This "S-Class of EVs" is the first full-electric car from Mercedes to come to the US, combining a low drag coefficient with a large battery pack for a range of 478 miles, using Europe's WLTP estimate. Tesla, Porsche and Audi already have electric luxury sedans, but this looks like an interesting and extremely classy competitor. Roberto Baldwin is ready to walk us through the features and its futuristic interior, which includes a biometric sensor for logging in with voice or fingerprint. There's no word on how much it will cost, and we haven't taken it on the road yet, but I'm already digging its unique taillights and fastback hatch. It's barely been a month since DJI unveiled a new drone, and the company already has another to show.
Ford is determined to counter GM's Super Cruise with its own take on hands-free highway driving, and that means conducting a rather extensive set of real-world tests. The automaker has revealed that it spent last year conducting the "mother of all road trips" for its upcoming BlueCruise system, sending five Mustang Mach-E crossovers and five F-150 trucks on a collective 110,000-mile journey across the US and Canada. The aim, to no one's surprise, was to gauge how BlueCruise handled in a wide range of realistic road and traffic conditions. Ford had already racked up 500,000 miles of development testing, but these were shorter, narrowly-focused dry runs. The road trips helped Ford look for changes in everything from road signs to weather while travelling cross-country.
The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is the automaker's first purpose-built electric car and a very different kind of pony. Ford's upcoming hands-free highway driving system will be called BlueCruise, the automaker has confirmed. Ford had previously referred to it as Active Driver Assist when its availability was announced for the 2021 Mustang Mach-E and F-150. The feature is similar to General Motors' Super Cruise, which was launched in 2017, and uses a camera, radar, maps and GPS to allow a vehicle to control its speed and steer itself perfectly within the center of a lane on certain roads. Both systems use facial recognition technology to determine that the driver is keeping their eyes on the road, rather than requiring them to touch the steering wheel like Tesla's Autopilot and partially automated features from other automakers.
The importance of semiconductors in society has reached such a point that supply chain constraints in the sector are having drastic impacts on other parts of society. Last week, American auto giants General Motors and Ford said they would idle some of their factories due to a shortage of semiconductors, sending tens of thousands of workers onto approximately 75% pay, the Washington Post reported. It is expected that worldwide production drops will be measured in the millions. In the wake of such developments, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang has said the automotive supply chain needs to be re-engineered. "The automotive industry supply chain has to be reinvented -- that's very clear," he told journalists this week after delivering the GTC 2021 keynote.
German carmaker BMW plans to start making drivetrains for electric vehicles at a vast factory in Regensburg, Bavaria, later in 2021. Well before any new parts roll off the production line, the entire manufacturing process will run in stunningly realistic detail inside a virtual version of the factory. The simulation allows managers to plan the production process in greater detail than was previously possible, says Markus Grüeneisl, who leads production strategy at BMW. "We now have a perfect digital twin of our real-time production," he says. The simulation is part of BMW's plan to use more artificial intelligence in manufacturing. Grüeneisl says machine-learning algorithms can simulate robots performing complex maneuvers to find the most efficient process.
Toyota has launched Advanced Drive, a new driver assistance technology, with the latest Toyota Mirai and Lexus LS vehicles. Advanced Drive is capable of Level 2 autonomy and can free the driver from operating the accelerator, brakes and even the steering wheel -- under certain traffic conditions and with the driver's supervision, that is. It was designed for highway driving only, and like other available assistance technologies today, it doesn't have full self-driving capabilities yet. Advanced Drive uses data from the vehicle's telescopic camera and LiDAR, as well as information from high-precision maps to detect other vehicles in the same lane. So long as a driver sets the destination in the navigation system, the technology will be able to assess situations and make decisions when it comes to changing lanes, maintaining distance from other vehicles, navigating lane splits and overtaking other vehicles.
Toyota Motor Corp. announced Thursday its launch of new models for its luxury sedan Lexus LS and hydrogen-powered Mirai equipped with assistant technologies that allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel in designated lanes. The new LS went on sale Thursday at a price starting from ¥16.32 million ($148,800). The Mirai will be sold from Monday, priced from ¥8.45 million, the company said. The autonomous driving technology equipped with the new models is a level-2 assistant system that could help with driving on an expressway or other motor-vehicle-only roadway. The technology can help with keeping the vehicle in its lane, maintaining the distance from other cars and navigating a lane splitting.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook has addressed rumours that his company is building a car in a new interview. While he declined to confirm any real details of what Apple is planning to release – if anything – he did give an indication of what the company might look to do if it does release a car, as rumoured. He noted that "an autonomous car is a robot" and that Apple looks to integrate hardware and software in all of its products. But the company "investigate so many things internally", many of which never actually "see the light of day", he told Kara Swisher in an interview for her New York Times podcast, Sway. In the same intervew, Mr Cook also discussed his commitment to free speech, his hope that controversial social media app Parler could return to the App Store, and Apple's ongoing fight with competitors including Facebook.
Tim Cook confirmed what we were already pretty sure we knew: He never met with Elon Musk about Apple acquiring Tesla. In a wide-ranging New York Times interview with Kara Swisher, the Apple CEO briefly spoke about his company's pursuit of a foothold in the growing self-driving car space. Cook exhibited typical corporate shyness regarding Apple's vehicle projects, but he did make it clear that he has, in fact, never communicated directly with Musk. "You know, I've never spoken to Elon, although I have great admiration and respect for the company he's built," Cook told the Times. "I think Tesla has done an unbelievable job of not only establishing the lead, but keeping the lead for such a long period of time in the EV space. So I have great appreciation for them."
"We want to leverage new opportunities in applied Artificial Intelligence to further improve products and services for our customers, supporting our employees and become even more efficient as a company," explained CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Johan de Nysschen. Daniel Weimer heads up the AI Detroit unit and his team of software engineers and machine learning specialists are tasked with uncovering and applying breakthroughs in AI. As an example of how the technology can benefit workers, an AI-based scheduling tool can help to effectively juggle the various shifts and skillsets of the 2,000 workers at the brand's Chattanooga plant, where the new ID.4 electric crossover will be built.