The era of self-driving cars is right around the corner. Google is testing their autonomous vehicles for a while now, and Tesla Motors cars can drive around on their own, of course, under the surveillance of a driver. Other players like Uber have already launched their own self-driving car sharing service and GM is working with Lyft to enable the same.
The self-driving cars should bring better safety to our streets and many believe this is something that will happen within our lifetime. Mate Rimac, founder and CEO of Rimac Automobili, said our children won't have to learn to drive, meaning he believes the self-driving cars will be standard within next few decades.
However, before that happens and the self-driving cars become common, the experts have to solve some problems that are self -imposed.
Australia is a great country, but the states, cities, and towns aren't connected well enough - but this could all change with the introduction of Hyperloop, from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. Rob Lloyd, former Cisco boss, now runs Hyperloop One, with engineers from companies like NASA and Boeing, with them working on "passive magnetic levitation technology".
Hyperloop One is an LA-based company that secured $80 million earlier this year, publicly teasing its propulsion system, the closest yet that we've been to Musk's vision of transportation for the future. Hyperloop One's VP for Worldwide Business Development, Alan James, talked with The Australian, where he said: "We're very keen to explore the potential for doing proof of operations in Australia and the reason for that is there's a clear long-term need for ultra-fast transport on the Australian east coast".
Hyperloop has been teased at taking passengers across distances that would otherwise take hours upon hours, at speeds of up to 621mph (1000kmph), all in freight pods that zoom across large distances in low-pressure tubes. James continued: "Melbourne to Sydney is the third busiest air corridor in the world and we can give you Melbourne downtown to Sydney downtown in 55 minutes. So we would be looking, either in NSW or Victoria, or possibly in ACT, to develop the first section of that route, to prove the operation of Hyperloop, to get regulatory approval".
We've been hearing lots of nuggets of information on Volta, NVIDIA's next generation GPU architecture, and now the company has just pushed its first Volta-based product out with the announcement of Xavier, its new supercomputer designed for autonomous cars.
NVIDIA unveiled Xavier out of the blue at its GPU Technology Conference in Amsterdam, with the Volta-based system-on-a-chip wicked fast, thanks to the new 512 cores from the next-gen Volta architecture. Volta allows the Xavier chip to support dual 8K HDR video inputs, with NVIDIA saying in the past that Volta would be much more memory bandwidth efficient, and smaller than previous designs.
Xavier also supports NVLink thanks to the Volta GPU, with the GPU being joined by IBM's upcoming Power9 chips, with both being installed into the U.S. Department of Energy's Summit supercomputer in 2018. NVLink is 7-10x faster than PCIe 3.0, so the Summit supercomputer will be a huge chunk faster than ever thanks to NVIDIA's new NVLink tech.
Xavier is powered by a custom 8-core CPU, as well as a new computer vision accelerator, which NVIDIA says is the most advanced chip it has ever developed. NVIDIA's new Xavier has 20 TOPS (trillion operations per second) and consumes just 20W, with 7 billion transistors, the 16nm chip is efficient - teasing that Volta should be a very efficient GPU when it hits consumer graphics cards in the future.
NVIDIA explains: "A single Xavier AI processor will be able to replace today's Drive PX 2 configured with dual mobile SoCs and dual discrete GPUs-at a fraction of the power consumption". Considering NVIDIA only unveiled Drive PX 2 at CES 2016 in January, powered by a 12-core CPU and two Pascal-based GPUs, the new Xavier chip is a mighty leap indeed.
The new Xavier chips will be shipped to carmakers in Q4 2017, so we're still a while away from seeing them materialize into the real-world and start driving our cars for us.
Google's self-driving car was involved in yet another accident and this one was the worst so far. The autonomous Lexus sustained major damage in an accident involving a commercial van.
According to the report, the van driver ran a red light and collided with the modified Lexus SUV. The van hit the passenger side of the door and damaged it heavily but no one was hurt. The accident occurred in Mountain View and Lexus had to be towed from the scene.
Thought your expensive new Tesla Model S electric vehicle was safe? Think again, as Chinese hackers have broken into a Model S vehicle that was 12 miles away, where they could even play around with the braking system on the car.
The hackers were from the company Keen Security Lab, which displayed they could hack into a Model S by creating a Wi-Fi hotspot that the car connected to while browsing the web. Once the connection is established, the hackers could use the car's CAN bus (Controller Area Network) which is the system that oversees the systems inside the Tesla.
