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Archives for Advanced Transport

Flying Cars by 2018

The Personal Air Land Vehicle (PAL-V) Liberty is looking likely to become the first flying car intended for general adoption and real world application — and it could be available soon. While the first model was developed in 2012, the company is aiming to deliver its first car to the first customer by the end of 2018. They hope to produce 50 to 100 models in 2019, and a few hundred by 2020.

The planned price is €299,000 EUR ($333, 340 USD) for the sport version and €499,000 EUR ($556, 310 USD) for the first edition. Of course, cost isn’t the only consideration: customers will need to acquire both a flying and driving license before using the vehicle, and each car will need to undergo 150 hours of flight testing before being approved.

The PAL-V is one of many flying cars in development at the moment. Other bids include Toyota’s plan to bring a flying car to the 2020 Toyko Olympics — although the end goal for this model would be carrying the Olympic torch, rather than being destined for mass production.

At the moment, the PAL-V’s main market competition are companies like AeroMobil, and another called Terrfugia. Both use plane-like propulsion systems, as opposed to the Pal-V’s gyrocopter technology, to take off. Aerombil has already started accepting pre-orders for 2020, while Terrafugia is expected to deliver their first Transition in 2019.

The Future of Transport?

It may well be that flying cars as the future of transport. They would provide a way to decrease traffic congestion, cut out airport flight times, provide alternatives for people living a long way from work, and give a means of transport to countries that lack the infrastructure for consistent large scale flights.

However, not everyone agrees with that assessment: Elon Musk isn’t so sure flying cars are the future of transport, as he told Bloomberg’s Max Chafkin: “Obviously, I like flying things, but it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.”

Among the main criticisms of the technology are the fact that it would need to produce a lot of downforce to stay in the sky — which produces a lot of noise and wind — and that they may well be more dangerous than road cars: should they be involved in an accident, passengers and debris could quite literally end up falling from the sky. The PAL-V has handled the the first issue with its gyrocopte, which keeps speed in check and is a key safety feature.

While a future with flying cars is an exciting one to behold, there are some major obstacles the industry needs to overcome first. And while it’s certainly encouraging that there’s interest, we shouldn’t take the acceptance of pre-orders as being interchangeable with government policy or even approval.

The post Flying Cars Could Hit the Skies as Soon as 2018 appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla’s line of vehicles is changing our concept of personal vehicles forever. The unique combination of electric engines, self-driving ability, and even integration with home energy systems are allowing them to carve out a significant portion of existing and future markets. Neither Elon Musk or Tesla show any signs of slowing down.

In hopes of bringing their artificial intelligence (AI) powered self-driving capabilities to new heights, Musk has brought on a deep learning and computer vision expert. Andrej Karpathy has been a researcher at OpenAI and holds a PhD from Stanford, where he created and taught the university’s first deep learning course. Karpathy has been designated Tesla’s Director of AI and Autopilot Vision.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Karpathy’s expertise makes it plain that Tesla is looking to ramp up its self-driving features. His previous work has focused on image recognition and understanding. His work could give the autonomous driving systems something closer to actual sensory vision. According to a statement from Tesla given to TechCrunch, “For example, identifying not simply that there is a cat in a given picture, but that it is an orange, spotted cat, riding on a skateboard with red wheels on brown hardwood flooring.”

This could allow for better decision making for Tesla’s AI. Instead of just noticing that there is an object in the road, the car can notice that it is a squirrel, and perhaps it can be taught that squirrels (generally) run away before the car approaches, leaving both passenger and furry woodland creature completely safe.

The post Tesla Brings on a Leading Computer Vision Expert to Give “Sight” to AI appeared first on Futurism.

A string of recent reports from Volvo has suggested that the Swedish car company is preparing to take on Tesla with an electric vehicle (EV) division. The company has released plans for their upcoming Tesla Model 3 competitor, an SUV slated for release sometime before 2019. More recently, the company announced that they will no longer develop diesel engines, signaling a shift toward electric models.

All of this has culminated in Volvo’s latest announcement. The company has also introduced a separate brand to produce and market “high-performance electric cars,” called Polestar. Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars said that “Polestar will be a credible competitor in the emerging global market for high performance electrified cars.”

Image credit: Volvo Press
Image credit: Volvo Press

Volvo’s first EV is expected to cost something in the range of $35,000 to $40,000, roughly similar to Tesla’s Model 3. However, Volvo’s electric option does seem to boast a slightly higher range at around 402 km (250 miles), compared to the Model 3’s 346 km (215 miles).This could be the beginning of the EV wars to come. Volkswagen recently unveiled three concept cars of its own and is planning to become an EV juggernaut by 2015. This competition will only push the transition from fossil fuel burning cars to EVs.

The post Volvo Takes on Tesla with Announcement of Its New Electric Vehicle Brand appeared first on Futurism.

Hyperloop is all the rage in any talks of the future of public transportation. The concept was developed by Elon Musk’s Hyperloop One to provide a high-speed rail connecting cities all over the world at never before seen speeds. There are currently dozens of proposals for installations across the globe, including these nine routes in Europe announced by the company at the beginning of the month.

Source: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies
Image Credit: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Another country is joining the fray by partnering with a separate company interested in bringing Hyperloop technologies into reality. A coalition of the South Korean government and two of the country’s top educational institutions have teamed up with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (not affiliated with Hyperloop One) to construct a Hyperloop network in the country.The project is being dubbed the HyperTube Express and is expected to allow travel from Seoul to Busan in under 20 minutes, compared to the 3-hour car ride it takes today.

Interest in hyper-fast travel has skyrocketed across the globe. Other entities are searching for high-speed solutions other than the Hyperloop, as well. There is even the concept of a “mag-lev limo” that could transport passengers from New York to Beijing in just two hours. Whichever way the future of transportation goes, it seems that speed is the order of the day.

The post South Korea is Teaming with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies for High-Speed Rail appeared first on Futurism.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

If you plan to travel down Virginia’s Eastern Shore to get to the beach this summer, you might drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. As its name implies, the structure functions as both a bridge and a tunnel.

After the $200 million structure’s completion in 1964, the American Society of Civil Engineers named it “one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world.”

To construct it, workers dug huge underwater ditches for two tunnels and lined them with rocks. They then lowered plugged-up pieces of the concrete tunnel into the ditches. To allow cars to drive through, the workers then unplugged the tunnel pieces.

Functional Engineering Marvel

The tunnels run about a mile under the bay, allowing ships and boats to travel over them, according to The Washington Post. The tunnels connect to the bridge sections via four manmade islands that are each as large as a football field. The depth of the water ranges from 25 to 100 feet, according to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission.

Construction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, early 1960s. Image Source: Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel Commission

Before the structure was built, 50 to 60 cars at a time would drive up onto ferries, which would carry them across the water, with the Chesapeake Bay to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

The 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel included only one northbound and one southbound lane until 1999, when one more lane was added in each direction. Over 100 million cars and trucks have driven on the bridge-tunnel since 1964.

Construction of a $755 million parallel tunnel that would help alleviate traffic is expected to begin in fall 2017 and be completed by 2022. Called the Thimble Shoal Channel, it would connect to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel’s existing roadway.

The post This Engineering Marvel Functions as Both a Bridge and a Tunnel appeared first on Futurism.

This electric car is the world’s most accessible car for people in wheelchairs

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The post This Electric Car Is the World’s Most Accessible Car for People in Wheelchairs appeared first on Futurism.

Look Out, Tesla

CHJ Automotive, a Chinese startup and rival to Tesla, has become the latest entrant in the race to capture a piece of the electric vehicle (EV) market. CNBC reports, from Co-Founder Kevin Shen, that CHJ is planning to launch two vehicles which are now in development: a hybrid SUV and an ultra-compact car. The ultra-compact car, slated for a March 2018 release, is targeted for the Chinese market.
“In China, there are 340 million people (who) daily commute with e-scooters, but there is a strong demand for them to upgrade to something,” Shen told CNBC. “But we cannot imagine all of them driving cars, so we want to give them something else, which is an ultra-compact car.”
That diminutive size may seem odd in the U.S., but in urban areas all over the world, this kind of ultra-compact, electric vehicle is the ideal affordable solution to traffic, pollution, and parking problems.

Going Global

CHJ has yet to release official images of the car, but did show preliminary designs of the ultra-compact vehicle to CNBC. The car’s tiny size, at 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long and 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide, makes it lighter and easier to power. It will run on two changeable batteries, which means that it can quickly stop for a battery swap and then keep going. It will come with Google’s in-car operating system, Android Auto, and will cost between €7,000 ($7,824) and €8,000 ($8,911.04).
CHJ is targeting European markets as well, but for ride-sharing projects, not yet for consumers. CHJ just entered into a joint venture with Clem, a French car-sharing platform. Together the companies will trial a car-sharing service using the ultra-compact vehicles in Paris.
This kind of car is critical for China’s goals under the Paris Accord — goals which the country sees as directly tied to its own public health concerns. Beijing is already moving to replace 70,000 taxis with electric cars, and the nation has relaxed its protectionist laws to encourage the use of EVs. The availability of an ultra-compact option that’s both local and affordable, and charges without a wait, is going to do very well in China, and probably all over the world, to the benefit of our planet.

The post A Tesla Rival is Planning to Launch a $7,800 Electric Car in 2018 appeared first on Futurism.

Yesterday, courtesy of Reddit user kutrod, we received the first images that show the change since Tesla started gathering data from the 50,000 customer-owned vehicles around the U.S. — although the actual change in policy occurred last month. The manifestation of this is that the vehicles send the company photos from its cameras seemingly at random. Kutrod’s image showed huge spikes in the amount of data a Tesla vehicle has uploaded since the beginning of May.

According to the company, Tesla’s neural network is then applied to the massive collection of data, which will allow it to build a 3D virtual world of numerous cityscapes, as well as learn constantly and exponentially about real-world environments. This is pivotal for safety because it allows Tesla to get feedback from cars already in the hands of customers and apply this information to updates.

The decision marks a departure from the strategy of other companies, such as GM and Waymo, who are using test fleets to collect data before the vehicles are released onto the market.

Tesla asked for permission to use the recorded clips during an upgrade for Autopilot 2.0. Tesla stated in a message that accompanied the upgrade that, “In order to protect your privacy, we have ensured that there is no way to search our system for clips that are associated with a specific car.”

The post Tesla’s Neural Network is Receiving a Massive Amount of Data from Cars appeared first on Futurism.

In autonomous vehicle news, SNFC, France’s national railway operator, has announced their intention to have autonomous TGVs (French abbreviation for “high-speed trains”) running by 2023. SNFC has dubbed the concept the “drone train” and plans to start prototype testing sometime in 2019.

The History (And Future) Of High Speed Rail
Click to View Full Infographic

Driverless public transport might make some uneasy, bringing up visions of the film Speed and the potential ways things could go awry, but with years of testing and preparation, every possible issue should be resolved.

The SNFC’s trains, which can already travel at speeds up to 321 km/h (200 mph), will have automatic brakes installed (for both regular and emergency situations), as well as sensors to allow the trains to identify objects in their path. To ensure safety, the trains will still have conductors aboard for the first excursions just in case anything goes wrong, and because remote piloting is an option, even unforeseeable issues with the trains could be dealt with safely in a variety of ways.

As autonomous vehicles continue to increase in popularity, the future of transportation promises to be safer, more efficient, and beneficial to the economy. From Tesla to Toyota, manufacturers across the globe are investing in the development of autonomous vehicles, and in some places in the U.S., driverless cars could be on the streets in as few as two months.

Autonomous vehicle development isn’t slowing down any time soon, so the next train you take might have no conductor at all, and that could be a good thing for everyone involved.

The post France Plans to Have Driverless “Drone Trains” Transporting Passengers by 2023 appeared first on Futurism.

Often, legislation can either be an express lane or a roadblock (pun intended) for technological innovation that improves transportation. Getting government to support this type of development, such as Elon Musk’s famous Boring Company, is definitely a step in the right direction.

In a recent tweet, Boring founder and CEO Elon Musk linked an interview from ABC this past Sunday that featured Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. In the snippet, Garcetti was talking about potential solutions to improve the abysmal traffic to the city’s airport. In particular, he mentioned Musk’s tunnel solution. “Like many other cities have, I’d love to see maybe even with the new tunneling technology that people like Elon Musk is looking at, whether we could have a quick and direct route from LAX to Union Station,” Garcetti said.

While Musk noted Garcetti’s comment to be promising, the serial entrepreneur made an additional comment, saying that government permits are often harder to come by than developing technology. In order for a potentially disruptive technology like the Boring Company’s earthquake-proof tunnel system — which could potentially improve L.A. traffic — to become a reality, there must be more effective and efficient policy making.

The post Elon Musk Just Claimed That The LA Mayor is Open to His Controversial Boring Company appeared first on Futurism.

Hyperloop Hotel

When you go out of town, you usually need to buy a few nights at a hotel in addition to a plane, train, or bus ticket.

Brandan Siebrecht, a graduate architecture student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, wants to combine these components into one experience. He designed what he calls the “Hyperloop Hotel,” a system that would feature a transit system and 13 hotels in different cities throughout the United States.

Siebrecht is the student winner of this year’s  Radical Innovation Award , a competition for imaginative hotel designs. In June, a jury of seven hotel investors, developers, and architects selected Driftscape as the one of two finalists out of over 65 submissions from 24 countries.

Image Source: Brandan Siebrecht

The futuristic concept would eliminate the need to buy separate transit tickets for most of the largest cities in the US. It calls for hotels in 13 locations — Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Denver, Sante Fe, Austin, Chicago, Nashville, Washington, DC, New York City, and Boston — which would all be connected by a “Hyperloop system.”

The design was inspired by DevLoop, a real test track for Hyperloop Onebeing developed north of Las Vegas. A concept first introduced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2013, a hyperloop is a mode of transportation that would propel a pod-like vehicle through a reduced-pressure tube. Hyperloop One wants the system to be energy-efficient, autonomous, and quicker than a plane.

Though the project is still conceptual and has experienced delays, the startup has said its goal is to deliver a fully operational system by 2020.

Image Source: Brandan Siebrecht

Outfitted for Luxury

For a flat fee of $1,200, Hyperloop Hotel guests would be able to zoom quickly between the network of cities, all while never leaving their room, Siebrecht tells Business Insider. He hasn’t estimated what each night would cost yet.

“Guests would be able to travel to any hotel destination within the network and even visit multiple destinations in a single day,” Siebrecht said.

Image Source: Brandan Siebrecht

The size of the modular hotels, which Siebrecht estimates would cost around $10 million each to build, would depend on the location. Hotels in dense cities would likely have smaller footprints than ones in less dense areas.

Guest suites would be made of re-purposed shipping containers that Siebrecht says would be “outfitted for luxury.” Each would include an office, a living room with a flatscreen TV, a bedroom, and a bathroom.

Image Source: Brandan Siebrecht

There are no concrete plans to build the first Hyperloop Hotel, since the technology and infrastructure it would require doesn’t actually exist.

Siebrecht believes construction of his hotel concept could be feasible within the next five to 10 years.

“I believe the Hyperloop One is the next big innovation in transportation in the United States and possibly the world,” he said. “I wanted to explore ways in which this technology could transform the overall travel experience and hospitality.

The post This Futuristic Hotel Concept is Based on Elon Musk’s Hyperloop appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla Enters the Indian Market

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he’s in talks with India’s government to sell electric cars in the country, which is currently the fourth-largest auto market in the world.

Musk said on Twitter Thursday that he is currently negotiating a relief on import penalties until Tesla can build a local factory. This isn’t the first time Musk has announced he intends to enter the Indian market — Musk said in February he was hoping to launch in the country this summer.

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India could become one of the most important markets for Tesla given the country’s massive population size and focus on reducing emissions.

Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Vehicle adoption in India is expected to grow rapidly. At its current pace, the country is set to become the third-largest auto market in the world by 2020, according to a May report by the India Brand Equity Foundation, the Indian government’s resource center for economic information.

India’s passenger vehicle segment witnessed the most growth in the 2016 fiscal year, but two-wheelers still secure the most widespread adoption.

But some foreign automakers have so far struggled to increase sales in India, driven partially by a crackdown on diesel vehicles. General Motors put its $1 billion planned investment in India on hold last summer due to poor sales and the regulatory environment, Reuters reported at the time.

What could give Tesla an edge is that India is looking to promote electric and hybrid vehicle sales through its National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. The initiative aims to have 6-7 million electric and hybrid vehicles on the road by 2020 by offering manufacturing and purchasing incentives. The country, however, will need to invest heavily in a charging infrastructure to make that vision a reality.

As Musk explores India, Tesla is also looking to further tap into the Chinese car market, the largest in the world, as the government pushes battery-powered vehicle adoption.

The post Elon Musk in Talks to Bring Electric Cars to India appeared first on Futurism.

From 2008 and 2012, Tesla actually had a line of electric sports cars called the “Tesla Roadster,” which was the first-ever highway legal serial production of an all-electric car powered by lithium-ion batteries. Tesla has since discontinued its production, but it was announced three years ago that a second generation roadster is coming.

CEO Elon Musk plans for this Tesla Roadster 4.0, so to speak, to outdo the first version. It will be capable of a “Maximum Plaid” performance mode, as Musk would call it in reference to the movie Spaceballs. In a recent tweet, Musk hinted at just how fast this Maximum Plaid would be.

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If the first generation, had a “Ludicrous mode” capable of 0 to 97 km/h (60 mph) acceleration in just 2.5 seconds, the Tesla Roadster 4.0 might just hit 97 km/h (60 mph) in under two seconds. “That would [be] an interesting target,” Musk said in a tweet, replying to a question about the new roadster.

“Would, of course, only count if capable of doing so right off the production line with street legal tires,” Musk added, which Electrek’s Fred Lambert considers a possibility for the roadster to be faster with aftermarket components.

However, because Tesla is still busy with launching the Model 3 and perhaps working on the Model Y, and not to mention the highly-anticipated all-electric semi, the roadster is still “a few years away” — supposedly in 2019. But the Roadster still gives Tesla fans who love sports cars something to look forward to.

The post Elon Musk: The Next Generation Tesla Roadster May Achieve 60 MPH in Under 2 Seconds appeared first on Futurism.

Leading Cause of Death

At the most basic level, the leading cause of death amongst humans is our frailty. We get sick. We age. Inevitably, we die. While that sounds grim, it’s simply the nature of our biology right now, but it may not be for long.

Right now, scientists worldwide are working tireless to keep death at bay. They’re developing treatments that could potentially cure all diseases and even stop aging itself, which many now consider a disease itself and not an inevitable fact of life.

So what happens when we accomplish all that we’ve set out to do? American astrophysicist and famous science personality Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks we’ll still have one more hurdle to overcome, and he shared it via a recent tweet.

Tyson’s point is backed up by a number of studies on car fatalities and the development of autonomous vehicles. In the United States alone,  roughtly 30,000 to 40,000 people die from car crashes every year, and an estimated 94 percent of those are due to human error. Additionally, some six million drivers admitted to bumping other cars on purpose, according to a report by the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The Best Driver Isn’t Human

Autonomous vehicle manufacturers agree that self-driving systems would make the roads safer by eliminating human error. While these manufacturers have yet to achieve true Level 5 autonomy, recent developments in driverless vehicle systems aren’t too far off the mark.

