Tag: software

By on October 4, 2019

Image: Ford

Ford Motor Company may have sidelined thousands of 2020 Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators due to hazy manufacturing issues, but it seems many vehicles slipped through the quality dragnet and into the hands of consumers.

You saw a eyebrow-raising walkaround of a dealer-fresh Aviator here the other week. Owners, however, get to slip behind the wheel and, in some cases, experience a bewildering array of symptoms. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

tesla model-s-rear, image: Tesla Motors

The spontaneous combustion of several Tesla vehicles in recent weeks has forced the automaker into action, issuing over-the-air updates in an attempt to snuff out the problem… and smother another round of bad PR. To its credit, Tesla seems to be taking the matter seriously.

The update covers the company’s Model S and X vehicles, regardless of country. Meanwhile, investigations continue into the cause of recent blazes in Shanghai, San Francisco, and Hong Kong. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2018

Tesla’s latest over-the-air update appears to have caused at least a few drivers to lose all Autopilot functionality. While the vehicles seem otherwise intact, the semi-autonomous driving mode that was supposed to be improved by the latest firmware installation ended up a little buggy. That’s unfortunate for Tesla — a company that could do without additional bad publicity.

Luckily, minor software issues are exactly that — minor. This isn’t on the same scale as Tesla’s CEO promising to go public or pretending to smoke weed online. It isn’t even as big of a deal as the company losing another high-ranking executive, which also happened this week.  (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2018

In 1987, Ford Motor Company published a game for the long-defunct disk operating system universally known as “DOS.” In reality, the software was less of a game and more of a digital showroom that allowed you to demo the company’s 1988 lineup from the comfort of your personal computer. As marketing materials go, you couldn’t have done much better than this for the era, and now it’s a top-rate piece of automotive nostalgia.

Ford Simulator was essentially the car-based equivalent to the CDs distributed by America Online, but before such a thing even existed. The software just had a way of casually showing up and finding its way into your computer room. This was an era when promotional materials were physical and technology had reached a point where the industry could experiment a little.

Tragically, the internet has eliminated this phenomenon like a dog with rabies. You don’t see much physical media at automotive trade shows anymore and any games that include branded models come through publishers that are able to work out a deal with automakers.

However, for almost 10 years, Ford produced a series of computer programs many of us remember fondly — despite being objectively terrible to play. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2018

tesla model 3

The Consumer Reports review that criticized the Tesla Model 3’s stopping distance and all-consuming touchscreen seems to have sparked CEO Elon Musk’s recent spat with the media, but a change of heart at CR might cause Musk to think twice about his proposed rating site for journalists.

After the automaker improved the model’s 60-0 mph stopping distance by nearly 20 feet (a feat accomplished via an over-the-air software update), the publication bestowed the car with a “recommended” rating, despite lingering concerns over certain features. Maybe the torches-and-pitchforks crowd can clear off CR‘s lawn now. (Read More…)

By on November 22, 2017

uber volvo

In the midst of Uber Technologies’ corporate restructuring and cultivation of a squeaky-clean new image, the ride-hailing company was apparently hiding a dark secret. Striving for transparency, the company has now confessed that hackers stole the personal information of 57 million customers and drivers in October of 2016.

The coverup, apparently conducted by the firm’s chief security officer and another staff member, involved over $100,000 in payments to the hackers in the hopes to keep them quiet. The data lost included names, email addresses, and phone numbers of around 50 million Uber riders across the globe. Another 7 million drivers were also subjected to the digital attack, with over half a million of those losing their driver’s license numbers.  (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2017

uber volvo

Uber Technologies is about to be probed to a degree that would make even the most compliant alien abductee blush. The company is now looking at a minimum of five criminal investigations from the U.S. Justice Department regarding claims of bribes, illicit software usage, unfair marketing practices, corporate espionage, questionable pricing strategies, and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property.

The ride-hailing firm is also involved in dozens of lawsuits from from customers and employees — and one very public suit with autonomous research rival Waymo. But Uber’s skirting of the law was what made it so profitable to begin with. Its take-no-prisoners attitude may have been the thing that ultimately ousted founder and CEO Travis Kalanick and severely tarnished its corporate image, but it’s also an aspect that ensure its success. Still, nobody likes learning how the sausage is made and every look behind Uber’s curtain revealed another fresh horror the press couldn’t resist mentioning — including yours truly. (Read More…)

By on September 10, 2017

Uber At Igby's In Cincy Circa April 2014

Uber has undertaken a concerted effort to clean up its corporate act, but holdovers from its more aggressive era continue getting the ride-hailing firm into trouble. Currently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is checking into Uber Technologies Inc. to see if it had used software to illegally interfere with its competition from 2014 to 2016.

The program in question, which Uber calls “Hell,” was the focus of an April lawsuit where a former Lyft driver asked for $5 million in damages. By creating dummy accounts, Hell is supposedly able to track the areas where its rivals are doing business and better-compete by adjusting pricing or offering discounts to their customers. It’s also a way to see if Uber employees are double dipping by simultaneously working for Lyft.

It’s not the first time the company has been cited for playing on the fringes of legality. In addition to a high-profile court case against Alphabet’s Waymo over trade secrets, Uber has also been accused of testing self-driving vehicles without state approval, and using its “Greyball” software to hide from police and public officials. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2017

Tim Cook, Image: iphonedigital/flickr

Apple has been perpetually flip-flopping in terms of developing autonomous vehicles. In 2014, the company was rumored to have begun work on an autonomous electric car, codenamed “Project Titan,” with hundreds of employees devoted solely to its development.

Management issues and logistical problems impaired its progress, leading Apple to abandon the project. Since then, Bob Mansfield has fronted a renewed effort to focus on building an autonomous driving system rather than a complete car. At least, that was everyone’s best guess, as the company has been semi-secretive about its mission since day one.

That changed on Tuesday, when CEO Tim Cook confirmed that Apple does indeed have a self-driving development program. The chief executive even went so far as to call it “the mother of all A.I. projects.” That’s quite the claim to make, considering making the tech work on a car is half the battle and Apple has no practical experience building an autonomous vehicle.  (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 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 April 27, 2016

TDI Clean Diesel

If you want your nefarious plan to stay on the down low, try not to make a PowerPoint presentation on it.

That’s an obvious takeaway from the New York Times report that details a bombshell discovery made by investigators probing documents and laptops related to Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. (Read More…)

By on March 24, 2015

2013 Nissan Altima 3.5 SL, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Nissan’s March 2014 airbag software recall to determine its effectiveness.

(Read More…)

By on July 14, 2014

2015-nissan-versa-sl-photo-590018-s-1280x782

CVTs aren’t the most popular of transmission options around despite its improvements to fuel efficiency and ride on a vehicle so equipped. Nissan hopes an upcoming software tweak will change a few minds, however.

(Read More…)

By on September 27, 2013

The Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex used to produce Jeep Cherokee in Toledo

Chrysler announced Thursday that it will restart the second shift of workers assembling the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee at the Toledo Assembly Complex next Monday after a week of downtime spent upgrading the software for the SUV’s powertrain. Chrysler had idled the 500 workers, it said, because it had built a sufficient number of vehicles to launch and that it didn’t want to overwhelm delivery logistics, but it was clear from the fact that none of the built Cherokees were being shipped and that some of the idled workers were conducting lengthy test drives that quality control was a factor in the shutdown. Chrysler software and drivetrain engineers have been working on patches to the engine and transmission mapping software and the company says that it has made progress on the upgrade. (Read More…)

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