gm-will-revive-hummer-as-an-electric-off-roader

General Motors will revive its dormant Hummer nameplate as a family of battery electric off-roaders in 2022, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal

GM bought rights to the Hummer name from AM General, maker of the U.S. Army’s High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee) in 1998 to tap the market for high-capability off-road vehicles, but shuttered the brand along with Pontiac in 2009 in the wake of the company’s bankruptcy.

Image source: General Motors Co.

Market interest in battery electric pickups is burgeoning in the wake of the display of the electric pickup and SUV models by start-up Rivian and Tesla’s announcement of the Cybertruck.

Ford has partnered with and invested in Rivian, with plans to employ the company’s technology in an all-electric version of the brand’s flagship F-150 pickup truck. Detroit start-up Bollinger is also showing blocky electric SUV and pickup truck models that resemble a cross between the Hummer H2 and Land Rover Defender.

Image source: General Motors Co.

In a calibrated revival, Hummer will be a nameplate in the GMC truck brand, rather than the standalone brand it was previously, reports the WSJ. The paper’s sources say Hummer will launch as a pickup truck model, with SUV body styles following later.

GM has made no official announcement yet, but the WSJ reports that there will be a splashy Super Bowl commercial for the GMC Hummer battery electric pickup truck starring basketball superstar Lebron James, so we’ll all have more information by Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 20.

Image source: General Motors Co.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

an-electronic-co-pilot-makes-the-damon-hypersport-the-motorcycle-of-the-future

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

The founders of Vancouver’s Damon Motorcycles sought to use technology to make motorcycling safer. Plan A was to develop a sensor-laden helmet to aid the rider’s situational awareness, reports chief technical officer and Damon co-founder Dom Kwong.

But upon consideration, Kwong and co-founder and CEO Jay Girard concluded that it would be better to build safety tech into the motorcycles themselves rather than the helmet. Which meant they’d have to actually build those bikes with the integrated safety systems they imagined.

The resulting Damon Hypersport debuted to acclaim at the Consumer Electronics Show, a venue made appropriate not only by the presence of the electronic safety systems but also by the fact that the Hypersport is a battery electric motorcycle. They decided to go with electric drive because they observed that electric power would be the expected standard going forward, Kwong explained.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

For a machine that could be seen as the delivery mechanism for safety systems, the Hypersport is impressively executed and boasts amazing specifications. To start: 200 horsepower and 200 miles of highway riding range. In urban riding, with lower speeds and the opportunity to frequently recover energy from regenerative braking extends the riding range on a charge to 300 miles, according to Kwong. Aerodynamic drag at increased speed kills EV range, and Damon concedes that when riding at a more realistic 70 mph highway speed, the Hypersport’s range drops to a still-healthy 160 miles.

Dom Kwong. Image source: Damon Motorcycles

Even with a 21.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack providing that range, the Hypersport weighs a reasonable 440 lbs. For comparison, the original Nissan Leaf electric car had a 24 kWh battery pack. As an EV, there’s no opportunity to cook the books with a bogus “dry” weight in which the bike is weighed sans fluids. It does have hydraulic brakes, so technically they could shave a few ounces by draining the brake fluid!

As with other EVs, acceleration is a strong point for the Hypersport, with the bike reaching 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds. The Hypersport’s unique quality as a motorcycle is its Shift system for adjustability, which provides for raising the handlebars, angling the windshield upward, lowering the seat and raising the footpegs.

This means that the Hypersport can switch from track attack mode to commuting mode on the fly, as all the adjustments are electrically powered. This range of adjustability also lets the bike’s dimensions change to exactly suit the rider, making it a better fit for people throughout the size spectrum.

All of this exists in service to what Damon terms CoPilot. CoPilot is a network of sensors connected to an onboard neural net that scans ahead and behind for hazards and warns the rider through an array of LEDs on the trailing edge of the windscreen as well as through haptic feedback in the handlebars.

In addition to scanning in the vicinity of the bike with 1080p cameras and 77 Ghz radar, CoPilot also scans the rider, looking at the grip force on the handgrips, the rider’s position on the seat and the smoothness of control inputs to gauge the rider’s comfort level and expertise. These factors could be used to govern the Hypersport’s power or to apply more aggressive assistance via traction control and antilock braking.

