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|Aug 10, 2012|
Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
Google’s self-driving car project is probably one of the most audacious experiments the company has embarked upon. Today, Google announcedanother milestone for this project: its fleet of about a dozen autonomous cars has now driven 300,000 miles without a single accident under computer control. While this is obviously very positive news for the project, Google warns that “there’s still a long road ahead.” The cars still need to learn how to handle snow-covered roads, for example, and how to interpret temporary construction signs and other situations that could throw its systems for a loop.
It’s not clear how many of these 300,000 miles were driven on Google’s secret racecourse, by the way.
According to today’s update, Google also plans to soon let some of the team’s members drive the cars solo for their daily commutes. Currently, the cars are always driven by at least two people, but the team apparently feels that the project has reached a point where it’s safe to just have one person operate the cars.
Google also announced that it has added the Lexus RX450h hybrid car to its self-driving car family.
“One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars,” said Chris Urmson, Google’s engineering lead for this project, in a blog post today, “For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.” There have, of course been some accidents that involved Google’s self-driving cars in the past. All of these, however, happened while humans were in control of the cars.
|Jan 31, 2012|
1. Aston Martin’s V12 Zagato
Arguably more beautiful than the £1.3 million One-77, Aston Martin’s £330K bargain will certainly make the summer of 2012 one to remember. Hand assembled at the company’s global headquarters in Gaydon, England, the V12 Zagato is based on the highly acclaimed V12 Vantage and features a beautiful handcrafted aluminium and carbon fibre body. Combining traditional craftsmanship and high technology, the V12 Zagato also boasts Aston Martin’s most dynamic bonded aluminium platform and the power of the company’s acclaimed 6.0-litre V12 engine producing 510 bhp (380 kW / 517 PS), and 570 Nm (420 lb ft) of torque. Following extremely positive initial customer reaction, the V12 Zagato is being offered for sale at £330,000 GBP excluding local taxes and will go into strictly limited production of up to 150 cars in summer 2012.
2. Jaguar C-X16
C-X16 is a bold statement of Jaguar’s future design and technological intent. A compact, rear-wheel drive, two-seater, with a true sporting character, underpinned by immensely strong aluminium architecture perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Powered by an innovative supercharged 3.0-litre V6 producing 380 PS (280 kW) and 332 lb ft (450 Nm) of torque. Hybrid system controlled by a steering-wheel mounted ‘Push to Pass’ button boosts output by 70 kW and 235 Nm. Top speed of 186 mph, 0-62 mph in 4.4 seconds and 50-75 mph acceleration in 2.1 seconds with CO2 emissions of 165 g/km. The C-X16 moves the award-winning Jaguar design language on to the next level. The exterior and interior design is startling in its simplicity, defined by three ‘heartlines’; the front wing crease, the rear haunches that wrap into the tail and the sweeping roofline. Its interior clearly centered on the driver, and underlines its ‘One plus One’ layout by deliberately creating as cocooned and cosseting a space as possible. Possible price point of between $80K and $110K.
3. Alfa Romeo 4C
By late 2012 Alfa Romeo will be rolling out its most tangibly tantalizing two seater ever to rapturous and widespread demand. The stunning Alfa Romeo 4C promises to reignite the passion behind the sexy Italian brand and bring back a genuine sports car feel at a price that’s surprisingly well within reach. It’s light and powerful enough for a top end over 155mph and 0-62mph in less than 5.0sec, predicts Alfa. The interior is equally dramatic, consisting of red and carbon-fibre with a striking narrow centre console. It is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine currently used in the Giulietta, located in the center for maximum balance and driving the rear wheels. Pricing will be confirmed later, but a guide is about 45,000 euros (approx £38,000). Best get your order in quick, as Alfa has only modest production in mind – about 1,500 units globally.
4. Bugatti Galibier
Again, like the Pagani Huayra, you’d be forgiven in thinking the four-door Veyron, dubbed the Galibier, had broken free of it’s conceptual shackles ages ago. But, again, you’d be wrong. Car has the same 5.0 liter w-16, but with two turbo compressor air compressor Veyron style two-door is the courtyard; Other functions involve led signals extraordinary fill and rear signals, a exclusive dual-opening cover, “backbone” to a great performance, and overseas and eight-speed automated, ought to have a individual fatigue tube and eight luxurious boat Inside. Considering Bugatti’s supercar, the Veyron, and Volkswagen’s experience in manufacturing cars, future customers of the Galibier will certainly be the happiest drivers in the world. Its price won’t be quite cheap. 1.000.000 British pounds (875.000 Euro / 1.440.000 US Dollars) is expected to cost the entry level version of the Galibier.
