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Archive for the ‘Autonomous Cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Honda Brings Together Consortium of Tech Startups To Focus on Future Mobility

In case it isn’t obvious by now, the Consumer Electronics Show attracted just about every automaker that has a vested interest in future mobility. Honda was in attendance at the event, where it announced plans through Honda Xcelerator to bring together a consortium of tech startups with the goal of developing new technologies that are geared towards future mobility. Included in this list of startups are BRAIQ, DeepMap, DynaOptics, EXO Technologies, Tactual Labs, and WayRay.


Honda Brings Together Consortium of Tech Startups To Focus on Future Mobility
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“Honda’s goal in partnering with BRAIQ is to one day personalise its own Adaptive Cruise Control system to improve trust in autonomous driving technology”

Each of the six startups brings something different to the table. BRAIQ, for example, is a company that focuses on developing technologies for the autonomous vehicle space, specifically through the collection of biometric information that it can analyze to add what it describes as a “layer of emotional intelligence on top of artificial intelligence.” Honda’s goal in partnering with BRAIQ is to one day personalise its own Adaptive Cruise Control system to improve trust in autonomous driving technology. For its part, DynaOptics’ service revolves around state-of-the-art optic lenses. The Singapore-based startup is known for its free-form optic lenses that work better than traditional lenses in certain specifications. Honda’s tapping into that ability to improve its own light-to-camera sensors.

Honda’s goal of improving its own GPS service is a big reason why it’s bringing startups DeepMaps and EXO Technologies into the fold. DeepMaps is based in
California, and it provides high-definition (HD) maps and real-time localization as a service to autonomous vehicles. As it is, the company is building a cloud-based, scalable platform that can create 3D HD maps for autonomous cars equipped with Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy. Meanwhile, Israel-based EXO Technologies provides its own brand of GPS solutions that focus on improving in-car navigation among autonomous vehicles. These two partnerships fall in line with Honda’s plan to take its GPS service to a level that can be used by autonomous vehicles.


Honda Brings Together Consortium of Tech Startups To Focus on Future Mobility
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“PRISMä technology is capable of wrapping a free-form object in accurate in-air, skeletal, and contact sensing and construct the human hand and body in 3D”

Another startup, Tactual Labs, has been brought into the fold by Honda because of the startup’s PRISMä technology. This tech feature is capable of wrapping a free-form object in accurate in-air, skeletal, and contact sensing and construct the human hand and body in 3D. Honda’s collaboration with the Toronto-based company is tied into its plan to create a new and smarter user interface that can provide drivers increased functionality while inside their cars or aboard their motorcycles.

Then there’s WayRay, a Swiss developer of a holographic augmented reality (AR) navigation system for cars, giving us an idea of Honda Xcelerator’s plans with this partnership. One of WayRay’s calling cards is its Holographic AR, a display device that can turn a car’s windshield into a window of information that’s capable of displaying multicolored virtual objects. The tech is compact in size, but it is capable of creating a fully-featured, non-wearable augmented reality infotainment system that can serve multiple functions, including detection of road obstacles and pedestrians, displaying points of interest, or alerting the driver to hazards. In other words, Honda wants to go Minority Report on all of us.

References


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Read more Honda news.


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PostHeaderIcon Hyundai and Cisco Present Faster, More Secure Car Networking Technology

The growing partnership between the auto industry and Silicon Valley took center stage at the Consumer Electronics Show. One example that can be gleaned from these collaborations is the tie-up between Hyundai and Cisco. Together, the two companies revealed a new technology platform that brings 1 Gbps worth of Ethernet connectivity inside our cars. The technology sounds appealing for kids who will have no shortage of bandwidth to use inside a car, but the more important purpose of the tech is to allow automakers like Hyundai to load web-capable sensors and gadgetry in the name of accelerating the growth towards full-fledged autonomy.


Hyundai and Cisco Present Faster, More Secure Car Networking Technology - image 756586
“These sensors are in charge of a variety of things, including scanning surroundings, recognizing traffic conditions, and watching for debris and pedestrians.”

