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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Will the Ford GT's Drive Modes Stop Owners From Going Full Mustang?

The Ford GT may be all official and available to customers — with the first allocation already sold out — but FoMoCo is still rolling out information about the supercar as buyers await delivery. We’ve already learned about the tremendous technology behind the new GT, such as the industry-first gorilla glass windshield and the carbon-fiber wheels, and now it’s time to have a closer look at the car’s driving modes. The GT will come with five, each prepared for different driving scenarios.

Much like any vehicle out there, the American supercar starts off in Normal mode. Conceived for everyday driving, the Normal mode sets the ground clearance at 120 mm, while throttle and transmission calibrations are set up for standard driving. Traction and stability control systems cannot be adjusted, while the rear wing deploys automatically for aero assistance at 90 mph, returning to its normal position at 81 mph. The wing still deploys as an airbrake if sensors detect aggressive braking. Finally, the driver can soften the suspension by adjusting compression and rebound in the dampers at the press of a button.

In the Wet setting, which is obviously recommended for wet tarmac and rainy conditions, the ride height and other systems remain in their default, Normal-mode setup. However, throttle control is adjusted to limit the induction of slipping and sliding, thus enabling greater stability. The comfort suspension can also be activated in this mode.

Then there’s Sport mode, yet another feature that’s rather common for modern vehicles. When using this setting, the driver gets a more responsive throttle calibration and the anti-lag system kicks in. Developed for the Le Mans-winning GT race car, the anti-lag keeps the turbo spinning at all time to provide boost on demand. The normal ground clearance remains in place here too, but the comfort feature is deactivated, while AdvanceTrac stability and traction control become driver-adjustable allowing three additional settings. The Sport mode also allows more slip, yaw, and oversteer, while gear changes are made quicker and the clutch disengages more rapidly for enhanced acceleration.

Setting the Ford GT apart from most performance cars are the Track and V-Max mode, but more on those after the jump.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Would You Let Elon Musk Connect Your Brain to a Computer?

Elon Musk isn’t a bad guy. He can be arrogant at times (can’t we all?) but he’s made huge strides in battery technology, autonomous driving technology, and even getting big hunks of metal (that may eventually carry us to Mars) into space. You would think that a man like Musk, who’s splitting his time between companies like SpaceX and Tesla, would have a full plate, but apparently, his plate isn’t full enough as he has announced a new venture that seeks to interface our brains with computers. The company, which is in the very early stages of creation is called “Neuralink” and looks to implant tiny electrodes in our brains to allow us to connect directly to computers.

The crazy thing is that the whole thing has been pretty well thought out, and has been a concept routinely explored in science fiction as well. If this new company is successful, it would be able to make a direct cortical interface between man and computer, ultimately allowing our thoughts and maybe even memories to be downloaded to a computer, or allow us to control a computer without using anything but our minds. Eventually, the technology could even be used to increase cognitive capabilities that allow us to increase our intelligence and memory. It’s like adding RAM to a computer, really. It might sound a little outlandish but, believe it or not, it’s actually a feasible idea. After all, the human brain is considered to be the most advanced computer in existence thus far, right?

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Apple Wants to Make its Watch Less Distracting for Drivers

Wearable devices like the Samsung Gear and Apple Watch didn’t exactly take off as well as electronic manufacturers expected, but they’ve grabbed enough hearts that they have been blamed for distracted driving from time to time. The Apple Watch, for instance, has been known to notify drivers of upcoming turns even though they are using their iPhone or have it connected to their onboard infotainment system. It’s also be known to tell folks that it’s time to rest while driving, or time to stand up, all the same. There are other notifications that come through as well, all of which can lead to distracted driving very easily since we humans don’t know how to ignore electronic devices to save our lives – literally. But, Apple is looking to fix all of that now, with a new patent that was filed last September and approved just this month.