Once the CAN was controlled, the hackers could close the car doors, slide the seats back and forward, move the side mirrors, adjust the windshield wipers - and the worst, play around with the braking system. The hackers alerted Tesla to the security hole, with the electric car maker pushing out an over-the-air update to protect Tesla owners.
Tesla have said that hackers would require a particular set of circumstances in order to break into their cars, as it isn't anywhere near as easy as the couple of paragraphs I've used to explain it. You would need a Model S nearby that had its web browser open, to then create the malicious hotspot. Tesla told The Guardian: "Our realistic estimate is that the risk to our customers was very low, but this did not stop us from responding quickly".
This is something I didn't think I'd be typing, but Toyota has been working on a car that runs on your poop. The company has turned human waste into renewable hydrogen fuel to power its new electric car.
Chief Engineer of Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel Cell Car, Yoshikazu Tanaka, said that human waste is expected to solve Toyota's big 'chicken or the egg' problem. Toyota has said that nobody wants to buy their hydrogen cars when there are no hydrogen fuel stations, adding that no one wants to build a hydrogen fuel station when there are not a mass amount of hydrogen cars on the road.
Toyota is now producing the human waste-based fuel in a wastewater treatment plant in Fukuoka, Japan. How does it work? The sewage is separated into solids and liquid, with the solid waste called sewage sludge. In order to break down the solid waste, microorganisms are added, creating a biogas - which is around 60% methane, and 40% carbon dioxide.
After that, the CO₂ is filtered out and water vapor is added, creating hydrogen and more CO₂, reports RT. The remaining CO₂ is removed, resulting in pure hydrogen - from poop. It's not a quick process, with the Fukuoka plant pumping away 300kg of hydrogen per day, which is enough to power 65 of the new Mirai electric vehicles. The plant has the production facilities to fuel 600 cars per day, if all of the biogas they produced was converted to hydrogen.
The electric car market is heating up, but the mainstream market needs to adopt them, and won't do that until they begin appearing for less than $50,000 - and much less. Chevrolet's upcoming Chevy Bolt electric vehicle will be priced starting at $29,995 after a federal tax credit of $7,500.
General Motors announced the news that its first electric car will be capable of over 200 miles on a single charge, for under $30K. Future owners of the Chevy Bolt will have to pay at least $7,500 in federal income tax in order to be eligible for the full tax credit, as it's not a refundable purchase, reports The Verge.
Before the credit, the Chevy Bolt will cost $37,495 for the LT trim model, while the higher-end Premium trim starts at $40,905. The base trim features a bunch of standards like 10.2-inch touchscreen, a 60kWh battery that should have you driving around 238 miles, and a powertrain that pushes out 200 horsepower, and 266 pound-feet of torque.
Apple has reportedly made swift changes to its Project Titan car project, with sources of The New York Times stating "dozens" of layoffs have taken place.
The New York Times isn't the only outlet with information, with a Bloomberg report stating that under new leadership with Bob Mansfield, Apple's focus on the automotive industry has changed from its own car, to just autonomous driving technology. The NYT reports that the layoffs were internally pushed as being part of a reboot of the project, while Apple works out what it wants to do.
Apple has been ripping employees away from the likes of Tesla and EV battery makers, so these new plans might leave some of those staff who left their jobs out in the lurch.
Almost four months after being spotted in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, self-driving Uber cars have shown up in the streets of San Francisco, California, according to an SFist report.
The vehicles in question sport the sensor array and Uber ATC logo, indicating they are the real deal.
The company is not publicly listed as having a testing permit in the state, so either a permit has been required very recently and the information has not been updated, or it's circumventing laws, as it's been known to do before. Uber declined to comment on the reports.
Volkswagen has been in the headlines throughout 2016 for all of the wrong reasons, but the German automotive giant has just te ased that it will be pushing into electric vehicles in a big way in the future.
The company has just teased its first next-gen electric vehicle, with VW set to officially debut the EV at the Paris motor show in October. VW promises a Golf-like sized electric vehicle with an interior that is similar to the Passat, with recharge speeds on the battery being rather impressive - just 15 minutes of charge will provide around 300 miles of driving.
VW Group CEO Matthias Müller confirmed the news with Autocar, adding that the price tag would be lower than a comparable combustion engine vehicle. Volkswagen should have the EV on the road towards the end of 2018, or early-2019, but we might not see it released in a global way until 2025.