The relationship between in-car Ethernet access and autonomous driving technology can be broken down into two things: sensors and apps.

Car companies like Hyundai that are pushing forward in developing autonomous driving technology will need sensors in their cars to act as catalysts for the tech functions they’re going to put into the vehicles. These sensors are in charge of a variety of things, including scanning surroundings, recognizing traffic conditions, and watching for debris and pedestrians. The sensors then relay what they see to the myriad of autonomous driving features that a specific car could have in the future. As more of these features become available, the need for cars to carry Ethernet-based software becomes more important.

Apps come into the picture because they can have access to these sensors, at least if there’s a technology available for it. Automakers can create specific apps for specific purposes tied into autonomous driving tech, and accessing these apps from inside a car will require a lot of data and a network that’s big enough to handle that load without breaking down.

“The relationship between in-car Ethernet access and autonomous driving technology can be broken down into two things: sensors and apps.”

This is what Hyundai and Cisco are bringing to the table. The latter’s expertise with computer networks helps validate the proprietary technology, something that Hyundai is expected to use for its production vehicles in the near future.

Ruba Borno, Cisco’s vice president of growth initiatives and chief of staff to the CEO, believes that the company’s partnership with Hyundai will “accelerate innovation” in the auto industry. “By creating a flexible, scalable, and secure platform, we are allowing automotive companies to deliver better cars – faster”, she added.

Hyundai has not given details on which of its models will get first dibs on Cisco’s 1Gbps Ethernet networks, but it did say that the technology will be available in 2019 models of its premium lineup.

References


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PostHeaderIcon China Wants Half Of All New Cars To Come With AI By 2020

Chinese state planners have announced that the nation aims to have half of its new cars equipped with artificial intelligence by the year 2020. The announcement comes amid China’s plans to ramp up connected car and AI technology over the next decade.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


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“China is looking to grow its artificial technology industries massively in the next decade, with smart cars playing a major role in that growth”

As the world probes the new and exciting possibilities granted by rapidly accelerating technological advances, some countries are taking the initiative and actively pursuing the integration of these technologies directly into society at large. China seems to be one of the most active in this area, recently announcing its plans to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into at least half of all new cars in the next two years. In addition to adding AI to cars, China’s plans also include a massive wireless data network spread across the majority of the nation’s roads (upwards of 90 percent), thus enabling a more widespread utilization of connected vehicle technology.

China is looking to grow its artificial technology industries massively in the next decade, with smart cars playing a major role in that growth. The plan is to become a leader in artificial intelligence by the year 2025, as well as establish a reputation for producing smart cars by 2035.


Renault Symbioz Is Like A Mobile Room - image 731047
“AI and smart cars are particularly well-suited for a country China, which boasts a considerable number of ultra-dense “Mega Cities” within its borders.”

AI and smart cars are particularly well-suited for a country China, which boasts a considerable number of ultra-dense “Mega Cities” within its borders. With so many people packed into such a small area, plus growing demand for personal transport, technologies like AI and smart cars become almost a necessity.

Obviously, AI is well-suited for autonomous drive systems, allowing cars to “learn” as they drive, creating an archive of information on driving conditions, driving techniques, maps, and possible scenarios to anticipate in the future. The data can then be used to compile a self-driving car program (software) worthy of taking the wheel full-time.

Furthermore, AI-equipped cars are potentially safer, more efficient, and even more entertaining. With predicative AI, a car will be able to anticipate dangerous scenarios, either reducing the impact of a collision or avoiding it all together. Connected cars will also be able to wirelessly “communicate” with one another, sending warnings downstream about poor road conditions, congestion, and more. Plus, if a car is driving itself, that affords more time for the humans in the cockpit to do… well, whatever they want.


Renault Shows Off the Symbioz as a Working Prototype - image 752050
“AI-equipped cars are potentially safer, more efficient, and even more entertaining. However, like all things, there are some drawbacks to an AI car.”

