Friday, 31 May 2019

Jaguar Land Rover reveals temperature-changing steering wheel

JLR said the temperature-based technology was also applied to self-driving vehicles' gear-shift paddles.
Jaguar Land Rover said it has developed prototype "sensory steering wheel" technology in partnership with Glasgow University.
Parts of the steering wheel heat and cool to indicate turns, lane changes and upcoming intersections.
Alexandros Mouzakitis, JLR electrical research senior manager, said in a Wednesday news release that the temperature changes could be used for nonurgent notifications that don't require "a more intrusive audio or vibration-based cue," such as low fuel or navigational points of interest.
The release said the temperature-based technology was also applied to self-driving vehicles' gear-shift paddles indicating when the transition from the driver to autonomous control is complete.
"We are committed to continuously improving our vehicles with the latest technological developments as well as preparing the business for a self-driving future," Mouzakitis said. "The 'sensory steering wheel' is all part of this vision, with thermal cues able to reduce the amount of time drivers have to take their eyes off the road."
A spokeswoman for JLR said the wheel is a research prototype. JLR would not comment on future use or plans with suppliers.
The project is part of the Scottish university's Glasgow Interactive Systems Research Section.


Friday, 24 May 2019

2020 GMC Sierra HD

The promotion of the new GMC Heavy Duty trucks fits nicely with the brand's "professional grade" tagline.  That label of course refers to level of engineering found in these vehicles but it could just as well reference trucks that truly work for a living. GMC says that up to 90% of these trucks tow regularly; and it's this trait that is front and centre on this next generation of GMC Sierra HD.
This 2020 GMC Sierra HD for example features a new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission mated to its 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel.  That new transmission is already a significant upgrade, but to demonstrate the power of this new powertrain a GMC Sierra 3500 HD towed an 80-foot Viking yacht, suspended on a marine lift, out of the San Diego harbour.  Granted, it was only a distance of about 75 feet, but this load totaled more than 225,000 lbs!  It's these types of visual spectacles that all the manufacturers are now using to convey the message that its trucks are bigger and stronger.  
For 2020 the Duramax 6.6L turbo-diesel is tuned to 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque.  Performance is also improved thanks to increased cooling capacity delivered by improved air induction. However, the all-new 10-speed Allison automatic transmission - (a first-ever offered in the HD segment) is the big story. This 10-speed with closer gear spacing allows the engine to operate in the optimal range at all times despite varying load and terrain conditions.  GM says that this truck with its bigger frame, stronger powertrain and smarter technologies will deliver a greater towing capacity; in excess of 30,000 lb. 
GM has also announced that an all-new gas engine is coming to the HD lineup.  Details are not available on it just yet; but this feature is of particular interest to truck buyers as many need the capability of an HD truck but don't do enough kilometers to justify the increased cost of the diesel engine option.
News of power and weight capacity upgrades always seem to dominate any new release, but as important as these advances are it's the new driver assistance features that could be considered even more important. Why? Because these are the ones that will help the owner tow these weights safely.  It's clear to see that the engineers responsible for the new GMC Sierra HD have paid as much attention to these as they have to cargo capability.
For instance; an enhanced ProGrade Trailering system now includes 15 camera views, including a segment-first "transparent" trailer view to virtually see through a trailer in tow. This transparent trailer feature uses the tailgate-mounted camera and an available accessory camera mounted on the rear of the trailer. The resulting display helps the driver to virtually see through the trailer, a benefit when navigating parking lots, merging into traffic or making tight turns.
Also part of this system is an in-vehicle trailering app that features a trailer light test, trailer electrical diagnostics, trailer tire pressure and temperature monitoring, pre-maintenance reminders and a departure checklist. Many of this trailering app's functions, including the lighting test and pre-departure checklist, are available with the myGMC mobile app -enabling use on a Smartphone from outside the truck. This level of Smartphone enabled technology will also extend to the control of in-trailer systems.
As an example, in a compatibly equipped trailer, owners of the 2020 Sierra HD may be able to turn on the trailer's air conditioning or water heater, check water and holding tank levels, or monitor fuel levels on trailers equipped with generators - all before arriving at their destination.
Other available technologies, hardware and trailering aids include:
  • Auto Electric Park Brake which automatically applies the parking brake to maintain truck position when hitching.
  • A Park Grade Hold Assist enhances hill hold by using braking effort at each wheel for an extended period of time.
  • All-new larger, door-mounted trailering mirrors with a four-bar link providing power extend and retract for the driver and passenger sides.
  • Integrated trailer brake controller that works with the trailer profile in the Trailering App to recall a specified trailer's most recent gain setting.
  • Tow/Haul mode that remains engaged on the next key-on cycle, for up to four hours.
  • Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.
  • Trailer Sway Control.
  • Auto Grade Braking and Diesel Exhaust Braking.
  • Digital Variable Steering Assist that enables features like road pull compensation.
  • Trailering Info Label placed on the driver's door jamb that clearly states the truck's specific curb weight, GVWR, GCWR, maximum payload, maximum tongue weight and rear GAWR.
The look of the 2020 Sierra HD is slightly changed but stays the course of strong lines, square, powerful shoulders and elevated hood.  Inside the HD has inherited much of the premium upgrades from the smaller 1500-series truck that was refreshed last year. 
The top-of-the-line Denali, in particular, has added content in response to customers wants.  These items include: premium leather-appointed seating, open-pore wood trim and dark-finish aluminum décor. The leather has a distinctive, large-pebbled grain with a contrasting stitch pattern while the open-pore woods texture evokes hand-planed furniture. 
These trucks will be available at GMC dealers across Canada this summer.  Pricing and further weight and power details will be released then.  


