Archive for the ‘Semi-autonomous Driving’ Category

Ford Plants the Blue Oval in Detroit

Bill Ford says move isn't a gesture, company expects a return on its investment.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Ford CEO Jim Hackett, left, and Bill Ford share a laugh after the announcing the company's plans for the Michigan Central Station in Detroit.

In a ceremony that was equal parts pep rally, political rally and outdoor concert, Ford Motor Co. officially told the world it would be putting its new most precious resource – its mobility campus – in the city of Detroit in a yet-to-be-renovated train station.

The automaker purchased the Michigan Central Station, once the hub of train travel in and out of Detroit, for an undisclosed sum. Bill Ford Jr., founder Henry Ford’s great grandson and current company chairman, also declined to say how much the company would spend renovating the structure.

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Ford also was quick to note that even through the company was in the midst of a cost-cutting effort that was initially set at $14 billion and has since gone up to $25 billion, the acquisition of the building and some of the surrounding ones and property parcels fits within the company’s belt-tightening measures. (more…)

Apple Raises Profile in Race for Autonomous Vehicles with Waymo Exec Hire

Hiring Waydo signals company's intentions.

by on Jun.19, 2018

Former Waymo engineer has moved over to Apple and Project Titan.

Apple has hired one of Waymo’s top engineers, Jamie Waydo, to work on its secretive self-driving car program named Project Titan.

According to Silicon Valley news site, The Information, the tech giant Waydo, who was focused on making sure software and hardware worked together in the name of safety. The question is whether or not Waymo will fight back.

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Waymo sued Uber after the ride-sharing company acquired a company founded by an engineer who had left Google to launch his own start up. The $1.8 billion lawsuit was ultimately settled for less than $275 million after several bitter exchanges in federal court. (more…)

Official: First Look at All-New BMW 8-Series

BMW's flagship coupe returns after two-decade absence.

by on Jun.15, 2018

This is the first BMW 8-Series since the original was abandoned in 1999.

It may be time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the big news, trackside will turn to a new street model, BMW using the annual endurance race as backdrop to reveal the long-awaited rebirth of its flagship 8-Series model.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Bavarian automaker abandoned the original 8-Series, but we got word that it would make a comeback last year with the May 2017 debut of the Concept 8 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Italy’s Lake Como. Finally, we’re getting a look at the production version.

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Like the original, the new 8-Series opts for a coupe body, albeit one with a much more modern, streamlined design. The pop-up headlights, for one thing, are gone, replaced by slim LED lamps and the automaker’s new LaserLight technology. Indeed, as you’d expect of a BMW flagship, everywhere you look the new coupe is loaded up with the latest in technology, from its optional carbon fiber roof to its self-parking system.

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Electrifying Jaguar I-Pace Sets a Benchmark Even Tesla Will Have to Clear

Performance, handling, style and spaciousness come together to redefine the BEV.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Whether on a track or a back country road the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is a real game-changer.

I have seen – and driven – the future, and it is electric.

And I found it in a place you normally wouldn’t go looking, Faro, in the heart of Portugal’s Algarve region. When my plane touched down there, earlier this week, I was looking forward to some pleasant driving time. It’s beautiful countryside with lots of winding, lightly traveled mountain roads that pass through pastoral villages almost lost in time. As for the vehicle I’d crossed the ocean to test out, the new Jaguar I-Pace was, if nothing else, distinctively styled, both inside and out. Whether it would deliver that sometimes intangible concept we describe as “fun-to-drive” was going to be the real question.

When the first mass market battery-electric vehicles came to market early in this decade, about the most you could say for them was that they were environmentally friendly. They were slow, stodgy and required you to keep a constant eye on the range gauge lest you find yourself stranded miles from home. Tesla kicked it up a big notch by offering range comparable to a gas-powered vehicle and, with the optional Ludicrous Mode, blindingly fast acceleration. That said, the Models S, X and 3 each have their shortfalls. For most of us, they’re still not quite serious alternatives to conventional vehicles.

Electrifying Reviews!

The I-Pace, on the other hand, changes the equation. It is easy to fall back on clichés when trying to describe Jaguar’s first all-electric model, but it truly is electrifying, and by virtually every measure, it not only sets a benchmark for future battery-electric vehicles but also shows that BEVs can pose a direct challenge to conventional gas-powered models when it comes to not only design, interior space, comfort and utility, but performance and handling, as well.

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GM Increasing Bolt Production, Per Sustainability Report

The Orion plant will also produce Maven autonomous car.

by on Jun.13, 2018

Chevy Bolt production will be increased for this year and next due to rising demand for the EV.

General Motors Co. said will increase production of its Bolt battery-electric vehicle this year in response to global demand, according to 2017 sustainability report it released ahead of the company’s annual shareholders meeting.

