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Archive for the ‘Autonomous Cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Ford to Push Technologically Advanced Cars to Stop Share Price Landslide

Ford CEO, Jim Hackett, is looking to lead a technological revolution, saying that “dumb cars” have no place and Ford isn’t going to be left behind.
The revolution begins by focusing on assisted, autonomous, and electric vehicles now and in the future.

With Ford’s share price in a downward spiral over the past few years, GM, on the other hand, has seen share increases. Of course, the most technologically advanced automaker, Tesla, recently crept past Ford and GM when its valuation hit $58.7 billion – ultimately making it America’s most valuable car company. As such, Ford investors have been putting on the pressure for the brand to focus on the latest technology and be less dependent on large truck sales as its primary source of income.

“Hackett believes that cars still have a future on the road, but dumb cars will fall behind.”

Hackett believes that cars still have a future on the road, but dumb cars will fall behind, which is already happening with a lot of Ford’s models as other brands surpass the brand in that regard. At the Michigan CEO summit in Detroit, Hackett said, “Fords future is not about giving up the car. We have to evolve these things to be ever smarter. For a while, we didn’t see the computer as an integrated aspect. Now, think about it, my vehicle is a rolling computer.”

And, we have no choice but to agree as every other automaker is integrated was we now consider “basic” assistance and autonomous systems as standard equipment or, at the very least, an available option at relatively low cost compared to just a few years ago. After all, when a company like Tesla, which doesn’t even know what profit smells like, can become America’s most valuable automaker ahead of long-living brands like Ford and GM, it’s time to put up or shut up.

“In recent years, Ford has introduced things like drift mode in the Focus RS, line lock, and a diff-locking handbrake”

Of course, it’s not that Ford isn’t pushing to some extent. In recent years, the brand has introduced things like drift mode in the Focus RS, line lock, and a diff-locking handbrake, among other technologies. Now, however, it’s time for the brand to step its game up. It needs more EVs, it needs more hybrids, and it needs more autonomous tech. If not, the brand is going to continue to slide, and one of America’s oldest car companies could eventually fade in the history books as a once great but failed automaker.

Does Jim Hackett have what it takes to stop Ford’s landslide and bring it back to par with its main rival GM? Let us know what you think and what you would like to see in the coming years from the blue oval.

References

Ford Focus


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 664735

Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Focus RS.


2018 Ford Focus - image 725939

Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Ford Focus.

PostHeaderIcon On-Demand Aviation Could Be Closer To Reality Than We Think

The prospect of air taxis has long been a pipe dream for this world. But it might not stay that way anymore now that Uber and NASA have finalized a partnership that will sensually turn “on-demand aviation” from fantasy to reality. Together, the two companies hope to start doing test runs of flying taxis by 2020 – yes, that’s a little over two years away – in certain locations around the world, including Los Angeles, Dallas, and Dubai.

The announcement was made by no less than Uber’s own head of product, Jeff Holden, who laid out new details about the company’s ambitious Project Elevate program. Included in his speech at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal is the announcement that the ride-hailing service has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA, which aims to create a new air-traffic control system that will specifically manage the low-flying, possibly autonomous aircrafts that Uber plans to develop to make up its fleet of air taxis. The goal, according to Holden, is to bring UberAir into the forefront of public transportation by “performing far more flights on a daily basis than it has ever been done before.” Holden added that the road to getting there will be made easier by “combining Uber’s software engineering expertise with NASA’s decades of airspace experience.”

Whereas the full details of the Uber-NASA partnership haven’t been made clear, this partnership is far from a cosmetic one. There’s already a groundswell of support growing for the propagation of this technology, most notably from Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who’s leading the charge in turning Los Angeles into a true city of the future in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics. Rest assured, as the project evolves and becomes more feasible, expect more and more cities, and possibly countries, to jump aboard the prospect of seeing a full-fledged, fully operational, on-demand aviation offering in their locales.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

The future is coming to the skies

For those who are still skeptical of Uber’s Elevate program, I understand where the cynicism is coming from. It’s hard to imagine a world where flying taxis actually exist because we’ve constantly been teased and promised it for years, and it’s become kind of an old hat to even put any stock in it.

But, there is something different now given how technology has advanced to the point that it’s actually becoming possible to do it. I’m not going to pretend to know the intricacies of the technology or the specifics on how far Uber has progressed in the development of the tech, but it is emboldening for all of us to start dreaming now when you consider that Uber isn’t the only company that’s putting in the work to put these flying taxis to the sky. Airbus is in on it too with CityAirbus; its version of a VTOL taxi that will take to the skies for test runs in 2018. Then there’s Volocopter, which broke ground on aerial testing over in Dubai back in September. Clearly, this technology is within reach enough that some of the biggest transportation and aviation firms are in a veritable arms race to see which company can be the first to bring the technology to life.

Uber’s inclusion of Los Angeles as a test city is a big deal

Previously, Uber only announced that it’s Project Elevate program had the green light to do test runs in Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But now, Los Angeles is in the fold and this is important for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is the city’s current traffic situation, which is horrible to put it lightly. It’s the most traffic congested city in the world as the city clocked in a staggering average of 104 hours of traffic jams in 2016 alone. What’s a good way, then, to ease the prevalence of gridlocks in such a densely-populated city? Offer air taxis to the public.

Then there’s Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti. He may not have universal popularity in the City of Angels, but he remains committed to turning Los Angeles into a city of the future. He’s been proactive in welcoming and embracing technology and innovation to the city, all with the goal of preparing it for the future, which now includes the hosting of the 2028 Summer Olympics.

If the tech succeeds, expect more cities to follow suit


On-Demand Aviation Could Be Closer To Reality Than We Think - image 744018

This is what’s at stake for companies like Uber and Airbus who are pioneering air taxi technology. If this revolutionary way of public transportation succeeds and becomes reality, it could literally decongest traffic gridlocks in cities all over the world, thus giving the population of these places more effective use of their time. I don’t think that it’s going to completely eradicate traffic, but it’s far and away one of the most ambitious plans out there. And, for what it’s worth, it’s also, ironically, one of those solutions that could become a reality sooner than we think.

PostHeaderIcon On-Demand Aviation Could Be Closer To Reality Than We Think

The prospect of air taxis has long been a pipe dream for this world. But it might not stay that way anymore now that Uber and NASA have finalized a partnership that will sensually turn “on-demand aviation” from fantasy to reality. Together, the two companies hope to start doing test runs of flying taxis by 2020 – yes, that’s a little over two years away – in certain locations around the world, including Los Angeles, Dallas, and Dubai.

The announcement was made by no less than Uber’s own head of product, Jeff Holden, who laid out new details about the company’s ambitious Project Elevate program. Included in his speech at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal is the announcement that the ride-hailing service has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA, which aims to create a new air-traffic control system that will specifically manage the low-flying, possibly autonomous aircrafts that Uber plans to develop to make up its fleet of air taxis. The goal, according to Holden, is to bring UberAir into the forefront of public transportation by “performing far more flights on a daily basis than it has ever been done before.” Holden added that the road to getting there will be made easier by “combining Uber’s software engineering expertise with NASA’s decades of airspace experience.”

Whereas the full details of the Uber-NASA partnership haven’t been made clear, this partnership is far from a cosmetic one. There’s already a groundswell of support growing for the propagation of this technology, most notably from Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, who’s leading the charge in turning Los Angeles into a true city of the future in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics. Rest assured, as the project evolves and becomes more feasible, expect more and more cities, and possibly countries, to jump aboard the prospect of seeing a full-fledged, fully operational, on-demand aviation offering in their locales.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

The future is coming to the skies

For those who are still skeptical of Uber’s Elevate program, I understand where the cynicism is coming from. It’s hard to imagine a world where flying taxis actually exist because we’ve constantly been teased and promised it for years, and it’s become kind of an old hat to even put any stock in it.

But, there is something different now given how technology has advanced to the point that it’s actually becoming possible to do it. I’m not going to pretend to know the intricacies of the technology or the specifics on how far Uber has progressed in the development of the tech, but it is emboldening for all of us to start dreaming now when you consider that Uber isn’t the only company that’s putting in the work to put these flying taxis to the sky. Airbus is in on it too with CityAirbus; its version of a VTOL taxi that will take to the skies for test runs in 2018. Then there’s Volocopter, which broke ground on aerial testing over in Dubai back in September. Clearly, this technology is within reach enough that some of the biggest transportation and aviation firms are in a veritable arms race to see which company can be the first to bring the technology to life.

