More than 2K pieces of the ‘Buddha’ found in box in China

A Buddha statue is showered by a devotee during a bathing ritual in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on May 21, 2016.

f the “truth is out there,” scientists are determined to find it – so much so that they’ve spent a message into space trying to contact aliens.

But a response could take 25 years – if it comes at all.

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) International sent an encoded message into space using radio waves known as “Sonar Calling GJ273b,” which the organization’s president and founder Doug Vakoch, believes could be received by intelligent life.

“[The message is] distinctive because it’s designed with extraterrestrial SETI scientists in mind. We sent the sort of signal we’d want to receive here on Earth,” he said in an interview with CNET.

METI’s purpose, along with the well-known Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), has a number of missions, including understanding and communicating “the societal implications and relevance of searching for life beyond Earth, even before detection of extraterrestrial life.”

It also conducts programs to “foster increased awareness of the challenges facing our civilization’s longevity” among other directives.

The San Francisco-based METI sent its message toward the red dwarf star GJ 273 (also known as Luyten’s Star), 12 light-years away from Earth. The message was sent in October from the Eiscat transmitter in Tromsø, Norway and included details such as basic math and science, as well as information on mankind’s understanding of time.

In a statement obtained by CNET, METI said it wanted to know if intelligent life understood the message and then go from there.

“In a reply message, I would first want to know that the extraterrestrials understood what we said in our first message,” METI said in the statement. “The easiest way to do this is to repeat our message, but in expanded form. We tell them that ‘1 + 1 = 2.’ They could let us know that they understand that ’10 + 10 = 20.'”

Pressing ahead despite concerns

While some luminaries, such as Stephen Hawking, have warned against trying to contact extraterrestrials, Vakoch said contact is already being endorsed by many people.

“Everyone engaged in SETI is already endorsing transmissions to extraterrestrials through their actions,” Vakoch said in an interview with Newsweek. “If we detect a signal from aliens through a SETI program, there’s no way to prevent a cacophony of responses from Earth.”

Vakoch added that once news of the initial contact has appeared, it would become almost impossible to stop anyone from trying to contact them on their own. “Once the news gets out that we’ve detected extraterrestrials, anyone with a transmitter can say whatever they want.”

When can we expect a possible response?

Any response probably would be forthcoming in at least 25 years due to the distance the message has to travel between Earth and GJ273b.

The exoplanet was chosen because of its visibility from Earth’s northern hemisphere, even if it is not the closest potentially inhabited exoplanet to Earth. That distinction belongs to Proxima b, which is just 4 light-years away.

Earlier this week, scientists discovered a new exoplanet, Ross 128 b, that is 11 light-years away from Earth. It orbits a very quiet red-dwarf star, meaning it does not have to deal with issues such as deadly ultraviolet or X-ray radiation and could also be home to life.

One light-year is approximately 5.88 trillion miles.

Sonar calling GJ273b is not the first message sent to space. The first was the Arecibo message, sent in 1974. The Arecibo message is expected to take 25,000 light-years to reach its target of the M13 star cluster.

While hopeful of receiving a response, Vakoch says we may never hear anything from another intelligent civilization.

“Practically speaking, if we get a signal from Luyten’s Star, it will mean the Milky Way is teeming with life. It’s certainly possible,” Vakoch said. “It seems more likely that we’ll need to target not just one star, but hundreds, thousands, or even millions before we get a reply back.”

They were searching for an old infirmary and found treasure instead

Treasure in situ (left) and after examination (right). (Credit: Anne Baud-Anne Flammin-Vincent Borrel)

They were searching for an old infirmary. What they uncovered was an “exceptional and extremely rare treasure”: 2,200 silver coins, 21 gold coins, a gold signet ring, gold foil, and a circular object also made of gold.

It’s a collection unlike any ever found, according to French archaeologists, who made the discovery together with students from the University of Lyon, per a release.

For the past two years, Lyon students have participated in digs at the Abbey of Cluny in Saone-et-Loire, among the largest monasteries in Western Europe in medieval times.