Those who still think electric vehicles are simply jazzed-up golf carts had, better think again. Or at least Renault would like them to. If the French car maker has its way, commuters who fancy slaloming through city traffic and parking perpendicular to the sidewalk will soon be doing so in a tiny all-electric four-wheeler Renault has called the Twizy. Renault Twizy delivers all the fundamentals associated with any car, namely four wheels, a steering wheel and pedals, plus an enveloping body for two occupants sitting in tandem, one behind the other. It might not have the sex appeal of a motorcycle, but it does offer comfortable seating for two and about a cubic foot and a half of storage space. The Renault Twizy two-seater city car is coming in March 2012 to the UK and Renault has just announced pricing for a new trim level.
6. Zenvo ST1
If you’re careful with your throttle foot, you can expect mind-warping performance for your money. In-house testing shows that the Zenvo ST1 is capable of hitting 62 miles per hour from a standing start in just 3.0 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 233 miles per hour. The ST1 is trumpeted for its 1,104-hp rating, but that is actually just one of three power settings Wet, Race and Sport adjusted with a knob in the cabin. The 7.0-liter will put out “only” 650 hp in Wet mode. Crank that to Sport and get about 850 hp. One more click to Race spools the turbo to 1.2 bar and gives the captain all she’s got. Take the $1.8 million ST1. Just like the $845,000 Porsche 918 Spyder, it’s likely out of your price range. But Danish delight has got a lock on Russian billionaires–so far.
7. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
The 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 injects blood-pumping performance and retro styling into a package that is nevertheless easy to live with every day. Among muscle cars, it’s the top dog. Incredible power, inspiring engine note, aggressive styling and relative exclusivity. Rising to the challenge of Chevy’s crazy Camaro ZL1, Ford unleashed its most unruly beast yet. The GT500 is the most powerful ‘Stang ever. Looking more unholy than any of Hollywood’s interpretations of high-security prison inmates, Mustang muscle has simply never been this shredded or this desirable. While GM selected a 6.2-liter supercharged LSA V8 for their range-topping Camaro ZL1, good for 550 horsepower and torque, Ford has now answered with an all-new supercharged 5.8-liter V8 – cranking out a downright supercar-like 650 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful production V8 in the world. But the best news is it’s yours for just £38K shocking in just about every way.
8. Donkervoort GTO
The Donkervoort D8 GTO is the product of 2-1/2 years of development. A joint project between Donkervoort and Audi, this car is a combination of high power and superior performance. Designed around a steel tubular frame with large carbon composite panels, the ultra-rigid body weighs surprisingly little – helped by such innovations as the one-piece door with integrated hinges, capable of withstanding an impact of 1,500kg despite an overall weight of 980g. Born from the heritage of Donkervoort’s other creations – the GT and the D8 270RS, to be exact – the D8 GTO takes the reigns from its predecessors as a larger model that comes with matching performance capabilities. Donkervoort’s biggest, baddest bruiser yet will hit the asphalt this summer with a sticker price ranging from £85,000 to £125,000.
9. Lotus Evora GTE
Lotus is going to fill that void in its lineup caused by the retraction of the Elise and Exige twins from the U.S. marketplace in 2012 by offering the Evora GTE, the most powerful Lotus road car ever. The track-ready street-legal Lotus Evora GTE is equipped with a heavily modified 3.5-liter supercharged V-6 engine creating 438 hp. That’s 162 more horsepower than the base Lotus Evora and 93 more than the sporty Lotus Evora S. Complementing the striking exterior is a race-themed interior that doesn’t infringe into passenger comfort. Leather and carbon fiber dominate the cabin and lightweight Recaro carbon fiber seats tightly hold both the passenger and driver in place. Lighter, wider and wilder than a regular Evora, the GTE takes inspiration from the Evora GT race car and gains an aggressive body kit with an industrial-strength permanent carbon-fiber wing bolted on the back. Just don’t expect change from £100,000 when it makes the showrooms later this year.
