Back in May, we announced that Audi was eliminating the traditional rearview mirror from its R18 Le Mans cars, due to its lack of rearward-facing glass. We also made it clear that a lot of additions to new cars come from successful experiences in the racing world. Well, the R18s ended up garnering a 1-2-3 finish in that race.
As expected, with success comes commercialization, and Audi has announced that its upcoming R8 e-tron will boast this digital mirror technology. This system will consist of a 7.7-inch AMOLED screen mounted in the traditional mirror’s spot. The “mirror” uses a rear-mounted camera to send a video feed, giving the driver a slightly wider field of vision than the average rearview mirror.
Here’s the issue though, the NHTSA’s law book still requires a mirror made from reflective glass to be mounted to all passenger cars. The law specifically states “Each passenger car shall have an inside rearview mirror of unit magnification” and it defines a “unit magnification” as “a plane or flat mirror with a reflective surface through which the angular height and width of the image of an object is equal to the angular height and width of the object when viewed directly at the same distance except for flaws that do not exceed normal manufacturing tolerances. For the purposes of this regulation a prismatic day-night adjustment rearview mirror one of whose positions provides unit magnification is considered a unit magnification mirror. ”
The issue is in the verbiage is that the phrase “ a plane or flat mirror with a reflective surface...” eliminates an LED screen, as it is not a reflective surface. Now, the law becomes nullified is the car comes with side-view mirrors that have 49 square-inches of reflective surface and offer a complete view of the rear end of the vehicle. Those mirrors would be huge for this supercar, so we doubt that exemption will be valid.
We’ll have to see exactly how Audi plans to get around this, or if the NHTSA makes adjustments to its laws.
Click past the jump to read Audi’s press release.
To say that Honda has fallen behind the times in terms of automotive creativity is about as obvious as saying Fiat and Mini are overusing their respective flagship models. While nearly every other automaker is creating numerous ways to safely use your smartphone in the car and also using it to connect to cool things like Pandora radio, Facebook, and whatever other online stuff you love, Honda has been delivering the stats quo for years, sans adding light smartphone connectivity in the 2012 CR-V.
Finally, Honda has decided to get with the times and is introducing HondaLink, which is essentially a Ford Sync copycat. Then again, aren’t all of the modern connectivity systems just copying Ford’s innovative idea?
This new HondaLink system will debut in the 2013 Honda Accord and allows its user to do things like connect to Aha radio, tether and control a smartphone, listen to news, text message via speech, and even hear twitter and Facebook feeds over their audio system.
In reality, this system is actually using technology that Ford has been for the past half century, but the fact that Honda finally unburied its head and realized that it is sub-par is a miracle in itself. Maybe this new system can help Honda recoup some of the sales it has been losing to more innovative companies, like Hyundai and Kia, and earn some of its buyers back.
To help us better understand the system, Honda released a quick video describing its features, which you can see above. Click past the jump to check out Honda’s full presser on HondaLink.
Smart TVs, as well as the Xbox Kinect, PlayStation Move, and the Nintendo Wii have already mastered the art of taking hand and body gestures, and translating them into functions. Now it looks as if this same technology may make it to the automotive realm.
Rumors began swirling a few months ago when Microsoft placed a help wanted ad that alluded to the use of body movements for various automobile controls. Now there is actually a little confirmation that at least one company is actually working on this technology. Harmon, creator of automotive audio systems and other aftermarket electronics, released a concept car that actually uses various body motions to control different features.
You want to turn the radio on, simply wink, adjusting the volume is as easy as tilting your head slightly. You can even skip tracks on a CD or change stations on the radio by tapping your hand on the steering wheel. Oh, and if you want to make a Bluetooth hands-free phone call, just make the universal hand signal for a telephone – you know, thumb to the ear with your pinky extended.
This technology isn’t completely new, as Cadillac’s CUE system uses some of this technology, but you still have to contact the screen, much like a Smartphone or tablet. The full use of gestures and infrared sensors to control a car’s various features is supposed to help avoid driver distraction by eliminating the need to search for buttons to press or knobs to turn.
Where we see this failing is the fact that the learning curve on most gesture-based systems is typically very steep and requires a ton of memorization. We can see new owners reaching for their car’s manual to see how to turn up the volume and putting their car into a ditch.
