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Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Carbon Fiber Interior Trim – Performance Statement, Or Fake And Uncool?

It seems like just about any car out on the road with any semblance of sporting intentions has the option for carbon fiber trim in the interior. Once relegated to the fastest of the fast, carbon fiber is becoming more of a fashion statement with every passing production cycle. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Never mind the plodding 0-to-60 mph time and yawn-inspiring handling – if it’s supposed to be sporty, then let’s all be reminded with acres of faux fiber in the cabin. Sometimes it works, but by and large, the trend is leaning towards the ridiculous at this point. Making matters worse is the carbon fiber tape you can buy from the aftermarket to slather across your dash and center console. Because as we all know, the fastest performance machines on the planet all have bubbling vinyl in the cockpit.

You’ll have to pardon the attitude here, it’s just that this is one trend I’ll be happy to see finally put to bed. Thing is, like I stated before, sometimes it works – Koenigsegg, for example, seems to have a pretty good handle on it, as does Pagani. But I guess that’s the problem. As long as those dream cars are rocking carbon interiors, the rest of us will continue to strive to make believe our four-cylinder commuters are fire-breathing 200-mph monsters.

Which begs the question – is fake carbon fiber trim acceptable, or trash? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

PostHeaderIcon Think the Note 7 Fiasco was a Disaster? Just Wait Until Samsung Puts Autonomous Cars on the Road!

No company is immune to building an Edsel, but one of the most prominent failures in world history has to be the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. I mean, this phone was responsible for causing some people severe burns, it destroyed a number of vehicles, and was even banned from airplanes because they could suddenly catch fire or, for the most part, blow up. For what could have been a pretty serious tragedy for a prominent technology company, Samsung came out of that shit storm smelling like a rose. In fact, fans of the brand have been quite forgiving and, as such, Samsung has been said to be offering Note 7 owners a pretty significant discount to help keep them all happy. But, that’s not why I’m talking to you today. Instead, I’m here to tell you that Samsung has just received approval and a permit from California to put self-driving cars on the road. Yes, you read that right – the company that brought you the explosive Note 7 could soon put autonomous cars on the road.

Of course, there’s really nothing to freak out about quite yet. The company may have failed miserably with the Note 7, but some of you are driving around with Samsung battery technology in your vehicles right now. Yup, that’s right. Samsung SDI, a division of Samsung, supplies batteries for electric cars and has joined other tech companies like LG and Panasonic in venturing toward automotive products instead of the usual electronics that consume nearly every second of our lives. Unlike other big tech brands out there though, Samsung actually has a history with the automotive world, as it did have its own vehicle division back in the 1990s. But, thanks to the Asian financial crisis, no cars were ever produced and it was sold off to Renault by the turn of the millennium. After the acquisition, there were a total of a total of three cars produced – the Samsung SM 3, SM 5, and SM 7. If you live in the right part of the world, you might recognize the name Renault-Samsung Motors. The brand is basically the equivalent of what Opel was to GM as it sells rebadged Renaults and Nissans in certain models.

With that said, Samsung hasn’t released any information as to what it will have on the road in California or how soon it will manage to get a self-driving car on the road. But, you can bet they are coming at some point. Recently, the company was given permission to do the same thing on the streets of South Korea and has been using various but modified Hyundai models as test mules for its self-driving software and technology. So, there could eventually be a handful of Hyundai’s with Samsung technology cruising around Los Angeles, or who knows, maybe Samsung will eventually design its own car and try the market again. Considering most of you probably don’t even remember that Samsung had a car division, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one, but you never know. With that in mind, let’s just hope that when these self-driving cars hit the streets of L.A., they aren’t as explosive as the Note 7 – the last thing we need is a bunch of autonomous cars rolling around and blowing up at random. This country has enough problems for now. But, what do you guys think? Let us know in the comments section below!

PostHeaderIcon Renault R.S. 2027 Vision

Formula 1 has always been a bastion of the high-tech, a series where futuristic ground-bound spaceships boom by at terrifyingly high speeds, challenging what we think is possible when a human pilot takes the helm on four wheels. For the past 40 years, Renault has taken part in this orgy of speed and technology, and now, we’re getting a peek at the French automaker’s vision of things to come. Long story short, expect even more of the heart-stopping pace we know today, plus more excitement, higher levels of spectator engagement, reduced costs, increased safety, and even a dash of environmental responsibility as well.