According to the patent, Apple wants its watch to detect when you’re driving based on motion detection, and then change what alerts are sent to the watch, how many can be sent, and where you receive them. Apple even wants the watch to be able to determine what notifications are too important to ignore when you’re driving as well. This feature could potentially be customized by the user of the watch or even car manufacturers, the latter of which could mean that notifications are sent to CarPlay-enabled receivers or car speakers instead of the watch.

If you have an Apple Watch and have found the alerts to be rather annoying at times, this patent could be the solution to your problem. There’s no telling if or when this feature will make it into Apple’s lineup of mobile devices, but it could come as early as watchOS 4 and iOS 11 later this year.


PostHeaderIcon Will BMW be the First Brand to Offer Level 5 Autonomy?

Just of nine months ago, Mobileye landed a deal with BMW to assist in developing Autonomous technology or future BMW cars. Just weeks later, Tesla and Mobileye cut the cord on their partnership. But, all is good in the world of autonomy as Tesla has soldiered on and BMW now claims that it will deliver Level 5 autonomy – in other words, a fully autonomous car – by 2021. Word was given to a panel discussion in Berlin by Elmar Frickenstein, BMW’s Senior Vice President of Autonomous Driving.

“We are on the way to deliver a car in 2021 with Level 3, 4, and Level 5 Autonomy.” But, he also went on to explain that the vehicle, which has yet to be announced, will have different levels of autonomy depending on where it is used. So, much like Tesla’s autopilot, it could offer full autonomous drive on the highway while still requiring human intervention within city areas or areas that haven’t been adequately mapped.

As things sit right now, Level 3 Autonomy still requires a human driver in place in case intervention is needed, but it’s theoretically hands-off when in operation. Level 4 will still require a human inside the vehicle at most times but will be hands-off and mind-off, meaning a car ride will be more about leisure or work than anything. Finally, Level 5 won’t require any human at all and is the endgame for autonomous technology as we know it now. Cars will be able to drive and function all on their own, which means the car can drop you off at work and return home to the wife. Or, it could take the kids to school on Friday while you enjoy sleeping in on your day off. It’s undoubtedly the future of cars at this point, and right now automakers are locked in a race to see who can get there first.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Godfather of the Lithium-Ion Battery Develops New Battery Technology

John Goodenough was the head of a team in 1980 that reached a scientific breakthrough that ultimately led to the creation of lithium-ion batteries. It was a big deal at the time, and now just about every battery-powered device in your home uses lithium-ion, and so does your phone and probably any hybrid vehicle you might own as well. But, while lithium-ion batteries do have a higher energy density than other technologies, they also have some serious drawbacks.

First, if the demand for lithium continues to grow, it could become very scarce in the near future. Plus, on top of that, they are combustible, take a fair amount of time to charge, and still can’t provide us with the type of energy we need for electric vehicles to really take off. But, Mr. Goodenough – who is now 94 years old – has been working with a team at the University of Texas and has made a new breakthrough in battery technology – the solid-state battery.

So what are the benefits of this potential new technology? Well, the batteries are cheap to make in comparison, don’t require elements like lithium to work, are noncombustible, and are longer lasting. They also charge faster and can perform in subzero weather. That’s huge, considering we’re throwing lithium-ion batteries into cars like the element is going out of style (and, it could, with the demand for hybrid and electric vehicles expected to increase steadily over the foreseeable future). But it could take considerable time before solid-state battery technology actually makes it to the market.

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Ford Launches FordHub Just In Time For Super Bowl LI

Ready the wings, fire up the nachos, and prepare yourself for some daytime drinking. Super Bowl LI is upon us, and whether you’re rooting for the Patriots or the Falcons, this great American pastime is sure to bring plenty of entertaining advertisements during the commercial breaks. As such, just before kickoff, Ford will lead the charge with a new 90-second ad that spotlights a few mobility solutions the brand has in the oven to help make our lives easier. Coinciding with the ad is a new interactive brand experience studio that’s opening up in New York City, which promises a more in-depth look at what Ford imagines the future of transportation will look like.

The studio is called FordHub, and it’s located in the Westfield World Trade Center. Ford hopes the new hub will help it connect with consumers and inspire “imagination and dialogue” about the future of mobility through a variety of activities, exhibits, and interactive displays.