However, like all things, there are some drawbacks to an AI car. First off, adding new algorithms and equipment can get expensive, especially when you start talking about bolting in the components needed for full autonomy, such as lidar, radar, camera systems, and the like. What’s more, the integration of non-AI cars (that is, cars driven by humans) with fleets of AI cars can get messy, with tons of new and changing variables putting immense pressure on both the machines and the humans, possibly even reducing safety in the short term. Finally, like any connected system, AI-equipped cars can get hacked, leading to concerns of mischief and even terrorism threats.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what sort of advances China can implement in such a small time frame. Two years seems like a rather ambitious goal for equipping half all new cars with AI, but who knows – maybe it’ll happen.

Don’t forget to follow TopSpeed as we delve into any and all car-related news coming from the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

References


HondaLens Augmented Reality - The Future of the Dealership Experience - image 749046

Read more technology news.


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Read more CES news.


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Read our full review on the 2020 Project Redspace.

PostHeaderIcon Good News: BMWs of the Future will have Driver Controls

Every automaker has different ideas on what the future of autonomous driving is. Volkswagen views its future cars as having no driver controls, a sentiment shared by a few others in the business. For its part, Lamborghini has no plans to go autonomous at any point, arguing that doing so would completely rob the driver of the very essence of what a Lambo is all about. Then there’s BMW. The German automaker has no intention of removing the steering wheel on their future autonomous vehicles. Apparently, Bimmer wants the wheel, and the driver controls to remain in its cars to give drivers the best of both worlds. Hard to argue against that sentiment.


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“The whole point of autonomous driving is to make drivers and occupants trust the car to do the driving for them”

It’s hard to argue against BMW’s position. The whole point of autonomous driving is to make drivers and occupants trust the car to do the driving for them. But just because that’s the case, that doesn’t mean drivers can’t take control back of the car when they want to. An autonomous car without a steering wheel and driving controls effectively rob drivers of that option. Robert Irlinger, the head of BMW’s i division, said it best when told Autocar the importance of giving the driver the opportunity to drive his car if he wants to. “By giving the driver the choice, then they can have the best of both worlds – the convenience of autonomy when they want it or the opportunity to enjoy the pleasure of driving when it suits them.”


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“Having a steering wheel and driver controls won’t impact the other aspects of its autonomous car”

Irlinger added that having a steering wheel and driver controls won’t impact the other aspects of its autonomous cars. Given their self-driving capabilities, these cars will also feature comfort and luxury amenities on the cabin to accommodate the expectations of its future owners. BMW’s goal is to design a system that allows driver controls to be accessed when they’re needed and stowed when they’re not.

It’s an interesting position to take, but one that isn’t surprising given the number of automakers that are pushing to be different with their autonomous driving offerings. That said, Irlinger didn’t say that this position would remain the status quo forever. There’s a chance that BMW could also develop a steering wheel-less self-driving car, but in his words, “it’s not our goal.”

References


On-Demand Aviation Could Be Closer To Reality Than We Think - image 744025

Read more autonomous cars news.


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Read more BMW news.

PostHeaderIcon Tesla Working on New AI Chip that Elon Musk Says Will Be the Best in the World

2020 Tesla Roadster

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is so bullish about the prospect of Tesla using custom hardware for artificial intelligence that he doubled down on his position at a recent company party for industry and academic researchers. Speaking to a crowd of smart industry heads, Musk even predicted that the specialized AI hardware the company is developing under the stewardship of Jim Keller will be the “best in the world.”


Tesla Working on New AI Chip that Elon Musk Says Will Be the Best in the World - image 752282
“The company uses Nvidia graphics cards on its Autopilot hardware system, but it’s become clear that Tesla is looking to use its own custom chips to meet Musk’s goal of attaining level 5 autonomy by 2020.”

For those who don’t know, Jim Keller is a former AMD chip architect who is best known for being the lead architect on a number of computer chips that were developed during his time at AMD and Apple. He joined Tesla in 2016 to serve as the company’s vice president of hardware. That’s on top of his job as the lead guy in the company’s development of AI hardware. If anybody knows his way around this world, it’s Keller.

