Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

General Motors

The Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak research Vehicle

Not long ago, there was informed debate on whether a purpose-built computer would ever beat a chess master. Now mobile phones have achieved Grand Master status. Computers continue to get exponentially faster, not to mention considerably smarter through improved software, whereas humans are effectively nearing their limits. Hence, it’s arguably only a matter of time and R&D focus before computers (plus improved sensors and software) surpass any specific human capability. This week Audi revealed that its Autonomous TTS research car had completed the 12.42-mile Pike’s Peak mountain course in 27 minutes. An expert driver in the same car would take around 17 minutes – now we have a benchmark, the race is on, and it's almost inevitable that a computer will one day outdrive the best of our species, and it may be sooner than you think.  Read More

The Nissan iV concept

For the past six years, the Los Angeles Auto Show has invited automobile designers to participate in its Design Challenges. The challenge for this year’s show was to come up with a design for “a 1,000lb [453.6kg], four-passenger vehicle that is both comfortable and safe, while delivering satisfactory driving performance without sacrificing the styling consumers’ demand.” Entries are being judged not only for meeting the weight constraint (no more than 1,500 pounds/680 kg with passengers), but also for artistic beauty, comfort, uniqueness of design, roadworthiness, sustainability, performance and user-friendliness. The winner will be announced at the show, on Nov. 18. Here’s a look at some of the higher-profile entries...  Read More

The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette

There are businesses that let you glaze your own pottery, cook your own steak or pick your own strawberries, but when it comes to the hands-on experience, a new offer from General Motors has them all beat. If you order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1, you have the option of traveling to GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, and hand-assembling your car’s LS7 or LS9 engine. It’s called the Corvette Engine Build Experience, and is believed to be the first program of its kind (if any readers would like to dispute that claim, please do so). If you don’t like the idea of providing GM with your mechanical expertise for no cost, don’t worry - you’ll have to pay an extra $US5,800 for the privilege.  Read More

Up close and personal with SAIC's Yez Concept Car

A few days ago, I managed to get up close and personal in Shanghai with one of the most interesting concept cars the world has yet seen. SAIC's Yez concept car is the first automobile, concept or otherwise, that's ever been conceived to have a negative carbon footprint. That is, it removes more pollution than it creates.  Read More

The University of Wisconsin team preparing their vehicle

Not long ago we told you about the Moto Student competition, wherein teams of students from across Spain and the rest of Europe are competing to build racing motorcycles. Well, a similar competition is underway in the US, and it’s called EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. In this contest, teams of North American engineering students are competing to convert GM-supplied vehicles into super-efficient, super-clean-running, high-tech wonders. The second year of the three-year contest wrapped up this week, with Mississippi State University (MSU) taking the top spot.  Read More

UPDATED: SAIC YeZ Concept Car inhales C02, emits oxygen

General Motor's Joint-Venture partner in China, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) rolled out a concept alongside GM's EN-V at Expo 2010 which in many ways is more ground-breaking than the EN-V. The idea behind the YeZ Concept is that it will photosynthesize, absorbing carbon dioxide from surrounding air and emitting oxygen back into the atmosphere. Among the many futuristic aspects of the YeZ (Chinese for “leaf” as Nissan already uses the name for a clever green concept that is heading for production) is a roof that incorporates solar panels and wheels that incorporate small wind turbines to harvest energy from the environment. And if you think this is not within reach by 2030, think again – artificial photosynthesis has proven elusive, but there's every indication it will be a commercial reality within two decades.  Read More

Robonaut 2 can use the same tools as ISS crew members

For decades boys and girls have dreamed of becoming astronauts when they grow up. Now young assembly-line robots and claw vending machines can share the same dream with news that NASA plans to send Robonaut 2 (R2) into space. R2 will be the first human-like robot in space when it is launched on the shuttle Discovery later this year to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station (ISS).  Read More

GM's EN-V is a concept two-wheeled vehicle for personal transportation in the cities of th...

It is estimated that by 2030, urban areas will be home to more than 60 percent of the world’s eight billion people. That doesn’t bode well for cities with public infrastructure that is already struggling to meet the growing demand for transportation. General Motors (GM) and its strategic partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Group (SAIC) have come up with a concept two-wheeled vehicle to address the need for personal urban transportation in the cities of the future - the Electric Networked-Vehicle.  Read More

Numerous sensors on the outside of the vehicle would feed data into the system so that imp...

Wouldn't it be great if driving in thick fog, pounding rain or blizzard snow wasn't a visibility nightmare and road markings or important signage remained clear whatever the conditions. General Motors may be on the verge of striking automotive safety gold if the augmented vision display system its R&D team recently demonstrated finds its way to commercial development.  Read More

Robonaut 2 has been designed to work alongside humans - or perform as Hamlet apparently

NASA and General Motors have teamed up to build a new robot dexterous enough to use the same tools as humans, allowing them to work safely alongside humans on Earth or in space. The two organizations aim to develop the next generation of robots and robotic technologies that use leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies, to assist astronauts during hazardous space missions and help GM build safer cars and plants.  Read More

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