But the most recent class was especially lucky. Over a monthlong dig that wrapped up in late October, they uncovered what researchers say is the largest collection of French denier coins ever found.

The team had been trying to find the corner of the infirmary when coins suddenly spilled from a buried cloth bag. “I thought how I’d never again see something like it in my life as an archaeologist,” a student tells the Local.

The deniers are believed to mostly have been minted at Cluny some 900 years ago when the coins were the prevailing currency. But they were surprisingly found next to a hide bundle housing Islamic gold dinars minted in Spain and Morocco around the same time.

The ring inscribed with a religious greeting and depicting the bust of a god was also in the bundle, say researchers. An expert notes the owner of the items could’ve exchanged them for “between three and eight horses” in the Middle Ages—if they’d been retrieved.

(The first US coin may have been found.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Searching for a Foundation, They Found Treasure Instead

Mysterious interstellar visitor gets named

The interstellar object 1I/2017 U1 (ʻOumuamua), previously known as C/2017 U1 (PANSTARRS) and A/2017 U1, was closest to the Sun on Sept. 9. Traveling at about 98,400 mph (158,360 km/h), ʻOumuamua is headed away from the Earth and sun on its way out of the solar system.

We now know what to call the mysterious object from interstellar space that zoomed past Earth last month.

The interloper — the first known interstellar body observed within our own solar system — has been named ‘Oumuamua, which means “a messenger from afar arriving first” in Hawaiian, representatives of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced yesterday (Nov. 14).

The IAU also approved an official scientific designation for ‘Oumuamua: 1I/2017 U1. This is a first-of-its-kind moniker; the “I” stands for “interstellar.” Previously, small objects like ‘Oumuamua have received standard comet or asteroid designations, which sport a “C” or “A,” respectively, in place of the “I.” [Solar System Explained from the Inside Out (Infographic)]

‘Oumuamua was first spotted on Oct. 19, by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii. The smallish object was first classified as a comet but then regarded as an asteroid, after further observations revealed no evidence of a coma (the fuzzy cloud of gas and dust that surrounds a comet’s core)

Analysis of ‘Oumuamua’s trajectory soon revealed that it was on a hyperbolic path — that is, one that will take it out of the solar system. And the object doesn’t seem to have had any gravitational encounters with planets that could have nudged it onto such a path, which strongly suggests that ‘Oumuamua came from interstellar space, researchers have said.

Astronomers have determined that ‘Oumuamua made its closest pass by the sun on Sept. 9 and then zoomed within 15 million miles (24 million kilometers) of Earth on Oct. 14 — about 60 times the distance from our planet to the moon. The object is now barreling toward the outer solar system at about 98,400 mph (158,360 km/h) relative to the sun, researchers have said.

Though ‘Oumuamua’s composition is unknown, the object is probably more ice than rock, Matthew Holman, director of the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, told last month. That’s because bodies that form on the outskirts of solar systems — and are therefore most likely to get booted into interstellar space — tend to be icy, Holman said.

The Pan-STARRS team proposed ‘Oumuamua’s common name, and the suggestion was approved by the MPC, the organization responsible for gathering data about asteroids and comets in our solar system.

The MPC operates under the auspices of the IAU, which is the arbiter of official astronomical names. The MPC proposed creating a new formal designation scheme for interstellar objects — the one with the “I” instead of the “C” or “A” for comet or asteroid — and the IAU executive committee quickly agreed, IAU representatives said.

“Considering the growing interest in the observation and orbit determination of asteroids . . . it is expected that the discovery of 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua) will soon be joined by discoveries of more of such interlopers entering the inner solar system from interstellar space,” IAU representatives wrote in a statement yesterday. “The scheme for their designation is ready, while the procedure for assigning them a name, similar to the one in use for minor planets, will soon be decided.”