Musk’s confidence in his guys is clear by his boasts. He wasn’t shy about predicting the potential of his specialized hardware, which he says could be used inside future Tesla models to do the computing legwork needed to successfully advance autonomous driving technology. The company uses Nvidia graphics cards on its Autopilot hardware system, but it’s become clear that Tesla is looking to use its own custom chips to meet Musk’s goal of attaining level 5 autonomy by 2020.

Tesla’s aggressive pursuit in developing artificial intelligence isn’t new to the industry. Tech rivals like Google parent company Alphabet are developing their own versions of artificial intelligence. Google has its own that powers its cloud AI services while Apple and Huawei have added them to their smartphones.

The potential advancements brought by artificial intelligence is still in its embryonic stage. It’s too early to tell what the short and long-term effects are going to be to us as a society. But rest assured, we’re all going to look back to these last few years as the era when we started scratching the surface of artificial intelligence.

References


Elon Musk Wants A 5-Mile Hyperloop Test Track - image 611786

Read more about Elon Musk.



Read more Tesla news.

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Prepares to Test Self-Driving Taxis In Japan in 2018

Another day, another development in the race to put autonomous driving technology on the road. The latest bit of news comes from Nissan, which announced plans to roll out an autonomous ride-sharing pilot program with tech partner DeNA. The public test will take place in the Minatomirai district in Yokohama, Japan.

“The program, called Easy Ride, is envisioned as a service that works similarly with the autonomous ride sharing programs Uber and Waymo are already doing”

The program, called Easy Ride, is envisioned as a service that works similarly with the autonomous ride sharing programs Uber and Waymo are already doing. But before diving into deep waters, Nissan and DeNA will take things slowly, beginning with a two-week test run that will take place between March 5 and 18, 2018. Modified Nissan Leaf electric cars will be used in the program. Nissan and DeNA have also created a dedicated website where volunteers can sign up to be part of the program.

Eventually, Nissan envisions the Easy Ride program to become a full-fledged service that will supplement the current transportation services we have today. Robo-Taxis will sit at the forefront of this program, all of which can be used by the general public. It’s not clear if Nissan plans to build unique models for these autonomous cars in the future, but given that the company is using modified Leafs for this trial run, it’s likely that the electric car will get the first shot at bringing the Easy Ride program to life.

References

Nissan Leaf


2018 Nissan Leaf - image 729749

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Leaf.



Read more Nissan news.

PostHeaderIcon Warner Bros & Intel Want to Send Advertisements into Self-Driving Cars

It was just last year that GM announced it wanted to push targeted advertising into next-gen infotainment systems, and now Warner Bros along with Intel want to take that to an even deeper level. A partnership between the two giants was announced at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show, followed by the announcement of a joint-development in the works known as “in-cabin immersive experiences in autonomous-vehicle settings.” Essentially, the idea is to make self-driving cars another platform for advertising – similar to that of freemium phone apps, cable television, the internet, and radio, with entertainment on the side, of course.


Warner Bros & Intel Want to Send Advertisements into Self-Driving Cars - image 750167
“Intel believes it can use augmented-reality and virtual-reality to alter our experience in cars”

Intel believes it can use augmented-reality and virtual-reality to alter our experience in cars – making you Cadillac feel like a Batmobile and would then allow Warner Bros. to shove advertising for the next Batman movie in your face too. Inter has even said that these features could “render the car a literal lens to the outside world, enabling passengers to view advertising.” And, since Intel seems to think we American’s spend 300 hours per year in a car, that’s a whole hell of a lot of advertising we’re forced to look at outside of all the other advertising we see almost everywhere.