Included is a glimpse at what Ford imagines to be the “City of Tomorrow,” highlighting some of the technologies people might use to get around. There’s also a real-time look at New York’s current transportation status, including traffic info, trains, ferries, and more.

Then there are games like the Last Mile Challenge, which pits attendees against the clock in a virtual race to get from A to B using multiple transportation solutions, and Mustang over Manhattan, wherein participants must virtually build Ford’s famous muscle car on top of the Empire State Building.

Finally, Ford is also announcing the Mobilize New York Challenge, which invites proposals to solve NYC’s transportation problems, with more than $30,000 in cash prizes offered as motivation.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon McLaren Teams Up with BMW to Develop Next-Generation Drivetrains

British sports car manufacturer McLaren has announced a new strategic partnership to design and develop technology for its next generation of powertrains. The new project, which is part of the company’s “Track22” business plan, includes six different partners, including the BMW Group.

Details are scant as of this writing, but McLaren’s brief statement on the matter talks about “new combustion technology that will deliver a higher output per capacity than currently possible.” The British brand also aims to further reduce CO2 emissions, while simultaneously increasing engine output.

Supported and partly-funded by the British Government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), the collaboration also includes Ricardo, McLaren’s existing engine manufacturing partner. Grainger and Worrall will join in to deliver complex, lightweight casting technology, while Lentus Composite will contribute knowledge in specialist composite structure. Finally, the University of Bath will bring its advanced research and development capabilities in internal combustion engine systems efficiency.

“This is an exciting project that plays to the strengths of all partners. McLaren Automotive has an exceptional reputation for building the world’s finest engines, as showcased by our M838T and its previous category wins in the International Engine of the Year awards. We will continue to independently design and build our own engines, and the benefits of this project will help us accelerate the development of our next generation of powertrain,” said Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive.

The result of this collaboration will most likely motivate all future McLarens, including the successor to the P1 supercar and the next-generation Super Series.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Does Your Engine Need To Warm Up Before Driving? Get A Few Facts In This Video

It’s cold out right now. Up here in the mountains of Northern California, a recent rash of storms laid many feet of snow on the ground, and although it’s great if you’re into snowboarding, the frosty weather can be hard on a car. So the question is this – when you fire up your ride in the morning, should you let it idle and warm up before driving off? The Internet is full of opinions on the matter, but Engineering Explained took the time to make this three-minute video on the pros of not doing a warm-up period for fuel-injected engines.

When you first start your engine and the temperature is low, the air-fuel mix will go rich in order to provide enough combustible vapors to keep it running, as cold temperatures lead to poor fuel atomization. When this happens, the extra fuel will eat away at the oil on the pistons and cylinder walls, leading to more wear and tear on your engine.

Engineering Explained contends that the longer your engine is cold, the longer it goes without that protecting oil coating the cylinders. The fix is to simply drive your car, as it’ll more quickly put heat into it, and thus, reduce the damaging effects of the cold. Just wait around 30 seconds, then go, but drive it lightly, as it needs to reach optimal operating temperature before you can start hammering it.

Apparently, the “myth” of letting your car warm up on cold mornings stems from the days of carbureted engines, when the air-fuel ratio wasn’t automatically adjusted based on temperature.

It’s an interesting video, and definitely worth a watch if you live in colder climates. But we wanna know – do you let your car warm up before driving? Tell us in the comments.


PostHeaderIcon Airbus Has A Different Approach In Tackling The Issue Of Autonomous Mobility

Aviation company Airbus is known largely for its airplanes – the Airbus A380, in particular, is the world’s largest passenger aircraft – so there must be a really good reason why the company can be excused for finding its way into an automotive website like ours. Well, the reason is valid, if not a little exciting depending on how much ambition Airbus really has.

