cartechboy (2660665) writes "Most normal road cars aren't designed to handle track conditions, though, newer performance cars have become surprisingly good at going around a track. It seems the same can't be said for the Tesla Model S which faltered during a hot lap around the legendary Nürburgring. Racing driver Robb Holland piloted the electric car around the 14-mile track, but after just one third of the loop the Model S went into reduced-power mode to help preserve the battery. Before this happened Holland described the car as too heavy, too short of mechanical grip, and devoid of steering feel. He did praise the electric sedan saying it's probably capable of a 9-minute lap if it doesn't overheat, and for a brand new car company that didn't exist a decade ago, it's an impressive vehicle. So it seems the Tesla Model S isn't perfect at everything, yet."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Last summer Nissan said it would be launching a self-driving car with revolutionary technology in 2020. It seems the "revolutionary technology" Nissan was talking about won't actually be hitting by 2020, as the launch plan it just announced doesn't put a fully autonomous car on the road any time soon. The plan calls for a vehicle with automated lane controls and highway traffic management system (essentially a traffic jam assistant) to launch in 2016. Then by 2018 it will launch a vehicle with additional multiple-lane control system, which will allow the vehicle to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes. By the end of the decade Nissan plans to have a vehicle with intersection-autonomy, allowing a vehicle to negotiate city cross-roads without driver interaction. So by 2020, Nissan's autonomous car will still require a driver to remain in control and behind the wheel. This is a bit different than what Google's looking to launch. Which then begs the question, is this truly even going to be a self-driving car?"
An anonymous reader writes "If you're tired of yelling at the kids without the help of technology, Toyota has a van for you. From the article: "The latest version of the company's Sienna minivan has a feature called 'Driver Easy Speak.' It uses a built-in microphone to amplify a parent's voice through speakers in the back seats. Toyota says it added Easy Speak 'so parents don't have to shout to passengers in the back.' But chances are many parents will yell into the microphone anyway. And the feature only works one way, so the kids can't talk back. At least not with amplified voices. The feature is an option on the 2015 Sienna, which is being refreshed with a totally new interior. It also has an optional 'pull-down conversation mirror' that lets drivers check on kids without turning around.""
An anonymous reader writes "Thanks to some clean-energy tax incentives approved late this spring, California appears to be in the running again for Tesla's "Gigafactory". From the article: "The decision should have been made by now, and ground broken, according to the company's timeline, but is on hold, allowing California, which was not in the race initially — CEO Elon Musk has called California an improbable choice, citing regulations — to throw its hat in the ring. 'In terms of viability, California has progressed. Now it's a four-plus-one race,' said Simon Sproule, Tesla's vice president of global communication and marketing, referring to the four named finalists — Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada — for the prize. That's heartening. Having the Gigafactory would be a vindication of Gov. Jerry Brown's drive to make California the home of advanced manufacturing, of which Tesla's battery technology is a prime example. With its technology, 'Tesla may be in position to disrupt industries well beyond the realm of traditional auto manufacturing. It's not just cars,' a Morgan Stanley analyst told Quartz, an online business publication last year."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Remember about a year ago when a Tesla supported created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking President Obama to allow Tesla Motors to sell its vehicles directly to consumers in all states? The petition has the necessary 100,000 signatures and was completed properly. Well, the White House got around to responding, a year later. Basically, the answer was sorry, go talk to congress. The response from the White House was actually 10 paragraphs long, but two sentences basically sum it up: "As you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level." And also, "We understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress." Naturally Tesla and Tesla supporters weren't pleased to see this type of response."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It's not uncommon for executives to talk about the competition, but it is unusual for them to not only trash talk them, but to literally call them out. That seems to be the scenario that just happened as a Hyundai executive has called out Tesla. Michael O'Brien is head of U.S. product planning for Hyundai called out Tesla by saying it bought and paid for its Supercharger network with "money that has come from grants and loans from the government." Meanwhile he's angry that the government has provided exactly zero dollars towards the development of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Tesla of course was less than thrilled to hear about this and immediately refuted the claims made by Mr. O'Brien. Could it be that Hyundai is simply sour that it's chosen to invest in fuel-cells and that there's no infrastructure to refuel these vehicles?"