You gotta love it when a press release kicks off with the line “the year is 2027,” so I was keen to dive into the specifics as soon as I saw this thing roll across my desk. And while these sorts of design studies don’t always nail it in terms of predicting the real future, they almost always come with a nice set of interesting ideas that could gain some traction (in one form or another, at least) in the years to come. Not only that, but the aesthetic-driven renderings are a surefire way to light the imagination and set you off on a little sci-fi day dreaming…

Updated 09/18/2017: Renault R.S. 2027 Vision made quite an appearance at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Hit the “Pictures” tab to see it on the auto show floor.

Continue reading to learn more about the Renault R.S. 2027 Vision.

PostHeaderIcon Bentley’s Rotating Display in the Continental GT Will have you Feeling Like James Bond!

The third-generation Bentley Continental broke cover the other day with a brand-new design and a ton of cool features. Inspired by the cool EXP 10 Speed 6 concept on the outside and powered by a new W-12 engine that cranks out more power than most Ferrari-built V-8s and V-12s, the new Continental GT also boasts a new interior packed with a huge amount of luxury features and technology. But, while the new Koa wood veneer and the “diamond-in-diamond” upholstery are pretty impressive, it’s the Rotating Display that blew me away.

While I’m not a big fan of fancy gadgets, I must admit that the Rotating Display is one of the main reasons why I’ve fallen in love with the new Conti GT. Let’s face it, it’s the kind of feature you’d find in one of James Bond’s car, along with machine guns hidden behind the headlamps. And known James’ weakness for British cars, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the grand tourer in the next film. So why am I so excited it about this? Well, I like clean dashboards with massive wood veneers as much as I enjoy high-resolution screens. Having both was impossible until now, so it’s like a dream come true.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Ford’s Trying To One-Up Toyota In Useful Patent Applications

It’s hard to imagine these days being the season of strange patent applications, and yet here we are. Another day, another automaker with an amusing patent application that, in hindsight, should probably have been done years ago. Ford, for all of its engineering and innovation, is now looking into developing a unique contraption that essentially makes cup holders a lot more useful than they already are.

Imagine this: you have a hot cup of coffee while you’re on the road. The only place to put it in is in the cup holder, right? Well, cup holders have never been the most useful of items because any sudden external force experienced by a car, be it acceleration or braking, ends with the contents of the cup, in this case, coffee, spilling everywhere. Ford, however, has a designed what it calls a self-leveling cup holder that renders all these external forces moot. You can blast off the highway, brake suddenly, and the coffee stays where it’s supposed to be: inside the cup. The device itself is a good idea. A little strange, or at least late in the game, but a good idea nonetheless. It’s on par with Toyota’s own under-seat device patent application, which itself is a fascinating new wrinkle to the functionality of a car’s interior. It’s unclear, though, whether Ford has any plans for this patent beyond applying for it. Don’t expect it to arrive soon because even if the Blue Oval does bring this new feature to life, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Still, a self-leveling cup holder that’ll keep your beverage in place sounds like a good idea.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Refer your Homies to Tesla, and You Might Get to Drive Godot, Elon Musk’s Prized Tunnel Digger

If you’ve been paying attention for the last few years, you know Elon Musk has a funny way of driving sales, generating money, and enticing customers. When it comes to money, the man might as well have a key to Fort Knox, and with Tesla’s referral program, he’s coming up with ways that really make you want to push your friends to jump on the EV bandwagon. As reported by Teslarati, Tesla’s newest incentive, which is currently called “Secret Level Two,” allows members of the referral program to give five more of your friends unlimited supercharging and $1,000 off of a new Model X or Model S. But, that’s not all, if all five of those people take delivery, you’ll get the chance to drive Godot and will get unlimited bragging rights to remind all of your friends that you got to take part in digging holes under cities like Los Angeles – where Musk just recently received official approval to start his mass transit tunnel.

