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2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Volvo XC90

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Sweden's Volvo had been in virtual hibernation in recent years, cut loose from Ford, sold to a Chinese owner, and resting on past innovations. The XC90 wraps three rows and seven passengers in a Scandinavian body that looks as solid as a glacier. It's the kind of SUV that you might expect to have a V-8, such as the one in the old XC90. But the new one cuts the cylinder count in half: the Volvo Twin Engine combines a turbocharger and a supercharger in a 2.0-liter four to make a very respectable 236 kilowatts (316 horsepower)--and a downright burly 298 kW in the T8 plug-in hybrid version, thanks to a 65-kW electric-motor assist. That T8 hustles to 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) in just 5.6 seconds, and its E-mode lets it cover up to 40 km on electricity alone.


Self-Driving Cars Will Be Ready Before Our Laws Are

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

It is the year 2023, and for the first time, a self-driving car navigating city streets strikes and kills a pedestrian. A lawsuit is sure to follow. But exactly what laws will apply? Today, the law is scrambling to keep up with the technology, which is moving forward at a breakneck pace, thanks to efforts by Apple, Audi, BMW, Ford [pdf], General Motors, Google, Honda, Mercedes, Nissan, Nvidia, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen. Google's prototype self-driving cars, with test drivers always ready to take control, are already on city streets in Mountain View, Calif., and Austin, Texas. In the second half of 2015, Tesla Motors began allowing owners (not just test drivers) to switch on its Autopilot mode.