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Cars already have the technology to determine when you're drowsy, that's nothing new. But having seats with sensors in them monitoring your heart rate to determine if you're falling asleep, that's new, and creepy. A new project from Nottingham Trent University in the UK is working on an electrocardiogram (ECG) built into the driver's seat to detect heart rate and determine when the driver is too fatigued—or worse, falling asleep—in order to improve road safety. The tech uses circuits integrated right into the seats to monitor heart rate, respiration, and more to monitor alertness and health. The idea is the system can take over using active cruise control, lane-keep assist, and other safety technology if the driver were to be drowsy or fall asleep. Of course, the creepy part is the car knows your health and determines whether it would be more fit to drive than you. Maybe in the future you won't get to decide if you're fit to drive, your car will."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It seems there's a new hack challenge set every week, but this time, it seems different. A challenge has been thrown down to hack a Tesla Model S with a $10,000 prize. The organizers of a computer security conference have set the challenge and it's open to anyone that registers for the Syscan conference. Taking place in Beijing from July 16-17, the rules for the hack competition haven't been revealed yet but a Model S will be on display for hackers to try their luck on. It's important to note that Tesla itself isn't involved in the competition in any official capacity, nor does it support the competition. If successful, this wouldn't be the first time a Tesla Model S has been hacked. In that instance Tesla was quick to warn people that making changes in the Model S' software would immediately void the car's warranty. Given the car's high-tech nature, it's no shock Tesla's taking security seriously. With $10,000 on the line, it'll be interesting to see if anyone manages to crack the code."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Looks like Tesla is battling copyright issues over its name in China, as a single businessman there trademark trolls them. Zhan Baosheng has sued Tesla to stop the company from selling cars in China because he filed for the Chinese copyrights of the Tesla name in 2006 and was granted those trademarks in 2009. Baosheng had also set up a website and trademarked the Tesla logo--hoping to profit from Tesla's expected plans to sell in cars in China. Tesla, meanwhile, says its claim to the name has already been upheld by other Chinese authorities and that the lawsuit is without merit. The electric car company has actually considered using the phonetic name "Te Su Le" to sell its cars if needed. China drivers now buy more cars than those in any other country and the market is a key for luxury car sales."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Travelers at Dusseldorf Airport in Germany don't even have to park their cars anymore. Last week the airport began testing a self-driving fork-lift like robot system called "Ray" that delivers cars to and from parking spaces. Drivers simply pull into the parking lot and check the car in on a digital touchscreen. The robot valet takes it from there. Sensors measure the vehicle dimensions so the robot can adjust its arms, pick the car up and park it in one of the 249 automated parking spots. The electric-powered Ray travels up to 6 mph.guided by laser navigation and mapping software With a smart phone app, drivers can even let Ray know they are going through customs, so the car is ready right when you return. Best part — the related video is narrated in German."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Big rig operators may not be thrilled to hear it (or maybe they will). Daimler board member Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard was quoted as saying "The truck of the future is a Mercedes-Benz that drives itself." The German automaker has completed a first public road test of an autonomously-driven truck. Radar and stereo cameras keep the rig on the right course once it's at cruising speed, freeing the driver to get "other" work done. (Watch the video to get a sense for a trucker being able to settle in with his iPad.) Mercedes says the self-driving truck could allow drivers to perform tasks that might otherwise be handled by office workers. So maybe it's office workers that need to worry about autonomous trucks, rather than the drivers."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "What if you got into your car and you had to authenticate that it was you behind the wheel? That might be what's coming in the near future as Ford's working with Intel to bring facial recognition to the car. The idea would be to improve safety and in-car tech with this system which is being called Project Mobil. When someone enters a Project Mobil-equipped car the system uses front-facing cameras to authenticate the driver. If the driver can't be authenticated it'll send a photo to the vehicle owner's phone asking for permission for this person to drive the vehicle. Once identified, the car can then automatically adjust certain settings to the driver's preference. This could also theoretically allow parents to control how loud their kids listen to the music while driving, how fast they can drive, and even simply monitor them driving. Obviously this NSA-like surveillance tech is a bit creepy on some levels, but there could be a lot of terrific applications for it. While only an experiment, don't be surprised if your dashboard stares back at you eventually."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Tired of waiting for self-driving cars from the automakers? If 2017 and 2020 just feel too far away there's now a solution it's called Cruise, and for $10,000 it'll turn your current ride into a self-driving car. Kyle Vogt started the company and recruited a team of engineers and roboticists from MIT to work on autonomous vehicles. Cruise plans to market the hardware as something that can be retrofitted to existing cars using roof-mounted sensors near the windshield, actuators to operate the controls, and a trunk-mounted computer that manages everything. The idea is that drivers can merge onto the highway and simply hit the "Cruise" button on the dashboard. This will engage the system and basically turns the car on autopilot. The system can use the steering, brakes, and throttle to keep the car in its lane. Currently the first system called RP-1 only works on current-generatinon Audi A4 and S4 models, but one would have to assume there are plans for expanding that. RP-1 is currently available for pre-order with the launch set for near year."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Let's face it, regenerative braking is now old tech. It's on everything from the Toyota Prius to your mom's new Ford Fusion Hybrid. So what's next? We've already heard about thermoelectric technology which recovers energy from hot surfaces such as exhaust, but what about the energy used by your car while moving up and down? That's right, recovering energy normally lost through a vehicle's suspension. Audi is reportedly developing a regenerative suspension system that could reclaim energy in a similar way to regenerative braking, providing an extra boost of electricity from the up-and-down motion of the shock absorbers. Shocks can become quite hot, especially on a bumpy road. That heat is pretty much wasted as it dissipates into the atmosphere as wasted energy, but the Audi system would collect it with an attached generator. That recovered energy would be stored in batteries and used to power a hybrid's electric motor or electrical accessories in a conventional car. Audi hasn't said when this tech will make its public debut, but this stuff is the next step in when it comes to energy recovery in cars."