See, the concept images you see here are more than just imaginative prototypes from an artist with far too much free time on his hands. These images actually come from Airbus and it’s part of the company’s newly formed Urban Air Mobility division that’s looking into different concepts that are catered towards imagining what an actual autonomous flying car could turn into. Don’t laugh. The aviation company is dead serious about it, so says its own CEO Tom Enders, who let his plans be known at the DLD digital tech conference in Munich.

“One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground,” Enders said, before adding that all things considered, Airbus could have a demonstration vehicle for single-person transport by the end of 2017. Yup. That’s this year. A flying autonomous car has the chance to go for an experimental flight if Airbus really works at it.

“We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously,” Enders added. “With flying, you don’t need to pour billions into concrete bridges and roads.”

Well then.

Hard as it is to imagine a world where Jetsonian-like technology is actually becoming a real thing, or is in the process of becoming a real thing depending on how far technological developments go, a sliver of hope can peer through that seemingly daunting task if companies like Airbus really make an effort in making the most of these new technologies.

That said, even with all this talk and the apparent “seriousness” by which Airbus is tackling these opportunities, there are a litany of hurdles that need to be cleared before such a technology can, quite literally, lift off.

It’s still nice to see that a company like Airbus is seriously looking into it. Let’s see how this one goes.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon What The Heck Is Variable Compression, How Does It Work, And Why Does It Matter?!

Infiniti just debuted the QX50 crossover concept at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show last week, and in case you didn’t get the memo, it’s a mid-size SUV with sleek styling and a few interesting autonomous driving tricks. However, one of the most interesting features is its engine, which Infiniti touts as an internal-combustion lump with turbocharging and variable compression – that is, the compression ratio can change while the engine is in use. Variable compression is a technology that many have sought to perfect, but Infiniti is the first to claim a production-ready iteration destined for dealerships. The benefits include that idealistic combination of high efficiency matched with high power levels, and in fact, the Japanese automaker boasts the engine will be able to offer the fuel economy of a hybrid four-cylinder, as well as the power output of a modern V-6. Sounds like the usual concept smoke and mirrors, doesn’t it? Well, believe it or not, variable compression just might be coming to a crossover near you.

Infiniti calls its forthcoming engine the VC-Turbo (Variable Compression Turbo), and despite the relatively uncreative name, the VC-Turbo is getting a lot of interest from car geeks the world over. And why not – the pressure is on to extract as much energy as possible from every last drop of gasoline, and technology like this promises to do just that without neutering performance.

But what is variable compression exactly, and how does it work? And more importantly, should we even care? Read on to find out.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon New BMW 5 Series Has a Sweet Navigation System

I’m a big fan of BMW, so when they finally rolled the new 5 Series onto their show floor in Detroit this week, I was super stoked to check it out. Of course, I had to stay behind the velvet rope until after their press conference and all of that, but once that was done, Bimmer lifted the ropes and let your boy in to check out all of the finer details of its new 5 Series Sedan. While the cabin was spacious and the tablets for rear seat passengers were cool, what really interested me was the navigation system up front.

Most stock navigation systems are pretty much the same these days, and maybe other models have the same functions, but BMW’s was insanely fast and responsive and was actually able to work under the metal roof and beams of the Cobo Center in Detroit. The initial display is pretty basic – it’s your normal birds-eye view of the area with a little blip showing your exact location, but zooming in gives you a mildly 3D representation of the area around you. Zooming in even further gives you a street-level view of sorts that shows all of the buildings in their exact locations and with relative height.

Naturally, I didn’t get to see the navigation in action outside of viewing my location and playing with the view, but if the responsiveness and quickness of the system are any indication, this system should make navigating unfamiliar territory a breeze. And, for the record, the rest of the system was fast and responsive as well, including phone pairing, XM radio station selection, onboard music storage loading and browsing, and navigating the various menus and settings as a whole. Maybe the systems from brands like Mercedes and Audi as just as good, but I was pretty impressed with what BMW brought to the table with the system in the 5 Series. It beats the standard google navigation system I’ve been so accustomed to for so long; that’s for sure.


