Saturday, 29 April 2017

Now You Can Ride in a Google Self-Driving Car

Waymo unveils a self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

After eight years of testing, Waymo is ready to go public: Google's autonomous vehicle spin-off is offering families in the Phoenix area the chance to try out its self-driving cars as part of a new pilot ride-sharing program. The move brings the technology a step closer to becoming a day-to-day reality and coincides with efforts by other entrants into the fast-emerging field who are rapidly expanding the number of autonomous vehicles now on public roads. The pilot program could cement Waymo's position as a leader in the technology while also giving a big boost to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the automaker that will now provide another 500 Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivans for use in the Arizona project.
Waymo had quietly begun offering rides to a "handful of Phoenix, AZ residents…over the last month," the Alphabet subsidiary's CEO John Krafcik revealed in a statement issued overnight. "Now residents in the Phoenix area can apply" to join the trial, with Waymo planning on "accepting hundreds of people with diverse backgrounds and transportation needs who want to ride and give feedback about Waymo's self-driving cars."

From Science Fiction to Reality

Then a small project launched by Google, Waymo was one of the first to begin exploring the idea of making autonomous vehicles, long the stuff of science fiction, an everyday reality. Since then, the company says it has clocked more than 2 million miles of driving on public roads with a variety of different prototypes.
Early versions relied on modified Lexus SUVs. Two years ago, Google turned to Detroit auto supplier Rousch to produce about 100 sci-fi-style bubble cars specifically designed to test its autonomous technology. Some of those will eventually be put on the road in completely driverless form, with no pedals or steering wheel.
The Arizona pilot, however, relies on a specially modified version of the new Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, a plug-in minivan. Waymo unveiled the first of 100 at the North American International Auto Show in January. It will now take delivery of 500 more.
While a relatively modest number by ordinary automotive standards, that's a big development for FCA. The automaker has been slow to enter the autonomous research field, unlike rivals like Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Nissan. It opens the possibility of a much larger, longer-term collaboration between FCA and Waymo that could leapfrog the smallest of the Detroit makers into a position of leadership.

First to the Market

The tie-up also helps Waymo cement its position in the autonomous hierarchy. Long seen as a leader, it was downgraded in a recent study of self-driving technology by Navigant Research, which put Ford at the top, followed by traditional automakers including General Motors, Nissan and Daimler AG. Navigant cautioned that despite having great technology, Waymo lacked a "pathway to production."
The expanded ties to FCA - as well as a new deal with Honda - could offer Waymo a path to go from concept to pilot to real world applications.
"This collaboration is helping both companies learn how to bring self-driving cars to market, and realize the safety and mobility benefits of this technology," said Waymo's Krafcik in the company release.
While Fiat Chrysler is providing the minivans for the Arizona pilot, Waymo is handling the technical end. It has been producing its own sensors to help its cars "see" the world around. That includes a new generation of laser-based LIDAR. These high-definition, 3D sensors cost about $70,000 apiece until recently, a hefty price tag considering four are needed. At the January auto show unveiling, Krafcik said Waymo's LIDAR sensors are down to $7,000 apiece - and some experts believe they will eventually fall to as little as $50, making widespread use affordable.