Uber’s inclusion of Los Angeles as a test city is a big deal

Previously, Uber only announced that it’s Project Elevate program had the green light to do test runs in Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But now, Los Angeles is in the fold and this is important for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is the city’s current traffic situation, which is horrible to put it lightly. It’s the most traffic congested city in the world as the city clocked in a staggering average of 104 hours of traffic jams in 2016 alone. What’s a good way, then, to ease the prevalence of gridlocks in such a densely-populated city? Offer air taxis to the public.

Then there’s Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti. He may not have universal popularity in the City of Angels, but he remains committed to turning Los Angeles into a city of the future. He’s been proactive in welcoming and embracing technology and innovation to the city, all with the goal of preparing it for the future, which now includes the hosting of the 2028 Summer Olympics.

If the tech succeeds, expect more cities to follow suit


On-Demand Aviation Could Be Closer To Reality Than We Think - image 744018

This is what’s at stake for companies like Uber and Airbus who are pioneering air taxi technology. If this revolutionary way of public transportation succeeds and becomes reality, it could literally decongest traffic gridlocks in cities all over the world, thus giving the population of these places more effective use of their time. I don’t think that it’s going to completely eradicate traffic, but it’s far and away one of the most ambitious plans out there. And, for what it’s worth, it’s also, ironically, one of those solutions that could become a reality sooner than we think.

PostHeaderIcon Subaru Viziv Performance Concept

2017 Subaru Viziv Performance Concept

Subaru just revealed its latest ultra-sleek concept model at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the Viziv Performance (Viziv is shorthand for “Vision for Innovation”), this Scooby is the latest in a series of concept cars to bear the Viziv name, rocking an aggressive exterior and tons of speedy visual cues. This is also the very first four-door sedan to come from the concept line, which can only mean one thing – this is what Subaru’s designers imagine for the next WRX. The emphasis is on driving fun and attention-grabbing details, both of which the Viziv Performance manages to accomplish, at least on paper. So then, what does it say about the brand’s favorite rally star? Read on for details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Subaru Viziv Performance Concept.

Exterior

  • Design is all angles and chiseled geometry
  • Flared fenders and carbon bits
  • Longer, lower, and wider than a WRX

Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 740445
“It’s all angles and chiseled geometry, an amalgamation of black and silver that manages to mate sportiness and futuristic vibes in a single, exciting package. ”

As is the case with most concept cars, the Subaru Viziv Performance Concept’s greatest strength lies in its exterior design. It’s all angles and chiseled geometry, an amalgamation of black and silver that manages to mate sportiness and futuristic vibes in a single, exciting package.

Subaru says the aesthetic uses the “Dynamic x Solid” design philosophy, with inspiration drawn from the brand’s most “iconic” models. These include the Legacy, Impreza, and WRX, symbolizing “superior Subaru driving performance.”

The look is mean and low and wide, with flared fenders adding a good deal of aggression to the whole package. As is expected of just about every performance model on the market these days, carbon fiber makes a cameo appearance, finding its way to the bumpers, fenders, and roof, which adds a tasty composite weave to offset the brighter silver body panels.

In back, the rear diffuser seems to divide the tail in half, occupying the lower section of the car with even more angles and further motorsport-inspired goodness. A large center stop lamp also enhances the performance cues, while the upper taillights stretch from fender to fender, adding to the car’s natural visual width. The rear diffuser also houses a quartet of rounded exhaust pipes, set at an angle that brings the car even closer to the ground visually.


Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 740442
“The rear diffuser seems to divide the tail in half, occupying the lower section of the car with even more angles and further motorsport-inspired goodness.”

In the nose, the Subaru Viziv Performance Concept gets a six-sided, three-dimensional grille that looks similar in shape to the current WRX grille, albeit a bit larger and with a cool-looking lighting element along the surround. Below the central intake are aero elements finished in black, while “hawkeye” headlight housings take up positions on the periphery.

Subaru says many of these visual cues are meant to mimic that ballsy powertrain and drivetrain under the hood, with the headlights giving a nod to the boxer engine design and the flared fenders added as a nod to the symmetrical AWD system.

“Subaru says many of these visual cues are meant to mimic that ballsy powertrain and drivetrain under the hood.”

The requisite hood scoop finishes it, mounted towards the windshield and finished in black.

Interestingly, Subaru gave us a complete breakdown of the Viziv Performance Concept’s exterior dimensions, and naturally, we should compare them to the current WRX to see if we can glean any sizing changes planned for the upcoming WRX. You can check out the specifics below, but long story short, the Viziv is a bit longer, much wider, and a little lower – all to be expected from a showy concept car, but perhaps it’s telling of what’s to come for Suby’s most beloved performance model.

2017 Subaru Viziv Performance Concept 2017 Subaru WRX
Length (Inches) 182.3 180.9
Width (Inches) 76.8 70.7
Height (Inches) 56.3 inches 58.1
Wheelbase (Inches) 107.5 104.3

Interior

  • Large touchscreen in the dash
  • Seats up to 5 passengers
  • Next-generation driver assist tech

Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 700140
Interior from 2018 Subaru WRX shown here.
“If we were to venture a guess about the details, we’d argue the redesigned interior of the 2017 Subaru Impreza would probably provide a few hints as to the upcoming WRX’s cabin.”

While Subaru declined to provide tons of details on the Viziv Performance Concept’s interior layout design, the automaker did mention that seating capacity was capped at 5 passengers, much like the current-generation Impreza and WRX. What’s more, we can pick out what appears to be a large digital infotainment screen in the center console.

Sounds about right, but if we were to venture a guess about the details, we’d argue the redesigned interior of the 2017 Subaru Impreza would probably provide a few hints. Six-sided shapes for the cluster gauge and upper instrumentation readout echo the shape of the grille, while a three-spoke, multi-function steering wheel gets grippy hand bolsters and some nice contrast stitching. Further contrast stitching is added to the dash, while a large touchscreen takes up residence in the center console.

“we can assume it’ll get stuff like advanced adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, smart automatic transmission shifting, and similar features”

Not terribly exciting stuff, we know. That said, the Viziv does offer up some tasty tidbits on possible technology features Subaru has in the works. Basically, the automaker foresees ever-greater autonomous driving assist integration in the near future, and in response, the Viziv comes with the next-generation EyeSight system, the brand’s branded tech suite meant to enhance both driving enjoyment and peace of mind.

Incorporating both radar and GPS systems, we can assume it’ll get stuff like advanced adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, smart automatic transmission shifting, and similar features, all of which should make the next WRX both more efficient and safer. Look for Subaru to introduce this next-gen system into its production lineup sometime around 2020.

Drivetrain

  • Boxer engine configuration
  • Likely the same turbo 2.0-liter as the current WRX
  • Large 20-inch wheels

Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 722070
2.5-liter from 2017 Subaru WRX shown here.

Once again, Subaru seems a bit cagey when it comes to revealing details on the Viziv Performance Concept’s engine configuration, but in all honesty, we can pretty much tell exactly what it’s got going under that hood scoop without any official confirmation.

For starters, Subaru admits to using the traditional boxer engine configuration, a platform the Six Star brand has “honed over more than five decades of development.” In the current WRX, this amounts to a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter flat-four powerplant, hewn from aluminum and able to produce upwards of 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Routing the power to the ground is a six-speed manual transmission, as well as the same standard symmetrical AWD system Subaru is famous for.

“Subaru says the Viziv Performance uses its traditional boxer engine configuration, which, in the current WRX, produces upwards of 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.”

All told, expect nearly identical performance numbers as before, with around 5 seconds required in the 0-to-60 mph sprint and a top speed of 144 mph.

Interestingly, Subaru says the concept’s tire size is measured at 245/40R20, a huge upgrade over the standard WRX’s 17-inch rollers. If carried into production, it would be the biggest wheels the WRX has ever got from the factory by a long shot.

Conclusion


Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 740442

All told, the Viziv is an exciting look at one of our all-time favorite performance vehicles, the Subaru WRX. While we would have liked it if Subaru dropped us a few more hints on what to expect from the drivetrain and powertrain (odds are it’ll look more or less identical to the current model), we think the exterior styling is a solid step forward for the brand.

