California Governor signs a bill bringing autonomous vehicles closer to reality

Posted in Cars,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on September 26th, 2012

On Tuesday a bill was put into California law that creates a legal framework and operational safety standards for the testing and operation of autonomous vehicles on state roads and highways. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill “SB1298″ at Google HQ with Google’s Sergey Brin on hand to provide additional information regarding the development of self-driving cars.

Google has been working hard on making autonomous vehicles a reality for over two years now. Brin admits that there is “a long list” of issues to get through before such vehicles will be able to take over the road. His team must take into account every possible “eventuality” a car might experience on the road. He does promise, however, that an autonomous car will never speed through a red light. At the signing, a reporter asked if Google has plans to manufacture their own vehicles at some point. Brin responded by saying such plans are not in the works; Google is busy developing the technology to make cars drive themselves and talks are already underway with popular car manufacturers and they will implement Google’s tech when it’s ready for primetime. And then there’s the ultimate question: when can we expect to actually see and use these smart cars? “You can count on one hand the number of years until ordinary people can experience this,” teased Brin. With the law in place it’s only a matter of when, not if. The future is coming.

Watch the California Governor and the Google genius talk about the bill and the initiative behind it in the video embedded above. Brin gives his two cents around the 6 minute mark. And yes, he’s sporting his pet Project Glass.

[Via Google+)

Super hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder gets priced and production start date

Posted in Cars,Images,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 24th, 2011

The Porsche 918 Spyder. We’ve been following this hybrid beast for quite some time now. What started out as a concept vehicle eventually got the green light for production, and now it’s actually up for preorder. The sports car company says that it “marries unique plug-in hybrid technology and outstanding performance in a visually stunning and purely Porsche package.” And that it is. At the heart of the 918 Spyder lies a 500-plus horsepower V8 engine assisted by two electric motors with a total of at least 218 horsepower. Electric energy is stored in a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that can be recharged from a standard household outlet. Juicing up the vehicle is expected to take about seven hours. Oh, and it’s fast. It zips from zero to 60 MPH in about 3.1 seconds and can reach a top track speed of about 199 MPH. And according to Porsche, “under the right conditions” it will be able to drive on electric power alone at speeds up to 94 MPH. Even more impressive? The plug-in hybrid delivers 78MPG.

Do you have loads of money? Then keep reading. The 918 Spyder has been given a $845,000 price tag. And now you might grown when I tell you the release window: late 2013. Porsche plans to begin production on September 18, 2013 and ship ‘em out later that year in the US. The carbon fiber-reinforced Carrera GT-inspired sports car is going to cost you a pretty penny when it ships in the distant future. But that’s expected when you mash together green with luxury. Full PR after the break, images below.

[Via Engadget]

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Google is testing self-automated cars on streets and highways

Posted in Cars,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on October 10th, 2010

Google has totally submerged themselves in the transportation industry now.  After investing over $1 million in the human-powered monorail racetrack called Shweeb, Google spilled the details concerning its latest initiative to create entirely self-automated vehicles.  Straight from Google’s mouth (erm, blog) is their philosophy on the project: Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use. .. We’ve always been optimistic about technology’s ability to advance society, which is why we have pushed so hard to improve the capabilities of self-driving cars beyond where they are today.

When Google says these cars are self-automated, they mean it in the most literal sense of the term.  You see that odd-looking Toyota Prius in the image above?  That car is driving itself on Highway 101 in Mountain View, California.  Google’s seven test cars have racked up 1,000 miles without human intervention.  (Keep in mind, though, that trained operators remain at the wheel in case of malfunction.)  They use video cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to navigate themselves on the road.  The tech talks to Google’s data centers to obtain important transportation information such as detailed maps and terrain mapping.  A NYT editor was lucky enough to take a ride inside that Prius earlier this week, and here’s an excerpt from his experience:

“It drove at the speed limit, which it knew because the limit for every road is included in its database, and left the freeway several exits later. The device atop the car produced a detailed map of the environment.  The car then drove in city traffic through Mountain View, stopping for lights and stop signs, as well as making announcements like “approaching a crosswalk” (to warn the human at the wheel) or “turn ahead” in a pleasant female voice. This same pleasant voice would, engineers said, alert the driver if a master control system detected anything amiss with the various sensors.”