Most notable among these is, of course, Tesla. At a time when the rest of the world wasn’t too keen on investing in autonomous technology, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk vigorously pursued the tech. Now, the company has developed its own Autopilot self-driving software, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports has already reduced Tesla accidents by 40 percent.

Ride-hailing company Uber, in partnership with Volvo, has also been busy testing and rolling out its own autonomous vehicles. The company was the first to introduce self-driving taxis, it was responsible for test driving the world’s first autonomous truck, and it has plans for an autonomous flying car.

Autonomous Public Transport: The Future of the Urban Commute [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Other industry giants from both the tech and car manufacturing sectors are also developing autonomous technology. Most recently, Apple confirmed that they’ve been working on an autonomous system that could improve self-driving vehicles, possibly for use in their own line of cars.

General Motors recently delivered the world’s first mass-produced self-driving cars, while others, such as Volkswagen and Ford, are moving from the concept stages to production. And then there’s the ever-growing number of startups also in the self-driving game.

Given all these efforts, autonomous vehicles are poised to be a major part of transportation in the near future. Public adoption may be slow at first, but once the tech is embraced, we’ll be able to check another threat to humanity off the list.

The post Neil deGrasse Tyson: Self-Driving Cars Will Save Lives appeared first on Futurism.

The Future of AV Legislation

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are poised to make our roads safer — if they can ever get permission to be on our roads, that is.

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Despite all the talk, successful tests, and tech advancements, very little has been accomplished legislatively. Without the government go-ahead, we can’t yet integrate these vehicles into our current infrastructure, and the lack of progress has resulted in very few cities preparing for the seemingly inevitable autonomous revolution.

Finally, it looks like that’s about to change. Yesterday, June 13, United States Senators Bill Nelson, Gary Peters, and John Thune announced the six principles that they plan to use to draft legislation for autonomous vehicles:

  • Prioritize Safety: This one should be the top priority of any new vehicle.
  • Promote Continued Innovation and Reduce Existing Roadblocks: Clearly, AVs are uncharted territory, so we’ll need to develop a new class of rules for this new class of vehicle, but we can’t let that development process delay innovation.
  • Remain Tech Neutral: Legislation shouldn’t include policies that favor one technology over another, for example, supporting the implementation of autonomous systems designed by veteran car makers over those of startups.
  • Reinforce Separate Federal and State Roles: New legislation must make clear which aspects of regulation should be covered by each level of government and ensure that neither steps on the other’s legislative toes.
  • Strengthen Cybersecurity: AV manufacturers must be required to guard against the vulnerabilities engrained in the fundamentally electronic technology.
  • Educate the Public to Encourage Responsible Adoption of Self-Driving Vehicles: It’s the government’s responsibility to work with the private sector to ensure that the public accurately understands the capabilities of self-driving vehicles.

Planning for the Autonomous Revolution

As with any transformative technology, governments and businesses have a responsibility to adequately plan for contingencies, consider potential guidelines, and develop legislation before introducing autonomous driving systems to the public. By taking these steps, they’ll be able to avoid irresponsible use based on ignorance, unforeseen legislative gray areas, or public resistance to the technology when it hits the market.

The legislation of driverless cars is particularly important because lives are at stake — we must do everything we can to integrate the technology in the safest possible way. This becomes even more pressing when we consider that driverless systems could be on state roads within the next two months.

The guidelines for AVs are also particularly important as they may set a legal precedent for the wider introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Automated systems are poised to become more and more integrated into various aspects of our lives in the coming years, and in the process, they could introduce problems unlike any we’ve previously encountered. The worst thing we could do is wait for those problems to surface before planning ways to deal with them.

The post U.S. Senators Reveal the Six Principles They’ll Use to Regulate Self-Driving Vehicles appeared first on Futurism.

GM Joins the Race

There’s a potential new major player in the autonomous vehicle industry, and its a seasoned player in the automotive market. Veteran car maker General Motors (GM) announced Tuesday that it’s completed 10 self-driving test vehicles of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle (EV). The cars were manufactured at the company’s plant in Lake Orion, Michigan. GM believes the achievement could position the company at the head of the autonomous car race.

“The autonomous vehicles you see here today are purpose-built, self-driving test vehicles,” GM’s chairman and CEO Mary Barra told her employees Tuesday morning, USA Today reported. GM has the platform and the technology to back up its claim: it’s the first car manufacturer to mass produce self-driving vehicles.

“The level of integration in these vehicles is on par with any of our production vehicles, and that is a great advantage. In fact, no other company today has the unique and necessary combination of technology, engineering and manufacturing ability to build autonomous vehicles at scale,” Barra added.

Image credit: General MotorsImage credit: General Motors

Growing a Niche Market

GM, however, didn’t rush to mass production when it came to the development of test versions of the Chevy Bolt EV. In addition to the efficiency inherent to electric vehicles, the cars are also designed to be more affordable than other EVs on the market. “To achieve what we want from self-driving cars, we must deploy them at scale,” Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt said in a press release. “By developing the next-generation self-driving platform in San Francisco and manufacturing these cars in Michigan, we are creating the safest and most consistent conditions to bring our cars to the most challenging urban roads that we can find.”

Currently, autonomous vehicles are still part of a rather niche market, though a number of studies seem to indicate that soon may change. One predicts that by 2024, the demand for self-driving vehicles will have grown to 138,089 units — a huge jump from the current demands. Not only that, a previous study, published in 2014, concluded that the autonomous vehicle market would grow to $87 billion by 2030.

Image credit: Grand View ResearchImage credit: Grand View Research
Clearly, GM is in the right path. While Tesla may have joined the autonomous vehicle game earlier, GM’s ability to mass produce these self-driving cars will certainly give it an edge in this growing market. Not to be outdone, Tesla is doubling up efforts, too: the company has already indicated their plan to build more Gigafactories in the near future.

The post General Motors Just Became the First Car Manufacturer to Mass Produce Autonomous Cars appeared first on Futurism.

Texas Central

Everyone knows that the US lags far behind most other countries in terms of rail travel offerings, and for many decades, the answer to increased travel demand has been to widen highways or increase flight frequencies. However, a privately funded rail company now aims to grab a piece of the pie when it comes to intra-Texas travel, which could affect the three US airlines that have a huge presence in the state.

Texas Central is planning to build a bullet train route that will cut between Dallas and Houston, trimming about 2 hours off the average driving time, and saving over an hour compared to air travel. The approximately 240-mile high-speed rail line will offer a total travel time of less than 90 minutes, with departures every 30 minutes during peak periods each day and every hour during off-peak periods — with 6 hours reserved each night for system maintenance and inspection. Texas Central plans to deploy Central Japan Railway Company’s (JRC) “N700-I Bullet” high-speed rail system based on the “Shinkansen” system.

Could a Proposed Texas Bullet Train Threaten Airlines?

Looking at flights between Dallas (both DAL and DFW) and Houston (both HOU and IAH), American flies nine daily round-trips from DFW to IAH and six to HOU, while United flies nine round-trips each weekday between DFW and IAH. Southwest flies twenty round-trips each weekday between DAL and HOU. The DAL-HOU route has been a bread and butter route for Southwest since the day it started service in 1971.

I reached out to American, Southwest and United to get their opinions on whether the train could hurt business by absorbing some of their commuting customers. American replied, saying it has no position on it.

Southwest’s response was typically colorful. Spokesperson Chris Mainz told me Southwest didn’t really have any feelings on the matter but that, “Texas already enjoys a very robust ‘high speed’ transportation system and it departs Dallas Love Field 20 times a day for Houston [Hobby Airport (HOU)].” It’s also important to note that Southwest is an entirely different airline than when it objected to the first proposal decades ago. Its size has nearly doubled, and it’s added dozens of destinations, so if a tiny fraction of its passengers on one route defect to the train, it won’t badly hurt the airline. United did not respond to our request for comment.

One can easily see the appeal for business travelers seeking to avoid the hassle of airports and cramped airplane seats with tiny tray tables. Texas Central estimates the need for each train to hold about 400 passengers, which would amount to eight train cars. In comparison, between Tokyo and Osaka, Japan Railway Company operates 16-car trains.

A Better Alternative

As a native Texan who has lived in both Dallas and Houston for 10-plus years, I’ve driven and flown between Dallas and Houston dozens of times, and there’s really not much for scenery, except during the spring when the wildflowers are blooming. The trip takes almost four hours by car on a good day, but a bad wreck on Interstate 45 can easily add two hours to that.

The company says ticket prices will be competitive with the costs of air and car travel. Plus, the train is guaranteed to give you a smooth, stress-free ride, with the opportunity to get an hour and a half of work done, without having to worry about storing your laptop and tray table at certain times. The train is also much less susceptible to weather issues than when traveling by air or car. It will have Wi-Fi, so you’ll be able to work or entertain yourself during the ride.

Could a Proposed Texas Bullet Train Threaten Airlines?

The whole project is being funded by investors, rather than state taxes and subsidies. That alone makes it so much more appealing to Texans. The construction start date will depend on permitting. Federal Railroad Administration is currently wrapping up the Environmental Impact Study. Construction could begin in late 2018 depending on the federal regulations. The overall project cost is estimated to be $12 billion, but is expected to bring a $36 billion economic benefit in its first 25 years of service.

A ridership study performed by Texas Central found that 71% of those surveyed who had traveled between Dallas and Houston within the past twelve months would “definitely” take the train, and that 90% currently choose to drive because flying saves little to no time. The study also predicted travel within the Dallas-Houston corridor to increase 2% annually between now and 2050.

All images courtesy of Texas Central.

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Saving Industries

With interest from both seasoned and startup automakers, the autonomous vehicle (AV) market is expected to grow exponentially in the coming decades. A new study conducted by research firm Strategy Analytics and commissioned by Intel predicts that driverless vehicles will constitute a $7 trillion economic value by 2050, with $4 trillion from consumer use and another $3 trillion from business use.

A change that major won’t be abrupt, of course. The study predicts that the growth will be gradual, with the market reaching $800 billion by 2035.

Business deliveries and long-haul trucking would account for much of the market value. As countries face a growing shortage of qualified truck drivers — nearly 100,000 in the U.K. and an expected 200,000 in the U.S. by 2025 — companies will be forced to turn to autonomous trucks. The concept has already made its way into pop culture, with a long scene in the movie “Logan” featuring self-driving trucks along the freeway.

In addition to long-haul shipping, the currently in-flux landscape of retail buying will also contribute to the growth of the AV market. With goods being delivered directly to homes via self-driving vehicles the same day they are requested, in-store purchases will occur less and less frequently, perhaps signaling the final blow to the already struggling brick-and-mortar retail model.

Saving Lives

Apart from detailing the economic repercussions of autonomous vehicles, the study also notes how AVs are poised to save lives. Between 2035 and 2045, self-driving cars are expected to save roughly 600,000 lives by eliminating or reducing the severity of accidents on the road. That will result in an additional savings of $234 billion in accident costs.

Autonomous Car Forecasts: When Will They Actually Be on Our Roads?
Click to View Full Infographic

The study confirms what previous studies have predicted about the life-saving potential of autonomous cars. By removing the human element, which accounts for an estimated 95 percent of car accidents, AVs could save up to 40,000 lives each year in the U.S. alone.

While early adoption will likely come from more developed countries, the study expects the bulk of the self-driving economy to be centered in Asia, with that region producing around 47 percent of revenues. Meanwhile, Europe would generate 24 percent, while 29 percent would come from the Americas.

Wherever the AV economic revolution begins, the vehicles are clearly the future of safer and more profitable transportation. We’re in for a life-changing disruption.

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Apple just had its annual developer’s conference or WWDC on June 5, and as usual, CEO Tim Cook gave a keynote where he announced the tech giant’s latest improvements in its MacOS and iOS systems. But perhaps the greatest of these software developments wasn’t revealed on the WWDC stage. Instead, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, Cook discussed one of Apple’s most intriguing work — the so-called Project Titan, its secret car project.

Well, it isn’t exactly going to be a car just yet — or maybe never? What we do know is that Apple is working on its own autonomous driving software, which Cook revealed in the interview with Bloomberg.

As Apple beefs up its artificial intelligence (AI) game, the Cupertino-based company knows that one of its best applications would be in autonomous driving systems. “Clearly one purpose of autonomous systems is self driving cars,” Cook added in the interview. “There are others. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects.”

Cook also mentioned that whatever car Apple is working on right now, it would most probably be an electric one. “I think there is a major disruption looming there. Not only for self-driving cars, but also the electrification piece,” he said.
Apple obviously understands the value of self-driving cars in the near future. By eliminating human error, which causes more than 90 percent of road accidents, autonomous cars could save up to 40,000 lives each year in the U.S. alone.

The post Apple is Building An AI Brain For Your Future Car appeared first on Futurism.

It looks like Audi is putting its production where its mouth is. A press release from Volkswagen — Audi’s parent organization — says that the car maker is ramping up production capacity for electric vehicles. The company is embracing an increased commitment to electric engines with the philosophy, “electric motors instead of internal combustion engines, batteries instead of fuel tanks.”

Image Credit: Audi

Audi is gearing up to launch their e-tron quattro, an electric SUV that is planned to release in 2018 that boasts a 500-kilometer (310-mile) range. The company is launching what it is calling an “E-factory” in its Brussels plant to help ease the transition over from traditional combustion to electric powered engines.

In the new facility, logistics will be run in the front and the rear will be home to the production line for the vehicles’ new 95 kWh battery packs. The company will not be making its own cells but will be assembling the battery packs in the house. One of Audi’s battery specialists stated in the press release: “We had to develop a whole series of new production technologies, all the way to automatic setting of the cell module into its mounts.”

[Taken] Audi is Ramping Up its Commitment to Electric Vehicles
Image Credit: Audi

When announcing the new SUV, Audi took a direct shot at Tesla’s Model X by emphasizing Audi’s model’s superior range. Pricing information is not yet available, but we will see if that added juice will be worth any extra cost.

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This Sunday afternoon, Elon Musk tweeted about the imminent Autopilot release for HW2 Suite Teslas which, as promised, will launch next weekend.

The update will be deployed only to HW2 Tesla cars (which have been in production since October, 2016), because the first-generation (HW1) cars lack sufficient computing power and sensors to handle it. This update will correct issues with the original control algorithm, which was “safe, but unpleasant,” to use Musk’s own words. Rain sensors and perpendicular parking may also be part of the update.

Image Credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Screenshot, Tesla
Tesla’s focus this time around has been on refining the control algorithm, not only to improve safety and add features like those in this update, but also to achieve the velvety smoothness that they have promised customers. It’s the finer points of the algorithm that control the tinier stops and starts, and those minor jolts are what have made the Autopilot ride less than perfect thus far. This version will hopefully prove to be both smoother and safer.

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Things are definitely looking up for SpaceX, as the company has recently enjoyed a series of achievements and accomplishments that are helping to prepare it for its planned 2030 Mars mission. SpaceX is currently busy with a number of other missions, however, the most popular of which being the private Moon mission.

But it looks like SpaceX is involved in a secret mission from the U.S. Air Force as well. This activity was revealed by Secretary Heather Wilson on Tuesday. “SpaceX will be sending the next Air Force payload up into space in August,” she said during a webcast testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee.

This payload is the Air Force’s highly secretive space drone, the X-37B. It’ll be launched aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, which first received certification from the Air Force to launch sensitive and costly payloads from the military back in 2015.

“We are excited about this new partnership on creating flexible and responsive launch options and are confident in SpaceX’s ability to provide safe and assured access to space for the X-37B program,” said Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office.

Securing private and government contracts works well for SpaceX. It provides the company with the funding needed to continue their rocket research. This capacity to further test and develop their reusable rockets will also allow SpaceX to reduce the cost of space travel.

Aside from its NASA and Air Force contracts, SpaceX’s logs list a number of private commissions, ranging from telco satellite launches to even contracts with Airbus and Bigelow Aerospace. Hopefully, this bountiful cooperation will yield widespread advancements in space exploration and travel.

The post SpaceX Secures U.S. Air Force Contract for the World’s Most Mysterious Space Drone appeared first on Futurism.

New Details On SR-72

On June 7, Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs (ADP), also known as Skunk Works, revealed new information about their hypersonic technologies. Specifically, they discussed the successor to the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft: the SR-72, a strike and reconnaissance aircraft. The SR-72 tops Mach 6, and is currently in development within the advanced aircraft-development division. According to Lockheed Martin’s statements to Aviation Week, hypersonic technologies, including a combined cycle propulsion system that blends a rocket engine and a supersonic jet engine, are sufficiently advanced to allow the planned SR-72 project to begin.

A hypersonic successor to the SR-71 has been the ultimate goal for DARPA and the Air Force (USAF) since the early 2000s. In 2013, the USAF, at last, announced that it had begun to design a scaled SR-72 demonstrator. Since that time, however, details about the program have been scarce, if the information was released at all. Here’s what we know now.

In 2006, Lockheed sought out Aerojet Rocketdyne for a partnership; it was this alliance that led to the creation of the combined cycle engine, modified from an off-the-shelf turbine. Ground tests on a combined cycle engine built with elements of both a rocket engine and a scramjet were conducted between 2013 to 2017.

Image Credit: LockheedImage Credit: Lockheed[/caption]

Hypersonics Are The Future

The advanced aircraft division is also close to launching the full-scale development of a flight research vehicle (FRV) for either piloted or remote use. This FRV should be similar to an F-22 in size and have a backup full combined cycle propulsion system. Lockheed believes they’ll be flying an FRV in the early 2020s, while the SR-72 will probably be airborne by 2030. As more details and information about the first flights are revealed, we should see more of the fascinating details of the SR-72.

“We’ve been saying hypersonics [are] two years away for the last 20 years, but all I can say is the technology is mature and we, along with DARPA and the services, are working hard to get that capability into the hands of our warfighters as soon as possible,” Lockheed Martin executive vice president and Skunk Works general manager Rob Weiss told Aviation Week.

Hypersonic planes can travel at speeds of up to 4,800 km/hour (3,000 mph), making them the ideal transportation option for long-distance travel and global emergency response efforts. In fact, after an exciting beginning with the 1967 flight of the X-15, American hypersonic research has basically stagnated. But, now that NASA has brought its X-Planes program back and both military and civilian entities are more interested in the technology along with the dynamic outer space race that has been building, it seems obvious that the coming years will reveal a renaissance of research and development into hypersonic vehicles.

The post Lockheed Confirms Secretive SR-72 Hypersonic Plane Will Be Made appeared first on Futurism.

Eliminating the Problem

How difficult is it to test autonomous vehicles (AVs) on public roads? Uber can probably tell you all about it. Much of the difficulty in obtaining the permits necessary for such tests comes from fear. Because self-driving technology is new, because the systems have been involved in incidents in the past, and so on, people aren’t quite ready to trust the tech.

