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Category Archives: Transportation

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Alibaba Wants To Sell Cars Through A Vending Machine

Tyler Lee December 14, 2017

Vending machines are typically used to purchase things like drinks and snacks, but if you’ve ever been to Japan, then you know that the country’s vending machine game is next level. For example you can buy things like fruits, eggs, SIM cards, umbrellas, and more, so why not cars, right?

Wait, what? Yup, it seems that over in China, e-commerce giant Alibaba has proposed an idea in which one could potentially test drive and buy a car via a vending machine. As you can see in the video above, the concept of the vending machine is roughly similar to those automated multi-story carparks, but instead of using it to park cars, you can use it to select the cars you want to test and buy.

Naturally this leads to questions about the potential abuse of such a system, where people can just choose and car and drive off with it. However according to Alibaba, there will be some security measures in place to prevent that. For starters customers who want to test the cars will need to have a certain credit score via Alibaba’s own Zhima service, and also be Alibaba Super Members.

Also customers will be limited to five test drives every two months, with each test drive allowing drivers to test it for a maximum of three days. Customers can then choose to purchase the car outright using Taobao or arrange to test a different model. At the moment there are only plans to open two such “stores”, one in Shanghai and the other in Nanjing, with plans to eventually open more at a later date.

Alibaba Wants To Sell Cars Through A Vending Machine , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Volvo’s Self-Driving Car Experiment Reportedly Being Scaled Back

Adnan Farooqui December 14, 2017


Volvo is one of the many major car manufacturers working on self-driving cars. The company had previously announced a rather ambitious experiment involving its self-driving cars. It was planning to deliver 100 autonomous SUVs to real people in Sweden for testing. Volvo was going to launch this program in 2017 but according to a new report, the Drive Me program is now being scaled back.

The company had originally announced that it would deliver 100 of its XC90 self-driving SUVs to real people in Sweden. It would later provide a similar number of cars to families in China and the UK. All of the participants of this program would test the cars that would have been capable of running in “unsupervised” autonomous mode on select pre-approved freeways.

Volvo says that the Drive Me program will now be launched in 2021 instead. A report by Automotive News mentions that the company is also reducing the number of self-driving cars that will be involved in this project.

The report says that Volvo will be giving these cars out to 100 people and won’t be giving out 100 cars over the next four years. They won’t be fully self-driving either. The cars will be Level 2 semi-autonomous so they will offer functionality similar to commercially available semi-autonomous driving systems in Europe and the United States.

Volvo will eventually give participating families vehicles with higher levels of automation but that’s going to take time. The ambitious plan of throwing them into the deep end, so to speak, with fully autonomous cars has been shelved for now.

Volvo’s Self-Driving Car Experiment Reportedly Being Scaled Back , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Toyota, Panasonic Considering Joint Development Of EV Batteries

Tyler Lee December 14, 2017

Despite cars being on the road for as long as they have, you couldn’t really say that we’ve perfected the design, as improvements can always be made to things like the engine, the aerodynamics, tires, and so on. The same is doubly true for electric cars which have been around for much less time.

On this front we’re talking about the batteries used in EVs, which is apparently an area that Toyota and Panasonic are considering teaming up for (via Reuters). Both companies recently made a joint announcement in which both companies indicated that they were considering working together towards furthering the development of batteries of EVs, or to be more specific, prismatic batteries.

This will be a departure from regular batteries used in EVs, like those used in Tesla which are cylindrical in nature. Prismatic batteries on the other hand are flat and pouch-shaped with a higher energy density, although the downside is that they are vulnerable to overheating and swelling, something you definitely don’t want to see while you’re driving.

Speaking at the joint news conference, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said, “The auto industry faces many hurdles to developing next-generation batteries which are difficult for automakers or battery makers to tackle on their own. It would be difficult for us to meet our 2030 goals given the current pace of battery development. That’s why we’re looking to Panasonic and other companies to help us develop ever-better cars and batteries.”

Toyota, Panasonic Considering Joint Development Of EV Batteries , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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LG Patents A Transparent, Flexible Heads-Up Display For Cars

Tyler Lee December 13, 2017

Seeing a heads-up display (HUD) used in cars isn’t exactly an uncommon sight these days, as there are a few carmakers who are implementing the feature to their vehicles. However it seems that LG could have some ideas of their own, which based on the diagram above could make for a slightly neater solution.

In a patent discovered by the folks at LetsGoDigital, it describes how LG plans on using a flexible and transparent display to create a HUD experience for drivers. The patent shows how the display itself can fit in the roof of the car, and can roll down when called upon. The fact that it uses a flexible display means that it can be rolled out and kept more compact compared to regular displays which are more rigid.

We have heard that LG is interested in flexible display technology, so this doesn’t really come as a surprise. The display will also be transparent, which means that drivers can have it in front of them without it obstructing their view of the road and traffic. The display can show the driver all kinds of information, such as when the car in front suddenly brakes, the display can flash a warning sign.

The display (and presumably the car itself) can be connected to a server, which can then pull information from other connected objects that you might have at home or the office, like security camera footage, and so on, although this doesn’t sound particularly safe. The patent also describes a variety of ways the flexible display can be used, like wrapped around the front and side of the car, on the back of the headrest so that passengers can watch shows, and so on.