The Bolt EV is built at GM’s Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit.

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GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra also said at least 20 new all-electric vehicles will launch globally by 2023, and that GM is partnering with utilities and governments to accelerate the growth of charging infrastructure as it looks to deliver on its vision of an “all-electric, emissions-free” future. “We believe the future is electric,” she said. (more…)

Despite Concerns, Safety Probes, Musk Promise “Full Self-Driving” Autopilot to Debut in August

But CEO Musk doesn’t explain what that actually means.

by on Jun.12, 2018

According to a new tweet from Tesla CEO Musk, products like the new Model 3 may soon be updated with full "self-driving" capabilities.

Tesla Version 9, an apparently major software update to the operating system used for the automaker’s vehicles, will debut in August and, according to CEO Elon Musk, add “full sell-driving” capabilities to the controversial Autopilot system.

The news, announced in a Musk tweet late Monday, comes at a time when earlier versions of the semi-autonomous Autopilot system have come under intense scrutiny. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board has raised serious concerns about how it functioned in the moments leading up to a fatal crash of a Tesla Model X SUV in California earlier this year.

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But Musk has repeatedly downplayed such concerns — even pointing his finger at owners who may not have used Autopilot properly – while promising a far more advanced version of the system was coming. And in his late Monday tweet, Musk said, “to date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety (but) with V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”

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Deal Done! Ford Buys Michigan Central Station

Automaker buys historic train station to anchor urban tech campus.

by on Jun.11, 2018

The 18-story Michigan Central Station was once the world's tallest railroad depot. Now it'll be the center of Ford's urban campus in Detroit.

Ford Motor Co.’s ongoing effort to attract young workers to the company by setting up its tech-based operations in Detroit took another step forward today when it announced it completed the purchase of the Michigan Central Station for an undisclosed sum.

The automaker has already set up some tech-oriented operations in the neighboring Corktown district and the acquisition of the train station, previously owned by the Moroun family, which also owns the Ambassdor Bridge, cements the company’s plans for the area.

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Company officials declined to comment on what it plans to use the building for, saying it would reveal all of that information on June 19. (more…)

NTSB: Model X Accelerating, Driver Took No Action in Crash

Report doesn't assign blame, just determines final moments.

by on Jun.08, 2018

A fatal March crash involving a Tesla Model S in Mountain View, California. Pic courtesy KTVU.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation into the crash of a Tesla Model X determined that seconds before the crash the vehicle was in Autopilot mode, accelerating and had no input from the driver to avoid the collision.

Walter Huang, 38, was killed on U.S. Hwy 101 in Mountain View, California, when his Model X slammed into a road divider, hit two other vehicles and then burst into flames, Huang, who according to his wife had complained previously about the failure of Autopilot in the same area before, was pulled from the vehicle before it caught on fire.

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Huang had the vehicle in its semi-autonomous Autopilot mode for nearly 19 minutes before the crash and it was set at 75 miles an hour. However, due to traffic in front of him, the vehicle was traveling at 65 mph before the vehicle in front of him moved, allowed the Model X to accelerate to the selected speed. (more…)

Volvo Hopes to Electrify Customers – and Investors

All-electric models now expected to generate half its sales by mid-2020s, with 1/3 self-driving.

by on Jun.08, 2018

The Volvo 40.2 Concept hints at what's coming with the marque's first all-electric vehicle.

Volvo took a lead in the push into electrification last year, announcing it would use some of battery-based drive system on all future products, whether mild, conventional or plug-in hybrids, or pure battery-electric. And, last January, it gave us a hint of what that first BEV would be with the debut of its 40.2 concept.

The production version will follow in 2019 and, if Volvo’s latest forecast is any indication, so will plenty of other all-electric models, as the Swedish automaker now says it wants them to generate half of its sales by mid-decade.

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The mid-term plan Volvo is laying out is nothing if not ambitious. It also predicts that half of the Chinese-owned automaker’s sales will come from self-driving vehicles, and that half of its volume will come through its Care by Volvo subscription service, rather than conventional sales and leasing. Oh, and add a goal of boosting volume – and profitability – to match other premium manufacturers.

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GM Expanding Super Cruise to All Cadillac Models

Move to cover entire brand happens by 2020.

by on Jun.06, 2018

Cadillac will expand the availability of Super Cruise across the entire line-up by 2020.

Cadillac plans to expand the rollout of Super Cruise from just the 2018 CT6 to the brand’s entire line-up by 2020.

Super Cruise is the brand’s hands-free driver assistance technology. Executive Vice President Mark Reuss made the announcement during Detroit-area event. He added that after 2020, the technology will be made available on other products within the General Motors family.

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Cadillac also plans to offer V2X communications in a high-volume crossover by 2023 and eventually expand the technology across Cadillac’s portfolio.  (more…)

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