One feature that is growing in popularity on many vehicles available today is in-car web connectivity. Several automakers are giving cars the ability to be connected to 4G networks and share that connectivity with people in the car. the idea is to give passengers access to the web and entertainment options while they travel.
Audi is offering a 4G LTE connectivity option in its new 2015 A3 sedan. It is teaming up with AT&T for service for the car and details on the mobile connection plans have been announced. The service will be available with AT&T in North America.
AT&T will offer two plans according to reports. One of the plans is a six-month offering with 5GB of data. The other plan is a 30-month plan that offers 30GB of data. Audi owners that already have an AT&T shared data plan can also add their car as another device. No word on pricing for the AT&T plans for the car at this time.
Audi unveiled a system during CES 2014 that is able to connect with compatible traffic lights and give the driver a countdown on the dash showing when the light will turn green. Audi has offered some more information about the system, and the carmaker says that the system will save fuel as well.
The way the traffic light recognition tool will help save fuel is by connecting with the start stop technology inside the car. The start stop system will leave the engine off until five seconds before the light turns green. Audi figures that the system could save about 240 million gallons of fuel if it was in wide use.
The system could also cut emissions by 15%. If you are wondering why the engine starts five seconds before the light turns green when most start-stop systems can start an engine in less than a second, the 5 seconds is meant as a reminder to the driver to get ready to drive.
Recently Apple announced its new in-car platform designed to give better interaction and control with a smartphone from behind the wheel. The system is called CarPlay and it has 18 car companies committed to the platform already. Mercedes is one of those committed to the platform.
One downside for users that are interested in this system is that it will only be in brand new 2014 and up vehicles. Mercedes doesn't want to leave owners of older models of its vehicles out. MB has announced that it will have an aftermarket solution for adding CarPlay available by the end of the year.
The aftermarket system will be able to display CarPlay visuals on the in-dash screens of select vehicles. Mercedes hopes to have it available by the end of the year. It's unclear at this point, which vehicles the Mercedes CarPlay system will work for. I would wager it would only be for select Mercedes cars rather than something you can buy and put inside any make of vehicle.
If you are a fan of outrageous exotic sports cars, you will be familiar with the Lamborghini name. Lamborghini has been making some of the coolest high performance cars since the 60's and its latest offering is a replacement for the Gallardo called the Huracan. The car is all-new and has a very slick digital dashboard.
The digital dash inside the car replaces old-fashioned analog gauges and is powered by NVIDIA. The digital dash uses a 12.3-inch TFT display offering a resolution of 1440 x 540. The graphics for that dash are powered by a Tegra 30 chip from the Tegra 3 series.
The digital muscle behind the dash lets the virtual tachometer work at 60 fps so it can keep up with the engine without causing difficult to read lag. The digital dash can be configured to show what the driver wants to see with three modes. The Full Drive mode offers an analog style tachometer with smaller displays for fuel level, temperature and a digital speedo. Mixed mode frees up half that display for a navigation screen.
Today, Apple officially made an announcement about its brand new iOS specifically made for cars- CarPlay. The company first talked about its car iOS version during the developer conference last year and the cars with this Car specific iOS integration will be shown in an auto show at Geneva. For such project, it was important for Apple, Inc to sign up manufacturers so that the companies can incorporate the suitable hardware/interface setup for the in-car touch panel on the dashboard.
Via a statement, Apple VP Greg Joswiak said,"CarPlay has been designed from the ground up to provide drivers with an incredible experience using their iPhone in the car. IPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction. We have an amazing lineup of auto partners rolling out CarPlay, and we're thrilled it will make its debut this week in Geneva."
Mercedes-Benz has recently put up a job listing for a 'software engineer' who require help to 'seamlessly integrate' Google's upcoming in-car system called 'Google Projected Mode'.
The German car maker said in a job advert that it would require to integrate android smartphones in the car's dashboard's head unit. The unit would most likely have a larger than smartphone display and would probably have a simplified version of Android UI. Google did use the word 'projected' but its difficult to speculate what does the company has in mind.
Apple teased that iOS in the Car was something that was "very important" to the company, and a new product its ecosystem, like iTunes, or Siri. Well the time has come for it to be launched, if the latest reports are to be believed.
The Financial Times is reporting that Apple will unveil formal car integration deals with some of the biggest names in the industry: Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. The system still requires an iPad or iPhone in the car to work, so it's not something that is leaps and bounds for Apple, as it would probably like people to expect.
A few weeks back the internet was set ablaze with speculation and rumors after Elon Musk met with Apple's executives, and while everyone else was hung up on acquisition rumors, I reported that the talks were more than likely about investing in a new battery manufacturing facility. A little over a week later, my suspicions were confirmed when Elon Musk announced what is to be the world's largest battery factory.
Musk says that Tesla will build the largest battery manufacturing facility ever with the help of investments from others totaling $5 billion of which $2 billion Tesla will invest itself. Musk's goal for the new "Gigafactory" is to have the 10 million square foot facility producing more batteries annually by 2020 than the entire world's current annual production. This would allow Tesla to ramp up its production to the levels of that of Ford, GM and other major manufacturers today.
