All-blue skies in Paris as city centre goes car-free for first time

Angelique Chrisafis:

The lack of sound on the Champs Elysées was striking.
 With the eight lanes of France’s most famous avenue cleared of all traffic on Paris’s first car-free day, the usual cacophony of car-revving and thundering motorbike engines had given way to the squeak of bicycle wheels, the clatter of skateboards, the laughter of children on rollerblades and even the gentle rustling of wind in the trees. It was, as one Parisian pensioner observed as she ambled up the centre of the road taking big gulps of air, “like a headache lifting”.

Elon Musk: What I’d do if I was running VW

Auto Express:

Musk also said that car companies should go electric, or die. “All car companies will go electric eventually,” he said. “Any car company that doesn’t go electric will be out of business.”
 Speaking specifically about the VW scandal, Musk commented: “With hydrocarbon combustion we’ve hit the limits of physics – improvements are very tiny. There must have been lots of VW engineers under pressure – they’ve run into a physical wall of what might be possible so trickery was the only option.”
 Commenting on emissions testing, Musk said that he thought emissions testing needed to be more realistic and more rigorous and that it should include testing cars over a longer period. “Cars are best when they’re new,” he said. “There’s massive degradation over time.”

Privacy as a sales tool

Matthew Panzarino:

This is the template for all other tech companies when it comes to informing users about their privacy. Not a page of dense jargon, and not a page of cutesy simplified language that doesn’t actually communicate the nuance of the thing. Instead, it’s a true product. A product whose aims are to inform and educate, just as Apple says its other products do.
 Apple has been at the forefront of using privacy as a sales tool, but it won’t be the last. Encrypted phones; messaging apps that secure and delete conversations; nearly every major Internet service we use has been re-tooled in some way in response to what we know about how much everyone else knows. It only makes sense that the moribund privacy policy should get a makeover as well.

Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood


Shwetak N. Patel looked over the 2013 Mercedes C300 and saw not a sporty all-wheel-drive sedan, but a bundle of technology.
 There were the obvious features, like a roadside assistance service that communicates to a satellite. But Dr. Patel, a computer science professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, flipped up the hood to show the real brains of the operation: the engine control unit, a computer attached to the side of the motor that governs performance, fuel efficiency and emissions.
 To most car owners, this is an impregnable black box. But to Dr. Patel, it is the entry point for the modern car tinkerer — the gateway to the code.

EPA opposed DMCA exemptions that could have revealed Volkswagen Fraud

Donald Robertson:

The EPA wrote to the Copyright Office opposing exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions that could have helped expose auto-maker’s fraud.
 We have written previously about the organizations and individuals who opposed exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) anti-circumvention provisions. These drones oppose the rights of users to backup, modify, and study the software and devices that we own. The DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions create legal penalties for simply accessing your software under your own terms, and raises those penalties even higher should you dare to share the tools needed to do so. It creates real penalties for anyone who wants to avoid Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) controls. The granting of exemptions to these totalitarian rules is a broken and half-hearted attempt to limit the damage these rules bring, granting for 3 years a reprieve for certain specified devices and software.
 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) side-stepped this process and sent a letter separately directly to the Copyright Office. In the letter they argued that users should not be able to access and modify the software on their own vehicles. In their estimation, this would enable users to violate emissions controls. So it would be better for them if the hammer of the DMCA remained hanging over the head of every user or researcher who wanted to access the software on their vehicle.

GM to tap into connectivity, expand car sharing services – CEO

Joseph White:

Chief Executive Mary Barra said the automaker plans new efforts to capitalize on the connectivity built into its cars, expanding car sharing services, offering more autonomous driving features and enabling services through smartphone apps.
 “Our goal is to disrupt ourselves, and own the customer relationship beyond the car,” Barra told Reuters in an interview Monday ahead of a meeting with investors and analysts scheduled for Oct. 1.
 Using technology embedded in its cars, she said, a customer who owns a Chevrolet Malibu could step into a Cadillac CTS and the luxury car could import from a smartphone app the driver’s preferences for how the car should function.

Google Tries to Make Its Cars Drive More Like Humans

Alistair Barr & Mike Ramsey:

The cars are “a little more cautious than they need to be,” Chris Urmson, who leads Google’s effort to develop driverless cars, told a conference in July. “We are trying to make them drive more humanistically.”

Google is moving closer to commercializing self-driving cars, with the hiring earlier this month of auto-industry veteran John Krafcik as chief executive of its car project. One big remaining challenge is to make the cars, which have run more than a million miles on public roads, move more seamlessly among human drivers.

Since 2009, the cars have been involved in 16 minor accidents. In 12 of those mishaps, the vehicles were rear-ended. That’s a higher accident rate than the national average, but Google says national statistics exclude many minor accidents similar to those its cars have experienced.

Google said it wasn’t at fault in any of the crashes. But some allies say the vehicles’ habit of braking to avoid real, but marginal, risks may play a role.

“Why is it getting rear-ended? It drives like a computer,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of Nvidia Corp., which designs powerful graphics processors that help Google’s cars recognize objects.

VW Scandal: Premature Evaluations

Volkswagen – Questions, but Few Answers

Cliff Banks:

VW dealers thought sales were bad before September but the real pain will be felt over the next several months.
 Nearly 25% of VW’s sales in the U.S. are vehicles with the TDI engines. Since 2008, approximately 482,000 vehicles in the U.S. (11 million worldwide) have been sold with the software designed to deceive emissions tests. Vehicles affected the 2009 – 2015 Jetta; 2012 – 2015 Beetle; 2012 – 2015 Passat; 2010 – 2015 Golf; 2010 – 2015 Audi A3.
 The automaker issued a stop-sale order on all of the affected vehicles sitting on dealer lots — including certified used vehicles. Even 2016 models are affected as the EPA has said it will withhold certification of all vehicles with 2.0 liter TDI engines.
 TrueCar estimates Volkswagen will see sales drop 5.2% in September while the rest of the industry gains 13%.

BMW To Install 500 Charging Points In China This Year

Mark Kane:

500 charging points will be installed by BMW in China by the end of this year to address consumers’ needs.
 Stations will primarily be installed in the major cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
 According to Gasgoo, next year BMW intends to spread the project to other cities and install another 500 charging points.

UK, France and Germany lobbied for flawed car emissions tests, documents reveal

Arthur Neslen:

The UK, France and Germany have been accused of hypocrisy for lobbying behind the scenes to keep outmoded car tests for carbon emissions, but later publicly calling for a European investigation into Volkswagen’s rigging of car air pollution tests.
 Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show the three countries lobbied the European commission to keep loopholes in car tests that would increase real world carbon dioxide emissions by 14% above those claimed.
 Just four months before the VW emissions scandal broke, the EU’s three biggest nations mounted a push to carry over loopholes from a test devised in 1970 – known as the NEDC – to the World Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), which is due to replace it in 2017.

Schlumberger heats up Big Oil’s tech war

Cyrus Sanati:

Schlumberger believes that little something extra will take the form of what the company is calling “pore-to-pipeline” coverage for operators. This is where Cameron comes in. As a provider of oilfield equipment, Cameron will provide the parts needed for Schlumberger to offer this new comprehensive coverage. The goal is to lower the cost and complications associated with drilling, providing clients with greater value and less headache.
 But it’s not just about eliminating a middleman in the oil services value chain. Sure, there are cost savings to be had here, but that’s not enough to move the needle. The real value is in the technology behind the integration

Porsche 919


The Porsche 919 was billed as the most complex competition car the firm had ever built when it was launched at the Geneva Motor Show in early 2014. Built to the LMP1 technical regulations the car was designed with one purpose, to win Le Mans, something it achieved in 2015. Fitted with two hybrid systems the car was originally designed to run in the 8MJ category, but only ran at 6MJ in 2014.

