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What's there left to do after you invent the Internet? Invent disappearing vehicles, apparently. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently working on this technology, which even it admits "sounds like [...] an episode from Mission Impossible."
Codenamed ICARUS (Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems), the project (which launched today) builds on its previous VAPR (Vanishing Programmable Resources) program, which produced self-destructive electronic components. The idea with ICARUS is utilize the potential of polymer panels and "electronics-bearing glass strips" to make delivery vehicles and their recoverables disappear should the need arise (whether that's the threat of the enemy retrieving items, or the hindrance of the vehicle and items on extraction, or any number of other scenarios).
ICARUS is set to last a little over two years, and will see funding of about $8 million. And though named after the tragic Greek myth, DARPA says, quite amusingly, that it "aims to mimic the material transience that led to Icarus' demise, but leverages that capacity in scenarios with more uplifting endings."
Over the next few years the automotive market is going to change in more ways than one, with Tesla Motors pumping out more electric cars than it can handle right now, the Volkswagen emission cheating scandal and then the future of autonomous cars being on our doorstep.
Well, Toyota has said that it wants to have an autonomous car on the road by 2020. The company thinks that it can remove the driver from the situation on the highways by 2020, which is something it is already experimenting with in its technology called Highway Teammate. Toyota used a modified Legus GS to show the world what is possible thanks to the combination of millimeter wave radar, LIDAR, and cameras. This gives the vehicle a full view of the road, and the software side handles all of the information being gathered to make the important decisions.
Toyota is making significant investments into autonomous technology and artificial intelligence that will not replace drivers, but heavily assist them. But the question remains; will you buy an autonomous vehicle in the next decade? I know I would.
In a recent road test completed by Car Advice, we were able to find out exactly how fast Tesla's P85D is. Pitted against a 680hp modified Holden Walkinshaw W507 and Super Cheap Auto Racing's 650+hp V8 supercars race car was the 'humble' electric Tesla P85D.
The Walkinshaw W507 is a special upgrade package applied to Holden's VF series LSA GTS Maloo, this pack includes goodies such as a supercharger pulley upgrade, ceramic coated headers and cats plus more, generating a massive 507kw (680hp) at the crank. All of this performance was no match for the P85D, with Paul Maric noting that not only did the P85D win by four whole car lengths, but the controlled launch of the P85D really propelled it ahead from the beginning.
Next up was the V8 supercars competitor, developed and designed as a circuit racing car and with its actual professional driver within. Although a whole lot of weight reduction and more has been thrown into this model, the P85D still edged it out by two car lengths in total.
With the company only just getting the Model X onto the road, Telsa Motors doesn't slow down. According to a now-deleted tweet from its founder Elon Musk, we can expect yet another electric vehicle to be announced in the near future.
In the tweet, Musk said: "there will be a Model 3 and a Model Y". In regards to the unique doors on the Model X, Musk added that "one of the two [electric vehicles] will". Musk quickly deleted the tweet, but it looks like we can expect another electric vehicle announcement, where one of them will have the futuristic, awesome-looking 'wing' doors that the Model X features.
Japan will soon be home to self-driving taxis, with Robot Taxi announcing it will begin offering autonomous rides to 50 people in the Kanagawa prefecture, which is just outside of Tokyo.
The limited trial will drive passengers from their homes to local stores and back again, autonomously, but there'll also be a human operator in the driving seat just in case something goes wrong. If Robot Taxi's test goes without a hitch, the company is expected to push a fully commercial service out into the country by 2020.
Robot Taxi will reportedly run routes in places that public transport doesn't reach, with additional plans to help out tourists to get around the country. Japan is home to the world's highest population of older people, with around 33% of its population over 60 years old. Robot Taxi wants to help these citizens out, getting them to and from places that they need to be.
Tesla Motors announce its new Model X electric SUV to much fanfare and applause last night, revealing a huge array of features and specifications that not only wowed consumers and tech geeks, but also medical professionals and doomsday preppers.
Elon Musk touted that the Model X has a bio-defense mode that delivers "hospital level air quality" to protect up to seven passengers from airborne contaminants. The mode is powered by a medical-grade HEPA filter that "strips outside air of pollen, bacteria, viruses and pollution" that should, in theory, withstand a serious biohazard outbreak. Other safety features include an active sonar, radar and camera system which provides drivers with real-time feedback on their surroundings.
Since Tesla's autos are priced at a premium its no surprise to see that the Model X has a $140,000 price tag, but the company affirms that safety, luxury and performance see a harmonious union with the new electric SUV. Interested parties can reserve their Model X's now, and Tesla plans to roll out the first wave in the later half of 2016.
Netflix is about to make flying a much better experience, where Virgin America flights that are on the new Airbus A320 airplans will be using ViaSat-powered Wi-Fi to blast down Netflix onto passengers.
The content streaming giant has refused an offline option for Netflix so far, with Global Head of Business Development Bill Holmes saying that it's all about delivering service that "takes advantage of the expansion of Wi-Fi". The new system will reach one Airbus A320 per month through to June 2016, and it'll be free until March 2.
Apple doesn't want Tesla to have all of the electric car fun, but when will the iPhone maker get its electric car onto the market? According to The Wall Street Journal, it'll happen in 2019.
The WSJ is reporting that Apple is "accelerating" the project, codenamed Project Titan, where Apple is now reportedly calling it a "committed project" internally. Sources close to WSJ have said that Apple wants to have its first electric vehicle shipped in 2019, so we'll be waiting a fairly long time before we see an Apple logo on a car.
Apple has also got plans to triple its team working on Project Titan from 600, to some 1800. The company is also hoping to get some self-driving technology inside of the electric car, which should be able to keep up with whatever Tesla and Google have on the market by then.
With a claimed 500km (310 mile) range to just edge out Tesla Model S P90 D's 480km, the 439kW Porsche Mission E can soar from 0-60 mph in "under 3.5 seconds," driven by its dual-electric motors which provide power in an all wheel drive configuration.
Further featuring regenerative braking, Porsche claims this car can charge from flat to 80 percent capacity in only 15 minutes, reportedly made possible due to an 800 volt system. Although this is impressive just in itself, this claimed charging time is around twice as fast as what Tesla's Model S currently has on offer.
The body is made out of aluminum, carbon-fiber reinforced polymer and steel in order to keep the car light. Currently it's only in the 'concept car' stages, however we are told to expect a real-life model to feature in Frankfurt in a few days time.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has given Honda permission to begin testing its self-driving car on California roads - one of the front runners of US states willing to support self-driving car testing. Honda already has increased the use of advanced driver-assistance systems in newer Honda and Acura car models.
Google has released statistics that include more than 1.8 Million miles of self-driving car testing, while Volkswagen, Audi, Lexus, Nissan and Mercedes have similar approval from the state. Honda has testing facilities in Silicon Valley, in an effort to accelerate R&D with some of the best researchers in the country.
In addition to California, states such as Michigan, Nevada and Florida have been more willing to support autonomous testing at various levels.