To say the least, this will definitely require some very intense planning to accomplish. Harman claims that the system should be ready for production in about two to three years.
In the early years of the automotive industry, the interior was simply somewhere to park your behind as you drove around. In the modern era, car interiors are becoming more like a second home, as they are now featuring climate control, TVs, huge sound systems, plush fabrics, and much more. Due to the constantly changing automotive world, automakers need to make sure that they are producing the best interiors possible, or risk losing sales to the competition.
Ford has taken this competition to a new level, as it is now using a robotic system to determine the quality of its cars’ interiors. This new robotic touch system is called Robotized Unit for Tactility and Haptics (RUTH). For those on the same vocabulary level as me and needing a more plain English description, this is a robot that uses sensors to determine the pain, pressure, or heat that a human’s skin would feel when touching something, which then turns that touch sensation into scalable data.
The above video shows Ford engineers describing RUTH as she touches and probes multiple points throughout the cabin of the all-new Ford Fusion. RUTH then uses data that Ford has collected from thousands of customers around the world and determines if the pieces it tests meet the collective wants of Ford buyers. From there, Ford engineers can adjust the texture, feel, softness, or even temperature of something in the cabin.
RUTH has been in commission in Ford North America since January 2012 and it looks like it is a complete success, at least according to the video. With advancements like this, it is easy to see why Ford was able to keep its head above water through the automotive recession.
Formula One has always been about one thing: To be the world’s largest racing series where up and coming technologies can be previewed, developed, and tested before eventually funneling down into everyday production cars.
However, tracing the history of Formula One has always been a challenge. Until now. Thanks to the creative mind of Ruf Blacklock, we can now see the 62 year history of Formula One compressed into a short, yet extremely sweet, 60 second video.
Showcasing basic 3D outlines of the vast majority of F1 designs, the video helps to capture the rapid changes which the series has undergone in the past six decades, with major advancements including the addition of rear wings, and the varying capacity of engines also been demonstrated throughout.
In addition to this, Blacklock also put together an awesome infographic for our enjoyment capturing the development of Formula One, with the legendary Monza circuit being the basis for this extensive circle of F1 development.
Follow the jump to see the infographic in high-definition! Full story
We do our best to keep you in the loop when it comes to new and cool developments in the automotive world. One of the hottest topics going right now in the U.S. is automated driving. Though it is still several decades away from being a national reality, although some states are legalizing autonomous cars, we are still seeing some progress. The leader in this technology to date in the U.S. is the Google Prius, but other automakers - such as Cadillac and Ford - sniffing around the automated car sector.
In Japan, however, they are taking the bull by the horns and setting up an outline for national implementation of an autonomous driving system. According to a report from Tech-On, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) is starting to piece together how to make automated driving a reality in as little as eight years.
Starting immediately, the MLIT will start piecing together the problems related to automated driving and neatly package it in an interim report that is due for release in March of 2013. Some of the issues at hand have to include: driver attentiveness, driver override ability, handling of accidents, and infrastructure development.
The MLIT has already employed the help of Toyota, Nissan, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (A.K.A. Subaru), Honda, and Mazda in this project. Heading up the entire team is Yasuo Asakura, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
For now, this is all just talk and we will see if anything ever comes of it. If this is actually a serious deal, it could drastically accelerate the timeframe that we in the industry have set for automated cars. We will keep a close eye on this situation and update you if any new details come up. Until then, enjoy your steering wheel, while you still can.
There’s no denying the fact that the automotive world is changing dramatically, and has been ever since the first car was produced back in the late 19th century. However, the last 10 years has seen what are arguably the most dramatic changes to the automobile, with advanced technologies being at the forefront of every manufacturer’s minds.
However, is all of this technology, such as paddle-shifters and traction control, taking away the thrill of driving and making modern day cars worse than their predecessors?
Well, that’s the exact question that the Road Testament on the Drive YouTube channel aims to find out in their latest installment, with our very favorite automotive journo, Chris Harris, joining regular Mike Spinelli on the desk for the very first time.
It probably goes without saying that neither of the two are thrilled with the dramatic changes currently taking place, but still do hold out hope for the future where car manufacturers may start putting the driver’s needs and desires first before adding safety and unnecessary technologies.