“Any and all hope that the concept’s aesthetic might make it to production should be tempered with the fact that Subaru has a nasty habit of offering up gorgeous designs that never actually get put to use. ”

That said, any and all hope that the concept’s aesthetic might make it to production should be tempered with the fact that Subaru has a nasty habit of offering up gorgeous designs that never actually get put to use. Take for example the Impreza 5-Door Concept that dropped in 2015 at the last Tokyo Motor Show. We loved it, as did most other enthusiasts, but in the end, the production version just didn’t have the same flair or snap to it. Or you could take the Impreza Sedan Concept from the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, or the XV Concept from the Geneva Motor Show in 2016… the list goes on and on.

Either way, we like the look. Just maybe put it to good use this time, eh Suby?

  • Leave it
    • Production version will likely look way different
    • No interior design details
    • No specs on the engine and drivetrain likely means carryovers for both

References

Subaru WRX


2018 Subaru WRX - image 700160

Read our full review of the 2018 Subaru WRX

Subaru



Read the latest Subaru news

PostHeaderIcon Subaru Viziv Performance Concept

2017 Subaru Viziv Performance Concept

Subaru just revealed its latest ultra-sleek concept model at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the Viziv Performance (Viziv is shorthand for “Vision for Innovation”), this Scooby is the latest in a series of concept cars to bear the Viziv name, rocking an aggressive exterior and tons of speedy visual cues. This is also the very first four-door sedan to come from the concept line, which can only mean one thing – this is what Subaru’s designers imagine for the next WRX. The emphasis is on driving fun and attention-grabbing details, both of which the Viziv Performance manages to accomplish, at least on paper. So then, what does it say about the brand’s favorite rally star? Read on for details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Subaru Viziv Performance Concept.

Exterior

  • Design is all angles and chiseled geometry
  • Flared fenders and carbon bits
  • Longer, lower, and wider than a WRX

Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 740445
“It’s all angles and chiseled geometry, an amalgamation of black and silver that manages to mate sportiness and futuristic vibes in a single, exciting package. ”

As is the case with most concept cars, the Subaru Viziv Performance Concept’s greatest strength lies in its exterior design. It’s all angles and chiseled geometry, an amalgamation of black and silver that manages to mate sportiness and futuristic vibes in a single, exciting package.

Subaru says the aesthetic uses the “Dynamic x Solid” design philosophy, with inspiration drawn from the brand’s most “iconic” models. These include the Legacy, Impreza, and WRX, symbolizing “superior Subaru driving performance.”

The look is mean and low and wide, with flared fenders adding a good deal of aggression to the whole package. As is expected of just about every performance model on the market these days, carbon fiber makes a cameo appearance, finding its way to the bumpers, fenders, and roof, which adds a tasty composite weave to offset the brighter silver body panels.

In back, the rear diffuser seems to divide the tail in half, occupying the lower section of the car with even more angles and further motorsport-inspired goodness. A large center stop lamp also enhances the performance cues, while the upper taillights stretch from fender to fender, adding to the car’s natural visual width. The rear diffuser also houses a quartet of rounded exhaust pipes, set at an angle that brings the car even closer to the ground visually.


Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 740442
“The rear diffuser seems to divide the tail in half, occupying the lower section of the car with even more angles and further motorsport-inspired goodness.”

In the nose, the Subaru Viziv Performance Concept gets a six-sided, three-dimensional grille that looks similar in shape to the current WRX grille, albeit a bit larger and with a cool-looking lighting element along the surround. Below the central intake are aero elements finished in black, while “hawkeye” headlight housings take up positions on the periphery.

Subaru says many of these visual cues are meant to mimic that ballsy powertrain and drivetrain under the hood, with the headlights giving a nod to the boxer engine design and the flared fenders added as a nod to the symmetrical AWD system.

“Subaru says many of these visual cues are meant to mimic that ballsy powertrain and drivetrain under the hood.”

The requisite hood scoop finishes it, mounted towards the windshield and finished in black.

Interestingly, Subaru gave us a complete breakdown of the Viziv Performance Concept’s exterior dimensions, and naturally, we should compare them to the current WRX to see if we can glean any sizing changes planned for the upcoming WRX. You can check out the specifics below, but long story short, the Viziv is a bit longer, much wider, and a little lower – all to be expected from a showy concept car, but perhaps it’s telling of what’s to come for Suby’s most beloved performance model.

2017 Subaru Viziv Performance Concept 2017 Subaru WRX
Length (Inches) 182.3 180.9
Width (Inches) 76.8 70.7
Height (Inches) 56.3 inches 58.1
Wheelbase (Inches) 107.5 104.3

Interior

  • Large touchscreen in the dash
  • Seats up to 5 passengers
  • Next-generation driver assist tech

Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 700140
Interior from 2018 Subaru WRX shown here.
“If we were to venture a guess about the details, we’d argue the redesigned interior of the 2017 Subaru Impreza would probably provide a few hints as to the upcoming WRX’s cabin.”

While Subaru declined to provide tons of details on the Viziv Performance Concept’s interior layout design, the automaker did mention that seating capacity was capped at 5 passengers, much like the current-generation Impreza and WRX. What’s more, we can pick out what appears to be a large digital infotainment screen in the center console.

Sounds about right, but if we were to venture a guess about the details, we’d argue the redesigned interior of the 2017 Subaru Impreza would probably provide a few hints. Six-sided shapes for the cluster gauge and upper instrumentation readout echo the shape of the grille, while a three-spoke, multi-function steering wheel gets grippy hand bolsters and some nice contrast stitching. Further contrast stitching is added to the dash, while a large touchscreen takes up residence in the center console.

“we can assume it’ll get stuff like advanced adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, smart automatic transmission shifting, and similar features”

Not terribly exciting stuff, we know. That said, the Viziv does offer up some tasty tidbits on possible technology features Subaru has in the works. Basically, the automaker foresees ever-greater autonomous driving assist integration in the near future, and in response, the Viziv comes with the next-generation EyeSight system, the brand’s branded tech suite meant to enhance both driving enjoyment and peace of mind.

Incorporating both radar and GPS systems, we can assume it’ll get stuff like advanced adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, smart automatic transmission shifting, and similar features, all of which should make the next WRX both more efficient and safer. Look for Subaru to introduce this next-gen system into its production lineup sometime around 2020.

Drivetrain

  • Boxer engine configuration
  • Likely the same turbo 2.0-liter as the current WRX
  • Large 20-inch wheels

Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 722070
2.5-liter from 2017 Subaru WRX shown here.

Once again, Subaru seems a bit cagey when it comes to revealing details on the Viziv Performance Concept’s engine configuration, but in all honesty, we can pretty much tell exactly what it’s got going under that hood scoop without any official confirmation.

For starters, Subaru admits to using the traditional boxer engine configuration, a platform the Six Star brand has “honed over more than five decades of development.” In the current WRX, this amounts to a turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-liter flat-four powerplant, hewn from aluminum and able to produce upwards of 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Routing the power to the ground is a six-speed manual transmission, as well as the same standard symmetrical AWD system Subaru is famous for.

“Subaru says the Viziv Performance uses its traditional boxer engine configuration, which, in the current WRX, produces upwards of 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.”

All told, expect nearly identical performance numbers as before, with around 5 seconds required in the 0-to-60 mph sprint and a top speed of 144 mph.

Interestingly, Subaru says the concept’s tire size is measured at 245/40R20, a huge upgrade over the standard WRX’s 17-inch rollers. If carried into production, it would be the biggest wheels the WRX has ever got from the factory by a long shot.

Conclusion


Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 740442

All told, the Viziv is an exciting look at one of our all-time favorite performance vehicles, the Subaru WRX. While we would have liked it if Subaru dropped us a few more hints on what to expect from the drivetrain and powertrain (odds are it’ll look more or less identical to the current model), we think the exterior styling is a solid step forward for the brand.

“Any and all hope that the concept’s aesthetic might make it to production should be tempered with the fact that Subaru has a nasty habit of offering up gorgeous designs that never actually get put to use. ”

That said, any and all hope that the concept’s aesthetic might make it to production should be tempered with the fact that Subaru has a nasty habit of offering up gorgeous designs that never actually get put to use. Take for example the Impreza 5-Door Concept that dropped in 2015 at the last Tokyo Motor Show. We loved it, as did most other enthusiasts, but in the end, the production version just didn’t have the same flair or snap to it. Or you could take the Impreza Sedan Concept from the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, or the XV Concept from the Geneva Motor Show in 2016… the list goes on and on.

Either way, we like the look. Just maybe put it to good use this time, eh Suby?