The governor of Washington state, however, has a different perspective. Governor Jay Inslee signed an order on Wednesday that would allow for autonomous vehicle tests without a human driver behind the wheel. According to the governor’s official blog, the order could allow these tests to begin within the next two months. Self-driving system developers can already apply for permits for pilot program tests through the state’s Department of Licensing.

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Clearly, for Inslee, human drivers are far more dangerous than self-driving technology. “One thing I know about radar, it doesn’t drive drunk, it doesn’t drive distracted,” he said, according to The Seattle Times. “We humans are really good at a lot of things, driving cars isn’t necessarily one of them compared to the automated processes that are digital and foolproof.”

Executive Order 17-02, a copy which was obtained by The Seattle Times, quantifies the governor’s assertions: “[R]oughly 94 percent of automobile accidents are caused by human error, and autonomous vehicle technology may reduce injuries and save countless lives.”

Fast-Tracking Tech

Many people believe autonomous driving technology is still in the very early stages of development, and no company has yet achieved true Level 5 autonomy. However, developments have clearly shown that these driverless vehicles are already capable of so much, including actually saving the lives of passengers.

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Washington doesn’t want to be left behind in adopting such a game-changing technology. “Washington state is already a leader in autonomous vehicle technology. We are an early-adopter that welcomes innovation and the safe testing and operation of AVs,” Inslee said in the blog post.

Indeed, self-driving cars could potentially save the lives of as many as 300,000 to 400,000 people annually by eliminating human error, which is the cause of an estimated 94 percent of crashes. And that’s just one benefit of the tech. As Inslee added,  “AVs could help save countless lives, reclaim time spent in traffic, improve mobility, and be an important tool in our efforts to combat climate change.” As tests move forward in Washington, the rest of the world will soon find out just how valuable this technology can be.

The post Driverless Autonomous Cars Will Be on U.S. Roads in the Next 2 Months appeared first on Futurism.

The state of public transportation has arrived at an exciting juncture. It seems that technologies have finally advanced to the point that truly never before seen solutions are starting to pop up all around the world. We’re seeing the likes of autonomous taxis, flying taxis, and high-speed trains like the “mag-lev limo” concept, which promises to deliver travelers from New York to Beijing in 2 hours’ time.

Another option is readying itself to transport people around the Chinese city of Zhuzhou as soon as 2018. The “smart bus” is being developed by Chinese rail transit firm CRRC to combine the economical ease of bus systems with the modularity of subway trains, as well as the convenience and safety of autonomy.

The smart bus, or Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART), will follow a preset path guided by white dots lining the roads picked up by sensors in the trains. ART is an excellent option for smaller to medium sized cities who cannot afford to invest in the infrastructure necessary to have a subway system.

The three-car trains will be able to hold 300 people along its 6.5 km (4 mile) track. More carriages could be added to allow for a greater numbers of passengers.

This project seems like a stepping stone solution between our current transportation systems and the forthcoming high(er)-tech possibilities.

The post China to Reveal Its Autonomous Bus/Train Hybrid in 2018 appeared first on Futurism.

Euro-Hyperloop

Europe already enjoys an extensive and diverse system of railways. Still, there is always room for improvement, and an Elon Musk-inspired company is looking to introduce the continent to the next generation of travel.

Hyperloop One has unveiled their shortlist of potential European routes for their high-speed transportation project. Shervin Pishevar, the company’s co-founder and executive chairman, told CNBC, “Our vision is to, one day, connect all of Europe with our Hyperloop One system, networking the entire continent.”

The list was compiled through a global challenge initiated by Hyperloop One to find the cities that would benefit the most from the cutting-edge transportation system. According to CNBC, the proposed cities would “…connect more than 75 million people in 44 cities, spanning 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).”

The nine finalists range from a 1,991 km (1,237 mile) route through Germany to a 90 km (56 mile) route connecting Estonia to Finland. Other proposed routes would connect parts of Poland, cities in the Netherlands, the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, Spain and the north African country of Morocco, and several points in the United Kingdom.

Global Loop

Hyperloop One shared 11 potential locations in the United States for Hyperloop routes a few months ago, and in March, the company announced talks with India, adding yet another country into the fortuitous futuristic fold.

This Infographic Highlights All You Need to Know about the Hyperloop
Click to View Full Infographic

It’s no wonder so many countries are eager to welcome this technology to their regions. If the system can perform as promised, it would revolutionize how we transport not only people but also cargo. At its peak speed, a Hyperloop is expected to be capable of traveling more than 1,000 kmh (700 mph). The company boasts on its website that a trip between the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney, a distance of 878 km (546 miles), would take only 55 minutes.

A system of Hyperloops would not only make traveling easier, it would also have a positive impact on a region’s environment and economy. Ideally, the system will be able to generate more solar power than it consumes, making it an excellent green travel alternative to automobiles, trains, and airplanes. Tickets to ride could also cost as little as $25, often making the clean choice easily the best choice for travelers.

The post One of These Nine Routes Could Be Home to the First European Hyperloop appeared first on Futurism.

Toyota is amping up the race to make flying cars the vehicles of the future. Japan’s largest automobile company has invested nearly $400,000 in Cartivator Resource Management to develop a flying car for a very special purpose. Toyota is hoping that this single driver vehicle will be ready by 2020, in time to deliver the Olympic torch along its final stretch to open the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

A video was recently released showing an initial prototype being tested. These results, however, are less than spectacular, even with the interesting cinematography.

Toyota has also recently made headlines in acknowledging that their partnership with Elon Musk’s Tesla had come to a close at the end of last year. The automobile giant has since advanced their own electric car division to compete with Tesla’s popular line.

The team working on the flying car will use Toyota’s investment to improve the design of the vehicle. With these improvements, they hope that a prototype will be ready to be piloted sometime in 2019.

Their work with Cartivator is markedly more low-key than previous flying car concepts from Toyota. They introduced a futuristic concept car called the Concept-i at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This concept had a lot more bells and whistles like an emotion reading artificial intelligence named “Yui.”

It is unclear at this point if either car will take off. Perhaps Toyota can give the flying car one last fighting chance to step out of the pages of science fiction and into reality.

The post Toyota Is Eager to Bring a Flying Car to the 2020 Olympics appeared first on Futurism.

Drone Charging Patent

Imagine you are driving in an electric vehicle (EV), and you notice that you’re running low on charge. You use your smartphone — not to find a charging station, which you hope is within range, but to summon a charging drone — and you keep driving. Within minutes, a drone is hovering over your car, and your battery is charging. You never even had to leave the road.
This could be in our future if one new patent leads to a prototype and eventually a product. It is one response to the practical problem posed by the anticipated proliferation of EVs: charging infrastructure. Back in April, Tesla announced plans to double the size of its charging infrastructure in 2017, both in urban centers and along highways. These plans will bring Tesla’s total to more than 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Chargers in service all over the globe.
Image Credit: What a Future
This is a placeholder, please see https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KTjQAINWFkFzzcl4zfJHA3YCroQPhx6fj4S6EV0VS8E/edit

From Patent To Reality?

Now, while these massive expansion plans aren’t yet enough to keep up, Tesla isn’t the only entity focusing on charging points. As of 2016, these points were more plentiful in Japan than traditional fossil fuel filling stations. Proterra has developed a rapid charging system for electric transit, but it relies on the existence of charging infrastructure. Honda has designed a dynamic charging system that would recharge while the vehicle was in motion—but again, the problem is infrastructure.
While this innovative drone charging system would be revolutionary for EVs, the mere filing of a patent application does not guarantee that an invention will ever be made. In the meantime, it seems that all of the minds working on Evs need to advance solutions to solving the problem of infrastructure expansion.

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Meet the sky-taxi that could change how you get to places.

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Toyota officially ended its relationship with Elon Musk’s Tesla by selling off its remaining shares of the company by the end of last year. The Japanese automaking company began with a $50 million investment for a three percent stake in the company.

In a statement, Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai said, via Reuters, “Our development partnership with Tesla ended a while ago, and since there has not been any new developments on that front, we decided it was time to sell the remaining stake.” Interestingly, late last year, Toyota formed an electric car division of its own. So, it looks like Japan’s biggest automobile company is looking to compete for Tesla’s market share.

News from the BBC points to Toyota investing in Cartivator to develop a flying car. The startup has been crowdfunding their vehicle, the Skydrive, which has projected speeds of about 100 km/h (62 mph) and the ability to fly 10 meters (33 feet) off the ground.

Credit: CartivationCredit: Cartivation

This move directly opposes previous statements made by Elon Musk regarding flying cars. In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this year he said, “Obviously, I like flying things. But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.”

Electric cars have quickly become the clear front runner in the future of personal transportation. Still, it is exciting to see that flying cars may not altogether be DOA.

The post Toyota Severs Ties With Tesla, Launches Their Own Electric Car Division appeared first on Futurism.

India’s Electric Future

Every car sold in India from 2030 will be electric, under new government plans that have delighted environmentalists and dismayed the oil industry.

It’s hoped that by ridding India’s roads of petrol and diesel cars in the years ahead, the country will be able to reduce the harmful levels of air pollution that contribute to a staggering 1.2 million deaths per year.

India’s booming economy has seen it become the world’s third-largest oil importer, shelling out $150 billion annually for the resource – so a switch to electric-powered vehicles would put a sizable dent in demand for oil. It’s been calculated that the revolutionary move would save the country $60 billion in energy costs by 2030, while also reducing running costs for millions of Indian car owners.

India’s Energy Minister Piyush Goyal says the government will financially support the initiative for the first two or three years, but the production of electric vehicles will be “driven by demand and not subsidy” after that.

India Will Sell Only Electric Cars Within the Next 13 Years
Veeresh Malik/Flickr

Air Pollution a Big Problem in India

More than a million people die in India every year as a result of breathing in toxic fumes, with an investigation by Greenpeace finding that the number of deaths caused by air pollution is only a fraction less than the number of smoking-related deaths.

The investigation also found that 3% of the country’s gross domestic product was lost due to the levels of toxic smog.

In 2014, the World Health Organization determined that out of the 20 global cities with the most air pollution, 13 are in India.

Efforts have been made by the country’s leaders to to improve air quality, with one example coming in January 2016 when New Delhi’s government mandatedthat men could only drive their cars on alternate days depending on whether their registration plate ended with an odd or even number (single women were permitted to drive every day).

While such interventions have enjoyed modest success, switching to a fleet of purely electric cars would have a much greater environmental impact.

Indeed, it’s been calculated that the gradual switch to electric vehicles across India would decrease carbon emissions by 37% by 2030.

Oil Firms Facing Uncertain Future

As India’s ambitious electric vehicle plans begin to take shape, oil exporters will be frantically revising their calculations for oil demand in the region.

In its report into the impact of electric cars on oil demand, oil and gas giant BP forecast that the global fleet of petrol and diesel cars would almost double from about 900 million in 2015 to 1.7 billion by 2035.

Almost 90% of that growth was estimated to come from countries that are not members of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), such as India and China.

China is also gearing up for a move away from gas-guzzling cars.

Last month, the Chinese confirmed they intend to push ahead with plans that will see alternative fuel vehicles account for at least one-fifth of the 35 million annual vehicle sales projected, by 2025.

Oil bosses claim it’s too early to tell what the implications of a move away from petrol and diesel cars will be. However, Asia has long been the main driver of future oil demand and so developments in India and China will be watched extremely closely.

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It looks like the Netherlands would soon join Slovakia, and the Czech Republic as the next European country to have a Hyperloop. A Dutch team from the Technical University of Delft (TU Delft) won this year’s edition of SpaceX’s competition to develop this next generation, super-fast transport technology, and they’re already setting up a full-scale testing center.

The Dutch team’s idea will be realized by tech startup Hardt Global Mobility, in partnership with TU Delft, the Dutch national railway NS, and construction company BAM. Building the 30 meter (98 foot)  tube is the first step.

“In this facility we will test all systems that don’t require high speeds,” Hardt CEO Tim Houter told Reuters. “So think about the levitation system, but also the propulsion system, but really important, all the safety systems will be tested in this low-speed but full-scale testing facility.” The initial round of testing has already received $675,000 in funding. More would be needed for a high-speed test line by 2019 to accomplish their goal of setting up a Hyperloop system between Amsterdam and Paris by 2021.

First proposed in 2013 by SpaceX’s founder and CEO Elon Musk, the Hyperloop is transportation system for people and cargo that features pods traveling through tubes — or possibly tunnels — at roughly 1,126 k/h (700 mph). Apart from the European sites mentioned, other Hyperloop projects are already at work in Canada, Los Angeles, and Dubai.

The post A New Hyperloop System is Slated to Connect European Cities by 2021 appeared first on Futurism.

If you’ve ever wondered what the road looks like through the eyes of an autonomous vehicle, now you can find out, thanks to this video from Civil Maps. The video depicts what a self-driving car perceives using its sensors and the information it processes through its on-board computer. Civil Maps, Ford’s HD map technology company, created the video, which also shows how detailed 3D maps is combined with sensor data from radar, optical cameras, and other on-board vehicle hardware to help an autonomous vehicle understand what’s going on in the world around it.

The video shows how the car responds in use, taking things like a pedestrian crossing into account without slowing down too much, and processing messages from signs without “overthinking.” (For more on this from Anuj Gupta, the product manager for Civil Maps, see his post on Medium.)

The video also shows the car using the mapping and localization tech at higher speeds of up to 113 kph (70 mph) on a freeway, providing a fairly convincing case for the tech. As early data suggests that self-driving cars are safer than those driven by humans, this kind of autonomous driving tech could be used to make commuters safer.

The post This Is What the World Looks Like to Synthetic Intelligences appeared first on Futurism.

Four Thorough but Fast Steps

Some are already embracing the seeming inevitability of autonomous vehicles. And why not? Self-driving cars are expected to make our daily commutes safer and more comfortable. However, in order to ensure that these driverless vehicles actually deliver on their promise, car manufacturers need to evaluate their performance and decide whether or not each system is road-worthy.

Autonomous Car Forecasts: When Will They Actually Be on Our Roads?
Click to View Full Infographic

Unfortunately, such tests can take an absurd amount of time. “Even the most advanced and largest-scale efforts to test automated vehicles today fall woefully short of what is needed to thoroughly test these robotic cars,” according to Huei Peng, a researcher from the University of Michigan (U-M). To that end, he and his colleague Ding Zhao have developed a four-step accelerated approach to evaluate autonomous vehicles.

Peng and Zhao outlined their approach in a white-paper published by a U-M-led public-private partnership called Mcity. Developed using more than 25 million miles of real-world driving data collected over two years from about 3,000 vehicles and volunteers, their testing system could potentially reduce the time needed to evaluate how driverless cars handle dangerous situations by 300 to 100,000 times, reducing testing time and costs by 99.9 percent.

Making a Life-Saving Technology Safer

Fear of something new is a normal human reaction, and autonomous vehicles are no exception. According to the U-M research, tests for self-driving cars would have to demonstrate with 80 percent confidence that the systems are 90 percent safer than human drivers. That would require about 300,000 to 100 million miles of real-world driving tests. Their approach cuts that to just 1,000 miles of testing by breaking down difficult real-world driving situations into a condensed set of repeatable simulations.

Image credit: Mcity
Image credit: Mcity

Previous studies have shown that self-driving cars can save lives by eliminating the number one cause of car crashes: human error. Even if a car is autonomous, however, the other cars on the road may not be. To that end, human drivers were one of the threats to safety considered by the U-M researchers’ system, with a focus on the two most common “meaningful interactions” between man and machine that could result in car crashes: an autonomous vehicle following a human driver and a human driver merging in front of a self-driving car.

Though still in development, the U-M researchers’ approach could get autonomous vehicles on the roads sooner, thereby allowing us to benefit from their life-saving potential faster. The researchers themselves clearly see the remarkable potential of their work: “While more research and development needs to be done to perfect this technique, the accelerated evaluation procedure offers a ground-breaking solution for safe and efficient testing that is crucial to deploying automated vehicles.”

The post A New Approach to Testing Autonomous Cars is 99.9% Faster and Cheaper appeared first on Futurism.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are well on their way to taking control of the road, leaving behind fossil fuel guzzling gasoline-powered cars and trucks. Still, there is a long way to go before the world is prepared to accommodate fleets of clean energy EVs. Perhaps a convenient and affordable stopgap is in order.

Image credit: GogoroImage Credit: Gogoro

Taiwanese company Gogoro may have an appropriate solution. They recently announced a new model of scooter, called the Gogoro 2, which will be available in Taiwan within the coming months. According to The Verge, the scooters “can go 0-50 km/hr in 4.3 seconds, has a top speed of 90 km/hr (about 55 miles per hour), and a 110km range (about 68 miles) The multicolor scooters are capable of going from 0-50 km/hr in 4.3 seconds.”

The Gogoro 2 will set you back NT$38,800 ($1,295 USD). That is, if they ever become available outside of Taiwan. The company says they will be available in other markets before the end of the year but that cold just refer to their inclusion in its international sharing fleets.

*2* Electric Scooters Could Help Get Us Ready for the Future of Clean Energy Transport

More widespread use of scooters could be an excellent addition to the rise in the use of EVs. However, one of the limitations of these emerging technologies is shared between them. Setting up the infrastructure to support a shift to electric transportation is a considerable hurdle that needs to be overcome.

Still, these scooters could be an important tool to help mitigate the use of fossil fuels for transportation, especially in urban environments where shorter ranges are not a hindrance. Programs like CitiBike have proved successful and scooter sharing could be the necessary bridge between our current means of getting around and a completely clean energy future.

The post Powerful Electric Scooters Could Be the Future of Urban Transportation appeared first on Futurism.

Battery Wars Power Change

Between now and 2021, battery production all over the world will more than double, Bloomberg reports. With more companies getting into the game, expansion and competition are up, and prices are down. This will mean more opportunities for energy companies and electric car manufacturers, and better deals for consumers looking to purchase clean powered technology for less money.

Gigafactory One in Nevada is Tesla’s battery producer at the moment. Daimler, the parent company of Chrysler, Maybach, and Mercedes, will be buying batteries from Accumotive’s brand new plant in Kamenz, Germany, which just broke ground this week. The installation of large-scale battery factories, which will supply Renault, Volkswagen, and others, are also planned in Hungary, Poland, and Sweden.

Asia’s battery manufacturing industry will also be booming. BYD, LG, Samsung, and Tesla’s partner, Panasonic, are all major global battery producers. Right now, at least nine major new factories are being built in China.

Experts Predict EVs Could Be Cheaper Than Gas-Powered Cars by 2030

 

Greener Highways

Batteries make up about 40% of the cost of electric cars, and so with this increased competition and the resulting drop in the price of these batteries is going to cause the cost of electric cars to fall. Benchmark Minerals reports that costs per-kilowatt-hour have dropped from $542 in 2012 to $139 where they are now. Benchmark analysts indicate that kWh costs will plummet beneath the $100 mark by 2020.

All things considered, Bloomberg speculates that the 2020s will see the real rise of electric cars — including their eventual overtaking of gasoline-powered cars in both cost and value. “As battery costs fall and their energy density increases, we could see cheaper battery-electric cars than their fuel-burning equivalents by 2030,” Bloomberg analyst Nikolas Soulopoulos commented in their report.

