Facing pressure from regulators, the cable-TV industry plans to make good on a promise to standardize its technology so that TVs and other...

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Facing pressure from regulators, the cable-TV industry plans to make good on a promise to standardize its technology so that TVs and other gadgets don’t need cable boxes to get video-on-demand programs and other interactive services.

An industry initiative is expected to allow electronics manufacturers to make TVs and other gear that will work regardless of cable provider.

Comcast will roll out the platform in all its markets by the end of the year, Chief Executive Brian Roberts said ahead of a speech Tuesday at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Time Warner Cable is even closer to completion, Comcast said. A spokesman for Cox Communications said the company will have “widespread deployment” this year.

Panasonic and Comcast plan today to unveil a slew of products that will be compatible with “tru2way” platform, including a plasma high-definition television, high-definition digital video recorders and a portable DVR.

General Motors

Driverless cars within decade?

Cars that drive themselves — even parking at their destination — could be ready for sale within a decade, General Motors executives say.

GM, parts suppliers, university engineers and other automakers all are working on vehicles that could revolutionize short- and long-distance travel.

GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will devote part of his speech Tuesday at the show to the driverless vehicles.

Much of the technology already exists: radar-based cruise control, motion sensors, lane-change warning devices, electronic stability control and satellite-based digital mapping. And automated vehicles could dramatically improve life on the road, reducing crashes and congestion.

GM plans to use an inexpensive computer chip and an antenna to link vehicles equipped with driverless technologies.

The first use likely would be on highway. People would have the option to choose a driverless mode while they still would control the vehicle on local streets.

The company plans to test driverless car technology by 2015 and have cars on the road around 2018.

Government regulations, liability laws and privacy concerns would need to be addressed

Sebastian Thrun, co-leader of the Stanford University team that finished second among six teams completing a 60-mile Pentagon-sponsored race of driverless cars in November, said GM’s goal is technically attainable. But he said he wasn’t confident cars would appear in showrooms within a decade.

“There’s some very fundamental, basic regulations in the way of that vision in many countries,” said Thrun, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering.


Mobile platform to be more open

Yahoo today is announcing it will open up its mobile platform to outside programmers to develop applications that can be planted on Yahoo pages accessed on mobile handsets.

Yahoo hopes the mini-applications, known as “widgets,” will help attract more on-the-go users so the company can make more money from advertising.

The company also will unveil a redesigned home page for mobile phones and release an upgrade to its “Go” software that is supposed to make it easier to surf the Web on mobile phones.

But Yahoo is a step behind rival Google in the push to persuade programmers to develop applications for its mobile platform.

Yahoo is betting more programmers will be interested in working on its mobile platform because it’s already compatible with more than 2 billion phones.

Google’s Android software is expected to be installed on a few million phones initially.

Compiled from The Associated Press