But those kinds of systems are reactive, and CoPilot’s purpose is to proactively help the rider, explained Kwong. Realizing that distracting or confusing riders with feedback from sensors would be even worse than having no information at all, Damon aimed to make the information presented to riders as simple and obvious as possible, he said. That means a solid bar of red LEDs and vibration through the handlebars if a forward collision is imminent. Amber LEDs on the left and right sides of the windscreen provide blind spot warning.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

The rear-facing camera replaces the frequently useless rear-view mirrors that adorn sport motorcycles with a wide-angle display on the instrument panel that helps inform the rider of what’s happening behind, while the rear radar will call the rider’s attention to the screen if it detects a fast-closing object that threatens to rear-end the motorcycle.

“Anti-lock brakes and traction control are reactive systems,” said Kwong. “That’s already happened. We’re providing information to the rider so they can avoid the accident.”

This includes when the bike is stationary, because stopped motorcyclists seem to be the frequent victims of impact by drivers who never see them right ahead. “Stopped in traffic you’re a sitting duck,” said Kwong. Such riders typically never even realize that the car is bearing down on them, but with the Hypersport’s sensors, they can get an early warning.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

“Now I have three options,” said Kwong. “I can move the bike, jump out of the way or at least brace for impact. At least you have an awareness that something is going to happen.”

The Hypersport’s simple LED indicators and vibrating hand grips are designed so that riders will process their meaning instantly, Kwong explained. “I don’t want my riders to have to think, ‘What does this alert mean?’”

That’s why he chose the haptic feedback for collision warning. “Vibration is a very visceral experience,” he said.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

And the color and location of the LED warning lights contribute to the clarity of those alerts too. “These are very simple visual cues. I want the rider not to have to think about what is going on.”

Damon, which draws its name from the co-founder Girard’s first name, will start delivering motorcycles to customers from its Vancouver headquarters in 2021, according to Kwong, with a starting base price of $24,995. 

A limited-edition model outfitted with premium components from Brembo and Ohlins will be available, and the brake and suspension suppliers for the regular base model have not yet been settled, he said.

In either case, the Hypersport will make a very interesting platform for the delivery of Damon’s CoPilot safety technology.

Image source: Damon Motorcycles

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

10-new-auto-tech-products-to-watch-in-2020

The year 2020 is bringing in a slew of innovative products set to transform vehicles themselves, as well as the automotive experience. Here are 10 products to watch.

  • Every year brings plenty of new vehicles, but there are also even more technologies behind those vehicles. Now more than ever technology companies are releasing new technologies to make vehicles safer, more connected, and more autonomous.

    Here are some new innovations – from chips, to headlights, and even sensors for infrastructure – that will be transforming vehicles in 2020 and the years to come.

  • Adasky Viper

    More and more engineers are coming to believe that autonomous vehicles should integrate thermal imagining and sensing capabilities into their sensor array. Adasky has released Viper, a long-wave infrared (LWIR) thermal camera system for autonomous vehicles and ADAS that integrates both an automotive-grade image signal processor and edge-based computer vision algorithms – allowing it to recognize vehicles, pedestrians, animals, and other objects on the road on its own.

    The ISO 26262 ASIL-B ready camera consumes less than 750mW of power, according to the company, and captures VGA images at up to 60 frames per second. Viper can also be integrated directly into vehicles’ headlights – reducing their visible footprint for automotive designers.

    (Image source: Adaksy)

  • Boréas Technologies BOS1211 Haptic Feedback Chip

    Haptic feedback is looking to become the next frontier in automotive interfacing. Touchscreens after all have some of the same disadvantages of a mechanical dashboard. Haptics would allow drivers and passengers easy control of dashboard functions with less distraction.

    Haptic technology developer Boréas Technologies, has announced the BOS1211, a low-power, high-voltage, piezoelectric driver integrated circuit for enabling high-definition haptic feedback in vehicle interfaces such as infotainment screens and steering wheels. Boréas is partnering with TDK to make the BOS1211 compatible with TDK’s PowerHap family of piezo actuators and to meet the standards of the automotive market.

    The BOS1211 is based on the company’s proprietary CapDrive technology, a scalable piezo driver architecture optimized for energy efficiency, low heat dissipation, and rapid response times. Boréas is planning to launch a plug-and-play development kit for automotive haptic feedback in February 2020.

    (Image source: Boréas Technologies)

  • Bosch 3D Display For Automotive

    Bosch captured a lot of attention at CES 2020 with a handful of new automotive new technology announcements. Among the company’s new offerings is a 3D display that uses passive multi-view 3D technology to generate three-dimensional graphics in a vehicle’s cockpit – without the need for 3D glasses or special cameras. Bosch says the 3D effect is visible for multiple people inside the vehicle from multiple angles without shaking or blurring and is adjustable to the user’s preference.