Check out the video to get a great insight into the minds of these two, and if it helps to create or reaffirm your opinion on the issue, be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
The Shelby GT500 is far and away the most powerful production Mustang, and pony car for that matter, ever built. So how in the world do you reign in those 662 ponies and 631 pounds of twisting force as a rookie driver? Well, you add in traction control for one and second, you install a launch control system that allows even the novice driver to launch this `Stang like a pro.
To prove its worth, Ford has even released a video touting its launch control, which uses a combination of the ABS and traction control, mixed in with its other electronic controls to give its driver the perfect launch. The video, which you can see above, explains that you simply set the desired launch RPM, mash the gas pedal, and release the clutch, then the system maximizes the torque load and tire grip, and “Wheeeeeeeeeeee” you’re off with a cloud of beautiful, yet expensive, white smoke in your wake.
What’s simply awesome about this video is the fact that the late, great Carroll Shelby is a main feature in it, which means that this video was likely filmed nearly a year ago. He still shows his dislike for Corvettes at the 1:17 mark when he says “You know, that’s important to people that want to leave a Corvette in the dust at a stop sign.” You can’t help but love the fact that Ford truly flowed deep within Shelby’s veins.
For those that don’t like the predictability of launch control, the video also lets you know that you can turn it off. Why someone wouldn’t want to rip, dig, and scoot perfectly off of the line every time is beyond us, but some people prefer controlling it themselves.
Even if you don’t give a rat’s hindquarters about traction control, the hoonage and white smoke in this video is a gorgeous thing. Plus there are few engines in the world that sound as sexy as a well-tuned Ford V-8. Have a look and listen, you won’t regret it.
We have already been over Cadillac’s “automated” driving system, which is basically just an adaptive cruise control system that takes over the steering too. Basically, it is not a true automated driving system, but it is semi-autonomous. Well, we all knew that Ford wouldn’t just sit back and watch GM take over this realm, as it has just announced that its engineers are working on a slightly similar, but far more restrictive, system.
The system that Ford is working on is called Traffic Jam Assist, and it does exactly what its name tells you. When you’re get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you can enable this system and it will move the car with traffic and keep it within the lines. This frees up your hands to do far more important things than look at the road, like text message, enjoy a coffee and doughnut, or reprogram your stereo system.
One the traffic clears up, the system asks you to take over and you’re then forced to attempt to complete the uncompleted tasks that you started in traffic while driving… What a bummer.
Ford has even released a video displaying the system, and we have to say that on 99 percent of the roads in the U.S. with heavy congestion, we doubt this system will do little more than increase your stress. From what we can see, this system waits for the car in front to get a good car length or two ahead of you before moving your car forward. That just may induce a few “friendly” honks and one finger salutes from the less patient drivers behind you.
So, unless Ford can develop a way to have the system respond more quickly, we can see this being a really cool feature until you catch the first severe traffic jam. Fortunately, this system is nowhere near ready for release, so Ford has lots of time to perfect it.
We’ll let you know if any new features of this system pop up.
According to the FBI, we’re coming up to a couple of the hottest months of the year, and we’re not talking about the weather. Turns out, July and August are the top two months for vehicle theft, and LoJack and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) are doing their part by holding their 6th annual National Vehicle Theft Protection Month. For this year, they have come up with an infographic that provides a few details and stats about car theft, as well as some helpful hints to ensure you are not a victim.
First, the facts. In 2010, there were 737,000 vehicle thefts and only 56% of those vehicles were ever recovered. The average loss per vehicle was $6,152. Not exactly a small number by anyone’s standards. What’s worse is that, if you own a Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Toyota Camry, you are more likely to be a victim because these were the top three vehicles stolen in 2010. The Ford Mustang made up a total of 9,116 instances of car theft in 2010, so we can only imagine how many of the top three vehicles were stolen during that time.
Where you live is also a factor. Nine out of 10 areas in numbers of stolen cars are in California and Washington State, with seven of the areas belonging to The Golden State.
Being the trusting - or rushed - souls that we are, 68% of people have left their car running when they aren’t in it or have left their car unlocked, while 64% of people have their home address programmed into their GPS system and 32% have left an electronic device or personal documents in plain view.
So what can we do to protect ourselves and our vehicles from theft? The number one protection aid is to use COMMON SENSE. Hey, they said it, we only repeated it. The second and third are to use theft protection products and a tracking and recovery system.
Check out the rest of the infographic after the jump to get more helpful information and remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series. Full story