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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


If you google “technology trends,” one of the companies that will appear in the top 10 hits will be Gartner. The research and advisory firm not only analyzes numerous markets in terms of technical innovations but also covers business aspects of technology for C-suite professionals.

For 2020, Gartner has produced a number of predictive reports, including those covering digital and strategic technologies. From those lists, I’ve selected three trends that appear vaguely familiar from the recent past, albeit with new names. Do you agree? Don’t hesitate to ping me with your take on these trends at: [email protected]

Trend: Hyper Automation

Gartner: “Automation uses technology to automate tasks that once required humans. Hyper automation deals with the application of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to increasingly automate processes and augment humans. Hyper automation often results in the creation of a digital twin of the organization. As no single tool can replace humans, hyper automation today involves a combination of tools, including robotic process automation (RPA), intelligent business management software (iBPMS) and AI, with a goal of increasingly AI-driven decision making. 

My Take: Do we really need yet another word or phrase to represent the ongoing digitization process that will eventually enable a complete digital twin? One might just as well say that the creation of a digital twin – from improved modeling, simulations, sensors, etc. – have accelerated the pace of automation thus creating a new hypeautomoation or superautomation reality.

It’s really a chicken and egg perspective. Which came first – the creation of hyper automation systems that eventually result in a digital twin? Or did the creation of a digital twin from a sensor-rich ecosystem lead to improved automation of tasks previously performed by humans?

Regardless of the answer, there seems to be little doubt about the movement toward a more complete digital twin within the next decade. Mordor Intelligence predicts that the digital twin market is anticipated to witness a CAGR of 35.0% over the forecast period 2019 – 2024. Growth in IoT and cloud-based platforms, the surge in adoption of 3D printing technology in the manufacturing industry, and the objective to reduce project cost are some of the major factors, driving the growth for the digital twin market. Mordor notes that IoT sensors have created a potential space for engineers to test and communicate with sensors integrated with the operating products, hence delivering real-time prescriptive of system functioning and timely maintenance.

Which came first: Hyper automation or the digital twin? It’s your call.


Brembo six-piston monobloc caliper for the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Image source: Ford Motor Co.

Hydraulic disc brake technology has been pretty thoroughly developed over the decades since modern caliper-style disc brakes first appeared on the Jaguar C-Type race cars for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But that hasn’t prevented industry leader Brembo from finding areas where innovation can still improve this well-established technology.

Some of the changes have been pushed by fashion, as ever-larger wheels showcase the underlying brake hardware as a new styling element, while others are driven by performance and practicality.

Brembo’s smooth and shiny cast aluminum caliper housings look better and are easier to clean than the rough-cast iron. The brand’s signature red painted calipers have become a style accessory, like an automotive pocket square.

Some of that sleek appearance is the result of a functional difference. Brembo’s calipers are often a single casting, for maximum stiffness. That eliminates both the flex that can occur under hard braking and the unsightly bolt heads holding the caliper halves together.

The company is continuing to advance, as cars evolve and braking challenges change. Consider the massive six-piston monobloc calipers employed by the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. The three opposing cylinder bores in the casting of the front brake calipers have staggered diameters of 34 mm, 38 mm, and 40 mm. 

Brembo staggers the diameters to even out pressure and wear on the enormous 131.2 cm2 pads, explained engineer Ben Pohl. “You can optimize pressure across the pad by staggering,” he said. With calipers like those on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo having as many as ten pistons, the exact size and location of the cylinders becomes a complex math problem. “We do a lot of optimization of piston location and size,” he concluded.

The company is also pushing a shift to fixed calipers rather than floating ones that slide freely on pins. “A fixed caliper controls the clamping more precisely,” Pohl said. “There is hysteresis in floating calipers” that causes a lag in movement.

Flex of the caliper housing can be an issue, even for single-piece monobloc calipers, because of the large “window” opening in the top providing access to change brake pads. To compensate, the GT500’s front calipers have a “tie bar” over the window to reinforce the caliper. It must work, because Brembo says the GT500’s caliper is its stiffest.

