Category: Technology

By on October 28, 2016

google prototype-early

Every now and then, a critical mass of clever, ambitious folks excited about a particularly good idea coalesces, often in a particular geographic region, and humanity gets lucky. The American colonies in the late 18th century and Detroit in the early 20th century are historical examples. Silicon Valley, starting in the 1980s, is probably our best contemporary example.

In recent years, those modern titans of technology have turned their futurist eyes towards personal transportation. Whether explicitly or in sotto voce tones, they’ve indicated that the traditional auto industry personified as “Detroit” was a dinosaur about to go extinct. Not knowing the auto industry metaphor of becoming an obsolete buggy whip manufacturer, the tech industry saw Detroit’s future as “making handsets” — i.e. low tech assemblers.

Tesla was going to show us the new electron driven future, Google was going to make cars that drove themselves, and the Apple of the tech world’s eye was going to do nothing less than completely reinvent the automobile, just as it had done with music players and telephones. The push towards self-driving, autonomous cars and trucks was only going to accelerate the ascendancy of Silicon Valley as the new Motor City.

Just because you’re good at one thing, however, doesn’t mean you’re good at another. Read More >

By on October 21, 2016

traffic gridlock

With the exceptions of a horrible wreck or having a child in the car that you aren’t particularly fond of, nothing drains the enjoyment out of a drive like being stuck in rush-hour traffic. Every second of idling, waiting, and creeping along city streets is another agonizing moment where you could be enjoying a backroad or at home eating dinner.

Thankfully, IEEE Spectrum reports that a team of researchers is working to solve this problem with traffic lights that know all and see all. Read More >

By on October 17, 2016

iCar Matt Posky TTAC

After numerous rumored postponements to the vehicle’s intended release, repeated strategy disagreements, large-scale layoffs, and the loss of key team members assigned to the self-driving vehicle project, it appears that Apple is scrapping the idea of building a car entirely.

According to Bloomberg, hundreds of members of Apple’s Project Titan have been laid off, reassigned to other projects, or have outright quit over the last few months. As a result, the initiative has been embarrassingly “refocused” once again.  Read More >

By on October 14, 2016

Burning Car by NathanWert

There’s a single BMW X3 out there that could burst into flames at any moment.

That, Mercedes-Benz offers EV charging with no wires or plugs, Toyota pours staff into Texas, and Honda wants its Civics to stand still … after the break! Read More >

By on October 11, 2016

2013 Cadillac XTS CUE Cadillac User Experience

“The first-generation CUE didn’t even meet our own expectations.”
Johan de Nysschen, Cadillac President — Motor Trend Interview — October 10, 2016

What was Cadillac’s boss trying to say? It all depends on where you put the emphasis. Read More >

By on September 21, 2016

Comma One Front

George Hotz burst into the autonomous driving space last year with promises of a sub-$1,000 driver assistance package. It could be added to any car, he said, and proved it by showcasing his prototype system on his Acura ILX. When I spoke to Hotz in December, his system had promise, but I was skeptical.

Since that interview, Hotz further refined his system, released data collection apps, and picked up $3.1 million in funding. These updates culminated in a splashy announcement at TechCrunch Disrupt SF last week, where Hotz announced he’d ship his Comma One semi-autonomous driving add-on by the end of the year — at a price of $999*.

Hotz kept many of the promises he made last year, but he’s made vast changes between then and now. I dug into the Comma One’s hardware and software specs, and signed up for his Dash data collection app, to see what all the excitement was about.

Read More >

By on May 6, 2016

Fuzzbuster II Radar Detector, Image: dave_7/Flickr

by Richard A. Ratay

In 1974, Congress passed legislation establishing the national highway speed limit of 55 mph. The original goal of the law was to conserve gas during the first OPEC Oil Crisis. Later, proponents of the lower limit argued it reduced highway fatalities. (Remember “55 Saves Lives”?) In time, studies showed the lower limit accomplished neither objective. It did, however, irk just about every driver across America.

Truckers were already equipped with their own means of skirting the new limit. Using their CB radios, long haul truck drivers kept each other informed about the whereabouts of “bear traps” and “Smokeys” lurking along the highways.

But drivers of automobiles sought their own weapon for combatting enforcement of the new lower speed limit. They found it in a device called “The Fuzzbuster.” Released a year before passage of the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit, the Fuzzbuster was the creation of Dale Smith, an Ohio driver who had earlier found himself seething at the side of the road after being nabbed in a police speed trap.