Effort to save rare ‘panda of the sea’ instead kills one

This illustration of a vaquita marina, provided by Greenpeace, shows an image of the highly endangered sea mammal swimming in the sea.

The goal was to make a move that could save a species; instead, it killed one of the last vaquitas left on the planet. With fewer than 30 of the porpoises—the world’s smallest, and also called the “panda of the sea”—estimated to exist, a team of scientists going by the name Vaquita CPR decided to take an extreme step: capture one in the Sea of Cortez in hopes of eventually breeding them in captivity.

It went bad and then worse: As ScienceDaily reports, a calf recovered last month displayed signs of stress and was put back in the sea.

Then in early November, they captured a female, and the New York Times reports it had “promising” vital signs. She was moved into a sea pen, where she started swimming too fast, then too slow.

Releasing her wasn’t enough; the creature stopped breathing and died. The group said it was “heartbroken,” but Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd tells the Times he had warned “that this was going to happen, you’re going to stress out the animals.” His group has for two years been going after the cause of the porpoises’ deaths, pulling more than 50 tons of gill nets from the waters.

Poachers use them to illegally capture totoaba fish, whose bladder can fetch up to $50,000 on the Chinese black market; vaquitas get caught in the nets and die.

(The Times explains why a ban on the totoaba nets hasn’t worked.) The Washington Post reports Vaquita CPR has given up on the capture effort, but not given up entirely: It plans to work to get a count of the creatures and photograph their dorsal fins, whose markings are specific to each porpoise.

Discovery of giant hand axes suggest a prehistoric ‘Game of Thrones’ scenario in ancient Europe

The large tools are consistent with a culture known as Acheulean. (Credit: Eduardo Mendez Quintas)

Even our earliest human ancestors made and used technology — something we can look back on thanks to the lasting nature of stone tools.

An exceptionally high density of giant hand axes dated to 200,000-300,000 years ago has been uncovered at an archaeological site in Galicia, northwest Spain.

The discovery of these hand axes suggests that alternative types of stone tool technologies were simultaneously being used by different populations in this area — supporting the idea that a prehistoric Game of Thrones scenario existed as Neanderthals emerged in Europe.

Additional evidence for this idea comes from fossil records showing that multiple human lineages lived in southwest Europe around the same time period.


Porto Maior is near the town of As Neves (Pontevedra, Galcia) on a terrace 34m above the current level of the Miño River, which borders northern Portugal and Spain.

The archaeological site at Porto Maior preserves an ancient stone tool culture known as the Acheulean. Characterised by symmetrically knapped stones or large flakes (known as bifaces), the Acheulean is the first sophisticated handaxe technology known in the early human settlement record of Europe.

While Acheulean sites are widespread across the continent, Porto Maior represents Europe’s first extensive accumulation of large cutting tools (LCTs) in the Acheulean tradition. Until now, such high densities of LCTs had only been found in Africa. This new finding reinforces an African origin for the Acheulean in Europe, and confirms an overlap in time-frames of distinctly different stone tool cultures on the continent.

At around the same time that hand axes were being used at Porto Maior, a different stone tool tradition (the Early Middle Palaeolithic) was present in Iberia, for example at Ambrona and Cuesta de la Bajada. In central and eastern Europe — where tools were made exclusively on small flakes — the Acheulean tradition has never been found.

Porto Maior introduces further complexity to this overlapping technological pattern, and suggests that distinct early human populations of different geographical origins coexisted during the Middle Pleistocene (between 773,000 and 125,000 years ago).


In total, 3698 discarded artefacts were recovered from river-lain sediments at the site, with 290 of these making up the studied assemblage reported in our new paper.

The stone tool assemblage is composed of 101 LCTs in original position, and that are on average 18cm long, with a maximum length of 27cm. These handaxe dimensions are exceptionally large by European Acheulean standards (typically only 8-15cm long). The assemblage also contains large cleavers, a type of tool typically found in African sites.

Laboratory analyses indicate that the tools were used to process hard materials such wood and bone, in activities that could have included the breaking up of carcasses.