The search giant is collaborating with brilliant minds hailing from the DARPA Challenges, a series of autonomous vehicle races organized by the government.  You’re going to want to look after the break to watch a fascinating video starring a self-automated Volkswagen created by Germany’s TU Braunschweig, a team of researchers and engineers known for the work in the Challenges.

Now don’t expect to purchase a self-automated car anytime soon.  These things won’t be mass produced for many, many year; in fact, Google predicts the advanced vehicle technology won’t be ready to showcase its mystical powers for consumers until 2018 at the earliest.  But hey–at least this dream of a safer, more efficient means of transportation is being implemented today.  If Google puts the same amount of effort into this project as they do with search, we should be manning driver-less cars in no time.

Update: A Good Morning America correspondent took a ride in one of the Google self-automated cars.  She even stepped in front of it when it was driving full speed to see its reaction time.  Look after the break for the heart-stopping video report.

[Via GoogleBlog; Engadget; NYT]

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A car, inside out

Posted in Cars,Design,Image cache by Scott Meisner on August 6th, 2010

Oh, the magical effect of stimulating advertising.  Thanks, Volkswagon.

[Via IBelieveInAdvertising; InspireMeNow; Gizmodo]

Porsche 918 Spyder super-hybrid concept gets the green light for production

Posted in Cars,Design,Images by Scott Meisner on July 30th, 2010

I wasn’t so sure this day would come but here it is.  The gorgeous, green Porsche 918 Spyder is being upgraded from a concept model to production series.  The 918 Spyder made its debut at this year’s Geneva Motor Show and made waves in the car industry due to its conventional hybrid nature.  It’s powered by a 500HP V8 engine and a pair of 109HP electric motors.  This hybrid powertrain promises to provide 78-mpg efficiency.  Note that these numbers match up with the Geneva concept model; they may change slightly when the production model makes its way to the dealership.  Release date and price has not been made official yet, but whispers say the green machine will cost around  €500,000 (or $650,000 USD).  If the car makes its way to the States, it will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, if that helps any.  Look in the gallery below (warning: you may drool) and peek after the break for the official PR.

[Via Engadget; Autoblog]

Coke & Mentos Rocket Car

Posted in Cars,science,Video by Scott Meisner on June 2nd, 2010

We all know what happens when you combine Coke with Mentos candies (a fizzy explosion).  But have you ever imagined if the force from such an explosion could power a vehicle (of sorts) to move forward in space?  Well wonder no more, people!  Using 108 bottles of Coke Zero and 648 Mentos mints, the “Coke & Mentos guys” have created a rocket car.

The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car uses a piston mechanism: a six-foot long rod sits inside a six-foot long tube attached to each bottle of Coke Zero. When the Mentos drop into the soda, the pressure tries to push the rod out of the tube. With 108 rods all pushing at once, that gives us a lot of power. All that power is pushing against a wall braced with 3,600 pounds of cement blocks. So all the force is directed into moving the Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car forward. We get one big push for six feet, and then it’s all coasting from there.

Watch their successful test run in the video above.  Ah, the power of science.

[Via Deadspin]

Ferris Bueller’s Ferrari up for auction

Posted in Cars,News by Scott Meisner on April 10th, 2010

So remember in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Cam accidently pushed the car out his father’s enclosed glass garage and destroyed it?  Well, that didn’t really happen.  See (above)?  It’s fine.  It was all movie magic.  On April 19 the same Ferrari 250GT Spyder California will go up for auction at Bonhams Collectors’ Motor Cars and Automobilia.  Besides being an awesome collectors item from a classic American film, what also makes this car special is that “only around one hundred genuine 250GT Spyder California’s were created by Ferrari between 1958 and 1963.”  It’s rare.  So rare in fact that director John Hughes and Paramount had to commission this special replica model.  In other words, the buyer won’t be getting one of the original 250GT Spyder California’s…but it’s looks just like it and it was used in the movie!  The car is “ready to drive” and estimated to go for £30,000-£40,000 (or about $46,000-$61,400).  Happy bidding.