Read More >

By on February 25, 2016

Volvo Autonomous Drive, Image: Volvo Cars

Autonomous vehicles and shared mobility are invoked in our contemporary discourse as an inevitable fate. There is an unsettling undercurrent rippling around a not altogether desirable future for the automobile as we know it. I am not anti-progress, anti-technology, or otherwise prone to romanticizing yesteryear. I welcome the convenience and safety of new technologies and look forward to the day I can work during my freeway commute. However, the pleasure and freedom I occasionally indulge — “shifting and drifting” in the words of Canadian rock band Rush — appears increasingly at risk.

How many years are left before we’re no longer able to sit at the left front corner of our cars, row through the gears, and take ourselves on whatever path of discovery we please.

How many self-driven years remain?

Read More >

By on January 19, 2016

KO2Main

BFGoodrich’s All-Terrain T/A tires can be found everywhere, from your local construction site to the most grueling of off-road races. I’ve fitted some of my trucks with the original KO and used them on and off-road, so I was curious what improvements BFGoodrich could bring to its latest iteration: the new KO2.

BFGoodrich brought me up to Bethel, Maine to test out its new tire in the nearby hills — and to catch this year’s Red Bull Frozen Rush.

The Frozen Rush trucks run a one-off spiked version of the same tire, but I was more interested in the street version that might adorn one of my (or your) vehicles.

Read More >

By on October 22, 2015

IMG_4983

I got the call at about 6 p.m. last night. It was Greg Ledet, one of the fellows who partnered in our infamous April Fools’ Day cross-country hoax.

“I’m heading out to meet Alex Roy at a Tesla Supercharger near Dayton and clear traffic for him between here and Columbus. You want to go?”

“I’d love to,” was my unconvincing reply, “but I just had a bunch of screws drilled into my left tibia and every moment I stand up is an exciting battle between nausea and vertigo. However,” I added after a moment’s pause, rifling through my nightstand for the bottle marked Morphine EXPIRED!, “I could meet you south of Columbus for a few minutes.” Hopping down the stairs on one foot, I grabbed the keys to my Accord before anyone could object. “All I have to do is use this gimpy leg to push the clutch once in a while!” I yelled, while backing out in hop-skip-and-jump fashion.

Five minutes later I was back, tears streaming from behind my tinted-lens ProDesign frames. “If anybody wants to drive me to Grove City,” I conceded, “I’m buying dinner.”

Read More >

By on July 30, 2015

 

Merkur? ZOMG SANJEEV Y U NO LS1-FTW?

Merkur? ZOMG SANJEEV Y U NO LS1-FTW?

No surprise, the auto journo that insists on everything LS-swapped is actually a big ol’ fraud. Do as he says, not as he does with TTAC’s Project Car — a 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia previously reviewed with the promise of more to come.

Promises: kept.

Read More >

By on July 21, 2015

Force Dynamics Driving Simulator

My company, Force Dynamics, builds full-motion driving simulators. They work by tilting you as the simulated vehicle corners or accelerates, so your brain is tricked into feeling lateral or longitudinal accelerations.

Sometimes people who watch our machines in action say, “This is moving way too much!” So when we started racing a Mazda Miata in the ChumpCar World Series, I decided to conduct an experiment.
Read More >

By on July 29, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 11.00.15 AM

In a few weeks, at WOOT (the USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies — an academic conference where security researchers demonstrate broken stuff), a team from the University of Michigan will be presenting a lovely paper, Green Lights Forever: Analyzing the Security of Traffic Infrastructure. It’s a short and fun read. In summary, it’s common for traffic light controllers to speak to each other over a 5.8GHz wireless channel (much like WiFi, but a dedicated frequency) with no cryptography, default usernames and passwords, and well-known and exploitable bugs. Oh boy. And what can we do with that?

Read More >

By on June 27, 2014

tumblr_m9hum9gnmd1rsen2io1_500At yesterday’s Google I/O keynote speech, Google laid out its vision for Android Auto (reported here yesterday), which is quite similar to Apple’s CarPlay. I’ve ranted here before about Apple’s CarPlay when it was first announced and after more details came out last March. Both have the idea that your phone can hijack the screen in your car. What’s newsworthy from Google is that we have an enlarged list of vendors who are playing along. (Wired has the full list. Suffice to say that you’ll have plenty of choices if you want a car that goes both ways, if you know what I mean. Most interesting factoid: Tesla isn’t playing with either Apple or Google. Hear that? It’s the sounds of thousands of alpha-nerd Tesla owners crying out in terror.)

Today, I want to address why you should stop worrying and learn to love having your phone in charge of your car’s telematics display.

Read More >

By on April 10, 2014

EGR Buick Regal Gets 40 MPG

The current Buick Regal is an excellent car. I know, because I have one parked in my garage (it’s sweet). Still, it could be better- and the guys at the SouthWest Research Institute (SWRI) have figured out a way to enhance the mid-range Buick so that it produces fewer harmful carbon emissions and gets better fuel economy.

Can’t beat that!

Read More >

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