Posts with «transportation» label

Rivian is field testing dual-motor versions of the R1T and R1S

Electric vehicle maker Rivian is testing dual-motor versions of its R1T pickup and R1S SUV in the wild. The automaker is currently putting those models through their paces in the New Zealand winter, according to a tweet from CEO RJ Scaringe that InsideEVs spotted.

The company announced in March it would offer R1T and R1S variants that use its dual-motor Enduro powertrain. It said these models would be less expensive than their four-motor counterparts, starting at $67,500 for the R1T and $72,500 for the R1S. Not accounting for the destination fee, the four-motor R1T starts at $79,500 and the R1S at $84,500.

Winter testing our ‘Enduro’ dual motor in New Zealand! pic.twitter.com/4yHBTbd4Dx

— RJ Scaringe (@RJScaringe) August 8, 2022

Rivian developed Enduro's motors in-house and the system is already in use — the electric van the company is making for Amazon has an Enduro drive unit. The company hopes the Enduro powertrain will help it to reduce costs and keep down the price of the R1S, R1T and upcoming R2 models. That's an important consideration for Rivian, given that the Inflation Reduction Act the Senate just passed seeks to bring in new federal EV tax credit rules. Electric SUVs, trucks and vans priced $80,000 and over won't be eligible for the $7,500 subsidy.

At the time Rivian announced the dual-motor R1T and R1S, it raised prices of the four-motor EVs by $12,000. After a backlash, it limited the price increases to new orders, though the automaker was swiftly slapped with a shareholder lawsuit over the issue.

Meanwhile, Rivian is attempting to increase production of the R1T and R1S. It expects to build around 25,000 vehicles this year, despite having a backlog of 71,000 as of early July. Late last month, it laid off six percent of its workforce in order to dedicate more resources to production.

Lucid Air will soon have a 'Stealth Look' trim option

Lucid is embracing the dark side with a new trim option for its Air electric vehicle. The idea behind "Stealth Look" is to give the car a "darker and overtly sporting personality," according to the automaker. If you select this option, Lucid will swap out 35 exterior components that have a platinum finish for versions with a darker appearance, with black gloss and satin graphite accents on some parts.

Among the elements that will have this look are the mirror caps, the frame for the glass roof, the trim around the headlights and taillights and the front nose blade. The wheel designs and finishes will get a Stealth Look makeover as well, with a different look for each size.

Lucid

Stealth Look is available for the Air Grand Touring Performance, Air Grand Touring and Air Touring variants. It can be applied to any of the exterior colors: Stellar White, Infinite Black, Cosmos Silver, Quantum Grey and Zenith Red. Lucid plans to introduce the $6,000 option early next year, though you can configure an Air with Stealth Look starting this Wednesday.

Whether you'll actually be able to get your hands on an Air at all anytime soon is another matter. Earlier this month, Lucid once again revised down its production target for 2022, this time from 20,000 to between 6,000 and 7,000 units. Between the start of the year and the beginning of August, it built just 1,405 vehicles, attributing the blame to parts and materials shortages. In May, the company recalled every Air it manufactured until that point in 2022 over wiring concerns.

Arrival pauses work on its electric bus and car projects

Anglo-American EV startup Arrival is putting its groundbreaking bus and car projects on ice as it struggles to manage its cash reserves. The Financial Times reports that the company, which said it would lay off a third of its staff last month, would now focus on completing its delivery van. Arrival said that it had anything up to 20,000 orders with UPS for the vehicle, and is expecting to get the first models out of the door later this year. That will hopefully reduce the pressure on the company’s bottom line, and boost its share price, which has fallen 90 percent since it went public via a SPAC last year.

The company was unable to comment to Engadget about the FT’s report, as it is preparing to release its financial results this week.

Arrival actually started with its electric bus project, and has already built several models ready for real-world testing. Its car, designed to be sold to ride-share drivers, was at the prototype stage (I saw it first hand last December), and the company had recruited Tom Elvidge from Uber to run the program. The FT’s report says that both projects are in stasis for now, and are likely to be revived as soon as Arrival begins making money. The car project may, however, find itself squeezed by the looming recession and that so much VC money, which was dumped into transportation startups like Uber, has now dried up, leading to a wave of closures.

The biggest tragedy from all of this is that Arrival’s focus on revolutionizing public buses was a genuinely different approach from most EV makers. Buses are a fixture in pretty much every city, and while it’s always better for the environment to use one over a car, making them even cleaner was a great plan. That the public project has been iced in favor of the fleet of logistics vans is not surprising, but it’s certainly not a great sign for the future of public transport.