Will costs drop too low for electric car companies to make a profit? It’s unlikely. India is aiming to ensure that all cars sold in the country are electric by 2030, and China is already replacing its enormous taxi system with electric cars. Tesla is also preparing to produce Model 3s on a massive scale for a broader market. And with all of this progress for electric cars, humans gain cleaner air, better public health, and more traction in the fight against climate change. So, while the fight against climate change will continue to be an uphill battle, the more countries, companies, and individuals that adopt technology that uses greener energy, the farther along we will be.

 

The post Experts Predict EVs Could Be Cheaper Than Gas-Powered Cars by 2030 appeared first on Futurism.

Blockchain And Driverless Cars

At Consensus 2017 on Monday, Toyota announced a plan to use blockchain to amass driving data that will help them development driverless cars. The move could also decrease insurance costs for drivers, as well as pave the way for new carpooling solutions. Chris Ballinger, chief officer of Strategic Innovation at Toyota, said in a statement from the company:

Hundreds of billions of miles of human driving data may be needed to develop safe and reliable autonomous vehicles…Blockchains and distributed ledgers may enable pooling data from vehicle owners, fleet managers, and manufacturers to shorten the time for reaching this goal, thereby bringing forward the safety, efficiency, and convenience benefits of autonomous driving technology.

Autonomous Car Forecasts: When Will They Actually Be on Our Roads?
Click to View Full Infographic

Customers will have access to their own data, Toyota confirmed. If the information derived from sensors in a car is stored in a blockchain, customers will be able to give their insurance companies “increased transparency to reduce fraud, plus granting them access to driving data to measure safe driving habits,” Toyota wrote in the statement. Neha Narula, director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, said in the statement that she was “excited Toyota is spearheading this initiative that uses blockchain technology to create an open platform where users can control their driving data.”

Blockchain Revolution

Blockchain is a new way to record and store data in a transparent, public ledger. Each piece of information (called a “block”) in the chain is linked to the others cryptographically, making the system tamper-proof unless a hacker attacked every computer holding the information simultaneously.

Toyota’s use of blockchain shows that the system can extend far beyond the financial and cryptocurrency. It has the potential to be applied and revolutionize almost any sector. Its significance lies in its security, speed, and lack of middlemen or bureaucracy.

Simon Taylor, a former executive of Barclays who helped lead the bank’s blockchain efforts, said in a U.K. Government Office for Science video that “if the internet bought us near instant digital communications, then the blockchain brings us near instant asset transfer, asset movement, and security of data movement.”

Blockchain has already been used effectively in a number of areas: The U.N. is using Ethereum (one of the biggest blockchains) to ensure money reaches the people it was intended to, and they estimate they will help 500,000 by 2018; Imogen Heap is applying it to the music industry to try and ensure artists get paid fairly; and Walmart is using it to track down contaminated food sources. Blockchain’s applications continue to expand, with some saying it even potentially has the power to change the very nature of the internet.

The post Toyota Is Using Blockchain to Get Its Self-Driving Cars on the Roads Sooner appeared first on Futurism.

Update Possibilities

Today on Twitter, Elon Musk got into an interesting conversation with some Tesla fans. First, he was asked about the possibility of adding a wireless hotspot:

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The idea was popular, and led to an additional request for a 360-degree view:

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This function, which is already in development, could allow for a complete 360-degree view while driving. And, as Electrek reports, the idea of the hotspot is not new, but fan popularity might give it more traction.

Image Credit: Tesla Motors
Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Next For Tesla

Musk has also been talking about Tesla updates to the Autopilot system that are coming soon.

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Originally, Musk’s plan was to have every Tesla fully autonomous by sometime in 2017. Tesla will be conducting a coast to coast test drive this year, during which the human driver is expected not to take over control at all. At TED 2017, Musk confirmed that future Teslas on the road may be as autonomous as the coast to coast test car.

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According to Inverse, Musk has already stated that if autonomous driving demands upgrades to the computers in any of the Tesla models, the design should make the process simple. The updates are going to make Teslas even safer, so it’s easy to see why fans are so excited.

The post Tesla’s Next Update Could Include In-Car WiFi and a 360-Degree View appeared first on Futurism.

Coast-To-Coast

In a Twitter session earlier, Elon Musk revealed new details concerning the coast-to-coast test of Tesla’s autonomous cars and updates to existing Tesla software.

He said that the coast-to-coast test is still on track to take place at the end of the year, and that all Tesla cars built since October 2016 would be updated. The plan, announced in a Ted Talk last month, is to “go all the way from a parking lot in California to a parking lot in New York with no controls touched in the entire journey.”

There are also updates concerning the autonomous driving system for Tesla vehicles. In response to some finding the driving experience uncomfortable after the speed limit was lifted last month, the company has updated the software for a smoother ride, and now the experience is “as smooth as silk.”

The speed limit on the vehicles was limited to 145 km per hour (90 mph) on highways and no more than 8 km per hour (5 mph) over the speed limit when off highway. In addition to this, the new update should feature a perpendicular parking capability and auto windshield-wipers.

Driverless Cars

This is the latest in a series of updates concerning Musk’s plans for a driverless future. Earlier this month, he revealed that he wants beat traffic by digging tunnels under Los Angeles with his Boring Company.

7 Benefits of Driverless Cars
Click to View Full Infographic

Musk is adamant about the safety of autonomous vehicles, saying at a press conference that people who opposes them are “killing people.” His vision was  reinforced by Morgan Stanley’s Tesla analyst Adam Jonas, who said to Electrek, “if the company achieves its goal, [it would] be an order of magnitude (i.e. 10x) safer than the average car on the road.”

Musk’s goal is to give his Tesla vehicles completely autonomy in order to make them safer and faster: the test at the end of the year and the new software updates move him — and us — closer to that future.

The post Elon Musk: Tesla’s Autonomous Car Will Drive Coast-To-Coast by 2018 appeared first on Futurism.

Apple recently obtained a permit to begin testing autonomous vehicles. For some, this will confirm long suspected beliefs that Apple has been getting into the transportation game. While nothing is yet confirmed, this can only support the idea that autonomous vehicles are here and here to stay.

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Flying Cars? Really?

Flying cars have been a fixture of science fiction for just about as long as it’s been an understood and practiced genre. Vehicles that can gracefully swoop around each other above our heads have, for so long, been out of reach, but more people than ever are currently working on seemingly plausible models of real-life flying cars.

So, let’s take a tour of our progress on the path to the flying car, starting with its earliest iterations. The team over at Part Catalog has helped us out by providing the gifs below.

Flying Car Hybrids

These vehicles, especially in the earlier years, look more like cars affixed to airplane wings than what you would imagine a flying car should look like. However, you can notice that the vehicles get a whole lot sleeker as the years move on.

*2* How Close Are we Really to Flying Cars?

1917 Curtiss Autoplane

1937 Waterman Aerobile

1947 ConVairCar Model 118

1966 Aero-Car

1971 AVE Mizar

2009 Terrafugia Transition

2014 AeroMobil 3.0

2017 AeroMobil 4.0

Heli Cars

These heli cars are, essentially, helicopters, but recent models are decidedly futuristic, crafted out of sustainable materials and powered by artificial intelligence (AI) software.

*2* How Close Are we Really to Flying Cars?

1923 Pitcairn PCA-2

1936 Autogiro Company of America AC-35

1965 Wagner Aerocar

2012 PAL-V

Hover Bikes

Take a large drone and attached a saddle to it, then step back to admire your new hover bike. These vehicles could provide an interesting alternative to the larger vehicles that many are designing. Who knows? This type of technology could morph into real-world pod racers.

*2* How Close Are we Really to Flying Cars?

1958 Curtiss-Wright VZ-7

1959 Chrysler VZ-6

1962 Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep

2008 Aeroflex Hover Bike

2017 Kitty Hawk Flyer

Turbine-Powered Craft

These strange crafts originally looked a lot like the typical UFO you’d find in an old movie. But, as you can see, they have developed into what many might see as the “classic” flying car design over the years.

*2* How Close Are we Really to Flying Cars?

1962 Moller XM-2

1989 Moller M200X

1990 Sky Commuter

2003 Moller M400 Sky-car

2009 Urban Aeronautics X-Hawk

2021 Terrafugia TF-X (concept included as Terrafugia has produced an actual flying car before with the Terrafugia Transition)

Speaking Realistically

As more and more inventors and companies hop on the flying car bandwagon, little question has remained as to whether or not creating these vehicles is possible. It is, and many flying cars are already ready for action. The real question is how realistic it would be to use them in real-world settings. Having the technology isn’t enough. It’s needs to be practical as well. The flying car is here, but are we ready for it?

The post How Close Are We Really to Flying Cars? appeared first on Futurism.

Plasma Jet Engines

Imagine a jet engine that could propel an aircraft faster than a traditional engine, taking all the way to the edge of the atmosphere, all without burning fossil fuels — and for a low cost. That’s exactly what plasma jet engines should be able to do, although thus far they have been confined to research labs, mostly those focusing on using the engines to move satellites and other spacecraft. Now researchers from the Technical University of Berlin are working to bring them out of the lab and into the sky. 

Flying on Wings of Plasma [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Instead of burning fuel and compressed air and then shoving the results out of the back of an engine to cause a forward propulsion, a plasma jet engine mimics a fusion reactor or a star. It creates electricity by exciting and compressing gas into a plasma, and then generating an electromagnetic field. Led by Berkant Göksel, the research team aims to marry the plasma engine and the passenger jet to come up with something that could fly at very high altitudes but still take off and land.

“We are the first to produce fast and powerful plasma jets at ground level,” Göksel told New Scientist. “These jets of plasma can reach speeds of up to 20 kilometers a second.”

To The Edge Of Space?

Several obstacles are still standing between the plasma jet engine that can carry us to the edge of space and reality. First, Göksel’s team was using tiny plasma thrusters — about 80 millimeters in length. It would take around 10,000 of these little thrusters to propel a standard commercial-size aircraft, so the current design is a non-starter. For now, Göksel’s team intends to use 100 to 1,000 thrusters to move a smaller airship or plane, which ought to be feasible.

Like anything else that runs on electricity — especially something that needs so much electricity — the biggest problem that even the tiny version of the plasma thrusters face is the need for batteries. They need to be lightweight enough to avoid being counterproductive, yet have enough capacity to supply the needed power. The fact that the ultimate goal is making the thrusters bigger only exacerbates the issue. So far, this problem hasn’t been solved: “An array of thrusters would require a small electrical power plant, which would be impossible to mount on an aircraft with today’s technology,” the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Dan Lev told New Scientist.

Göksel and his team are, thus far, relying on outside power breakthroughs to bridge this gap. Improvements in solar panels or compact fusion reactors for use on aircraft or spacecraft could be exactly what this system needs. Until something develops on that front, though, the team intends to create a hybrid craft that uses either rockets or pulse detonation combustion engines to fill in the gaps left by the plasma engine.

The post Get Ready For Low-Cost Jet Engines That Reach Space Without Burning Fossil Fuels appeared first on Futurism.

The Marvel of Magnetic Levitation

Using magnets to propel trains is not a new technology but it is still far from being perfected or even just implemented on a large scale. There are currently only four operating systems in the world that rely on magnetic levitation. Two of the trains operate in China, the others are located in Japan and South Korea.

A video from YouTube channel Veritasium takes a look at the technology on a much smaller scale. Host Derek Muller talks to Casey Handmer, Levitation Engineer at Hyperloop One, who shows off the principles of the levitation behind Hyperloop’s transportation system using a 47 kg (105 lb) quadcopter.

Muller explains how the spinning magnets create the lift necessary to levitate the machine, and how the specific configuration of the magnets focuses its power in the desired direction.

Recently, Elon Musk let it slip that his Boring Company tunnels will work in tandem with Hyperloop’s pods. The system would use levitation technology to propel these pods at speeds exceeding 600 mph.

Hyperloop systems are not the only in development around the world, although they are the most high profile. Another train is in development in China that could connect people between distances similar to the distance between New York and Atlanta in less than two hours.

The post Watch: Magnetic Levitation Lifts 105-Pound Quadcopter appeared first on Futurism.

Diesel’s Death Knell

Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly becoming a juggernaut in the future of personal vehicles. Tesla is leading the charge in bringing electric cars to the mainstream. Now, other companies looking to capitalize on that momentum are joining in on the fun. Volvo’s President and CEO, Hakan Samuelsson, recently talked to a German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, about how the Swedish car company is ramping up its plans for EVs.

Not only are they looking to expand on electric engines, but the CEO also mentioned in the interview that they will no longer pursue developing diesel engines. “From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines.”

Photo source: VolvoImage credit: Volvo

This announcement comes shortly after Elon Musk gave the world a first look at Tesla’s upcoming all-electric semi-truck.

Samuelsson explained further in an email to Reuters, “We have just launched a brand new generation of petrol and diesel engines, highlighting our commitment to this technology. As a result, a decision on the development of a new generation of diesel engines is not required.”

Thanks Tesla

Samuelsson admits that Tesla is the driving force behind the decision to focus on EVs. “We have to recognize that Tesla has managed to offer such a car for which people are lining up. In this area, there should also be space for us, with high quality and attractive design,” he said in the email.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Volvo does not intend to completely phase out the further development of its latest diesel engine — it will continue to upgrade the engines to meet tightening emissions standards. Samuelsson expects these stricter environmental standards to add to the price of diesel engines, giving an additional advantage to electric engines. Reuters reports that Goldman Sachs estimates an additional cost of more than $330 to each engine.

The Volvo EVs are expected to become available in 2019 and cost something in the range of $35,000 to $40,000. Volvo is hoping to release the cars with a range of roughly 402 kilometers (250 miles) per charge. These additions to the EV market will give commuters more options than ever to reduce their carbon footprints.

The post Volvo Says That They Will Stop Making Diesel Engines, Thanks to Tesla appeared first on Futurism.

Swaying Public Opinion

Since Autopilot was first added to each Tesla vehicle in September 2014, Elon Musk’s company has continued to improve the already impressive autonomous driving system. Step by step, Autopilot’s software and hardware have been incrementally advanced. It has learned from human driver behavior, leading to the creation and improvement of its Auto Lane Change, Autopark, Autosteer, Summon, and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control features. The ultimate goal? Level 5 autonomy, the ability to navigate the roads with zero interaction from a human driver.

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

More than one million people die in traffic accidents every single year due to human error, and in March, a Morgan Stanley analyst stated that Tesla’s Model 3 and its Autopilot system may be an order of magnitude safer than every other car on the road. However, many of us humans remain unconvinced when it comes to self-driving cars. Some people fear new technologies generally, while others just see autonomous cars as a potential threat, even when the data stating otherwise is staring them in the face.

According to Musk, human-driven cars are the obvious threat to safe transportation, and every time a critical voice speaks out against the technology, they impede the inevitably safer roads that will follow the widespread adoption of autonomous systems. In 2016, he didn’t mince words when he told the press that vocal self-driving vehicle skeptics and members of the press who unfairly focus on the flaws of such systems are essentially “killing people.”

A Safer Future

In 2015, the United States saw a 50-year record high in roadway deaths and injuries — 38,300 fatalities and 4.4 million injuries, to be exact. Yet a single U.S. crash in a Tesla Model S — one being operated improperly, with the human driver watching a movie — led to intense scrutiny and an investigation into the system.

Human error causes about 95 percent of all traffic fatalities, and 41 percent of all human error fatalities are caused by “recognition errors.” According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), those include inattention, distraction, or inadequate surveillance on the part of the driver. Barring outright failure or computational aberration, self-driving vehicles just don’t have these problems, and usage of autonomous systems in lieu of human drivers takes these potentially fatal driving flaws out of the equation.

Musk believes that humanity’s future includes self-driving cars. How we feel about those autonomous systems won’t stop that future from arriving. A continued stubborn preference for a far more dangerous system that we already know without any doubt results in accidents, injuries, and deaths means pain, suffering, and lost money, time, and lives. Maybe it’s time to listen to Musk and let our best drivers take the wheel for us.

The post Elon Musk: People Skeptical of Autonomous Cars Are Essentially “Killing People” appeared first on Futurism.

Boring Through Traffic

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk is ready to conquer space, roads, roofs, and now even tunnels. What started out as a simple musing on Twitter has become a full-blown startup aptly named The Boring Company. Today (May 17), the company added a FAQ page to their website, which offers an abundance of new information about their specific goals.

The most notable announcement that was finally confirmed? The Hyperloop.

The FAQ explains that Musk’s initial inspiration was: “to solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic.” The solution is to go three-dimensional, which could be done using flying cars — an idea Musk doesn’t think is very viable — or to go underground. “The other option is to ‘go down’ and build tunnels,” the website states, as these provide a fair amount of perks, including weatherproofing and the practically limitless layers of tunnels that could be built…much better than malfunctioning cars potentially plummeting from the sky.

But there is a problem. First, there’s the cost. Second, existing tunnels can’t support the Hyperloop pods. Musk’s new company is out to fix this.

“Currently, tunnels are really expensive to dig, with some projects costing as much as $1 billion per mile. In order to make a tunnel network feasible, tunneling costs must be reduced by a factor of more than 10,” explains the new FAQ. To make the tunnel more cost effective and efficient, its diameter is going to be less than 4 meters (14 feet) — whereas normal tunnels (one-lane road tunnels) are usually about 8.5 meters (28 feet) in diameter. To do this, Musk’s tunnel company would use what it calls an “electric sled.”

Musk’s Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) — or Godot — is ready to start digging the first among these network of tunnels. However, as the TBM isn’t even as fast as a snail yet, Musk is determined to find ways to make tunnel digging faster — “to defeat the snail in a race” by increasing the TBM’s speed, which will also cut down costs.

Hyperloop Confirmed

So, there’s now a place to start digging this tunnel under Los Angeles and a machine to do it. But what is this tunnel really meant for? At first, many thought Musk’s tunnels would be like every other tunnel – except they would be longer and could potentially connect “LAX to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood and Sherman Oaks,” as Musk said in an Instagram post.

However, as mentioned above, more details have come to light.

This Infographic Highlights All You Need to Know about the Hyperloop
Click to View Full Infographic

Since the company’s introduction, many (including Futurism) have speculated that the tunnels’ true purpose was to work in tandem with the Hyperloop. This is the real clincher here. It seems like The Boring Company isn’t just going to be for cars. “The electric skate can transport automobiles, goods, and/or people. And if one adds a vacuum shell, it is now a Hyperloop Pod which can travel at 600+ miles per hour,” the site explains.

The Hyperloop is another idea from Musk that is set to revolutionize transportation. It promises to connect individuals around the globe, making long-distance travel both speedy and remarkably affordable.

Initially discussed in 2013, the transport system would use a propulsion based on electromagnetism that could propel pods forward in vacuum-sealed steel tunnel at unprecedented speeds.

