Category: Technology

By on July 14, 2017

V2V Intersection

Despite the Federal Communications Commission making a mess of net neutrality right now, it remains capable of serving corporate interests and the general public simultaneously. On Thursday, the FCC quintupled the allocation of the radio spectrum used for motor vehicle and aircraft radar systems to help avoid crashes.

While the majority of autonomous cars also use laser guidance and a complex network of cameras to navigate, radar remains an integral component. Presently, the 1 GHz of spectrum set aside in 1995 has been sufficient for self-driving vehicles using adaptive cruise control or automatic emergency braking. But we’re about to enter an era of connected cars that will be required to “speak” to one another, and those vehicles will need plenty of space to talk — 5 GHz of bandwidth, to be precise.  Read More >

By on May 31, 2017

2015-Ford-Focus

Ford’s dual-clutch PowerShift transmission has made the Blue Oval a number of enemies over the past several years. Now, nearly 7,000 U.S. Ford owners are looking for a pound of flesh.

A lawsuit filed against the automaker is seeking compensation for individual damages claimed by the plaintiffs, all of whom own a 2012-2016 Ford Focus or 2011-2016 Ford Fiesta. The suit, which is just the latest of many, contains a familiar complaint about Ford’s small-car tranny. Basically, that it’s awful, and not even an exorcist can free it from its demons. Read More >

By on May 26, 2017

Ford Focus Electric

Electric vehicles haven’t quite caught up to internal combustion models in terms overall cost effectiveness. In fact, if it weren’t for government incentives, there would probably be significantly fewer early adopters willing to shoulder the financial burden for the rest of us. However, EVs will eventually become the cheaper option on the market — with or without a tax credit.

While the obvious fueling benefits drastically reduce the cost of ownership, those savings don’t offset the higher buy-in price, especially with gas prices still relatively low. Batteries aren’t cheap, but costs are estimated to drop by around 77 percent between last year and 2030. That may sound like a lifetime of waiting if you’ve been holding out on an electric but, thankfully, the affordability tipping point should occur much sooner than that.  Read More >

By on May 16, 2017

Shift By Wire shifters - Images: BMW, Toyota, Lincoln, Chrysler, GMC

Center-mounted in a vertical fashion, the shifter in the fifth-generation 2018 Honda Odyssey profiled yesterday by Chris Tonn requires drivers to push a rectangular button for park, pull back an indented button for reverse, push another rectangular button for neutral, or depress a square button for drive.

In the new, second-generation 2017 GMC Terrain, a low-slung horizon of shift buttons mandates pushes of a rectangle for park and a small square for neutral plus a slight pull for reverse or, farther to the right, drive.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the lengthy push-button shift mechanism in newer Lincolns, where buttons for ignition, park, reverse, neutral, drive, and sport are laid out vertically on the driver’s side of the centre stack.

Some automakers are trying out rotary knobs, or shifters with separate park buttons, or monostable shifters that have earned a bad name.

They’re here to stay. Blame technology. Hope for reliability. Don’t expect standardization. Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

Hyundai Blue Link Gen. 2 - Sonata

The cyber security firm Rapid7 recently recently informed the Hyundai Motor Company that its Blue Link smartphone application might be exposing its customers to an unsavory element — serving up another reminder that convenience frequently comes at a cost.

Software vulnerabilities in the app allowed Blue Link-equipped vehicles to be unlocked and even started remotely, making them susceptible to theft from high-tech criminals for a period of three months until the company finally fixed the bug in March. Hyundai says that is is unaware of any mishaps stemming from the issue. Read More >

By on March 17, 2017

autonomous hardware

President Donald Trump received a tour of the American Center for Mobility this week. He did not, however, discuss the federal funding of the Michigan-based autonomous testing and development facility. Instead, the site was used as a location for the president to discuss regulatory policies and meet with automotive executives. Little was said on the subject of self-driving cars.

Still, automakers routinely remind us that autonomous vehicles are right around the corner. Ford says it can have autonomous cars rolling out by 2021, Audi and Nissan have said 2020, and Volkswagen has claimed it’ll be ready for self-driving models in 2019. Tesla — which has been pioneering the technology longer than most — has stated it has the hardware necessary in its current production vehicles and would have a bulletproof system installed in 2018, anticipating regulatory approval in 2021. However, suppliers are predicting much less optimistic timelines for self-driving cars — and the dates given vary wildly.  Read More >

By on March 10, 2017

Ford 3D Printed Parts, [Image: Ford Motor Company]

Ford is trying its hand at a new way of manufacturing inexpensive and lightweight car parts: 3D printing.

While 3D printing has existed in the auto manufacturing scene for quite some time, it was largely used for prototypes and molds, not the actual product.

Ford is now looking to use the technology to produce a variety of customizable and low-volume parts.

Read More >

By on March 9, 2017

hacking

Automakers are hurriedly trying to implement connected vehicle technology and autonomous solutions to entice consumers, though there remains an underlying phobia among the general public that isn’t without a basis in reality. Cyber security is considered essential to the evolution of self-driving cars and plays an equally important role in the vehicles of today that offer enhanced connectivity.

