Walmart agrees to work with Ford on self-driving grocery delivery pilot

Walmart agrees to work with Ford on self-driving grocery delivery pilot

Enlarge (credit: Ford)

Ford is working with Postmates and Walmart on a pilot program for self-driving grocery deliveries, the companies announced on Wednesday.

“We are exploring how self-driving vehicles can deliver many everyday goods such as groceries, diapers, pet food and personal care items,” Ford said in a press release.

The grocery delivery pilot experiment will be based in Miami, where Ford’s self-driving car company, Argo, is already testing self-driving vehicles. Ford had been testing self-driving deliveries with Postmates prior to this announcement.

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Source: Ars Technica

Volkswagen plans to make 50 million electric cars, CEO says

The I.D. (left), I.D. Vizzion (center), and I.D. Buzz (right).

Enlarge / The I.D. (left), I.D. Vizzion (center), and I.D. Buzz (right). (credit: Volkswagen)

They say new converts are always the most devout. Take Volkswagen: after betting big on diesel—and losing—the automaker is going full-speed ahead on electrification. Earlier this year, it revealed it had committed to spending $25 billion on batteries from a number of suppliers, including Samsung and LG Chem. Now those plans may be accelerating, if all goes well at a meeting of VW’s supervisory board this coming Friday.

Last week, Reuters reported that there is a proposal to convert two German factories over to electric vehicle production. One of these—at Emden—would build an as-yet unnamed sub-€20,000 ($22,550) EV and another called the I.D. Aero, both from VW Group’s new EV architecture (called MEB). Another plant at Hannover would produce the crowd-pleasing I.D. Buzz. The first of VW’s new MEB vehicles will be the I.D. which goes into production at a third factory in Zwickau in late 2019.

And today, VW CEO Herbert Diess told the German publication Automobilwoche that total battery earmarks for the company were now up to €50 billion ($56 billion). “We have bought batteries for 50 million vehicles,” he told the publication.

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Source: Ars Technica

Elon Musk on double-decker freeways, permitting, and building sewers

boring machine segments

Segments of The Boring Company’s boring machine, called Godot. (credit: The Boring Company)

Tesla, SpaceX, and Boring Company CEO Elon Musk is good at finding alternative markets for his products. He did this with the lithium-ion batteries he was building and sourcing for his Model S, X, and eventually Model 3 cars: by developing a line of stationary storage battery products, he tapped into another well of potential customers at little additional expense.

Similarly, Musk told mayors on Thursday that he wants The Boring Company to dig sewers, water transport, and electrical tunnels under cities, in addition to the transportation-focused tunnels he hopes to dig to house electric skate systems.

Musk mentioned this alternate use for his boring machines at the National League of Cities’ City Summit, during a “fireside chat” with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. According to Forbes, Musk told the audience, “The Boring Company is also going to do tunneling for, like, water transport, sewage, electrical. We’re not going to turn our noses up at sewage tunnels. We’re happy to do that too.”

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Source: Ars Technica

9 things I learned from driving a supercar for three days

9 things I learned from driving a supercar for three days

Enlarge (credit: BradleyWarren Photography)

The email arrived unexpectedly. “I don’t think we’ve ever met, but I’m the PR Manager for McLaren in North America,” it began. My pulse quickened as I continued reading. “We’ve got a 570S Spider that is making a quick appearance in the Chicago area for a few press loans, and I was wondering if you might be interested in scheduling a quick loan for a review?”

In the year or so I have spent reviewing cars at Ars, in addition to my usual managing editor duties, I’ve generally stuck to SUVs, crossovers, and minivans. Some of them can go very fast—the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, BMW 640i GT, and the Maserati Levante come to mind—but the McLaren 570S Spider is quite a different beast. After a quick chat with Automotive Editor Jonathan Gitlin, I replied with a “yes, please.” A week later, I found myself pulling out of the garage at the McLaren dealership in downtown Chicago behind the wheel of a $235,340 supercar.

When it comes to McLarens, the 570S Spider is toward the low-end of the price spectrum. New for the 2018 model year, the Spider is a convertible version of the 570S, a model that itself hit the market in 2015. Capable of a top speed of 196mph with the 101lb (46kg) roof down, the 570S Spider can hit 204mph with the hardtop in place. Speeds like that come naturally to a car that has a 3.8-liter V8 twin-turbo engine and weighs just a hair over 3,300lb. The 562hp (419kW) engine offers 443lb-ft (600Nm) of torque and is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch seamless-shift gearbox.