So, get enough people to spend some $80,000 on a Tesla, and you could take place in a piece of history should Musk’s tunneling system really work out. Who knows, maybe he’ll even be nice enough to let you engrave your initials inside one of the tunnels or sign your name on Godot somewhere for the world to see. Right now, however, Godot is at rest, hibernating some 15 feet below the surface of Tesla’s parking lot in Hawthorne, California – the site of Musk’s test hole and what undoubtedly led to him getting the interest of some city officials in making his transit system a reality. Musk has even been quoted by other publications as saying “I’ve been down there on the machine and it’s mind-blowing.” Hard to believe for a machine that quite literally craws through the earth like a big earth worm, but how often do you get to take part in digging a tunnel with a beast of a machine like Godot?
Check out the “Secret Level 2” alerts below and learn a little more about The Boring Company.

PostHeaderIcon How Much More Driver Assistance Technology Will you Tolerate?

Technology is supposed to set us free, make life easier for us, and ultimately led us to a futuristic lifestyle where there is no war, no need for money, no poverty, and no auto-related deaths. And, while that possibility is there in the long term, the introduction of new technologies is making us so dumb that it’s getting out of hand. First, let me touch base on the whole rear seat reminder situation. Now, I know this has been around for a while, with the 2016 GMC Acadia being one of the first and another 20 GM vehicles following shortly after. Nissan also has its “rear door alert” that ultimately saves the same purpose – “Hey, don’t forget you have a kid back here.” Seriously, though? Do you need to read that again? Who the hell really forgets their kid on accident? Is that really what the human species has been dumbed down to? Devolving to the point that we no longer have that basic instinct to protect our children at all costs? Come on, People – even some of the dumbest animals in the world have this natural instinct, and here we are at the top of the food chain leaving kids in hot cars to die. And, sadly, that’s not where the lack of attention span stops.

A recent report by the IIHS reports that technology like Lane Departure Warnings really are saving lives, and things like autonomous emergency braking systems are cutting back on front-to-rear accidents. That’s great that lives are being saved, but I have to ask you: Why in the world is this necessary? As a species that has been driving for over 100 years, how have we gotten to the point that we don’t pay attention enough to warrant such systems? Isn’t the point of driving to pay attention to your surroundings? I’ve been driving for a good 20 years now, but I know that was the basic principle taught to me way back then. Where the hell did we go wrong? Well, apparently, it happened somewhere because the IIHS reports that single vehicle, sideswipe, and head-on crashes have dropped by 18 percent and injury rates by as low as 24 percent. And, apparently, fatal accidents have been reduced by 86 percent in cars with lane-departure warning systems. Those are impressive numbers, but still, it goes to show just how out of touch we humans are with what we’re doing. Don’t stop reading… there’s more.

PostHeaderIcon Lamborghini’s New Alpha-One Smartphone Is The Definition Of Unnecessary Excess

Part of what makes Lamborghini a premium brand is that it can slap its name on anything and that “thing” suddenly becomes a premium item. No more is this evident than on laptops and smartphones. Remember the Asus Lamborghini VX Series? How about the ZX1 smartphone? Now, the Raging Bull’s likeness will once again be stamped on a smartphone. This one is called “Alpha-One,” and it’s a waste of $2,450.

Now, I will indulge those who think a Lamborghini-branded smartphone is something worth splurging on. The Alpha-One, to its credit, isn’t a shill. It does have a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, which is supposedly fast and does lots of cool things. It also has four gigabytes worth of RAM with expandable storage, a 20-megapixel rear camera, an eight-megapixel front camera, a fingerprint scanner, a 5.5-inch WQHD display, and an Android Nougat operating system. I’ll give it this much: it’s well-equipped, which is more than what other faux mobile phone brands can say for themselves. Take it a step further and you might even be impressed by its supposed liquid metal frame and Italian handmade black leather back case, which by the way, has its own contrast stitching. On the surface, everything about it checks out as a premium smartphone, and that’s precisely what it’s problem is. As well-equipped as it is, there’s no way that the Alpha-One should cost $2,450, roughly double the price of the most powerful version of the iPhone that’s out in the market today. Then again, that’s the price people will have to pay for it, all because it has “Lamborghini” logo.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota’s Recent Patents Have All The Makings Of Science Fiction

Remember when news broke a few weeks ago that Toyota had filed a patent application for an under seat capture device? It was, for all intents and purposes, one of the most exciting patent applications we’ve seen in recent years. Above all else, it’s a practical device that should have been already been invented. But don’t mistake Toyota a being a purveyor of useful patents, because if recent history is any indication, the Japanese automaker has been known from time to time to apply for patents on technologies that really go beyond the realm of today’s possibilities. Take the “shape morphing fuselage” of an aerocar it filed patents for last year. That’s as good an example as some of the more recent patents that Toyota has filed, specifically a see-through A-pillar and, believe it or not, a cloaking device that makes parts of the car invincible.

