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Uber has teamed up with Chinese automaker BYD, or "Build Your Dream" to outfit a fleet of its Chicago drivers with electronic vehicles in the form of the BYD e6 EVs.
The company is hoping its drivers love the new cars, so much so that they either decide to buy their own, or lease them. You might be wondering why Uber decided to team up with BYD and not the US-based Tesla Motors, but BYD's e6s are larger than most competing electric vehicles. This is one of the reasons the e6 is used as a chauffer vehicle in London.
But, the e6 has a range of just 186 miles on a single charge, compared to the Tesla Motors Model S and its 265-mile range. BYD isn't standing still though, with the Chinese automaker planning to triple its EV battery production, something that it needs to do to begin to keep up with Tesla and its upcoming gigafactory. BYD has manufacturing plants in the US, but wants to add 6 gigawatt hours of global production per year, within the next three years.
Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to tease a new media event for March 19, where a new OTA software update will "end range anxiety" for the "entire Model S fleet".
Tesla press conf at 9am on Thurs. About to end range anxiety ... via OTA software update. Affects entire Model S fleet.- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2015
Normally hardware upgrades have been the catalyst behind improved mileage, but an OTA software update is much more interesting. We could also see the official rollout of the "torque sleep" update, which will allow the P85D and 85D dual-motor vehicles save energy when you're foot isn't on the throttle.
Musk has said that all Model S cards will get the update, so we'll have to wait and see what is unveiled at 9am on Thursday morning.
Someone has snapped pictures of the totally gorgeous Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle, which is a driverless luxury vehicle. The company explains that it has "interdisciplinary team of experts from Mercedes-Benz has devised a future scenario that incorporates many different aspects of day-to-day mobility".
It looks like something out of a futuristic movie, but it is right-here-right-now technology. For those who don't know, the cabin of the car is absolutely beautiful, where it looks like it has been ripped right out of a science fiction movie or TV show. Mercedes-Benz explains the F 105 Luxury in Motion research car as "Sensual, flowing transitions and warm, organic materials such as open-pore walnut wood, which has been shaped to a three-dimensional veneer, and extremely soft ice-white nappa leather contrast with clearly-defined metal and glass surfaces with a cool and technical feel".
The Mercedes-Benz F 105 Luxury in Motion can travel up to 1100 kilometers (683.5 miles) to a single 'tank', which consists of an "electric hybrid system" that uses 200km on its battery, while 900km comes courtesy of the electricity of its fuel cell.
If you've ever driven the streets of "Grand Theft Auto: V" and the highways of Los Santos, you know what a difference the right customizations can make when it comes to the performance of your in-game car. "Grand Theft Auto V" has had plenty of drivers since it launched - Wired UK estimates that about two million players logged into "GTA:V Online" within the first 24 hours of launch. If you've ever wanted your real-life car to perform like your in-game ride, here's a few tips to make your car handle like the cars from GTA.
There's a lot of cars cruising Los Santos with many accessories, but you shouldn't worry about armor plates or tinted windows for your car, but a good exhaust instead. Exhaust isn't about shooting flames or making a lot of noise, but about instead about improving airflow to give extra power to your engine. Companies like MagnaFlow offer inexpensive catback exhaust kits that will improve your car's response. Whether you have a street, off-road or diesel vehicle, its systems are simple bolt-on affairs and can even be done at home with the right tools. The less mechanically inclined might need to visit their local auto shop. They can help you to choose the model that will help you get the most bang for your buck as well. If you plan to do it yourself, keep in mind that it is harder than just pressing a button on a controller; only do this sort of work on your car if you know what you are doing. If you don't, seek the help of a trusted mechanic.
Google and Apple hope to see their respective in-car mobile operating systems have a major impact in the connected car market. Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto go beyond just pairing smartphones to the infotainment system, hopefully designed to increase auto safety.
"Consumers have spoken," said John Maddox, assistant director at the University of Michigan's Mobility Transformation Center, in a statement to the New York Times. "They expect to have coordination between their phone and their vehicle."
