It all sounds so futuristic and exciting, this concept of driverless cars, but the reality is, our society may not be nearly as ready for it as other people in other lands may be. That’s because if there is one thing Americans are infatuated with, it is the automobile.
And yet, the technology is here and it is getting better every year. So we may have little choice about whether or not we want our vehicle to do the driving for us in the near future.
H/t reader kevin a:
“This is an Amazing engine.”
Toyota is hot on hydrogen fuel cells for its next-generation cars, but it’s not going cold on internal combustion just yet.
The company’s R&D division has developed a Free Piston Engine Linear Generator that can convert gasoline and other fuels into electricity more efficiently than existing systems.
It’s a technology that could lead to lighter, more efficient, better-packaged powertrains for plug-in hybrid cars. Continue reading »
Ford CEO, Mark Fields, sat down with Bloomberg to discuss plans to introduce a completely autonomous car by 2021. The only real problem we see with that plan is that it pretty much ensures their own demise. That said, they’re pretty much doomed anyway so might as well go for it.
The company said it plans to have a fully autonomous vehicle — no steering wheel, no gas or brake pedals — available by 2021 for ride-hailing services. Continue reading »
After Tesla’s latest problem involving a Model S crash in Beijing while in autopilot mode (which has since prompted the carmaker drop remove “autopilot” from its Chinese website), Elon Musk may have to return to a more familiar problem plaguing his vehicles: spontaneous combustion.
According to Electrek, as part of its ‘Electric Road Trip’ tour for the summer, Tesla stopped in Biarritz, France to promote Model S and Model X over the weekend. During a test drive in a Model S 90D, the vehicle suddenly sent a visual alert on the dashboard stating that there was a problem with “charging”. The Tesla employee giving the test drive made the driver park the car on the side of the road and all three (the driver, the Tesla employee and another passenger) exited the vehicle. Continue reading »
Jul 6, 2016
From playing patty cake to taking part in arm wrestling matches, these motorists appear to be concentrating on anything but the road. The startling videos posted to YouTube show people lounging around while their self-driving cars do all the work. A second serious crash involved a Tesla on autopilot has also been reported. Police in Pennsylvania say the motorist smashed into a guardrail and a concrete median before his car rolled onto its roof on July 1.
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Call it a case of tragic irony.
Earlier today, Tesla reported (with a one day delay so that perhaps its stock wouldn’t get clobbered ahead of quarter end rebalancing) that a 40-year-old Ohio man, named Joshua Brown, was killed when his 2015 Model S drove under the trailer of an 18-wheeler on a highway near Williston, Florida, sending Tesla stock lower nearly 3%. Continue reading »
We’ve heard rumors for years about engines capable of getting 100 miles to a gallon of fuel, but the reality is much closer than you might think. Josh “Mac” MacDowell says he not only has the engine, he has come up with an idea, strong enough the U.S. patent office has given him a patent for it. MacDowell is using a Stirling engine, coupled with thermopile technology to make it possible to drive a Hybrid electric car and never have to stop to charge it.
The Stirling engine was actually invented 200 years ago, in 1816. The engine is driven by the exchange of hot and cold air, much like nature drives a thunderstorm. The Stirling engine is capable of using roughly 50% of the energy it produces. An internal combustion engine, like the ones in our vehicles, uses about 14%. Continue reading »
You can’t say we weren’t warned. As reported over a month ago, before the surprising rebound in April retail sales, the biggest drag on consumer spending was auto sales. One month later, this is finally starting to materialize when earlier today, both GM and Ford’s US vehicle sales fell more than analysts had estimated in May. According to Bloomberg this “raises questions about stalling consumer demand.” Not really: as we also warned a month ago when looking at stalling use car price changes, it was only a matter of time before the lack of demand for every low priced autos spilled over to new car sales, which it now has.
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Movement in the autonomous vehicle space accelerated once again.
Four ex-Google engineers, including the man who built Google’s first self-driving car, announced “Otto”, an autonomous truck retrofitting business.
The service isn’t vaporware. “Otto” is currently operating on Nevada highways.