PostHeaderIcon Navdy Has A Modern Technological Device For Your Old-Time Cars

A lot of today’s cars are technologically advanced enough to have head-up displays come as standard features. Some premium cars like the BMW 7 Series even have gesture controls to complement these displays. But if your car isn’t new or isn’t technologically advanced enough to cater this system, they’re largely left to their own devices, literally and figuratively. Well then, owners of such cars may want to listen because tech company Navdy has just introduced a new head-up display device that allows these modern technological features to work on old cars.

The product itself is also called Navdy and it’s pretty much a small black box with a transparent panel that sits atop a car’s dashboard. It functions similarly to how today’s HUDs work in that it makes the information it displays hover in front of the driver’s line of sight, ensuring that it functions the same way these HUDs work by presenting all these information in such a way that the driver never has to move his eyes away from the road.

What makes Navdy unique is its compatibility to older cars or at least those that have OBD-II ports that are typically found in the vicinity of the steering wheel, usually just below it or on the side of the driver’s side window. All that needs to be done to make the equipment work is to plug it into the port. Once it’s powered up, it uploads information like speed, engine RPM, and fuel levels into the display. Extra features like navigation, music-player control, calling, and other notifications can also be accessed if the device is paired with a driver’s smartphone through Bluetooth. Once it’s working up to its full capacity, Navdy will also be able to display full-color maps for navigation and the entire music library found in the owner’s phone. Oh, and gesture controls. Navdy can also accommodate that feature.

Just as important are the built-in offline maps that have been pre-programmed into the system. These maps may sound trivial in an online world, but they still play important parts, especially when a car is in a place where cell signals are compromised. In situations like that, the device has you covered.

About the only downside to the Navdy HUD accessory is the cost that comes with owning one. Turns out, those who want this modern tech on their old cars will have to pay a premium to the tune of $799. On top of that, certain locations in the U.S., specifically New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, will require Navdy representatives to walk owners through the process of installing the device into their cars.

If price and location aren’t issues though, the device makes for a very appealing addition into a car. Setting up the device, at least according to the company, is relatively easy and the new-age benefits of having one in a dated car are too hard to ignore.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Stay BMW Connected at home with BMW's New Digital Window

Like it or not, we live in a digital age and technology is getting insanely better by the day. At one time it was all tech companies leading the way to our digital future, but in recent years, automakers have started getting on the wagon and introducing their own new and wild technology. Most of the time this is associated with the cars they build, but at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, BMW has reminded us that it’s not always about the car. No, it’s about staying connected whether you’re in your home or in your car. And, never more was that evident than when BMW powered up and displayed its newest piece of tech: the BMW Connected Window.

BMW Connected is a suite of systems that help you organize your “mobility agenda,” plan your next trip, and update information between your personal devices and your BMW so that everything you need is always right at your fingertips. The BMW Connected Window takes that one step further with a digital wall panel that is something right out of science fiction movies. It displays a digital view of your city, provides the day’s agenda on a timeline, and shows you the best route to take from stop to stop in your daily routine, all while taking real-time traffic information and weather conditions into account. The only thing it is missing is a digital doctor that can diagnose illness before you walk out of the house, but give them a little time for that one.

The system takes all of this information and sends it to all of your personal devices, be it a smartwatch, smartphone, or even your BMW prior to your morning departure. In the future, the system will be able to take daily routines into account and help plan spaces of free time where you can fit in special appointments or other tasks outside of your usual daily routine. The system’s main input is gesture control, which gives you the ability to zoom in on the map, expand meetings to review more information about them or look at real-time traffic information in-depth before taking off for the day. There’s no word as to what the Connected Window will cost, but something tells me that you’ll eventually be able to bundle it up right along with the purchase of a new BMW.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Health Care Cockpit Shows The Future Of Stress-Free Driving

By now, it’s not hard to imagine what automakers are capable of showcasing when it comes to technological advancements in the industry. It’s hardly a surprise then to see a company like Hyundai troop to the Consumer Electronics Show to introduce a new concept cockpit that can not only monitor the health of its occupants, but also manage stress levels that are often produced by driving.

