Watching a self-parking car turn the wheel as it backs into a parallel parking spot is a delightfully eerie experience. Sitting in Stanford's driverless Audi TTS as it races up straight-aways and shuffles the steering wheel through turn after turn on a dirt oval makes you believe there's a ghost in the machine.
Stanford's Center for Automotive Research invited us out to a test day, where Professor Chris Gerdes and his team of graduate students sent the driverless TTS, named Shelley, around and around an oval track in an open field. Besides the sheer entertainment value, the team used the laps to collect data on how well the car stuck to its programmed path.
The car is a 2009 Audi TTS, a sport-tuned version of the standard Audi TT, featuring a 2-liter turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder engine, dual clutch transmission, and Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive. Normally that engine produces 265 horsepower, but as the students involved in the project are automotive enthusiasts, they chipped it to 320 horsepower.
High-tech gear sits under the back hatch of Shelley, although it uses surprisingly little computing power. The main processor is a 1.6GHz Pentium 3 housed in a ruggedized case sending commands to individual boards that control steering, braking, transmission, and acceleration. Unlike the DARPA competitors built by Stanford's AI lab for the Grand Challenge and Urban Challenge, Shelley doesn't take in external sensor input to see the landscape. Rather, it uses GPS and an inertial sensor to know where it is in the world.
GENEVA--As hybrids gained ascendancy in the U.S., Europe showed little interest, with diesels proving more popular. But if the 2010 Geneva auto show is any indication, that preference is about to change.
Toyota showed two hatchback hybrids, one under its own brand and one as a Lexus, with both building on the successful Prius power train. BMW and Audi both showed luxury hybrid sedans as concepts, with feature lists that show them ready for production, and Volkswagen announced a hybrid version of its Touareg SUV.
Chevrolet is growing its presence, and brought its Volt to the show, while Opel'… Read more
GENEVA - In a show abounding with hybrids and electric vehicles, Volkswagen's Amarok pickup truck stood out as an oddity. Volkswagen unveiled the new full-size pickup truck at the 2010 Geneva auto show. Diesel powered with four wheel drive and body on frame construction, the Amarok is designed as a workhorse.
The version unveiled was a crew cab, necessitating a short bed. But the bed is still more than five feet long and just over four feet between the wheel wells, making it possible to load 4x8 plywood sheets with the tailgate down. Volkswagen says it will also make … Read more
GENEVA--Following the trend in small cars, Mini, Nissan, and Mitsubishi all showed off tiny versions of SUVs at the 2010 Geneva auto show. Called compact crossovers by the companies that make them, these new production vehicles take attributes of the SUV--all wheel drive, a high-riding position, cargo space--and fit them into a very small package.
The Mini Countryman and Nissan Juke compete head-to-head, offering similar engines in bodies that nearly match in dimensions. Both have turbocharged 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engines, with the Juke getting a one horsepower lead over the Countryman. Both offer all-wheel-drive systems, the Mini's geared … Read more
I assume most people who are reading this watched the big game on Sunday, right? Then you probably saw the cute commercial during the second half that depicted "The Green Police" cracking down on people for using environmentally unsound products. But apparently the eco-cops approve of the 2010 Audi A3 TDI Diesel--after all, it was named Green Car of the Year by Green Car Journal. Earlier this week we got a chance to get the low down on what the A3 TDI clean diesel hybrid is all about. But we've yet to see what it's like … Read more
A 60 second commercial during the big game on Sunday made a name for what has been called the "2010 Green Car of the Year," the Audi A3 TDI, which is a "clean diesel" hybrid car that plans to take on the Stateside market as well as the European market. Yesterday, the editor of Green Car Journal gave us his reasons as to why the A3 TDI was worthy of its eco-friendly car champion status, I'm sure that many of you would like to know a little more about this hot topic car, and therefore … Read more
This weekend's big game plays host to ads by six automakers. Here's a preview of what you can expect.
Audi Highlighting the Audi A3 TDI's win for Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles auto show, Audi's ad shows the Green Police checking up on recycling and energy use. Audi released the ad on the Internet this week. Watch it on YouTube.
Volkswagen VW plays up the age-old game Punch Buggy, where the first person to spot a Beetle would get to punch the other person in the car. The advertisement updates the game … Read more
In continuation of my current video blog-post series concerning concept vehicles making their debuts a month ago at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, today I present a short but sweet video about Volkswagen's most recent foray into the e-car genre. And here it is, making its debut at the 2010 NAIAS is the VW New Compact Coupe concept as on display at the Cobo Arena in Detroit this last January.
The new Volkswagen NCC is reportedly a production-ready hybrid car that utilizes both traditional fuel energy as well as emerging electronic technology to propel this vehicle. … Read more
DETROIT--Volkswagen on Monday rolled out a hybrid concept car called the New Compact Coupe, a machine the company said will get 45 miles per gallon by combining a four-cylinder gasoline engine from the company's TSI with a 1.1 kWh lithium-ion battery.
When the car's gasoline engine isn't needed, it shuts off and is disengaged from the transmission to cut down on drag, including at highway speeds. The braking system can recover energy by storing it in the battery, the company said at the concept car's unveiling at the North American International Auto Show here.
The … Read more