MG's new all-electric hatchback will cost just $31,400 when it arrives in the UK

Last month, MG revealed the all-electric MG4 hatchback with range of up to 281 miles (on the WLTP system). Now, we know it will be one of the least expensive EVs available in the UK with a starting price of £25,995 ($31,400). It's set to arrive in the UK in September this year.

As a reminder, China's SAIC Motors now owns the MG brand following the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. The vehicles are manufactured in China, but SAIC has a design studio in London. It also has joint venture partnerships with Volkswagen, GM and others to produce branded vehicles in China.

The MG4 first arrived as the Mulan in China, built on SAIC's MSP (Modular Scalable Platform) architecture that will be used on future MG EVs. It'll come in three versions in the UK. The starting SE Standard Range model is priced at £25,995 with a 51kWh battery delivering 218 miles of WLTP range, compared to £36,195 ($43,800) for the ID.3 with a 58kWh battery and 265 miles of range.

The £28,495 ($34,490) Long Range SE model uses a 64kWh battery to go 281 miles on a charge, which takes about 35 minutes to go from 10-80 percent thanks to the 135kW charging capacity. 

And finally, the EV Trophy costs £31,495 ($38,120) and offers 270 miles of range with the 64kWh battery. The extra cash gets you features like an upgraded version of the MG Pilot system (with lane-keeping, blind spot warnings, etc.), a leather interior and more.

As for performance, the highest-powered 201 bhp version with the 64kWh battery can go from 0-62 MPH in under eight seconds, with the top speed limited to 99 MPH. On all vehicles, MG is promising copious storage, an "Active Grille Shutter" that improves aerodynamics, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Car Play and Android Auto connectivity and more. However, the price will likely be the main draw, particularly as the UK recently eliminated its EV rebate incentive.

Baidu's robotaxis can now operate without a safety driver in the car

Baidu has obtained permits to run a fully driverless robotaxi service in China. It says it's the first company in the country to obtain such permissions. Back in April, Baidu received approval to run an autonomous taxi service in Beijing, as long as there was a human operator in the driver or front passenger seat. Now, it will be able to offer a service where the car's only occupants are passengers.

There are some limits to the permits. Driverless Apollo Go vehicles will ferry paying passengers around designated zones in Wuhan and Chongqing during daytime hours only. The service areas cover 13 square kilometers in Wuhan's Economic & Technological Development Zone (WHDZ) and 30 square kilometers in Chongqing’s Yongchuan District. The WHDZ has been overhauled over the last year to support AV testing and operations.

Baidu says its robotaxis have multiple safety measures to back up the core autonomous driving functions. Those include monitoring redundancy, remote driving capability and a safety operation system.

This is a notable step forward for Baidu as it looks to offer robotaxi services at a large scale. The company has also been testing its vehicles in the US for several years and it could ultimately prove a competitor to the likes of Waymo and Cruise.

Hitting the Books: How much that insurance monitoring discount might really be costing you

Machine learning systems have for years now been besting their human counterparts at everything from Go and Jeopardy! to drug discovery and cancer detection. With all the advances that the field has made, it's not unheard of for people to be wary of robots replacing them in tomorrow's workforce. These concerns are misplaced, argues Gerd Gigerenzer argues in his new book How to Stay Smart in a Smart World, if for no other reason than uncertainty itself. AIs are phenomenally capable machines, but only if given sufficient data to act on. Introduce the acutely fickle precariousness of human nature into their algorithms and watch their predictive accuracy plummet — otherwise, we'd never have need to swipe left. In the excerpt below, Gigerenzer discusses the hidden privacy costs of sharing your vehicle's telematics with the insurance company.

MIT Press

Excerpted from How to Stay Smart in a Smart Worldby Gerd Gigerenzer. Published by MIT Press. Copyright © 2021 by Gerd Gigerenzer. All rights reserved.


When Your Car Reports You to the Police

If self-driving cars are not going to happen, one alternative appears to betraining humans to use AI as a support system but to stay alert and retain control if it fails — which is called augmented intelligence. It amounts to partial automation, that is, to sophisticated versions of Level 2 or 3. Yet augmented intelligence entails more than just adding useful features to your car and may well lead us into a different future, where AI is used to both support and surveil us. That possible future is driven more by insurance companies and police than by car manufacturers. Its seeds are in telematics.