Cities in Europe, America, and the Middle East have expressed interest in adopting their own Hyperloop tracks, and study groups are at work making the concept a reality.While he doesn’t have a company working directly on Hyperloop technology, Musk has been behind several initiatives to turn it into a reality. Now, with The Boring Company, Musk is building a platform to launch and test the various Hyperloop efforts he helped put into motion.

The post Elon Musk Has Finally Confirmed What the Boring Tunnels He’s Making Are For appeared first on Futurism.

The Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020 may feature a new commercial flying car from Toyota. If it’s ready in time, the Skydrive may even light the torch. A team of volunteers and university professionals are collaborating on a model that could take off from any public road and fly at heights up to 33 feet. Toyota is ready to put billions on the line to hit their target.

The post One Reason to Look Forward to the Tokyo Olympics? Flying Cars appeared first on Futurism.

The MOAR Fat Tired E-Bike is an all electric road and dirt bike with performance that exceeds anything we’ve seen before. The 750W motor creates enough power to pull an SUV.

The post Tow an SUV With This Incredible Electric Bike appeared first on Futurism.

The SkyDrive

Toyota is throwing its hat into the flying car ring, backing the “SkyDrive” flying car, the brainchild of a startup called Cartivator. The drone-esque, 2.9 meter (9.5 foot) long SkyDrive vehicle is designed to max out at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62 mph) as it floats 10 meters (33 feet) above the ground. It would be simple and intuitive enough for a non-pilot to control, and could simply take off from the regular old highway.

Cartivator consists of about 30 volunteers led by Tokushima University drone expert Masafumi Miwa, but they’re not going it alone. They’re also backed by Toyota’s mechanical engineers, not to mention its 40 million yen ($353,000). The group is also getting support from Taizo Sun, the founder of GungHoOnline Entertainment, along with an enthusiastic group of crowdfunders who have pledged about 2.5 million yen ($22,000) to help the group meet its goal: getting SkyDrive in the air by 2018 and commercialized in time to be the torchbearer for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.

Toyota isn’t the only big company who’s looking to get in on the perennial flying car dream. Ehang of China, Lilium Aviation of Germany, AeroMobil, Uber, and the Kitty Hawk startup project from Larry Page are all working on flying cars. Anything related to developing aircraft is heavily regulated — particularly in the U.S. — making each step of the way cost extensive amounts of money and time. According to Kazuyuki Okudaira of Nikkei Asian Review, Toyota’s leadership is taking a pro-innovation investment standpoint on the flying car issue: “Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada decided ‘things will not progress if you wait and provide money only when the technology is ready.’”

The post Toyota is Making a Flying Car to Light the 2020 Olympic Torch appeared first on Futurism.

EVs Are the Future

As a number of car manufacturers — including industry veterans like Volkswagen and Ford — begin to take the electric vehicle market more seriously, finding innovative ways to introduce new EVs has become essential. Of course, EVs are already marvels of innovation, but Chinese startup Nio sees a lot of room for improvement in the field.

Autonomous Car Forecasts: When Will They Actually Be on Our Roads?
Click to View Full Infographic

For Nio’s CEO Padmasree Warrior, this means approaching the EV — and the car industry in general — differently. “The problem with today’s car is they try to emulate the smartphone interface and smartphone capability into the car. But the smartphone is not just a better cell phone, it’s fundamentally a very different device,” she told Business Insider. “We want to be the first company that builds the next-generation mobile space.”

This means engineering EVs in a totally different way, just like how the smartphone completely reimagined the mobile device. The ultimate goal is to bring automobiles into the future. “We want humans to get their time back free from the chore of driving,” Warrior explained. “Our vision of the car is a computer on wheels.”

Autonomous Takeover

Following in the footsteps of Tesla — arguably the best EV manufacturer out right now — Nio plans to integrate self-driving technologies into its vehicles. The company’s first release won’t be the concept car it introduced a month ago, but an electric SUV set to debut in China in 2018. The Nio ES8, launched at the Auto Shanghai motor show last month, will be a seven-seater that’s capable of Level 2 autonomy.

Image credit: Nio
Image credit: Nio

Just like Tesla’s current lineup, Nio’s SUV will serve as a testing ground for its more advanced self-driving technology. The company plans to gather as much data as it can from the vehicle to use to build an EV with Level 4 autonomy, most likely the Nio Eve. That vehicle would be launched in the U.S. market by 2020.

Image credit: Nio
Image credit: Nio

Building an autonomous EV is a strategy not unique to Nio, of course. So what makes Nio’s ideas better? Warrior said that Nio wants to build a “living space that moves you.” In other words, the company thinks autonomous vehicles should be comfortable, high-tech environments in which riders can watch movies, take conference calls, and even sleep. To that end, the company is also in the process of developing wireless charging technology t0 integrate into its vehicles.

In short, Nio wants to develop a new autonomous EV experience, and that experience could arrive sooner than you may think.

The post Tesla Competitor: “Our Vision of the Car Is a Computer on Wheels” appeared first on Futurism.

Recently, developers at Delft University have developed a steel-infused asphalt that can be heated to get rid of potholes, cracks and loose stones, thereby saving millions on road repairs. The technology works by adding steel wool to bitumin, the binding agent that asphalt usually uses to hold the tiny stones together

Christopher Schlangen, a PhD student at Deflt University, has shown that if asphalt that contains these steel fibers is heated using an induction machine, the bitumin melts and therefore cracks and potholes rejoin. This could double their lifespan. Although he uses a microwave rather than an induction machine in the TED Talk below, its enough to show you the premise.

The potential to heal roads has a multitude of positive consequences. Firstly, there are the economic impacts: Schlangen estimates that the Dutch government could save 9 million by implementing his roads, despite the 25% more money they require to install.

In addition to this, self-healing roads would mean fewer loose stones to flick up and chip windscreens, fewer potholes to damage axles or wheels, and fewer roads being closed for repair.

Although he is focusing on a means of perfecting his healing formula, Schlangen envisages a possible future use: charging cars at traffic lights. He said that “putting steel fibers in the asphalt means that you can send information to it, so it might be possible to charge electric cars on the road they’re driving on.

These discoveries are similar to recent developments made in self-healing concrete by Cardiff University. Their project involves using bacteria to create self-healing concrete, according to the same principles as bone remineralization.

The post The Next Revolution in Transport? Roads That Heal Themselves appeared first on Futurism.

An Otherworldly Concept

Each year, automakers around the world release futuristic concept cars that force us to reconsider our notion of what a vehicle is, both in terms of looks and functionality. Now, one company is doing the same thing, but instead of reinventing the sedan or pickup truck, they’ve offered their take on a Mars rover.

Through a partnership with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Parker Brothers Concepts has built a six-wheeled, all-electric rover designed specifically to meet the challenges of exploring the surface of Mars. The estimated weight of the vehicle is 5,000 pounds, and it’s a staggering 28 feet long, so you definitely wouldn’t see it rolling down a highway here on Earth. Although it does reportedly have a max speed of 96 to 112 kmh (60 to 70 mph).

One of the rover’s creators, Marc Parker, told Business Insider that NASA provided his company with parameters for the vehicle. They then used that input to design and build their Batmobile-esque creation, which Parker calls “a dual-purpose vehicle.” “It actually separates in the middle,” he explained. “The rear section is a full lab, the front area is a cockpit for going out and doing scouting.”

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The Roving Rover

Just a few days after its unveiling in Florida, the rover is already getting people excited about Mars exploration, and that excitement should only grow over the coming months. This summer, the vehicle will travel to various U.S. cities as part of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center’s “Summer of Mars” event, and after that, it will be included in a new “astronaut training experience” opening at the center this fall.

The impact of the rover won’t be limited to those who see it in person, either. “We’re also filming for a reality television series that’s going to be coming out about this build,” said Parker, who claims the show will be released on “one of the bigger cable networks.”

Like most concept cars, the Parker Brothers’ rover won’t actually see any practical action, but it could serve as a prototype for future vehicles. More importantly, it could inspire interest in space exploration, in which case its creation will have been well worth the effort.

The post NASA’s Mars Rover Concept Looks Like the Batmobile appeared first on Futurism.

So Boring

Our modern-day DaVinci, Elon Musk, is hard at work bringing his latest venture, the Boring Company, to fruition. The company’s aim is to create a network of tunnels to accommodate a high-speed transit system, and Musk just sent out a torrent of updates via Twitter and Instagram containing pictures and video of its latest achievements.

His first tweet signaled that the beginnings of the tunnel are complete. The tunneling machine, Boring 1 (or Godot), now has a proper entry hole, staging area, and starting tunnel.

Entry hole, staging area and starting tunnel for Boring Machine 1 (aka Godot) now complete

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 12, 2017 at 5:25am PDT

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Musk plans for the first tunnel to “run from LAX to Culver City, Santa Monica, Westwood and Sherman Oaks” and for future extensions to cover the entirety of greater Los Angeles, an area spanning 87,940 square kilometers (33,954 square miles).

Naturally, given the nature of the geography of Southern California, many commenters are concerned about how the tunnels would stand up to earthquakes. Musk allayed those fears by responding in the affirmative when asked if the tunnels will be “earthquake-proof.”

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Godot is a massive machine whose speed has been compared to that of a snail. However, Musk has plans to ratchet up its pace by a factor of ten. The machine, once completely assembled, will be more than 100 feet long.

Cutterhead in operation at standard industry speed. Planning to jack this up by a factor of ten or more.

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on May 12, 2017 at 5:35am PDT

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Tunnel Skates

The purpose of the Boring Company is to cut travel time in the notoriously congested Los Angeles area. To that end, Musk claims the tunnel will allow travel between the L.A. neighborhood of Westwood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in only five minutes.

Vehicles will be transported through the tunnels on platforms, called skates or sleds, powered by electricity at speeds of up to 200 kmh (125 mph). He posted a video of a skate at work.

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It seems like Musk is a man of his word. Less than six months after tweeting that he was going to “build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…,” he has done just that. At the beginning, even he emphatically admitted, “We have no idea what we’re doing—I want to be clear about that.” Now, he is well on his way to making this dream a reality.

With a hand in SpaceX, Tesla, Hyperloop, and now the Boring Company, Musk seems poised to monopolize the future of ground (and apparently underground) transportation.

The post Elon Musk Just Released Breakthrough Updates About His New Company appeared first on Futurism.

From Seeing Red to Seeing Green

Each year, American drivers lose $160 billion, 7 billion hours, and countless cheery dispositions to traffic congestion. That averages out to $960 and 42 hours for every rush-hour commuter. Advocates for are hopeful that removing human drivers from the equation will help alleviate the problem, but some are concerned that a real impact won’t be felt until the majority of cars on the road are self-driving. Now, a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (U of I) suggests that might not be the case at all.

Some traffic jams have obvious causes — an accident, a motorcade, construction — but some seem to happen for no reason at all. These “phantom traffic jams” — caused by a single driver slowing down, setting off a chain reaction of slowing vehicles behind them — are the kind the researchers at U of I focused on in their study. They learned that injecting a single autonomous car into a group of 20 that were manned by human drivers could have a profound effect on the formation of phantom traffic jams.

“Our experiments show that with as few as 5 percent of vehicles being automated and carefully controlled, we can eliminate stop-and-go waves caused by human driving behavior,” said Daniel B. Work, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a lead researcher in the study, in a university news release.

During the experiment, the autonomous vehicle controlled its braking in a way that reduced the number of times a human driver behind it had to hit their brakes: from nine to a maximum of 2.5 times for every kilometer (.62 miles) driven. The total fuel consumed by the vehicles was also reduced by up to 40 percent.

Beyond the Traffic

According to the research team, not only do we not have to wait until all the cars on the road are autonomous to feel the impact they can have on our transportation system — we don’t even need to wait for any to be fully autonomous. Some technology that’s currently available can automatically adjust speed to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles — which can have a major impact on safety.

“Fully autonomous vehicles in common traffic may be still far away in the future due to many technological, market and policy constraints,” explained researcher Benedetto Piccoli, the Joseph and Loretta Lopez Chair Professor of Mathematics at Rutgers University. “However, increased communication among vehicles and increased levels of autonomy in human-driven vehicles is in the near future.”

While this is great news for anyone who loathes wasting time and money on their daily commute, the benefits of autonomous cars extend far beyond the fuel gauge. Each year, 32,000 lives are lost due to traffic accidents, and 94 percent of all accidents are attributed to driver error. Christopher A. Hart, chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, has said he expects driverless cars will be able to “save many, if not most” of those lives.

With lives, time, money, and your good mood hanging in the balance, we truly don’t have a minute to waste in our journey to get autonomous vehicles on the road.

The post Watch an Autonomous Car Prevent a Traffic Jam From Forming appeared first on Futurism.

EVE is a smart self self-driving vehicle. It features “NOMI,” an artificial intelligence that runs the car and learns about its passengers interests so you can adjust the interior to suit your needs. The concept car will hit the road by 2020.

The post A Smart Electric Car Could Be Yours in 2020 appeared first on Futurism.

Volkswagen Takes On Tesla

Now that electric vehicles are here to stay and making money, competition in the industry is heating up. Volkswagen has declared its intention to take on Tesla in a big way — and those most likely to benefit are consumers.

The Financial Times reported that Herbert Diess, the brand chief for Volkswagen, made the company’s plans public at a press conference Sunday: “Anything Tesla can do, we can surpass,” Diess remarked.

“[Tesla] is a competitor we take seriously. Tesla comes from a high-priced segment, however they are moving [to less expensive cars],” Diess continued. “It’s our ambition, with our new architecture, to stop them there, to rein them in.”

Volkswagen has already unveiled three concept vehicles: a smaller hatchback model, a minivan, and a crossover. They are all based on its flexible EV platform, which it calls MEB. Volkswagen aims for a production rate of 1,000,000 vehicles by 2025.

Clearly the German automaker has the capacity to mass produce vehicles; the question is whether it can take Tesla to the mat based on volume. The weak point for Tesla vehicles has always been cost. The company hasn’t always been profitable, and average consumers are priced out of buying from Tesla. This is where companies like Volkswagen will hit them — but how much it will hurt remains to be seen.

Via Volkswagen
Via Volkswagen

Electric Cars Get Competitive

Tesla is also ramping up production: based on its latest projections — which seem totally achievable — it should reach production of 500,000 cars per year seven years earlier than Volkswagen. However, they can only accomplish this feat if people are able to buy those cars. Thus far, people are willing — but the prices remain out of reach for many consumers. That’s Volkswagen’s real edge, assuming it can keep its own costs lower.

However, Tesla has plenty of edges of its own – not least its track record of innovation. Tesla as a company has many loyal consumer-fans precisely because it does things differently than “the big boys” — and companies like Volkswagen may find this loyalty harder to get around than they imagine. In the meantime, consumers can enjoy the benefits of competition as more and more electric vehicles come to market, and companies look to capture more mainstream, middle income demographics.

The post A Veteran Automaker Expects to Be the World Leader in Electric Vehicles by 2025 appeared first on Futurism.

International and Global

Transportation of the future is being developed today: autonomous electric vehicles, flying cars, and the futuristic pods that make up the Hyperloop are just a few notable examples. There’s another idea vying to be the next generation of public transportation, and while it might look something like the Hyperloop, this tube transport company’s CEO Daryl Oster explains why it’s different:

“ET3: we call it a mag-lev limo, where it’s a car-sized vehicle that operates in a network of tubes much [like] cars on a freeway,” Oster told TechRepublic at the 2017 Smart Cincy Summit. “But, it would be international and global in scope.”

“Our vision is being able to travel from, say, here in Cincinnati to the Taj Mahal in under three hours for 50 bucks,” Oster added. Essentially, it’s a network of tubes that serve as a “freeway” which can be accessed via various points along its many routes.

The Future of (Tube) Transportation

While the ET3 is still in the concept phase, the Hyperloop has already moved further along the innovation highway. Since the idea was first pitched by serial entrepreneur and innovator Elon Musk in 2012, there are now two notable companies developing their own Hyperloop in the United States to Dubai.

One of these is Hyperloop One, which has already finished its test track in Nevada, as well as established plans for its future transport system in the U.S. Hyperloop One also hopes to develop a Hyperloop network in Dubai, with pods capable of traveling on roads. Meanwhile, Hyperloop Technologies Inc. (HTI) plans to connect all of Europe by way of a tube transportation network.

All of these move us closer to what Transit X CEO Mike Stanley called “the impossible dream” of “making car-free cities within five years”, as he told TechRepublic. Maybe not exactly car-free: it’ll be more like a future with flying cars, autonomous cars, and “tube cars” — but that’s still pretty cool.

The post A New “Tube Transport” System Could Get You From New York to Beijing in 2 Hours appeared first on Futurism.

Galaxy Quest

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is ready to take flight. The space tourism company is looking forward to launching their first commercial spaceflights before the end of 2018.

Virgin Galactic has recently tested its re-entry system from the Mojave Air and Space Port. Before this, the company completed its first solo glide flight of its ship, the VSS Unity, late last year. Both tests were successes and further fueled optimism for the company. Galactic Ventures CEO, former NASA staff chief, George Whitesides echoed that optimism during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce.

The six passenger (and two pilot) spaceships will be launched from the air and take passengers to a distance of 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth. Passengers will be able to experience a few moments in microgravity and will have the privilege of taking in a view of the Earth that only a select few have ever had the privilege to see. Right now, tickets for this journey of a lifetime are going for $250,000.

*2* Virgin Galactic Says its on Track to Begin Space Tourism in 2018

Space Race 2.0

Virgin is not the only company looking to bring tourists to the final frontier. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com founding fame has also started a space travel venture called Blue Origin. Passengers will fly aboard the New Shepard spacecraft to the same altitude as Virgin’s ships. Bezos is hoping to have flights running next year as well.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has also expressed interest in commercial space travel. The company has developed the Dragon V2 spacecraft, capable of carrying seven people into space. Even more, they are looking to take their travel plans significantly further by promising a trip to the moon in 2018.

Clearly, space travel has undergone a significant revitalization. The privatization of space travel will continue to support scientific endeavors by boosting interest in exploring the cosmos, while also making it easier to do so by backing innovation that makes it easier, safer, and cheaper.

The post Virgin Galactic CEO: We’ll Be Ready to Send Tourists Into Space in 2018 appeared first on Futurism.

Making it a Green Bay

Public transportation is an excellent way to reduce the cumulative emissions of the region it services. Fewer fossil-fuel guzzling commuter vehicles on the road lead to less pollution. San Fransico’s train service, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), is going to be completely revamping how the train operates to reduce its environmental footprint. The program will slowly roll out through 2045 with the goal of the system’s complete reliance on green energy.

[Taken]BART Transit in San Francisco will Run Completely on Renewable Energy by 2045
Credit: BART

The first phase of the initiative will target the gradual limiting of carbon dioxide emissions through 2024. A year later in 2025, the plan calls for at least half of the system’s energy to be drawn from renewable sources. Additionally, 90 percent of the total energy use must come from low or zero-carbon sources.

The requirement for the complete use of zero-carbon sources will be met in 2035. Finally, BART is to run on solely renewable sources by 2045.