The Spanish site of Porto Maior clearly resembles extensive accumulations of very large tools previously only seen in Africa and the Near East. These similarities reinforce the idea of an African origin for the Acheulean tradition of southwest Europe.

They also raise new questions regarding the origin and mobility of prehistoric human populations — the ancestors of Neanderthals — that occupied the European continent during the Middle Pleistocene period before the arrival of our own species, Homo sapiens.


The Acheulean toolmaking tradition originated in Africa about 1.7 million years ago, and disappeared on that continent by 500,000 years ago. The specific type of Acheulean tools described at Porto Maior is exclusive to southwest Europe, suggesting that the technology was brought into the region by an “intrusive” population.

The age of Porto Maior is consistent with previous findings from Iberia that suggest that the Acheulean culture experienced an expansion in the region between 400,000 to 200,000 years ago.

This latest discovery supports the increasingly complex narrative developing from ongoing studies of human fossils from Europe; namely that human groups of potentially different origins and evolutionary stages coexisted across the continent during a time when the emergence of Neanderthals was taking place.

While it is clear that more human fossil and stone tool sites need to be reliably dated across the region, a picture appears to be emerging of a turbulent Game of Thrones style scenario of hominin evolution in Eurasia during the Middle Pleistocene period.

This Classic French Basket Bag Comes With an Italian Twist

Image result for This Classic French Basket Bag Comes With an Italian Twist

Low temperatures and snow-covered streets may not have stopped Jane Birkin from toting around her beloved basket bags, pairing them with everything from ribbed turtlenecks to fur shrugs, but those of us without that certain je ne sais quoi may reserve our own baskets for warmer climes. That is, until now: Enter Bclaire, a four-month-old Italian label started by former fashion stylist Chiara Guicciardi that’s updating the summer staple with a winter-friendly touch. Think fuzzy jumbo-sized pom-poms, leopard-print toppers, and mink lids in a kaleidoscopic range of colors, which can be stamped with your initials or lucky numbers.

While the Modena-based Guicciardi cites Birkin as her eternal muse, traces of her native country can be seen in her creations as well. “Italians love details,” she says of the inspiration behind the customizable modern accents—not to mention that the 100 percent wicker bags, which range from $300 to $970, are handwoven in Florence with fur crafted in Milan. Parisian panache paired with Italian craftsmanship? Now that’s a match made in street style heaven.

5 Greek food blogs you should follow

Fortunately we’ve got the perfect thing to tide you over until then — a selection of food blogs and vlogs that’ll keep your mouth watering, and possibly even inspire you to try a recipe or two.
Here are five Greek food gurus you should be following right now.

Diane Kochilas


Greek food expert Diane Kochilas shares healthy recipes, cooking tips and personal videos on her website.
Chef, author and cooking show host Diane Kochilas hails from Ikaria, the Greek island famous for the longevity of its residents.
She’s an ambassador of healthy Greek cuisine and features countless Greek recipes on her website ranging from classics such as spanakorizo (Greek spinach rice) and dolmades (vegetarian stuffed grape leaves in fresh tomato sauce) to more creative ones like pumpkin sweet potato moussaka, mushroom “gyro” pitta wrap sandwich or mastiha-spiced hot chocolate.
Kochilas’ current favorite Greek dish is a roasted whole eggplant with crumbled feta and crisped sardine bones with crunchy sea salt from MeZen, a small meze eatery in the mainland port of Volos.
“Athens is an amazing food city, especially for a look at the hip, modern take on Greek food,” she says.
“Thessaloniki is an awesome food city, too. But everywhere you travel here you notice how close Greeks are to the land. That is the real secret to great food, understanding ingredients and seasons, and knowing how to use all the beautiful things that grow wild.”
Her most recent cookbook “Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life, and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die” is based on the Ikarian wisdom on all things food-related.