BackChannel reports The Man Who Built Google’s First Self-Driving Car Is Now a Trucker.
Founded by four ex-Google engineers?—?including Anthony Levandowski, the man who built Google’s very first self-driving car?—?Otto is applying Google’s all-or-nothing approach to commercial big rigs: ditch human drivers, avoid thousands of road deaths, help the environment, and if all goes well, make a ton of money along the way. Continue reading »
This week, Ford and Volvo announced they are forming a “coaliton” – along with Google – to push not only for the development of self-driving cars, but for federal “action” (their term) to force-feed them to us.
The reasons are obvious: There’s money – and control – in it.
To understand what’s going on, to grok the tub-thumping for these things, it is first of all necessary to deconstruct the terminology. The cars are not “self-driving.” This implies independence.
And “self-driving” cars are all about dependence. Continue reading »
Despite the blustering propaganda from CNBC’s Phil LeBeau, it appears the Auto-sales (and massive inventory build) party is over in America. December US domestic auto sales SAAR printed 13.46 mm – the lowest in 6 months (missing expectations of 14.15mm by the most since November 2008). With non-revolving credit growth slowing in December, and inventories at record highs, the wheels just fell off the credit-fueled auto ‘recovery’.
The Norwegian owner of a Tesla Model S found an unexpected f(i)ringe benefit during a cold Friday afternoon when shortly after he had parked his luxury electric car at a supercharging station in Gjerstad, and left, he realized the car could serve as a very quick and efficient, if quite toxic, source of heating for the cold Scandinavian country, after the Model S spontaneously burst into flames. Continue reading »
Vehicle emergency system called police dispatch after crash
A Port St. Lucie woman is under arrest in connection with a hit-and-run.
Police responded to a hit-and-run in the 500 block of Northwest Prima Vista Boulevard on Monday afternoon. The victim, Anna Preston, said she was struck from behind by a black vehicle that took off. Preston was taken to the hospital with back injuries. Continue reading »
Despite ongoing exuberance at auto sales in America (which disappointed) – as crashing credit standards enable every Tom, Dick, and Muppet to buy too much ‘depreciating asset’ for their incomes – there are numerous problems few are talking about for automakers worldwide. Aside from “plans to buy a car” tumbling in the latest confidence surveys, and inventories-to-sales surging, China just poured ice cold water on any hope of stability in that ‘growth’ market as auto dealers issue the highest inventory alert since June. November data from China shows demand plunging, sales collapsing, and inventories soaring – a triple whammy of “no, things are not ‘stabilizing’.”
Self-driving buses are coming to America. The Bishop Ranch business park in San Ramon, California will be the first place in the U.S. to use French robo-buses to ferry passengers around.
Perhaps the best place for autonomous vehicles to start out is in this kind of training ground, although given the safety record of Google’s self-driving cars, the training might be for us humans in getting used to them. It’s hard to argue that preset routes and low speeds aren’t ideal for an introduction to driverless vehicles, and that’s just what the Easymile company specializes in.
The EZ10 is a driverless bus designed for short hops. It has been deployed in Europe—in Finland, France, and is just about to launch in Spain. The electric vehicles carry up to ten passengers, and have ramps for wheelchairs and strollers. The idea is that they carry you the “last mile” of your journey, and one of their main uses is in theme parks.
With the second half of 2015 “grim” for Chinese auto sales, US automakers – who have field-of-dreams-like built inventories to record levels – have turned domestic for growth by extending credit for decades to anyone who can fog a mirror. That was all well and good until we discover this morning that the government’s consumer confidence survey shows Americans auto-buying attitude is the lowest since Jan 2013. Automakers have two options, offer buy-one-get-one-free to all new Syrian refugees or cut production dramatically in hopes of easing inventory excess. Good luck.…
As the following chart shows, after langushing between $70 and $800 billion in the second half of the last decade, since Q2 2010 US auto loans have been on an absolute tear, and have increased by over 40% in the past five years alone, to just shy of $1 trillion as of June 30!