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Nissan reveals “world’s first” driver tech

Nissan has revealed new technology that expands on its ProPILOT system to offer navigated highway driving, while also enabling hands-free single-lane driving.
The automaker considers this a world-first in driver assistance technology, and plans to debut the system in Japan through its Nissan Skyline model in the fall of 2019.
“Designed for on-ramp to off-ramp (ramp-to-ramp) highway driving, the new system engages with the vehicle’s navigation system to help maneuver the car according to a predefined route on designated roadways,” said Nissan in a news release. “For the first time, the system also enables hands-off driving while cruising in a single lane.”
It’s new hands-off (or hands-free) driving can be used when cruising in a given lane. The moment the vehicle approaches a road divide or when the possibility of passing a slower vehicle exists, the system will judge what it considers to be the right time to either brand off or pass a vehicle. Its information is based on data from the vehicle’s navigation system and 360-degree sensors.
“Intuitive audio and visual guidance is given to the driver, who is prompted to put both hands on the steering wheel and confirm the start of these operations with a switch,” said Nissan.
The vehicle is equipped with cameras, radars, sonars, GPS and an HD map. It uses this information to pull “360-degree, real-time information” of the surrounding environment and the vehicle’s exact location. There is also a monitoring system in the cabin that confirms whether or not the driver’s attention is on the road ahead.


Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Mercedes-Benz Will Make Entire Car Fleet Carbon-Neutral by 2039

Amaia Salamanca attends EQC Mercedes-Benz presentation at Cupula de Las Arenas on May 08, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Jordi Vidal/WireImage)
Amaia Salamanca attends EQC Mercedes-Benz presentation at Cupula de Las Arenas on May 08, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Jordi Vidal/WireImage)
German carmaker Mercedes-Benz pledged today to decarbonize its new passenger car fleet within two decades - far earlier than what would be required under European Union law.
The timeframe is the most ambitious out of a number of similar pledges made by European automakers recently, most notably Volkswagen's pledge in March to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Volkswagen also pledged to launch 70 new electric car models within the next decade and have such vehicles make up at least 40% of its total sales by 2040.
The Mercedes plan is being called "Ambition2039", the date by which the automaker's passenger car fleet will be carbon neutral. It also sets a target of making electric vehicles make up at least 50% of its sales by 2030.
A big part of making the fleet carbon neutral is focusing on how to decarbonize the factories that make the cars. New demonstration plants are being launched to test how this carbon-free production process will work. Mercedes will launch a new carbon-neutral factory facility called "Factory 56" at its Sindelfingen plant in Germany. It will be powered by renewable energy. Mercedes hopes to extend this renewable power facility to the rest of its European plants by 2022.
The company says it is focusing on the entire lifecycle of the vehicle, also decarbonizing its end of life. It will aim to have up to 85% of its vehicles recycled by 2039.
Mercedes will also work with its suppliers to decarbonize the production process for the car components than they purchase. It may insert carbon reduction targets into contracts with suppliers in the future.
"We have set a clear course to help prevent further acceleration of climate change," the company said in a statement. It cited the Paris climate agreement as the motivating factor behind its business decision, saying it is "more than an obligation -- it's our conviction."


