from becoming one of the greats, but writing as well as he did certainly
wasn’t easy:

“Writing is something that you can never do as
well as it can be done. It is a perpetual challenge and it is more difficult
than anything else that I have ever done – so I do it. And it makes me happy
when I do it well,” he said.

If only Hemingway had been given access to
some of the modern online editing tools available today, he may have had an
easier time pulling together one of history’s greatest oeuvres of fiction.

Fortunately for us, free editing tools likeHemingway
Editor
, Grammarly and Headline Analyzer make it easy to not
only write with Hemingway’s concision and directness but also write with
flawless grammar and with an understanding of how well a piece will resonate
with our audience.

Hemingway Editor

Whether or not Hemingway was a fan of editors, he understood the importance of the process: “Most writers slough the most important part of their trade – editing their stuff.”

We don’t all have an actual editor or editorial team on hand to tell us if what we’re writing is as good or as easy to read as it could be–but with Hemingway Editor, you do.

Bold, Clear Writing

The core function of this editing tool is to
help you write clear and direct prose, just like Hemingway. The process for
running your writing through the tool is simple: copy and paste. You can also
write directly within Hemingway Editor. Either way, the editing tool will
immediately flag the things that make your writing un-Hemingway:

  • Too many adverbs that soften your
    writing
  • Use of passive voice instead of
    active
  • Complex phrases with simpler
    alternatives
  • Varying degrees of hard-to-read
    sentence

The editing tool also tells you the
readability level of your writing in terms of grade level, as well as details
like reading time and the number of words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. You can
access all of this for free online, or purchase the desktop app that allows you
to use Hemingway Editor anywhere without internet connection.

I dropped the original intro of this article
into the web app, and this is what Hemingway Editor came back with to help me
make a few minor changes:

No one is expecting you to spend hours upon
hours editing sentences to near perfection like Hemingway would, but with this
namesake editing tool, you’ll be able to make quick improvements that help you
hone your messages with little effort.

Grammarly

While Hemingway Editor does spot grammatical errors, most of its power comes through in helping you maintain an easy-to-read style. For advanced checking for grammatical errors, you want Grammarly in your editing toolkit. You can access it through a Chrome extension or just by visiting Grammarly.com.

Set Goals

Whether you’re writing directly within
Grammarly or copying and pasting text in, you’ll start by setting some goals so
the editing tool understands the context of your message before suggesting
anything is wrong with it.

The level of customization is impressive. You
can tell Grammarly your intent for the piece of writing, who the audience is
that you’re writing for, what kind of style you’re using and the emotion you’re
leveraging overall throughout the piece.

Based on this, Grammarly makes accurate
suggestions that help you make worthy improvements to your text. You can change
these goals at any time, such as when you start a new project.

Grammar Check

This is why you use Grammarly. Immediately
upon typing or pasting your text into the editing tool, it will indicate
misspellings and other grammatical errors, such as where a comma is missing or
shouldn’t be.

Not only that, but Grammarly will feed you
corrective options when it makes sense, helping you preserve some flexibility
and control as the writer. It will also give you an explanation for why it’s
suggesting you change something.

Check Performance

When you’re done making edits in Grammarly,
you can check your performance to get a sense of how good your writing is
compared to other text Grammarly has checked within the same bounds of the
goals you previously set.

You get an overall percentage ranking, but you can also delve into important details like reading time and speaking time as well as stats similar to Hemingway Editor, like characters, words and sentences.

Lastly, you get a view into readability, including a score that aligns well with Hemingway Editor’s, indicating both editing tools are leveraging advanced technology to give you accurate results based on real data.

Headline Analyzer

The late and great ad-man David Ogilvy said,
“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body
copy. When you’ve written your headline, you’ve spent 80 cents out of your
dollar.”

That’s why Headline Analyzer from CoSchedule is essential to helping you write great, SEO-friendly headlines; that is, headlines that align with best practices for great search engine optimization to drive traffic to your posts and increase the likelihood of it being shared.

The core function of Headline Analyzer is to score your headline and give you a sense of how well it will perform, thereby making it more likely people will read the rest of the piece.

As you can see, my first headline for this article wasn’t so great. While it may have been good enough, Headline Analyzer offered a few tips to help me improve it.

With a few small changes, I improved my score
by several points and now feel more comfortable with how I can expect it to
perform.