Another way to improve the response of brakes in very high-performance models is to help them shed more of the heat that they generate while converting kinetic energy to thermal energy. Brembo’s new Dyadema caliper targets hypercar applications with a design that contains built-in air ducts in the caliper’s cast housing. Many high-performance and race cars duct cooling air to the brakes, but once there, the air simply blasts past the caliper. The Dyadema’s contains ducting that routs air directly past the pads, helping them transfer their heat to the air passing by.

Air is captured by the forward-facing intake scoop, blasted across the caliper through the pads, and pushed forward out the other side. This reduces the brake fluid temperature by 15 percent, according to Brembo. Brake fluid temperature is the key metric, because if the fluid gets hot enough to boil it introduces compressible gas to the non-compressible hydraulic fluid medium. This causes the brake pedal to feel soft and to travel further on each stroke, potentially leaving the driver to pump the pedal to achieve the necessary brake pressure.

The Brembo Dyadema’s air intake scoop is visible at the bottom of this photo. Image source: Brembo

Brembo recognizes that not all of us drive thousand-horsepower hypercars to work every day at race track speeds, however, so to boost the brand’s participation in mainstream market segments, it is introducing other new technologies.

For example, front-drive hybrids and electric vehicles have narrower wheels than performance models and employ negative offset wheels. These two factors leave less space at the wheel hub for Brembo’s thick-walled cast aluminum brake calipers. Cast iron calipers have thinner walls, so they can fit more easily into tight spaces.

Brembo’s Flexera caliper (left), compared to a conventional monobloc caliper (right) is visibly slimmer along its right side. Image source: Dan Carney

Brembo’s solution is the Flexera caliper, which is a hybrid aluminum/steel caliper that applies the ferrous material just to the part where the extra thickness of aluminum is a problem. The one-piece aluminum casting functions pretty much as before, but now there is a steel sleeve inserted on the back side of the cylinders where the pistons are, shaving some thickness from that key location.

“The real challenge is sealing all the hydraulics from the aluminum to the steel to the aluminum,” Pohl observed. How did they do it? “Through multiple iterations of each design,” he stated. Try, and try again, as it were.

Another detail included with efficiency in mind for EVs is a triangular spring that helps push the pads back from the rotor to reduce drag when the brake isn’t applied.

These are the kinds of detail improvements that have let us continuously improve something as seemingly simple as a hydraulic circuit applying pressure to squeeze friction material to a spinning rotor. Next stop, according to Pohl: electrically operated disc brakes that eliminate the hydraulic fluid.

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

  • As the last year of the last decade, 2019 had a lot to live up to. Within the span of 10 short years, service apps like Uber, Lyft, AirBnB and others on mobile phones became big business. Mobile phone companies introduced amazing personal features like voice assistance (e.g., Siri and Alexa), iCloud connections for fast video streaming, and very high-resolution HD cameras. Not to be outdone, the automobile was transformed with automation tech and electrification. A Tesla electric vehicle even made it into space.

    Space technology flourished in the last decade with the commercialization of space rockets, the launch of hundreds upon hundreds of communication satellites and the increasing popularity of Cubesats. Back on earth, homes and buildings became smarter while alternative forms of energy continued to improve in efficiency. And the list goes on.

    But there were several notable failures in the last decade, many seeming to culminate in 2019. Here is the short list of the 10 tech failures most worthy of mention, in no particular order.

  • #1 Glitchy Spacecraft Launch

    Boeing suffered several major setbacks this year. The first one was an incomplete demonstration flight of its new astronaut capsule. The mission of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft began successfully but suffered technical problems that prevented it from reaching the International Space Station (ISS). Many observers believe that the Starliner capsule on top of an Atlas rocket simply burned too much fuel as it climbed into space, leaving an insufficient amount to reach the ISS. Some have suggested the failure was from a glitchy timer system that turned off the rocket thrusters too soon.

    The demonstration test wasn’t a complete failure as the Starliner did land successfully in the deserts of New Mexico.

  • #2 Andromeda Strain revisited?