Dear Volkswagen: you are probably doomed (but not because of diesel)

Marcel Salathé:

What a week it’s been. You’ve admitted to the world that you have sold 11 million vehicles that are much more polluting than what you advertised them to be. You’ve admitted that you’ve installed software in your cars that specifically detects when a car’s emissions are being measured (i.e. the engine is running but the car is not moving) in order to fake the measurements. You’ve set aside 6.5 billion Euros to deal with this scandal, and have replaced your CEO.
 This episode will go down in corporate history as a textbook example of large-scale industrial fraud for a number of reasons. First, there is the fact that the mechanism of deception was software-based. Second, you haven’t just duped millions of people into buying a product they would never have bought had they known the truth – in the process, you’ve contributed to massive pollution that’s affecting everyone’s health, not just that of your customers. Third, the betrayal of trust is at an unparalleled scale – you’ve sold polluting machines specifically to a group that’s sensitive to environmental issues. Many who bought a VW diesel bought it precisely because they assumed it to be less polluting than the competing products. Fourth, we’re not just talking about selling candy – we’re talking about products that cost tens of thousands of dollars. In other words, we’re talking about tens of billions of dollars of products sold under completely false advertising.

Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood


Shwetak N. Patel looked over the 2013 Mercedes C300 and saw not a sporty all-wheel-drive sedan, but a bundle of technology.
 There were the obvious features, like a roadside assistance service that communicates to a satellite. But Dr. Patel, a computer science professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, flipped up the hood to show the real brains of the operation: the engine control unit, a computer attached to the side of the motor that governs performance, fuel efficiency and emissions.
 To most car owners, this is an impregnable black box. But to Dr. Patel, it is the entry point for the modern car tinkerer — the gateway to the code.
 “If you look at all the code in this car,” Dr. Patel said, “it’s easily as much as a smartphone if not more.”
 New high-end cars are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet, containing 100 million or more lines of code. Compare that with about 60 million lines of code in all of Facebook or 50 million in the Large Hadron Collider.

Google’s most expensive search keywords are for ambulance-chasing lawyers

Mike Murphy:

Chances are, if you’ve watched television in the US, you’ve seen myriad advertisements for local lawyers that want to save you money after an injury—no win, no fee. Perhaps you’ve even memorized their bizarre jingles, or seen a program based on their exploits. And it seems that the internet is no different than television: Accident lawyers dominate the most expensive keyword search terms on Google AdWords—the adverts that pop up next to search results on Google.
 The report, which was released last month, was created by WebpageFX, a digital marketing company, and SEMrush, a digital marketing analytics firm. They found that the vast majority of the most expensive keyword search terms were for legal issues, most of which were localized to certain US cities or states. The single most expensive paid search term so far in 2015 is: “San Antonio car wreck attorney,” which costs advertisers $670.44 every time a person searching on Google clicks on that term.
 It seems that things haven’t really changed that much in the last decade or so of web searches, either. In 2004, the Wall Street Journal reported (paywall) that the most expensive search term was “mesothelioma.” According to the report, the respiratory cancer—which has been linked to exposure to asbestos, the insulating material found in many old buildings—has been a lucrative field for personal injury lawyers as the link has been so undeniable.”Why is [mesothelioma] the highest paying keyword? Because there is nothing more valuable than one mesothelioma patient,” Chris Hahn, the executive director at the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, told the Journal.

Climate Politics and the Volkswagen Scandal

Clive Crook:

The Volkswagen scandal is an embarrassment of riches. Seen in isolation, it’s staggering enough — that a huge and well-respected company with a valuable reputation to protect should cheat its customers on this scale, be found out, see its value shed $22 billion, and face enormous fines and damages. But there are several scandals here, and the remarkable malfeasance of VW’s managers is only one of them.
 The full dimensions of a second scandal aren’t yet clear — how far German and other European regulators were incompetent, or actually complicit, in allowing this to happen; and, relatedly, whether other companies have been doing what VW was doing. Much more remains to be learned about this.

Via Colin Poynter.

EPA to unveil effort to detect automaker cheating

David Shephardson:

Also at issue are tests used to determine the impact of aerodynamic drag and tire rolling resistance on gas mileage. Currently, that is measured at 50 miles per hour. Under the new guidelines, automakers must measure the results at all speeds up to 70 mph.

New York pilots a scheme to allow vehicles to communicate with one another

The Economist:

What if, however, rather than a nasty crash ensuing, an alert went off in the cab, telling your oblivious driver to brake? Last week, America’s Department of Transportation announced a $42m pilot programme that could transform the way cars interact with one another and their environments. The initiative is being tested in three parts of the country. In New York City, up to 10,000 city-owned vehicles will be equipped with so-called “vehicle-to-vehicle” communication (V2V). At the same time, traffic signals in Midtown and part of Brooklyn will be fitted with “vehicle-to-infrastructure” devices (V2I) that can notify drivers when a light they are rapidly approaching has turned red. In Tampa, Florida, a similar effort aims to reduce downtown congestion during peak commuting hours, and to improve pedestrian safety by putting the same technology on people’s smartphones. Less visibly, heavy commercial vehicles in Wyoming will use V2V and V2I to move freight more safely and efficiently.

Systematic fraud by the world’s biggest carmaker threatens to engulf the entire industry and possibly reshape it

The Economist:

HERBIE, a Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own in a series of Disney films launched in the 1960s, had its share of misadventures. But things had a way of ending up happily for both the car and its passengers. The German carmaker’s more recent attempts to give its cars the gift of thought have things headed in an altogether grimmer direction. Its use of hidden software to deceive American regulators measuring emissions from diesel-engined cars has plunged VW into crisis. And as the scandal provokes further investigations it seems likely to throw into question a wider range of claims about emissions and fuel efficiency. It could thus be a blow to much of the industry—one that might be large enough to reshape it.

Volkswagen’s Diesel Fraud Makes Critic of Secret Code a Prophet

Jim Dwyer:

A Columbia University law professor stood in a hotel lobby one morning and noticed a sign apologizing for an elevator that was out of order. It had dropped unexpectedly three stories a few days earlier. The professor, Eben Moglen, tried to imagine what the world would be like if elevators were not built so that people could inspect them.
 Mr. Moglen was on his way to give a talk about the dangers of secret code, known as proprietary software, that controls more and more devices every day.

Manipulation of fuel economy test results by carmakers: further evidence, costs and solutions

Transport & Environment:

The current system of testing cars to measure fuel economy and CO2 emissions is not fit for purpose. The gap between test results and real-world performance has become a chasm, increasing from 8% in 2001 to 31% in 2013 for private motorists1 and without action is likely to continue to grow to over 50% by 2020. On average, only half of the improvement in emissions claimed in tests has been delivered on the road. Mercedes cars have the biggest gap between test and real world performance, and less than 20% of the improvement in emissions measured in tests of Opel/Vauxhall cars is realised on the road. Carmakers, not drivers, are the cause of the problem as obsolete official test results are manipulated and new technology is fitted to cars which largely improves fuel economy in laboratories rather than on the road.
Distorted test results deceive drivers who achieve much poorer fuel economy than is promised in glossy marketing, costing a typical motorist around €500 every year2 in additional fuel compared to official test results. The more money drivers spend on fuel the less is available to buy other goods and services, reducing growth and employment. By 2030, the widening gap will require drivers to cumulatively spend €1 trillion more on fuel and the EU to import 6 billion extra barrels of oil, worsening energy security and the EU’s balance of payments. The distorted test results cheat EU regulations, which are designed to reduce CO2 emissions, adding 1.5bn tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere by 2030 and increasing the prospects of dangerous and uncontrolled climate change. They also reduce government car tax receipts, distorting sales in favour of the carmakers best able to manipulate tests rather than those making the most efficient cars.

Carlypso is hiring car enthusiast data scientists and developers


t’s all about finding your passion in life, right? 🙂
 We’re looking to hire (non-remote) data scientists and software engineers who are very enthusiastic about cars.
 Data scientists need to be able to work in python and write APIs – otherwise our engineers kill me 🙂

BMW Drops on Report That X3 Diesel’s Emission Exceeded EU Limit

Naomi Kresge Elisabeth Behrmann:

BMW AG fell as much as 9.3 percent in Frankfurt after a German magazine reported that the X3 xDrive 20d sport utility vehicle emitted as much as 11 times the European limit for air pollution in a road test, adding to concern that the investigation weighing on Volkswagen AG may spread to other manufacturers.
 The SUV was road-tested by the International Council on Clean Transportation, the same group whose tipoff led U.S. regulators to investigate a gap between Volkswagen AG diesels’ emissions in tests and on the road, Germany’s Autobild reported. BMW said that there’s no system in its cars that responds to tests differently than it would operate on the road.