[Via Bonhams; Gizmodo]

Porsche 918 Spyder Concept is one hell of a hybrid

Posted in Cars,Design,Images by Scott Meisner on March 9th, 2010

Porsche 918 Spyder Concept

The Porsche 918 Spyder Concept is the most handsome hybrid vehicle I have ever laid my eyes on.  Set to replace the aging Carrera GT, the 918 Spyder Concept is powered by a 3.4-liter V-8 engine and a hybrid drive system that can crank out  500-horses (9200 rpm) while maintaining a 78-mpg efficiency.  Surprisingly the hybrid system does not affect this car’s superspeed; it can go 0-62 in 3.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 198mph.  It’s being previewed at this year’s Geneva Motor Show and likely won’t hit the production lines until a year or two.  Style and speed with an interior painted bright green.  Now that’s what I call good economical sense.  Can’t wait to see the price tag, though.

[Via MotorAuthority; Engadget]

Peugeot Concept vehicle

Posted in Cars,Design,Images,Technology by Scott Meisner on February 28th, 2010

Peugeot Concept, personal mobility car, designed by Yuji Fujimura.  Bubble cars of the future, where are you?

[Via Likecool]

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Ferrari F1 lounge chair

Posted in Cars,Design,Images by Scott Meisner on February 6th, 2010

Molded by Hungarian designer Alexander Christoff, this lounge chair is inspired by the Ferrari Formula 1 racecar.  It’s made out of fiberglass and features chrome legs and an adjustable headrest.  Me likey.  Check out additional images (and a shot of it next to its inspiration) in the gallery below.

[Via Gizmodo; BornRich]

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG wins the ‘iF product design award 2010′

Posted in Cars,Design,Images by Scott Meisner on December 31st, 2009

This year the gorgeous Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG will be handed one of the most prestrigious design awards, the “iF product design award.”  The 24-member jury chose 778 entries from around 2500 candidates in 16 categories.  The SLS AMG took the top crown in the “Transportation Design” category.  Prof. Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Mercedes-Benz: “This sought-after award for the new SLS AMG is a great honour for us. It also reflects the extremely positive feedback on the design of the SLS that we have been receiving since the September world premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt/Main.”  The SLS AMG is the first Mercedes vehicle to be built in-house by AMG.  It’s expected to ship in Europe mid-2010 and later in the US for less than $200,000.  Additional shots after the break.

[Via KanyeBlog; InfiBeam; Wiki]

Most realistic DeLorean is up for grabs on eBay

Posted in Cars,Design,Images,Movies by Scott Meisner on December 31st, 2009

I’m sure you are all familiar with the DeLorean of Back to the Future fame.  BTTF enthusiast Gary Weaver has built the most realistic recreation of the time-machine car with a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12.  Six years of research results in what you see in the gallery below.  (Fun fact: The location where this photo shoot was taken place is at the Gamble House in Pasadena, the very house that served as Doc Brown’s residence.)

  • Built on a beautiful, super-clean, stock 1981 5-speed DMC-12 with over $16,000 of mechanical work and upgrades performed at DMC California in September of 2008. Approx. 78K miles on vehicle.
  • Programmable time circuits which function just like those in the film.
  • Functioning digital speedometer on the dashboard (reads actual vehicle speed).
  • Main Time Circuit switch functions just like in the film, with all sound effects.
  • All interior indicators and switches light up, just like in the film.
  • Sound effects upon door opening.
  • Screen-accurate “OUTATIME” metal-stamped license plate with 1986 registration tag.
  • Eagle Goodyear GT tires, as seen in the film (not pictured).

It’s up for grabs on eBay right now.  You can “buy it now” for 90K; or the current bid stands at $60, 301.03 (there’s been ten bids placed on it).  The auction ends in about two hours!