The concept itself is called the Health + Mobility Cockpit and like most prototypes of its status, it’s been designed to include features that are not readily available in today’s market, but could end up getting there provided that advancements in technology pave the way for that opportunity. Among the pertinent features of the Health + Mobility Cockpit is what Hyundai calls “Mood Bursts,” which uses sensors to detect a driver’s specific mood at any given point in time while he’s driving. In the event that the system detects the driver losing concentration, an “Alert Burst” is triggered in the cabin. Conversely, a “Calm Burst” is activated when the system detects that the driver’s stress levels are increasing. Seems ideal for traffic situations.

It’s largely unclear how these “bursts” manifest themselves inside the cabin, but at least one example for the “Alert Burst” comes in the form of the system automatically adjusting the driver’s seat in a more upright position in the event that the driver is losing focus on his driving.

Not surprisingly, lighting manipulation is another prominent feature of the Health + Mobility Cockpit since there have been numerous scientific studies done on the effects of light and color to a person’s mood and awareness. According to Hyundai, the cockpit is capable of adjusting its lights system depending on the mood of the driver with specific levels attributed to warm and cool lighting. Likewise, the system is also capable of manipulating the smell inside the cockpit, thanks in part to what the company refers to as an “advanced scent system” that disperses different aromas like eucalyptus and peppermint depending, once again, on the mood and energy levels of the driver.

Physically, the steering wheel-less Health + Mobility Cockpit looks like your garden variety concept interior, which is to say that it’s a fresh interpretation of a cabin that has yet to be done in the current landscape of the industry. Instead of the traditional seating configuration, this cabin features one executive chair in the front that can swivel at least 180 degrees and a J-shaped lounge couch on the back that extends to the front passenger area where a chair is noticeably absent. Up front is a horizontal block dashboard that extends from end of the interior to the other and atop the dash sits an equally long and massive digital display unit that contains every pertinent configuration and information needed by the car.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Previews Next-Generation Infotainment System at 2017 CES

While the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, the year’s first important car show, is almost upon us, a few automakers joined the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to preview some of their future technology. Volkswagen is one of them, with the German carmaker having joined the show with a special that previews the future of infotainment systems.

Built around a new digital platform called Ecosystem that will manage all mobility and infotainment services, this special app, which is free on Apple and Android devices, will enable CES visitors to experience “how human, car, and environment will, in the future, be intelligently interconnected in the Volkswagen Ecosystem via the Volkswagen User-ID.”

Specifically, visitors can use the app to create their own profile (a Volkswagen User-ID set up for the show), which includes new, innovative functions. At the individual user stations, they can quickly and easily input and configure the settings of their personal ID, including selecting a favorite ambient light setting. Users can also integrate any services from third-party sources and port them wherever they wish, as well as program the car to prepare their favorite music, configure the display screen, and make the right seat adjustments.

What this means is that your personal setting will be remembered and made available across all VW products using the Ecosystem. If at some point you have to drive someone else’s Volkswagen, you will be able to import all these setting to make it as comfortable as your own. When the car returns to its owner, he can reconfigure all setting at the push of a button. That’s pretty sweet and indeed a new user experience.

There’s no word as to when the Volkswagen Ecosystem will be launched for production models, but it shouldn’t take too long to be implemented judging by how fast automotive technology evolves nowadays. I’d say that we may see it in action in 2018.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Tesla Gets Shut Out In Missouri; Autopilot Features Now Back Live

Tesla’s issues with a number of U.S. states regarding the sales of its vehicles are well-documented. It’s had problems in New Jersey and Arizona in the past and it’s got a pending case in Utah that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court. Now the California-based electric car maker can add Missouri among its headaches after getting shut out on a license renewal for selling new vehicles in the state.

Tesla’s woes in Missouri stems from a lawsuit filed by the Missouri Auto Dealers Association back in 2015 against the state’s revenue department. The suit alleged that the Tesla’s unique direct-to-consumer sales model violated state laws. Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green then ruled in MADA’s favor back in August 2016, calling for the Missouri Department of Revenue to not renew its motor vehicle dealer license since the company itself is the owner of the models it sells and not a franchisee.

