Tag: Technology

By on July 15, 2019

Amazon is striving to put Alexa, the home assistant/listening device, into more automobiles in the coming years. As a result, the company is working feverishly to enhance her vehicular-related capabilities — including wriggling her way into the embedded software systems of new cars.

On the surface, it sounds great. Networking your car with your smart home device opens up a bevy of new conveniences and Alexa should also help your car get better at understanding everyday voice commands. In the future, you’ll be able to order groceries, check the stock market, call the office, and adjust the thermostat of your house and car without ever having to take your hands off the steering wheel. But this also opens up a bevy of concerns, now that we know Amazon’s employees listen to and record pretty much everything you say to the device — sometimes doing the same for background conversations that were never intended for Alexa’s ears.  (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2019

Until the refresh of the Cadillac Escalade arrives, you want the Lincoln Navigator if you need a premium American battle tank. It’s a Raptor-powered beast of a cruiser, and Lincoln is keeping it fresh for the 2020 model year by offering a new appearance package and more standard tech.

Starting with the visuals, there is now a Monochromatic Appearance Package for the Navigator. If you don’t like chrome, and this author doesn’t, then this is a box you’ll want to check. Yes, there’s still some chrome, it is a Navigator after all. But the Monochromatic Package on the Reserve series offers three different colors to “showcase the bold lines” of the Navigator.

(Read More…)

By on June 26, 2019

Next year, BMW plans to equip all plug-in hybrid models with a standard function that automatically switches the automobile into electric mode whenever it enters an area designated for emissions-free driving. While the change is universal, the feature won’t get much action in the United States where government-mandated electrification is less pervasive than a Europe or China.

Still, that’s a sizable chunk of the brand’s global market. Hoping to appeal to it, Bavarian Motor Works went on an electric kick for Tuesday, announcing the electrically powered Motorrad Vision DC Roadster motorbike, Vision M Next Concept, testbed “Power BEV” drive units, upgrades to the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, and a bunch of other tech hand picked for the unsettlingly trendy #NEXTGen event.

However, the “eDrive Zone” PHEV geofencing system was one of the few items that has been scheduled for production. Unfortunately, it’s going to incorporate some gamification into the driving experience — making us suspicious of BMW’s ultimate goal.   (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2019

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Volkswagen is close to sealing a deal with Ford Motor Company for the next phase of the two companies’ fledgling alliance. The German giant seems poised to join Ford in its pursuit of self-driving technology through Argo AI — the autonomous startup Ford sunk $1 billion in back in 2017. Paving the way for some sort of tie-up or investment, VW this week ended its partnership with another self-driving startup, Aurora Innovation.

As well, news could soon be forthcoming about a much-rumored electric vehicle pact between the two automakers. (Read More…)

By on June 11, 2019

2017 Ram ProMaster City Tradesman SLT - Image: FCA

For some time, Fiat Chrysler has partnered with Waymo, providing Chrysler Pacificas for its partner’s fledgling autonomous ride-hailing business. Now, FCA has another partner.

Announced Monday, FCA has signed a memorandum of understanding with Aurora, maker of Aurora Driver — a package of hardware and software capable of Level 4 driving that the company hopes to sell to other companies. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2019

Launched on Cadillac’s flagship CT6 sedan for 2018, the hands-off Super Cruise driver-assist system has apparently already taken passengers 2.5 million miles, General Motors claims. The feature works only on divided, carefully mapped highways, with a driver-monitoring camera ensuring motorists don’t pull any Tesla-inspired stunts.

With Super Cruise poised to migrate from the CT6 to other vehicles in the coming years, GM plans to add an extra 70,000 miles of “compatible” roadways to the feature’s network, including a key route missing from the previous version. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2019

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

On the eve of D-Day, a British automaker and its German rival have teamed up to defeat a modern foe: spiraling development costs born of electrification. Europe’s going green these days, and the need to ditch diesel (and eventually gas) to satisfy the boys on Brussel, coupled with a general cooling off in Western demand, is placing strain on automaker budgets.

The cure, OEMs believe, is collaboration. In a world where BMW hopped into bed with its closest German rival on the mobility front, an electric powertrain partnership between Jaguar Land Rover and Bimmer doesn’t seem all that weird. (Read More…)

By on June 5, 2019

Mazda fans on this side of the Atlantic will have to wait patiently for their turn, as the innovative Skyactiv-X-powered Mazda 3 now available in Europe won’t show up here for some time.