My Little Expat Kitchen


My Little Expat Kitchen is run by Magdalini Zografou — a “Greek girl cooking in her little expat kitchen in the Netherlands.”
Magdalini Zografou’s passion for food and cooking is what makes her blog My Little Expat Kitchen tick.
It consists of a variety of recipes, from traditional Greek food to more international ones and her detailed, personal posts are pulsating with skillful photography that is sure to send you straight to the kitchen.
The Athens-born blogger loves experimenting with new flavors, but tends to return to traditional dishes in her everyday cooking.
Briam, a vegetable dish of eggplants, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and onions baked in a tomato sauce, is her current favorite recipe.
“Served with freshly baked sourdough bread and feta on the side, it’s a meal made in heaven,” says Zografou, who has been living in The Hague, Netherlands for the last eight years.
Greek barley bread, gemista (baked, meat-stuffed tomatoes and peppers in tomato-olive oil sauce) and tiropita (Greek cheese pie) are My Little Expat Kitchen’s top three recipes.
Athens is Zografou’s top pick for a foodie traveling to Greece as “you can find everything, from traditional Greek to modern food.”
She also recommends mezedopoleia, Greek eateries which serve only meze (small plates of traditional Greek foods) so you can try all the different dishes.
READ: Athens street food — A taste of Greece’s culinary revolution



Elena Paravantes’ blog OliveTomato focuses on the nutritional value of the Mediterranean diet.
Chicago native Elena Paravantes’ love affair with cooking was sparked by her mother, who cooked exclusively Greek food for her family.
She’s now a registered dietitian, nutritionist and writer specializing in the Mediterranean diet and has lived in Athens with her family for the past 15 years.
With OliveTomato, she aims to spread the word about the real Mediterranean diet, combining her professional knowledge with her own experiences. Authentic recipes from the Mediterranean diet, personal antidotes, tips on cooking the Greek way, updates on new research and food guides for those visiting Greece are all on the blog’s menu .
Green beans (fasolakia lathera) and roasted okra (bamies) are her go-to recipes in summertime.
“Consumed at room temperature, ideally the next day of cooking, they pair perfectly with feta cheese and are ideal for the summer,” she says.
Her recipe for tender Greek roasted beans in tomato sauce (gigantes plaki) is among the blog’s most popular.
Peloponissos, which boasts simple Greek cuisine and quality products such as the world famous Kalamata olives, is her top food tip for anyone visiting Greece.
Among the region’s cuisine-related highlights are the traditional casserole dishes of Arcadia, the fir tree honey of Vytina village, the eggplants of Leonidio, traditional cured pork (known as syglino) of Mani and the Nemea wineries with the popular Agiorgitiko grape for the wine lovers.
In Athens, Paravantes’ favorites include the savory pies of Lykavittos Bakery in Kolonaki, Vlassis for traditional, casserole type Greek dishes, Café Avissinia for meze, fun and people-watching and the restaurants 2Mazi and CTC for creative dishes with a strong Greek influence.

Eat Yourself Greek


Beef youvetsi, a slow-cooked stew with tomato sauce and orzo pasta, is one of the most popular recipes on blog Eat Yourself Greek.
Based in Athens, Eugenia Makrogianneli founded cooking blog Eat Yourself Greek to collate Greek family recipes and stay in touch with friends in the UK, where she had spent a few years working.
For her, Greek cuisine is about heritage and memories, as well as flavorful, simple, healthy food like grilled sea bass with olive oil and lemon.
“I love the lesser known dishes like artichoke stews or black-eyed beans with greens. Simple and quick recipes that are very nutritious and require few ingredients,” she says.
Homemade marinated anchovies perfectly complimented by a glass of cold ouzo are Eugenia’s current favorite.
Makrogianneli’s beef youvetsi recipe, a slow-cooked stew with spiced tomato sauce and orzo pasta is one of the blog’s highlights.
“The pasta is baked in the sauce and then you add a generous helping of cheese to melt on top just before you serve. It is delicious and very easy to make,” she says.
Crete is her top foodie destination in Greece as she feels it showcases the best of the Greek diet — plenty of vegetables, a few delectable meat-based dishes, a great variety of cheese, and raki, the signature drink of the island.
Besides the blog, Makrogianneli also runs the “Eat Like a Greek” supper club (along with fellow food blogger Artemis Tsipi), which is aimed at travelers looking to enjoy homely Greek meals.
MORE: Which destination has the best food?