[Via Jalopnik; Gizmodo]

Prevent car theft with Tesla coils

Posted in Cars,Image cache,Technology by Scott Meisner on December 29th, 2009

Yeah, that should do the trick.

[Via Neatorama; Tesladownunder]

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What happens when you stretch out a Batmobile?

Posted in Cars,Design,Images by Scott Meisner on December 23rd, 2009

You get a BatLimo, of course.  The Batmobile turned limousine is inspired by the Batmobile featured in the 1989 and 1992 Batman films.  Don’t think you’ll ever catch me riding in one of these, but still!  Check out the BatLimo in all its glory in the gallery below.

[Via Gizmodo; CarScoop]

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Now this makes sense…

Posted in Cars,Design,Image cache,Technology by Scott Meisner on December 23rd, 2009

Attach a camera to the front side of all large trucks, have the recorded image projected onto the back of the trucks, and viola!–now we can all see what’s lying ahead beyond the giant truck stuck in front of us.  That is the conceptual thinking behind Art Lebedev’s Transperentius.  This system will allow for large trucks to become seemingly transparent, providing additional road safety and assurance.  Bear in mind that this is an Art Lebedev project (uber-expensive), so don’t hold your breath for its near existence to suddenly spring about.  Why he places a tank in his visual recreation is beyond me.

[Via Engadget]

Lamborghini concept car has me drooling at the mouth

Posted in Cars,Design,Images by Scott Meisner on December 17th, 2009

Lamborghini Ankonian concept.  Designed by Slavche Tanevski.

The mid-engined supercar has a narrow and rather complex-looking body, with a garnishing of GT proportions. Thin OLEDs embedded between the surfaces function as headlights, and while all those lines may look weird, the Ankonian supposedly makes the best use of it all. The concept was named after a bull type famous for black hair, and since the designer had some help from professional designers at Lamborghini and Audi, the finished model has impressive looks.

Sure, it looks like a futuristic Bat-mobile, but come on!  Personally, I am a big fan of the Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo plus the Audi R8.  From the looks of these images this concept car takes the best of these supercars and manages to create beautifully designed and shaped super-super vehicle of my dreams.  Though it will likely never see the light of day as a real car, one can sit and stare at all its glory, can’t he?

[Via KanyeBlog]

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‘Magic Highway USA’ paints the future that was supposed to be

Posted in Cars,Television,Video by Scott Meisner on November 9th, 2009

From a 1958 Disneyland TV Show.

[Via KanyeBlog]

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Inflatable seat belts are coming

Posted in Cars,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on November 9th, 2009

Have you ever wondered how our protective friend the seat belt could get any safer (and more annoying)?  Ford is answering the call with the introduction of inflatable seat belts:

Ford Motor Company is bringing to market the worlds first automotive inflatable seat belts, combining attributes of traditional seat belts and air bags to provide an added level of crash safety protection for rear seat occupants.  The advanced restraint system is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries.
Ford will introduce inflatable rear seat belts on the next-generation Ford Explorer, which goes into production next year for the North American market. Over time, Ford plans to offer the technology in vehicles globally.

[Via Engadget; YouTube]

Lexus LF-A Crystallised Wind is out of this world

Posted in Architecture,Cars,Images,Style by Scott Meisner on October 26th, 2009

At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Lexus showed off its Lexus LF-A Crystallised Wind, an illuminated acrylic glass model of a real car.

Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto explains: “The term ‘wind’ addresses not only the flow of wind, but also symbolises a flow or current in a greater sense. It is a new horizon where the natural and the artificial co-exist in space.”

Check out a few more images of this beauty in the gallery below.

[Via Gizmodo; Wired]

World’s fastest amphibious vehicle

Posted in Cars,Video by Scott Meisner on October 19th, 2009

The WaterCar Python goes from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds on land andin water.  It is built on a Dodge Ram base and it has a custom fiberglass body.  On land it uses an aluminium Corvette LS engine and in water it’s powered by a Dominator jet.  The Python is on sale now and is available to the general public for $200,000.  Check out additional images below and peek after the break for a video of it in action.

[Via Gizmodo]

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