Against the Current

Regardless of how the current U.S. federal administration is trying to shape energy policy, the tide is changing in favor of renewables. Energy from fossil fuels like coal is becoming less profitable, and experts are clear in saying that it will never recover. Not only is renewable energy providing more economic opportunity, but it’s also becoming cheaper to generate. This makes renewables more fiscally viable for businesses, including publicly run transportation entities like BART.

And BART is just one option that environmentally conscience commuters have these days. As electric cars become more affordable and even come equipped with solar panels, green transport is accessible to to almost everyone — even those who don’t live in San Francisco.

The post By 2045, One of the U.S.’s Busiest Public Transport Systems Will Run on Clean Energy appeared first on Futurism.

The Unidentified Floating Object 2 comes with 3 levels, an upper control area, and moderately sized livable areas. The vessel relies on solar panels, as well as wind and water turbines.

The post You Can Live on an Autonomous, UFO-Shaped Houseboat appeared first on Futurism.

The “Tesla First Quarter 2017 Update” for shareholders was released on Thursday, and with it, updates about the Model 3 timeline. It’s looking like 2017 is going to be an amazing year for Tesla: “Vehicle production in Q1 increased by 64% compared to a year ago, which enabled us to set new quarterly records of 25,051 deliveries and $2.7 billion in GAAP revenue.” The energy company also reports that Model 3 production will start in July as previously announced, and that road testing is already underway.

Via Tesla
via Tesla

“Simultaneously, preparations at our production facilities are on track to support the ramp of Model 3 production to 5,000 vehicles per week at some point in 2017, and to 10,000 vehicles per week at some point in 2018.” Tesla reports that equipment installation at Gigafactory 1 is already in process. The expansion plans for their Supercharger network are also on schedule.

“Based on our current order and production rates, our first half outlook remains unchanged at 47,000 to 50,000 deliveries, which represents 61% to 71% annual vehicle delivery growth.” After the first half, Model 3 sales will figure in, and things should become even more exciting — especially given the huge number of preorder sales the company needs to fulfill.

The post Tesla Confirms That Model 3 Progress Is Right on Track appeared first on Futurism.

Safety at Any Price?

The auto industry must grapple with a difficult double standard: although consumers agree safety-related technology is the most important feature in cars, people don’t want to pay more for it.

The findings are based on a Deloitte survey of 22,000 consumers in 17 different countries. The report found that US consumers have a growing interest in advanced safety technology, such as adaptive cruise control and anti-lock braking, but don’t want to spend a lot on it.

US consumers are willing to pay $925 on average for advanced safety features, a 30% decline since Deloitte’s last survey on the topic in 2014.

“Perhaps more concerning, a significant share of American consumers suggest that the auto industry should bear the entire cost for bringing these advanced technologies to market, saying they are unwilling to pay any more for these features — even those designed to improve safety,” the report reads.

That’s a difficult pill for the auto industry to swallow as it invests billions in self-driving-car tech. Volvo plans to sell “deathproof” cars directly to consumers in 2020, and Tesla is about to enter the mass market space with the roll out of its Model 3.

All Tesla cars will be equipped with the costly hardware to support self-driving capabilities, but Model 3 owners may be less willing to pay the extra $5,000 to download the autonomous driving software compared to Model S and Model X luxury buyers.

Ride-Hailing Over Ownership

Still, many automakers are preparing for the reality that consumers may be unwilling to pay for the extra costs associated with the technology.

Image credit: Ford

Ford and Uber plan to introduce self-driving cars as part of a ride-hailing fleet. Google’s Waymo is reportedly also exploring a robot taxi service for its self-driving minivans.

But as the Deloitte report notes, ride-hailing services aren’t as popular in suburban areas that require more constant access to a vehicle to get around.

“For this reason, it is unlikely that ride-hailing services will have a significant impact on overall vehicle demand in the near term, at least outside core urban centers,” according to the Deloitte report.

That raises questions as to how the auto industry will scale its self-driving tech in areas where personal car ownership still prevails. It remains to be seen whether autonomous taxi services, which don’t require the cost of a driver, will be enough to offset the price of sophisticated self-driving sensors that can cost several thousands.

Still, some automakers have managed to introduce more advanced autonomous features without asking consumers to break the bank. Honda Sensing — which offers offers lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and more — only costs an additional $1,000.

The post Would You Be Willing to Pay More for a Self-Driving Car? appeared first on Futurism.

Batteries are so cheap that Hydrogen Fuel cells just aren’t competitive anymore. A recent announcement hints that this technological direction has been abandoned.

The post The Future of Automobiles Is Electrifying appeared first on Futurism.

The Aurora Lightning Strike is an electric-hybrid X-plane that can take off vertically and hover like a chopper.

The post Take a Ride with the Plane That Lifts-Off Vertically appeared first on Futurism.

The Hyperloop is finally no longer science fiction. Hyperloop One is getting ready to fire up their new 500 meter long test track in the Nevada desert.

The post The Hyperloop Is Finally Becoming a Reality appeared first on Futurism.

A Boring New Project

Last year, Elon Musk announced via Twitter his intention to “build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging” as a way to avoid traffic. He later shared a clever name for the initiative — The Boring Company — and though information is still scarce, the project does seem to be coming along nicely.

It now has a website with a futuristic concept video, and this week, what appears to be massive, branded proof of the Boring Company’s first drilling machine hit the internet. The image should go a long way toward alleviating lingering doubts that The Boring Company is anything more than a billionaire’s idea of a joke or a cover-up for Musk to work on a Hyperloop in secret.

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Solution to Traffic

When Musk spoke on the concept of tunneling at the Hyperloop Pod Competition’s first phase in 2016, he called it “a really simple and obvious idea.” He later explained to Bloomberg that he considers it a more practical solution to traffic congestion than airborne vehicles, which would require more infrastructure and regulatory approval — though those obstacles aren’t stoping companies like Uber and E-Volo from pursuing the tech.

How Musk’s Tunnel Boring Would Work
Click to View Full Infographic

While it may not be as cool as SpaceX’s plans to colonize Mars, Tesla’s tech to power self-driving cars, or Neuralink’s goal of merging our brains with machines, you can’t deny what a simple hole in the ground could do to manage vehicle congestion in urban areas.

Given Musk’s track record when it comes to introducing practical innovations built on remarkable tech, it certainly looks like it won’t be long before Musk’s Boring Company starts creating as much buzz as any of his other ventures. Clearly, the first step to that is adding a store to the website so they can start selling some of that cool merch Musk showed off last month.

The post Elon Musk Just Released the First Ever Video of His Boring Tunnel appeared first on Futurism.

BREAKING: Elon Musk has finally unveiled the Boring Machine. Say goodbye to traffic.

The post BREAKING: Elon Musk Has Revealed The Boring Machine appeared first on Futurism.

While Larry Page was busy bringing his “flying car” to reality, another Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, was apparently on a similar path, trying to create a vehicle that will take to the skies as well.

However, unlike Page’s land/air hybrid vehicle, the Kitty Hawk Flyer, which could be introduced into the market as early as this year, Brin’s project is a giant airship resembling a zeppelin that’s currently housed at the NASA Ames Research Center. According to a report by Bloomberg, the project was spurred after Brin saw old photos of the USS Macon, an old airship built by the US Navy.

This particular prototype could have been created as part of a potential business venture — which would be timely, given that we’re at the cusp of airborne vehicles and flying taxi fleets becoming a reality. Or, it could be simply a passion project for Brin, who apparently has a long-standing fascination with airships. We just don’t know yet.

News of this project has piqued the curiosity of many. New airship technology could potentially help cut delivery and transport costs, given that it can accommodate massive amounts of cargo and be more fuel efficient. But whatever his intentions are for this project, Brin certainly has a few experienced friends he can tap for advice.

The post Another Google Co-Founder Is Building a Secret Aircraft appeared first on Futurism.

Tesla is again stepping up its autonomous driving game as it begins its roll out of a crucial feature to its Autopilot 2.0 hardware, as reported yesterday by Electrek. The feature comes as a follow up to the 8.1 software update released in March, 2017.

According to a report by Electrek, the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) feature was originally intended to be part of the 8.1 update. However, Tesla had to make sure that this safety feature could work. Tesla had to build the new AEB from scratch, using its own “Tesla Vision” technology and an array of new sensors. An unnamed source told Electrek that Tesla’s team is now confident and satisfied about the AEB, which is being released as an over-the-air update.

Improvements such as an AEB feature will make Tesla’s autonomous vehicles even safer. The report by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) earlier this year noted how Tesla’s crash rates dropped by 40 percent after Autopilot 1.0 was installed. This was due in part, Electrek noted, to the old AEB feature.

At any rate, Tesla wants to raise the bar higher, promising to eliminate 90 percent of crashes. The new AEB is part of delivering this promise.

The post Tesla Has Officially Started Releasing Its Revolutionary Autopilot Update appeared first on Futurism.

Flying Taxis

When Uber first introduced the concept of ride-hailing, the company single-handedly led a revolution in the transportation industry—one that is still ongoing. Now, the company is poised to launch another innovation. This comes in the form of their vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) flying car.

Yes, it’s a flying car, and it’s one that is custom designed for passenger pickups.

Ultimately, the concept is anchored on Uber’s longstanding ride-sharing concept, which they are now hoping to move forward into the next stage of development by taking it to the skies. So really, it’s more than a flying car; it’s a flying taxi.

Image Credit: YouTube/ Aurora Flight Sciences

This development means that, in the future, commuters will be able to access a network of small, electric VTOL aircrafts that can provide fast and reliable flying transportation. We have long known that the project was in the works, but now, Reuters reports that Uber has finally picked the first cities that will benefit from the service.

The company is set to deploy their flying taxis first in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai, and they assert that they will do so by 2020.

The fleet of VTOL aircraft has been dubbed Uber Elevate, and will be manufactured in partnership with Aurora Flight Science, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney, and Bell Helicopter. The UberAir app will then be used to book trips, which Uber believes will prove to be more cost-effective and efficient.

A New Era of Transportation

The world’s fascination with making flying cars is driven by a lot more than our desire to bring science fiction to life. Traffic, especially in urban areas, has been a perennial problem that we have yet to address, and shifting to airborne vehicles to help shuttle commuters could be the answer.

Flying Cars: A Future Buyer’s Guide [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

Of course, Uber isn’t alone in the race to build a flying car. A German startup called E-volo also believes VTOL aircraft could be the future of transportation, and is planning to test a flying taxi service with their prototype as early as next year. And Airbus, a company best known for building airplanes, is planning to create a helicopter-style autonomous vehicle capable of shuttling several riders at once.

Not only do these novel transportation options provide a solution to traffic congestion, they also help ensure that transportation options are more sustainable, as these VTOLs are designed to run on electric propulsion systems with no operational emissions.

Transportation experts believe that we are no more than 10 to 15 years away from having fully operational, autonomous flying taxis. And at the rate Uber and other companies are going, it looks like their predictions are right.

The post Uber Just Promised to Bring Flying Taxis to Life in 3 Years appeared first on Futurism.

New EV On The Block

The world’s lineup of electric vehicles is getting a new addition in 2018, and it’s going to be an SUV from German automaker Audi. The concept for this e-tron Sportback vehicle first came out in September 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Now, Audi has opened up reservations for buyers based in Norway for $2,500. That’s the price to reserve — the actual price of the electric SUV has yet to be announced.

In terms of what it could deliver, the e-tron SUV boasts a 499-km (310-mile) range on a single charge of its 95 kWh battery (which, by the way, can be fully charged in 50 minutes). That’s more than the 465-km (289-mile) single charge range of Tesla’s Model X SUV’s 100 kWh battery. In addition, Audi is considering adding an autonomous driving software to the SUV’s features.

Image credit: Audi

In terms of looks, the e-tron is stylish, and could be more so if Audi decides to trade the side mirrors for a couple of cameras instead. Inside, it’s dashboard will be covered in OLED screens — perfect for network connectivity based on LTE Advanced.

Cameras for side mirrors. Image credit: Audi
Cameras for side mirrors. Image credit: Audi

Audi joins a number of veteran automakers that are developing their own line of EVs. Fossil fuels are set to take a hit from clean energy transportation, and EVs are already capable of replacing 90 percent of today’s vehicles, according to MIT.

The post An Electric SUV With a Better Range Than Tesla’s Model X Is Now Available for Preorder appeared first on Futurism.

Getting Road Ready

If you’re waiting for your chance to own a self-driving car, you’re going to have to keep waiting. However, if you live in the Phoenix area, you might at least get the chance to try one out.

Waymo, the self-driving car branch of Alphabet, is coming to Phoenix for trials, and it’s looking for hundreds of riders. The company has already logged millions of miles in autonomous car testing in different cities, but now it wants to hit the road with ordinary people on board.

Interested residents of Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa can apply via a simple form on the Waymo website. If they’re accepted, they’ll be able to call a car using an app any time of day or night — the hours aren’t limited in an effort to make the trial more realistic. Trips will be limited to the Phoenix area, though, so an autonomous cross-country jaunt isn’t happening.

Accepted applicants won’t be charged for their rides, and Waymo tells The New York Times it is looking to find a wide range of people with different lifestyles so they can get a fuller picture of how their autonomous cars would be used in practice.

Safety First

This critical next step in getting autonomous cars on the road puts us closer to safer rides for everyone.

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Human error causes 95 percent of all traffic fatalities, and of those, 41 percent are the result of “recognition errors” — that’s Department of Transportation code for failing to pay enough attention or getting distracted. Those are problems self-driving cars just don’t have.

We’re probably still 15 or so years away from a time when self-driving cars comprise the majority of the vehicles on the road, but when they do, we can expect to see 32,000 lives saved each year and a drastic reduction in the number of motorcycle fatalities.

If you’ve ever driven in Phoenix traffic, you’re probably already on the Waymo site right now. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones who gets chosen to participate in this potentially life-saving trial.

The post You Can Now Apply to Get Free Rides in Self-Driving Cars appeared first on Futurism.

Chevrolet Bolt EV, the brand’s affordable, battery-powered electric vehicle (EV), has clocked in serious mileage since its release in December, 2016. According to the company, in just four months owners have driven a collective 7.2 million km (4.5 million miles) as of April 2nd, 2017.

Image Credit: GM

This impressive milestone illustrates how relevant the adoption of EVs are to the world’s effort to protect the environment. The Bolt EV’s all-electric miles are equivalent to saving 175,000 gallons of fuel, following the average EPA estimate of 42 km per gallon (26 mpg) for 2017 vehicles in the US.

The average Bolt owner can drive around 85 km (53 miles) per day, but reports of the vehicle setting record miles on a single charge continue to surface.

“Our early Bolt EV customers are proving the crossover’s functionality, flexibility, and long-range capabilities on a daily basis,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing for Chevrolet, in a press announcement. “Chevrolet committed to delivering a game-changing vehicle, and we’ve done just that.”

Given that the vehicle has yet to be released nationwide, these figures are indeed impressive. And it certainly looks like these numbers will continue to climb as the Bolt sees a nationwide release by summer 2017.

The post Here’s All the Proof You Need That Electric Vehicles Are Taking Over the World appeared first on Futurism.

Lilium is a German company that wants to one day launch a flying taxi service. Right now they’re testing an autonomous jet propelled vehicle that can land and take off vertically.

The post Are Autonomous Flying Taxis Here To Stay? appeared first on Futurism.

Google co-founder Larry Page has funded the creation of a flying vehicle through his Kitty Hawk startup. The Kitty Hawk flyer will go on sale later this year.

The post A Google Founder Is Bringing Flying Cars To The Masses… Soon appeared first on Futurism.

Doubling Tesla’s Charging Network

On the heels of announcements about a more affordable Model 3 and a Tesla pickup truck, Tesla has begun to prepare for the mass-market in earnest for the first time by making more charging stations for available for their vehicles. To that end, Tesla’s blog announced on Monday, April 24, that the company would be doubling the Tesla charging network in 2017. This includes expanding existing sites in city centers and along highways so drivers need never wait to charge before getting back on the road.

Since the charging network began in 2012, Tesla has constructed more than 5,400 Superchargers to make long distance travel possible and even convenient for Tesla owners. They’ve also built more than 9,000 Destination Charging connectors equipped with Wall Connectors at restaurants, hotels, and other locations.

Via Tesla
Credit: Tesla

By the end of 2017 Tesla plans to have more than 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Chargers in place around the world. Superchargers will increase by 150 percent in North America, and 1,000 additional Superchargers will be built in California alone. Site selection is underway now so many will open before summer travel season begins. Tesla will place charging sites in urban centers for quicker charging. Larger sites, which will accommodate simultaneous charging for several dozen drivers, will be constructed along the most-used travel routes for Tesla drivers.

New Age In Energy

Tesla’s investment in infrastructure represents a vote of confidence in the success of its newest products as well as the potential for the auto industry to continue shifting toward electric vehicles. Tesla’s overall plan is to change the way we think about power and energy. Experts are already acknowledging that Tesla will be disrupting the auto industry, and the energy industry is next.

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Tesla’s newest solar panels integrate seamlessly with the Tesla Powerwall battery system and will be available this summer. By 2018, the Tesla Gigafactory will reach full capacity; when it does, it will be producing more lithium ion batteries than the rest of the world combined. These tools will allow Tesla owners to power their homes — and their vehicles — with solar power, greatly reducing their carbon footprints.

With the ability to harness and store enough renewable energy, we could end our reliance on fossil fuels once and for all — and Musk thinks that’s something Earth urgently needs. In terms of the effects of pollution and fossil fuel use, he’s right: our planet can’t wait.

The post Tesla Just Announced Plans for a Major Expansion appeared first on Futurism.

Kitty Hawk, the “flying car” company that’s backed by Google founder Larry Page, just released its first video footage of their prototype in action.

The Kitty Hawk Flyer, as the company explains, is a fully electric aircraft that can fly over water and won’t require drivers to have a pilot’s license to fly. The company also asserts that anyone who wants to operate the vehicle will be able to learn how to do so in just minutes.

In the video, which you can view below, the Kitty Hawk Flyer is shown lifting off over a lake. And while it certainly looks a lot more like a jetski with wings—and much less like a flying car—the company says that they have already received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly the first iteration of the vehicle in uncongested areas.

“We’ve all had dreams of flying effortlessly. I’m excited that, one day very soon, I’ll be able to climb onto my Kitty Hawk Flyer for a quick and easy personal flight,” Page said to the New York Times.

Best of all, Kitty Hawk is prepping to bring their vehicle into commercial production by the end of this year (2017). Yes, you will be able to buy one this year; however, when it does become available for sale, it will likely face some stiff competition from other manufacturers.

Ultimately, there are a host of individuals and companies working on flying cars. For example, there’s Lithium Aviation, AeroMobil, and PAL-V, who have been pushing to get their own versions of an all-electric airborne vehicle into the market in recent months.

The post An All-Electric “Flying Car” Just Launched, and You’ll Be Able to Buy It This Year appeared first on Futurism.

Sci-Fi Visions

Have you ever wanted to drive a bulldozer? What about a bulldozer that’s miles away? What about a fleet of bulldozers that are all 3000 miles (4800 km) away? It sounds like something from a far off, sci-fi future, but in truth, people are already doing this—and if you went to the 2017 Edison Awards, you could have as well.