    The company believes its 3D displays can enhance safety by pushing important information and alerts right into a driver’s field of vision and reduce overall driver distraction.

    (Image source: Bosch)

  • Bosch Virtual Visor

    Bosch want to replace your car’s boring, traditional visor with a transparent LCD that can keep the sun out of your eyes without reducing your ability to see the road. The company’s Virtual Visor uses a camera that tracks the driver’s face and eyes and utilizes computer vision technology to only block the portion of the visor where the sun would be hitting the driver’s eyes – leaving the rest of the visor transparent. The result is more of a floating point effect in blocking the light, rather than having a chunk of your windshield completely blocked out.

    (Image source: Bosch)

  • Koito Manufacturing  BladeScan ADB

    High beams are an important safety feature. But we all hate that person who pulls up behind us or comes at us head-on with their high beams blazing.

    Koito Manufacturing‘s Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) technology is a headlight upgrade that selectively dims and brightens areas of the road to improve driver visibility. Using a camera sensor that provides information to the headlight LEDs, the BladeScan ADB can selectively dim the high beams to low beams for oncoming traffic to prevent glare, for example.

    The BladeScan ADB creates what the company calls a “controlled, high-resolution photometry pattern” in front of the vehicle by emitting LED light onto rotating reflectors (“blades”) and then reflecting it at an angle and pulsing it on and off through a plastic lens and onto the roadway. Doing this the company says BladeScan minimizes the dimmed area in front of the vehicle and can increase the visibility of other vehicles, pedestrians, and other potential road hazards without causing annoying glare to surrounding vehicles.

    BladeScan ADB has already been integrated into the 2020 Toyota Lexus RX.

    (Image source: Kioto Manufacturing)

  • Outsight 3D Semantic Camera

    The 3D Semantic Camera from Outsight aims to “bring full situational awareness to smart machines,” according to the company. The Outsight camera is capable of detecting, tracking, and classifying objects with up to centimeter accuracy and relaying that information to other smart devices – including autonomous and connected vehicles. Utilizing a low-power, long-range broadband laser also allows the camera to identify material composition of objects via hyperspectral analysis under any lighting conditions – adding a new level of confidence to determining what the camera is seeing.

    The camera also uses 3D Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) technology for positional data. Outsight says its camera does all of this via edge-based processing through an onboard SoC that does not rely on machine learning. By taking a machine learning-free approach Outsight says it is able to reduce energy consumption and bandwidth needs and also eliminate the need for massive data sets to train the cameras.

    Outsight’s cameras will be deployed at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. The company also offers a vehicle-specific version of its cameras.

    (Image source: Outsight)

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon Ride

    Chipmaker Qualcomm has unveiled the first generation of a new SoC targeted at autonomous driving. The Snapdragon Ride platform will come in versions focused on safety and autonomy respectively, with the aim of providing automakers a scalable solution designed to support Level 1 and 2 autonomy – with features including automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assistance, automated highway driving, and self-parking as well as Level 4 and 5 full autonomy.

    The Snapdragon Ride SoCs are capable of performing 30 Tera Operations Per Second (TOPS) for Level 1 and 2 applications and up to over 700 TOPS for Level 4 and 5 applications and are designed for functional safety ASIL-D systems.

    Qualcomm says the platform will be available for pre-development to automakers and Tier-1 supplies in the first half of 2020. The first vehicles to utilize Snapdragon Ride are expected in 2023.

    (Image source: Qualcomm)

  • RoboSense RS-LiDAR-M1 Smart LiDAR

    RoboSense is releasing what it calls the world’s first smart solid-state LiDAR for autonomous vehicles. The company says its RS-LiDAR-M1 line of LiDAR products offer several advantages over mechanical LiDAR systems. The RS-LiDAR-M1 has a 120 x 25-degree field of view, a 15Hz frame rate, and a detection range of up to 150m at 10% NIST target. Its solid-state design also means fewer parts and a more modular design, making it easier for automakers to integrate and scale. In tests conducted by the company, Robosense reports that the RS-LiDAR-M1 met standards of performance for rain and fog and under different light and wind speed conditions and can adapt to all climatic and working conditions. The first version, the RS-LiDAR-M1Simple, is currently available.

    (Image source: RoboSense)

  • Siemens PAVE360 Automotive Digital Twin Platform

    Siemens has announced a new digital twin solution for the automotive industry. PAVE360 allows automakers and OEMs to simulate and validate automotive SoCs and other systems in the context of the vehicle, before the vehicle is built. Developed in collaboration with Arm, PAVE360 is able to model sensors, ICs, as well as other systems related to vehicle dynamics and the overall vehicle environment. Engineers can use the solution to create simulations for systems related to safety, ADAS, infotainment, digital cockpits, V2V and V2X, and even autonomous driving applications.

    (Image source: Siemens PLM)

  • Valerann Smart Roads System

    The emergence of smart cities is rapidly making infrastructure technologies as important as those inside of automobiles. Valerann has developed a sensor, the Valerann Stud, that can replace standard road pavement markers, transforming roads into an IoT sensor network. The solar-powered sensors use LoRA communication to relay information to each other and can track road conditions – including accidents and weather – in real time. The company says it can even track the exact driving pattern of every single vehicle on the road, right down to each vehicle’s specific lane location, in real time.

    The sensors also come equipped with LEDs and can change color to alert drivers of hazardous conditions such as ice, let them know to slow down or stop, and even indicate if they are driving in the wrong direction down a one-way road. The Valerann Smart Roads System is currently deployed various locations in the UK and Europe.

    (Image source: Valerann)

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at   Design News   covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics.

goodyear-rejoins-international-road-racing-in-the-world-touring-car-championship

A WTCR Volkswagen GTI in 2019. Image source: World Touring Car Championship

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is emerging from its retreat from global road racing competition that began with its 1998 withdrawal from Formula 1, as the Akron, Ohio tire giant announced that it will replace The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd. as the sole supplier to the World Touring Car Championship (WTCR) series for 2020.

In the intervening decades, Goodyear has been the sole supplier to NASCAR stock car racing’s top series, but was absent from road racing until 2019, when the company began supplying tires for the second-tier Le Mans Prototype 2 category in the World Endurance Championship and for the LMGTE category in the European Le Mans Series.

Image source: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

This year will mark Goodyear’s return to racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans sport car classic. Ideally, Goodyear would one day return to Formula 1, considering that the company’s flagship Eagle F1 SuperSport street tire line employs the nomenclature of a racing series from which it has been absent for more than two decades.

“We are excited to be joining Eurosport and the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) by becoming the official tire supplier for the FIA WTCR,” stated vice-president and chief marketing officer for Goodyear Consumer Europe, Mike Rytokoski. “This complements our recent comeback into global motorsport through the FIA World Endurance Championship. It allows Goodyear to connect with fans in a wide range of countries, and also prove the performance of our Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperSport range of racing tires.”

The tires used in in the WTCR series will carry that Eagle F1 SuperSport branding in support of the recent launch of Goodyear’s line of ultra, ultra high performance- (UUHP) segment of tires for street cars.

Goodyear motorsports director Ben Crawley. Image source: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Considering Goodyear’s absence from this kind of racing for so long, it begs the question of where the company found experts to develop the tires for the upcoming WTCR season. “Goodyear’s European innovation team, with associates in Luxembourg, Germany and the UK, have years of motorsport experience derived from other group racing projects,” replied motorsports director Ben Crawley. “This includes extensive Touring Car experience. There are also parallels between the components and materials tires used in WTCR and those used in our ultra-high performance Eagle F1 SuperSport street-legal range.”

Tires developed for racing balance a variety of factors, including absolute maximum lap time, durability, operating temperature range and others, which can force engineers to balance conflicting priorities. Goodyear’s engineering team took those things and more into consideration when working on the WCTR tires, Crawley said.

“The WTCR races feature intense competition between a diverse range of cars,” he said. “One priority is to supply tires that work equally well on each brand of car.”

Not only are the tires different, but the various tracks also place different demands on the tires, Crawley pointed out. “WTCR visits a really challenging mix of circuits. Ranging from street tracks in Morocco or Macau to the long flat-out stretches of the Nurburgring Nordschleife, it’s vital that the Goodyear tires perform consistently.  A key product requirement is to ensure low tire degradation delivering very consistent product performance from the first to last race laps.” 

While the touring cars bear a passing resemblance to NASCAR’s stock cars, the tires are very different, according to Crawley. “The width of the NASCAR and WTCR tires may be similar, but the first big difference is that NASCAR uses 15-inch diameter wheels and WTCR uses 18-inch wheels,” he explained. “This means the WTCR tire profile is much lower, with a shallower sidewall. The NASCAR tires have to cope with long banked corners with immense G-forces, whereas a WTCR tire has to focus more on traction, braking and directional stability in a mix of corners.”