  • Leave it
    • Production version will likely look way different
    • No interior design details
    • No specs on the engine and drivetrain likely means carryovers for both

References

Subaru WRX


2018 Subaru WRX - image 700160

Read our full review of the 2018 Subaru WRX

Subaru



Read the latest Subaru news

PostHeaderIcon Lexus LS+ Concept

2017 Lexus LS+ Concept

The fifth-generation Lexus LS just hit the market this year, but the Japanese automaker is already looking ahead into the future with a new concept for its flagship sedan that’s heavy on state-of-the-art technology. The concept is called the LS+, and if you were thinking it to be outlandish in the typical Lexus concept fashion, then you’d be right. The LS+ Concept is a feast for the senses in more ways than one.

We already have an idea of how Lexus does concept vehicles. The NX Concept from a few years ago blasted our expectations through the roof, and it’s nice to see that Toyota’s premium brand isn’t letting up. This car, Lexus says, is going to be a showcase of what the LS could look like down the road. It’s not a certainty that this blueprint will be put to use in the future, but as far as giving us a taste of what could come, then it hits all the right spots. It looks the part of a futuristic concept though more important than that are the litany of tech features that it comes with, including the curiously named “Highway Teammate” automated driving technology that brings autonomous driving tech to life. That’s just one of the technology goodies we can expect from the LS+ Concept, so expect a whole lot more now that the full-sized beauty is sitting pretty at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Lexus LS+ Concept

Exterior

  • Laser light technology
  • Spindle front grille with mechanized shutters
  • Side-view cameras
  • 22-inch wheels

2017 Lexus LS+ Concept - image 740689
“The thing that you’ll immediately notice is how Lexus designers were able to combine current design elements with new visual features that are culled from improved technology”

If this is what the Lexus LS is going to look like in the future, then sign me up. Of course, Lexus has shown a penchant for designing some of the most incredible concepts that I’ve seen in recent years, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary that its vision for the future of the LS flagship sedan follows in that tradition. At first glance, . Take the massive spindle grille for example. Lexus already employs that feature in its current lineup but it still plays a prominent part in the overall look of the concept. Here’s the new-age rub, though. The grille itself incorporates what looks to be a mechanized shutter that does double-duty by helping with cooling the car’s internal parts and boosting the sedan’s overall aerodynamic flow.

The boomerang-like headlights are also similar in design from the current LS but, like the spindle grille, there’s more to it than meets the eye, specifically the illumination. Turns out, laser technology will be a big part of Lexus’ future, as is probably the case too with a lot of automakers down the road. Not only does it guarantee much better illumination than what we’re used to these days, but it’s a clear step in the right direction towards improving road safety for everyone involved. Then there’s the use of cameras instead of conventional side mirrors. It’s not a new “concept” but everyone’s doing it too. What’s a bit surprising is that the concept sits on massive 22-inch alloy wheels, much bigger than the 20-inch wheels the current LS uses.


2017 Lexus LS+ Concept - image 740684

Overall though, the exterior of LS+ Concept is solid work from Lexus designers. The whole shape of the body is consistent with what we know the LS to be, so it’s good that the designers didn’t go too out of the box with its presentation. It’s imposing in its own right, but not at all intimidating. That’s what you want a flagship sedan to look like.

Interior

  • Inspiration from Japanese design
  • Should have leather interior
  • Should have wood trim
  • Ambient lighting

2018 Lexus LS 500 - image 700564
Interior from 2018 Lexus LS500 shown here
“The heavy inspiration on Japanese design has been a hallmark of Lexus for years so there’s no reason to think that the future LS will adopt a similar design philosophy”

The interior of the Lexus LS+ Concept is trickier to get a hold off because judging by how blacked-out those windows are, it appears that there’s very little there to talk about. Some concepts adopt this approach so it’s nothing that we’re not used to. That said, we can still speculate on what the concept’s cabin could look like.

Personally, I don’t think the interior will be a far departure from what the current LS already has. That’s a good thing because the cabin of the current LS is one of the cleanest ones in its segment. The heavy inspiration on Japanese design has been a hallmark of Lexus for years so there’s no reason to think that the future LS will adopt a similar design philosophy. Fine leather should be a gimme. Same thing with ambient lighting and some kind massage feature on the seats. These are hallmarks of Lexus’ Japan-style cabin treatment and I’m all for getting all those things – maybe even more – on the future LS sedan.

As far as tech features go, the expectation is that Lexus is going to take a massive leap from what it has on the table now. A navigation display should still be in the mix, but it could cater to a number of new tech items in the future, including the aforementioned “Highway Teammate” technology that effectively puts a fully functioning autonomous system in place for the LS sedan.

Drivetrain

  • Highway Teammate autonomous driving technology
  • Data tech system
  • Could be all-electric
  • Could have 354-horsepower drivetrain from LS500h

2017 Lexus LS+ Concept - image 740685
“Lexus LS+ Concept is going to adopt autonomous driving technology using its Highway Teammate system”

The only thing we know about the Lexus LS+ Concept is that it’s going to adopt autonomous driving technology using its Highway Teammate system. This technology essentially gives the luxury sedan full autonomous driving capabilities to navigate around specific road conditions, including merging, lane changes, and diverging. It’s also tipped to be smart enough to keep the sedan in its lane, a safe distance from the car in front.

Coinciding with the use of Highway Teammate is the concept’s ability to communicate with a data center, allowing the system’s software to be updated on the fly. It’s something that Tesla is already doing with its fleet of models so if Lexus is going to get that level, it’s going to need to have it’s own architecture in place if it’s going to fully adapt autonomous driving technology in the future.


2017 Lexus LS+ Concept - image 740688
“The likeliest candidate is a fully-electric set-up, though a hybrid shouldn’t be dismissed either”

Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess what kind of drivetrain the future LS could have. The likeliest candidate is a fully-electric set-up, though a hybrid shouldn’t be dismissed either. If it does end up being the latter, Lexus can point to the setup of the current LS 500h, which makes use of a 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline engine and a couple of electric motors. Total output is rated at 354 horsepower, giving the LS enough boost to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds.

Is it possible that the future LS will have a gas-engine? I’d say yes, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lexus goes fully hybrid and electric in the future.

Conclusion


2017 Lexus LS+ Concept - image 740687

I’m always intrigued every time Lexus comes out with a concept vehicle. It’s arguably one of the best at it and if you’re not a believer, look up some of the past Lexus concepts from the last few years. The LS+ Concept fits into that mold because it not only looks the part of a futuristic concept, but it also looks like something that Lexus will eventually turn into a production car in the future. Those are always the best kind of concepts to begin with so I’m expecting big things out of the LS+ down the road. Don’t expect it to happen anytime soon though because the LS just got its fifth-gen model rolling.

But for the future? You bet I’m looking forward to it.

  • Leave it
    • Not happening anytime soon
    • How much of it will be adapted to future LS models is a good question
    • Not enough details on the interior and drivetrain

References

Lexus LS


2018 Lexus LS 500 - image 702643

Read our review of the 2018 Lexus LS500

Lexus


2011 Lexus LF-A - image 328640

Read the latest Lexus news

PostHeaderIcon Apple’s Self-Driving Lexus Spotted On Public Roads

In case you hadn’t heard, Apple is secretly developing self-driving car technology, and earlier this week, one of the tech giant’s autonomous test mules was possibly spotted out and about on California streets. Made public in a brief video clip posted to Twitter, the car in question is a late-model Lexus RX SUV with what appears to be a roof full of cameras, radar equipment, lidar, and various other sensors critical to self-driving operation. Making the spot was MacCallister Higgins, co-founder of Voyage, a rival self-driving tech startup, who seems convinced that the car is indeed of Apple origin. In response to Higgins’ short video clip, Twitter user @idiggapple posted a pic of the same Lexus (or one that looks very similar), which apparently pulled up to an Apple shuttle stop briefly before departing.

By all accounts, it certainly looks like this is indeed Apple’s latest test mule. The company has already been approved for public testing of autonomous Lexus RX vehicles, the previous iterations of which have made headlines after showing up at random intervals around the Bay Area. To us, this definitely looks like the car is gathering data for self-driving software development, although the car could also be used for mapping purposes, another activity that lends itself to self-driving tech development.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


2021 Apple iCar - image 688456

We’ve been following the Apple car story for a few years now, even going so far as to draw up a rendering of what it might look like. However, these days it’s looking like Apple will probably stick with just creating self-driving software, rather than a whole new car from the ground up.

That wasn’t always the case. Apple’s self-driving project, dubbed internally as “Project Titan,” was reportedly first tasked with designing and producing a standalone all-electric vehicle. However, following a variety of setbacks and staff shakeups, it would appear as though Apple is now focusing primarily on software creation.