    Remember the Andromeda Strain? It was a techno-thriller novel from 1969 written by Michael Crichton that centered around the efforts of a team of scientists investigating the outbreak of a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism in Arizona.

    Fast forward to 2019. A company in Israel launched its first lunar lander that unfortunately crashed-landed on the moon. The small robotic spacecraft called Beresheet was created by the SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It failed just moments before landing on the moon.

    This was an unmanned operation, but not one devoid of life. A US-based nonprofit had added tardigrades, or water bears, to the capsule. These microscopic, eight-legged creatures could survive in a dormant state through harsh conditions, and maybe even on the moon.

    In other words, earth-based lifeforms have now been introduced to the moon’s ecosystem. Without some water, the tardigrades aren’t likely to revive and spread. But this failure highlights the need for planetary protections – both on the moon and earth.

    It should be noted that the goal of the Arch Mission Foundation was not to contaminate the moon but rather to, “create multiple redundant repositories of human knowledge around the Solar System.” The foundation tests out technologies for long-lasting archives, like securing information in DNA strands or encapsulating insects in artificial amber. In addition to water bears, the Arch’s payload included nickel sheets nanopatterned with thousands of pages of Wikipedia and other texts.

    One of Arch’s first missions was launched by SpaceX on the Falcon Heavy rocket and is now entering an orbit around the Sun for millions of years.  The first books in the Solar Library were Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Can you guess where they are located? The books containing Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy were placed in the glovebox of the Cherry Red Tesla Roadster that will soon be orbiting the Sun.

  • #3 Communication Failures (again)

    Both Boeing and the FAA have been cited for oversight breakdowns that contributed to 737 Max failure. But the actual cause of the tragedy that resulted in the crash of two Boeing 737 Max aircrafts seems to be broad failures in the automated system that controls the new planes. The report by the Joint Authorities Technical Review panel said that assumptions about critical aspects of the plane’s design were “not adequately reviewed, updated, or validated.”

    This lack of communication and incorporation of warnings from the engineering teams is a common problem with very complex, modern systems, e.g., the Challenger Space Shuttle and others.

  • #4 Disappearing Bitcoin Miners

    While 2019 was overall a profitable year for the semiconductor chip development market, there were a few noticeable declines. One was the system-on-chip (SoC) devices made specifically for bitcoin mining. The cost of mining for bitcoins dramatically increased in 2019, leading to a drop in the need for hardware SoC-based equipment.

    In essence, it took much more effort for bitcoin miners to solve the equations required to validate transactions on the Bitcoin network. This increase in mining difficulty reflects the increased competition.

    Another slowdown was in the market for automotive chips and electronics, as companies and drivers realized that autonomous car technology won’t really be ready for several more years. This corresponds well to Gartner’s famous “trough of disappointment” portion in its hype cycle for emerging technologies.

  • #5 Cloud Buckets

    A new type of cybersecurity issue has emerged in which millions of people have had their personal information exposed through file storage systems known as cloud buckets. Such storage areas typically consist of public resources that are easily accessed by a variety of web service applications. Cloud buckets are like public file folders which contain user information.

    Placing sensitive user data information in the cloud offers companies the capability to offload their security to big firms like Google, Apple, Amazon or Microsoft. The problem is that the buckets are not configured by these firms but rather by the companies who use their cloud networks.

    Not all of these companies are storing their customer information properly. This lack of security is easy pickings for identity thieves. It is an example of readily available information that doesn’t require any hacking.

  • #6 Hacks of the Year

    Speaking of hacks, this year experienced even more cybersecurity breaches. In 2018, there were 500 million personal records stolen, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. But that number was miniscule compared to the 7.9 billion records exposed in 2019 by over 5,000 breaches, as reported by Risk-Based Security. Compared to the 2018 Q3 report, the total number of 2019 breaches was up 33.3 percent and the total number of records exposed more than doubled, up 112 percent. Here’s just a small sampling of the more infamous breaches (more details here):

    > ElasticSearch Server Breach

    > Canva Data Breach

    > Facebook App Data Exposure 

    > Orvibo Leaked Database

    > Social Media Profiles Data Leak

    Sadly, the common theme in many of these data exposures is that data aggregators obtained and used personal information in a way the owners never imaged or gave their consented. This is a legal problem as much as a technical one.