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Source: Ars Technica

Why millions of lasers on a chip could be the future of lidar

Why millions of lasers on a chip could be the future of lidar

Enlarge (credit: Ouster)

Dozens of startups are working on lidar, a type of laser sensor that many experts see as essential for fully self-driving cars. In my view, one of the most interesting companies is called Ouster. I first wrote about Ouster back in May, when I explained how it was bucking an industry trend toward fixed “solid state” lidar in favor of the spinning design pioneered by industry leader Velodyne.

Because Ouster’s lidar looks so much like Velodyne’s on the outside, I assumed that it looked similar inside, too. But in a recent interview with Ars Technica, Ouster CEO and co-founder Angus Pacala told me that Ouster’s lidar is actually radically different inside.

Patent filings show that Velodyne’s venerable 64-laser lidar has a stack of circuit boards, each connected to an individually packaged laser. By contrast, if you crack open the case of Ouster’s 64-laser unit, you’ll find that all of its 64 laser beams emanate from an integrated circuit not much bigger than a grain of rice.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla replaces Elon Musk as chair—he’ll stay CEO

Tesla replaces Elon Musk as chair—he’ll stay CEO

Enlarge (credit: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Tesla has announced a new chair of its board of directors: Robyn Denholm. The move is part of the deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle claims that CEO Elon Musk misled investors. The deal prohibits Musk from serving as chairman of the company for three years. He will remain CEO of Tesla.

Denholm, who has served on Tesla’s board since 2014, will leave her role as CFO of Telstra, the Australian telecom giant, in six months.

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Source: Ars Technica

Variable-compression engine meets crossover: Infiniti QX50 review

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla battery will power unusual community storage project in Western Australia

A community storage pilot project using Tesla batteries went live this week in Western Australia, three months ahead of schedule. The 105KW/420KWh pooled storage will act as a sort of locker for excess power produced by homes with solar panels.

The project is an unusual one because it pools battery capacity for homes with solar panels. It was funded by energy company Synergy and government-owned Western Power, which sought 52 customers with solar panels on their homes as participants. The 52 shares of the project were snapped up in two weeks, far more quickly than expected, which accelerated the project’s timeline.

Participants will each be allotted 8kWh of storage, which they will “fill” with excess power created by their rooftop solar panels during the day. (This is in theory, of course. Solar-generated electricity can flow back onto the grid, but there’s no guarantee that the battery will be charged with solar-generated electrons.) In the evening, customers will “be able to draw electricity back from the PowerBank during peak time without having to outlay upfront costs for a behind-the-meter battery storage system,” says a press release from the government of Western Australia.

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Source: Ars Technica

Forget lap times; this car control class makes teen drivers safer

Forget lap times; this car control class makes teen drivers safer

Enlarge (credit: Aurich / Getty)

WALDORF, Md.—To a casual observer, Regency Furniture Stadium, home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball team, probably looked like it was playing host to a weekend autocross. There were cones set up in the empty lot as I pulled in and some interesting cars to park alongside, many displaying the subtle tells of trackday service. But on this unseasonably cold and windswept Sunday morning, something else was afoot. The cones were not arranged in the sinuous, continuous course you might expect if time trials were the order of the day.

A closer look revealed that more was going on here. To one side of the stadium’s parking lot, a cone sat alone in the middle of a wide expanse of tarmac. Elsewhere, others were clustered together to delineate other obstacles to negotiate—a slalom course and so on. And while a handful of the cars up front obviously belonged to enthusiasts, the vast majority were much more… suburban. That’s because I was actually here to visit a local event being held by the Tire Rack Street Survival school. It’s just one of a number of events that take place across the country with the goal of instilling good driving habits in impressionable young minds.

You don’t have to squint to see the need for programs like these. More than 37,000 people die on US roads each year, and drivers under the age of 25 are well represented in the annual tabulations. But the data is more complicated than that, and road deaths among young drivers have actually been on the decrease compared to a 29-percent year-on-year increase in fatal crashes involving drivers over the age of 65. Getting our elderly drivers to go to a car-control clinic would probably be a brilliant idea, too, but it’s easier to get ’em while they’re young, particularly if you’re the responsible adult who provides the vehicle, insurance, and gas money. Hence the collection of parents giving up their Sunday mornings (and paying $95) to spend time with their teen drivers and some cones.

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Source: Ars Technica

Musk: new Tesla summon feature will “follow you like a pet”

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Source: Ars Technica

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