Since modern automobiles rely so heavily on computers, there’s a plethora of elements that hackers could target. However, these hackers don’t necessarily need to operate outside of the law.

Embedded in a WikiLeaks analysis of documents allegedly acquired from the Central Intelligence Agency is an apparent interest in hacking automobiles. The most terrifying takeaway from those files? The claim that the CIA could theoretically use the systems in modern passenger vehicles to conduct “nearly undetectable assassinations.” Read More >

By on March 6, 2017

computer-mouse

The internet is infamous for suspect news stories and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate reputable information from propaganda, lies, and sensationalist garbage. Credible outlets take heat as #FakeNews while less stringent journalism continues to gain traction. The automotive industry is no different, especially when it comes to online marketing.

We’ve all been cruising the internet mindlessly and seen a suspicious headline for a new car paired with a blatantly fake image. I remember seeing photoshopped fifth generation Camaros purported to be “The Next Firebird” routinely for about a year before Pontiac finally passed away in 2010. While I knew it was bunk, I clicked anyway and compounded the problem. Sadly, things have not improved in the last few years.

Dealers and manufacturers are trying to figure out a way to ensure their products are better represented in the digital landscape — but they are struggling.  Read More >

By on March 3, 2017

Project Black S Q60

Distinction is something Infiniti has aimed to achieve for a while now. It’s even attempting to do it under its own label by implementing cutting-edge technologies that can help to take the driver out of the equation or put him in the front of the pack, depending on what you’re into.

Nissan’s luxury division is heading to the Geneva Motor Show with two very different vehicles: the popular Q50 sedan, laden with the best driver assistance technology available, and a Q60 Project Black S performance coupe sporting a sport hybrid system borrowed from Formula One. The former is a sure thing, destined to be on sale for the 2018 model year, while the latter represents an entry in a hypothetical performance line as Infiniti investigates what level of insanity the general public is willing to accept. Read More >

By on March 2, 2017

Hyundai-IDEO Health Cockpit Project - Mental State 3

The stresses of everyday commuting and travel can really get to you. All that time wasted while idling in traffic. Stomping your brakes as another driver makes a left on a red light directly in front of you. Or perhaps sitting behind someone in the left lane of the freeway, puttering along at 57 miles per hour. You can finish your journey much more triggered than when you set off.

Hyundai understands the frustration you experience with other drivers, and they’re preparing to offer their own brand of sedative if necessary.

Read More >

By on February 28, 2017

Honda ASIMO

Honda wants to up its software game and encourage creative uses for ones and zeros at its new research and development center. With ASIMO — the company’s adorable robot mascot — almost old enough to smoke, Honda hasn’t developed a super-high-profile gizmo in nearly 17 years.

Recently, the company took a distinctive back-to-basics approach to address slipping quality, though CEO Takahiro Hachigo confessed that rekindling the R&D “spirit” would be the other half of building a better Honda Motor Co.

With those goals in mind, Tokyo’s Honda Innovation Lab opened its doors to the press on Tuesday as the company announced it will be forming a specific unit to focus on the development of software-laden technology for its next generation of vehicles. Read More >

By on February 21, 2017

Cadillac CUE update

Cadillac’s user interface has been one of its consumers’ biggest grievances. Last week, I heard a private chauffeur in an Escalade — a $75,000 car that makes you feel simultaneously wealthy and powerful — refer to the Cadillac User Experience (CUE) as “bullshit.” Even Johan de Nysschen admitted that CUE did not pass muster.

Clearly aware of how supremely loathsome the interface is, the automaker has announced that the next-generation user experience system will debut on the 2017 Cadillac CTS this spring. According to General Motors, the updated user experience will evolve with a customer’s connectivity needs — adjusting itself over time while offering a plethora of personalization, connectivity and apps.

Read More >

By on February 12, 2017

MAVEN APP

While Ford is currently the domestic automaker making the biggest push into in mobility services — which seem to entail practically anything outside of traditional manufacturing and distribution — it isn’t the only company preparing itself for an era of declining vehicle ownership. FCA has partnered with Waymo to develop a fleet of self-driving Pacificas and General Motors has a personal mobility brand, called Maven, that acts as a car-sharing service.

While it isn’t quite so technologically advanced as autonomous vehicles or automotive A.I., Maven provides additional revenue immediately and furnishes GM with a unique opportunity to cope with some of the ownership problems of tomorrow. Car-sharing is good way for GM to profit from people who don’t own cars, but it’s also a clever method of getting young urban drivers to spend money on becoming more familiar with their product — especially on the coasts where import brands tend to outsell their domestic counterparts. Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

One of the first things you notice in the silence of an electric car is how prevalent wind and tire noise can be without an internal combustion engine to breakup the aural monotony. While no one has ever slipped into madness due to an overabundance of road noise, rubber grinding against concrete at seventy-five miles an hour isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, either.

Lucid Motors promised that its upcoming Air EV would possess an audio system equipped with active noise cancellation to ensure that its interior remains a silent space. However, we are only just now discovering how seriously they took that promise. Read More >

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