  • #7 Google Glass

    In 2019, Google announced a new $999 Glass augmented reality headset that looked suspicious like the failed Google Glass from the past.

    Early in 2012, Google co-founder Sergey Brin debuted Google Glass. A year later, the founder and head of the Google Glass Project, Babak Parviz, delivered a keynote about the technology at the IEEE Hot Chips event at Stanford.

    One of the ongoing leading smart phone trends is the ever-improving screen resolution and larger screen size. During his keynote, Parviz argued that there was a physical limit to this trend, but glass offered the next display form factor evolution, i.e., immersion with one’s surroundings. This will be especially important in augmented reality applications.

    Originally, Google Glass was a standalone unit (not yet cloud-based) that included internet access, voice controls, and a camera for pictures and videos. It accomplished all of this with dual core processors running at more than 1 GHz. Five MEMS sensors capture all the environmental data. It had a two-dimensional touch panel on side of glass.

    Why was this technology a failure? It wasn’t because of the technology, but rather because it wasn’t clear to the customer what problem it solved or why they needed it. Additionally, many felt it was intrusive as a user of the device could take pictures and short film snippets of people without their knowledge.

    In January 2015, Google announced that they would no longer be developing Google Glass. But that wasn’t the end of the project. Instead, Google pivoted to the business sector by launching Glass Enterprise Edition for workplaces like factories in 2017. This year, Google announced the Glass augmented reality headset.

  • #8 Folding Phone

    Samsung’s Galaxy folding phone was billed as a new dawn in display technology. The phone levered open into a 7.3-inch dynamic AMOLED display.

    Unfortunately, the company had to postpone the launched of the folding phone after early review models broke, delaminated, and got filled with gunk. The problem seemed to be potential defects with a weak hinge as well as substances found inside the device.

    As with many new technologies, the price tag also presented a barrier to anyone but early adopters. A reengineered and improved version is now on sale for near $2,000.

  • #9 Machine-Bias or Garbage-in, Garbage-out

    The challenge of machine-bias came clearly into focus in 2019. Similar to human-bias, machine-bias occurs when the learning process for a Silicon-based machine makes erroneous assumptions due to the limitations of a data set and pre-programming criteria. One example of machine-bias was recently revealed in Apple’s new credit card, which contained an algorithm to decide how much trustworthy (or risky) a user might be. This evaluation used to be done by trained humans but now is often performed by AI based algorithms.

    Apple’s credit card was shown to have a gender bias. Males are more likely to get a higher credit line limit than females. This bias was highlighted when a male entrepreneur was assigned a spending limit 10 times higher than that of his wife, even though they have a common account.

    How does a machine get a bias? A report from IBM Research outlines two main ways AI systems could inherit biases. First, the AI software might contain errors and dependencies. Second, the data set from which AI learns its task may have flaws and bias. These data points come from the real world which contains many biases, e.g., favoring white men to the exclusion of women and minorities. Algorithms are only as smart as the data you feed them. This is a modern update of the old computer data expression, “garbage-in, garbage-out.”

  • #10 Software App Failures

    No list of tech failures would be complete without mention of the apps that didn’t make it. The range of the applications that failed is wide.

    Consider first British Airways (BA) glitch, whose computer system completely wend down during a peak travel season. Over a hundred flights of BA were cancelled and near to 300 delayed. Thousands of passengers were affected. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time the system had failed, which suggests a systemic problem that has not been properly addressed by management.

    Or how about the Facebook 2019 failure that prevented users from viewing or loading images form the newsfeed? Several other social media apps had a similar problem, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. In each case, users were prevented from sending messages, media files and the like.  Facebook claimed their problem was the result of an accident during routine maintenance.