It’s hard to tell if Toyota is a genius for thinking completely out of the box with these patents or it just has far too much free time on its hands. Either way, it’s hard to blame the Japanese for thinking of ways to revolutionize the auto industry, no matter how preposterous these ideas get. The under seat capture device is one thing because the potential for modern-day application is already there. But a cloaking device that makes parts of the car invincible? There’s a strangeness to it that’s actually a little endearing because, really, who doesn’t want to play around with this kind of technology. Safe to say then that Toyota’s R&D division has become a playground for the imagination. Who really knows what it might come up next. A shape-shifting car, perhaps? Oh, wait…

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Elon Pushes the U.N. to Avoid a Terminator-Style Armageddon

Ten years ago, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence were more the hopes and dreams of overzealous rich kids and geeks, but fast forward to today, and we’re so close to embracing this futuristic technology that we could be just setting ourselves up for annihilation. Not that long ago, I brought you a story about autonomous fighter jets that could not only fly by themselves but complete their own missions – even identifying and dispatching threats along the way, all without the input of a human pilot. Ultimately, this technology will lead to entire swarms of unmanned fighter jets all under the control of one central but manned fighting machine. This technology has already been put into use and even completed a successful test run in April of 2017 – mark it in the history books; Skynet is born. Okay, so it’s not really called “Skynet” (we hope not anyway,) but you get the idea. Autonomous killing machines could be bad news.

This was the entire basis for the 1984 movie “Terminator” and the handful of follow-up movies that came after it. In short, autonomous machines became self-aware and began to extinguish the worlds biggest threat – humans. Now, AI is taking off like crazy, making its own language (human language just wasn’t good enough), creating its own songs, and even learning to walk all on its own in simulations. With the way humans naturally move to use every piece of technology as a weapon against ourselves, autonomous flying jets and AI police officers are just the tip of the iceberg. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if we were all dumb enough to put our entire arsenal of deadly weapons under the control of a computer algorithm. It’s a real threat folks, with some of the best minds in the world warning against it – including men Like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk. Now, Elon Musk has formed a coalition along with Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman to push the United Nations to put a ban on autonomous weapons systems.

Keep reading for the rest of the story.

PostHeaderIcon Don’t Believe the Hype – Mazda’s New SkyActiv-X Engines Aren’t Really Sparkless

Let’s look at the big picture for a moment. EVs are coming in full force, and the internal combustion engine will slowly fade away (unfortunately) with a number of nations already talking about banning new car sales on anything that’s not electric within the next 20 years. Mazda had previously said that it wasn’t jumping on the EV bandwagon and, despite its recent partnership with Toyota to develop EVs, we can now see why. See, Mazda is so sure its newly developed SkyActiv-X engine will be so efficient, that the company won’t really need a whole lineup of EVs to meet the stringent emissions and fuel economy regulations of the future. It seems pretty crazy to think about, but Mazda has managed to take the basis of diesel engine ignition and applied it to gasoline engines. Apparently, this can improve efficiency by as much as 30 percent over that of Mazda’s current engine lineup and increase overall torque delivery by anywhere between 10 and 30 percent, depending on the application.

This new engine lineup will start making its way into Mazda’s cars starting in 2019, but what vehicles will get the technology first remains to be seen. Mazda doesn’t have too many new models on the docket for 2019, with the most prominent one being the new Mazda3, so if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on seeing it in that car first, with it eventually trickling over to the Mazda6, CX-3, CX-9, and maybe even the new successor to the classic and iconic RX-7. So, between this new gasoline engine technology, and the plan to build hybrids and EVs (with gasoline-powered range extenders,) Mazda should be able to maintain a low emissions footprint for the foreseeable future without having a full lineup of EVs. It’s all part of the brand’s Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030 vision and isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

So, what exactly can we expect from the SkyActiv-X range of engines? A lot of folks seem to think it’s a truly sparkles gasoline engine, but is that the truth? Let’s move down the page and talk a little more about it.