Truck Drivers Can Now Control A Fleet of Vehicles From Over 3000 Miles Away
Futurism’s Sarah Marquart driving a bulldozer that’s over 1,000 miles away.

At the Awards, attendees had a chance to see a demonstration of Caterpillar’s (CAT) driverless technologies—technologies that are already saving lives.

As Tazio Grivetti, the Innovation Viability Manager at Caterpillar Inc., notes, mining is sometimes a dangerous business, with drivers being forced to navigate up and down steep and precariously thin inclines. If they aren’t navigating inclines, then drivers are often tasked with maneuvering enormous vehicles around other mining equipment, which, of course, require operators of their own.

To that end, the company has installed a host of advanced intelligence tech in their vehicles in order to save lives.

For example, they are using onboard artificial intelligence systems to pull drivers out of the (rather dangerous) driver’s seat, sophisticated perception technologies to help vehicles work safely around people and other equipment, and other operator-assist tech that control various vehicle functions in order to boost both productivity and safety.

Ultimately, the semi-autonomous features allow operators to control vehicles from the comfort of their office, and the perception technologies installed on the equipment serve as a kind of “kill switch” that stops vehicles from hitting other machinery (or people).

The Future of Autonomy

It costs a little extra to add these technologies to a vehicle, but it’s impossible to put a price tag on a human life. Grivetti succinctly summarizes the main point, asserting, “safety is our number one priority.” And he continues by noting that CAT operators are already controlling fleets of three dozers from over 3000 miles away.

Sound impressive? This is just the beginning.

The Autonomous Revolution: What Else is Going Driverless? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Grivetti states that the tech isn’t limited to just a few thousand miles, but that it works equally well from any part of the world. As a result, an individual could be in an office in one country and be operating a small fleet that’s literally on the other side of the world.

So the next time that someone tells you that autonomous vehicles will be the future of driving, think again. That “future” actually arrived some time ago. As the company notes, “While automakers and tech companies plan for a future that includes self-driving cars, Caterpillar is already there.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify points made by Grivetti about safety. 

The post Truck Drivers Can Now Control A Fleet of Vehicles From Over 3000 Miles Away appeared first on Futurism.

The Lyra by Mission Bicycle is the perfect commuter bike. It’s built in lighting gives the rider 360 degree visibility, and the built in GPS helps you map your route or locate a stolen bicycle.

The post The Lyra Smart Bike Is Every Commuter’s Dream appeared first on Futurism.

This incredible 4×4 tanker fire truck can go anywhere to put out fire. Thanks to it’s heavy duty parts, it can carry 4 times more water than the average brush truck.

The post Meet the Craziest Fire Truck in the World appeared first on Futurism.

We’ve been hearing a lot about autonomous driving nowadays. Tesla’s leadership in the field seemingly spells the end times for standard driving practices. Now it looks like Baidu, the popular Chinese-American web services company, is taking a swing at mass-marketing its own autonomous driving software.

The president and chief operating officer of Baidu, Qi Lu, mentioned to MIT Technology Reviews that he wants to “innovate at a higher level.” By releasing their self-driving platform, “Apollo,” this July, the company hopes to lower the bar for developing advanced driver-assist systems while leading to a more collaborative approach for the future of driving.

Qi Lu believes that much of the tech in self-driving vehicles continues to “reinvent the wheel.” By supplying other companies with the Baidu self-driving software, the company can establish itself as the brains that power vehicles on the road.. This is similar to Google’s decision to release Android for free in 2008, making it one of the most popular operating systems in the world.

Many of China’s domestic car producers lack the resources to develop self-driving cars themselves. Baidu’s technology could provide these companies with the competitive edge they need while giving Baidu the data it needs. Baidu is confident that they will see their technology operating on highways and regular roads by 2020. Lu said, “The fundamental motivation is [to create] an open ecosystem that will accelerate the pace of innovation toward fully autonomous driving, which will have profound changes to our society.”

Autonomous Car Forecasts: When Will They Actually Be on Our Roads?
Click to View Full Infographic

This transparency in research could mean a lot for the normalization of self-driving cars. With more companies getting the jump on the tech, the quicker we’ll see the tech taking over.

The post The “Google of China” Is Releasing a Self-Driving Operating System for Free appeared first on Futurism.

The Lilium Jet

If you’ve been begging the universe for a flying car for your entire life, you may soon be able to stop asking (sort of). This week, Germany-based company Lilium Aviation took its new all-electric, two-seater vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) prototype for its first test flight. The jet was piloted remotely during the tests, but its creators say the vehicle’s first manned flight will happen soon.

Thirty-six separate jet engines mounted on 12 movable flaps on the Lilium Jet’s 10-meter-long wings power the craft. The flaps point down at take-off to provide vertical lift, and then they tilt gradually into a horizontal position for forward thrust. Lilium says that its electric battery enables the aircraft to reach a maximum cruising speed of 300 kph (183 mph) and achieve a range of 300 kilometers (183 miles), all while it “consumes around 90 percent less energy than drone-style aircraft,” according to a recent press release.

Powered by Renewables

The startup plans to build a five-passenger version of the jet eventually, and Lilium envisions its product being used in an on-demand capacity in dense, urban areas — the Uber of flying cars (though Uber itself is working on its own flying model). Patrick Nathen, co-founder and head of calculation and design for Lilium Jet, told The Verge that the company’s ultimate goal is to make the technology accessible for everyone, replacing expensive ground taxi trips in urban areas with flights at a fraction of the cost.

Flying Cars: A Future Buyer’s Guide [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

Although electric-powered aviation is not yet highly developed, this prototype’s design makes it far more efficient in terms of power consumption than other electric aircraft. And although electric cars with the same 1,000-pound batteries used in this aircraft are typically limited to a range of about 482 kilometers (300 miles) per charge, Nathen says that’s enough for their jet.

This jet and virtually all other innovative vehicles in development right now will run on renewables. This is more than a trend — it is simply the way of the future. Tesla vehicles will soon be as affordable as standard vehicles, and their semi trucks and pickups are on the way. This kind of electric-powered aircraft is the next step in truly getting clean energy off the ground while leaving fossil fuels in it.

The post A Real Life, All-Electric Flying Car Just Took Off appeared first on Futurism.

A new app lets people explore UK airspace in 3D and see hundreds of planes flying in almost real-time. Airspace Explorer is based on software used by air traffic controllers at the company NATS, although some planes are hidden from view.

The post Airspace Explorer Wants You to Feel Better About Air Travel appeared first on Futurism.

Early details are trickling in about a partnership between Hyperloop One and Amazon to bring same-day delivery to a significant portion of the United States.

This Infographic Highlights All You Need to Know about the Hyperloop
Click to View Full Infographic

A tweet sent out early this morning by quarterly tech journal Port Technology shows Nick Earle, Senior Vice President of  Global Field Operations at Hyperloop One, leading a talk at the journal’s Container Terminal Automation Conference being held in London.

The accompanying photograph shows the exec standing in front of a graphic presumably showing the regions the partnership will service. The graphic also lists some points related to cost savings.

Neither Amazon nor Hyperloop One have made any official announcements yet.

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Hyperloop One is hoping to revolutionize land travel for both cargo and people. The company is busy building the infrastructure for its high-speed hyperloop system all around the world. Once completed, it will be able to move people and goods at extremely fast speeds of 1,000 kph (621 mph).

The speed of the pods themselves is not the only impressive feature of the system. According to Earle’s speech, “Not just speed — it’s demand that’s the important factor — freight pods could leave portals every 20 mins.”

A partnership between a major company like Amazon is a huge vote of confidence for Hyperloop One. Stay tuned.

The post Amazon May Be Using a Hyperloop to Deliver Same-Day Shipping appeared first on Futurism.

Driving Too Fast?

Tesla’s vehicles have had their fair share of accidents and crashes. While most of those involved in these reported accidents have survived, perhaps no one has ever been more thankful than the driver and passenger of a Model S that went over the edge of a cliff in California last week.

According to a report by Electrek, the Tesla driver was speeding along Grizzly Peak Boulevard, driving home towards Oakland Hills, when his Model S tumbled 150 meters (500 feet) down the side of a cliff. The driver and his passenger managed to crawl out of the upside down Model S “totally ok.”

The Tesla driver, who wished to remain anonymous, posted this on an online forum for Tesla owners and enthusiasts last Sunday: “Driving perhaps a tad too spirited, a deer appeared at a curve at the worst possible moment. I instinctively (mistakenly) swerved to avoid it and my car ended up over the edge. We tumbled perhaps 150-200 feet down a steep slope, ended up upside down.” It was only when his car was towed back up that they discovered they’d fallen 150 meters (500 feet) down, and not just 60 meters (200 feet).

Tesla Saving Lives

Amazingly, while the Model S was wrecked, the interior of the cabin “was totally intact. We climbed out with only bruises and muscle soreness,” the driver’s post related. “I don’t know how to compare this with other cars but it felt rock solid to me and I feel lucky to be alive because of my [Tesla].”

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

The report by Electrek noted that the large crumple zones in Tesla’s cars, which are due to not having an engine under its hood, was the lifesaving factor in this accident. While this is yet another testament to just how committed to safety Tesla is, CEO Elon Musk has promised to strengthen the company’s standards even more.

Aside from the physical build of Tesla vehicles, a bigger contributor to safety is the Autopilot system. According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released earlier this year, improvements and updates to its autonomous driving software have cut down Tesla’s crash records by 40 percent. In one occasion, Autopilot’s life-saving abilities was even caught on camera. With the 8.1 update finally out, Autopilot is expected to have improved considerably.

As for the driver from last week’s crash, he’s already looking forward to hopping back inside another Tesla. “Once I get insurance worked out I’m sure I’ll be in another one,” he said in his post. He’s certainly learned his lesson, though. “Maybe I’ll be driving those mountain roads at night a bit more cautiously,” he added.

The post Tesla Driver and Passenger Survive a 500-Foot Tumble, Thanks to Safety Features in the Model S appeared first on Futurism.

The Flying Car

With our childhood perceptions of the future formed by viewings of Back to the Future and the Jetsons, we have always held a special place in our hearts for the idea of a flying car. And while tech industry giants like Elon Musk say that there is no real future for flying cars, AeroMobil, a flying car company, seems to disagree.

undefined Credit: Aeromobil

The company has released it’s new model and is currently taking pre-orders for the limited first edition of the flying car. All preorders on the AeroMobil will ship 2020, and the added time will give the company a chance to increase production to meet the demands of building 500 vehicles.

The two-seated vehicle powered by hybrid propulsion can transform from car to plane in under 3 minutes. It also boasts a driving range of 700 km (434 miles) and a flight range that’s a bit longer at 750 km (466 miles) at 75 percent of its top speed. On the ground, the hybrid vehicle boasts a top speed around 160 kph  (100 mph), while in the air it’s 360 kph (224 mph).

The Future of Flying

Now, should the Flying Car run out of fuel midflight or bust an engine, there are safety features that help it glide down to Earth with the help of a parachute. Passengers would be provided with airbags for in-air and on-road accidents.

If you want to get your hands on one of these, you’ll need to fork over $1.3 to $1.7 million. While flying cars may seem like a fad for the rich, it might become something more than that, with ride-share companies like uber taking an interest in the technology. Aeromobil also isn’t alone in their quest to conquer the skies. In a few years, we may be able to have our pick of flying cars — although none are likely to be DeLoreans.

The post The World’s First Flying Car Is Taking Pre-Orders for 2020 Delivery appeared first on Futurism.

Disruption Ahead

Last week, Elon Musk announced that the “seriously next-level” Tesla semi truck would be coming this September. In response, Piper Jaffray analyst Alex Potter published a note on April 18 indicating that he is downgrading truck makers Paccar and Cummins, partly because “their valuations already reflect cyclical optimism, but also because we think TSLA’s impending arrival could pressure valuations.”

The Tesla Revolution [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Potter’s vote of confidence in Tesla’s potential impact on transportation was met with incredulity from some in the auto making industry, as neither the Tesla Model 3 or its semi have launched yet. According to CNBC, Potter further clarified his position in a separate note strictly on Cummins:

“Cummins makes diesel engines, but companies like Tesla (among others) are aiming to supplant CMI’s products. These Silicon Valley disrupters are not confining their ambitions to sedans; instead, they have announced plans for electric semis, electric pickups, electric buses, and various other products that defy the preeminence of diesel engines. CMI enthusiasts will note that EVs won’t replace diesel trucks in the coming 2 years (not in a material way, at least) and we agree. But when/if electric drivetrains are proven viable in the first commercial vehicle segments, we think incumbents’ valuations could fall rapidly thereafter.”

Laugh All You Want

And in a separate note dealing solely with Paccar, Potter reportedly wrote,

“Tesla’s presence looms large; laugh all you want, but this trend cannot be ignored. In the automotive segment, Tesla and others have wrought substantial disruption, forcing incumbents to change their hiring practices, increase R&D spending, and ultimately, suffer lower multiples. PCAR may be less at risk than others — and it’s probably too early to start ringing alarm bells — but with the stock trading near the high-end of its historical valuation range, we wouldn’t be adding to positions.”

Although Potter acknowledged both that Tesla is not the first to produce an electric truck and that details about the truck remain unknown, he made it clear that he believes investors should consider Tesla’s disruptive potential in the market now. Potter forecast Tesla shares at $368 on Monday, April 10 — the highest price forecast it had ever received from an analyst at a major firm.

The post Expert Asserts That Tesla’s Electric Semi Will Totally Disrupt the Auto Industry appeared first on Futurism.

Today, just before the Auto Shanghai motor show, German car manufacturer Volkswagen unveiled their latest all-electric vehicle: the I.D. Crozz. This electric crossover concept is the third in VW’s new I.D. lineup, after its hatchback and van concepts.

The I.D. Crozz combines a four-door coup with an SUV. This crossover concept is also supposedly fully autonomous. It uses four laser scanners on the roof to detect obstacles, along with radar and ultrasonic sensors, and multiple cameras. The car is even able to communicate what mode it’s in (autonomous or manual) using glowing LED lights on the car’s roof and grille.

The car can reach top speeds of 180 kilometers (112 miles) and at a range of 500 kilometers (311 miles) with just a single charge. It’s powered by two electric motors at the front and rear axles, for a combined 225 kW (302 horsepower), according to AutoBlog.

Image credit: Volkswagen
Image credit: Volkswagen

Unfortunately, the I.D. Crozz is simply a concept vehicle, meaning it isn’t intended to be sold. However, VW would probably produce a consumer version based on the this concept, as the German car maker has previously set a goal of selling 1 million EVs yearly by 2025. Volkswagen also said earlier that they will launch a pure-electric car in China next year.

Still, the supposed capabilities of this crossover concept are worth noting. An electric vehicle with such an extended range can make EVs more attractive to motorists. It dashes fears of running out of power without nearby charging stations. This could help to open the doors to wider EV consumer adoption — and that’s a good thing. EVs on the road would reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the transportation industry, which totals to about 30 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S. alone.

The post VW Just Showcased an All-Electric Car That Goes a Staggering 311 Miles on One Charge appeared first on Futurism.

Driverless Apple

Though known mostly for their sleek and efficient phones and computers, Apple has decided to get into the autonomous vehicle game. In fact, just this past Friday, the company was granted an official test permit by the California Department of Motor Vehicles that allows them to test autonomous driving tech in three 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid vehicles on California roads.

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Apple’s autonomous vehicle project, Project Titan, has remained somewhat of a mystery. In fact, the company hasn’t even publicly recognized its existence yet. While the project is rumored to have started last year, the company really has no choice but to kick it up a notch in 2017 — with Tesla (of course), Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, and BMW all working on autonomous driving systems, the competition is steep.

Now, don’t jump to any conclusions. Apple isn’t Tesla’s newest head-to-head competitor — in fact, they have no plans to manufacture and sell their own autonomous vehicles. Instead, according to Neil Cybart, an independent Apple analyst, “They are working on a transportation platform.” It seems as though Apple plans to focus on improved machine-learning systems that can be used for automation and not self-driving cars themselves.

Autonomous Life Saving

Driverless cars are cool, and autonomous vehicles are futuristic marvels that many of us can’t wait to see on the road. However, they are so much more than that. They are the key to preventing the countless deaths currently caused by vehicle collisions.

According to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Christopher Hart, “[Driverless cars] can save many, if not most of the 32,000 lives that are lost every year on our streets and highways.” And, if we look globally, this estimate could be much higher. Every year, an average of 1.3 million people around the world die in car crashes. From drunk driving collisions to fluke accidents, driving can be undeniably dangerous.

The autonomous vehicle space is getting more and more crowded, and that increased competition is pushing companies to create better and more efficient driverless systems, setting us up for a future in which tragedy on the road is a thing of the past.

The post Apple Just Got Approved to Test Its Autonomous Cars on Real Roads appeared first on Futurism.

The Age of Electric Vehicles

While Tesla is the most recognized name in electric vehicles (EV), it isn’t the only one. Tesla’s pursuit of a cheaper, cleaner, and more sustainable form of transportation has a proven popularity. With this comes natural competition among electric automakers that leaves consumers and the Earth with a net positive.

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Enter Lucid Motors, a California-based electric vehicle company that has developed a new electric car known as the Air. While the most affordable version of the Air is still more expensive than upcoming Model 3 at $52,500, Mashable’s Ray Wong says that the vehicle “has been billed by many as a Tesla “killer” that’s more high tech and luxurious than the Model S,” adding, “it felt more like being in a private jet or in a first-class plane cabin than in a road vehicle.” Even the former Chief Engineer on the Model S, Peter Rawlinson, agrees.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Rawlinson, the current Chief Technology Officer at Lucid Motors, says that the sculpted battery on the Air provides passengers with far more space than what any Tesla vehicle is able to provide. Some features of the $100,000 fully-loaded Air include: a 1,000 horsepower all-wheel drive twin-motor, a battery that lasts 400 miles, reclining backseats, and front seats that provide a massage. The basic Air will have a 400-horsepower rear-wheel drive single motor and a battery that lasts 240 miles. All models will allow drivers to activate level 4 or 5 autonomous driving, have touchscreens instead of an instrument panel, voice assistant/AI, and facial recognition.

The Benefits of EVs

While luxury cars have led the EV charge (pun intended), more options are gradually becoming available from many other automakers so that everyone can be a part of the electric vehicle solution.

As more choices become available, consumers have the opportunity to find an EV that falls in their price range while meeting their own personal standards. All EVs today do come with certain benefits, such as home recharging, low-cost operation, reduced emissions, and a very quiet, smooth ride. The vehicles could also save the United States billions of dollars in healthcare costs. As more consumers jump on the EV bandwagon, we will see costs go down while a greener thumbprint across the globe emerges.

The post When It Comes to Tech, Lucid Motors Seems to Have Tesla Beat appeared first on Futurism.

Bicycles are awesome, but bulky, heavy, and tough to store and transport in tight spaces. The Halfbike decided to cut those problems in half. It’s light and highly portable, not to mention agile and easily-ridden from a standing position.