As of now, this is just a conceptual idea, but it’s not far off from becoming a reality. Advertising has taken over all of the other platforms out there, and surely riding in a car that you can’t even drive will certainly be annoying if advertising hits you in the face every few minutes. Intel plans to test this idea in one of the cars in its 100-car autonomous test fleet and, assuming it goes well; you can bet it will be pushed into future vehicles as well. We don’t know about you, but we would be absolutely happy if we weren’t getting even more advertising rammed down our throats while driving to and from work too. What do you all think? Are you ready for some major ad campaigns inside the cars of the future or would you rather tell Intel and Warner Bros. where they can shove it? Let us know in the comments section below.

References


On-Demand Aviation Could Be Closer To Reality Than We Think - image 744025

Read more autonomous cars news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen To Spend Some Serious Cheddar On EVs And Self-Drivers

Volkswagen is pushing hard to establish itself as a major player in several forward-looking technologies, namely electric vehicles, hybrids, and self-driving vehicles. It was recently announced that Volkswagen’s supervisory board approved $40 billion to develop EV, hybrid, and autonomous tech through 2022.


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As you may have noticed, Volkswagen has been busy reshaping its image with a bevy of electric, hybrid, and autonomous concepts. Now, it looks like its time to put the rubber to the road, so to speak.

The goal is to offer an all-electric and hybrid option for every model in VW lineup by 2030, and that includes every brand under the VW umbrella, from Audi to Skoda. Even high-performance brands like Lamborghini and Porsche will be feeling the electrons – take for example the Porsche Mission E.


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“The goal is to offer an all-electric and hybrid option for every model in VW lineup by 2030, and that includes every brand under the VW umbrella.”

Indeed, it appears as though VW has tons of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles already in the pipeline. Many will fly under the German make’s I.D. banner, including production iterations of the I.D. Buzz bus concept and the I.D. Crozz crossover concept, which are just two of five new electrified vehicles scheduled to drop by 2020. Each will utilize VW’s new MEB platform, underpinnings that were specifically tailored to the needs of electric vehicles.

VW will reportedly need upwards of 50 billion euros just to supply all these new EV’s with batteries. The brand is currently shopping around for a supplier.


2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept - image 707969
“Odds are the autonomous stuff is still a ways off, while we’re just a few years from seeing a deluge of road-going EVs and hybrids.”

Then we have concepts like the Sedric, which promises hassle-free transportation that’s as comfortable as sitting at home in your living room. Odds are the autonomous stuff is still a ways off, while we’re just a few years from seeing a deluge of road-going EVs and hybrids.

All told, it looks like VW might finally get some distance between it and that nasty dieselgate thing. The question is – how quickly will public perception change as a result?

References


2017 Volkswagen I.D. BUZZ - image 700794

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept.

Porsche Mission E


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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Porsche Mission E.


2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept - image 707974

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Sedric Concept.

2sp599668.Volkswagen $11.52 Billion

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PostHeaderIcon Uber Bites Into Volvo Big Time; Orders 24,000 Models

Volvo and Uber aren’t messing around with their partnership. The two companies initially signed a strategic agreement in 2016 that included Volvo supplying Uber with a fleet of XC90 SUVs. Now, Uber’s taking it to a whole new level by ordering 24,000 units from the Swedish automaker between 2019 and 2021. No mention was made on which Volvo models Uber is getting, but all units will come with autonomous driving technology.

A sign of things to come?


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“It really isn’t so much about the Volvo-Uber partnership itself; it’s about the sheer size of the reported order”

It’s impossible to understate the significance of this development in the Volvo-Uber partnership. This is big news if it does happen because it could set a precedent for tech companies who are looking to gain entry into the world of autonomous driving.

It really isn’t so much about the Volvo-Uber partnership itself; it’s about the sheer size of the reported order. If that 24,000-unit number reported by Reuters is accurate, it would be the largest order of its kind from a tech company. The order is large enough that if it decides to take that direction, Uber would have access to a large enough fleet that will allow it to get its commercial autonomous ride sharing program off the ground. That’s always been one of the end goals for tech firms like Uber who are investing millions upon millions of dollars on a business that has the potential to reinvent the whole public transportation sphere.