“Following a variety of setbacks and staff shakeups, it would appear as though Apple is now focusing primarily on software creation.”

Meanwhile, a variety of other tech companies are also pushing for full-autonomous tech. Google is one good example, which created the subsidiary Waymo to take over its self-driving project in 2009.

The question is this – who will get there first, and what will the tech look like?

While the idea of a standalone car built by tech companies is an interesting proposition, the more likely scenario is an established automaker sourcing self-driving software solutions from the tech companies in some kind of joint project.


Apple's Self-Driving Lexus Spotted On Public Roads - image 739283
“While getting there first is important, the tech has to stand up to the rigors of the real world.”

The alternative is a company like Tesla, which seems deadest on developing its own systems and offering them directly to customers through products like the Model 3.

But here’s the rub – while getting there first is important, the tech has to stand up to the rigors of the real world. And that’s no easy feat, especially when developing these systems in secrecy while racing to be the first to market. Tesla knows this all to well, already feeling the heat after several highly publicized crashes raised questions over the safety of self-driving systems.

What do you think, dear reader? Does the idea of self-driving cars excite you, or does news like this have you worried? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

References


2021 Apple iCar - image 688199

Read our full speculative review on the 2021 Apple iCar.

Lexus RX


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.

PostHeaderIcon Apple’s Self-Driving Lexus Spotted On Public Roads

In case you hadn’t heard, Apple is secretly developing self-driving car technology, and earlier this week, one of the tech giant’s autonomous test mules was possibly spotted out and about on California streets. Made public in a brief video clip posted to Twitter, the car in question is a late-model Lexus RX SUV with what appears to be a roof full of cameras, radar equipment, lidar, and various other sensors critical to self-driving operation. Making the spot was MacCallister Higgins, co-founder of Voyage, a rival self-driving tech startup, who seems convinced that the car is indeed of Apple origin. In response to Higgins’ short video clip, Twitter user @idiggapple posted a pic of the same Lexus (or one that looks very similar), which apparently pulled up to an Apple shuttle stop briefly before departing.

By all accounts, it certainly looks like this is indeed Apple’s latest test mule. The company has already been approved for public testing of autonomous Lexus RX vehicles, the previous iterations of which have made headlines after showing up at random intervals around the Bay Area. To us, this definitely looks like the car is gathering data for self-driving software development, although the car could also be used for mapping purposes, another activity that lends itself to self-driving tech development.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


2021 Apple iCar - image 688456

We’ve been following the Apple car story for a few years now, even going so far as to draw up a rendering of what it might look like. However, these days it’s looking like Apple will probably stick with just creating self-driving software, rather than a whole new car from the ground up.

That wasn’t always the case. Apple’s self-driving project, dubbed internally as “Project Titan,” was reportedly first tasked with designing and producing a standalone all-electric vehicle. However, following a variety of setbacks and staff shakeups, it would appear as though Apple is now focusing primarily on software creation.

“Following a variety of setbacks and staff shakeups, it would appear as though Apple is now focusing primarily on software creation.”

Meanwhile, a variety of other tech companies are also pushing for full-autonomous tech. Google is one good example, which created the subsidiary Waymo to take over its self-driving project in 2009.

The question is this – who will get there first, and what will the tech look like?

While the idea of a standalone car built by tech companies is an interesting proposition, the more likely scenario is an established automaker sourcing self-driving software solutions from the tech companies in some kind of joint project.


Apple's Self-Driving Lexus Spotted On Public Roads - image 739283
“While getting there first is important, the tech has to stand up to the rigors of the real world.”

The alternative is a company like Tesla, which seems deadest on developing its own systems and offering them directly to customers through products like the Model 3.

But here’s the rub – while getting there first is important, the tech has to stand up to the rigors of the real world. And that’s no easy feat, especially when developing these systems in secrecy while racing to be the first to market. Tesla knows this all to well, already feeling the heat after several highly publicized crashes raised questions over the safety of self-driving systems.

What do you think, dear reader? Does the idea of self-driving cars excite you, or does news like this have you worried? Let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

References


2021 Apple iCar - image 688199

Read our full speculative review on the 2021 Apple iCar.

Lexus RX


2016 Lexus RX - image 624726

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus RX.

PostHeaderIcon Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept

From the maker of some of the most bizarre vehicular creations in recent automotive history, Rinspeed is back at it with another, well, futuristic offering. It’s called the Snap Mobility Concept, and its name doesn’t do enough justice to what exactly it’s capable of doing. No, there’s no garden growing inside of it like the Oasis Concept from 2016, but it does have a chassis that can connect to different cabins, or “pods,” as Rinspeed likes to call them.

The whole concept isn’t at all different from how trucks can carry different trailers, but the Snap Mobility Concept takes that approach on an entirely different level because an entire cabin can be removed and replaced with another, resulting in a concept that’s not at all too different from the Surus platform concept that General Motors unveiled earlier this week. Rinspeed’s whole objective with the concept is to reduce congestion and pollution in crowded cities, so it’s no surprise that the Snap Mobility Concept is completely autonomous and runs on a fully electric powertrain. The actual details and figures are still being withheld though rest assured, there’s a lot more to this concept than meets the eye. Keep an eye out for it when it makes its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2018.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept

Exterior


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738659

The Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept does not have a traditional exterior. In fact, a case can be made that the exterior of the concept is limited to its platform, which looks like an oversized skateboard. According to the Swiss company, these platforms, or “backbones,” come equipped with “long-lasting IT components that are not bound to be outdated quickly” and are free from any mechanical wear. The box-like front and rear sections have their traditional automotive features like headlights and taillights, but everything else looks different, including the biggest design wild card of all them: the pods themselves.

I honestly don’t know how to describe it because, on its own, it looks like an elevated office that can be connected to the platform through some means that Rinspeed has yet to describe. If an owner decides to switch pods, he can remove the existing one that he has on the concept and replace it with another pod that serves a different purpose. These pods are the main attraction of the whole concept because according to Rinspeed, they can keep swapping them out without having to worry about turning them obsolete. Even the the platform is designed to function long-term, but in the event, they do get outdated, owners can just swap them out for a new platform, and their vehicle is good as new again.

Interior


2017 Rinspeed Oasis - image 697643

Note: Rinspeed Oasis Concept pictured here.

I suppose the interior of the Snap Mobility Concept is fluid, as it all depends on the kind of pod that’s being used at a given point in time. What I can surmise at this point is that each of these pods come with plenty of space – enough to at least create different environments. If an owner wants to design his pod like a living room, he can do that. If he wants to design it like an office, he can do that too. A kitchen perhaps? A movie theater? There are no limits to what kind of pod can come out from Rinspeed’s concept. There are even pods that can be created for commercial purposes, whether it’s something like a delivery truck, cargo transport, or maybe even a mobile restaurant. Everything’s up to the imagination of the owner, supposing that the whole concept does progress far enough to actually become something tangible.

Rinspeed even says that owners can set up their pods like offices and set them up in a specific location in the center of the city. It’s literally like your office has the ability to be stationary and on the move at any given point in a day.

Drivetrain


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738666

This section is clouded in mystery because Rinspeed hasn’t said anything about the concept’s powertrain other than saying its autonomous and fully electric. That said, we can at least surmise that some kind of electric motor will be powering the platform and the pods. I do think that it should at least be a powerful enough battery to accommodate some of the purposes an owner may have for his pod. It would be a bummer if somebody decides to turn a pod into a personal office and have to charge the batteries every few hours so that he doesn’t run out of power.

Conclusion


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738647

And, here I thought that the Rinspeed Oasis Concept was outlandish enough with its own interior garden. Obviously, I completely underestimated what Rinspeed is capable of doing because the Snap Mobility Concept is unlike anything I’ve seen in quite some time. I get the whole point of it, but there are other aspects of it – the feasibility of the whole switching platforms routine – that make me wonder if the people over at Rinspeed just had far too much time on their hands that they decided to create something as curious as this concept. It’s definitely interesting, that much I’m willing to concede. But, as far as viability is concerned, I need to learn more about the purpose and objective of this concept to have a better understanding of what exactly we’re dealing with here. In that regard, the Consumer Electronics Show can’t come soon enough.

  • Leave it
    • What’s the point?
    • Is it really feasible?
    • Not counting on it becoming anything more than a concept

References


2017 Rinspeed Oasis - image 697634

Read our full review on the Rinspeed Oasis concept.