With Apple one of the largest consumers of Lithium-Ion based batteries in the US, and tons of reserve cash just sitting in banks, it made perfect sense for Tesla to approach the Cupertino-based company as a potential investing partner. With Tesla only looking for $1.6 to $2 billion in extra funds, Apple could easily front the money in exchange for deep discounts, or better battery technology that results from the deal. With battery manufacturing mostly an automated process due to the extreme hazards of the chemicals involved, labor cost would be very low, making the investment even more attractive for Apple.
Volvo is talking about some of what it will be showing off at the Geneva Auto Show next month. Along with concept cars and production vehicles, the automaker will also be showing off its new in-car experience. As you might expect the new in-car experience will be touch focused.
The system will use a large portrait mode touchscreen in the center of the dash. That touchscreen will have sections that display different content like navigation, audio, and others. At the bottom of the screen are the controls for climate.
Using a touch system while driving is often not ideal for the driver, I wonder how Volvo is going to get around that. Just ask anyone that has used the Ford touch system and left unhappy. The touchscreen also interacts with the slick digital instrument cluster in the dash. Each of the tile stacks on the screen has a thin band that tells what it is.
Ford has been using its tiny 1.0L EcoBoost engine for a long time under the hood of cars in Europe. That 1.0L engine is a 3-cylinder unit with twin turbochargers that sips fuel while producing the same power numbers as a larger 4-cylinder unit.
The Ford Focus has been able to be purchased with that 1.0L EcoBoost in Europe for a long time. Ford has announced that with the all-new 2015 Focus, buyers in the US will also be able to choose the 1.0L EcoBoost power. Ford promises that the engine will raise the bar in fuel efficiency for the Focus.
The 2015 model is all new and uses the Ford familiar resemblance that all recent Ford cards use. Namely, the front end will have similarly shaped headlights and grille. Think of the Fiesta, but a bit larger.
BMW is hard at work producing wheels that may eventually replace alloy wheels in performance and fuel-efficient automobiles. The more weight you can remove from a car, the better its performance will be and the better the fuel economy will be. Weight reduction is particularly important in the EV and hybrid realm where less weight means longer driving distance.
BMW working on building a new generation of carbon fiber wheels for its cars. Typically working in carbon fiber is very expensive. BMW is getting around much of the expense by using production cast off material from the i3 and i8 projects, which use carbon fiber in their builds.
Carbon fiber is a good material for making wheels. Carbon fiber wheels are about 30% lighter than aluminum and 50% lighter than steel. BMW is actively looking for more places to use the patents it has in carbon fiber processes. It is also looking at making a full carbon fiber steering wheel, a carbon fiber drive shaft for the X5, and a carbon fiber and plastic compound that is strong and light.
Volvo is a name that usually brings to mind safe, if rather boring cars and SUVs. Volvo has announced that it will be on hand at Mobile World Congress in Spain to show off its new delivery service. That new delivery service is called Roam Delivery.
The idea is that the Roam Delivery service will allow owners of Volvo cars to accept deliveries and drop packages off for pickup directly from their car. The service will use Volvo digital keys and allows the owner of the car to choose their vehicle as the drop off or pick up location. When the order is ready to be delivered, the owner of the car will get a message via text.
The digital key will allow the delivery person access to the vehicle where they can leave what you ordered or pick things up to ship them off. The owner of the car is notified when the car is opened and when it is closed again. The digital key is a onetime use item and ceases to function after the car is closed.
At the 2014 Geneva Motor Show early next month, one of the most interesting concept cars will be shown off by Rinspeed. We will see Tesla Motors' Model S electric car turned into a "living room on wheels".
The concept car is a self-driving car that will also feature a 32-inch 4K monitor and reclining seats for the ultimate in luxury. It gets better, folks: a built-in espresso machine will have you wide-eyed in your luxury autonomous car, and if you're using it for work, the car's "Business-to-Car" platform will make sure you have access to everything you need online, while you're hands aren't on the wheel at all.
Rinspeed, if you're reading this, e-mail me and I'll provide you my shipping details for one of these concept cars.
The $80 million S-512 aircraft from Spike Aerospace will take flight in December of 2018, with the company's very first supersonic private jet specializing in one area: it will have no windows - instead, it will feature a massive live-streaming screen.
Spike Aerospace will be using the latest video recording, live-streaming, and display technology in order to replace the windows with massive, high-definition screens. The exterior of the new supersonic private jet will feature tiny camera that will blast footage back into the cabin, where thin, curved displays lining the interior will show footage from the outside of the jet.
Windows in passenger planes require massive engineering workarounds, something that this new 8-figure aircraft will not require. Spike founder Vik Kachoria, talked with WIRED, where he said: "A few advisers and friends are concerned that there are no windows. But I think that if you give them the screens and give them the visibility, you might be able to get away from that".