A Hyundai touring car at the carousel turn on the Nurburgring. Image source: Goodyear Tire & Rubber

Goodyear’s deal with the WTCR is for three years, and it will present the first tires to teams for their test sessions in February and March. As the first half-dozen events in the 10-race 2020 season are in Europe (one of them is Europe-adjacent in Morocco), the WTCR is hoping to rekindle fans’ memories of Goodyear’s participation in the European Touring Car Championship in the 1970s and ‘80s.

“Goodyear has a long and successful history in motorsport and we are very proud it has chosen the WTCR as an international racing flagship,” said François Ribeiro, Head of Eurosport Events, the WTCR promoter. “We have no doubt that Goodyear will be a first-class partner on the technical and marketing fronts of WTCR.”

Touring cars racing on the streets of Macau. Image source: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

six-trends-impacting-the-global-automotive-plastics-market-in-the-new-decade

Plastics have improved the performance, structure and safety of automobiles, and they are a major contributor to lightweighting and, thus, enable fuel efficiency and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, the automotive plastics market has emerged as a vital business space: Valued at $23.7 billion globally in 2016, demand for plastics in the automotive sector is projected to expand 11% CAGR and reach a market value exceeding $50 billion by 2024.

Speedometer showing 2020

Spurred by rigorous regulations, especially in terms of fuel efficiency, plastics are a key factor in the manufacture and design of automotive vehicles. In addition to reducing the mass of parts used in vehicles, plastics provide more design freedom vis-à-vis metals. Other advantages include the material’s recyclability, abrasion resistance, durability, strength and vibration control.

Based on research conducted by Global Market Insights (Selbyville, DE), here are some key trends that will define the automotive plastics market through 2024.

  • Demand for polypropylene (PP) will increase. It is being sourced for automotive interiors and exteriors, as well as under-the-hood applications, often replacing metal parts. In a bid to neutralize battery weight, PP will proliferate as electric vehicle (EV) production surges.
  • Polyethylene (PE) consumption is likely to remain stagnant. While high-density PE continues to replace steel in gas tanks, the newest trend affecting PE demand is the rising proliferation of EVs. In electric vehicles, PE mainly finds deployment in engine parts, since electrically powered engines obviate the need for plastics engineered for high-temperature environments.
  • Although ABS consumption may take a hit as the use of PP composites increases, it will remain in demand for some high-end automobiles because of its perceived quality for automotive interiors. The use of ABS in wheel covers and body parts has been increasing on account of the fact that this material enhances toughness, impact resistance and heat resistance in the final plastic product.
  • Polycarbonate (PC) is setting a new bar for autonomous vehicles, as well as in lighting and electrification in traditional vehicles. Also, PC exhibits exceptional impact, thermal, electrical and weathering properties. The combination of toughness, hardness and stiffness will drive the use of PC in the automotive plastics industry.
  • PVC will witness traction thanks to its enhanced flame retardance, excellent flexibility, low (to no) lead content and high gloss. PVC can be compression molded, injection molded and blow molded to form a range of products. Accordingly, demand for PVC in automobile instrumental panels and doors is expected to grow through 2024.
  • North America and Europe will continue to attract investors into the automotive plastics market, as polymer consumption in this sector experiences unprecedented growth through 2024.

Despite the buzz about advanced materials such as carbon fibers and aluminum, plastics continue to replace metals in automotive parts thanks to technological advances that have bolstered the material’s tensile strength and other properties.

Demand for plastics in automotive exteriors has brought a paradigm shift to auto body design. In addition to lightweighting, the use of plastics allows manufacturers to lower production costs, advance modular assembly practices and improve the aerodynamic properties of car exteriors.

Plastics help manufacturers to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and cater to market trends and the buying habits of consumers who want products and companies to be environmentally responsible. The adoption of polymer technologies by automotive engineers is expected to continue in passenger cars and mass transit vehicles. PE and PVC appear to stand out amid growing calls for recyclability, but demand for PC and PP also will continue to gain traction. The automotive plastics market will experience a remarkable transformation in the ensuing period.

Global Market Insights Inc. has published a market report dedicated to global automotive plastics. For more information and to purchase the report, go to the company’s website.

Image: Peterschreiber.media/Adobe Stock

About the author

Sunil Kumar Jha is Research Content Developer with Global Market Insights.

hyundai-debuts-a-vertical-take-off-air-taxi

The full-size S-A1 mock-up displayed at CES. Image source: Hyundai Motor Co.

Carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. revealed plans at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to manufacture electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) tilt rotor aircraft to serve as air taxis for a planned Uber passenger service called Uber Elevate.