PostHeaderIcon Continental’s New Wheel Concept Promises Improvements In Braking And Durability

Don’t look now, but Michelin isn’t the only tire company that’s on the precipice of a technological breakthrough that could redefine the way the industry uses the wheel. Enter Continental, which is all set to showcase what it calls the dual New Wheel Concept that essentially puts the wheels and the brake disc into one element, thereby eliminating a host of issues that can potentially happen with the current physical makeup of these parts.

While it’s not as flashy as 3D printing wheels the way Michelin’s envisioning its own future, Continental’s New Wheel Concept is no less intriguing. The specifics of the concept features a new outer section on the wheel called the rim well, and an inner section called the carrier star that itself incorporates an aluminum brake disc. The wheels themselves are largely targeting electric cars, in part because it dramatically reduces the car’s overall weight, which automakers can use on other elements or take what they can get depending on their preferences. More importantly, though, the new wheel concept also improves braking while also eliminating poor braking performance brought about by corrosion. According to Continental, the aluminum disc is designed to last the whole life of the car. The whole idea of a versatile, multi-purpose wheel is intriguing, and if these wheels hold up under stringent testing, Continental could have something here that could put a literal meaning on the phrase “reinventing the wheel.”

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Will Thermal Nuclear Propulsion be the Way to Mars and Beyond?

From the 1950s all the way until the early 1970s, NASA was on a mission to send Mankind to Mars and, as such, was considering different forms of propulsion. The most promising was a nuclear-powered rocket. Of course, the plans to go to Mars were shelved around the same time of the last Apollo mission, and Man hasn’t been out past the international space station (to the best of our unclassified knowledge) since. Sure, we’ve sent a number of unmanned probes, but outside of that, we’ve stuck pretty close to home. But, technology has improved drastically over the years, and the phone in your hand is now more powerful than the computers that helped Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon while Michael Collins piloted the command module and observed from lunar orbit on July 20, 1969. Now we’ve got guys like Elon Musk pressing the issue and wanting to colonize Mars in the near future, so it’s only fitting that NASA step its game up and prepare for a journey to the red rock.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that NASA is considering thermal nuclear propulsion once again. While this may sound inherently dangerous, it’s really not that bad. This type of propulsion works by taking a liquid fuel like hydrogen and heating it inside a nuclear reactor. The fuel is then forced out of rocket nozzles at high speed, ultimately creating thrust. It was previously found that this kind of propulsion is nearly twice as efficient as the typical rocket that relies on a chemical reaction for thrust. This would allow the nuclear craft to carry less fuel (which means less weight) and a give a quicker trip to our destination, wherever it may be. Estimates place the travel time from earth to Mars at about four months, which is nearly 70 percent of the time it would take with a conventional rocket. It’s not quite Warp Drive, but it’s a step in the right direction, right Scotty?

With that all in mind, NASA has contracted a company known as BWXT Nuclear Energy to again explore the potential of this type of propulsion. Keep reading to learn a little more about it.

PostHeaderIcon Will Thermal Nuclear Propulsion be the Way to Mars and Beyond?

From the 1950s all the way until the early 1970s, NASA was on a mission to send Mankind to Mars and, as such, was considering different forms of propulsion. The most promising was a nuclear-powered rocket. Of course, the plans to go to Mars were shelved around the same time of the last Apollo mission, and Man hasn’t been out past the international space station (to the best of our unclassified knowledge) since. Sure, we’ve sent a number of unmanned probes, but outside of that, we’ve stuck pretty close to home. But, technology has improved drastically over the years, and the phone in your hand is now more powerful than the computers that helped Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon while Michael Collins piloted the command module and observed from lunar orbit on July 20, 1969. Now we’ve got guys like Elon Musk pressing the issue and wanting to colonize Mars in the near future, so it’s only fitting that NASA step its game up and prepare for a journey to the red rock.

With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that NASA is considering thermal nuclear propulsion once again. While this may sound inherently dangerous, it’s really not that bad. This type of propulsion works by taking a liquid fuel like hydrogen and heating it inside a nuclear reactor. The fuel is then forced out of rocket nozzles at high speed, ultimately creating thrust. It was previously found that this kind of propulsion is nearly twice as efficient as the typical rocket that relies on a chemical reaction for thrust. This would allow the nuclear craft to carry less fuel (which means less weight) and a give a quicker trip to our destination, wherever it may be. Estimates place the travel time from earth to Mars at about four months, which is nearly 70 percent of the time it would take with a conventional rocket. It’s not quite Warp Drive, but it’s a step in the right direction, right Scotty?

