Our friends over at Autocar are reporting a nice tidbit of tech news on the new Toyota GT 86. According to GT 86 project engineer, Tetsuya Tada, Toyota is working on a black-box system for the GT 86 that will monitor all of the car’s main functions (i.e. braking, accelerating, stability, acceleration, speed, etc.).
In short, the black-box system is nothing new, but what Toyota plans to do with it is. Engineers are working on installing software on the black box that is compatible with the PlayStation 3. At the same time, Toyota is hard at work mapping out all of the major tracks and raceways around the world and uploading them into the black box. All the driver has to do is take the GT 86 to a mapped track on the black box and drive the hell out of his car.
Once the driver has finished his track day, just hook up the black box to a PlayStation 3 and upload the data. After all of the data is uploaded, the driver can compare his data from the track with other GT 86 drivers that have run on the same track, making for some friendly racing, without the risks of swapping paint. This system will also provide pointers for performing better at the track and maximizing the GT 86’s potential.
Seems like a pretty cool idea on paper, but the issue becomes the fact that some street racers may find a way to upload public streets, then you have GT 86 drivers driving like maniacs on busy roads trying to beat their buddy’s time around the block. We hope that the engineers find a way to block this possibility prior to releasing it, if it ever becomes a reality.
For those that snag up GT 86s before this system debuts can easily retro-fit it onto older GT 86 models.
You know when people say that "diamonds are a girl’s best friend?" Apparently, it’s also pretty close to German tuner Gemballa.
In what could be one of the flashiest, gaudiest, and downright most expensive new aftermarket products, Gemballa has introduced the "Genuine Diamond Coating." As the name clearly suggests, the diamond coating is the world’s very first exterior and interior diamond coating. And here we thought that Swarovski crystals were already a tad over the top. Silly us, right?
According to Gemballa CEO Andreas Schwarz, the German tuner isn’t kidding when they mean diamond coating. "When GEMBALLA speaks of diamonds, we really mean it", Schwarz explains. "Our complex process uses genuine diamonds as its key ingredient - not metal pigments, glass fragments, or crystals."
The process in creating diamond coating is a doozy. In order to ensure the product is ready to be ’coated,’ Gemballa ensures that grinding the diamonds into small enough sizes is done with painstaking attention-to-detail, all while ensuring that the diamonds don’t lose their brilliance. From there, it’s a matter of coating the car with the pulverized diamonds.
We gotta give props to Gemballa for thinking about doing something like this, even if it sounds and looks as extravagant - diamonds! - as any tuning program we’ve seen in recent memory. We’re curious to see how much this sparkly paint job will cost.
A few weeks back, we reviewed BMW’s Active Sound system, the system that pipes V-10 engine sounds through the stereo system. We dubbed this system a useless gimmick because a turbo V-8 is a damn fine sounding engine, but owners cannot opt to turn it off without pulling a fuse that also turns off the entire stereo system. Well, it looks like BMW is not alone in this game.
Starting In 2014, Maserati will be selling its first ever diesel-powered vehicle, the Kubang SUV to compete with the Porsche Cayenne diesel in the European market. What Car? asked Maserati’s Vice President of Product Development, Roberto Corradi, about the notoriously beautiful engine sounds that Maserati buyers know and love in their cars and its potential effect on the sales of this diesel SUV.
Corradi responded by stating that engineers are working on using the Kubang’s stereo system to give it a nice engine note. This can only be interpreted as Maserati piping in fake engine sounds through the stereo. Unlike the BMW M5, we see a purpose for this, just like we do in electric cars, as these economic diesel engines just don’t sound cool. This piping in sounds of a high-performance engine can make drivers feel more like they are driving a true Maserati rather than a slower diesel model.
All we ask of Maserati is to install an “On/Off” switch that allows its owner to shut this feature off if he prefers natural engine sounds. As long as that’s taken care of, we have no problem with this feature and actually find it pretty neat.
Remember when TPMS was just a cool feature on BMW, GM, and Mercedes vehicles? In 2006, the NHTSA and DOT came together to make it a law for all incoming 2007 vehicles to have direct TPMS standard. When this happened, the tire industry released a collective “Oh man, are you serious?” Well, now another company is taking the simplifying of tire pressure an extra step beyond a flashing indicator saying “Hey, put some air in the tires, please!”
That’s right; starting with the 2013 model year, Nissan will include a system that actually activates the horn when the tires have reached their correct pressure on all of its cars. This all comes on the heels of a successful test of the system on the 2013 Altima. No more “confusing” tire pressure gauges to fumble around with. In all seriousness though, this is actually an ingenious idea. When I was in the tire business, you have no idea how many times a customer would roll up asking us to put 44 psi in his 1995 Cavalier’s tires because that’s what the sidewall of the tire says is the max pressure, or his grandfather once told him that more air increases gas mileage.
