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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Aarhus, Denmark Reminds Us That Privacy Is an Ongoing Concern as We Venture into a World with Connected Cars

It wasn’t that long ago that over-the-air updates and mobile internet were pretty much limited to our cell phones, but nowadays, just about every new car worth having has a 4G LTE internet connection and a direct link to manufacturer servers. This is extremely evident in cars with semi-autonomous capabilities, like the Tesla Model S, which routinely provides data back to the manufacturer to help improve autonomous systems and help us venture closer to a future of self-driving cars. Eventually, our vehicles will connect to the infrastructure around us, allowing full communication between traffic signals and cars, and for cars to communicate among themselves. We’re not there quite yet, but the city of Aarhus over in Denmark is showing us a little preview as it uses Bluetooth sensors to track traffic.

Of course, this raises some concerns in those who have a fear of our privacy being invaded but so far this particular method of tracking traffic is actually harmless. Apparently, a company known as Blip Systems has provided the sensors to the city and also provides them to other cities across the globe as well as airports. Basically, the sensors pick up on Bluetooth signals from vehicles with built-in Wi-Fi and or phones of passengers with Bluetooth enabled as well. The data is then sent back to the city where it is analyzed to provide a better picture of how traffic is moving and where areas get congested, ultimately allowing the city to determine where they can improve their transportation infrastructure to reduce driving times and fuel consumption.
Keep reading to hear a little more about it.

PostHeaderIcon You Can Now Buy Snacks During Your Uber or Lyft Ride

A new startup is bringing somewhat unconventional vending services into the hands of Lyft and Uber drivers, allowing them to offer up thinks like snacks, pain relievers, and even phone chargers to their riders. The startup is known as Cargo and has a nifty little setup that includes a display case for the vehicle and inventory, as well as a web portal where customers pay for their purchase. Apparently, drivers get to sign up for free, and it appears as if the stock is given out on consignment and is even automatically tracked and delivered as needed, based on the driver’s sales. And, this isn’t some tiny little startup either, as the company has reportedly received as much as $1.75 million in seed funding and is already operating in New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

Of course, the company is still in the embryonic stages of deployment but claims to have received requests from drivers in 49 states. And, that’s really not surprising, considering that drivers are reportedly making $100 – $150 extra a month just from vending sales alone. The system operates rather simply for something that could be complicated. Customers simply insert a basic URL into their phone, plug in the number of the vending machine in their ride, and choose what they want to buy, be it an iPhone charger or a pack of spearmint gum. Payment is made electronically, and once completed, an alert is sent to the driver who then hands over you’re your goodies for the trip home. So how much do drivers get paid? Keep reading to find out.

PostHeaderIcon Verbal Approval Means the First Hyperloop One Tunnel Could be on the East Coast

Elon Musk moves at about the speed of light these days, with new ideas and companies popping up one after another. He’s, of course, got Tesla, The Boring Company, Hyperloop One, SpaceX, and Neuralink, to name a few. Where this man gets his energy from alone is a complete mystery, but I certainly want some of what he’s drinking. The biggest hype lately has fallen between two companies – Hyperloop One and Space X. Space X is doing big things with launches and landings, and meanwhile, Hyperloop One just completed its first successful test run. Not that long ago, a list of potential Hyperloop One routes was released that included several from across the U.S. but more than 30 from across the globe. It was looking like the U.S. might not even see the first one, and if we did, it would likely be a 488-mile loop between Chicago and Pittsburgh or a 640-mile loop that covers the Texas Triangle. Now, Elon Musk has taken to twitter, ultimately claiming to have received verbal approval to build one right on the East Coast.

The track in question would connect New York City, to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C., at their city centers with up to a dozen elevators for entry in each city. This would, of course, be an underground route and would put The Boring Company to work for quite some time while construction was in progress. Of course, Musk also had to make it a point to say he got that verbal approval in just 29 minutes. Tooting his own horn aside, that’s a pretty admirable accomplishment, but it’s still a long way from making the first Hyperloop track a reality. So, with that in mind, this track would revolutionize travel in one of the busiest corridors of the nation, but I wouldn’t start selling off your car, bus pass, or frequent flyer miles just yet.

PostHeaderIcon The Next-Gen Nissan Leaf Will Handle Those Frustrating Traffic Jams On its Own

Between failed attempts to troll Tesla, and the range anxiety associated with electric cars, the Nissan Leaf really doesn’t receive the credit it deserves. I mean, don’t get me wrong; it is kind of ugly and looks like the bug-eyed bastard child that would result from a Lotus banging an early Honda Civic hatchback, but that’s ok. In the end, the Nissan Leaf has become the world’s best-selling, highway-capable electric car, with more than a quarter-million examples sold in the time it’s been on the market. So, despite all the negativity it gets, it really is an iconic car. And, that icon is about to go through a generational shift that will bring it up to speed and ready to compete with cars like the Tesla Model 3 and Chevy Bolt. As of now, we have almost no idea of what it will look like outside of a teaser image of the headlight that Nissan released a few months ago, but Nissan has just announced that it will be one of the first models to get its new ProPilot driver-assist feature.