2015 Rinspeed Etos Concept - image 659883

Read more Rinspeed news.

PostHeaderIcon Real Self-Driving Cars are on the way thanks to Nvidia

For those of you who have been sleeping under a rock for the past 24 years, Nvidia is a company that is quite popular in the gaming and computer world thanks to its amazing graphics processors. You might recognize the name “GeForce” – it’s the company’s main product line. Well, the same company that builds GPUs for gamers has dived into the automotive market headfirst and has now released a whole new computing platform that is said to be capable of level-5 autonomy. That’s right folks, the future is here, and true driverless cars are right around the corner.

The name of this new computing system? It goes by the Codename “Pegasus” and is considered an extension of the Nvidia Drive PX AI computer platform currently in use by more than 200 companies working on self-driving cars. It’s excessively important because this specific computer is capable of delivering more than 320 trillion operations per second. To put that into perspective. A Tesla Model S, which uses the Nvidia Drive PX 2, is capable of 24 trillion operations per second. So, we’re talking about more than 10 Model S computers all running at the same time and in sync with one another. The technology is here; now it’s just up to developers to put it into play. But, it’s going to take some time. Keep reading to learn why.

It’s Not Easy Being Driverless


Real Self-Driving Cars are on the way thanks to Nvidia - image 737912
“It goes by the Codename “Pegasus” and is considered an extension of the Nvidia Drive PX AI computer platform currently in use by more than 200 companies working on self-driving cars”

Out of all those companies that are partnered with Nvidia to deliver autonomous driving platforms, at least 25 of them are in the process of developing robotaxis to be our people-delivery slaves. But, at the current time, they aren’t exactly feasible for production as the deep learning process and related artificial intelligence requires a trunk full of computer equipment that’s not only a huge power suck but quite heavy as well. This system will make all of that a thing of the past, and instead provide all the computing power needed to analyze things like 360-degree cameras, lidar, radar, and laser sensors to maintain a safe and reliable journey all in something the size of a modern license plate. That means these cars will shed weight and account for a serious decrease in energy consumption.

Now, this is, of course, really good news, but the truth is that this is only one piece of the puzzle. This is the hardware, but it’s up to developers to integrate and develop software for it. And, keep in mind that they have to develop code that can handle all driving situations or “think” for itself. To add to that, it won’t be available to developers until mid-to-late 2018. Even still, if developers can pull it off, we just might see self-driving cars in the next decade after all…


Real Self-Driving Cars are on the way thanks to Nvidia - image 737914
“If developers can pull it off, we just might see self-driving cars in the next decade after all”

What’s your take on driverless cars? Will you give it a try with driverless taxis or would you rather a human stay behind the wheel? Let us know where you stand in the comments section below.

References

Tesla Model S


2017 Tesla Model S - image 672438

Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Model S.


GM Developing Autonomous, Fuel Cell, Multi-Use Platform Called SURUS - image 737171

Read more autonomous cars news.

PostHeaderIcon GM Developing Autonomous, Fuel Cell, Multi-Use Platform Called SURUS

General Motors has thought outside the box on this one. Meet SURUS, a fully autonomous platform with 4WD and four-wheel steering powered by a fuel cell. Its name stands for “Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure,” and it’s GM’s latest joint project with the United States Army. Unlike diesel-powered trucks, the SURUS produces no noise, smell, or by-product besides purified water. It also isn’t confined to any one job. With a completely bare deck, GM can attach anything from a cab-over crew compartment or a shipping container. Thanks to its fully autonomous driving capability, it doesn’t need a driver and therefore doesn’t need a dedicated cab. This frees up the entire platform to accept an endless number of compatible up-fits.

“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.” GM is currently readying the SURUS for testing, both with the U.S. military and in commercial applications. SURUS is GM’s second vehicle study of fuel cell applications for the military in recent months. Back in April, the Army began evaluating a fuel cell-powered Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 concept pickup as a possible addition to its field operations. Fuel Cells have the distinct advantage of silent operation while being able to produce electricity for base camp operations with purified water as the only by-product.

Continue reading for more information.

Why It Matters


GM Developing Autonomous, Fuel Cell, Multi-Use Platform Called SURUS - image 736780

General Motors’ SURUS platform offers boundless possibilities in terms of mobility and reconfigurability. Add to that the SURUS’ ability to drive and operate in a follow-the-leader style convoy all without a driver. The military could use the SURUS platform to deliver hospital units to disaster areas one day, National Guard troops the next day, and haul debris away the next day – all by simply changing what’s riding on top.

While this style of platform might not take off with the general public, private sector businesses could also employ the SURUS to handle a variety of jobs without having to purchase multiple vehicles. The possibilities are literally endless, all without changing the chassis or mechanical workings. How cool is that?

References

Chevrolet Colorado


2016 Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 - image 691017

Read our full review on the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 Concept.


Audi Looks To Our Autonomous EV Future With Aicon Concept - image 730472

Read more autonomous cars news.

PostHeaderIcon GM Might Regret Saying it Would Take Blame For Autonomous Car Accidents

So, GM say’s it’ll take the heat for crashes involving its level 3 autonomous cars. That’s cool and the gang, but it’s quite possible that the brand spoke a little too soon and it could really come back to bite it right in the ass. How so? Well, when you consider that the month of September alone came with a total of six accidents involving GM’s Cruise Automation Division autonomous cars in the great state of California. To add a bit of an ironic twist, Cruise – which is a division of GM – says none of its cars were actually at fault…. Hmmmm what shoulder are they putting that blame on? After all, there have been 13 accidents involving these cars in California this year too… Okay, maybe we’re talking a little too early here to point out those ironies. According to Cruise, most of the incidents involved drivers of other cars (yes, human, and not AI) running into the autonomous cars that could.

It has been reported that in one case, a guy in a Ford Ranger was playing on his phone and rear-ended one of the self-driving cars. In another instance, a Dodge Charger attempted a risky and illegal overtaking procedure when it scraped the front sensor of the car and took off without the driver even looking in the rearview. There was even one case where a Cruise employee saw an accident in the making – a cyclist that was intoxicated and going in the wrong direction – and attempted to stop, but the cyclist smucked into the little Bolt anyway. Gm’s Cruise division says the new generation of Bolt EVs, which provide level 3 autonomy (think of being on point with Tesla AutoPilot,) but, even if they are, are we ready to share the road with artificial intelligence that is apparently more logical than your typical human driver?

The End Game Doesn’t Look Promising


GM Says It'll Shoulder Blame In Level 3 Autonomous Driving Crashes - image 736717
“Autonomous cars are doing quite well these days, but we human drivers…. not so much”

So, here’s the deal: Aside from a few rogue Teslas and the occasional red-light-running Uber Volvo, autonomous cars are doing quite well these days, but we human drivers…. not so much. That’s the thing, see. Self-driving cars are machines. Nothing more, nothing less. They operate off basic programming, directives, and algorithms. In short, they are predictable because, ten times out of ten, they are going to have the same response to whatever stimuli sets them off. We humans, on the other hand, are panicky, inconsistent, dangerous creatures that tend to favor kneejerk reactions over a simple, logical thought process. As such, a light changing from green to yellow can result in a different reaction every time it occurs. If we’re in a rush or a bad mood, we might gun it and jump the intersection before it goes red. If we’re calm and collective, we’ll probably stop and enjoy the song playing on the radio. Then, there’s Molly not-going-to-live-long Smith with her nose stuck in the black hole that is social media, who will run through the intersection regardless of what the traffic light is doing. Obviously, this is a problem, and the bottom line is that we are unpredictable. Even as individuals, we’re smart, and even controlled most of the time, but even then, we can’t always predict what we’re going to do when a moment arises.


2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV - image 660997
“Along with the birth of electric cars and artificial intelligence will come a time when we – the creators – are banned from taking control of our own creations”

This is a bad thing folks because, once it becomes clear that the only reason car accidents are still occurring is the unpredictability of the human psyche, and our impeccably unreliable reaction time based on our surroundings, we will – without a doubt – be banned from driving. Along with the birth of electric cars and artificial intelligence will come a time when we – the creators – are banned from taking control of our own creations. And, while that may make the roads safer, my friends, it’s certainly not a future I’m looking forward too. Argue or debate all you want – if Chevy can produce evidence that all 13 accidents related to its self-driving Bolts were 100-percent human neglect and error, it’s only a matter of time before that becomes our reality… Is that what you want? Would the world be a better place if humans simply weren’t allowed to drive? Is it too soon give over control or can it not come soon enough? It’s easy to fall on either side of the fence on this one, but I want to know your thoughts. Get at me in the comments section below and fill me in on what the electrical waves in that fleshy meat sack you call a brain are saying to you.