10. Pagani Huayra
In his hands, Horacio Pagani holds a 50th-scale aluminum representation of his work over the last seven years. It’s a model of the 2012 Pagani Huayra, the fruition of the project long known as the C9 at his workshop. The name comes from a god of wind in the Andes, an appropriate talisman for a car propelled by a twin-turbo V12 and meant to fly along the ground at more than 200 mph. Pagani Huayra say “pa-GAH-nee he-WHY-rah”. Sounds like a spicy dish at a tony Italian restaurant, but it’s actually a spicy new item on the global menu of mega-buck, mega-fast super sports cars At the heart of the Huayra is a Mercedes-AMG provided twin-turbo M158 V12. Displacement is 5980cc and power peaks at 700 horsepower and 1000Nm of torque. The turbos have been designed to offer immediate response at the slightest throttle input, giving the driver full control over the engine at any rpm and preventing delays in delivery. The 2012 Pagani Huayra is a step into the future for Pagani. A decade ago, the Zonda cost $320,000, but now the Huayra will carry a price tag of about $1.4 million, and that’s for the version with the standard engine.
|JAN 28, 2012|
LEMANS: GreenGT's electric/hydrogen prototype ready for La Sarthe test
Nancy Knapp Schilke, Le Mans correspondent
L’équipe de GreenGT prepares for June test of unique electric prototype
L’équipe de GreenGT is ready to show its new baby, the GreenGT H2, to the world when the first-ever electric/hydrogen sportscar prototype will take to the La Sarthe circuit on June 3rd for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2012 test.
Last year at the crown jewel of sportscar endurance race, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) made the announcement that the “Le Mans vers le Futur” would be in place for the 2012 season. On hand for the “Le Mans Towards the Future” was a vehicle demonstration including GreenGT’s 300 kW racer.
After turning laps around the famous circuit in France, the Swiss manufacturer accepted the invitation for the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans which will kick off with the test day. The new prototype will be classified by the ACO in the new LMP H2 class.
The innovative company, L’équipe de GreenGT, was founded in 2008. Former racer Jean-François Weber is the main leader of the team developed an electric propulsion system designed for competition cars in 2005. Per their press release, “The GreenGT LMP H2 will have 12 kg of hydrogen in 700 bar high-pressure tanks on board. Hydrogen can be produced by solar energy. When hydrogen is fed to a fuel cell, it combines with the ambient oxygen to produce electricity and only steam is released into the atmosphere. Racing with hydrogen is fully carbon neutral.”
Christian Pescatori, the 2000 FIA Sportscar champion, is the one who has been the development driver for the new prototype. The Italian has race at the famed La Sarthe circuit six times with a best finish twice of second place and he won the Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2002 with Rinaldo Capello and Johnny Herbert behind the wheel of the Audi R8.
The new car, known as the H2, is ready to contest as an experimental prototype (LMP H2) the historic event.
|JAN 28, 2012|
LEMANS: Michelin delivers first tires to Deltawing
Michelin press release
Tire Size Differential Shocking at First Glance
GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 27, 2012) -- Michelin today unveiled the first set of specially designed race tires for the 24 Hours of Le Mans-bound Project 56 DeltaWing team. One look at the unique sizes of the tires makes the radical nature of the DeltaWing prototype design obvious.
The Delta Wing front tires are just 10/58-15, or less than 23 inches tall, and with a tread just four inches wide. By contrast, the 2011 Le Mans-winning Audi R18 TDI turbocharged-diesel prototype utilized taller and wider front 36/71-18 MICHELIN® tires, approximately 28 inches tall with nearly 14 inches of tread width.
“The difference in tire size is stunning,” said Michelin American Le Mans Series technical team leader Karl Koenigstein. “You could fit three DeltaWing MICHELIN front tires inside an Audi Le Mans Prototype MICHELIN front tire.”
The rear tires are less dramatic in size, because the DeltaWing is designed to race with 31/62-15 MICHELIN tires while the average LMP2 prototype rear tire is sized at 37/71-18. “The DeltaWing rear tire is shorter and uses a smaller rim,” -noted Koenigstein.
The DeltaWing has been granted the special invitation for the 56th entry at the 2012 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Its design is based on the concept of “half,” meaning half the power, weight, fuel and tires of current Le Mans Prototype competitors with comparable performance.
The specially designed MICHELIN® tires draw on the company’s record of success at Le Mans, where Michelin has taken the overall victory in each of the past 14 consecutive years.
The first stop for the latest MICHELIN tires will be the full-size wind tunnel, where the DeltaWing team validates its data on the first completed race car before embarking on initial track testing.