So now when you are whipping down the road in your 2013 370Z and that pesky “Low Pressure” light starts flashing, you can just fill `er up `till it beeps. Why not take it a step further and just install a small compressor that fires up and adds air to the tire as you drive via a vein that runs through the casting of the rim?
We’re kidding Mr. and Mrs. Automotive Engineer, if that happens we all had better just stay off of the road, because if you can’t inflate your tires due to lack of knowledge, you shouldn’t be driving in the first place. Let’s all hope that never happens.
Click past the jump to read Nissan’s press release.
Prior to his death, ex-TVR owner, Peter Wheeler, decided that despite the fact that he no longer owned TVR, he still had the fire to build wild and crazy cars. From that fire began the project that he dubbed the Scamander, which is named after the Greek river god. This amphibious machine came to life just before Wheeler’s death, but it was a very rough machine that still needed a lot of work to be perfect.
After his death, Wheeler’s wife and a group of engineers completed Wheeler’s project and made it into something that Wheeler would have been proud of. This RRV, as Wheeler called it, has a V-6 turbocharged engine that cranks out about 300 horsepower and is said to hit 60 mph in eight seconds. To boot, it has an impeller on its rear end for propulsion in the wet stuff. This impeller certainly beats the rear wheel-mounts paddles that were on the original prototype Scamander.
Image note: The images provided are of the concept version of the Scamander.
Welcome to Part II of our series on what the future holds for transmissions and just what technologies are on the rise and expected to overthrow the current might of the dual-clutch transmission. On the agenda today is a company by the name of Zeroshift, which is another British gearbox manufacturer who have been developing their seamless shifting transmission since 2002. They have come up with a recipe which they believe will eventually funnel down to millions of production cars.
If you thought Xtrac’s Instantaneous Gearshift System was hard to understand, then get a load full of how Zeroshift’s breakthrough transmission operates. The Zeroshift system replaces the standard synchromesh system with a pair of interlocking rings which overlap one another and are then mounted onto a dog ring. These two rings transfer torque in opposite directions resulting in the left-hand ring driving the gear to the right and the right-hand ring driving the gear to left.
Under hard acceleration, both rings are pulled to the side of first gear and just before the car hits maximum revs, one of the rings shifts over to the right in preparation of 2nd gear being selected. All said and done, the Zeroshift system can literally shift gears in zero seconds resulting in breathtaking acceleration capabilities.
In fact, Zeroshift’s managing director Bill Martin is so proud of this system that he is sure that if the Zeroshift system arrived first, dual-clutch transmissions would never have been invented.
As of yet no production cars are using this system, however the Joss JP1, Australia’s first ever supercar, will be using Zeroshift’s seamless gear change technology when it hits the production line in a few years. In fact, this system is so effective that the Joss JP1 is capable of hitting 62 mph in less than 3.0 seconds and 100 mph in an incredible 6.0 seconds.
What’s more amazing about these performance times is that the JP1 is only expected to be fitted with a 6.6-liter V-8 engine producing around 500 horsepower, yet it can achieve similar performance times to that of the Lamborghini Aventador LP700-4 and Pagani Huayra, both of which have significantly more powerful engines.
Oh yeah, and we forgot to mention that a top speed of 224 mph is also expected. Not bad for something coming from the ‘Land Down Under.’
Unfortunately, the Zeroshift seamless gear-change system is unlikely to hit mass production for a few more years, but it is clear that the double-clutch gearbox is coming to the end of its relatively short life.
The dual-clutch transmission has undoubtedly changed the way we shift gears, with the Volkswagen Golf Mk4 R32 being one of the very first mass-produced cars to feature two clutches. In fact, dual-clutch transmissions have been around since the mid-1980’s when Porsche used them in a variety of Le Mans racing cars.
Since then, the demand for these futuristic gearboxes have rapidly increased, and numerous supercars released over the past few years use dual-clutch gearboxes, with the Ferrari 458 Italia being a prime example.
However, there are three big down sides to double-clutch transmissions:
1. They are generally significantly heavier than regular transmissions.
2. They do not come cheap if a replacement is needed.
3. They are also very costly to develop and produce.
As a result, some manufactures are refusing to use them, such as Lamborghini with their new ISR gearbox which operates on a similar principle but weighs a lot less. However, even Lamborghini’s latest gearbox may be short lived as there is a new wave of transmissions heading our way, which are promising zero shift times, as well as being cheaper and most importantly lighter.
One British company, Xtrac is currently developing what they hope will be that new wave of high performance transmissions. Xtrac may ring a bell with the motorsport fans out there as they build transmissions for Formula One, WRC, Dakar Rallying, and even Le Mans racers so there is no arguing their expertise in creating lightweight and quick-shifting ‘boxes.