Apple’s Car: If True, ‘One of the Most Important Moments in Transportation,’ Says Morgan Stanley

Tiernan Ray:

We believe the opportunity for tech firms to disrupt the auto industry is large enough to fundamentally and permanently change how investors view transportation… setting off a wholesale reassessment of end market sizing, growth, competitive dynamic, margin potential and valuation […] The addressable market for mobility is on the order of $10 trillion (10 trillion vehicle miles x $1/mile), more than 13% of global GDP. This figure ignores the value of the time of the driver, infrastructure, social and environmental costs.
 Apple could lift consumption of the EV category, they believe:
 If the world’s most valuable company were to make a car, we strongly believe it will be an all- electric, battery-powered vehicle. Having a company with Apple’s resources and technical expertise throw its weight behind EVs could accelerate development and consumer adoption.

Watchdog Group Says Other Car Companies Are Cheating On Emissions All The Time

Patrick George:

 Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests with 11 million TDI engines worldwide, but are they alone in this? That’s what regulators and NGOs around the globe are trying to figure out at the moment, and at least one European group fears BMW, Mercedes and General Motors are doing the same kind of thing.
 Discrepancies between real-world diesel emissions and what they record during testing in Europe have been an issue for some time, but the issue hasn’t really caught traction until VW’s gross flouting of regulations came to light.

In wake of VW scandal, it’s time to scrap self-certify era

Richard Truett:

It’s time for the EPA to admit the system of allowing and trusting automakers to self-certify cars and light trucks for fuel economy and emissions standards no longer works.
 The system, in place since the 1970s, works like this: Automakers test their own vehicles and submit the findings to the EPA, where engineers review and usually approve them. The EPA also randomly tests between 10 and 15 percent of new vehicles yearly for fuel economy and emissions at its Ann Arbor, Mich., lab.
 But today, with 40 brands selling more than 300 nameplates in the U.S., there is no way the EPA can test them all. The agency doesn’t have the manpower, machinery, time or budget to certify every variant of every vehicle every year.

Researchers Could Have Uncovered Volkswagen’s Emissions Cheat If Not Hindered by the DMCA

Kit Walsh:

Automakers argue that it’s unlawful for independent researchers to look at the code that controls vehicles without the manufacturer’s permission. We’ve explained before how this allows manufacturers to prevent competition in the markets for add-on technologies and repair tools. It also makes it harder for watchdogs to find safety or security issues, such as faulty code that can lead to unintended acceleration or vulnerabilities that let an attacker take over your car.
 The legal uncertainly created by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act also makes it easier for manufacturers to conceal intentional wrongdoing. We’ve asked the Librarian of Congress to grant an exemption to the DMCA to make it crystal clear that independent research on vehicle software doesn’t violate copyright law. In opposing this request, manufacturers asserted that individuals would violate emissions laws if they had access to the code. But we’ve now learned that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency [PDF], Volkswagen had already programmed an entire fleet of vehicles to conceal how much pollution they generated, resulting in a real, quantifiable impact on the environment and human health.

GM exec disses the Apple car, calls it a ‘gigantic money pit’

Philip Elmer-Dewitt:

 “Apple has no experience,” Lutz said. “There’s no reason to assume Apple will do a better job than General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota or Hyundai. I think this is going to be a gigantic money pit.”

How Canada’s oilsands are paving the way for driverless trucks — and the threat of big layoffs

Geoffrey Morgan:

Increasingly, however, the giant trucks are capable of getting around without a driver. Indeed, self-driving trucks are already in use at many operations in the province, although they are still operated by drivers while the companies test whether the systems can work in northern Alberta’s variable climate.
 That is about to change.
 Suncor Energy Inc., Canada’s largest oil company, confirmed this week it has entered into a five-year agreement with Komatsu Ltd., the Japanese manufacturer of earthmoving and construction machines, to purchase new heavy haulers for its mining operations north of Fort McMurray. All the new trucks will be “autonomous-ready,” meaning they are capable of operating without a driver, Suncor spokesperson Sneh Seetal said.
 The move to driverless trucks comes as Suncor and its competitors in the oilsands look for opportunities to cut costs and boost productivity, an effort that has intensified amid the year-long plunge in oil prices. The steep fall in prices has already forced the sector as a whole to lay off thousands, with Suncor itself letting go 1,000 people this year.

VW’s Nightmare: Scandal Spreads to Europe

Edward Niedermeyer:

This distinction between “engineering to the test” and outright cheating is critical to understanding the gravity of Volkswagen’s predicament. Investigations by the ICCT and Transport & Environment, a European advocacy group, have shown that European-market diesels from a variety of automakers regularly fail to comply with the tough Euro 6 standard in real-world tests like the one that led to VW’s U.S. scandal. The only clear difference between VW and the rest of the industry is that, in this case, the EPA forced it to admit that it actively cheated with purpose-built software
 Volkswagen’s confession is especially damning because Winterkorn is known as a detail-oriented engineer who, upon taking over VW in 2007, bet the company’s future on a diesel-emissions reduction plan centered on the company’s new BlueTDI technology. It’s difficult to imagine that a man who fixates on such minute details as the noise a steering column adjuster makes would know nothing about active manipulation of diesel emissions while he was in charge. With this scandal breaking in the midst of leadership turmoil at Volkswagen and just two weeks before a critical supervisory board meeting, the Winterkorn and his company may be crippled even as it appears ready to pass Toyota to become the world’s largest automaker.

Apple Speeds Up Electric-Car Work (2019?)

Daisuke Wakabayashi

Those involved include DJ Novotney, an Apple veteran with a history of successfully shipping products. Mr. Novotney, one of the first hires to the program last year, is a vice president of program management, overseeing a growing team of managers who coordinate activities among various teams. He didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Asked last week by late-night talk-show host Stephen Colbert about Apple’s interest in a driverless car, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said: “We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies in a few of them.”

Gene Munster, an equity analyst with Piper Jaffray, in a Sept. 1 research note estimated Apple’s chances of making a car at between 50% and 60%. He said he expects any Apple car to have three distinctive features: a unique design; the ability to work with other Apple devices; and some autonomous capability.

As Apple pushes forward, the company is finding it difficult to keep its automobile interest under wraps.

In May, Apple employees met with officials from GoMentum Station, a 5,000–acre former Navy weapons station east of San Francisco that is now a secure testing facility for autonomous and connected vehicles. In emails obtained through a public-records request, Apple expressed interest in scheduling time at the facility.

Volkswagen’s emissions ‘cheat’ software scandal: an explainer


Over to Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive of Volkswagen AG. ‘The Board of Management at Volkswagen AG takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case.Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter… We at Volkswagen will do everything that must be done in order to re-establish the trust that so many people have placed in us, and we will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused.’

This is all about section 203 (a) (3) (B) of the Clean Air Act. And we quote: car makers ‘are subject to a civil penalty of up to $3750 for each violation that occurred on or after 13 January 2009. In addition, any manufacturer who, on or after 13 January 2009, sold… any new motor vehicle that was not covered by an EPA-issued COC is subject, among other things, to a civil penalty of up to $37,500 for each violation.’ This is where the $18bn fine threat comes from

Autobauer schummeln bei Angabe von Schadstoffwerten


Moderne Dieselautos belasten die Umwelt einer Studie zufolge stärker als bislang angenommen. Diesel-Pkw stießen im Durchschnitt etwa siebenmal so viel Stickoxide aus wie nach der EU-Norm Euro 6 erlaubt, heißt es in einer Studie des Forschungsinstituts International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT).
 Stickoxide werden als gesundheitsschädlich eingestuft und können zu Atemwegserkrankungen führen. Fahrzeuge dürfen nach der Euro-6-Norm nicht mehr als 80 Milligramm Stickoxide pro Kilometer ausstoßen. Die ICCT-Forscher untersuchten nach eigenen Angaben 15 moderne Diesel-Fahrzeuge von unterschiedlichen Herstellern. Die getesteten Pkw stießen demnach im Schnitt 560 Milligramm pro Kilometer aus. Benzinautos erfasste die Studie nicht, da sie meist die Grenzwerte für Stickoxide einhalten.