References

Chevy Bolt


2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV - image 660932

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt.


Audi Looks To Our Autonomous EV Future With Aicon Concept - image 730472

Read more autonomous cars news.

PostHeaderIcon GM Says It’ll Shoulder Blame In Level 3 Autonomous Driving Crashes

Cadillac, under the direction of General Motors, introduced the first enclosed car in 1910; Cadillac debuted the electric starter motor that replaced hand-cranking in 1912; Cadillac then built the first mass-produced V-8 in 1915; and in 1940, GM introduced the first viable automatic transmission. Now in 2017, GM might be making another massive industry advancement that will shape the automotive landscape for the next century, if not beyond. GM says it will take full responsibility if its vehicles crash during autonomous driving.

The news comes from GM’s head of innovation, Warwick Stirling, who spoke with CarAdvice on the subject of autonomous driving and the automaker’s strides in Cadillac’s “Super Cruise” development. Stirling said, [As for] the question of liability, if the driver is not driving, the driver is not liable. The car is driving.” This makes GM the first major automaker to make statements about accepting responsibility for crashes while its self-driving car is operating itself. Volvo has reportedly made similar statements, though the Chinese-owned automaker pales in comparison to GM’s size, deep global reach, and influence. This marks the first breath of clarity on the convoluted subject of liability, and other automakers are likely to follow. However, Stirling points out GM cannot take responsibility for all self-driving vehicle crashes. Read his explanation below.

Continue reading for more information.

It Boils Down to Defining Responsibilities


Self-driving Chevrolet Tahoe to compete in the Urban Challenge competition - image 158762
“Cadillac’s new self-driving system, Super Cruise, is currently rated at a Level 2, meaning it can simultaneously take over both steering and speed control”

Warwick Stirling’s comments on GM’s acceptance of liability for its self-driving vehicles’ mistakes has a few caveats, but understandably so. According to Stirling, only when a vehicle is Level 3, 4, or 5 autonomous and it assumes complete control of its driving should the automaker accept responsibility for any wrongdoing.

Cadillac’s new self-driving system, Super Cruise, is currently rated at a Level 2, meaning it can simultaneously take over both steering and speed control, but the driver must remain alert and be ready to reassume control of the car. “In a Super Cruise situation, because the driver is still in the driver’s seat, and they are supposed to be driving, and the car is helping them, the driver is still liable,” he said in the interview. Tesla’s AutoPilot system also falls into this category, along with a handful of other automakers’ advanced driving aids.

“In January 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cleared Tesla of liability after a driver died in 2016 after he ignored audible and visual warnings to reassume control of the vehicle before crashing.”

The debate over liability has been ongoing but has gained momentum in response to automakers like Tesla and Cadillac and their semi-autonomous driving capabilities. The issue has even gone under an official investigation. In January 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cleared Tesla of liability after a driver died in 2016 after he ignored audible and visual warnings to reassume control of the vehicle before crashing.


GM Says It'll Shoulder Blame In Level 3 Autonomous Driving Crashes - image 736715

However, the situation will inevitably become muddled when the driver completely transfers driving responsibilities to the vehicle in Level 3 and higher systems. At that point, the vehicle is promised to completely have control, allowing the driver to disengage from situational awareness. The question arises: should a vehicle operating in a Level 3 or higher mode be at fault in causing a crash, who would be at fault? Should the vehicle’s autonomous system take the blame, or is it ultimately the driver’s responsibility to maintain the vehicle’s safe operation?

That’s the conundrum. Thankfully, Stirling has shed some clarity and logic to the divisive topic.

“In level four, there’s likely to be no steering wheel no pedal, you’re not driving so you’re not liable,” he said. “[It will be] a combination of the fleet owner, OEM, and the service provider [that] will cover the insurance. It’s going to be a capital liability; it’s going to be a complex space.”

Logically, that makes perfect sense, right? If a vehicle is promised to be fully autonomous and allows the driver to disengage from actively paying attention to the road and surrounding, then most certainly it would be the vehicle and its AI systems that would be held responsible for any driving infractions or crashes. As for current Level 2 and Level 3 systems, it is still the driver’s responsibility to ensure the car is driving properly and to maintain situational awareness.


GM Says It'll Shoulder Blame In Level 3 Autonomous Driving Crashes - image 736716
“As for current Level 2 and Level 3 systems, it is still the driver’s responsibility to ensure the car is driving properly and to maintain situational awareness.”

But that’s not the only problem

Yet another issue creeps up when considering self-learning software. Complex computer code with the ability to teach itself new skills has the potential to essentially learn bad habits. Will it then continue being the vehicle’s manufacturer or software architect at fault, or will blame actually rest on the self-taught AI software? That then opens Pandora’s Box on whether self-learning computer systems are self-aware and how bad behavior can be corrected and/or punished. Needless to say, we still have some debates to be had.

The Five Levels of Autonomous Vehicles

To better understand the roles and responsibilities human drivers have in autonomous vehicles, we can look to the Society of Automotive Engineering’s definition of each. This is known as the SAE J3016 standard.


GM Says It'll Shoulder Blame In Level 3 Autonomous Driving Crashes - image 736554

PostHeaderIcon An Autonomous Lamborghini? Forget About It!

The concept of zigging when everyone else is zagging is nothing new in the auto industry. Trends are always a big pull in the business, after all, but there are times when not buckling to them is in the best interest of a particular automaker. Take Lamborghini for example. While most of the industry is moving along into adopting different forms of autonomous driving technology, the Raging Bull isn’t joining the party. Not now. Not anytime soon.

Speaking with Digital Trends, Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s head of research and development, said that the Italian automaker has no plans of introducing autonomous driving to any of its cars in the future. It’s worth noting that Lamborghini also took the same line of thinking when discussing electric cars a few months back. Part of the reason for resisting the urge to go autonomous or electric is that by doing so, the company would effectively rob its customers of the same core principles of driving that it has stood for since, well, it began offering cars. At its roots, Lamborghini is a company that prides itself on giving its customers the most visceral of driving experiences. An autonomous driving Lambo not only removes that experience away from the driver, but it also cuts off the legs of the very principles that it has prided itself on showcasing each and every time a new model comes into the picture. None of this is surprising. There are companies that can embrace autonomous driving and there are those that can’t, or won’t. Lamborghini falls into the latter category, where it should be in the first place.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Lamborghini has made an about-face before with the Urus so why should we believe it now?


2018 Lamborghini Urus - image 658211

First of all, an SUV is far different from an autonomous driving car, for all the reasons that you and I can think of. It’s true that Lamborghini previously said that it wouldn’t build an SUV at any cost because it would run counter to its performance car identity. But automakers like Porsche, Audi, and Bentley proved that just because it’s an SUV, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be dripping in power, performance, and luxury.

“Even with a price tag approaching $200,000, the Lamborghini Urus is expected to be a hot ticket item”

If anything, Lamborghini was smart to jump in on the SUV craze because of how popular the market is right now. Even with a price tag approaching $200,000, the Lamborghini Urus is expected to be a hot ticket item, possibly even becoming the most popular Lamborghini ever in terms of sales volume. From a business perspective, it made enough sense that Lambo didn’t have to justify itself when it announced that it was indeed launching an SUV.

An autonomous driving vehicle is different though because its core principle runs directly opposed to Lamborghinis. What’s the point of having a car with that much power and performance capabilities when a computer is driving it? The thrill of speed may still be there, but it’s not the kind of speed that’s generated by having a foot on the pedal. Mauricio Reggiani said it best in his conversation with Digital Trends. “If you buy a Lamborghini, you buy it to have fun and enjoy the driving,” he said.

“The thrill of speed may still be there, but it’s not the kind of speed that’s generated by having a foot on the pedal”

That’s precisely the line of thinking that has turned the Italian automaker into one of the most famous performance car brands in the world. Going against that because the entire industry is embracing autonomous driving technology as the future wouldn’t be in the best interest of the automaker now, or you know, ever.

References

Lamborghini Urus


2018 Lamborghini Urus - image 705226

Read our speculative review on the 2018 Lamborghini Urus.


2018 Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo - image 733341

Read more Lamborghini news.