With that all in mind, NASA has contracted a company known as BWXT Nuclear Energy to again explore the potential of this type of propulsion. Keep reading to learn a little more about it.

PostHeaderIcon If Your Tesla Model S or Model X was Built Before 10-2016 It May Need Upgrades for Level 5 Autonomy

Tesla has been in the news a lot lately with the official delivery of the first Model 3s and its recent call to discuss the second quarter of 2017. We’ve learned a lot over the past couple of weeks, including the price of the Model 3, some specifications, battery size, and we even learned that it will lend its platform to the upcoming Model Y. However, word was that any Tesla vehicle built after October of 2016 would include hardware version 2.0 (dubbed internally as HW 2.0) and would be capable of Level 5 autonomy – think “look mom no hands” – via a simple over-the-air update once the software was compiled and ready to be put into service. That’s all cool and the gang, right? Well, maybe not as the kick off of Model 3 production also led to the introduction of HW 2.5, if reports from Electrek are to be believed. Word has it that this new computer features an extra GPU (graphics processor unit) for more computing power and has cut down on the number of wires found in HW 2.0.

No, the HW 2.0 hardware makes use of a single GPU and is fairly basic for a technology tasked with such a groundbreaking mission. Source say that Autopilot 2.5 uses a secondary node to increase the number of computations possible per minute which should come pretty close to what Nvidia – the maker of Tesla’s AutoPilot hardware – expects Level 5 autonomy to take. Of course, we didn’t even know what was going on with the HW 2.0 until one brave owner decided to tear his Model S’ computer a part to take a look for himself. And, as you would expect, Tesla is staying rather mum on the subject, simply saying that it’s not a major upgrade and should really be considered “HW 2.1.” Will the old 2.0 system really be enough for Level 5 autonomy, and what happens if it won’t be? Keep reading to find out.

PostHeaderIcon Where Are All The Jetpacks? They’re Already Here And They’re Too Expensive

Look folks, the clock in the top-right hand corner of my screen is telling me that we’re almost two decades past the year 2000, and I’ve been hearing a whole lot about “technology” and how it’s changing the way people move about. Which really only leads me to ask one question – where are all the jetpacks? The answer is simple: the jetpacks are already here, we just can’t afford them. Wait, what?

It’s true. One quick search on YouTube reveals all kinds of crazy contraptions plying the airways that could be considered a “jetpack.” Hover boards (real hover boards), wing suits, and thrust-driven backpacks are all very real things now, exciting the imagination with thoughts of taking flight without a plane ticket or TSA strip search. Just check out the above-featured videos if you don’t believe me.

So why are you still sitting in traffic during your morning commute rather than soaring above the clouds? Simple – the price. While the technology exists, it’s not exactly accessible to regular folks like you and me. However, don’t fret. There are several companies out there (Martin Jetpack and Jetpack Aviation are two good examples) that are working feverishly towards a consumer-oriented product for the general public. Granted, development is likely to take years, and the price tag will likely be in the realm of hundreds of thousands of dollars, but hey – progress is being made.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota’s Patent For An Under-Seat Capture Device Is The Answer To Our Prayers

Raise your hands if you’ve ever dropped any items or knick knacks that sliver of space between the front seats and the center console. It’s a frustrating thing to have to deal with, especially when you’re running late and you drop your keys there or you’re paying toll on a busy turnpike and a few nickels and dimes slip out of your hands and gets sucked into that abyss just as you’re about to fork them over to the self-service machine. The experience can shoot blood pressure levels through the roof but from the looks of things, Toyota seems to have come at just the right time to relieve us of one of our worst nightmares with a patent for a device it calls the “Under-Seat Capture Device.”