The post This Half-Bike, Half-Scooter Could Be the Next Big Thing appeared first on Futurism.

Hyperloop One is seriously considering building its high-speed transit system in several states in the United States.

The Los Angeles-based startup held a two-day event in Washington DC this week to showcase its “Vision in America.” The event served two purposes: one, to evaluate eleven US route proposals for the high-speed transit system, and two, to meet with federal regulators in Washington about getting the system up and running.

“We’re trying to position Hyperloop as one of the best candidates that there are for re-inventing infrastructure in America,” Nick Earle, Hyperloop One’s senior vice president for global operations, told Business Insider. “It’s built in America, it can be implemented in America, it’s made in America…there are a lot of reasons why it fits with the national agenda right now.”

The event shows Hyperloop One is trying to get ahead of the regulatory curve before it even proves the technology.

hyperloop one nevada rail
Hyperloop One

The startup plans to launch a public trial, which Earle refers to as the company’s “Kitty Hawk moment,” on its two-mile development track in Nevada by the end of June. But a company has yet to prove the system Tesla CEO Elon Musk outlined in a White Paper in 2013.

Earlier this year, Hyperloop One launched a global challenge to crowdsource route proposals for a Hyperloop system in the US. After receiving over 2,600 submissions, the startup selected eleven finalists to present their vision in DC.

Hyperloop One says it will ultimately select two or three routes to study further. Scroll down for a look at all the routes under consideration:

1. Hyperloop Massachussetts

1. Hyperloop Massachussetts
Hyperloop One

Led by Holly McNamara, selectman of the town of Somerset, the team proposes using a Hyperloop to connect Boston and Providence with stops at Somerset and Fall River. The Hyperloop would run for 64 miles.

The goal is to build an elevated system that shares highways and rail right-of-ways with connections to the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s most popular rail line that runs between Washington D.C. and Boston.

2. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop Consortium

2. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop Consortium
Hyperloop One

The team is led by John Whitcomb, a member of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society. It proposed a long, 1,152-mile route between Cheyenne, Wyoming and Houston, Texas with stops in Denver, Dallas, and Forth Worth.

3. Team Hyperloop Missouri

3. Team Hyperloop Missouri
Hyperloop One

The team is composed of Missouri’s Department of Transportation and is led by Thomas Blair, the department’s assistant district engineer, highlighting some state support for the project. The 240-mile route between Kansas and St. Louis would stop in Columbia.

4. Team Hyperloop Florida

4. Team Hyperloop Florida
Hyperloop One

The team is led by Alice Bravo, director of transportation development in Miami, highlighting similar state support to Team Missouri. The 257-mile system would transport passengers and cargo and run parallel to Highway 27 and I-4.

5. Team Hyperloop West

5. Team Hyperloop West
Hyperloop One

The team is comprised of architects, designers, and faculty members from Woodbury University and San Diego State University. The 121-mile system would transport cargo and passengers and make no stops in-between.

6. Team Hyperloop Nevada

6. Team Hyperloop Nevada
Hyperloop One

The team is led by Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and includes support from the state’s Department of Transportation. The 454-mile sytem would carry freight and passengers and run along I-11.

7. Team Hyperloop Midwest

7. Team Hyperloop Midwest
Hyperloop One

The 488-mile system would carry passengers and cargo between Pittsburgh and Chicago with a stop in Columbus. The team is led by Thea Walsh, director of transportation systems and funding for mid-Ohio regional planning.

8. Team PNW Hyperloop

8. Team PNW Hyperloop
Hyperloop One

The team is led by University of Washington students and proposes first carrying cargo along the 173-mile route before including passengers.

9. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop

9. Team Rocky Mountain Hyperloop
Hyperloop One

Comprised of members of the Colorado Department of Transportation and engineering firm AECOM, the team boasts having partnerships with the Denver International Airport, the City of Denver, and the City of Greeley.

The first phase of the project would connect Denver International Airport to Greeley and would eventually expand into a 360-mile system.

10. Team Colorado Hyperloop

10. Team Colorado Hyperloop
Hyperloop One

This is the third route proposal to pass through Denver, Colorado. This team is lead by Blake Anneberg, a self-proclaimed tech enthusiast. The first phase of the 242-mile project would run between Denver and Colorado Springs or Denver and Fort Collins before expanding to other cities.

11. Team Hyperloop Texas

11. Team Hyperloop Texas
Hyperloop One

The team was created by engineering firm AECOM and led by Steven Duong, an AECOM urban designer. The 640-mile system would connect all the major cities in Texas and carry passengers and cargo. The route would follow I-35 and I-10.

The post Hyperloop One Just Released 11 Possible Routes for Its Futuristic Transport System appeared first on Futurism.

Joining the Fray

The number of potential movers and shakers in the field of autonomous taxiing seems to be ever growing. But the stiff competition may benefit the consumer and force the competitors to create the best product possible. Not only will they be competing among themselves, but also with traditional taxis and personally owned vehicles. The latest company to join in on the fun is also one of the biggest and fanciest in the world.

Image: DaimlerImage Credit: Daimler

Mercedes-Benz is teaming up with vehicle component manufacturer Bosch to fast-track a self-driving taxi service. The company is expecting to launch the service as soon as 2020, a year earlier than other companies’ plans. Ford, BMW, General Motors, and Google’s Waymo all plan to launch their services in or around 2021. Uber has already deployed self-driving cars in Pittsburgh to test their service. The vehicles are monitored by a live person and they have the ability to take over control if the need arises. The other offerings will likely roll out the same way initially.

Life-Saving Tech

Studies have shown that between 90 and 93 percent of all vehicular accidents are caused by human error. By removing the human from the equation, we could significantly reduce these incidents — theoretically, at least. There is always a lot of press surrounding any collisions or other incidents involving self-driving tech, whether they involve Tesla’s offerings or Uber’s taxis. So it is clear that self-driving vehicles will not end all accidents, but they could still potentially save thousands of lives.

The Technologies That Power Self-Driving Cars [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Reducing driving-related deaths would be a fantastic attribute of self-driving vehicles, but that’s not the only potential benefit. These vehicles are all run on electric power, so they are much cleaner than fossil fuel-burning, traditional vehicles. With one-third of all air pollution coming from operating gasoline-powered vehicles, mitigating their role in daily transportation will help keep us from further damaging the environment.

The post Mercedes-Benz Will Launch Its Self-Driving Rideshare Service in 2020 appeared first on Futurism.

Keep On Trucking

Today, Elon Musk officially confirmed that a “seriously next level” Tesla semi-truck is coming this September. He also praised the Tesla team for doing an “amazing job,” and he mentioned a convertible roadster and a pickup truck that should be to market in just 18 to 24 months.

This development is really no surprise to many, as rumors and speculations have long suggested that Tesla trucks were on the way. Still, the confirmation reveals that Musk is serious about disrupting the transportation industry.

It’s easy to see why he’d be feeling pretty proud of the Tesla team at this point. They company is now the most valuable automaker in the U.S.. But keep in mind, the comparison only goes so far, as Tesla is not just an automaker. Rather, it’s a one-stop shop for sustainable energy and innovation.

screenshot
screenshot

A New Energy Age

The work they do at the “gigafactory” goes beyond designing cars. The company is working on energy storage with the Tesla Powerwall. They are working on solar roofs with Panasonic. And this is just the beginning. As explained in their mission statement:

The gigafactory will also produce battery packs intended for use in stationary storage, helping to improve robustness of the electrical grid, reduce energy costs for businesses and residences, and provide a backup supply of power.

In short,  Musk’s vision is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As a result, all of Tesla’s efforts are focused on developing the company to innovate new ways to produce and use renewable energy.

To that end, Musk has identified semi trucks as a critical focal point for safety and energy, and rightly so. Heavy-duty semi trucks that are electric will reduce environmental costs while increasing safety—especially with new AI technologies on board.

The post Elon Musk Just Said That Tesla’s Making An Electric 18-Wheeler and Pickup Truck appeared first on Futurism.

Aeromobil

SciFi visions of the future are usually defined by key technologies: lasers, time travel, and — more often than not — flying cars. Now, AeroMobil is finally bringing fiction to reality following the announcement of the world’s first flying car.

Image Credit: AeroMobil

The vehicle, a two-seater powered by hybrid propulsion, combines aero and car functionality seamlessly and will become the first commercially available flying car. Granted, the vehicle isn’t specifically designed to just be airborne, but that’s precisely what gives it better functionality. It affords users the option to drive on land or pilot the vehicle in the air.

According to their website:

By combining aero and car functionality in perfect harmony it heralds a new era in efficient and exciting travel, offering users an unparalleled choice of transport on the road or in the air. AeroMobil aims to make personal transportation vastly more efficient and environmentally friendly by allowing significantly faster door-to-door travel for medium distance trips and in areas with limited or missing road infrastructure.​

The flying car will be unveiled at the Top Marques car show in Monaco on April 20, nearly 30 years after the Slovakian company first began developing their concept. Their goal is anchored in creating personal transportation that is as efficient as it is environmentally friendly, especially in areas where infrastructure is limited.

Flying Cars

Aeromobil is not the only company working towards developing flying cars. Airbus has partnered with Italdesign in an effort to create a car-drone hybrid called Pop.Up — a driverless electronic vehicle that, like Aeromobil, can both drive on roads and fly. PAL-V is already accepting pre-orders for Liberty, a three wheeled land/air hybrid vehicle. And a company known for their jetpack technology is making huge leaps forward in flying car design and technology.

Flying Cars: A Future Buyer’s Guide [Infographic]
Click to View Full Infographic

But while it seems like the world is well on its way to bringing flying cars to reality this year, there are obvious challenges that could prove to be a barrier for adoption — regulations.

Given that these revolutionary machines can be driven on land and fly, it will likely prompt questions regarding safety standards and operational requirements, which we don’t have yet for this kind of vehicle. While most people in the U.S. today can drive and have driver’s licenses, very few will have pilot’s licenses and training, which could be a consideration, or even requirement, before anyone can own a driving/flying car hybrid.

In any case, Aeromobil assures consumers that the vehicle will be compliant with existing regulatory frameworks already in place for both cars and airplanes, which means their vehicle could actually take to the streets, and skies, very soon, and change the way we travel forever.

The post The World’s First Production-Ready Flying Car Is Finally Here appeared first on Futurism.

Zero-Emission Lineup

Veteran automaker Volkswagen is set to roll out a new line of zero emission I.D. vehicles by 2020. One of which is a full-electric crossover with autonomous driving features. On April 12, the German car manufacturer released teasers of this concept car, which is set to rival Tesla’s Model X.

The electric crossover concept is actually the third in VW’s new I.D. lineup, following the hatchback and van concepts. “Volkswagen has set the clearly defined goal of advancing electric-drive vehicles from the status of a startup niche to large-scale production models by the middle of the next decade in a worldwide product offensive,” the company said in a statement.

The concept vehicle — a mix between a four-door coupe and a SUV— is set to debut at the Shanghai auto show next week. By pressing the VW badge in the middle of the steering wheel, the crossover shifts into autonomous driving mode, with the steering wheel automatically folding into the cockpit. The car is then maneuvered by signals coming from a combination of laser and ultrasonic scanners, radar sensors, and cameras working in tandem.

Image credit: Volkswagen
Image credit: Volkswagen

The Autonomous Future

VW’s goal is to sell 1 million EVs every year by 2025. While that number might seem huge, it’s a testament to how VW sees autonomous EVs as the future of personal transport — and they’re not the only one.

Apart from Tesla — who’s arguably the world’s leading EV and self-driving car producer — several other companies have been working on their own autonomous concepts. There’s Volvo working with Uber and Google’s self-driving vehicle Waymo. Even luxury car designers like Porsche have self-driving concepts. Another notable entry is Faraday Future’s FF 91, which is moving closer to commercial release.

The appeal of self-driving cars isn’t just in their futuristic factor: they’re also expected to save lives. By taking human error out of the equation behind the wheel, that could work out to be roughly 40,000 in the U.S. alone. Even better, many of the autonomous car concepts are also EVs — so it’s not just human lives they’re saving, but the environment, too.

The post Volkswagen’s First All-Electric CUV Is Fully Autonomous appeared first on Futurism.

Car Wars

With each new development, it’s becoming clear that electric vehicles are the future of personal transport. Gasoline-fueled cars are a major burden on the environment. One third of all air pollution in the United States comes from vehicles. Not only does this contribute to climate change, but also puts everyone’s health at risk as we end up breathing in these emissions.

More manufacturers are adding electric cars to their lineups. Even the fanciest of automakers are putting their hat in the ring to get carve out a piece of that market. Porsche is planning on rolling out its Mission E electric cars by 2020. The company has already unveiled the model as a concept car at last year’s International Motor Show in Frankfurt. The concept car was a sleek, attractive, four-door sedan. The company plans to offer wireless software updates just like Tesla.

The new car will undoubtedly feature some high-tech bells and whistles. Porsche has not officially confirmed the full spectrum of what will be available with the production model of the car, but we do at least have an idea of where they might be headed.

Inductive Charging

Porsche
Porsche

Inductive charging is a relatively new technology that’s, so far, only widely been integrated into portable technology like cell phones and smart watches. It is quickly becoming more popular in future designs for electric vehicles thanks to the implications of creating parking spots that feature charging pads.

Quick Charging

Porsche
Porsche

Range anxiety is a common concern among electric vehicle consumers. No one wants to get stranded in the middle of a long trip with the nearest charging opportunity potentially miles away. Porsche is hoping to assuage that fear by offering an 800v charging system that will allow a range of 402 km (250 miles) with just 15 minutes of charge time. A fully charged Mission E could drive up to 498 km (310 miles), leaving Tesla’s Model 3’s 473 km (294 miles) in the dust.

No More Mirrors

Porsche

Porsche is also making a huge switch that may even rival the change that Apple made to its phones by removing the headphone jack. Instead of the traditional exterior mirrors, the vehicles will be equipped with cameras that display the world around the vehicle in the lower corner of the windshield. Other cameras in the vehicle will track the driver’s eyes to help control the dashboard menu.

The future of electric vehicles is as clear as it is necessary. Combating climate change is of the utmost importance to the continued health of our planet. However, as each new model is unveiled exactly what that future will look like is only limited by the imagination and innovation it can spark.

The post This is the Stunning Electric Car Porsche is Creating to Oust Tesla appeared first on Futurism.

An Actual First Look

Three months after its unveiling at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Faraday Future’s concept autonomous electric vehicle finally made an encore appearance this weekend. A beta version of the FF 91, the flagship vehicle from the California-based startup, was spotted by Motorworld Hype at a car show in Long Beach.

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Faraday Future has been accepting reservations for the FF 91 since January, with the first 300 orders eligible for an exclusive launch upgrade called the Alliance Edition, though no word yet on what that would entail.

A Formidable Foe

With the FF 91, Faraday Future seems to be hoping to emerge as a serious challenger to Tesla in the electric and autonomous vehicle markets. The company has even built its own megafactory right in Tesla’s backyard. The FF 91 does, though, warrant attention as its own entity. Not only is it a rather beautiful electric vehicle (EV) with autonomous capabilities, the FF 91 packs its own hefty punches in terms of specs.

All Electric Cars: What’s My Range? [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

The FF 91 was designed and built following Faraday Future’s so-called Variable Platform Architecture (VPA)According to the company, the vehicle’s 130 kWh battery is “the world’s highest energy density battery,” and it delivers an estimated range of 378 miles on the EPA cycle and over 700 km on the NEDC cycle. The FF 91 runs on a 1,050 horsepower electric propulsion system capable of zooming from zero to 96 kmh (zero to 60 mph) in just 2.39 seconds. (For its part, Tesla seems to have acknowledged the rather stealthy Faraday Future by topping that acceleration rate almost as soon as the new vehicle was unveiled and before it actually hit production.)

The FF 91 is impressive as an autonomous vehicle, too. It’s set to be the first vehicle to “feature retractable 3D lidar […], part of a complex sensor system including 10 high definition cameras, 13 long and short range radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors.” It’s topped with more sensors than any of its counterparts.

Clearly, the FF 91 is a formidable foe for both EVs and self-driving cars. All that’s left now is for Faraday Future to actually roll it out. Hopefully, that future event isn’t too far away.

The post Tesla Challenger Faraday Future Just Showed off Its Flagship Electric Vehicle appeared first on Futurism.

Billionaire Elon Musk has invested much of his time in companies that progress humanity towards a sustainable energy future. His work in SpaceX, SolarCity, and chiefly Tesla, has proven how well-intentioned initiatives can thrive in the economy, especially in light of an upcoming launch.

The excitement surrounding Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 isn’t just shaking up social media, it’s also dramatically hitting the U.S. Stock Markets. The environmentally friendly automaker has been gearing up for its next launch strategically, by offering risk-reduced public stock in the company.

All that effort looks as though it is paying off. Tesla skyrocketed towards the top of the auto industry as determined by market cap, making numbers comparable to General Motors (GM). On Monday morning, Tesla briefly surpassed GM’s market with $51 billion, $2 billion more than GM’s at the time. However, Tesla quickly lost its edge, and as of Tuesday morning the two companies were essentially neck-and-neck at around $51 billion, with GM slightly ahead.

Tesla’s shares have risen considerably since last December, with shares increasing by over 40 percent to today’s value of $306.69 per share.  However, holding Tesla up against other car manufacturers is not really a one-to-one comparison, as Tesla does much more than just manufacture and sell cars. Tesla’s numbers also look especially good because some of the largest automakers in the industry, such as GM, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler, have felt stagnated sales in their first quarter.

While Tesla has its fingers in a number of pots, it likely owes much of its current success to the model 3.

The post Tesla Surged Past GM to Become the Most Valued Automaker in America appeared first on Futurism.

There’s a new electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer in town, and it looks like it can go head to head with Tesla. Chinese car manufacturing giant Geely, whose acquisition of Volvo was finalized in 2010, has been developing a line of vehicles using the latter’s compact modular architecture. Its Chinese operations are directed under its new global brand called Lynk & Co, which was launched in October 2016.

Now, the company delivers on their promise to release a sedan. Their concept car was unveiled last Friday, but without details on specs.

Credit: Fredrik Etoall/Lynk & Co.

Instead, Lynk & Co released stunning images of the concept vehicle courtesy of renowned Swedish photographer Fredrik Etoall.

All images courtesy of Fredrik Etoall/Lynk & Co.
Credit: Fredrik Etoall/Lynk & Co.

While Lynk & Co uses Volvo’s compact modular architecture to develop its line of EVs, the Swedish manufacturer is also working on its first long-range EV. Volvo expects to roll it out by the end of the decade.

Credit: Fredrik Etoall/Lynk & Co.

Coming a little sooner will be Geely’s first feature car, the model 01 crossover, which is expected to come out in China late this year. The first version would be a plug-in hybrid one, while an all electric model is in the works and is supposed to roll out by 2018. The 01 will also enter the U.S. and European markets eventually.

It’s another example of just how electric vehicles are becoming the future of clear energy transportation.

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