Not Completely Driverless Just Yet

The modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans are capable of operating without a driver onboard, something that would be permitted under Arizona regulations, but Waymo will, at least for the near future, continue to have a trained "operator" at the ready behind the wheel in the event of a problem.
How consumers will respond to the open public invitation remains to be seen. Another recent study, this one by J.D. Power and Associates, found a sizable majority of Americans remain wary of self-driving vehicles and unwilling to ride in one - the exception being Millennials.
One reason for such concern, according to Power Vice President Kristin Kolodge, has been news about crashes involving autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Waymo itself has experienced more than a dozen incidents, albeit most of them minor and only one blamed on one of its vehicles. In recent weeks, two crashes have occurred in the Phoenix area, one involving a self-driving Uber prototype, another a Tesla Model X running in semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. A fatal accident was reported last May involving Autopilot, though a federal investigation largely put the blame on the driver.
Waymo actually isn't the first to give everyday consumers a chance to participate in an autonomous pilot. Ride-sharing giant Uber has been operating a program in Pittsburgh, near its self-driving research center. It also launched a test in San Francisco last December, shutting it down a week later as a result of a run-in with state authorities - and reports that some of its prototype Volvo XC90 SUVs had violated traffic laws.
Uber recently returned to San Francisco, though it is not yet picking up paid customers. It is also testing some of its own vehicles in Arizona, a state that has been aggressively trying to position itself as a center for autonomous vehicle development.
The race to bring autonomous vehicle technology to market has accelerated, not only on the road but in the courts. A number of lawsuits have been filed in recent months, notably including one ongoing case pitting Waymo against Uber. The Google spin-off claims former employees stole intellectual property when they left to form their own self-driving truck company. That firm, Otto, was later acquired by Uber.

Now You Can Drive in a Google Self Driving Car.......... #redlineautosales

Friday, 21 April 2017

Here Are The Six Best Cars In The World Right Now

The Jaguar F-Pace SUV clinched a double victory in the 2017 World Car Awards.
Jaguar Land Rover North America
The Jaguar F-Pace SUV clinched a double victory in the 2017 World Car Awards.
Deciphering the increasingly crowded automotive landscape is difficult, especially if you're in the market for a new car. The World Car Awards, administered by a Toronto-based non-profit and voted upon by 75 jurors (myself included) in 23 countries, cuts through the noise, putting new cars through the paces all year long before putting them up for a vote. This year's picks were announced at the New York Auto Show last week. Here's a closer look at the winners across six categories: design, luxury, performance, green, urban, and overall.
The Jaguar F-Pace SUV claimed a double win for World Car of the Year and World Car Design of the Year. Released last spring, the British brand's first-ever SUV proved an instant hit and is now the bestselling vehicle in its portfolio by a wide margin.Its exceptional dynamics, daily utility, and bold design swayed the jury in favor of the performance-oriented SUV over the other finalists, the Audi Q5 and Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUVs. "The F-Pace is the first SUV that actually turns heads," said Peter Lyon, chairman of the World Car Awards. "Many of our 75 jurors voted for the F-Pace not just because it's Jaguar's first-ever SUV, but because the R&D team did such a great job with the vehicle's industry-leading design, sports car-like driving dynamics, well-weighted steering, high comfort levels, competitive price and superb engine range, especially the supercharged 3.0-liter with eight-speed transmission."  The F-Pace also edged out the Mercedes-Benz S-Class executive sedan and Toyota C-HR subcompact SUV for the World Car Design category, which is vetted by six design experts before the jurors vote.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class triumphed over the the BMW 5-Series and Volvo S90 and Volvo V90 sedans for the World Luxury Car distinction. Mercedes has dominated the category in recent years, with the S-Class coupe honored in 2015 and S-Class sedan in 2014 (The BMW 7-Series executive sedan won the honor last year.) The brand has been a juror favorite in recent years: In 2015, the German automaker scored a triple win, taking home the World Car of the Year title for the C-Class compact sedan and the World Performance Car award for the AMG GT.
This year's World Performance Car award went to Porsche for the fifth time. This year, the Boxster and Cayman, based on Porsche's legendary 718 mid-engine race cars, trumped the other category finalists: the Audi R8 Spyder and McLaren 570S. Porsche won in the title in 2014 for the 911 GT3, 2013 for the Boxster and Cayman, 2012 for the 911, and 2006 for the Porsche Cayman S.
In the environmental category, the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model X may have received the lion's share of this year's automotive headlines for their superior electric range, but the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid captured the honor of World Green Car. Toyota's Mirai fuel cell vehicle won last year's award. Meanwhile, the World Urban Car, an inaugural category marking the global importance of smaller, fuel-efficient cars, went to the BMW i3. The luxury electric vehicle, which beat the Citroen C3 and Suzuki Ignis for the title, proves that small vehicles don't have to be cheap, undesirable, or unpleasant to drive, according to jurors.