Details are scant as of this writing, and Nissan has yet to even announce a rough timeframe for the next-gen Leaf’s arrival, but if you want an idea of how the ProPilot system works, you can look back to the Piloted Drive 1.0 Concept from 2015, which pretty much handled autonomous driving in heavy highway traffic. That’s pretty much what the next-gen Leaf will be able to accomplish as well. It should function similarly to that of Tesla’s AutoPilot, GM’s SuperCruise, and Audi’s traffic-jam assist feature. The question is whether or not you’ll feel like you’re being driven by a “skilled driver” as Nissan described it when debuting that aforementioned concept. Well, let’s take a look at the short video Nissan released and see what it has to say today.

PostHeaderIcon The Michelin Visionary Concept Tire Could be a Game Changer

The modern automotive tire is the product of centuries of development, with forerunners including leather, iron, and wood bands once mounted to horse-drawn carriages. These days, you can get a rubber tire to suit a wide range of applications, whether it’s maximum forward grip, such as the drag radials equipped on the Dodge Demon, low-rolling resistance tires on hybrids like the Toyota Prius, or studded snow tires for your winter beater. Which begs the question – what comes next? Well, Michelin is giving us a few ideas with its Visionary Concept, recently presented at the Movin’On summit in Montreal. While it’s unlikely you’ll see anything like this offered for mass consumption anytime soon, the Vision Concept does offer a few enticing models for future mobility, including enhanced adaptability, extreme long-term usage, and environmentally conscious production.

Essentially a 3D-printed tire and wheel combination, the Michelin Visionary Concept doesn’t use air to keep it pumped up, which means you won’t be breaking out the pressure gauge at the gas station. And since it uses additive manufacturing techniques, the tires will last for a very long time – “as long as the vehicle itself,” according to Michelin. Adaptability is also a key feature, with new tread designs printed directly onto the tire/wheel surface to suit whatever conditions you might face. The details on this concept are pretty interesting, so read on for more.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Does A Carbon Fiber Body Limb Sound Like A Good Idea?

There’s no doubt Lamborghini is a pioneer in the use of carbon fiber technology. In a lot of ways, the Raging Bull can be considered as the godfather of carbon fiber. That status, coupled with the responsibility of venturing into new frontiers, is spurring Lambo to take its knowledge of carbon fiber to other industries. If everything goes as planned, we could one day see carbon fiber become the material of choice among prosthetic implants and subcutaneous devices in the medical industry.

It sounds a little too far out of reach at this point, but we learned a long time ago to never doubt Lamborghini in matters related to carbon fiber. The automaker even opened the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory in Seattle, Washington last year to spearhead the development of new applications that can be traced back to carbon fiber. This time, it’s partnering with the Houston Methodist Research Institute to create new forms and iterations of carbon fiber that can serve as better materials than the ones being used in the medicinal industry today. Ultimately, the objective is to create prosthetics that are lighter, more durable, and tolerated better by the human body. Whether that goal is reached isn’t known yet, but if there’s one company that can see it to its completion, it’s Lamborghini. Give the company some time to research and develop this possibility and you can be sure that it’s going to yield some results.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon After Watching This Video, We’re Pretty Sure that Russia is Building a Terminator

Remember what happened in the Terminator timeline? Well, let me sum it up for you right quick: Humans built AI and Robots, robots and AI became self-aware, Robots and AI determined that humans were a threat. Next thing you know, robots are exterminating humans in the future and humans are hacking said robots to send them into the past to fight other robots that are there to change the past. It’s an all-out, robot-on-human temporal warfare. In the 1980s and 1990s, this all seemed like fun science fiction, but the future is here folks, and Russia is well on its way to building a full-fledged terminator minus the organic, human-like skin, of course.

I mean, seriously, this thing can shoot guns, drive a car, workout, and at one point in the video, you see it using a syringe and a drill to do other somewhat complex tasks. As you can see, it’s not exactly perfect when it comes to using the tools, but it’s pretty damn accurate with a gun and apparently drives pretty well too. According to the video, the robot is being designed as part of a peaceful space mission, but if that’s the case, why has it been programmed to shoot guns? If history has taught us anything, when it comes to war, humans will use whatever technology they have to get an advantage over the enemy. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t put it past Russia to use something like this as a weapon. But, for now, take a look at the video and let us know what you think in the comments section below…

PostHeaderIcon Lexus' Lane Valet is the Autonomous Tech We Really Need

So now that April 1st has come and gone, and the world has managed to separate fact from fiction, I want to talk about one April Fool’s joke that shouldn’t be a joke at all: Lexus’ Lane Valet. Obviously, it was a complete joke that was set into motion a bit early, but how many times have you found yourself raging behind the wheel because some inconsiderate, self-righteous, pole smoker in a BMW, Mercedes, or even a Lexus is cruising down the left lane at five mph below the speed limit? Or, how about mom and pop lost on a Sunday drive? Personally, it happens to me all of the time, and it pisses me off. After all, I’m important and have important stuff to do.

Of course, we don’t have anything like Lane Valet, so my method of combatting the situation is to wait for a clearing, zip around the prick who thinks he owns the left lane, and flip the bird out the moonroof on my way through as I proceed on my mission to break the speed limit and get to my destination 1.3 minutes sooner than I would if I had abided by the law. But, that isn’t the point. The point is, get the hell out of the way. I’m sure a lot of you important folks feel the same way.

So, with that said, I say that this technology needs to become a real thing in the near future. It will be perfect for that period of time that falls between the mass introduction of connected cars and when we’re outlawed from driving ourselves anyway. Hell, I would have used the technology three times this morning on my way to the office, so why not? Anyway, check out the video and let me know what you think.

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.

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