According to Electrek, Tesla is planning to appeal the decision but after getting denied a motion to stay or temporarily halt the ruling in the course of the appeals process, the company is now being forced to shut sales operations of its stores in Kansas City and Universal City.

The decision is understandably frustrating for Tesla as it now faces the unenviable task of closing sales operations while the Court of Appeals decides on the issue. In the meantime though, it appears that the automaker has its hands tied on the matter and, as such, will be forced to make some very difficult decision regarding its employees in the state.

In more positive news, Tesla’s new Autopilot hardware system is about go live on a handful of Tesla models as the automaker has begun enabling some of the self-driving features that were disabled back in October. The installation of new equipment – cameras, sensors, and radar – that support fully autonomous driving was touted as one of the significant reasons behind the decision to shut down these features temporarily. But now that the first 1,000 Tesla models have been installed with the new hardware, the automaker has begun enabling features like Traffic Aware Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, and Autosteer on these models.

The decision to start enabling these features is part of a long-arching plan by Tesla to slowly bring back the old features that were used in the previous-generation Autopilot system. “These features operate on a new hardware and software platform,” the company said in a statement. “Their rollout will be measured and cautious until we have generated confidence across several hundred million miles of real-world usage. Enhanced Autopilot will become better over time as this experience is gained and corner cases are addressed.”

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Semi-Autonomous Technology Helped Save Lives in Berlin Terrorist Attack

Terrorist attacks are becoming more and more common, with terrorists resorting to all kinds of different techniques to inflict pain and death on innocent people that don’t see it coming. If it wasn’t apparent before, it became painfully apparent back in July of 2016 when some nutcase decided it would be a great idea to drive a truck into the crowds that were celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France. But the truck attacks didn’t stop there, as it happened yet again just months later in Berlin, Germany. The attack on Nice, France saw 85 people dead and more than 400 injured while the attack in Berlin saw a much lower death and injury count to the tune of just 12 dead and 56 injured. So, what was the difference?

According to German new outlet Süddeutsche Zeitung, the truck used in the attack may have had semi-autonomous technology that helped to bring the truck to a stop. An independent investigative company known as “City” has gone on record saying that the truck was, in fact, equipped with an advanced emergency braking (AEB) system as part of its collision mitigation system – a required technology on heavy vehicles after the European Union mandated such equipment on new vehicles back in 2012. With this AEB system in place, the truck came to a stop automatically in less than 265 feet after the initial collision was detected – ultimately saving a lot of lives.

So, while some of us may hate the idea of autonomous technology and are hesitant to trust it, the terror attack in Berlin just goes to show how beneficial this technology can be. The attack in Berlin could have been just as bad, if not worse, than the attack in Nice. If anything, you can bet the folks in the crowd that night are surely thankful for semi-autonomous technology.

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PostHeaderIcon All Eyes On Bavaria As BMW Promises iNext Autonomous Vehicle By 2021

The auto industry is just like any major business segment in that it’s made up of “followers” and “movers and shakers.” Followers are those who prefer that the industry chart a definitive course before getting on board with whatever new evolution arrives. By contrast, movers are shakers are those who define the industry moving forward. They are those who plot the course of business and are usually ahead of everybody else. BMW qualifies in the “movers and shakers” category, in large part because it has never been afraid to stake its name in the pursuit of development.

The German automaker is doing it again with the announcement that it’s iNext autonomous vehicle has been scheduled for a release in 2021. As many of you know, BMW’s iNext project has been talked about in the past, often in vague terms. Not much is known about the car at this point other than it’s going to be autonomous and that it’s going to be the first of a wave of autonomous vehicles that BMW plans to build in the future. The latest development here is the timetable, something that Bimmer has been coy about. But now it’s official out; the iNext is now scheduled for release in 2021, or one year after BMW goes full-on electric with its core lineup.