Here are Six Best Cars in the World Now...... #redlineautosales

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Public hydrogen fueling stations on the way

The Government of Canada has announced that it will be contributing to the construction of public hydrogen stations in the Greater Toronto Area. As part of Budget 2017, Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced the federal government's intention to "support a new Canadian market for fuel-cell vehicles" by allocating  $1,625,000 towards the construction of two public hydrogen stations, according to a news release.
"We are very pleased to receive this funding and support from the Canadian government for additional fuelling stations in and around Toronto," said Daryl Wilson, President and CEO of Hydrogenics Corporation, a Canadian company that has been involved in more than 50 hydrogen refuelling station projects worldwide since 2000, and which has been named as the project proponent.
"Driven by automotive OEMs such as BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota, we're seeing an increase in demand for hydrogen-based clean vehicles in Europe, California, the UK and Japan - and now here in Canada. Using our renewable hydrogen fuel, the GTA will be one step closer to enabling carbon-free fuelling for zero-emission vehicles," said Wilson in the release.

Public Hydrogen Fueling Stations On The Way................................................. #redlineautosales

Friday, 7 April 2017

Top reasons why consumers turn to ride-sharing services

Related imageSince ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft were launched about seven years ago, they continue to have a greater influence on our mobility and culture. Thousands of people have become ride-share drivers, millions of ride-share trips occur daily and billions of dollars are spent on these services each year. Yet ride-sharing has only scratched the surface.
The business premise behind ride-sharing-and of all sharing-economy business activities-is a relatively simple one: The efficient use of shared-resources to reduce overall consumer costs, while providing superior services and shorter wait times.
In addition to these objectives, one unforeseen (and pleasant) outcome of the increase in ride-sharing services has been the positive effect that ride-sharing has had on consumers' decisions about driving when they have been consuming alcohol. Indeed, according to a recent consumer survey conducted by J.D. Power, among people who use ride-sharing services, the most frequently cited reason for using ride-sharing services is when a person knows that they will be drinking alcohol.
Single Most Important Reason to Use a Ride-Sharing Service like Uber or Lyft

This finding supports a study by Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)-that says:
  • 88% of respondents over the age of 21 agree with the statement that "Uber has made it easier for me to avoid driving home when I've had too much to drink."
  • 78% of people say that since Uber launched in their city, their friends are less likely to drive after drinking.
  • And after hearing about Uber's impact on drunk driving already, 93% of people would recommend a friend take Uber instead of driving if the friend had been drinking.
According to the Uber/MADD report, drunk-driving crashes in California (among drivers under 30 years old and in markets where Uber operates) have declined by an average of 60 per month and have had a substantial positive effect on the reduction of property damage and personal injury. In addition, examining major metropolitan areas around the country, requests for Uber rides tend to peak between midnight and 2 a.m., around the time when most bars are closing and when most drunk driving crashes occur.
Clearly, ride-sharing has already made a positive effect on making roads safer from drivers who have been drinking alcohol. Even better, it appears there is room for even greater improvements in safety as ride-sharing becomes available in more markets and as consumers gain greater awareness of its benefits. According to our research, only about 25% of consumers say they have ever used a ride-sharing service, a number that is sure to grow.
Having a drink with friends has been a time-honored tradition in many cultures for millennia. In America, we can practically set our calendars around peak drinking occasions (New Year's Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, St. Patrick's Day, etc.). Now, with the advent of ridesharing services, these holidays can continued to be enjoyed by everyone, with the added reassurance that drivers who imbibe are now less likely to drive afterward.


Top Reasons Why Consumers Turn to Ride Sharing Services.........