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's estimated that as much as a quarter of the space in U.S. disposal sites is taken up by styrofoam. The stuff lasts just about forever, and it's difficult to recycle in a cost effective way. But a pilot program, started by surfers, could change that.
Surfers depend on a clean healthy ocean, but a lot of beaches are littered with trash and one of the biggest problems is styrofoam.
"It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and it gets consumed by animals and sea life and winds up in the food stream, which winds up oftentimes on our plates," says Adam Weiner with the Surfrider Foundation."It's basically oil in a different form, sitting on the beach," says Michael Stewart, one of the founders of Sustainable Surf, a new organization trying to get surfers and the surf industry to go green.
One of their first projects focuses on styrofoam, the kind often used to pack electronics.
"The technical name for this kind of foam is called EPS, expanded polystyrene," explains Stewart. "It's the exact same material that is in these 100 percent recycled surf blanks."
Blanks are the core of a surf board. Experts, called shapers, carefully carve them to get the performance they want on different types of waves. Most blanks are made of new styrofoam. But now a company called Marko in Southern California is using recycled foam for their blanks.
Shaper James Mitchell in San Francisco says it's a great product.
"If it didn't have this skin on it and say e-blank on it, I probably wouldn't know the difference, which to me is what I want," says Mitchell.
Sounds great, but there's a serious problem. It costs a lot of money to collect styrofoam and get it to a recycling facility. It may be lightweight, but it takes up a lot of room.
"It's about 90 percent air," says Stewart. "So you are basically trucking around air."
That's where Sustainable Surf comes in. They've organized a pilot program with business partners and volunteers to move the styrofoam cheaply. Starting in November, they put collection boxes at surf shops and a few other locations in San Francisco and Santa Cruz. Sponsors paid for the materials and customers started bringing in foam right away.
"This bin is full now and we have a few more bags ready to go as well," says Jen Grimm with Sports Basement. "So the response has been really, really good."
Volunteers pick up the foam and store it at an office in the Presidio. The last step is made possible by the owner of Action Sports Express.
"He has a business that transports surfboards and kayaks from Southern California up to Northern California," says Stewart.
Trucks used to go home empty, but now they carry styrofoam to the Marko factory to be recycled. The program has been such a success, Sustainable Surf hopes to expand with more collection sites and more companies using recycled styrofoam.
"I think there's a lot of people conscious about buying recycled products," says Jake Johnson of Aqua Surf Shop. "So to have that option for a person is good."
Written and produced by Jennifer Olney.
|Archive News and Press Releases|
Sunnyvale, CA - January 29, 2009: Silicon Valley startup Contactscale unveiled its first public project: advanced composite bodywork for the dp4, dp1 and dp1/e. The cars are ultra-lightweight sports racing prototypes being designed and built by Palatov Motorsport of Portland, OR.
The dp1/e is an electric variation of Palatov Motorsport's first racecar prototype and weighs around 1,000 lbs. Contactscale is fabricating the tooling and body, an all-composite affair that will reduce weight and improve track performance, where Palatov plans to use the dp1/e as a testbed for bleeding-edge automotive technology. And Palatov is only one of many automotive startups that are roving the valley, looking to innovate on more than software.
"You don't have to be GM anymore," said Contactscale founder Dan Bolfing. "Design that used to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take years can be done for tens of thousands in months or weeks." And that lower cost opens the door to new companies looking to bring new ideas to the road.
According to Dennis Palatov, the founder of Palatov Motorsport, “Designing a full-function electric car within the limitations of currently available energy storage solutions is akin to building a modern PC with only 10MB of memory – to make it useful off-the-shelf solutions simply won’t work and every possible avenue for improving efficiency must be explored, quickly and cost effectively. The Rapid Prototyping technologies and services from Contactscale allow us to do this much better, faster and cheaper than previously possible. This truly brings automotive design and development within the realm of the entrepreneur.”
Contactscale brings decades of experience in composites to the fledgling automotive industry in Northern California. The company is rooted in Bolfing's experience fabbing windsurfers, first out of fiberglass and then more advanced composites. Contactscale takes that technology and applies it to vehicles, where reduced weight means greater efficiency -- electric or otherwise -- and better performance.
That technology is eco-friendly, too. The carbon-fiber and polymer materials used by Contactscale can improve the efficiency and range of a car without sacrificing performance, according to Bolfing. "Making efficient cars isn't just about batteries and electric motors. Composites can lower the weight of a vehicle," he adds, "and you don't have to rely on unproven technology to make more efficient cars."
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