This four-rotor aircraft looks like a cross between a radio-controlled drone and the Bell V-280 Valor military tilt rotor aircraft. Like a drone, the Hyundai S-A1 aircraft has numerous rotors that are powered by electric motors. Like the V-280, the S-A1 can be piloted by a human, carries passengers, and tilts its rotors forward for high-speed flight between take-off and landing.

Bell V-280 Valor tilt rotor aircraft. Image source: Bell Textron Inc.

The S-A1 has a cruising speed of 180 mph, with an operating ceiling of 2,000 feet and enough battery capacity for a 60-mile range. The company says it will be able to recharge in just five to seven minutes. The four main rotors simultaneously provide redundancy in case of failure and reduced noise compared to using fewer, larger rotors, according to Hyundai. In addition to the four tilting rotors, there are two pairs of what look to be counter-rotating rotors fixed in the horizontal position.

As with the V-280, and the U.S. Marines’ V-22 Osprey, the S-A1 tilt rotor pivots the rotors to face forward in flight, relying on wings for lift while the rotors serve as propellers. With the rotors in the upward-facing position, the S-A1 can take off and land like a helicopter or a recreational drone.

Image source: Hyundai Motor Co.

The S-A1 will employ a human pilot initially, but Hyundai plans for the aircraft to become autonomous eventually. It has seats for four passengers, so it is much smaller than the V-280, which carries a dozen passengers at speeds as high as 320 mph. Hyundai has provided no technical details on the S-A1’s battery capacity or the power of the motors.

Unlike aircraft manufacturers such as Bell Textron, Inc., maker of the V-280, Hyundai is experienced building vehicles in volume, at low cost. Hyundai has also been active in its development of electric vehicles, which gives it a foundation in that technology for application to this air taxi concept.

Image source: Hyundai Motor Co.

“Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale,” said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate. “We believe Hyundai has the potential to build Uber Air vehicles at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry, producing high quality, reliable aircraft at high volumes to drive down passenger costs per trip.” 

Though the partners announced no timetable, Hyundai expects that Uber will develop a transportation network that will make the S-A1 a viable product. “We are looking at the dawn of a completely new era that will open the skies above our cities. Urban Air Mobility will liberate people from grid-lock and reclaim time for people to invest in activities they care about and enjoy,” said Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Urban Air Mobility Division at Hyundai Motor Company.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

amazing-specialty-aston-martins-over-the-decades

The V12 Speedster is the latest in a long line of incredible limited-production and one-off Aston Martins.

  • Aston Martin has a long, proud history of producing limited production, special body and one-off sports cars that are instantly collectible classics. The new V12 Speedster joins a family of predecessors that include the 1957 DBR1 and the 2003 DB7 Zagato.

  • 1953 Aston Martin DB3S The DB3S, introduced in 1953, established Aston Martin as a serious Le Mans contender, racing for outright wins. Frank Feeley’s alloy DB3S body looked much better than the boxy DB3 and was more aerodynamically efficient, if not always very stable at Mulsanne speeds. The DB3S was also lighter, its revised 3-litre straight-six was more powerful and Willie Watson’s new chassis clearly had more potential all round. Five open examples were built in 1953. Numbers six and seven, in 1954, had coupe bodies. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

  • 1957 Aston Martin DBR1 Designed by Ted Cutting, the DBR1 had a multi-tube chassis, torsion bar suspension and an all-aluminium six-cylinder racing engine, originally of 2.5 litres (to the early rules) and from 1958 3 litres. Its single-car 1956 Le Mans debut ended in retirement but the DBR1 started winning in 1957 (at Spa and the Nürburgring), and completed a Nürburgring hat-trick in 1959, by which time five examples had been built. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

  • 1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato At the October 1960 London Motor Show, an even lighter DB4GT was unveiled with elegant lightweight two-seater bodywork built by Carrozzeria Zagato of Milan. Its 3.7-litre twin-plug engine had a higher compression ratio and now developed a claimed 314 bhp. A production run of 25 was planned, at a UK cost of £5157 including tax, but only 19 were made. The design of the gorgeous bodywork, amazingly, was by newlyqualified 23-year-old Ercole Spada, who had joined Zagato as an apprentice in February 1960. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

  • 1966 Aston Martin DBSC Initially known as the ‘DBS by Touring,’ the DBSC was first seen at the Paris show in 1966 and was dubbed the ‘170 mph car’. Touring of Milan, despite being in receivership, undertook the design and creation of a car aimed at replacing the successful Aston Martin DB6. Based upon the running gear of a DB6 but involving the re-positioning of the engine within the new Touring body, further development work was urgently needed to make the DBSC a production ready car. Only two prototypes, one right- and one left-hand drive were built. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

  • 2003 Aston Martin DB7 Zagato ​The DB7 Zagato was conceived over dinner at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours when Aston Martin CEO Dr. Ulrich Bez and Dr. Andrea Zagato of the Italian coachbuilding dynasty decided that a third generation Aston Martin Zagato was a real possibility. After preliminary designs by Zagato’s Chief Designer Nori Harada were reviewedby an Aston Martin team headed by the company’s new Director of Design Henrik Fisker, the project was announced at the 2002 Geneva Motor Show. The plan was to build just 99 examples of the new Zagato, with 75 orders needed before the project became viable. Aston Martin need not have worried: before the press launch later that month, all 99 had been spoken for, with over 100 on the waiting list! Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

  • 2010 Aston Martin ONE-77 Aston Martin’s One-77 hypercar was revealed at the March 2009 Geneva Motor Show, where a metallic blue mockup and rolling chassis with its entire powertrain were on display. A deposit of £200,000 was needed to secure this most exclusive Aston Martin of the era, whose production run was to be limited to just 77 examples. The finished car made its bow in late April 2009 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Ville d’Este on the shores of Lake Como, winning the Design Award for Concept Cars and Prototypes. Fusing advanced technology with stunning design, the million-pound, 7.3 litre V12 One-77 was revealed as the fastest-ever Aston Martin, with the top speed of 220mph. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

  • 2013 Aston Martin CC100 ​Aston Martin celebrated its centenary by returning to its sporting roots with the one-off CC100 Speedster Concept car, which made its world debut in May 2013 in appropriate style by lapping the awesome Nürburgring Nordscleife circuit at Germany’s ADAC Zurich 24-Hours race meeting alongside the 1959 1000km race-winning DBR1 driven by racing legend Sir Stirling Moss. Created as a stunning celebration of Aston Martin’s 100 years of sports car excellence, the unique CC100 honours the past and the DBR1 – Aston Martin’s greatest sporting triumph – and looks to the future with tantalising glimpses of potential future design trends. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

aston-martin-v12-speedster-is-stripped-to-the-essentials

The 2013 CC100 concept car hints at the V12 Speedster’s styling. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

Revered British sports car specialist and James Bond’s automotive outfitter Aston Martin teased us in 2013 with the CC100 Speedster concept car, but wasn’t able at that time to produce the car for sale to customers.

Now, following the crucial launch of its DBX crossover SUV, Aston has returned to the notion of a properly pure open-cockpit two-seater. The company is calling this new car the V12 Speedster, and while they have not yet released photos of the new limited-production V12-powered lust object, we can rely on the still-gorgeous CC100 concept for guidance.

Some of the details have surely changed in the intervening seven years, but the silhouette Aston released of the V12 Speedster matches that of the CC100 pretty closely. Both cars exhibit inspiration by the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning DBR1 race car, with its open cockpit and minimalist appointments.

The teaser silhouette of the V12 Speedster provided by Aston Martin closely aligns with the appearance of the 2013 CC100 concept car. Image source: Aston Martin Lagonda

Where the CC100 featured a naturally aspirated 6.0-liter V8, the V12 Speedster will come with a twin-turbocharged 5.2-liter V12 rated at around 700 horsepower. The old concept car’s engine was the Aston Martin V12 that was developed from Ford’s 3.0-liter V6, while the V12 Speedster’s engine is a version of the one in the DBS Superleggera. The engine powers the rear wheels of the V12 Speedster through a rear-mounted ZF 8-speed planetary automatic transaxle.

The DBS Superleggera accelerates to 62 mph in 3.4 seconds and reaches a top speed of 211 mph, but the stripped-down V12 Speedster should be much quicker in acceleration. Top speed could potentially be electronically limited to less than that of the DBS because of the aerodynamic challenges posed by the open cockpit. If not, the sheer drag of the open cockpit design could be enough to limit the V12 Speedster’s maximum velocity to less than that of the DBS.

No price was provided, so apparently it falls into the “if you have to ask” category. Aston will build just 88 of the cars, with deliveries to customers of the hand-built cars scheduled to start in 2021.

Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO, Andy Palmer said, “The V12 Speedster we’re proud to confirm today once again showcases not only this great British brand’s ambition and ingenuity, but also celebrates our rich and unrivalled heritage.”