Cooking Economy by FT Bletsas


Thessaloniki-based Eftychis Bletsas’ YouTube channel Cooking Economy features vlogs on Greek food as well as recipes.
Eftychis Bletsas (aka FT) is a food, travel and music junkie who has been presenting food and travel TV shows in Greece for over a decade.
Based in Thessaloniki, FT also has his own YouTube channel, Cooking Economy by FT Bletsas, where he uploads vlogs and recipes as well as his worldwide travel adventures.
Gemista (tomatoes and peppers stuffed with rice), imam bayildi (stuffed eggplant), simple grilled fish with lots of fresh vegetables, and a simple salad with top-quality olives, feta cheese and Cretan rusks are among his top dishes.
His most popular videos are his recipes for aloe vera juice and a Greek pie called Kixi (pronounced kee-hee)
“Thessaloniki is one of the top destinations for foodies in Greece, and possibly in Europe as well,” he says.
For quality dining with top Greek products from local producers, FT suggests visiting Zithos Dore, a classic eatery popular with locals.
Zagorohoria in the Epirus region, a destination known for its exquisite traditional Greek pies, is another of his preferred foodie stops.

American Airline passengers want Hamilton tickets as compensation for 24-hour flight delay

American Airlines and their passengers didn't see eye to eye on what counts as compensation for a 24-hour flight delay.

Pizza makes everybody happy, right?

In order to pacify almost 300 passengers during their two unscheduled diversions, American Airlines fed everybody a slice of pizza.

After flight crew aboard an American Airlines flight from Milan to Miami on Saturday noticed a crack in the windshield, they made an emergency diversion to Stephenville Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.

While the aircraft was taken out of service for repairs, the airline had a two-part plan. One: fly an alternate plane up to Newfoundland to collect the 287 passengers. And two: feed them pizza.

After eating pizza at Stephenville Airport, passengers boarded an alternate plane 10 hours later. However, instead of flying down to Miami, the plane went to New York’s JFK airport. A spokesperson for the airline told Travel + Leisure that due to crew time and customs availability, they were unable to fly the passengers directly from Canada to Miami.

One commenter on who claimed to be a passenger onboard the flight said that although the “flight crew was awesome and professional,” they were frustrated to have a second unscheduled stop. He “suggested AA could make it up to passengers with Hamilton tickets. Unfortunately they decided a slice of pizza was a better customer service gift.”

But all the Broadway shows were long over by the time passengers reached New York at 11:50 p.m. on Saturday night. Passengers spent less than 12 hours there and took off from JFK Airport at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. They arrived in Miami around 1:45 p.m., about 24 hours after their original landing time.

Hyundai’s Kona Electric SUV will travel up to 292 miles on a single charge

Hyundai’s second all-electric vehicle, the Kona Electric, will get a full debut at next week’s Geneva Motor Show, but today the South Korean automaker revealed most of the specs and pulled the wraps off of the new SUV. There’s no pricing yet, but the Kona Electric will come in short-range and long-range models, with 186 and 292 miles of range, respectively.

Built to look almost like the standard combustion engine Kona compact SUV, the new EV is Hyundai’s second, following the Ioniq. Both versions of the forthcoming Kona Electric outperform the Ioniq, though, and should give Hyundai a suitable competitor to fully featured EVs like the Chevy Bolt.

The short-range Kona Electric uses a 39.2kWh battery and a 99kW electric motor, and Hyundai says it will go from 0–60 mph in about nine seconds. A full charge from a standard AC outlet will take a little over six hours, while 54 minutes on a DC fast charger will get the car up to 80 percent battery life.

The longer-range Kona Electric has a 64kWh battery pack, hence the extra range. It also uses a more powerful 150kW motor. It can go from 0–60 mph in a little over seven seconds. But while it’s quicker and has a more respectable range, the top-tier Kona Electric will take around three hours longer to charge on a standard outlet, thanks to the bigger battery.

Both models will come with Hyundai’s suite of semi-autonomous driving and safety features, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision assist, lane keep assist, and blind spot warning. Each version of the Kona Electric will also come standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Qi wireless charging, a heads-up display, and a 7-inch infotainment screen.

The Kona Electric is slightly taller (20mm) and longer (15mm) than the standard Kona. A two-tone roof helps further distinguish it from its combustion engine sibling, and customers will be able to mix and match seven exterior colors and three for the roof.

Hyundai plans to launch the Kona Electric later this year in Europe and South Korea before hopefully bringing it to North America, too.

Ford is bringing its self-driving cars to Miami


Ford is bringing its fleet of self-driving cars to the neon-splashed streets of Miami to test out its future commercial plans for robot cars, which include ride-hailing and deliveries, the automaker announced today.

With a pipe organ-style suit of sensors on the roof and the Spanish word for “research” emblazoned below the grille, Ford says its self-driving cars bring the promise of safer streets and more efficient deliveries — and probably more than a few fender benders. The cars arrived last week, and testing is already underway.

Initially, Ford will test two types of autonomous cars in Miami: the aforementioned blue-and-white research vehicles with hardware and software technology by Argo, a self-driving startup backed by Ford; and self-driving delivery cars that Ford last deployed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in partnership with Domino’s Pizza. Ford said it hoped to eventually have “thousands” of self-driving cars deployed in the city.

But for now, the company won’t say exactly how many it has prowling the streets of North Beach and the surrounding communities. The Argo research cars are currently driving all over the city in autonomous mode while collecting high-definition mapping data. Meanwhile, the Domino’s car (there is only one at the moment) is being operated by a human driver while the company studies how customers interact with an autonomous delivery vehicle. Safety drivers will remain behind the wheel of all of Ford’s autonomous vehicles for the time being, although the company is currently building an AV without traditional controls like pedals and steering wheels, which it plans to release by 2021.

Ford has also built a service center for its autonomous vehicles close to downtown Miami. The new terminal will serve as a home base for Ford’s cars when they aren’t out on the streets and a place where they can transfer data and have their sensors cleaned and calibrated.

Miami will also serve as a testbed for Ford’s forthcoming Transportation Mobility Cloud, an open-sourced platform for cities and other transportation partners that it announced last month at CES. Companies that have announced partnerships with Ford, like Lyft and Postmates, will soon be able to provide ride-hailing trips and deliveries using Ford’s self-driving cars, said Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification.

“We’re really excited that we’re doing this already,” Marakby said in a call with reporters. “We’re not announcing that we’re going to the first city, we’re announcing that we are in the first city. We have a depot. We’re mapping the city. And we’re operating a business. So we’re very excited, and we feel that it does take all of these elements coming together and starting the development in parallel is absolutely the right thing to do, and we feel that differentiates Ford from the others.”

The automaker has been lagging slightly in the race to develop self-driving cars — not necessarily for lack of effort, but because its competitors have moved much more aggressively in the last year. Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, is gearing up to launch a driverless ride-hailing service in Phoenix, while GM’s Cruise has said it would launch its own robot taxi service in San Francisco. Uber has self-driving cars picking up passengers in Pittsburgh and Phoenix, and Lyft has teamed up with NuTonomy to launch a small ride-hailing pilot in Boston.

Last year was a challenging one for the Blue Oval, with stagnate sales numbers and awkwardly timed management shuffles. Jim Hackett replaced Mark Fields as CEO right after Ford announced a $1 billion investment in Argo. And last week, Ford president Raj Nair stepped down after admitting to “inappropriate behavior.”