As you adjust your headline based on the
score, Headline Analyzer will list each option you’ve created with its score.
This gives you an easy way to compare your headline variations and ultimately
choose the one with the highest score. This editing tool will also tell you
whether your headline:

  • Is too short or too long
  • Explains the purpose of your piece
    well
  • Conveys positive or negative
    sentiments
  • Uses relevant keywords

Preview Google Search and Email

Writing a great headline isn’t just about
stringing together the right words. How your headline appears in different
contexts matters just as much–a large, H1 headline on a blog page could appear
more or less compelling than on a Google search page or in an email. Headline
Analyzer does a great job showing you how your headline will appear in these
different settings.

As you can see, my first headline gets cut off in Google. My new headline fairs better. Of course, if you know how, you can just update the metadata for, say, a blog post that’s going to appear in a Google search and reword the headline to meet Google’s ideal length.

But if you want an optimized headline across the board, Headline Analyzer is a great editing tool to help you determine what changes to make.

Writing is tough, especially when we’re doing it in a world where people want quality information quick in a format that requires little effort on their part to understand the message.

You might get pretty good at this after you’ve been doing it for a while, but if you want some guidance and a path to improving your decision-making throughout the writing process, these three editing tools can do wonders for you.

Take Classes at Amazon’s Machine Learning University for Free

Dive deep into the same machine learning (ML) curriculum used to train Amazon’s developers and data scientists. There are 30+ digital ML courses totalling 45+ hours, plus hands-on labs and documentation, originally developed for Amazon’s internal use. Developers, data scientists, data platform engineers, and business decision makers can use this training to learn how to apply ML, artificial intelligence (AI), and deep learning (DL) to their businesses. The digital courses are now available at no charge, you only pay for the services you use in labs and exams.

The free AWS digital training gives you unlimited access to more than 100 new digital courses built by AWS experts, totalling more than 40 hours of training content. Digital courses are generally 10 minutes long and are designed to help you build foundational knowledge for more than 70+ AWS services and solutions including AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials.

The four learning paths are Developer, Business Decision Maker, Data Scientist, and Data Platform Engineer.
There’s a certificate, but as with many free educational courses, the classes are free, the certificate is a paid option.

Do Failed Drug Tests Show up on Background Checks?

Consider this situation: back in college, you were a recreational marijuana smoker. Upon graduation, you applied to your dream job, only to fail the mandatory drug test. It’s not uncommon; with the opioid crisis reaching epidemic proportions, more Americans than ever are failing drug tests.

Many face rejection with a renewed desire to find a job that will accept them, but one question plagues their confidence: will a failed drug test show up on my next background check?

These days, background checks are quite inclusive, and can uncover a wide array of data points on a given person. Today, we’re going to discuss what employers can and can’t look into regarding your past, give you some insight into how employers run background checks, plus recommend a few of our favorite providers to help you run your own background check to take a look at what appears on your record.

What to look for in a background checking service?

If you’re checking to see what a prospective employer will see on your public record, it’s important to use a quality service that provides reliable results. To that end, keep the following features top of mind when looking for a background checking service.

  • Result speed – you don’t want to wait for weeks or months. Fortunately, quality providers only take minutes or hours to deliver your results. At most, an advanced search with lots of unique information should take a couple of days.
  • Research depth – a surface-level background check won’t tell you much (if anything) about someone’s prior drug tests. It’s important to go for a service that gives you the option to look into someone’s history on a deep level, including things like convictions and deep web data. Look at advanced background checks if required.
  • Report quality – a well-made report that’s beautiful and easy to read is what you should look for. Usability and presentation are the 2 main things to look for. Avoid clunky, complicated reports that give you way more information than you need.
  • Custom searches – unless you want to get all the information that exists on an individual, you’ll need to use custom searches. Make sure that any provider you consider offers these and steer well clear of ones with no personalized search functionality.
  • Dashboard – the web dashboard design of a service matters a great deal. It can be the difference between finding reports or making searches instantly – or having to go through minutes of trial and error to find what you need.
  • Mobile apps – a mobile app can help you make searches on the go while giving you a way to carry reports without having to print them. Depending on the device you have, look for iOS and Android compatibility. At the very least stick to services that can give you a nice responsive mobile website.
  • Customer support – 24/7  customer support is best, but office hours + extended hours works too. Just make sure that the operators on the line are qualified and helpful.

