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Self-driving trucks and cars are in the works from a bunch of different manufacturers and other firms like Google. In Germany, a new self-driving truck was demoed recently by Daimler. The truck is able to drive itself down the road with the driver behind the wheel doing nothing but looking at a tablet in his lap.
The truck was tested on the A14 along a stretch of the autobahn near Magdeburg in eastern Germany last week. The trucks is known as the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, that year in the name is a nod to when the maker hopes to have the truck available for commercial use.
The vehicle is designed to respond to traffic and drive autonomously down the freeway at speeds of up to 85 kph or 52 mph. Right now only one prototype of the truck exists and no pricing information has been offered for what the truck might cost when it goes into commercial production. Self-driving vehicle tech is expected to add around $10,000 to the purchase price of a vehicle.
Audi has announced that it and Apple will be working together to integrate Apple CarPlay into vehicles starting in 2015. Audi buyers that purchase a car next year in Europe will get CarPlay integration. North American fans of Audi vehicles will have to wait until early 2016 to be able to purchase a vehicle with CarPlay integration.
Audi isn't alone in working to bring Apple CarPlay integration to its vehicles, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes, and Volvo will also be offering CarPlay as well. Audi has been on the confirmed on the participating list for CarPlay for a while, but this is the first word on when cars with the service will hit the roads around the world.
Audi plans to integrate its own controls and touch system into CarPlay to make it less distracting to drivers. Audi drivers will also be able to use Siri via Audi dial, touch, and voice control systems.
Delays in getting the Tesla Model S into the Chinese market lead to one disgruntled customer smashing in the front of his brand new car with a wrench.
Yu Xinquan in China wrecked his new vehicle as a "protest against the company," he said. "Tesla's arrogance made me angry." A video of Mr Yu began going viral on Friday, and is just the latest of his protests against the company. Earlier he led other customers to protest against delayed deliveries on 21 April, a day before Tesla planned its first China delivery.
At the time, Tesla's Elon Musk apologized and said he'd ensure the cars would start being manufactured. But Yu, himself an e-commerce entrepreneur, claimed the company still hadn't delivered on its promises, and he claims he was misled about availability when he first ordered the vehicle. "I feel like I just married a woman who has been married before," Yu said, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported the response on social media has been mixed.
Google I/O 2014 - Google has just announced what we've all been waiting for, Android Auto. Android Auto has seen Google "redesign the Android platform for automotive". Android Auto does pretty much everything, with navigation, communication and music being "front and center".
Android Auto is "contextually aware" and is of course, voice-enabled. An Android-powered smartphone can "cast" up onto the Android Auto screen, and is also compatible with steering wheel buttons, dials, and more. Android Auto features five tabs, from left-to-right we have: navigation, phone, Home, Music and an as-yet unidentified tab.
The University of South Florida is setting up a drone rental scheme that will allow students to borrow a UAV from their college.
Two DJI Phantom 2 Vision drones will be available for students to borrow, and the University expects they will be popular for a variety of reasons. For example, those studying architecture will be able to aerially check out buildings instead of having to use more traditional methods. "I see us working with all kinds of departments," director of academic services, Nancy Cunningham, said.
Any prospective pilots will have to take a course in safely operating the drones, and each time they are used staff will be on hand to make sure things go smoothly. The scheme will run from Fall 2014 at the Tampa campus library. It's the latest technological upgrade to the university, which installed a smart lab at the library in 2013.
When it comes to autonomous vehicles that can drive themselves, Google is the name that many think of. Google isn't the only major company working in the autonomous car market though. A company called Cruise is now taking pre-orders for a product called the RP-1 that will turn two Audi car models into self-driving cars. The RP-1 product works with the Audi A4 and S4 cars.
Cruise will begin to put the RP-1 on cars early next year with pre-orders underway right now for the first 50 RP-1 units. Cruise is working on making its self-driving tech compatible with other cars, with the product dubbed a highway autopilot.
Once the driver is in a lane on the highway, they can press a button and the RP-1 system will take over control of the accelerator, brake pedals, and steering. The system can be turned off easily if the driver takes over the steering wheel or taps the throttle pedal. The Cruise RP-1 accessory costs $10,000 and straps to the roof of the car.
Computex 2014 - Analogix is a company you might not have heard of, which is something we're going to dive into in the coming weeks. For now, you might have heard about their SlimPort technology, which is an incredibly powerful piece of kit that sits in some of the best smartphones and tablets on the market.
We stopped by the Analogix suite in the Grand Hyatt here in Taipei today, taking a look at their SlimPort Automotive Console technology. SlimPort Automotive Console is capable of plugging into the microUSB port on your smartphone or tablet, and turning the display on your in-car screen (if you have one) to a display that you can control your smartphone with.
The way this works, is that you plug your SlimPort-capable smartphone or tablet in, and then you can use your phone to control the in-car display, or vica versa. It's an incredible technology to see in-person, especially considering it's all being done over a tiny little microUSB port, and not some proprietary connection.
No matter whether you want them or not, driverless cars are coming, and they're coming quick. Ernest Moniz, the current Energy Secretary, is unleashing a $16 billion package from the Department of Energy that will push for driverless vehicles.
Moniz was in Detroit meeting with auto suppliers, where he said in an interview: "there was discussion about advanced traffic-management systems (and) autonomous driving". Moniz said that companies are looking into driverless cars, with the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan being a massive incentive.
This is thanks to the Department of Energy upgrading the criteria in which auto companies quality for loans, where it now includes driverless carmakers. With a bunch of money left in the DoE's loan guarantee program, there's much to go around to these companies to get driverless cars on the road. The last time we saw money handed out like this was when the government wanted to see automakers manufacturing fuel efficient, or hybrid vehicles - Tesla Motors being the example here, which borrowed $500 million, paying it off in full recently.
Google and other automakers have been testing autonomous vehicles around the country in an effort to get the tech ready for mainstream use in the coming years. While several states already have rules in place to allow the testing of autonomous vehicles on the road, California didn't, at least not until recently.
The California DMV has announced new rules that will allow the use of autonomous vehicles on the road. The new rules go into effect on September 16, 2014. The new rules say that a manufacturer that wants to test an autonomous vehicle has to apply for a testing permit.
Google has been working on self-driving cars for years now and it looks like the company is close to making the tech commercially viable. Google has been demonstrating the cars in California and the founder of Google X has said that it is "very actively" working on the technology with a major goal in sight.
Google wants the tech to be available for drivers in the next three years. Sergey Brin has said in the past that the tech for driverless cars could be available by 2017. One of the goals behind the autonomous car tech Google is working on is to make the cars safer for everyone on the road.