Their latest creation is the Instantaneous Gearshift System, (IGS), which as its name suggests, promises to provide instantaneous gear changes. After reading how this system works over and over, we must admit, we still do not have a grip on exactly how it works, but here is our best attempt to describe it in layman’s terms.
Each gear has been individually mounted onto its very own ratcheting clutch system and this differs from ordinary transmissions where the gearshaft and the actual gears are connected via a synchromesh system. When operating, each gear is engaged in the selector system and also ratchets on the shaft until a number of sprung pawls click the gear into place. As a result of this advanced system, when changing up gears, the gearbox actually keeps the revs at the same level, so if you shift from 4th at 6,000 rpm up to 5th the revs will stay at 6,000 rpm.
However, this has no way of working as you could not accelerate, so a bit of driveline wind-up does the trick and forces the revs back down in less than a few milliseconds. This system is currently being used in motorsport so a bit of refinement is still needed to make it suitable for everyday use.
Tune in for Part II in the coming days to see how another British company, Zeroshift is aiming to knock the dual-clutch transmission out of the park with its brand new vision.
Automotive manufacturers are continually trying to make their cars appealing to the masses and one popular way of doing this is by offering programs which allow customers to individualize their cars to not only make them more valuable, but to also make them perfectly suited to whatever paces the owners plan to put them through.
High end cars can be optioned with different kinds of leathers, carpets, and even stereo systems, but we’ve yet to see custom instrument panels being offered, until now. As part of the BMW 5-series’ fairly large update released recently, the German brand is offering an option where all 5-series cars can be optioned out with a 10.25-inch LCD coming standard with Black Panel technology to make it as real as possible, by adding super-deep and crisp blacks.
The action however, kicks off as the driver can choose out of four different displays, where the information on the instrument panel changes as does the color, such as those backing the speedometer and tachometer.
The familiar BMW set-up comes standard, while the three remaining options are dubbed Comfort, Eco Pro, and Sport and each have their own customized functions with the Eco Pro set up displaying how efficiently the car is being driven, similar to other instrument panels fitted to hybrid and electric cars.
In a similar vein, while in Sport mode, the speed and gear selected in the car are featured prominently to help minimize the time the driver’s eyes are looking down, by displaying them through large numeric figures.
No details have been released about how much this optional extra will set prospecting buyers back, but $1000 - $2000 wouldn’t be out of the question.
The popularity of driving simulators has literally increased 10 fold with the ever-changing and advances in technology over the past few years and no, we’re not talking about your generic simulators such as Forza and Gran Turismo. We are actually referring to full-on simulators which offer you the best possible experience you can get this side of actually driving a car.
There are literally dozens of these systems offered in the market, and the vast majority of them simply feature a seat, pedals, steering wheel and a gearstick with a standard flat-screen television. However, if Motion Simulation and the masterminds at Ariel have their way, the face of racing simulators is set to change for the better, and we’re over the moon by the prospect.
In the brand new system offered by the pairing, you get a complete capsule to best replicate the feeling of driving a true sports car, such as the Ariel Atom and features three high-definition projectors offering a screen no less than 2 meters wide and home to seven million pixels. All up, this new system offers an unmatched 180 degree driving experience and can also be used for a variety of other compatible gaming uses.
Hit the jump to read more about the Ariel Atom simulator.
We all know about Google’s fleet of self-driving Prius’s, but there are few automakers actually close to creating a self-driving car. Well, that was until now. Cadillac has been steadily testing its self-driving car system and has remained somewhat tight lipped about it all. Just recently, Cadillac finally released some information, along with several videos.
According to Cadillac, this system, dubbed “Super Cruise,” is not complete self-driving, but more of a situational self-driving car. It uses features that are already included in the existing XTS and ATS vehicles and tweaks them to allow Super Cruise to drive the vehicle without any driver intervention on the interstate.
It uses features like rear automated braking, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, blind spot alert, and automatic collision preparation in combination with the vehicle’s GPS system and electric power steering to actually keep the car driving at safe speeds and in its lane. It is set by simply picking the lane and speed you want to drive in, then clicking the “Cruise” button.
Once activated, this system senses other traffic all around it, as well as the lane the vehicle is traveling in, and makes mild adjustments as needed. It even will take the vehicle through turns on the highway without the driver touching the steering wheel.
A sweet feature on Cadillac’s Super Cruise is that it uses the front collision detection system to measure the speed of the car in front of you. It then adjusts its speed to remain the prescribed two seconds behind that car. It will even bring the car to a complete stop and re-accelerate to the set speed, or the speed of traffic, all by itself, which makes it awesome for traffic jams.
There’s only one issue, it is not fully autonomous, but some drivers may treat it like such. You cannot just kick back and read the paper, as your Caddy drives you to work. It’s still a good start anyways.
GM expects to start rolling out versions of Super Cruise “In the coming years.”