With the long-term goal now established, getting there now becomes the tricky part. BMW says that it’s well equipped to hit its target, thanks in large part to its new research and development campus in Munich that will serve as ground zero for its electric, connectivity, and autonomous projects. Once the campus is running on full volume, it will employ more than 2,000 people, a large swath of whom will join the 600 employees that BMW already has in its ranks, most of whom are already working on the company’s automated driving software.

Not much is known about the iNext project, but it has been reported that a lot of BMW’s future technologies could be used by the car, including the HoloActive Touch system that the German automaker is introducing at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Cross your fingers then that the technology’s debut goes on as planned.

In the meantime, we can at least expect BMW to create a new work structure among its employees with the goal of combining specific expertise in certain areas of development, which in turn could create a more efficient response and collaboration among these teams.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.


PostHeaderIcon BMW Steps Into New Frontier With HoloActive Touch System

If by some way we end up with car featuring Tony Stark-levels of technology, we could point back to the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show as the tipping point that allowed us to push beyond imagination and into actual reality. It’s still a big leap from that day, but BMW has arrived at the stage wherein the possibilities are now upon us. The German automaker is scheduled to introduce the HoloActive Touch system, a concept interior that removes all sorts of traditional interior features and replaces them with a floating protection that interacts with a touchscreen pad. If you can’t picture it, think Tony Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The basic gist of the HoloActive Touch system is actually pretty straight-forward. It bears some similarities to the current head-up display tech that makes use of reflections to project an image and make it appear as if it’s floating in mid-air. The projection is synced into a physical touchscreen found on the center console of the car, which itself can be configured by the driver to perform a myriad of different functions, as if your fingers are controlling the images that you see in the projection. If this sounds familiar, it’s because the HoloActive Touch tech also has some of BMW’s own Gesture Control features attached to it, which when combined together, creates a pretty immersive visual interaction with the car itself.

The whole tech is admittedly next-level science fiction variety. We’ve seen different variations of it from Hollywood, but nowhere have we seen it adapted into the real world in the magnitude of what BMW claims it has right now. It’s pretty exciting to see what the future possibilities of the HoloActive Touch system are. Just don’t expect to see it in production form in the near future. Between head-up displays and gesture controls, it does feel like car interior technology is moving at a rapid pace, or at least faster than the time it takes for us to keep up with them.

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PostHeaderIcon 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Quick Look: Tire Pressure Monitoring System

The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio has plenty lovable qualities – from the 505-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V-6 and the car’s extensive use of carbon fiber to its tossable handling characteristics, and supercar-slaying Nürburgring lap time. But like a relationship with your significant other, it’s the little things that keep the flame lit. For me, one of those is the Tire Pressure Monitoring System display.

Okay, so I’m a sucker for the gimmicky, but this is probably the most graphically interesting and engaging readout of a TPMS that I’ve ever seen. It even provides pressure readouts to the tenth of a pound, making it incredibly easy to precisely keep track of each tire pressure. It would also make filling a tire a no-guess operation.

Obviously tire pressures play a huge role in how a vehicle performs. Under-inflated tires generate more heat, are harder to roll, wear improperly, and even have the potential to slide off the rim. Over-inflated tires create a rough ride, will decrease traction, also wear improperly, and increase the risk of a catastrophic tire failure. None of these conditions are wanted when hitting 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, running the Nürburgring in 7:32:00, or trekking down the German Autobahn at 190 mph.

The system isn’t perfect, however. It’s missing a tire temperature reading, like that found on the Corvette C7. The Stingray’s digital cluster displays tire temperatures cold, warm, or hot – advising the driver to the potential traction he can expect. Of course, I can’t expect every sports car to have every technical advancement ever devised, so I happily drove the Quadrifoglio and watched the tire temperatures increase as time and distance grew.

This TPMS display is fun to look at. And in the long run of ownership, this is more important than lap times or top speed numbers. It’s an everyday pleasure rather than some obscure bragging right that 99.99 percent of owners will never experience first hand. Then again, it’s hard to brag about your awesome TPMS display on forum threads or YouTube comments.


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