That it does, and we can only hope that Aston continues to bless us with fabulously irrational sports cars like the V12 Speedster.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

the-bosch-virtual-visor-dynamically-blocks-the-sun-from-your-eyes

Bosch engineers are prepared to deliver us from the heartbreak of intrusive sun visors, with an LCD panel that dynamically shades only the driver’s eyes from sun glare while remaining otherwise transparent.

Though it seems that we struggle mainly to see traffic signals while waiting at a red light with the visor deployed to block the sun, a pair of University of Toronto researchers say that the risk of life-threatening crashes is 16 percent higher when the sun is bright, so the Bosch Virtual Visor has potential as a life-saving technology.

The visor itself is a single transparent LCD panel fitted with a driver-facing camera and backed by artificial intelligence facial detection and analysis software. The AI locates the landmarks on the driver’s face, identifying the eyes so that it can darken the sections of the visor that cast a shadow on the eyes. 

“We discovered early in the development that users adjust their traditional sun visors to always cast a shadow on their own eyes,” said Jason Zink, technical expert for Bosch in North America and one of the co-creators of the Virtual Visor. “This realization was profound in helping simplify the product concept and fuel the design of the technology.” 

Bosch proudly points to the ability of its employees to come up with an idea and gain corporate backing to develop it to this stage as evidence of what the company calls an “innovation culture.”

Image source: Bosch

“We’ve built a culture around empowering our associates by putting them in the driver’s seat,” said Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America. The Virtual Visor was developed by a team in North America as part of Bosch internal innovation activities. “As a leading global technology provider, we understand that innovation can come from any level of an organization, and we want to see that grow.” 

Zink and his colleagues Andy Woodrich, Arun Biyani, and Ryan Todd toiled to win budget approval to work on his idea for an active sun visor. “It was an inspiring idea,” recalled Zink. “The only part of the sun visor that needs to do any blocking is where the sun hits your eyes. The rest of it can be totally transparent.”

The team of engineers, who work in Bosch’s powertrain department, pursued this idea far outside their own area with creativity. “Like many early-stage ideas, we were working with limited capital and resources,” said Zink. “The original prototype, we used to first pitch the concept, was made from an old LCD monitor we recovered from a recycling bin.” 

The Virtual Visor has since been moved to the Bosch Car Multimedia division, which demonstrates that it has graduated from an engineer’s crazy notion to a production-ready device.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

lamborghini-says,-"alexa,-go-200-miles-per-hour"

Image source: Automobili Lamborghini 

Why have a plain old boring stationary cylindrical Amazon Alexa when you could have a wedge-shaped Alexa packing 640 horsepower and the ability to rocket to more than 200 mph? That’s what you get with the 2020 Lamborghini Huracan EVO, which adds Alexa integration to its 5.2-liter V10 powerplant, all-wheel drive and dynamic suspension set up.

While other carmakers have already installed Alex artificial intelligence, this is the first time it will be available in a super sports car. Also, this version will be the first to give drivers control of the car’s systems through Alexa.

Others will let you adjust your connected home thermostat using voice commands while driving, but the Huracan EVO lets you do the same thing with the car’s own climate control system. You can also cabin lighting, seat heaters, and the setting of Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Integrata (LDVI), Lamborghini’s dynamic suspension system. 

Of course, the usual Alexa capabilities are there too, so you can play music or ask about the weather as with any Alexa-enabled device. But the companies say they have ambitious plans to expand the collaboration, so not only will Alexa’s capabilities be updateable in the Huracan, but they are working on further connectivity and integration with Amazon Web Services for still more features in the future.

Image source: Automobili Lamborghini

“Our vision is for Alexa to become a natural, intuitive part of the driving experience, and Lamborghini has embraced that by integrating Alexa directly into its onboard infotainment systems,” adds Ned Curic, vice president of Alexa Auto at Amazon. “The integration will enable Lamborghini owners to enjoy the convenience of an intelligent voice service while focusing on the joy of the Lamborghini driving experience, and we expect it to set a new standard for in-car voice experiences when it ships this year.” 

This doesn’t mean the Huracan is reduced to a mere vessel for delivery of Alexa services, fortunately, Lamborghini promised. “The Huracan EVO is an outstanding driver’s car, and connectivity enables our customers to focus on the driving, thus enhancing their Lamborghini experience,” says Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Automobili Lamborghini.

Image source: Automobili Lamborghini

Lamborghini has also announced that it will introduce a $208,571 rear-drive version of the Huracan EVO to appeal to purists, so we look forward to put the Raging Bull’s latest developments to the test soon.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.