Driverless transport arrives in the Netherlands

Parvinder Marwaha:

The first self-driving electric shuttle expected to travel on public roads has been delivered to the Netherlands. It is anticipated that the WEpod will take passengers between Wageningen and Ede in the province of Gelderland.
 WEpod is named after the two destinations it is planned to move between (Wageningen and Ede) and for everyone (we) involved in the project. Pod references a small automatic vehicle.

Germany to probe whether auto emissions data falsified in Europe


The automobile companies must work closely with the U.S. authorities to clear this up,” a spokesman for the German environment ministry said.

“We expect the car companies to pass on reliable information so that the Federal Motor Transport Authority, the responsible authority in this case, can investigate whether similar manipulations took place with the emissions systems in Germany and Europe.”

VW’s Diesel Shenanigans: Bigger headaches yet to come (industry “norms”)

Bertel Schmitt:

OMG, really? How naïve can they be? Defeat devices are as old as emission controls. When computers entered cars some 40 years ago, they soon more or less routinely contained software that turned a car into a clean kitten when on the dyno, and into a pig when on the road. Cheater 1.0 saw that only one axle was turning, and deduced that the car was sitting on a dyno. This was a boon to makers of much more expensive twin roll dynos, which were “much harder to fool,” as a German TUV engineer told me in the last millennium. As technology became more sophisticated, so became the cheater software. In an age where we believe that a car should be smart enough to drive itself, even the dumbest car computer should become suspicious when the vehicle travels at 55 mph while standing still.

Cheating became so prevalent that a “Prohibition of defeat devices” entered the U.S. books in 2007. The rules also say that the EPA “may test or require testing on any vehicle at a designated location, using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device.” It may, but it didn’t.

Finally, a little known group, the International Council on Clean Transportation, did what should have been obvious: Stick a probe into the exhaust pipe, and actually drive the car around the country. In this real world test, “the Jetta exceeded the U.S. nitrogen oxide emissions standard by 15 to 35 times. The Passat was 5 to 20 times the standard,” says Bloomberg. The EPA opened an investigation into Volkswagen more than a year ago. Finally, Volkswagen admitted to be using a defeat device, if they wouldn’t have confessed, the EPA still would be sitting in the dark.

A year ago, tests performed in Europe by the same International Council on Clean Transportation prompted Spiegel Magazine to headline “Diesel cars: Manufacturers cheat about emissions.” Volvo was the biggest oinker. Only BMW was clean. BMW also tested well during the ICCT’s U.S. tests. Today, Germany’s government announced a probe into possible falsifications of emissions data in Europe.

Location privacy issues in car sharing services

Mattia Dimauro:

Of course there were other informations lying there. You can easily grasp the daily usage of the service, the coverage of a certain area, the average distance covered in a shift and so on. With this bar chart, you can see that during the weekend there’s a clear predisposition to use the service. But I wanted to take a deeper look into this, especially to see if some privacy flaw could’ve been found.
 The easiest attack that I could think of, was a kind of virtual car chase. That is, you can follow a car remotely. Then, if you see somebody getting on one of these cars, you can just wait to see it reappearing on the map to discover where he was going. This is simple and can be done easily. Let’s see if we can push this further.

Test Drive of a petrol car

Tibor Blomhäll:

Having heard so much good about petrol cars, we decided to test drive one. They are said to combine cheap price with long range and fast charging. A winning formula on paper – but how are they in real life?
 We sat us in the loaner car at the car salesman’s office. Automakers do not sell the cars themselves, only through independent car repair shops as middlemen. It may sound like a bad omen to buy the car from a car repair shop that you want to visit as seldom as possible. But you apparently can’t buy the car directly from the manufacturer but must go through such intermediaries. The seller was very ”pushy” and tried to convince us to buy the car very forcibly, but the experience is perhaps better elsewhere.

Via Ben Thompson.

Revolution Versus Regulation: The Make-or-Break Questions About Autonomous Vehicles

bcg perspectives:

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) promise tremendous societal benefits. As shown in our previous report on the topic, Revolution in the Driver’s Seat: The Road to Autonomous Vehicles, the widespread adoption of AVs could eliminate the more than 30,000 annual U.S. road fatalities, improve travel time by as much as 40 percent, recover up to 80 billion hours lost to commuting and congestion, and reduce fuel consumption by as much as 40 percent. Those societal benefits could be worth as much as $1.3 trillion in the U.S. alone, according to various studies. Consumers are keen to embrace AVs. Moreover, it’s likely that AVs can be manufactured and marketed affordably and profitably.
 Our previous report on AVs focused on individual automotive companies, also known as original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and consumers, drawing on The Boston Consulting Group’s extensive survey of 1,510 U.S. consumers for insights into the economics of the market for AVs, the technical challenges facing individual OEMs and suppliers, the likely rates of adoption among consumers, and the economic savings and other benefits that AVs could generate.

Via Roman Meliška.

EVs Could Cut Global Gasoline Use By 2040

Mike Barnard :

A tipping point has been reached in the last two years for electric cars. Almost half of all fully or partially electric vehicles sold in the past decade were sold in 2014. In addition to the standard-bearing Tesla, every car manufacturer in the world has fully or partially electric cars in their lineups. The most exciting cars in the world are now electric.
 But what does this mean for global gasoline consumption over the coming decades? To explore this idea, I created two scenarios, a moderate speed penetration of EVs and a more aggressive penetration.

Why a Low Carbon Future Doesn’t Have to Cost the Earth

Citi Global Perspectives:

As Thomas Edison presciently pointed out to Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone in 1931, “We are like tenant farmers chopping down the fence around our house for fuel when we should be using nature’s inexhaustible sources of energy – sun, wind and tide. I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”
 While fossil reserves aren’t running out, our ability to burn them without limit may be, due to the fact that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and equivalents are rapidly approaching the so-called ‘carbon budget’ – the level that if we go beyond is likely to lead to global warming in excess of the important 2 degrees Celsius level.
 It is this that makes the United Nations COP21 meeting in Paris in December 2015 so important; it represents the first real opportunity to reach a legally binding agreement to tackle emissions, given that all parties, including the big emitters, are coming to the table with positive intentions, against a backdrop of an improving global economy.
 We live though in an energy hungry world. Global GDP is set to treble by 2060, with two thirds of that growth coming from emerging markets which display significantly greater energy and carbon intensity per unit of GDP than developed markets. Feeding that energy demand and facilitating growth while minimizing emissions will take brave and coordinated decisions on the part of policymakers.

Why automakers may want you to doubt self-driving cars

Matt McFarland:

The article argues that a shift to fully self-driving vehicles “will require massive amounts of philosophical, technological, and legislative effort and change.”
 There’s an important distinction here. Traditional automakers are generally paddling in the shallow end of the autonomous pool, with the promise of features such as automatic braking. Tech companies such as Google are doing cannonballs from the high dive, reimagining the automobile for the digital age, removing the driver, steering wheel and pedals. That’s the type of autonomous driving the article is poo-pooing.
 There are worthy questions about the nascent technology, including how will self-driving cars handle the busiest city streets and inclement weather? How serious are the hacking risks? What privacy will passengers give up?

Autonomous Cars Break Uber

Kyle Samani:

The thing is…self-driving cars break Uber.
 Indeed, with self-driving cars, we can just replace the “more drivers” element of the cycle with “more autonomous cars.” Drivers are intrinsically temporary. They are just people. They eat, breathe and sleep. They drive when they want to drive, and don’t drive when they don’t want to drive.
 Autonomous vehicles are not temporary. Rather, they are permanent. Once they are on the road, they are available 97+ percent of the time to service riders (3 percent for gas, inspections, repair, etc.).
 Autonomous vehicles break the “marketness” that makes Uber a market of drivers and riders. Supply will massively outstrip demand as vehicles become available 24/7 at dramatically lower marginal cost.
 Autonomous vehicles will be much cheaper than human-driven vehicles. Today, humans are taking home 80 percent of the revenue (Uber the other 20 percent). Of that 80 percent, perhaps 30 percent is paid out for gas and vehicle maintenance, costs that autonomous vehicles must also incur. Thus, human drivers are taking home about 50 percent of the revenue they bring in; 20 percent goes to Uber, and 30 percent is the cost of servicing riders.