This isn’t a joke, folks. Toyota filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for such a device, which can help car owners easily retrieve small objects when they’re dropped into that veritable black hole. According to one version of the new tech – or “embodiment” as the patent describes it – a small chute located in the dark space catches items that fall in and funnels them to a platform located just beneath the seat. This platform is then connected to an actuator that, when actuated, moves the platform to a location where the driver can easily retrieve his items. Seems straightforward enough, right? More than that, it’s the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that we need more of in the industry today. It’s hard to imagine anybody not having gone through the pain and frustration of dropping items in that small crack. Hopefully, Toyota’s patent application bears fruit one day. We’ve waited long enough for salvation, Toyota.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Ford “Autolivery” Concept

Given the direction the auto industry seems to be headed, we’re at a point where self-driving cars roaming our streets is far less improbable as it once was. Automakers like Tesla are pioneering this movement, and while the industry itself is still in the embryonic stage of this technological tipping point, enough progress has been made that ideas like self-driving delivery fans like the one Ford presented earlier this year are no longer being scoffed at. Heck, if Amazon can start using drones to deliver packages to its customers, there’s little reason to imagine a future without something like the Blue Oval’s “Autolivery” Concept.

First of all, this concept vehicle isn’t what you’d consider a traditional concept as defined by the auto industry. It’s futuristic in nature, sure, but it doesn’t provide anything concrete that can be adapted to real-world production cars of the future. Instead, the “idea” of the Autolivery Concept is the concept itself. It’s the idea of a self-driving van that works in concert with drones to deliver and transport everyday items on the ground, be it parcels, groceries, or even medical supplies. Think of it as a UPS van without a driver driving it. That’s the ethos of the Autolivery Concept, which takes its name from an amalgam of the words “automatic” and “delivery.” The concept itself is intriguing, in large part because of the potential of its real-world application. There’s no denying that there’s something inherently appealing about a delivery process that’s far more efficient than the ones we have right now and Ford aims for the Autolivery Concept to be a big part of reaching that solution.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon What’s Your Minimum Range Per Charge For An EV?

This past weekend, I had an interesting conversation about electric vehicles. I was at a birthday party chatting with an older gearhead (mid-60’s) about Tesla and what it would take to get him to buy a Model S or Model X. The gentleman was definitely from the old school, and his preferred automotive flavor was the Chevrolet Corvette, a fact made obvious by no less than three generations of the all-American sports car taking residence in his garage. But, being from California, the allure of the modern EV prompted him to visit the local Tesla store. Long story short, the gearhead in question liked the Model S for its stylish exterior, nice cabin, and impressive performance, but couldn’t get over the limited range per charge.

It was just further evidence that while EV technology is indeed advancing at breakneck speed, there’s still a lot of work to be done if we’re to expect widespread adoption. After all, if you really distill it down, a car is supposed to be about convenience, and it’s an obvious step in the wrong direction if you have to wait hours at the plug to go another few hundred miles. For some folks, that’s not an issue – just juice up at night and stick to your normal commute during the day. But most people are like the older gearhead I spoke with, and even 300 miles in the battery isn’t enough.

Which got me thinking – what’s your ideal range per charge, assuming current recharge times remain static? Let us know in the comments.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Partners With Mazda to Develop EVs

Toyota and Mazda just announced a new partnership wherein the Japanese automakers will jointly develop electric vehicles. The partnership also includes a forthcoming $1.6 billion assembly plant at an as of yet unannounced location, with production scheduled to ramp up by the year 2021. The plant will create upwards of 300,000 vehicles annually and employ roughly 4,000 U.S. workers, prompting a Tweet from President Trump, who praised the announcement as a “great investment in American manufacturing.” The plant will initially build models of the Toyota Corolla and a new Mazda SUV, with the possibility for EVs sometime in the future. The partnership includes a 5 percent stake in Mazda for Toyota and a 0.25 percent stake in Toyota for Mazda, with the possibility for expansion in the future. Toyota and Mazda will also work together in developing infotainment tech and autonomous driving tech.

The partnership is framed as a major step forward for EV development for both companies. “There will be new rivals appearing – Apple, Google – these are IT companies, we also need to compete with them, too,” said Toyota President Akio Toyoda, according to Reuters. “What’s different from the past is that there are no nautical charts for us to follow. It’s without precedent,” he added with regards to EV tech and alternative vehicle power sources. Without a doubt, this new partnership marks further expansion of the EV segment as a whole and the expectation of widespread EV adoption in the near future.

Continue reading for the full story.

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