Tag: autonomous

By on October 22, 2015


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 September 3, 2015

Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

I’ll admit it. I, the millennial managing editor of an automotive blog, would absolutely rely on an autonomous car for my day-to-day errands or long-distance commutes. Why wouldn’t I? I can kick back, relax, talk with people, get some writing done, or anything else I could possibly do on an airplane. As long as all the other vehicles on a roadway are autonomous, it’ll be safer, too!

Why do I think this way? The majority of the driving we do is boring. I can just imagine hailing an autonomous car on my phone, waiting for it to arrive to my home, and setting it to drive me wherever I want in relative comfort. Why should I need to stay alert at a four-way stop if technology can make that a thing of the past?

Except it probably won’t work quite like that.

(Read More…)

By on July 22, 2015


The facility was mostly deserted by the time I got there deliberately late to avoid politicians’ speechifying. Between the very realistic — but empty — roadways with functional traffic lights, railway crossings, and even parking meters, on one hand, and the two city blocks of obviously faux buildings, theatrical scrims really, on the other, I felt that at any second, things might switch to black and white and Rod Serling would step out from behind one of the backdrops.

I wasn’t in the Twilight Zone, though. I was on a gentle hillside on the north side of Ann Arbor. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2014


According to someone that I consider to be an impeccably reliable source, you can say goodbye to being able to fiddle with your car’s electronic control devices to make it go faster because chip tuning and the open CAN bus that allows it are going away. (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2011

Usually, we don’t report on recalls. If we would, we would be reporting on recalls all day. Sometimes, we make an exception, if the matter has wider ranging implications. This is one of those times.

The recall: BMW recalls “approximately 50” BMW X3. They have electric power steering. There is nothing wrong with the power steering. But there is everything wrong with the computer that runs the power steering. The steering has a position sensor, and the sensor’s calibration data pertaining to temperature balancing was mistakenly overwritten.” At some point, the computer finds out that something is wrong, and shuts off the electric power steering (EPS).

The wider ranging implications:DARPA challenges colleges to build autonomous vehicles. Google already has “look, ma, no hands” cars drive autonomously through the city, now they want some that read your mind. Cars drove autonomously from Italy to China. Nevada paves the legislative roads for driverless vehicles. What do they all have in common? (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2010

Four driverless, autonomous vans finished a trek most drivers would never think of driving: From Italy through Eastern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan and the Gobi Desert, all the way to Shanghai, China. They arrived there last Thursday, just in time for the Expo that closed last weekend. It was a long 8000 mile way, and they never got lost. (Read More…)

By on July 25, 2010

Two robots are retracing the tracks of Marco Polo and are on their way from Italy to China. The two heavily modified driverless Piaggio Porter Electric vans started last week in front of of the Milan Cathedral. By end of October they are expected to arrive in Shanghai after having driven 8,000 miles, all the way through Siberia and the Gobi Desert, all by themselves, untouched by human hands.

Well, kind of. (Read More…)

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