There’s been no confirmation on either Volvo or Uber’s side on what kind of models are included in the order. The Swedish automaker did say that every one of them will be based on its Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, essentially narrowing the field down to the S90 sedan, V90 wagon, and XC60, XC90 SUVs.

The time is now for Uber and Volvo


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“Uber’s massive order of Volvo vehicles is just one example of how competitive this business has become”

Take a look at the budding landscape of the autonomous driving segment. Automakers and tech companies from all over the world are doing something related to this promising field. It would take time to list down all the automakers that are currently developing autonomous driving tech, but it says a lot for the field’s potential that tech giants like Apple and Google, as well as ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, all have made huge investments in this space.

Uber’s massive order of Volvo vehicles is just one example of how competitive this business has become.
It’s even turned messy on some fronts. Uber itself is embroiled in a legal battle with Waymo, the old Google self-driving car project that’s been spun off Google parent firm Alphabet Inc. to become its own autonomous car development company. Even in its own sphere, Uber is facing stiffer competition from Lyft, which has its own partnership with Waymo.

If this massive order of Volvo vehicles does come to fruition, expect more deals of its kind to happen in the future, especially when it comes to tech firms who aren’t keen on dealing with the heavy costs that come with developing their own vehicles. These companies are focused on developing the technology. Once that tech is up-and-running, the easiest route to use it is to rely on existing automakers that already have fleets of vehicles that are ready to act as hosts for the technology. That’s what this Volvo – Uber partnership is all about, and if it comes to a point where autonomous driving technology becomes a real and sustainable system, more partnerships of this kind will come to life.

References

Volvo XC90


2016 Volvo XC90 - image 565988

Read our full review on the 2017 Volvo XC90.



Read more Volvo news.

PostHeaderIcon A Self-Driving Car Scared The Crap Out Of Jeremy Clarkson

Former Top Gear host, current The Grand Tour host, and ardent lover of hot meals Jeremy Clarkson recently had a go in an autonomous car, and claims it nearly resulted in death – twice. Clarkson relates his experience in an op-ed piece published by The Sunday Times, which comes at a time when the U.K. is considering testing autonomous car tech on public roads.

While there are a few critical details left out of the tale, Clarkson’s account does sound rather harrowing. “I drove a car the other day which has a claim of autonomous capability and twice in the space of 50 miles on the M4 it made a mistake, a huge mistake, which could have resulted in death,” the TV presenter writes.


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“Twice in the space of 50 miles on the M4 it made a mistake, a huge mistake, which could have resulted in death”

Granted, Clarkson is a bit of a luddite when it comes to new car technology, and based on his past televised experiences with modern infotainment systems, it’s entirely possible Clarkson just didn’t quite understand how the autonomous system worked (or at least, how it was supposed to work).

We’d love to know what the car in question was, but fearing legal reprisal, Clarkson didn’t care to identify the autonomous vehicle that nearly resulted in a fatal accident.


Will BMW be the First Brand to Offer Level 5 Autonomy? - image 710743

Unsurprisingly, Clarkson thinks there’s still a good deal of development left before we should put driverless cars on public roads, writing, “For now, we’re miles away from it.” The timing of the op-ed coincides with renewed discussion of the tech in Britain, as U.K. Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to soon give the go-ahead for public testing of self-driving technology. Perhaps the op-ed is a way to stir up some resistance to the move.

What would it take to get Clarkson to actually buy a self-driving car? “You drive one of your driverless cars over the death road in Bolivia and I’ll buy one,” he writes, referencing a Top Gear special from 2009 wherein he and his co-hosts traverse one of the most dangerous roads in the world. “Sit there with your hands folded and let it drive you up there, then squeeze past a lorry with half the tire hanging over a 1,000ft drop while the car drives itself. Fine, I’ll buy into it.”

References


Apple's Self-Driving Lexus Spotted On Public Roads - image 739284

Read more autonomous car news.


Emirates Airlines Gets A Helping Hand From A Luxury Automaker On Designing Its First-Class Suites - image 744864

Read more Jeremy Clarkson news.

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.

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