Both companies want to improve Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition functionality in connected cars. Automakers are creating working relationship with Google, Apple, and other Silicon Valley companies interested in developing in-car technology.
We've reported on Apple's car quite a few times, but things are becoming more real as the days flick over on the calendar. The New York Post is now reporting that Apple is offering some serious money and higher pay packages to secure car battery experts.
The New York Post has said that "Apple has been offering the best and the brightest in the car-battery field $250,000 signing bonuses plus salaries 60 percent higher than what they currently earn", something Tesla Motors CEO, founder and real-life Tony Stark, Elon Musk, said to Bloomberg Businessweek. Former Ford engineer Steve Zadesky is the boss of Apple's 'Project Titan', so there's some weight to the story, and to having Ford's former engineer working with Apple.
Marc Newson has also joined Apple, with The Post calling him "one of the more elegant engineers in the world" and is very close friends with Apple's design boss, Jony Ive. Zadesky on the other hand, has a huge 90 or so patents, and was the sole signatory on a 2010 business ocntract with a company called Liquidmetal. Liquidmetal is known for its Moldable Metal, or "Nanophosphate metal" which can be shaped like plastic. Apple, along with Liquidmetal, have filed 17 patents together, with 14 of those taking place in the last 12 months or so.
Volvo plans to have 100 production ready autonomous vehicles ready to hit the road within the next couple of years, trying to beat Tesla, Google, and BMW to the punch. The company expects the pilot program, which will focus on drivers in Gothenburg, will be able to handle highway driving, local traffic, and potential emergencies.
The "Drive Me" test program will take place on 30 miles of public road, after Volvo fine tunes hardware and software needed to make autonomous driving a reality.
"We are entering uncharted territory in the field of autonomous driving," said Dr. Peter Mertens, senior vice president of Volvo, in a statement published by Business Insider. "Taking the exciting step to a public pilot, with the ambition to enable ordinary people to sit behind the wheel in normal traffic on public roads, has never been done before."
Nokia has 300 Here True vehicles traveling major international cities in an effort known as "reality mapping," which will be used by other companies. Here is currently utilized by Bing, Garmin, Yahoo, Oracle, and other major companies - and powers many built-in vehicle GPS systems.
The Nokia Here True cars use four high-resolution cameras that take 360-degree pictures about every 20 feet. The onboard GPS senor is able to identify the car's location within a centimeter, and a LIDAR system captures 700,000 points per second.
Nokia hopes that its new maps can help autonomous vehicles, which rely on cameras, sensors and custom algorithms to navigate roadways.
Autonomous vehicles are on the horizon, but drivers shouldn't expect to see fully self-driving vehicles immediately. Public roads and highways aren't yet set up to accommodate autonomous vehicles, so trying to figure out roadway infrastructure will be difficult.
It's going to take additional live driving research to work out a lot of the kinks that must be improved in the years to come. However, the auto industry has plenty of time to show off technological breakthroughs while winning over the public.
A survey from Carnegie Mellon University helps provide additional insight into the type of features drivers want to see from future self-driving technology. Seventy one percent of drivers want an autonomous vehicle to be able to adjust driving habits based on weather, while 57 percent hope self-driving cars are equipped with a driver fatigue warning.
The automotive industry is embracing change - and increasing pressure - from the number of technology companies interested in developing self-driving and connected car features.
Google, Sony, Apple, and other tech companies are interested in developing everything from their own vehicles down to software and hardware that can be used in next-generation cars. Google's public ambition to develop a self-driving vehicle has been noticed by automakers, interested in learning from the tech company's successes and failures.
"Google is pushing the theme of self-driving cars very strongly," said Volkmar Denner, CEO of Bosch, during a conference in Germany. "That's having a very positive effect for the entire automotive industry, because it enormously accelerates the pace of introducing drive-assist systems and semi-automatic functions."