Toyota to Study Advanced Driving System Interactions

Toyota will be launching nine new studies over the next five years to improve automotive safety, specifically in relation to how drivers engage with advanced driving aids equipped to modern vehicles. While the press release to a back seat to the automaker receiving an award for hiring female engineers and a $400,000 donation to the National Environmental Education Foundation, it’s likely to have broader ramifications on the industry.

Despite launching a bevy of new assistance features over the past few years, manufacturers haven’t actually spent all that much time studying how they might impact the act of driving. Testing usually focuses on ensuring the system functions, with independent research being left to examine how electronic helpers might influence behavior from behind the wheel. Unfortunately, preliminary studies have suggested that they lull motorists into a false sense of security, potentially offsetting any legitimate safety advantages the relevant technologies provide.

Read more
What Does Toyota Want With a Legged-Robot Company?

You’ve probably seen one of its videos on YouTube. Its creations are nightmare fuel, mixed with a sense of wonder and intrigue. And for one particular automaker, its robotic inventions seem worthy enough to trigger the purchase of a whole company.

It is Boston Dynamics — a company born from the MIT leg lab that’s been developing quadrupedal and bipedal robots since 1992. And Toyota is heavily rumored to be purchasing the company from Google, according to Tech Insider.

Which begs the question: what does a car manufacturer want with a legged-robot company?

Read more
Wary or Enthusiastic? MIT Wants Your Views on Automated Driving Technologies

Like it or not, autonomous vehicles are coming in one form or another.

Many new cars on the market already have features that help a driver stay in the driving lane, keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, or reduce the severity of a collision. Much like the original stability control, these features may frustrate enthusiasts but they help keep the masses safer and might reduce accidents.

Each year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the New England Motor Press Association hold a conference that focuses on various future trends and technologies. This year’s topic is The Intersection of Technology and Design, with a panel discussion exploring trends and challenges as autonomous technology meets the natural aesthetic appeal of the automobile.

Read more
Toyota Launches AI Efforts With $1 Billion Investment

Toyota will open a new artificial and robotics R&D company to be called Toyota Research Institute, Inc. (TRI) with an initial investment of $1 billion to open two locations in the United States, the automaker announced Friday.

TRI, which will make its headquarters in Palo Alto, California and establish another office in Cambridge, Massachusetts near MIT, will be led by Dr. Gill Pratt, a former academic in the field of engineering and program manager at DARPA.

“The investment is in addition to the $50 million investment over the next five years with MIT and Stanford to establish joint fundamental artificial intelligence research centers at each university,” said the automaker in a release.

Read more
Autonomous War Games: The Only Way To Win is Not To Drive

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said Thursday that in the future, self-driving cars may be forced into the moral quandary between saving its driver or saving the public in massive, horrific crashes.

We already know that.

What researchers are now looking at is whether people would be interested in buying cars that would knowingly sacrifice their drivers in order to serve the greater good.

(In our best Richard Dawson voice) “Survey says … “

Read more
Toyota Will Spend $50M Researching The Perfect Robot Car

Toyota announced Friday it would invest $50 million in research facilities at Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study and develop artificial intelligence for future safety and autonomous driving.

The facilities will teach computers to recognize and monitor objects — a swerving car vs. a parking one was provided as one example — on the road that drivers are too busy for because “Candy Crush.”

The joint programs at MIT and Stanford will first develop enhanced safety systems designed to “share control” with drivers and computers. Eventually, researchers believe, people will just forget that they care and give up driving to the robots.

Read more
A Sober Second Look At Self-Driving Cars

While TTAC‘s Mike Smitka published an essay urging readers to reign in their expectations regarding autonomous cars, a new report by MIT’s Technology Review pours even more cold water on the utopian fantasies of those waiting for the day when humans are no longer in control of the automobile.

Read more
MIT Professor: Put Cars On A Diet!

The car industry is under pressure to improve fuel efficiency. It is not that they have been sitting on their thumbs. Automakers have achieved large increases in fuel efficiency through better technology in recent decades, says MIT economist Christopher Knittel.

The problem is:

“Most of that technological progress has gone into compensating for weight and horsepower.”

Read more
  • Johnny ringo The Skylark didn't get the v6 with the offset crankshaft journals until 1978, in 1977 my mother was shopping for a new car; we were looking at a Skylark with the v6. I test drove it and at idle it seemed like a paint shaker was under the hood. She finally bought a 2dr Skylark ( an S/R model I believe) with the 305 Chevy engine. I would rate it as average, nice but certainly not exceptional.
  • IBx1 Honda hasn't had VTEC since the end of the 8th generation Civic Si. They've stamped the brand on simple karen-spec variable valve timing, but it's not the 3-lobe on/off cam profile with the kick.
  • Cprescott As a teenager, I remember when these were new, they were nice cars and were certainly better to look at than a Nova. Classic badge engineered product but the car was striking with a beautiful blue metallic exterior and white interior in a two door hatch.
  • Lichtronamo One of the memories I have is of my Grandpa driving his GM sedans with the tilt steering column. Every time we parked he'd pull the lever and let the wheel fly up - a very distinctive sound.
  • Nick Naylor I've had a 4th Gen Quest since 2014, still do at 165k miles, and wrote about it here on TTAC also: Reader Review: 2014 Nissan Quest LE | The Truth About CarsI had many of the same observations as Karesh (very soft ride / traditional American luxury car handling, nice interior appointments), but some different. For one, with the LE version with the nicer wheels and accents, the design looked better to me, and I believe has really aged well. All the practicality nitpicks (no stow & go, etc.) go unrealized for us, as the van has done everything we've ever needed it to do, and that includes moving lots of different large items, many long vacation trips, even towing light duty trailers (wouldn't put anything legitimately heavy on a CVT).We've changed the CVT fluid every 60k miles and have had no real issues on the vehicle. It's been honestly a great family van for us--comfortable, reliable, efficient, spacious. The JDM thing made this van cool to me. I spent a year in Asia and a lot of time in Hong Kong, and these fancy JDM vans were the king way to get around. The Elgrand (same as Quest) was one of the coolest. So in the end, we've had a reliable vehicle for our family of 5+ Labrador for 9 years that is a little cooler/more interesting than the other options we had available at the time. that's a win