Young drivers are reckless, overconfident, and an insurance risk, according to the stereotype. Some indeed are, but many are not. Nevertheless, insurers often treat them as one group and charge a high premium. Telematics insurance can change this by offering better rates for safe drivers. The idea is to calculate the premium from a person’s actual driving behavior instead of from that of the average driver. To do so, a black box that connects to the insurer is installed in the car (using a smartphone is possible and cheaper but less reliable). The black box records the driver’s behavior and calculates a safety score. Figure 4.6 shows the scoring system of one of the first telematics insurers. It observes four features and assigns them different weights.

MIT Press

Rapid acceleration or harsh braking is assigned the greatest weight, followed by driving over the speed limit. Each driver starts with a monthly budget of 100 points for each of the four features. An “event” results in points being subtracted, such as 20 points for the first rapid acceleration or for driving over the speed limit. At the end of the month, the remaining points are weighted as shown and summed up to a total safety score. Although telematics is often called black box insurance, the algorithm is not at all a black box like most love algorithms. It is explained in detail on the insurer’s web-site, and everyone can understand and verify the resulting score.

Personalized tariffs are advertised as promoting fairness. They do so by taking individual driving style into account. But they also create new sources of discrimination when driving at night and in cities is punished. Hospital staff, for instance, may have little choice to avoid working at night and in cities. Thus, some of the features are under the driver’s control, but not all. Interestingly, one feature that is under the driver’s control is absent in virtually all personalized tariffs: texting while driving.

And the black box that allows fairness also enables surveillance. Consider a possible future. Why should the black box send a record of speeding only to the insurer? A copy to the police would be extremely handy and save them much effort. It would make all speed traps obsolete. If you speed, the car prints out the ticket on time or, more conveniently, deducts the fine automatically from your online account. Your relationship to your beloved car may change. There is a slippery slope between fairness and total surveillance.

Would you be in favor of a new generation of cars that send traffic violations directly to the police? In a survey I conducted, one-third of the adults said yes, more so among those over sixty and less among those younger than thirty. The technology for this future already exists, as most new cars come with a black box installed. The data it collects do not belong to the car owner and can be used in court against the driver. In Georgia, the police obtained black box data without a warrant after a deadly accident, and the driver was found guilty of reckless driving and speeding.

While the motives for surveillance vary, digital technology supports all of them. One need not even buy telematics insurance. Modern cars have built-in internet connections, and — without it being made transparent inthe owner’s manual — most send their car manufacturer all the data they can collect every couple of minutes, including where the driver currently is, whether harsh braking occurred, how often the position of the driver seat was changed, which gas or battery-charging stations were visited, and how many CDs and DVDs were inserted. Moreover, as soon as you plug in your smartphone, the car may copy your personal information, including contacts’ addresses, emails, text messages, and even photos. Car manufacturers are remarkably silent about this activity, and when asked with whom they share this data, they typically do not reply. That information helps to find out many other things of interest, such as how often drivers visited McDonald’s, how healthily they live, and whom they occasionally visit at night. Connected cars can support justice and improve safety but also spy on you. Telematics insurance embodies the double face of digital technology: surveillance in exchange for convenience.

California DMV accuses Tesla of falsely portraying its vehicles as fully autonomous

Tesla uses advertising language on its website for its Autopilot and Full Self-Driving products that's untrue and misleading to customers, the California DMV said. According to The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, the agency has filed complaints with the California Office of Administrative Hearings, accusing the automaker of making statements "not based on facts" that make it seem like its vehicles are capable of full autonomous driving. The DMV pointed to the name of the products themselves in the complaints, as well as to other misleading language on Tesla's website. 

One example the DMV noted in its complaints is language Tesla used for its Full Self-Driving product, which says:

"All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go. If you don’t say anything, your car will look at your calendar and take you there as the assumed destination. Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigating urban streets, complex intersections and freeways."

Tesla vehicles come with the hardware needed to activate Full Self-Driving, which customers can unlock for a payment of $12,000. The automaker's active Autopilot features include the ability to automatically change lanes and do parallel or perpendicular parking for the driver. There's also a smart summon feature that will have the vehicle navigating complex parking lots to find its owner. And those who pay for FSD, which is currently in beta, have access to a feature that identifies stop signs and traffic lights. The technology will then automatically slow their car down on approach. 

