Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Better Headlights Could Save Pedestrians’ Lives

NTSB also wants improve brakes and highway infrastructure.

by on Sep.25, 2018

Using European-style laser headlights could reduce accidents and improve overall driver safety.

Federal safety regulators want to throw some light on a deadly subject.

The National Transportation Safety Board has outlined a three-pronged approach to dealing with the rapid rise in pedestrian fatalities, starting with improvements in vehicle headlights that would help motorists steer clear of a dangerous situation in the first place. At a Tuesday hearing, the NTSB also said manufacturers need to improve vehicle brakes, while improvements in local roadways could also keep pedestrians out of harm’s way.

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“We’ve got to end this tragic problem on our nation’s roadways,” NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said Tuesday during a Washington board meeting that looked into recommendations made by the agency’s staff. (more…)

BMW’s iNext Offers a Glimpse at Automaker’s Autonomous, Electrified Future

Show car offers broad hints about BMW's next all-electric model.

by on Sep.15, 2018

BMW offered a handful of journalists a sneak peek at the iNext concept during an around-the-world tour.

BMW was one of the first of the traditional automakers to enter the plug-in vehicle market, well ahead of luxury rivals like Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus. But it has been slow to follow up on its original i3 and i8 models, especially when it comes to all-electric offerings, even as those competitors have laid out aggressive plans to launch literally dozens of their own new products in the coming years.

BMW has been dropping hints about where it might go next for several years. And the Bavarian automaker is looking to get back in the game with the appropriately named iNext, an all-electric and autonomous crossover set to make its debut in 2021.

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A handful of select media outlets, including bingdb.info, got a chance to check out a prototype version of the iNext during an otherwise top-secret, around-the-world series that took the concept vehicles from Germany to New York, then Los Angeles and, finally, Beijing.

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Ford Smartens Up New Edge’s All-Wheel Drive System

All-Wheel-Drive Disconnect improves fuel economy.

by on Sep.13, 2018

The new Ford Edge with available all-wheel drive is smart enough to detect various driving conditions and automatically shift between two-wheel and all-wheel drive.

Ford Motor Co. has tweaked the 2019 version of the Ford Edge by making an all-wheel drive system smart enough to detect various driving conditions and automatically shift between two-wheel and all-wheel drive.

The system is called all-wheel-drive disconnect, a first-for-Ford technology that uses a form of artificial intelligence that can calculate quicker than the human brain. Based on information received from dozens of high-tech sensors, the new Edge can determine in a fraction of a second whether all-wheel drive is needed.

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“The concept is pretty simple, it was the execution that was the challenge,” said Scott Beiring, Ford driveline applications supervisor. “Shifting between two- and all-wheel drive needs to be fast and seamless enough that the customer doesn’t know it is happening.” (more…)

Why Fly? Self-Driving Volvo 360c Offers Alternative for Long-Distance Travel

Autonomous, electric, the concept will let travelers do “what they want to do.”

by on Sep.05, 2018

The Volvo 360c Concept is designed to let an owner travel in Business Jet-style comfort.

Flying is glamorous, or so the airlines would have you believe, but ask anyone who has had to deal with security lines, crowded cabins and inevitable delays and you’ll get an entirely different picture.

That’s where something like the Volvo 360c might offer a pleasant alternative. While the industry has focused on using driverless vehicles to replace conventional taxicabs, the self-driving concept from Volvo has long-distance travelers in mind. Billed as “the future of autonomous travel,” the 360c is designed to skip the lines and deliver the sort of experience you might expect flying on a private jet.

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“Domestic air travel sounds great when you buy your ticket, but it really isn’t,” said Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars, adding that “The 360c represents what could be a whole new take on the industry.”

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FCA Upgrades Proving Grounds for Self-Driving Vehicle Testing

Late to the game, FCA races to make up lost time with $30 mil project.

by on Sep.05, 2018

A Waymo-modified Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has invested $30 million to upgrade its sprawling Chelsea Proving Grounds, an hour west of Detroit to expand its ability to develop and test both autonomous vehicles advanced driver assist system technologies.

The automaker has been slow to embrace self-driving vehicle technology, though it has been able to leapfrog some of its competitors with an expanding tie-up with Waymo, the self-driving spin-off of Google. The new project will allow FCA to test technology from Waymo and other potential partners, as well as systems it may develop in-house.

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“The all-new facility at Chelsea Proving Grounds will help support and enable the successful rollout of the company’s five-year plan laid out earlier this year,” said Mike Manley, who took over as FCA’s CEO just two months ago. “Our ability to test for autonomous and advanced safety technologies enables FCA to offer our customers the features they want across our brand portfolio.”

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Toyota Investing $500 Mil in Uber, Will Aid in Autonomous Vehicle Efforts

Move could help ride-sharing service in anticipated IPO plan.

by on Aug.28, 2018

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO and Toyota EVP Shigeki Tomoyama shake over their new alliance.

