Ford’s Self-Driving Cars Come Up Against First Obstacle: The Snow
Here in the UK, many of us witnessed the first snowfalls of the winter this week. But while some of us love the snow, others hate it. And Ford’s autonomous vehicles really hate it.
So far, Ford have tested their self-driving vehicles in clear, sunny conditions and everything has gone smoothly. Watching the car drive itself is pretty mesmerising stuff. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the Ford ambled along without a care in the world.
Things have gone so well that the autonomous vehicles have been showing off for the ladies with some neat parallel parking and three-point turns.
One woman in Miami was so impressed that she said she wanted to take an autonomous car out for a date.
“It’s so dreamy,” she said.
But recently Ford’s autonomous vehicle was given a severe wake-up call when it was handed a test-run in Canada and came up against its nemesis – the snow.
Snow is perhaps the biggest technical challenge facing the self-driving sector because the sensors simply cannot see through the thick white stuff.
Jim McBride of Ford said: “It’s one thing for a car to drive itself in perfect weather but quite another to do so when the car’s sensors can’t see the road because it’s covered in snow.”
Progress is, however, being made. Ford have already announced that they have found a solution to the snow conundrum, and is currently testing autonomous vehicles in a fake city covered in snow somewhere in Michigan.
The project has been named Snowtonomy, with the wintry tests representing a first for the autonomous vehicles sector.
So far, the vehicles’ sensors cannot see lane markings if they are covered by snow, but it is hoped that a solution involving 3D maps will be effective.
Ryan Eustice, associate professor at the University of Michigan said: “Maps developed by other companies don’t always work in snow-covered landscapes. The maps we created with Ford contain useful information about the 3D environment around the car, allowing the vehicle to localise even with a blanket of snow covering the ground.”
Volvo Wants To Deliver “Death Proof Cars” Before End Of Decade
It’s another week, which means yet another wacky idea from Volvo, the reliable automotive company suddenly gone crazeeeey.
In recent weeks, Volvo have boasted how they want to make hologram showrooms, use artificial intelligence in their cars, and implement remote voice control.
And now they plan to make death-proof cars by 2020.
It sounds like another balmy idea from an increasingly ambitious/balmy company, but according to Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo Cars North America, Volvo “don’t say things when they don’t believe in it.”
Although Volvo will not be able to protect drunks who get behind the wheel, they are looking to eliminate human error via some nifty technology.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Volvo XC90 is one of the safest cars in the world, and no one has died in one for at least 4 years in the U.S.
Volvo hint that this may be because they “track how people die in Volvo’s.” Such information is then used to help the Swedish company create safer vehicles.
2020 is shaping up to a big year for Volvo, as this is the year the brand also hope to deliver their first driverless cars.
Driverless cars will – hopefully – reduce car accidents, but even when a human being does decide to get behind the wheel in a narcissistic, typically macho-human bid to prove they are superior to the driverless vehicle, Volvo say their technology will take control during potentially live endangering moments.
Among the technology Volvo want to introduce is pedestrian detection, auto lane keeping assistant, and adaptive cruise control.
Startup Aims To Make Buying A Used Car Easier
Shift and Beepi are among a handful of startups launched in recent months that help the consumer purchase their next used car in just a few clicks on their Smartphone.
Deals can be struck in a matter of minutes, while obtaining finance can be done almost instantly. The car, meanwhile, is dropped off at your door.
One particular startup is Instamotor, an app that connects buyers with seller. Co-founder Valentin Gui said: “A lot of things can be done to positively impact how cars are sold in the U.S. There are so many things you can do with technology to improve on that.”
The used-car business is estimated to worth around $700billion, with the way used cars are purchased remaining largely unchanged for half a century.
That is until now. Thanks to the advent of cellular technology and complex algorithms, San Francisco-based startups are confident their apps can help users strike better deals.
They also claim to be able to more easily root out fraud, perform digital checkups, as well as give the consumer more value for money.
Shift, another used-car startup, say they are not a dealership but a “peer-to-peer marketplace. We don’t have a retail showroom that our customers ever come to. We don’t have a lot of overhead a dealership might have and we also never own the car. That allows us to pass on savings to our customers.”
Finding success in the used-car market will not come easy for the aspiring startups; plenty of online businesses have tried before and failed. However Stanford engineering graduate and Carvana founder Ernie Garcia thinks the digital mavericks have finally cracked it:
“It’s an absolutely massive market, but some customers are dissatisfied and our view was that technology was the solution.
“It’s rare that you find an industry a trillion dollars in size where consumers have been actively asking for something for a very long period of time.”
Man Awarded £35K After His Dream Porsche Was Sold To Someone Else
Pensioner Kevin Hughes fancied owning the rare Porsche 911 GT3 RS4 so much so that he put down a £10,000 deposit at a Porsche dealership in Bolton.
The dealership then promised Mr. Hughes that he would definitely be “first in the queue” if Porsche were ever kind enough to deliver them one of the limited edition cars.
30 of them were eventually sent to the UK, but Porsche Bolton had to give Mr. Hughes the disappointing news that they had missed out.
However, he then found out that a Porsche had been delivered to the dealership, who had sold it to another customer.
Mr. Hughes decided to take the parent company to court.
This was way back in 2011, but three judges have this week ruled that Pendragon Sabre Ltd must now pay Mr. Hughes £35K in damages.
They also have to foot the massive legal costs, which are expected to escalate into six figures.
Lord Justice Richards concluded that it was “as plain as pikestaff” that a binding contract existed between the claimant and the dealership.
Seinfeld Prepares To Auction His Vintage Classic Cars
Although Seinfeld has given no indication as to how many of his cars will be up for bidding, it is as plain as pikestaff that a few of Porsche’s will make up most of the numbers.
The auction house themselves have that a “sampling of this exceptional collection” will be viewable on 27 January.
“We are grateful and honours to be entrusted with these superb examples from the collection of Jerry Seinfeld. These cars epitomise the highest quality and pedigree,” said the auction house in a statement.
The auction will represent around 10% of Seinfeld’s classic car collection.
The comedian, who is thought to have a net worth of $820million, is not the only celebrity who enjoys collecting and then flogging expensive cars. Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson sold his £8million McLaren F1 last year, while Chris Evans recently tried to auction off most of his vintage car collection, only to find that no one was interested.
Seinfeld, though, said he never buys cars as investments. “I just love cars, and I still love these cars. But it’s time to send some of them back into the world.”
Unlike the hapless Evans, surely to God Seinfeld will be able to find a few bidders. After all, this is a guy who owns a 1954 Porsche 550 Spyder. If nobody is prepared to bid on that beauty, I’ll have to buy the bloody thing myself.
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