Neither technology, however, can drive a car without the need for a person behind the wheel. Tesla chief Elon Musk recently said that FSD would have that capability next year, but the executive is known for his aggressively optimistic timelines.

While Tesla already warns drivers not to take their hands off the wheel even while they're using Autopilot or FSD, the DMV says that disclaimer isn't enough. The worst result the company could get is for its licenses in the state to be suspended or revoked, but a DMV spokesperson told the publications that the agency isn't seeking to put the company out of business in California. It will merely ask Tesla to "better educate Tesla drivers about the capabilities of its ‘Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving’ features, including cautionary warnings regarding the limitations of the features, and for other actions as appropriate given the violations."

Back in 2016, Tesla also got in trouble with Germany's Federal Motor Authority, which told the automaker to stop using the term "autopilot" in its advertising out of concerns that people would misinterpret its capabilities. Last year, Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the company over its "misleading advertising and marketing" of the Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies, as well.

Toyota will buy back your recalled bZ4X EV

Toyota recalled the bZ4X in June over concerns the electric crossover's wheels could fall off at speed, and now it's taking extra steps to satisfy upset customers and keep vehicles off the road. Electrek has learned (and Engadget has confirmed) that Toyota's US branch is offering to buy back the bZ4X. The terms will vary based on your state and "particular circumstances," according to a letter to customers.

The automaker outlined compensation for those who still want the EV. You can continue to drive a loaner at no cost, complete with free fuel for the temporary car and storage for the bZ4X. You'll also get $5,000 credit towards your loan, lease or full purchase price. There will also be extensions to your warranty and free EVgo charging time.

Toyota is offering the buybacks and other perks "until a remedy is available." The recall also covers pre-orders for Subaru's sibling model, the Solterra, although that SUV hasn't yet reached American buyers.

There's no mention of just when or how Toyota will fix the bZ4X wheel fault. That makes the situation difficult for owners. The buyback gives them a chance to purchase another vehicle rather than wait indefinitely for a fix, but auto industry supply shortages could leave them either waiting months for a replacement or settling for a less-than-ideal alternative.

UK trials roadside van that detects if drivers are holding their phone

UK police are testing a roadside van that can detect whether a driver is holding a phone while they're at the wheel. The three-month trial is being conducted in Warwickshire with the help of government-owned National Highways, which oversees motorways and major A roads in England. The test will help determine how the tech may be used in the future, according to The Guardian.

The van, which can also check whether drivers or passengers are wearing seatbelts, is kitted out with several cameras that capture footage of passing vehicles. An AI system analyzes the images for possible phone and seatbelt violations. Police say the "most serious breaches" spotted during the trial may be prosecuted, while other drivers will receive warning letters.

Distracted driving is a serious issue. In Britain in 2019, there were 420 collisions in which it was determined that a driver was using a phone. Meanwhile, data shows that 23 percent of car occupants who died in crashes in the country in 2020 were not wearing their seatbelt.

The trial is part of National Highways' plan to prevent any deaths or serious injuries on its network by 2040. Future tests may see the van being equipped with tech that can detect vehicles driving too close to each other.

Lucid Motors has drastically reduced its production target, again

Luxury EV startup Lucid Motors changed its yearly production target again, lowering it to an expected output of between 6,000 and 7,000 vehicles, the company announced today. That’s only a fraction of the 20,000 cars that Lucid initially promised to deliver in 2022. The Tesla competitor has only produced 1,405 vehicles so far this year, giving it a mere four months to build thousands of new cars.

Supply chain woes and a shortage of parts and raw materials are to blame for the slow output, the company claims. In a call with investors, the California-based company’s CEO Peter Rawlinson said it is planning a number of structural changes to amp up production. "Our revised production guidance reflects the extraordinary supply chain and logistics challenges we encountered," said Rawlinson. "We've identified the primary bottlenecks, and we are taking appropriate measures – bringing our logistics operations in-house, adding key hires to the executive team, and restructuring our logistics and manufacturing organization."

On top of ongoing production struggles, this May the company was forced to recall all of its 2022 Air EVs due to wiring issues — a total of over 1,000 cars. Such challenges haven't appeared to impact demand for the luxury vehicles. So far, there have been 37,000 reservations for Lucid Motor’s all-electric sedan, the Lucid Air, the company disclosed in the call. On top of that, Lucid plans to sell over 100,000 cars to the government of Saudi Arabia — which poured over $1 billion into the company and owns a 62 percent stake.