Top background checking sites for checking your public record

Employers can’t use consumer background checking services to check into applicants’ history, but you can certainly use them to pinpoint exactly what a future interviewer might take issue with. Here are the top four background checking sites on the market:

1. BeenVerified

BeenVerified is a two-tier service that includes basic and advanced searches. On a basic level, you can look up criminal records, financial records, social media presence (including possible photos), and more. If someone has a previous drug-related conviction or other public records related to drug use, you’ll often be able to find it using BeenVerified’s basic tier. If you do choose to upgrade to the premium level, you’ll be able to look up things like prior licenses (including gun licenses) – and also send physical runners to retrieve physical court documents. Whichever tier you choose to go with, you’ll end up with a final report that’s attractive, easy to skim through, and rich in information. In our personal opinion, it’s one of the better-looking in the business; an important factor if you need to present your data.

The BeenVerified website and dashboard are easy to use. The design is clean and intuitive, all the features are readily available, and you can customize your final report with a variety of toggles and filters. This is also true for the responsive mobile website, which makes it easy to use BeenVerified’s search and reports from smartphones and tablets. If you’re a frequent user, you can also find high-quality apps for the Android and iOS in their respective app stores. Last but not least, you’ll be happy to know that customer support is available during extended hours (including weekends), meaning you can get qualified help whenever you need it.

2. TruthFinder

TruthFinder is one of the older, better-known services in the space. A basic subscription will get you criminal and court records, contact details, possible photos, known family members, and other basic data. This is unlikely to give you any specific drug test results from the past unless you end up finding prior drug-related convictions that point to drug use. Fortunately, the premium options you can get include things like deep web searches and physical court document retrieval. These are far more likely to give you the kind of information that points to failed drug tests in the past – and are a big reason for TruthFinder’s popularity.  The deep web search is especially useful because it finds hidden information that doesn’t usually show up on Google or the general Internet.

An important advantage is that you can personalize any search you make on TruthFinder. The dashboard is intuitive and easy to use, and customization options abound. The same is true of the mobile website, which is excellent, and the Android app that lets you search and take results with you. The reports are as elegant and well-designed as the websites and apps, with all the information you need easy to find and make use of. And even if you do need a little help at any point, you can always call customer support. They’re available 24/7, and there’s a toll-free US number for your convenience.

3. Instant CheckMate

Before we say anything about CheckMate, we’d like to mention their exceptional customer service. In the US, it’s available via a toll-free number, 7 days a week, between 5 AM and 10 PM. That may not be 24/7 – but it’s close enough, and the operators are consistently well-trained and knowledgeable. If you think you may need to ask for help often, Instant CheckMate should be at the top of your shortlist. Beyond that, Instant CheckMate is another two-tier service. The basic rate gives you criminal records, social media data, address history, marriage and divorce records, and a few more things. As in the cases above, prior convictions can point to failed drug tests and drug use, but if you want more certainty, you may choose to go with premium options. These include financial history, driving licenses, weapons licenses, and more details that are good predictors of failed drug tests.
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All these features are available in several ways. First, you can use the desktop website. The dashboard you get there is excellent, and custom searches are easy to perform. If you’re on a smartphone or tablet, you’ve got two alternative options. One is to use the excellent responsive website; another is to get the Android app, which is native. Either way, you’re going to get an intuitive interface and beautiful reports that make finding relevant information a breeze. Throw in the customer support we already talked up above, and you get a service that’s hard to beat in the background check space.

SPECIAL OFFER: Instant CheckMate delivers an incredible depth of research, fast. Try out the service for less, with our exclusive reader deal.

4. Intelius

Intelius is the last service on our least, but it’s certainly not the least. This company looks through a vast range of data from criminal records, sex offender lists, financial histories, property records, and more. There is also a reverse phone lookup service that lets you get information on someone based on their phone number. While the most important data point to look for is prior criminal histories – these are the most likely to point to failed drug tests in the past – there’s a lot of information to go through here. Custom searches are available, and the reports you get are clean, easy-to-navigate, and full of quality information that’s helpful for background checks of all kinds.

Native apps are available for both Android and iOS devices. This means you can conduct your searches from a smartphone or tablet, as well as carry results around with you without having to print them. The responsive website is excellent too, offering a convenient alternative for when you don’t want to download apps to your phone. The regular version of the website is equally excellent; managing searches, viewing reports, and conducting new searches is easy, fast, and straightforward. Customer support isn’t 24/7, but there’s a very helpful troubleshooter that we enjoyed a great deal. With its help, you’ll find that you don’t need customer support often anyway.