Friday, 10 May 2019

Mercedes-Benz Taking Orders for New EQC Electric Crossover

Mercedes-Benz has begun taking orders for its new electric vehicle, the EQC, which the German luxury-car maker describes as the "Mercedes-Benz of EVs."
"With the Mercedes-Benz EQC, we are entering a new era of mobility," said Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Daimler AG responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales.
"It is part of the growing family of all-electric vehicles at Mercedes-Benz and combines brand-defining features such as quality, safety and comfort. We offer our customers progressive design and unique ride comfort - and this with a range absolutely suitable for everyday use."
The EQC has a range 445-471 kilometers, or about 270 miles, making it suitable for everyday use, she added. However, it's following in the footsteps of Volkswwagen AG, which just put its new electric hatchback, the ID3 on sale May 8. It's expected to start at around 30,000 euros, or $33,530 at current exchange rates, with deliveries  expected to begin early autumn.
The new EV is classified as a crossover, but it bears a striking resemblance to many of the German brand's new coupe-like sport-utility vehicles that have become popular. The look is enhanced with the lower waistline and the slope of the roof at the back.
Mercedes new EQC electric vehicle is already facing competition from Volkswagen's new ID.3 hatchback.
With its high level of "acoustic comfort" and exciting driving dynamics, the EQC displays all the brand's hallmark attributes, Seeger said.
Prices for the Mercedes-Benz EQC start at 71,281 euros, or $80,100, for the well-equipped base version. Its net basic price of less than 60,000 euros, or just over $67,410, makes it eligible for an environmental bonus in Germany - regardless of individual equipment.
"Flexibility and efficiency are decisive pillars of the strategy in our global production network at Mercedes-Benz Cars," said Markus Schäfer, member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain.
"Production of the EQC is perfect proof of this. The staff in Bremen have many years of experience in the production of vehicles with a wide range of drive types. We are building on this know-how in the electric age, too. With the start of production of the Mercedes-Benz EQC, we are turning the switch today - for the electric mobility of the future."
The interior of the new EQC features the luxury automakers MBUX system.
While being a mobility leader is important, being Mercedes is equally so. Naturally, the new EV features the MBUX multimedia system. Perhaps just as impressive is that it features many commands specific to the needs of an electric vehicle driver.
(To see more about Volkswagen's new ID.3 electric hatchback, Click Here.)
The EQC is produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen, Germany, and can be flexibly integrated into the existing production of vehicles with combustion engines or hybrid-drive systems. The plant's production standards ensure top quality across all vehicle models built inside the factory, Mercedes noted.


Friday, 3 May 2019

Toyota to invest $100 million in self-driving and robotic technology start-ups

H/O: May MobilityToyota is creating a $100 million venture fund to invest in autonomous driving and robotic technology start-ups as automakers increasingly push into the self-driving market, the company announced Thursday.
Toyota AI Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of Toyota, plans to invest the money into early-stage startups that are developing "disruptive" technologies in those fields, the company said.
"Auto manufacturers must participate in the startup ecosystem to stay ahead of the rapid shift in the auto industry," Jim Adler, managing director of Toyota AI Ventures, said in a statement.
The company said the fund is part of Toyota's mission to help "discover what's next" for Japan's biggest automaker. Toyota's AI venture fund has already invested in 19 different start-ups over the last two years, bringing its total funding commitment to autonomous driving technology to $200 million, the company said.
"The growing interest in automated systems has created great opportunities to improve human lives using AI and next-generation mobility technology," Dr. Gill Pratt, chief executive officer at the Toyota Research Institute, said in a statement. Pratt added the fund will help "bridge the gap" between automakers and technology start-ups focused on autonomous transportation.
This is just the most recent investment Toyota is making in the autonomous vehicle market. In April, Toyota and auto-parts supplier Denso said they would together invest $667 million into Uber's self-driving vehicle unit. Toyota also committed to contributing an additional $300 million to Uber's push into self-driving vehicles over the next three years.
At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota also unveiled a self-driving concept food-delivery vehicle called the e-Pallette. The e-Pallette was part of a partnership with Amazon to help Amazon explore ways to use self-driving cars for food delivery.
Entering the autonomous vehicle market has been a goal for many automakers, with companies including FordBMW and Daimler all looking to innovate in self-driving vehicles. In April, Ford said it aims to have 100 self-driving vehicles on the road by the end of 2019. Ford announced in March that it is building a new factory in Michigan to focus on its self-driving vehicle efforts.
BMW and Daimler also said in February that they are collaborating to developautomated driving technologies.