That being said, whether or not the patent will actually be applied to commercially available cars remains to be seen, but as LetsGoDigital note, LG has partnerships with a couple of carmakers, such as Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz.

LG Patents A Transparent, Flexible Heads-Up Display For Cars , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Avis To Test Unlocking Rental Cars Using Smartphones

Tyler Lee December 12, 2017

Image credit – Continental

We have heard of how there are some hotels in some parts of the world where they are testing out features where guests can check themselves into their room using their phone, which in turn also acts as a key. It turns out that car rental company Avis is also interested in similar tech that can be applied to rental cars.

According to its press release (via Roadshow), Avis has teamed up with Continental where they will be applying Continental’s Key-as-a-Service (KaaS) technology to some of its rental cars. The test will be kicking off in Kansas City where according to Larry De Shon, president and chief executive officer, Avis Budget Group, it will help lay the foundation for a potential future involving keyless car rental.

De Shon was quoted as saying, “Our partnership with Continental helps us deliver the next generation of mobility solutions and lays the foundation for entirely keyless car rental. Keyless car rental not only offers customers the ultimate in convenience and personalization, but it also enables us to accelerate our offerings into new markets as we continue to innovate the overall car rental experience.”

What this could mean for future car rentals is that you will be able to sign up for a car rental via the web or through your smartphone, and once approved you’ll just need to go straight to the car and will be able to unlock it without having to go to the car rental company’s office, which should make it considerably more convenient for travellers.

Avis To Test Unlocking Rental Cars Using Smartphones , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Uber Accidentally Charges A Rider $20,000 For A 20 Minute Ride

Tyler Lee December 12, 2017

Uber’s surge pricing is somewhat controversial, especially when you consider how much more expensive it can get. However in the past the company has gotten major backlash when the company implemented surge pricing during emergency situations, like in Sydney during a hostage crisis, or in London earlier this year during the terror attacks.

However it seems that despite how expensive surge pricing can get, we’re pretty sure no one would have ever expected to be charged close to $20,000 for a 20 minute ride, right? Unfortunately that’s what happened to Uber rider Hisham Salama who claims to have been quoted $18,518.50 for a five-mile ride, which he expected would have cost him around $20. Initially believing it to be a joke, he decided to check with his credit card company and discovered that the money indeed had been earmarked.

@Uber @Uber_Support what turned out to be an honest mistake is now turning into the biggest blunder of 2017. I’m no longer laughing at wondering when #uber will get their act together. Can anyone help? Obviously, no 20 min fare is $18,500. pic.twitter.com/zBhtMSBy67

— Hisham Salama (@The_Hish) December 9, 2017

Salama then tried to get in touch with an Uber support rep who confirmed that the fare is correct, suggesting that Uber was standing by its charges. Unsurprisingly Salama wasn’t going to pay this amount, and together with his friends they took to Twitter to pressure Uber into justifying the costs, which ultimately resulted in Uber backtracking and claiming it to be an error, according to The Canadian Press, where they said that the driver had entered the wrong fee.

The company has since refunded Salama and given him $150 in credit. Uber has also provided a statement to Slate which reads, “We have provided a full refund to this rider and apologized to him for this experience. We have safeguards in place to help prevent something like this from happening, and we are working to understand how this occurred.”

Uber Accidentally Charges A Rider $20,000 For A 20 Minute Ride , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Two-Wheeler Mode Introduced To Google Maps

Tyler Lee December 6, 2017

Just last month, Waze introduced an update that brought about motorcycle mode that was aimed at motorcyclists. Given that Google owns Waze, we suppose it doesn’t really come as a surprise to learn that Google will be bringing that feature over onto Google Maps, although it should be noted that the feature will be launched in India first.

According to Google, “Two-wheeler mode in Maps shows trip routes that use “shortcuts” not accessible to cars and trucks. It also provides customized traffic and arrival time estimations. And since so many Indians rely on local landmarks for navigation, two-wheeler mode will show major landmarks on the route so that riders can plan their trip before starting, and don’t have to keep checking the phone on the go.”

Google notes the reason behind launching it in India first, saying that India is the largest market in the world for two-wheelers. However the good news for those who ride bikes and live in a different country, Google expects that the feature will come to your market at a later date, but no specifics were mentioned.

In recent times we’ve seen how Google has chosen to focus their efforts in India where it has a developing market. This has come in the form of Android One devices, and now a Google Maps feature that India will be able to enjoy first before the rest of the world.

Two-Wheeler Mode Introduced To Google Maps , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.

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Nissan To Start Testing Self-Driving Taxis In Japan Next Year

Tyler Lee December 6, 2017

If the future is to be filled with self-driving cars, it behooves carmakers to try and get as much testing done as soon as possible to gather data, information, and other details that will help perfect the system for when it is launched. It’s hard to beat real-life testing which is why over in Japan, Nissan will be launching self-driving taxis in 2018.

In an announcement by the company, Nissan has revealed that they will be launching self-driving taxis as a test in Japan together with DeNA. This test will be a relatively short one and is expected to span two weeks from the 5th of March, 2018 until the 18th of March, 2018 where it will be conducted in the Minatomirai district of Yokohama, