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Xbox evaluating Activision relationship / Apple targets 2025 for self-driving car / Tesla worker sues over sexual harassment claims

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The heads of PlayStation and Xbox have both expressed concerns about their respective relationships with Activision Blizzard.

 The news follows a WSJ report that said the video game publisher's CEO, Bobby Kotick, was aware for years of sexual misconduct allegations at the company.

In an email to employees, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said he is "evaluating all aspects" of its relationship with the "Call of Duty" publisher and making "proactive adjustments," though he did not elaborate.

 Spencer said he and the Xbox gaming leadership team are "disturbed and deeply troubled by the horrific events and actions" at Activision Blizzard, noting that the behavior has no place in the industry. 

 In a similar email to staffers, Playstation Chief Jim Ryan said the leadership team is “disheartened and frankly stunned to read” allegations that Activision Blizzard "has not done enough to address a deep-seated culture of discrimination and harassment."

 In a statement on Thursday, Activision said it's working with its partners and will continue to detail changes at the company to ensure its workplace is "safe, diverse and inclusive." As of Friday, more than 1,550 Activision employees have signed a petition calling on Kotick to resign.

 Apple is looking to accelerate the development of a fully autonomous electric car for a possible launch in 2025.

Reports describe how the potential "Apple Car" could lack pedals and a steering wheel. Meanwhile, at least one internal design shows passengers facing each other in a limousine-like interior. 

 Apple previously had explored two options for a car — one with limited autonomous abilities and another that's fully self-driving — and settled on the latter under the direction of new division head Kevin Lynch. 

Sources told reporters that Apple had done much of the core work on a highly advanced self-driving chip for its first-generation vehicle, which could be tested, along with sensors, in the near future.

 Designed by Apple's silicon engineering group, the chip will have neural processors for AI-enabled self-driving capabilities and likely will require a special cooling system due to its sophistication. 

The autonomous car effort, called Project Titan, has experienced turnover and changes in strategy since it first began about seven years ago. Lynch, an Apple Watch software executive, took over from Doug Field, who left for a job at Ford in September.

 A Tesla worker has sued the electric vehicle maker, alleging that its female employees face "rampant sexual harassment" at its Fremont, Calif., factory. 

Jessica Barraza filed the lawsuit in state court in Oakland on Thursday. It describes how co-workers and supervisors made alleged lewd gestures and comments to her and other women and, when she complained to HR and supervisors, they failed to take action. 

 Barraza, a production associate who works on the Tesla Model 3, says she was subjected to vulgar comments and was inappropriately touched by male workers. 

The lawsuit claims the factory “more resembles a crude, archaic construction site or frat house than a cutting-edge company in the heart of the progressive San Francisco Bay area.” In interviews with The Washington Post, which first reported on the suit, three current and former Tesla employees corroborated Barraza's claims.

 Tesla has yet to respond to the allegations. The company is appealing a $137M verdict in favor of another former worker, Owen Diaz, who says he faced racism and a hostile work environment at the Fremont site. 

In 2020, a total of 31 complaints were filed with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing that alleged worker discrimination at Tesla "on the basis of race, age, gender expression, disability, and pregnancy."

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