On Wednesday, the company announced that continental buyers can begin placing orders for models equipped with a Spark Plug Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) 2.0-liter four-cylinder, tossing out fuel economy and power figures along the way. (Read More…)

By on May 31, 2019

With China having become the world’s largest automotive market by individual sales, it’s worth keeping tabs on it for burgeoning driving trends. While that’s predominantly revolved around electric vehicles, the People’s Republic also has pretty strict driving rules backed by some of the tightest monitoring of a civilian population imaginable. China is setting up a vast surveillance system that tracks every single one of its 1.4 billion citizens and is adapting it for use in its new “social credit system,” which sounds like the most Orwellian thing in existence.

The system is intended to publicly shame criminals, debtors, jaywalkers, and those with “controversial” political views while monitoring their every move but it’s also doing a fine job of making life harder for drivers.  (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2019

With automakers perpetually promoting daft new technologies as a way to appease investors, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new idea that made us take pause and wonder why nobody else had come up with it first. Fortunately, Jaguar Land Rover has done us a solid, with research help from Glasgow University, and delivered a “sensory steering wheel” aimed at giving drivers silent feedback through temperature variances.

The applications of the device are yet to be settled upon but JLR has suggested that the wheel could be used to notify the driver of less-pressing issues that don’t warrant an audible announcement or even offer silent turn-by-turn navigation.  (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2019

Like all automakers, Volvo is keen to promote itself as a cutting-edge manufacturer, and now has a new tool in its arsenal to impress tech-obsessed shareholders. Thanks to a corporate partnership with Varjo, the brand says it will begin implementing the latest in VR headsets to help streamline development. However, Volvo’s plan is more concerned with augmenting our existing realities than creating new ones.

By using Varjo’s new XR-1 headset, the automaker believes it can manufacture plausible portions of augmented reality littered with virtual obstacles and encounters that are as real to the driver as they would be to the car — without putting either in any legitimate danger. This is ultimately supposed to allow the company to effectively test real vehicles sporting autonomous hardware while subjecting living subjects to the same experience. But the full depth of these simulations has yet to be explored.  (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2019

tesla model 3

In this writer’s opinion, one of the greatest things to happen to high-speed motoring is the blind spot monitoring system. Try as we might to religiously check our mirrors and peer over our shoulders before each lane change, there’ll always be that time we half-ass it, just as an unseen car creeps up in the shadow of our B- or C-pillar. BSM can be a savior.

However, handing over the entire lane-change process to a combination of software and sensors, at least in Tesla vehicles, is far, far worse than doing it yourself, Consumer Reports claims. After giving the latest update to Tesla’s “Navigate on Autopilot” feature a shakedown cruise on the highways of Connecticut, the consumer advocacy group handed the system a failing grade. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2019

lotus evora gt430

After Chinese auto giant Geely took a controlling stake in Lotus two years ago, the British brand has prepared itself for a turnaround. With a more stable financial footing secured, Lotus can be whatever it wants to be.

Enthusiasts want it to remain Lotus, only with an actual range of vehicles on offer. Group Lotus’ CEO, who also happens to be Geely’s chief technology officer, knows what he wants         the brand to mimic: Porsche. Feng Qingfeng has great fondness for the brand’s would-be rival, calling its products “wonderful.”

It seems he’s also okay with an SUV. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2019

Will online videos soon emerge showing Nissan drivers taking naps or hopping into the backseat while underway? Maybe, but Nissan hasn’t been as cavalier as Tesla in playing up the abilities of its driver-assist technology. Now that an upgraded system that’s on par with General Motors’ Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot is on the way, the automaker remains cautious.

ProPilot 2.0, as the name implies, is the next generation version of Nissan’s ProPilot Assist technology, and it differs from the first-gen system in one big way: drivers will be able to take their hands off the wheel. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Arctic White marque badge detail

Much of the news surrounding Mazda this past year has concerned powerplants: a new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-banger for the CX-5 crossover and 6 sedan, a sort-of sparkless Skyactiv-X mill that still doesn’t have a North American arrival date, a lackluster diesel that took its sweet time getting here, and the brand’s continued lack of electric offerings.

The engine news continues. Buried within this week’s fiscal year earnings report is a hint of two new engines to come — inline-six engines. For a brand eager to position itself as premium, the development of a mill widely regarded as the classiest engine type reflects well on it. (Read More…)

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