This past weekend, the Defense Department’s Urban Challenge 2007 took place in the desert between LA and Las Vegas. Driverless, the computer-run vehicles had to maneuver around neighborhood streets and obstacles at a deserted AF base. Although “Junior,” Stanford’s 2006 Volkswagen Passat station wagon diesel, crossed the finish line first, the grand prize went to the Tartan Racing team, based on safety as well as speed. Stanford was second, followed by team Victor Tango. This time, 6 of the 11 finalists crossed the finish line. We can see why the military would be interested in this technology, especially when you consider its shock value application. Check out a video we shot of the Carnegie-Mellon team qualifying for the DARPA event.
Read More | USA Today
When General Motors contacted us about bringing us up to their Proving Grounds in Milford, MI, we jumped at the chance at getting to visit what we figured would be an awesome place. We were right - General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds was the industry’s first dedicated automobile testing facility when it opened in 1924. It covers 4,000 acres, and over 4,800 staff work in its 107 buildings today. The proving ground includes the equivalent of 132 mi of highway-quality roads for vehicle testing. Some roads are open only to drivers who have passed special performance driving training.
We got a first-hand look at the new StabiliTrak technology that GM will be making a standard feature on all their vehicles in a couple of years, which aims to give drivers a lot more stability during sudden turns and avoidance maneuvers. In addition, GM gives us some tips on how to maintain control of your vehicle, even in extreme (and often unsafe) conditions. Check out the video for all the goods, and leave us any driving tips you may have in the comments.
We have all made some of those traffic errors and gotten tickets that might have been ignored with the proper bribery. The Anti-Ticket Donut is designed for those occasions. When the police officer asks you to produce your registration and license, reach right into your glove compartment and offer him/her the chocolate ($8.75) or sprinkled ($9.95) treat-in-a-tin. Of course, the donut is made of plastic, but we figure you can always stop at Krispy Kreme for the real thing if you are heading towards a known speed trap. Besides, it would make a great gift for your uncle, Chief Wiggum.
Read More | Product Page
By 2009, if they are done dealing with the UAW, GM will be equipping its new vehicles with a system that will aid police to remotely stop high-speed chases. In cooperation with OnStar, who can already track devices and help cops find stolen vehicles, it will also issue a signal that remotely slows the car down to idle speed. OnStar is free initially for owners of GM automobiles that have them built in, but must pay for the service beginning with the second year. OnStar says that about 60% continue to subscribe after that first year. In light of the price of new vehicles and fuel, we are not surprised that many decide to opt out and spend the extra on gas.
Read More | OnStar
Tom Bramwell has a preview for the upcoming Burnout Paradise that is surprisingly thoughtful and critically considered as far as previews go. He discusses the challenges faced by Criterion Games in re-inventing a popular series practically from the ground up and asks some pertinent questions where they ought to be asked. For example, when the topic of the Crash mode comes up and Criterion mentions that they have scrapped the original concept of the popular mode, Bramwell presses the point, getting Criterion rep Matt Webster to confess they don’t yet know exactly how it will all work out:
Asked whether they’re opting for a Burnout 3 approach of trying to manoeuvre the car in slow motion between power-ups and Crashbreakers, or a Burnout Revenge “golf swing” of perfect start and target cars, Webster admits it’s not all there yet. “We’re still throwing ideas around. I think we’ll be talking about it more in the coming weeks.”
The preview isn’t about sticking it to the Burnout devs, though, it reads more like a fan of the series seeing drastic changes and slowly coming to the realization that if executed properly, these could make for a remarkable game. Among the more exciting aspects of Criterion’s open-world approach to Burnout is the focus on seamless online play that works the way most gamers prefer, by putting the folks in your Friends list first.
Read More | Eurogamer
Read More | The Bleeding Edge
We visited one of the fifty or so groups participating in the DARPA Urban Challenge during one of their qualifying rounds. In case you are unaware, the DARPA Urban Challenge is a charge given publicly to groups who are capable of designing and proving the technology for autonomously driven vehicles. Carnegie Mellon University teamed up with GM to create an autonomous SUV they call “Boss.” In order to participate in November’s 60-mile urban driverless race, they need to pass this benchmark. Check out the video to see Boss pull perfect three point turns and beautifully follow traffic rules - even at four way stops with other cars. We’re crazy excited to see this technology come alive in our society. The team from DARPA is darting back and forth across our country qualifying and disqualifying entries. Some of the remaining companies and teams will bring us autonomously driven cars during our lifetime, its amazing how close we already are.
On the heels of EA’s new Madden video comes this brief look at the newest Need for Speed title, which we know next to nothing about - not a title or even the platforms it’ll be released on. The video is entitled “Damage,” and if you take a look at the video, you’ll agree that it’s an appropriate name. One of the features in the new NFS is apparently going to be the ability to rip your car to shreds in an accident, Burnout-style.
Like the Madden video before it, the game certainly looks pretty, but hopefully the game will play as well as the competition. As the video alludes, there apparently will be some sort of announcement on May 31 at the official Need for Speed website, and we’ll get word of whatever that might be to you as soon as it’s made available.
Yes, it looks huge, klunky, difficult to navigate and impossible to park. But hey, when’s the last time you built your own solar-powered car? Which is why we give inventor Saqr Bin Saif serious props for building his own environmentally-friendly vehicle. The DIY car utilizes four 170 watt solar panels, two batteries, and was built in only three months. Bin Saif’s baby can only reach a speed of up to 50 mph, but hey, it’s a start, and we look forward to his next car, which he promises will be more compact and faster.
Read More | Gulfnews
Read More | The Bleeding Edge
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