Ferrari and Porsche announce new cars for the wealthy track addict

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Source: Ars Technica

Where will the first full hyperloop track be built? Maybe India

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Source: Ars Technica

The Boring Company gets a permit to dig up Washington DC parking lot

Enlarge / A view of the parking lot The Boring Company has permits to dig up (partially obscured by a tree, the parking lot on the left is for McDonald’s). To the right is a mural that local cars editor Jonathan Gitlin hopes will not be destroyed. (credit: Google Streetview)

The city of Washington DC has approved a permit that will allow Elon Musk’s Boring Company to dig up a parking lot just north of Capitol Hill and just east of downtown. The lot, at 53 New York Avenue NE, is on a busy street adjacent to a McDonald’s, near the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

The Boring Company doesn’t have permits to dig under any streets yet. But according to the LA Times, the city’s Department of Transportation is working to find out what other kinds of permits the company would need to pass under city roads and public spaces.

The permit is an interesting step forward in a project that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO announced vaguely last July. At the time, Musk tweeted that he had “verbal government approval” to build a New York-DC Hyperloop tunnel, although it was unclear who had issued such approval. The Boring Company later commented that it was engaged in discussions with local, state, and federal officials to make the project happen. In October, the company received official approval from the state of Maryland to dig a 10.1-mile tunnel under the state-owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway using a utility permit (which is generally easier for a state to grant). Still, additional permits would be required for any construction beyond that limited scope.

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Source: Ars Technica

Daimler included emissions-cheating software on diesels, German magazine says

Enlarge / (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images) (credit: getty images)

US investigators are looking into whether Mercedes parent company Daimler used illegal software to cheat emissions tests on diesel vehicles in the US, according to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, whose report was picked up by Reuters. Though the investigation itself is not new—it was reported as early as April 2016 that the Department of Justice was looking into Daimler’s actions around emissions testing its diesel vehicles—the new reports of emissions-cheating software draw parallels to Volkswagen’s notorious emissions scandal.

The German paper allegedly saw documents indicating that one software function on Daimler diesel vehicles turned off the car’s emissions control system after driving just 26 km (16 miles). Another program apparently “allowed the emissions cleaning system to recognize whether the car was being tested based on speed or acceleration patterns,” according to Reuters.

Software that turns an emissions control system on and off depending on whether the car is being tested in a lab or not is called a “defeat device,” and unless the automaker gets explicit permission to have one, a defeat device’s inclusion in an auto system is illegal in the US. In 2015, Volkswagen Group was discovered to have hid defeat device software on its VW, Audi, and Porsche diesels. The automaker has since spent billions of dollars in buying back vehicles that were emitting up to 40 times the allowable amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx).

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Source: Ars Technica

Robotaxi permit gets Arizona’s OK; Waymo will start service in 2018

Enlarge / You’ll know it’s a Waymo Pacifica Hybrid by the roof bar covered in sensors. (credit: FCA)

On Friday, we discovered that Waymo, the self-driving Google spinoff, has been granted a permit to operate as a Transportation Network Company in the state of Arizona. This means that it can launch an official ride-hailing service and start charging customers for their journeys. It also confirms the findings of a recent report that put Waymo at the front of the autonomous vehicle pack, meaning my colleague Tim Lee was right when he said the launch of a commercial operation by Waymo in Arizona was imminent.

Arizona has become a popular state for autonomous vehicle programs. It has rather permissive testing oversight compared to California, for example. That, plus well-maintained roads and little harsh weather, has encouraged both Uber and Waymo to expand their presence in Phoenix.

In recent months, self-driving cars have become commonplace in the city. Since November 2017, Waymo has been running a pilot program that lets people hail rides in its cars; evidently that hasn’t thrown up any red flags to prevent this expansion.

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Source: Ars Technica

Distracted driving: Everyone hates it, but most of us do it, study finds

Enlarge

Insurance company Esurance has a new study out on distracted driving, and it makes for interesting reading. Almost everyone agrees distracted driving is bad, yet it’s still remarkably prevalent. Even drivers who report rarely driving distracted also report that they engage in distracting behaviors. The study also raises some questions about the growing complexity of modern vehicles, particularly the user interfaces they confront us with.

Almost everyone does it

According to official figures, around 10 percent of all road deaths are due to distracted driving. That percentage has held steady for a while now after peaking at 15 percent a decade ago. In the time since, governments and the auto and tech industries haven’t been ignoring the problem. Texting-while-driving bans are ever more common. Smartphones now have do not disturb modes, some of which can turn on automatically. Phones can also cast their displays and certain apps to the car’s center stack using Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

And modern vehicles are increasingly packed full of advanced driver aids—what the industry calls ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems)—like adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, blind spot monitoring, collision alerts, and so on.

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Source: Ars Technica

Dynamic Skip Fire cleverly silences pistons, boosts mileage by 15%

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Source: Ars Technica

It will be a best-seller, but is it any good? The 2018 Toyota Camry

Toyota

It doesn’t use exotic lightweight materials. It doesn’t have a clever electric powertrain. But the Toyota Camry is undoubtedly one of the most important cars we’ll ever review, if only because Toyota sells so damn many of them.

The Camry is now in its eighth generation, and Toyota says this one is sportier and more upscale than Camrys of old. However, after a week with one—the $32,250 V6 XSE—I’m left with one conclusion: evidently there are an awful lot of car buyers out there who just don’t care much about their cars.

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Source: Ars Technica

The car of the future is taking shape—and it will know how we feel about it

Few people want to go to Las Vegas immediately after the New Year. Never a fan of the place at the best of times, I dutifully boarded the plane anyway. Like it or not, if one wants to see everyone’s ideas for the car of the near future, there’s no better time and place to do that than CES.

There’s an irony to hearing about smart mobility at CES considering all the dumb reality outside. The show has grown so much that getting from the convention center to anything off-site now takes an hour if you’re unlucky. Figure in a lot of needed—but unwanted—rain that caused havoc with self-driving demos and electrical transformers and the whole thing became an ordeal.

Chips ahoy!

That ordeal kicked off days before the main exhibit hall even opened. It’s fitting that Nvidia started the proceedings on Sunday; its graphics chips bear more responsibility than most for the blossoming of autonomy. The latest of these is called Xavier, and if things go Nvidia’s way, they’ll be found under every robo-taxi’s access panel. Nvidia is forming big partnerships: Baidu, Uber, and Volkswagen Group are three of the latest names to be announced.

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Source: Ars Technica

Mercedes-AMG’s C63 S Cabrio has it all: Power, sound, fuel use, and cost

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Source: Ars Technica

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