Toyota confirmed  reports it will invest $500 million in Uber and partner with the nation’s largest ride-sharing service on the development of the autonomous and fully driverless vehicles Uber believes will slash its costs and make it a viable alternative to personal vehicle ownership.

The announcement comes barely a week after Uber wrapped up its search for a new chief financial officer, something that, along with the new Toyota alliance, could help move closer to a widely anticipated IPO. The Japanese maker’s investment puts a value of $72 million on Uber.

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“This agreement and investment marks an important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company,” said Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president, TMC, and president, Toyota Connected Company. “Combining efforts with Uber, one of the predominant global ride-sharing and automated driving R&D companies, could further advance future mobility.”

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Advanced Driver Assistance Systems Could Cause, Not Prevent Crashes, Warns New IIHS Study

Drivers may expect new systems, like Tesla Autopilot, to completely take over driving duties.

by on Aug.07, 2018

Tesla's own semi-autonomous Autopilot tech came under suspicion after this January crash.

Federal safety investigators raced to the scene of a crash involving a Tesla Model S sedan last January after the vehicle slammed into the back of a firetruck stopped on a California highway, regulators wanting to know why that happened despite the vehicle using the carmaker’s advanced driver assistance system specifically designed to prevent such a crash.

“ADAS” systems are being introduced on a wide range of vehicles and, according to industry experts, could substantially reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on U.S. roads. But a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety raises serious concerns about the technology. After testing five different systems offered by four automakers, IIHS warns that even though ADAS can prevent some accidents, the technology also could miss some potential problems and, in some situations, actually steer into a crash.

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A major concern is that these new, semi-autonomous systems still require drivers to be constantly vigilant, and occasionally intervene, said IIHS chief researcher David Zuby. But that’s often easy to forget. “If the systems seem too capable, then drivers may not give them the attention required to use them safely.” (more…)

Despite Concerns, Safety Probes, Musk Promise “Full Self-Driving” Autopilot to Debut in August

But CEO Musk doesn’t explain what that actually means.

by on Jun.12, 2018

According to a new tweet from Tesla CEO Musk, products like the new Model 3 may soon be updated with full "self-driving" capabilities.

Tesla Version 9, an apparently major software update to the operating system used for the automaker’s vehicles, will debut in August and, according to CEO Elon Musk, add “full sell-driving” capabilities to the controversial Autopilot system.

The news, announced in a Musk tweet late Monday, comes at a time when earlier versions of the semi-autonomous Autopilot system have come under intense scrutiny. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board has raised serious concerns about how it functioned in the moments leading up to a fatal crash of a Tesla Model X SUV in California earlier this year.

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But Musk has repeatedly downplayed such concerns — even pointing his finger at owners who may not have used Autopilot properly – while promising a far more advanced version of the system was coming. And in his late Monday tweet, Musk said, “to date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety (but) with V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”

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Volvo Hopes to Electrify Customers – and Investors

All-electric models now expected to generate half its sales by mid-2020s, with 1/3 self-driving.

by on Jun.08, 2018

The Volvo 40.2 Concept hints at what's coming with the marque's first all-electric vehicle.

Volvo took a lead in the push into electrification last year, announcing it would use some of battery-based drive system on all future products, whether mild, conventional or plug-in hybrids, or pure battery-electric. And, last January, it gave us a hint of what that first BEV would be with the debut of its 40.2 concept.

The production version will follow in 2019 and, if Volvo’s latest forecast is any indication, so will plenty of other all-electric models, as the Swedish automaker now says it wants them to generate half of its sales by mid-decade.

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The mid-term plan Volvo is laying out is nothing if not ambitious. It also predicts that half of the Chinese-owned automaker’s sales will come from self-driving vehicles, and that half of its volume will come through its Care by Volvo subscription service, rather than conventional sales and leasing. Oh, and add a goal of boosting volume – and profitability – to match other premium manufacturers.

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More Products, More Volume, Bigger Margins: FCA Lays Out Aggressive, 5-Year Growth Plan

Morning presentation outlines plans for Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands.

by on Jun.01, 2018

The Ram TRX will be among the new models FCA will bring out over the coming five years.

(This story has been revised to update plans for Jeep’s pickup and a midsize pickup from Ram that, CEO Marchionne now says will come to the U.S. market.)

In a sweeping presentation designed to give analysts, investors, media and potential buyers a good look at its future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executives are spending a day detailing their plans for the company and its various brands.

At the midway mark, as they break for lunch, they’ve already lifted the kimono far enough to show what’s coming for the Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands and, in a nutshell, it can be summed up as more products targeting lots more volume and much bigger margins.

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The new five-year plan will be the last crafted under the guidance of Sergio Marchionne, the 65-year-old executive who helped pull off the pairing of two struggling manufacturers to form Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. His third five-year plan, Marchionne stressed that “The true finish line is the one always yet to come.”

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