Yesterday we posted a news story about a top-secret meeting between Elon Musk and Apple executives, that sparked many rumors about Apple's possible acquisition Tesla Motors, but today a little more light has been shed on the meeting and its topic. Sources tell TweakTown that the meeting was not about an acquisition, but rather a partnership to bring a new-age battery manufacturing facility to the US.
It's no secret that Tesla has been spending millions on new battery research to ultimately invent a new battery to power its Model S and upcoming Model X vehicles, and it appears as if that research is close to paying off. Sources tell us that the recent meeting between Tesla Motors and Apple were to discuss a partnership that would build a next-generation battery manufacturing facility right here in the USA. Not much is known about the type of batteries that may be manufactured, but chances are good that it is based on Lithium technology.
Lockheed Martin has fired the highest powered laser ever tested, with its new 30-kilowatt electric fiber laser. The record-breaking power output was reached by combining many fiber lasers into a single, near-perfect quality beam of light.
This is called Spectrum Beam Combining, which sends beams from multiple fiber laser modules, which each have their own unique wavelength. Combining them all into one super-powerful, high-quality beam. Dr. Ray O. Johnson, Senior VP and CTO of Lockheed Martin says: "Lockheed Martin has opened the aperture for high power, electrically driven laser systems suitable for military applications. Advancements in available laser components, along with the maturity and quality of our innovative beam-combining technology, support our goal of providing lightweight and rugged laser weapon systems for use on military platforms such as aircraft, helicopters, ships and trucks".
The company is aiming for a portable laser solution, with this being a step in that direction. Lockheed Martin received funding from the US Army, which is also working on laser mounted weapons with Boeing.
European Union police officials want the ability to disable a car's engine remotely, from a central control facility. This feature is already available and deployed into some vehicles, such as GM's "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown" service on its 2009 and newer OnStar-featured vehicles.
The EU effort wants to see a standardized, mandated system that would allow police to control cars directly, skipping the car companies having control. The Telegraph is reporting the news, where it suggests that if it is pushed through the EU, we could see it rolled out before 2020. One member of British parliament has been against it, saying that "the price we pay for surrendering our democratic sovereignty is that we are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique".
The Telegraph has its hands on some documents suggesting the technology hasn't been developed yet, but with multiple big name automotive makers developing it on their own, it is only a matter of time.
Automaker Ford is using the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to aid in development of new cars, including vehicle color, materials, design, and possible modifications. Ford reportedly is using three systems in Detroit, and plans to expand the next-generation engineering platform to new facilities in the near future.
Working inside a 3D program, engineers are able to visualize vehicles while manipulating the environment to make improvements. Ford worked with Vicon, a company specializing in motion-capture technology, which captures engineer position and orientation from installed motion-capture video recorders.
Each system has an estimated cost of about $30,000, making it a fairly affordable design platform that has great potential for Ford - and other automakers will certainly follow Ford's progress.
The Oculus Rift Dev Kit has become popular with immersive driving simulators, as it provides gamers with a unique driving experience. It makes sense auto makers are interested in using the same technology to design prototypes.
Laurence Fishburne has reprised his role from what made him famous, The Matrix, in Kia's commercial for the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl, which airs this Sunday, February 2nd, has Kia asking you which key you'd choose: the red key, or the blue key?
The ad is explained by Kia as "an unsuspecting couple meets Morpheus at a valet stand. He presents them with two choices: a red key or a blue key. Should they choose wisely, they'll never look at luxury-or Kia-the same again". Keen eyed Matrix fans will see many things from the movies, such as the woman in the red dress, Agents, a bending spoon, some of the same sound effects, and much more.
Tesla Superchargers are capable of delivering a 170 mile cruise from a single 30-minute charge, and now these Superchargers are spread out across the United States.
Tesla Motors' new map shows that you can drive from LA to New York - coast to coast across the US, from these Superchargers. You will drive through New Mexico, South Dakota and Wisconsin during this journey, but that is only downside here. Tesla will continue to add Superchargers going into the future, which should allow for a more direct route.
The company has pledged that by next year the entire country will be covered, so that you can visit all states and even parts of Canada without driving miles out of your way for a top up.
If there's one thing about riding motorbikes versus driving a car, it's the safety factor. But, it looks like a new joint development between BMW Motorrad and Dainese might solve this.
The two companies are collaborating on a very innovative motocycle safety clothing for BMW Motorrad. It takes the Dainese D-Air Protect System to start with, and from there, both companies will develop "motorcycle rider equipment with fully integrated inflatable protectors for BMW Motorrad," reports BMW Motorcycle Magazine.
The first product from their joint venture will be the DoubleR RaceAir one-piece leather suit with D-Air racing protectors. This suit is designed exclusively for use on racetracks. The suit will be shown off at the international EICMA motorcycle show in Milan in November. From there, we'll see the companies develop the Dainese D-Air Street System, which is a retrofit solution for BMW Motorrad.