    Several app failures or hacks from 2019 include Apple’s Facetime bug and the Ring security camera intrusions. The later may have been more of a customer problem as Ring notes that the system invasion was likely the result of the hacker gaining access to the family’s account through weak or stolen login credentials.


We Take A Look Back At The Memorable Run Of VW’s People’s Car With Classic Photos That Include A Beetle Police Car And A Race Car.

  • 1938 through 1975 Volkswagen Beetles. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1935 Volkwagen VW3 prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1937 Volkswagen prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1937 Volkswagen VW30 prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1937 Volkswagen VW30 prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen Beetle prototypes at the cornerstone-laying ceremony for the Wolfsburg factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen pre-production prototypes. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen cabriolet prototype. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen production example. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1938 Volkswagen Beetle. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1945 Volkswagen Beetle, first post-war production car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1945 Volkswagen factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1945 Volkswagen Beetle under construction. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1946 Volkswagen Beetle, the 10,000th car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1947 Volkswagen assembly line. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1947 Volkswagen assembly line. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1949 Volkswagen assembly line. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1949 Volkswagen Beetle Karmann cabriolet. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1949 Volkswagen Beetle Karmann cabriolet. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1951 Volkswagen Beetle display at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1952 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1952 Volkswagen Beetle. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1953 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1954 Volkswagen Beetle cabriolet police car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1955 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1955 Volkswagen Beetle, the millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetles outside the Wolfsburg factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetle production. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetle, recreating the car that contended the Italian Mille Miglia road race, Herbie, the Love Bug-style. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1956 Volkswagen Beetle. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1964 Volkswagen Beetle assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1964 Volkswagen Beetle assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1965 Volkswagen Beetle shipment. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, the 10-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • Volkswagen Beetle-packing was a fad on college campuses in the 1960s. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, the 15-millionth car, surpassing the Ford Model T in all-time sales. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, the 15-millionth car, surpassing the Ford Model T in all-time sales. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1973 Volkswagen Beetle production in the Wolfsburg factory. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1974 Volkswagen Beetle production of the last Beetle from the Wolfsburg factory. Production continued at the Puebla, Mexico plant until 2003. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1974 Volkswagen Beetle, Jeans edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1978 Volkswagen Beetle shipment from Mexico. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1978 Volkswagen Beetle shipment from Mexico, unloading at Emden, Germany. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1981 Volkswagen Beetle, the 20-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1981 Volkswagen Beetle, the 20-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 1981 Volkswagen Beetle, the 20-millionth car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition assembly. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition. Image source: Volkswagen AG

  • 2003 Volkswagen Beetle Ultimate Edition, the very last car. Image source: Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is performing a metaphoric passing of the torch from its classic Beetle to its upcoming family of electric vehicles that will be built on its MEB electric platform. Volkswagen has discontinued production of its modern Beetle in preparation for the launch of its ID family of electric vehicles.

In honor of the original People’s Car, we’ve assembled a slideshow of the car’s development over the decades from its inception in the 1930s to the conclusion of production in Mexico in 2003. VW has produced an animated film tribute to the Bug too, overlayed by the Beatles’  Let it Be , performed by the Pro Musica Youth Chorus

“The Beetle is easily one of the most recognizable cars in the history of automobiles,” said Saad Chehab, senior vice president of Volkswagen brand marketing. “Honoring it properly required a medium with just as much versatility and universal appeal as the car itself.”

The first members of VW’s new ID family of EVs go into production in 2020, and response has been so favorable that the company has revised its forecast to reach 1 million ID vehicles by 2023, rather than the previously predicted 2025. “2020 will be a key year for the transformation of Volkswagen. With the market launch of the ID.3 and other attractive models in the ID. family, our electric offensive will also become visible on the roads”, said Thomas Ulbrich, member of the Volkswagen brand Board of Management responsible for E-Mobility. “Our new overall plan for 1.5 electric cars in 2025 shows that people want climate-friendly individual mobility – and we are making it affordable for millions of people.”

Still, they’ll have a long way to go to reach the Beetle’s 21 million cars over 70 years.

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