PostHeaderIcon Audi Aicon

With the internal combustion engine living on borrowed time and fully autonomous cars on the horizon, we’re starting to see more and more futuristic concept cars that focus more on what cars of the future will be like than what we can expect to see in the next five or six years. Audi has really jumped on that wagon, and at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, it debuted the Audi Aicon – a vehicle that looks to the days of self-driving electric mobility with absolutely no compromises. As a 2+2 sedan, the Aicon has an attractive silhouette and a roomy interior. Comfort is of the utmost importance, and you’ll find that the interior is void of the usual necessities like a steering wheel or pedals and buttons. As an all-electric vehicle, it boasts four electric motors and a battery pack that should be good for nearly 500 miles of non-stop driving. And, not that it matters in a car that you can’t drive, but system output is rated at nearly 350 horsepower and more than 400 pound-feet of torque. Not bad.

With this in mind, and as attractive as this concept is, we’re still a long way out from Level 5 autonomy. The world just isn’t ready for a car of this nature quite yet (look at all the idiots that abused the functionality of Tesla’s AutoPilot in the early years) so don’t expect to see this thing shift into production anytime soon. It may someday, but I wouldn’t expect to see it before 2025 or 2030 at that earliest. Be that as it may, this concept is a very cool design study and a look at the future of the automotive industry, so let’s take a good look at it and see what all we can expect in our not-so-distant future.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi Aicon.

PostHeaderIcon Audi Aicon

With the internal combustion engine living on borrowed time and fully autonomous cars on the horizon, we’re starting to see more and more futuristic concept cars that focus more on what cars of the future will be like than what we can expect to see in the next five or six years. Audi has really jumped on that wagon, and at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, it debuted the Audi Aicon – a vehicle that looks to the days of self-driving electric mobility with absolutely no compromises. As a 2+2 sedan, the Aicon has an attractive silhouette and a roomy interior. Comfort is of the utmost importance, and you’ll find that the interior is void of the usual necessities like a steering wheel or pedals and buttons. As an all-electric vehicle, it boasts four electric motors and a battery pack that should be good for nearly 500 miles of non-stop driving. And, not that it matters in a car that you can’t drive, but system output is rated at nearly 350 horsepower and more than 400 pound-feet of torque. Not bad.

With this in mind, and as attractive as this concept is, we’re still a long way out from Level 5 autonomy. The world just isn’t ready for a car of this nature quite yet (look at all the idiots that abused the functionality of Tesla’s AutoPilot in the early years) so don’t expect to see this thing shift into production anytime soon. It may someday, but I wouldn’t expect to see it before 2025 or 2030 at that earliest. Be that as it may, this concept is a very cool design study and a look at the future of the automotive industry, so let’s take a good look at it and see what all we can expect in our not-so-distant future.

Continue reading to learn more about the Audi Aicon.

PostHeaderIcon How Will Folks Really Use Autonomous Driving Technology?

Not too long ago, I wrote a piece about the huge number of autonomous concepts that made the rounds at the Frankfurt Motor Show this year, and indeed, one quick glance at the list of debuts will reveal an anticipated mass migration to self-driving vehicles sometime in the near future. The experts agree that this technology will bring with it myriad benefits, not the least of which is an increase in safety, as computerized drivers take over for distracted, intoxicated, or otherwise inept humans. Efficiency should also see a nice bump, as instantaneous reaction time and car-to-car connectivity will allow autonomous cars to run more closely together and at higher speeds. Which gets us thinking – what will folks do when they no longer need to drive?

Here’s our take on the situation, composed in list form for your reading enjoyment. Of course, we wanna know – did we leave something out? Tell us in the comments.

Continue reading to learn more about how folks will really use autonomous driving technology.

PostHeaderIcon Frankfurt Was All About Electric And Autonomous Cars, But The Future Isn’t Here Yet

It seems like with every auto show cycle, excitement over electric power and autonomous capabilities grows just a little bit more. This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show is proof positive of that – between new concepts from Audi, Mercedes, Renault, Honda, BMW, and Jaguar, among others, you’d be forgiven for thinking our battery-powered, robo-driven future is all but confirmed at this point. Of course, this raises a number of questions: how long till we get there? Will I still be able to drive my own car? Will internal combustion completely bite the dust?

Well, I’m here to put things in perspective – while many of these major automakers are adamant that self-driving, electron-powered passenger vehicles are just over the proverbial horizon, it’s likely the changes will be relatively gradual. So don’t worry – it’s not like Dieter Zetsche is gonna snap his fingers and in an instant turn your Camaro into something resembling the EQA Concept.

First up, let’s talk about electric power. EV producers still have a ways to go before battery-powered vehicles overtake gas-powered vehicles in terms of convenience (and convenience is essentially why we all have cars anyway, right?). After all, long charge times and range anxiety are still very much a thing, and although both are seeing significant improvements as of late, the ICE still has a significant advantage. What’s more, unless the U.S. follows in the footsteps of China and Europe and decides to ban new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles in the next few decades, stateside consumers will likely continue to enjoy explodey juice options long into the foreseeable future, even as the rest of the world goes electric.

The same goes for autonomous vehicles. Once again, we see self-driving tech making huge strides in the past few years, but large-scale adoption is still many decades away. Making it all work in a lab is one thing, making it work in the real world is quite another, especially with unpredictable factors like human drivers out there to challenge the algorithms.

Don’t get me wrong – the self-driving EV’s are indeed coming, and with them, all the benefits (environmental, safety, etc.) you’d expect. They’re just not quite ready yet.

PostHeaderIcon The Elaine Concept Puts Audi’s Autonomous Ambitions On Display

As the race to full autonomy continues to heat up, Audi has been making moves. Between a variety of futuristic self-driving concepts and real-life demonstrations, the Four Ring brand has been busy in the push for robo car tech. Audi’s latest bid in this space is the Elaine concept vehicle, which recently debuted at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show promising a host of interesting features. As you might expect, the Elaine looks beyond the standard list of autonomous features present in the current crop of production luxury vehicles and imagines what’s possible in the future. As such, the Elaine promises not only uninterrupted self-driving capabilities, but also fully autonomous parking, AI-assisted navigation and comfort settings, self-directed car washing, and even driver health recommendations. What’s more, Audi says all these features could very well find their way onto its production vehicles in the years to come.

Inevitably, there will be many of you out there who feel a bit of anxiety over the prospect of a self-driving Audi. Fear not, because this thing still comes with a steering wheel and pedals, and the autonomous features will only kick in when you want them to – that is, during boring stuff like commuting and traffic jams. The rest of it looks like a helpful way to enjoy your ride, and Audi even contends that “drivers should be more relaxed when they get out of the car than when they got in.” Intrigued? Read on for the details.

Continue reading the learn more about the Audi Elaine Concept.

PostHeaderIcon The Mercedes S-Class Family Grows with the Addition of the S 560 e Plug-in Hybrid

When the W222, sixth-gen Mercedes S-Class came to the market in 2013, it sat in a niche that was completely void of any real competition. But, after just a few years that changed, with long-time rival BMW introducing the new 7 Series and GM’s luxury division, Cadillac, introducing the full-size CT6 to the market. The S-Class was already competitive enough to hold its own in the full-size luxury segment and was even praised for its superior ride quality, seemingly effortless acceleration, and all of that fancy tech that brought it one step closer to being a true-to-life spaceship on wheels. With the new E-Class coming before this mid-cycle update, Merc had a lot of new tech on its hands, and you certainly can’t have a lesser model sporting better features, so this was the icing on the cake and triggered Mercedes to revamp the S-Class in time for 2018. Now that we’re approaching the holiday season and the new year, Mercedes saw fit to introduce the newest member of the S-Class family: The S 560 e – a plug-in hybrid that promises to be a huge improvement over the outgoing model.

So, now that we’re looking at the facelifted S-Class hybrid, it’s important to note that it also comes with a new name. Previously known as the S550 Plug-in Hybrid, the 2018 model will now go by the nomenclature of S560 e Plug-in Hybrid. Highlights of the facelifted model include an increase in system output of more than 50 horsepower, increased all-electric range thanks to a revised battery, relocated electric components, and increased luggage room in the rear. An ECO assist feature will help you drive more efficiently, while pre-entry climate control will have the temperature just right before you even sit down inside the vehicle. I guess that’s pretty commendable and right in line with what you should expect for a car of this stature. With that said, let’s take a closer look at what kind of improvements the revised hybrid brings to the market. Something tells me, you might want to consider trading in that old plug-in for a new one, but we’ll see.

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