Apple meets California officials to discuss self-driving car

Mark Harris:

According to documents obtained by the Guardian, Mike Maletic, a senior legal counsel at Apple, had an hour-long meeting on 17 August with the department’s self-driving car experts Bernard Soriano, DMV deputy director, and Stephanie Dougherty, chief of strategic planning, who are co-sponsors of California’s autonomous vehicle regulation project, and Brian Soublet, the department’s deputy director and chief counsel.
 The discussions come as Google and Uber are both advancing their plans to develop self-driving cars. Google already has a fleet of robot cars on the streets of California and is planning to have several hundred built in the near future.
 Last month, the Guardian disclosed that Apple had looked into booking a secure car testing site in California to road-test its vehicle, codenamed Project Titan. Maletic wrote the mutual confidentiality agreement signed by GoMentum Station, a disused military base near San Francisco with miles of empty streets for driverless cars, when Apple inquired about testing there in May.

Volkswagen just re-released everyone’s favourite hippy-van…but now it’s electric.

Rob Hoffman:

Rumours have begun to circulate about the re-emergence of the iconic VW hippy-van, a beloved road-trip staple and unparalleled adventure machine. Board member, Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser spilled the beans at the recent New York Auto Show that Volkswagen is in fact working on producing an electric version of the classic camper bus.
 Years of sourcing VW buses from Kijiji, Craigslist and auto-trader websites have long left van enthusiasts wondering why production for the popular vehicle ever halted in the first place. The first VW camper was produced in 1950, and in the ’70s, production for the iconic bus was outsourced to Brazil due to a number of changing German safety regulations. In 2013, the assembly-line was halted all together because the vehicles failed to meet a 2014 modification to Brazilian safety standards, including the requirements of ABS and multiple airbags.

Paris Is Sharing Electric Cars by the Thousand. Will It Play in Indianapolis?

Carol Matlack:

An electric car share called Autolib’ has been a hit in Paris, with more than 3,300 of its distinctive silver hatchbacks cruising the streets or recharging at curbside stands. Users can pick up a car at any of nearly 1,000 stands, then drop it off at a stand near their destination, for as little as 20¢ a minute. No surprise, then, that London and other cities outside France have looked at replicating the four-year-old program.
 What may be more surprising is that the first city to take the plunge is Indianapolis.

The Road Chief Is the Ultimate Camper

Dan Neil:

LIKE MANY fairy tales, this story begins with a 1947 Tatra T87 automobile. In 2000, tech entrepreneurs John Long and Helena Mitchell took his Czech-built, Streamline Moderne automobile on a circumnavigation of North America, starting in Toronto. “As one does,” he said with a laugh.
 Upon returning home, Ms. Mitchell noted that next time she would like to have a travel trailer. Apparently, you don’t say these things to Mr. Long without consequences. Three months later, he announced he had found the perfect travel trailer to pull behind a Tatra.
 And he did: A 1935 Bowlus Road Chief, #149, built in San Fernando, Calif., by the company and family of William Hawley Bowlus. The designer of record for Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” Mr. Bowlus sold about 80 trailers of his own design—rivet-skinned and mirror-bright, sleek with American optimism—before the Depression took its toll. Though later eclipsed in reputation by Airstream, Bowlus was the first aluminum-skinned travel-trailer company. About half of those made survive today.

“We do not plan to become the Foxconn of Apple”, “We created the automobile,” he said, “and we will not be a hardware provider to somebody else.”

Jack Ewing:

The mere knowledge that Apple has a team of several hundred people working on car designs changed the conversation this week at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. Along with Google, Apple has focused the minds of auto executives on the challenge posed by new technologies that have the potential to disrupt traditional auto industry hierarchies.

This year, “connectivity” has supplanted “horsepower” or “torque” as the prevailing buzzword in Frankfurt. The talk is of self-driving cars, battery-powered cars, and information technology designed to link cars with data networks to make driving safer and more efficient.

Even though neither Apple nor Google is close to mass-producing a vehicle, nervousness about their intentions — which remain cloaked in mystery — is understandable.

As cars increasingly become rolling software platforms, Apple and Google have depths of tech expertise that the carmakers would have trouble duplicating. And those Silicon Valley companies have financial resources that dwarf those of even behemoth companies like Daimler and Volkswagen. Google, which began working on self-driving cars in 2009, is valued by the stock market at more than five times the worth of either of those carmakers. Apple is worth eight times as much. That gives them an advantage in a business that requires huge investment in research and development.

“What is important for us is that the brain of the car, the operating system, is not iOS or Android or someone else but it’s our brain,” Dieter Zetsche, the chief executive of Daimler, the maker of Mercedes vehicles, told reporters at the car show. IOS is Apple’s operating system for mobile devices.

“We do not plan to become the Foxconn of Apple,” Mr. Zetsche said, referring to the Chinese company that manufactures iPhones.

Firm’s system lets smartphone shape exhaust sounds

Larry Edsall:

A variety of automakers equip their cars with a dial so the driver can select from normal (touring) or sport or in some cases even track-mode settings, or in the case of sport utilities, the settings may be for winter driving or even various off-pavement environments. Such settings adjust engine computer controls, transmission shift points, or even how soon and how aggressively the traction and dynamic vehicle control systems kick in.
 But Roush Performance has devised an aftermarket exhaust system that not only can be dialed into touring, sport and track sound levels, but even to a custom setting that uses a smartphone or tablet app that enables the driver to achieve a seemingly unique sound — or a series of such sounds — for his or her vehicle, and even to link the various sounds to a phone’s GPS system

Google does not intend to become a carmaker: executive


Google Inc. does not intend to become a vehicle manufacturer, the company’s managing director for Germany, Austria and Switzerland said on Tuesday at the Frankfurt auto show.
 Google has named auto industry veteran John Krafcik, a former CEO of Hyundai Motors America, as chief executive of its self-driving car project.
 Google’s pet project of driverless cars started in 2009 with an intention to revolutionize the car industry. The hiring of Krafcik is seen as a sign the tech giant is starting to look at the project as a potential and relevant business in the future.

via Roman Meliška.

Behind the wheel of Freightliner’s Inspiration autonomous truck

Jack Roberts:

But, Freightliner engineers note, almost all of the Highway Pilot systems are in widespread use in fleets today. As startling and sensational as the thought of an autonomous truck may be, the fact is the integration and combination of these existing technologies are what enable autonomous vehicle control.
 Behind the wheel, enabling Highway Pilot is only possible when all the systems’ sensors are satisfied that safe operating conditions are present. The cameras, for example, must have clearly defined lane markers to track. The radar systems must have uncluttered acuity looking forward and the GPS system must have a strong signal and reliable information about the area the truck is operating in.
 If all those conditions are met, the driver is alerted via a message flashed onto the information screen directly in front of the driver. At that point, initiating the system is simply a matter of hitting the “Resume” button located on the right-hand spoke of the steering wheel.

The story of the invention that could revolutionize batteries—and maybe American manufacturing as well

Steve Levine:

The world has been clamoring for a super-battery.
 Since about 2010, a critical mass of national leaders, policy professionals, scientists, entrepreneurs, thinkers and writers have all but demanded a transformation of the humble lithium-ion cell. Only batteries that can store a lot more energy for a lower price, they have said, will allow for affordable electric cars, cheaper and more widely available electricity, and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. In the process, a lot of gazillionaires will be created.

