Tag: Technology

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 17, 2017

Autonomous Ford Fusion Hybrid Fr

Apparently, it’s not just Uber drivers who enjoy extended naps behind the wheel.

Ford engineers, tapped to put the company’s self-driving technology on the fast track to production, are taking the off-ramp to Slumberville so often that the company has had to get other engineers to devise ways of keeping them awake.

It turns out that riding in the driver’s seat of a self-driving car is as conducive to glassy-eyed lethargy as reading about “mobility solutions.” (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2017

Franka Emika Robot Arm, Image: Franka

We’ll always need humans to manufacture robots for automated manufacturing, or at least that’s been the prevailing wisdom for years.

But what if that wasn’t the case?

Robot arms, such as the Franka Emika pictured above, might change all that, as they now have the ability to clone themselves.

(Read More…)

By on February 10, 2017

ford Argo AI

Ford Motor Company intends to invest $1 billion into tech startup Argo AI over the next five years, giving the Blue Oval a majority stake in the company as it continues to reach for the goal of producing a fully autonomous vehicle by 2021.

The Pittsburgh-based Argo will help the Detroit automaker develop a “virtual driver system” for its proposed commercial ride-sharing fleets before moving on to retail vehicles. Ford even went so far as to suggest that the software it develops with Argo could be licensed to other companies.

While still officially an automaker, the Blue Oval really is going all in on its new identity as a mobility company and it isn’t afraid to remind everyone of all of the important work it feels that it is doing. (Read More…)

By on February 2, 2017

FCA waymo pacifica

According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and its autonomous vehicle disengagement report, self-driving cars are in need of less and less human intervention.

Waymo, Google’s autonomous driving project, is leading the pack in this regard. The report shows that the number of times test drivers had to take over in Waymo’s vehicles dropped significantly from .80 disengagements per 1,000 miles in 2015 to .20 disengagements per 1,000 miles.

(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

kremlin_moscow russia (Wikimedia commons)

Everyone loves a good mystery, and in Russia it seems there are many. Read up on the Dyatlov Pass incident if you’re looking for a reason not to go camping.

In the country where a bearded charlatan once inspired a great disco song, something odd has cropped up in recent months. Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.

The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government. (Read More…)

By on January 27, 2017

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford plans to offer an aftermarket device that will give older models access to new technology like remote start, 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, and smartphone alerts.

According to the automaker, Ford SmartLink will plug in to the OBD-II port of 2010-2016 model year Ford and Lincoln cars, allowing access to remote start, lock, and unlock, Wi-Fi access for up to eight devices, and smartphone alerts for vehicle health, security, and location.

(Read More…)

By on January 27, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

The former director of Tesla’s Autopilot program has choice words for his former employer.

Sterling Anderson is being sued by Tesla for stealing confidential information, which he allegedly put to use at a new autonomous vehicle start-up. According to Bloomberg, the electric automaker isn’t happy about his attempts to hire away Tesla employees, either.

In his response to the suit, Anderson doesn’t have very nice things to say about Tesla. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

(Update: Fred Ligouri from Chevrolet Communications confirmed GM is aware and is currently investigating.)

One Bolt owner thinks Skynet may already be here.

Fresh off its North American Car of the Year victory (despite being classified as a crossover) and just days ahead of its official media launch next week, something strange happened in Southern California.

This owner alleges his Bolt turned itself on, selected reverse gear, and backed into the work bench in his garage. The incident happened with the car shut down and in Park, both keys in the house, and the owner nearly 40 miles away on business in the family’s third vehicle.   (Read More…)

By on January 19, 2017

Texting and Driving

Apple is facing a legal battle in California for neglecting to implement technology that would prevent iPhone owners from texting behind the wheel.

Filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the class-action suit alleges that Apple has possessed the ability to disable texting since 2008, and was granted a patent on it by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014. The lawsuit wants the company to stop all iPhone sales until it installs safety-oriented software on all devices — new and old — via an update.  (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2017

mazda skyactiv

While it wasn’t the only car company to make use of a rotary engine, it was certainly the only one to be competitive with them when pistons and pushrods would easily have sufficed. However, those days are gone. Mazda’s SkyActiv technology is well suited for squeezing out an engine’s true potential, but it doesn’t feel particularly quirky or unique.

That could change with the company’s second generation of SkyActiv engines. Mazda is one of only two automakers planning to introduce a motor with homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) sometime next year. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s a direct-injection gasoline-powered motor that uses compression, not spark, to ignite fuel — something typically reserved for diesel powerplants. (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2017

Toyota badge

The Toyota Motor Corporation is a little skeptical of the imminency of self-driving vehicles. It plans on continuing production of designs where human operators are saddled with the bulk of the driving responsibilities for years to come.

The automaker is openly dubious that tech-focused companies like Waymo and Tesla are sufficiently far enough along to hint at delivering self-driving cars. However, Toyota’s problem with handing the keys to a computer has as much to do with leaving companies open to litigation and criticism as it does with the technology simply not yet being ready.

North America expects millions of traffic accidents every year, but is much less willing to accept computer-controlled chaos at even a fraction of that scale.  (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

Volvo 90 center display

A few years after Alexander Graham Bell beat Elisha Gray in patenting the telephone, someone conceptualized the telephonoscope and the world became bedeviled by the notion of seeing someone while you conversed remotely. Video phones appeared in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), Jay Roach’s timeless classic Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), and just about everywhere in between. They even cropped up in real life. AT&T tested the waters in the 1920s by pairing mechanical television receivers to telephones before blowing half a billion dollars on the Picturephone a few decades later.

Things are different today. You can easily bring up any number of applications on your hand-held device and video chat with people from practically anywhere on the planet. However, we never really got a dedicated video phone in our cars, creating a compellingly retro-futuristic need for such a thing.

Then Volvo announced that it was adding Skype for Business to its 90 Series cars and I began imagining a universe where I would notify besuited men — face-to-face — that I did not have anymore time to talk because I was much too busy driving. It was a perfect fantasy where I told nervous industrialists which robots should build the smaller robots and who to fire all from the comfort of my mobile office — and while looking them right in their terrified eyes. (Read More…)

By on December 28, 2016

alternator

Car manufacturers have achieved significant fuel economy gains in recent years, but the improvements largely come down to upgraded drivetrain efficiency. Vehicles still weigh substantially more today than they did in the early 1980s, when the previous decade’s demand for fuel economy improvements forced the issue.

Since then, automobiles have gradually packed on the pounds — negatively offsetting the technology encouraging fuel frugality. Modern safety concerns, improved build quality, sound dampening, and consumer demand for bigness have all helped to keep the typical family transport oinking around a two-ton curb weight.

If companies could effectively slim down those autos, without sacrificing structural rigidity, safety, or consumer comfort, the efficiency gains would become all the more significant. However, with few consumers ready to dive back into noisy, frail hatchbacks, weight savings will likely need to be done on the molecular level. In a new study, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor investigated the materials going into 44 separate 2015 model year cars and asked automakers what would they use if they suddenly needed to reduce weight from essential items.  (Read More…)

By on December 21, 2016

2016 Ford Mustang GT

Prepare to kiss a famous displacement goodbye.

Ford’s 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8 has dutifully powered variants of the automaker’s Mustang and F-150 since 2011, instilling the brand’s pony car with the kind of heritage that can only be squeezed from 302 cubic inches.

Well, time (and technology) marches on, and Ford’s lower-shelf V8 is due for a replacement. According to a recent report, the Blue Oval folks aren’t choosing sides when it comes to the best way to squirt gas into the new mill. (Read More…)

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