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.
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We caught up with Technocom to talk about their Vehicle and Infrastructure Integration, which allows vehicles to integrate with both the road infrastructure as well as other cars. The hope is that the technology will both reduce traffic congestion and reduce auto accidents. Vehicles would be fitted with a custom Technocom console, or it would be built-in to a standard GPS device, and all of a sudden your driving world would be willed with different safety alerts so that you are kept on your toes about driving conditions and hazards.
We live in a society that loves to customize it’s cell phones and cars. Well the folks at Horntones have ingeniously taken that notion a step further: in April look for the Horntones FX-550, a clever $150 USD device that lets you to customize the sound of your horn using almost any standard audio file. The dashboard-mounted device stores hundreds of different sounds; some are pre-loaded, and more can be downloaded from Horntones.com. Here’s the fun but scary part: you can create your own tones in MP3 or WAV format. Yes, you can have any sound or song clip as your horn, whether it’s naughty, nice or just flat-out obnoxious. A USB thumb drive transfers the sounds from your computer to the player, which never has to leave your car. You can even create your own themes, utilizing the 8 preset buttons on the player. Could be fun, or a complete nightmare on the roads if this actually catches on.
For anyone not wanting to get screwed by their local auto mechanics shop, DATZOO offers their FixDat personal diagnostics tool. You just hook the device up to your vehicle when you suspect something has gone awry, and it will run a complete diagnostic test on your car to tell you exactly what the deal is. You can then bring your car in for fixing with full knowledge of exactly what’s wrong to make sure it gets fixed, and not broken further. We even get a bonus proof of concept at the end, although it was told by a DATZOO representative, so, you know, grain of salt?
For the complete hands-free set, Parrot aims to please with their MK6000 Bluetooth Car Kit. Once installed in your vehicle, you can answer cellphone calls at the touch of a button without requiring a physical headset. Even better, you can stream CD-quality music from the phone to the car stereo.