Google self-driving car patent reveals how you’ll let AI take the wheel

Chris Ziegler:

A new patent from Google published today has some fascinating insight into how the company thinks that production of self-driving cars of the future might take control from the drivers they’re shuttling around — and how they could give it back, too.
 The description of “Google Chauffeur,” spotted by Stanford’s Reilly Brennan, is a pretty straightforward concept. An arm on the steering column (not much different from a windshield wiper arm) could be pulled to engage a car’s self-driving mode; at that point, the system would do a check to see whether it’s ready and able to actually take control from the driver. If it isn’t — the car can’t get a GPS lock, for instance — the driver might see a “Not Available” light on the dash. Otherwise, you’d see a “Ready” light, at which point you can start taking your appendages off the wheel and pedals. (The focus of the patent’s coverage is on the operation of these lights, but the remainder of the patent’s text gives interesting insight into how Google sees a car actually working.)

Autonomous cars shift insurance liability toward manufacturers


could shift the burden of legal and regulatory liability toward makers of self-driving cars and away from customers, experts say, forcing regulators and insurers to develop new models.
 Autonomous cars have the potential to reduce the rate of traffic accidents as sensors and software give a car faster and better reflexes to prevent a collision. However, a greater level of automation increases the need for cyber security and sophisticated software, experts said.
 “Although accident rates will theoretically fall, new risks will come with autonomous vehicles,” said Domenico Savarese, Group head of Proposition Development and Telematics at Zurich Insurance.
 “What should be done in the case of a faulty software algorithm? Should manufacturers be required to monitor vehicles post-sale in the case of a malfunction or a hacker attack?” Savarese asked.
 While established models for assigning liability – such as holding the owner responsible for what the car does – will still be relevant, the onus may shift toward manufacturers.

BMW eyes new business opportunities with autonomous cars


German carmarker BMW is preparing to rethink its products, design and business models for the advent of driverless cars, a board member at the Bavarian company said on Tuesday.
 Peter Schwarzenbauer said the competitive advantage for premium carmakers will be rooted in their ability to offer a portfolio of transport options far beyond just selling a car.
 The ability to hail an autonomous car instantaneously may lead to a convergence between business models being offered by taxi services, limousine rides and car sharing, Schwarzenbauer, the BMW board member responsible for the Mini brand, told Reuters in an interview at the Frankfurt car show.
 How well premium carmakers do will depend partially on how quickly a customer’s desire for transportation can be met.

This graphic shows all the ways your car can be hacked

Tom Huddleston:

The increase in automobiles armed with internet-connected technology has opened the door for hackers looking to get into our cars remotely.
 As such, Intel INTC 1.16% , one of the world’s largest manufacturers of chips and processors used in computers, has some ideas about the best ways for automakers to safeguard cars against cyber attacks.
 Intel has several auto industry partners — such as BMW, Ford Motor F 3.85% , and Toyota TM 3.10% — who use the Silicon Valley company’s technology to power in-car entertainment, navigation, and other systems. In a recent white paper, Intel outlined its “Best Practices” recommendations for how those automakers, and the rest of the industry, can best outfit their vehicles for privacy and cybersecurity “in the era of the next-generation car.”
 The graphic above, pulled from Intel’s report, details the myriad entry points for hackers to gain remote access to a connected car. Intel notes in its report that there is a growing list of cybersecurity risks to automobiles: “Malware, Trojans, buffer overflow exploits, and privilege escalation.” Some of the biggest security issues automakers need to address, according to Intel, include creating a secure authentication system that ensures the various connected systems in a car are communicating with one another rather than an unknown, outside source. Intel also recommends increased security measures throughout the supply chain to prevent tampering or counterfeit parts entering a vehicle.

Goldman Makes Hay as Car Insurance Sun Shines

Paul Davies:

U.K. car insurance is going through a purple patch and Goldman Sachs is looking to cash in.

The U.S. investment bank owns about half of Hastings Group, a small but fast-growing insurer aiming to list in London next month.

Hastings, likely to be worth more than £1 billion ($1.54 billion), wants to raise £180 million from new shares and allow current owners to sell some stock.

It is a good time to sell. U.K. motor insurers made underwriting profits in 2014 for only the second year since 1994, according to consultants EY. Companies make their money through releases of reserves and fees for extra services.

Driverless ‘Pod’ Paves Way for Smartphone-Summoned Transport

Olivia Solon:

 It’s more golf cart than VW Golf, but this self-driving two-seater “pod” represents the cutting edge of the emerging British autonomous vehicle industry.
 The first electric Lutz Pathfinder, which is smaller than a Smart car, launched in Milton Keynes today before tests in pedestrianized areas at a top speed of 15 miles per hour. The trial hopes to pave the way to a new mode of public transport that can be summoned with a smartphone.

Porsche, Audi unveil all-electric models to challenge Tesla


Porsche showed the prototype of its first battery-powered sports car, titled “Mission E.” Similar in appearance to its iconic 911, it has an 800-volt electric powertrain with 600 horsepower that can accelerate to 100 km per hour in 3.5 seconds.
 “When we designed this car, we knew it had to be a real Porsche,” chief executive Matthias Müller said in an interview on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show. “It had to feel like a 911.”

Google reveals plans to increase production of self-driving cars

Mark Harris:

As a handful of Google’s self-driving cars venture outside California for the first time, arriving on the streets of Austin, Texas, this week, the company has revealed its plans to build many more fully autonomous prototypes, and possibly move towards mass manufacturing.
 When Google introduced the low-speed, two-seater electric cars last year, it said it was going to build just 100 vehicles by the end of 2015. But speaking at the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday, Sarah Hunter, head of policy for GoogleX, said: “We’re … making a few hundred of them. We’re making them to enable our team to learn how to actually build a self-driving vehicle from the ground up.”
 Last month, the Guardian revealed that Google had set up its own car company, Google Auto, to manufacture the completely driverless cars without steering wheels, brake or accelerator pedals. While Google says it has no plans to market these prototypes, and has previously talked about partnerships with established car companies, Hunter admitted that it is now considering making and selling self-driving cars itself.

Google Brings in Chief for Self-Driving Cars


Google Inc. is ready to turn its self-driving car technology into a business and has hired an auto-industry veteran to run it.

Frankfurt Auto Show: Thunder Power EV Launch

Andy Sharman:

Low oil prices have prompted a shift in consumer tastes towards “light trucks” — the broad term for pickups and sport utility vehicles, which generally command higher profit margins compared with smaller cars. In August, Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler generated 74 per cent of their US sales from trucks — a record.

But with US sales back above pre-crisis levels, analysts say two factors could halt the bonanza.

First, a rise in US interest rates could curtail credit and therefore reduce vehicle purchases. Second, carmakers could seek to compensate for falling demand in China by increasingly pushing for sales in the US, resulting in price wars.
Furthermore, new manufacturing capacity in the southern US states and Mexico will soon come on stream following commitments from the likes of Ford, Toyota and Volvo.

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Another company with its sights trained on Tesla is Thunder Power, a South Korean start-up that plans to launch a number of electric vehicles in Frankfurt. These include a high-end car that claims to be capable of a range of more than 370 miles.

Overseeing the project is Peter Tutzer, chief technical officer, who is a former technical director at Lotus who also worked on the Bugatti Veyron, one of the fastest cars in history.

Cities and Pedestrians


AT 6am on a sweltering Sunday the centre of Gurgaon, a city in northern India, is abuzz. Children queue for free bicycles to ride on a 4km stretch of road that will be cordoned off from traffic for the next five hours. Teenagers pedal about, taking selfies; middle-aged men and women jog by. On a stage, a black-belt demonstrates karate; yoga practice is on a quieter patch down the street. Weaving through the crowd dispensing road-safety tips is a traffic cop with a majestic moustache.
 Gurgaon’s weekly jamboree is called Raahgiri (“reclaim your streets”). Amit Bhatt of EMBARQ, a green think-tank, started it in 2013, inspired by Bogotá’s ciclovía, pictured above, for which Colombia’s capital closes 120km of streets on Sundays and holidays. Such events are part of a movement that is accelerating around the world.

America’s Most Unlikely Energy Project


From a mile away, at the distant end of a flat, two-lane road, the Sabine Pass Liquefied Natural Gas terminal materializes like an alien city from the haze of the Louisiana bayou. Five white cylinders with domed tops, each 140 feet tall and 225 feet in diameter, rise from the empty horizon. Set on the Texas border 4 miles from the mouth of the Sabine River on the Gulf Coast, the terminal is one of the largest industrial energy facilities under construction in North America. The domes, made of nickel alloy and wrapped in a layer of carbon steel, are essentially giant freezers, each capable of holding 81,000 tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at -260F.
 Cheniere Energy, based in Houston, has spent more than a decade, and upwards of $20 billion, turning 1,000 acres of swamp into the first LNG export terminal in the continental U.S. When the terminal goes live later this year, it will change the dynamics of the energy market in North America. The U.S. will be on its way to becoming a net exporter of natural gas. About 700 million cubic feet of the stuff will begin arriving each day from all over the country—from Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and as far away as North Dakota—to this spot at the end of America’s natural gas pipeline network.



The company has built up a “third-generation” Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) technology which hopes to change the face of public transport across the world, Bhatnagar anticipates that it will be operational in India in the next two years and hopes India will rise as its biggest market. He said skyTran can transport travellers above surface movement cutting the journey between Mulund and Colaba in Mumbai or Bengaluru airport to Electronic City in 25 minutes. The organization is in distinctive phases of negotiations with state governments and is at present focusing on PRT opportunities in Jaipur, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Kerala. skyTran will have a network of computer controlled suspending ‘jet like’ vehicles which will transport travellers above surface traffic.

Here’s what makes it so easy for hackers to take over your car

Matthew Gault:

The auto industry standardized the CAN chips in 2007. Since then — with some small variations — every car’s little single-celled brain has been largely the same.
 Though car manufacturers are now adding fancy electronic upgrades such as Bluetooth access or OnStar, they merely added other CAN computers to a car to operate them. The CAN operating a car’s WiFi, for example, is separate from the CAN operating the transmission, but the two do communicate. Typically, the CAN running crucial components — like the brakes or engine — is read-only, meaning the car’s other computer systems shouldn’t be able to change or interfere with it.
 It turns out, however, that most car companies have done a terrible job of protecting the tiny brains at the heart of virtually all cars. The most dangerous car hacks succeed by hijacking the CAN controlling a car’s brakes, engines and transmission.

Young people are driving the city towards a carl

Neil Patel:

By any measure, young city dwellers are less and less likely to own a car. And New York City officials have spent millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours ensuring that trend works for the recent grads and young professionals that flock to it constantly. NYC bus, rail, and ferry systems are keeping up with a growing population; the roads, well, that’s a different story altogether.
 Transportation engineer Samuel Schwartz — better known as “Gridlock Sam” to his readers in the Daily News — has studied transportation in New York City for almost all his life, beginning as a taxi driver in the 1960s, and eventually serving as the Department of Transportation’s Chief Engineer. Today, his eponymous consulting firm helps the city consider what efficiency could look like and his new book, Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars, is on the display rack. The semi-autobiographical book follows New York City’s evolution into a public transit powerhouse and kicks dirt onto the grave of urban drivers.

Japan aims for carbon-free hydrogen supply chain

Jacqueline Echevarria

Japan is to trial a carbon-neutral hydrogen supply chain powered by renewable energy.

Under the pilot project, wind power will be used to turn water into oxygen and hydrogen which will be stored for local use.

The trials, which will include both private and public companies, will take place near the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki in the Keihin coastal region.

Iwatani, Toshiba and Toyota are some of the firms participating in the project, which is also supported by the Japanese Ministry of Environment.

Hydrogen can be created using renewable energy sources, stored, transported and used at a later point with minimal environmental damages, Toyota stated.

The project is expected to start in 2016 and run for four years.


Kenneth Lipp:

Prior to two weeks ago, when this reporter alerted authorities that they had exposed critical data, anyone online was able to freely access a City of Boston automated license plate reader (ALPR) system and to download dozens of sensitive files, including hundreds of thousands of motor vehicle records dating back to 2012. If someone saw your shiny car and wanted to rob your equally nice house, for example, they could use your parking permit number to obtain your address. All they had to do was find the server’s URL.
 The open online server was a file share, primarily used for municipal parking enforcement to transfer and store vehicular permit information and nearly one million license plate numbers. This was all waiting to be discovered by anyone spelunking Google for terms including “Genetec,” the name of a Canadian surveillance company that owns the popular AutoVu brand of license plate readers.

The Automotive Industry

CFA Institute:

The global automotive industry, including manufacturers of cars and light trucks, automotive components, and tires, generated revenues in excess of $2 trillion in 2014. Approximately 10 million jobs are directly involved in car manufacturing worldwide, accounting for 5% of manufacturing employment, and another 50 million jobs are indirectly related to the car industry. The industry is a major consumer of such key commodities as copper, aluminum, and steel. Thus, car manufacturing and its suppliers play a significant role in the global economy. In this comprehensive examination of the global automotive industry, the author provides an overview of the industry’s competitive structure, including key demand drivers and the growing importance of emerging markets, and offers practical guidance for effective analysis of publicly traded automotive firms.

Town Where Almost No One Owns a Car and Everyone Takes Taxis

Alana Semuels:

expressed surprise that she would attempt a move by walking her possessions across the dusty blocks between her two homes. But like just about everybody else in this city of 6,000, they don’t have a car, so Boisvert, a librarian, walks with a trash can.
 One of the strangest things about Bethel is that though it’s the government and transit hub for about 56 villages, there are almost no affordable transit options for its residents. The town has two shuttle buses, part of a public transportation system it launched five years ago. But ask just about anyone in town if they’ve ever taken the bus, and they laugh in your face.
 No roads lead in or out of Bethel, so it’s prohibitively expensive to bring in cars or other vehicles. Cars cost about double what they would on the mainland. Janz referred me to the town’s unofficial used- car lot, where people park used old cars they want to sell. It’s essentially a dusty ditch by the side of the road. When I was there, the price for a 2003 Ford Focus, which the Kelley Blue Book says would sell for $1,833 in “good” condition, was listed for $3,500. A 2003 Toyota RAV-4 with 160,000 miles costs $6,000 in Bethel, while the Kelley Blue Book says it’s worth $3,900.

The Math That Shows How Fewer Roads Can Lead to Less Traffic Congestion

Michael Byrne:

New roads don’t fix traffic. In fact, they often make it worse. This has not only been observed in many real-life cases, but, as the mathematician Josefina Alvarez pointed out recently in Plus magazine, it’s also a mathematical reality. In 1968, maths thinker Dietrich Braess even proved this: “an extension of a road network by an additional road can cause a redistribution of the flow in such a way that the travel time increases.” It’s called the Braess paradox, and has implications well beyond roads.
 First off, what we’re talking about isn’t really a paradox. It’s just counterintuitive. Here is the not-really-a-paradox stated more completely:
 For each point of a road network, let there be given the number of cars starting from it, and the destination of the cars. Under these conditions one wishes to estimate the distribution of traffic flow. Whether one street is preferable to another depends not only on the quality of the road, but also on the density of the flow. If every driver takes the path that looks most favorable to him, the resultant running times need not be minimal. Furthermore, it is indicated by an example that an extension of the road network may cause a redistribution of the traffic that results in longer individual running times.

Toyota hires robotics expert for AI push

Richard Waters:

Toyota has hired the top robotics expert from the US defence department’s research arm and promised $50m in extra funding for artificial intelligence research, as it steps up the race between the world’s biggest carmakers to pioneer new forms of computer-assisted driving.

However, the Japanese carmaker maintained on Friday that completely driverless cars were still years away, and that AI and robotics would have a more complex effect on the relationship between humans and their vehicles than Google’s experiments with “robot cars” suggest.

Gill Pratt, who stepped down recently from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), will move to Silicon Valley to head Toyota’s robotics efforts, the company said. Darpa played a key role in stimulating interest in driverless cars with a competition in 2005 — the leader of the winning entry, Sebastian Thrun, who was then a professor at Stanford University, went on to found Google’s driverless car programme.

In an interview, Mr Pratt said Toyota planned to give drivers the choice one day of handing over full control to the AI “brains” in their vehicles. However, taking human drivers out of the picture would be optional, and the pleasure of controlling a vehicle was an “innate” one that would keep people behind the wheel.

“It is important to design in humans in the future,” he said at an event in Silicon Valley on Friday.


Kiyotaka Ise, a senior managing officer at Toyota, said the company differed from Google over the desirability of taking people out of the equation completely. “To us, it is like a train without an operator,” he said. “We always want to keep drivers in the vehicle and in control.”

Mr Ise compared Toyota’s vision for robotic cars with its hybrid electric vehicle, the Prius. Adding more elements of automation to current vehicles, rather than waiting for a full robot car, would make it possible to bring the technology to drivers more quickly and bring costs down faster, he said.

Toyota said it would give the AI labs at Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology $25m each over the next five years. The money is to support areas of research into autonomous driving and the use of robots in the home, another market the company is trying to develop.

Uber and the bumpy road ahead

Gillian Tett:

This summer, a bizarre split emerged in the Hamptons, the sandy peninsula close to New York so beloved by the American elite. In one-half of the tiny spur, around Southampton, Uber drivers have been furiously ferrying hordes of people to and from barbecues, benefits and beaches.
 But the other half, around East Hampton, is an Uber desert: town officials have banned the car service after local taxi firms insisted that drivers should only be allowed to ply their trade if they were properly regulated and had a bona fide East Hampton address.
 Feelings are running so high that the police recently threatened to throw Uber drivers into jail if they dared to cross the leafy (near invisible) border between Southampton and East Hampton. And while no one has yet been locked up, taxi drivers and users are seething. There is now such a shortage of taxis in East Hampton that prices for even short trips are sky high.
 On one level, this is merely a colourful curiosity; nobody is going to shed a tear for those Uber-deprived East Hamptonites any time soon. But on another, the split is symbolic. Uber is sparking bitter fights all over the western world, whether in London, Paris, Florida or New York. And while these disputes partly reflect the fact that Uber’s extraordinarily rapid — and ultra-aggressive — expansion has left rivals fuming over its tactics and success, they also highlight something else: our 21st-century digital revolution is now threatening to turn parts of our political economy upside down, in a manner that politicians and voters seem ill-equipped to handle.

Toyota plans to finance $50 million dollar intelligent car project

John Markoff:

The Toyota Motor Corporation announced on Friday an ambitious $50 million robotics and artificial intelligence research effort, in collaboration with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to develop “intelligent” rather than self-driving cars.
 The distinction is a significant one, according to Gill Pratt, a prominent American roboticist, who has left his position at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Pentagon to direct the new effort.
 Rather than compete with companies like Google and Tesla, which are designing cars that drive without human intervention, Toyota will focus its effort on using advances in A.I. technologies to make humans better drivers.
 Dr. Pratt described the two approaches as “parallel” and “serial” autonomy. In layman terms, parallel means the machine watches what you do, while serial means it replaces you.
 Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, envisions cars of the future that will act as “guardian angels,” watching the driving behavior of humans and intervening to correct mistakes or avoid collisions when needed.
 Dr. Pratt said Toyota’s goal was to keep the “human in the loop” in the car of the future and to ensure that driving remained fun. “A worry we have is that the autonomy not take away the fun in driving,” he said. “If the autonomy can avoid a wreck, it can also make it more fun to drive.”

America’s once magical – now mundane – love affair with cars

Marc Fisher:

Now 72, Mecca was 18 when he worked the biggest newspaper delivery route in McLean to amass the cash to buy his first car, a ’53 Ford that didn’t have a working second gear. He pumped gas at Tuthill’s Texaco to pay for wheels to cruise over the bridge to Georgetown or impress the girls at Tops Drive Inn in Falls Church.
 Back then, he could name the make and model of anything that zipped by. Even now, cars speak for him: “When my wife beat ovarian cancer,” he says, “I bought her her dream car,” a ’56 Chevy Nomad station wagon.
 On Friday evenings at the Cruise-In, Mecca and his buddies cluster behind the ’72 Dodge Challenger and the electric-blue ’65 Corvette. They check under the hoods and trade stories about cars and women and where the years have gone.

The Fascinating Story Behind the DeLorean

It was a Back to the Future lovers dream: eight DeLorean’s parked in a row, gullwing doors open, stainless steel bodies polished and gleaming in the Saturday evening sun.
 It was the first gathering of the Ottawa DeLorean Club, a new branch of the “Official DeLorean Owners Canada”. Organizers Stephane Van and Eric Vettoretti were hoping for 12 DeLoreans, but eight, plus four Bricklins — a 1970s gullwinged beauty that often gets mistaken for the more famous DeLorean — was still a rare sight.
 For the owner’s showing off their cars in the parking lot of Monkey Joe’s bar in Ottawa, the dream of owning a DeLorean began in 1985 when “Doc” showed up in his stainless steel time machine in the film Back to the Future, the first of the trilogy.

The pioneer of Google’s autonomous cars wants to teach people how to face the future

The Economist:

“BECAUSE of the increased efficiency of machines, it is getting harder and harder for a human to make a productive contribution to society,” says Sebastian Thrun. This is what you might expect to hear from the man who suggested Google’s controversial Street View project to photograph the world’s roadsides, who developed the company’s eerie self-driving cars and who founded the secretive Google “skunk-works” project responsible for Glass, a wearable computer that resembles spectacles. Yet that does not mean Mr Thrun is in thrall to the march of the machines. “To the extent we are seeing the beginning of a battle between artificial intelligence (AI) and humanity, I am 100% loyal to people,” he says.

Launch of in-car trials for development of 3D-LiDAR high-performance, compact, low-cost driving space sensor

Pioneer PDF:

Pioneer Corporation has completed trial manufacture for inspection purposes of its 3D-LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) driving space sensor, considered necessary to enable automated driving and advanced driving support, and has launched development and in-car trials of technology for a high-performance, compact and low-cost system. Pioneer aims to put the system to practical use for mapping vehicles of advanced map during 2016, and it aims to commercialize 3D-LiDAR for business use in 2017 and for private passenger vehicles around 2018.
Specifically, during 2016, Pioneer will launch advanced map creation using mapping vehicles fitted with 3D-LiDAR, with Increment P Corporation (hereinafter, Increment P), its map creation subsidiary. In the near future, the Company aims to develop and propose an efficient creation and operation system for advanced map data (“data ecosystem”) enabling differences in map data to be automatically processed, with low costs of operation, by collecting surrounding environment data in real-time from general- use vehicles equipped with 3D-LiDAR as well.

How Cities Can Shape Transportation Technology For The Greater Good

Gabe Klein:

Cities are at the most critical juncture in our lifetimes right now, and have a huge opportunity ahead of them — if they make good choices.
 That opportunity lies in two spheres. The first: Undo a half century of terrible planning decisions around one mode, the automobile, and remake our streets in favor of people, so they can safely walk, bike, play and live as close as possible to fundamental services and their work. The second: embracing technology as well as new business and operating models to more efficiently use the infrastructure and systems we already have and to better serve the public and its future.

Marc Tarpenning Tesla history

Video, via Steve Crandall.

Sony looks at adding cars to growth drive

Kana Inagaki:

The possibility of rolling out a Sony vehicle is also something that Kazuo Hirai is not ruling out, noting that the advent of electric cars has lowered entry barriers for new players.

“If we fundamentally believe at some point in time that we can make a difference in the automotive space, it’s something that we will look at,” Mr Hirai told the Financial Times.

“We don’t have plans at this point but never say never,” he added.

Technology companies are looking to tap into the rise of smart cars that are connected to the internet and use sensors to assist drivers. Google is working on a self-driving vehicle and Apple has embarked on an automotive project, eyeing vehicles as the “ultimate mobile device”.

Sony’s ambitions to expand its camera sensor sales from smartphones to cars and its aggressive foray into new sectors ranging from real estate to education have sparked questions about whether the Japanese group could also explore producing a car of its own.

“It’s just an extension of the status quo if Sony is looking to further grow its CMOS [complementary metal-oxide semiconductor] sensor and game businesses,” said Eiichi Katayama, head of Japan research at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “But cars could potentially be a game changer.”

Sony’s technologies — including its lithium-ion battery business and artificial intelligence capability garnered from its robot-making days — would be advantages in the automotive space. The company’s rechargeable batteries are mainly used in smartphones, cameras and other electronic devices but Mr Hirai said cars could be another area to explore.