Is it legal to check for failed drug tests?

Before we go any further, let’s get one thing clear. Most of the time, it is not legal to screen someone for failed drug tests. That’s because most environments in which drug tests are performed – prior jobs, hospitals, etc – are bound by law to maintain confidentiality. However, there are several notable exceptions.

First, you can simply ask a candidate to disclose any failed drug tests from the past. It’s up to them whether they disclose the information or not – but a lot of the time, you can gauge their reaction to get some understanding of what happened in the past. If drug abstinence is of utmost importance, you can often explain why failed drug tests are a problem and ask a prospect to be honest about any in their history. Just make sure you’re not breaking any laws; many states prevent employers from asking for information that can implicate a potential employee.

Outside of asking, there are 2 main ways to know about drug tests in a candidate’s past. First, you can check someone’s references. Most of the time, it’s perfectly legal to ask a manager or HR about failed drug tests. If you do find someone who’s willing and able to help you, that can give you the answers you’re looking for. Just remember to be professional and remember that, in some cases, colleagues will cover up for one another. This is especially true if someone was fired because of a company’s testing policy while doing an excellent job otherwise. A similar but different way to find out about someone’s failed drug tests is through industry connections. For example, if you’re in manufacturing, you can ask other people in your network about a prospect and sometimes find out about drug tests they’ve failed.

Do employers have to disclose drug test results?

When an employee or job applicant fails a drug test, the results go directly to the company that ordered it. They are never made public – and in fact, disclosing them to other companies and people is illegal or against company policy in most cases. As such, prior employers will often avoid your line of questioning if you try to ask them for drug test results from previous employees. What can and often does become a matter of public record is anything related to criminal activities, prior convictions, etc. This is the most likely way to identify someone as having failed prior drug tests.

Myths about drug tests

Remember that no matter how well you do your homework, drug tests can be beaten. This is usually done in three ways. First, an individual can drink so much water that a test fails to recognize the drug particles in their urine. Second, they can bring pre-frozen or synthetic blood or urine to a test and pass it that way. Third, they can use an oxidizing agent that breaks up the detectable drug metabolites in their body to the point that it can’t be detected. Then there’s the fact that many drugs quickly leave our system. Even marijuana takes from 3 to 21 days, depending on how often someone uses it until concentrations get so low that they can no longer be detected. All of this means that a drug test isn’t a 100% accurate way to tell whether someone’s been using drugs, including illicit ones, or not.

Another common misconception is that results can be “false positive”, meaning an individual with a positive drug test may have not taken the drugs in question. While this can technically happen, real-life scenarios where it does are extremely rare. That’s because most drug testing organizations validate their results by discussing them with the individual getting tested. If they can explain the results or produce a clean sample in a repeat test, they’ll often be marked “negative”. The only situation in which someone really can be marked negative is if their employer uses a low-quality drug test service that doesn’t take these extra steps.

Do positive drug tests point to illicit drug use?

The simple answer is, “not in the least”. Just because someone tested positive for an illegal drug doesn’t mean they broke any laws. For example, the rare hair follicle test looks at someone’s hair. If drug metabolites are found therein, the test is positive. However, this drug test can trace drug use that happened as long as 3-4 months ago. This means that someone could socially consume a drug that’s legal in many US states – marijuana – then fail a drug test 2 months later. In this sense, there’s a big difference between failed drug tests and the use (or abuse) of illicit drugs. Be careful when making conclusions; it could be illegal to discriminate against prospective employees based on their old drug tests. If in doubt, consult with a lawyer before you do anything rash.

Conducting your own drug test

The decision to drug test or not is usually up to the employer. It’s certainly standard to include it in a comprehensive check. Most federal and military jobs, as well as private jobs in energy, manufacturing, and other sensitive niches, take it for granted. Depending on the state you’re from, employees have the right to refuse a test – but this could also mean that you can deny them employment for that reason. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to run your own test through a partner you trust.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve read our guide to conducting a background check, what are you going to do next? Leave a line below and let us know. We love getting feedback from our readers!

Read Do Failed Drug Tests Show up on Background Checks? by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter