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A Closer Look At The 2019 Audi A8


The unveiled 2019 Audi A8, which will go on sale in 2018, may be a little conservative when it comes to its exteriors looks, but the technology is super advanced. This fourth-generation A8 is the oldest among its peers, but there is still significant interest on what Audi can still possibly do with this particular line.

A redesigned version of the flagship sedan was launched on Tuesday during a special event in Barcelona, Spain. It’s nothing special from the outside, but Audi fitted it with a “Level 3” self-driving capability. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), a Level 3 self-driving technology is when a car can take complete control in specific situations, with the driver being able to take over after a short warning period.

Level 3 Artificial Intelligence

The major technological feature of the 2019 Audi A8 is the AI-based software that it comes fitted with. The system not only controls the self-driving capability of the vehicle, but also acts as an “electronic concierge” of some sorts. This is the first software announced to have a Level 3 capability since the most advanced software the public has seen so far is a Level 2 self-driving capability.

A Level 2 software requires the driver to monitor the situation and to take over in an instance in case of an emergency.

Included in the A8, the Level 3 system can take over during “some” parking situations and self-drive during traffic jams on uninterrupted roads like highways. The system can provide a speed up to 37mph, allowing ample time for the driver to take over if something goes wrong. Under these situations, the driver can use the phone or read a book while the system has taken over.

The possibility of sleeping in a car under a self-driving situation is still not possible, though, unless a Level 4 is realized. Experts are predicting that a Level 4 car may be available by next decade while a Level 5, where there is no driver needed, would have to take some more time.

New Mercedes-Benz S-Class Shows Self-Driving Feature

The production of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class commenced on July 3 at the Sindelfingen plant of the three-pointed star brand. The first S560 model produced by the facility showed its self-driving capability during the event.

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a facelifted version of its range’s sixth-generation platform introduced in 2014. Among the notable visual upgrades of the car include the new bumpers, lighting system and radiator grille. At present, the vehicle is available in different trims including the S350d 4MATIC, S400 4MATIC, S560 4MATIC and the range-topping AMG S63 4MATIC. The non-AMG models come in long-wheelbase versions and the S560 is sold with a Mercedes-Maybach variant. Daimler confirmed that a plug-in hybrid version of the S-Class will also come out.

The self-driving feature of the S-Class was demonstrated by a S560 model. An obsidian black metallic-finish model aided by built-in cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors drove itself for 1.5 kilometers from the assembly line to the loading area of the plant. A software governing the Intelligent Drive, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steer Assist made the feat possible.

In the video below, Markus Schafer, Member of the Divisional Board Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars Production and Supply Chain Management, can be seen sitting in the front passenger area of the S560. No one sat on the driver’s seat of the car as it accelerated and steered itself autonomously.

Click play in the video below to watch the demo of the self-driving Mercedes-Benz S560:

Mercedes started the sale of the S-Class in May. The price of the car starts at 88,446.75 euros in Germany (inclusive of 19% VAT). The high-performance Mercedes-AMG S63 4MATIC comes with a 160,293 euros price tag (including a 19% VAT).

The S350d 4MATIC is equipped with a 210 hp diesel-fed 3.0-liter inline-six engine. The S400 4MATIC is offered in petrol 3.0-liter inline-six engines configured to produce 250 hp and 340 hp. The S560 is equipped with a 4.0-liter V8 in 345 hp and 469 hp powertrain. The AMG variant is packing a 4.0-liter V8 in 450 hp and 612 hp trims.

Will Lamborghini Sports Cars Go AI?

lamborghini

The automotive landscape is slowly transitioning to a different level. Most automakers are now pouring in a lot of their resources in their research and development so that no one will be left behind in terms of electrification in cars and during the shift to autonomous driving.

Lamborghini is one of the world’s most recognizable producers of luxury super sports cars. The brand had been identified with power, style and the performance of its cars. With the advent of new car technologies, is the automaker planning on adapting self-driving systems?

Murray Newlands recently sat down with Maurizio Reggiani, the Director of Research and Development of Lamborghini, to get his take on the matter.

Based on the article that was posted in Forbes, Lamborghini appears to be treading carefully on the subject. The automaker seems to be looking into the technology but it does not want to integrate it in their sports cars in an invasive manner. After all, people buy Lamborghinis because they want to experience driving it.

Reggiani wants their artificial intelligence to be useful in adaptive cruise control during a drive downtown or in a traffic jam. He also expects it to improve the skill and activity of driving their cars. From his statement, he expects the AI to mainly provide predictive instructions to the driver in crucial moments like when cornering or when the vehicle steers out of control due to overspin.

The Lamborghini exec said the AI systems will probably be used heavily on the Urus since it is a daily-use car. It would be a different story in their sports cars though because they want their drivers to have fun and get the best manual driving experience from them.

Another issue about putting a lot of AI systems in the sports car is that it will compromise its weight. Reggiani added that the same is true with putting electric batteries in their autos. The sound of the Lamborghini would be traded off with the electric battery too.

The interviewer even went as far as to ask whether the company will be developing flying transportation mobility devices like what Toyota announced. Reggiani answered that they will never go in that direction.

Reggiani concluded the interview by reminding that people don’t buy Lamborghini because they need it. They purchase it as an award for themselves or to gratify themselves. It is not an ordinary car for day-to-day use.

Development of Apple Self-Driving Car Hinted

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There have been tidbits of information pointing to the development of an Apple self-driving car. Details about the matter have always been closely guarded and the Cupertino-based tech giant firm has been mum about it. However, a new clue has been uncovered that suggests the autonomous vehicle program of the company is still alive.

In a document published by Apple enumerating its Supplier List for February 2017, it included Robert Bosch GmbH in it with office address at Tuebinger Strasse 123, Reutlingen, Germany. While the company is known for its production of sensors for electronic devices, power tools, security systems and home appliances, it should be noted that it is also responsible in supplying automotive parts.

According to a source, among the products produced by Bosch’s automotive division are vehicle sensors, electronic controls, power braking systems and steering. The collaboration of the two is in compliance to the guidelines of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in autonomous vehicles. A letter of Apple’s director of product integrity, Steve Kenner, to the NHTSA was uncovered too wherein he expressed the company’s interest in making automated systems in many areas, including the transport sector.

Other Clues to the Apple Self-Driving Car Project

Apple continues to play coy in the matter. But there have been many clues dropped by its company’s executives as well as their actions as of late pertaining to their involvement in an automotive program.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted before that they wanted to expand beyond the integration of their smartphones into vehicle infotainment systems. In addition, there have been a series of high-profile hirings that further fuel speculations about the subject.

In 2015, Apple hired former Mercedes-Benz Research & Development head Johann Jungwirth. Then last year, the firm took Sinisa Durekovic under its wing. He is known for his work in developing satellite navigation systems used by luxury car brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Top 15 Rumors About the Apple iCar

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There have been rumors since early last year that Apple is developing its own car, which is either an electric vehicle or a self-driving unit. Although the Cupertino-based multinational company remains secretive about it, there have been hints from inside sources and sightings confirming that the giant tech firm is indeed working on its own vehicle. The mass media currently refers to the auto as the Apple iCar.

Here are the top 15 rumors about the iCar that Macworld gathered:

1. Codename

According to Wall Street Journal, the iCar project is codenamed as “Titan.” It also claimed that several hundred employees are working on it.

2. McLaren Negotiations

Financial Times stated that Apple is negotiating to buy McLaren. It is not clear though if Apple is only considering it as an investment, but it is most likely that Apple is looking to utilize the supercar technology available in McLaren for its iCar.

3. Issues

Apple is reconsidering its strategy in development of self-driving cars. It was reported that the company laid off a number of its staff working on the project.

4. Marketing Strategy

The tech firm is planning on an aggressive marketing strategy for its iCar. It is targeting sales of half a million units annually.

5. Battery

The iCar battery will be sourced from a major Sourth Korean battery developer according to Neil Cybart, founder of analyst firm Above Avalon. The source said the anonymous Korean company just signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement with Apple.

6. Unveiling

Appleinsider said the completion of the iCar is tentatively set in 2021 due to major setbacks.

7. Development Cost

Apple spent $10 billion in research and development as of late. Previously, the company only allotted $3 billion for that. The sudden bubble in R&D costs indicates that it is working on something more than smartphones, tablets or computing devices.

8. Commitment

Tim Cook appears to be committed to it. Despite not confirming the project, he left hints in his interviews that they are into something bigger outside the products they have now.

Wall Street Journal revealed too that Bob Mansfield is overseeing the electric vehicle division of the company. Mansfield is a former senior vice president of Technologies at Apple. He reportedly extended his tenure from a planned retirement from the company in 2012 to lead the special project.

9. Noise in Apple Facility

Residents in Sunnyvale, California said that engine noises could heard in an Apple campus at 11PM based on Appleinsider.

10. Domain Names

MacRumors found out that Apple bought domain names related to cars in December 2015. However, it is also possible that the domains will be used for the in-car system of Apple called CarPlay.

11. Apple Covering Its Tracks

Reports surfaced that the car manufacturer Faraday Future might be a front of Apple for the development of its iCar. This is to divert the attention of the public from the iCar and keep the project away from the prying eyes of the media.

12. Digital License Plates

Among the cool technologies equipped in the iCar will be digital license plates.

13. Big Car and Tech Firms Sense a New Player in the EV Scene

Elon Musk revealed Apple has been offering Tesla engineers to jumpship with $250,000 signing bonus and 60 percent increase in salary. Korea Times claimed Apple is luring Samsung tech experts into their yard too.

14. Apple is Testing Cars Rigged with Sensors

Cars registered with Apple were seen in the roads fitted with a lot of sensors. The tech firm ruled out the development of autonomous car though by saying that the cars are only being used to test their mapping technology.

15. Apple’s Acquisition of Johann Jungwirth

The best evidence pointing to the possible development of the iCar is the hiring of Johann Jungwirth in Apple. Jungwirth is the former head of R&D at Mercedes-Benz. He is rumored to be spearheading the development of the iCar.

Tesla Will Equip All Its Cars With Self-Driving Tech

tesla

Electric vehicle maker Tesla announced on October 19 that all the cars it will produce—including Model 3—will be equipped with technology that will allow them to go on auto-pilot.

Last year, the company co-founded by Elon Musk introduced the Autopilot system. Although it is far from offering fully-autonomous driving to its cars, the technology already has the elements that will pave way for that goal.

So far, the system allows auto-braking. It will also offer several features that will heighten the safety levels of the car, which is far more than the capability of a human driver.

To achieve such, Tesla equipped its cars with twelve updated ultrasonic sensors. The sensors double the capability of the old system in detecting hard and soft objects within the vicinity of the vehicle. The tech increases the awareness of the driver on the road too especially during heavy rain, dust, fog and in detecting incoming cars using its forward-oriented radar with enhanced processing.

Tesla said the new onboard computer in its cars provides 40 more computing capacity than the previous generation. The upgrade gives Tesla cars a new neural net enhancing their vision, sonar and radar. With that, every direction is seen by system simultaneously, which is far more than what the human senses are capable of.

Tesla reminded that customers will not have to wait for the mentioned technology anymore. The Tesla Model S and Model X have it already. The vehicles are being sold now.

For the meantime, Tesla stated that it will have to conduct more tests with their new system. The calibration would require millions of miles in real-world driving to ensure optimum safety and convenience. As a result, some features of the Autopilot will have to be disabled for the moment like the emergency braking, collision warning, lane assist and active cruise control. Over the air updates will be released to enable the blocked features once Tesla is confident in their new system.

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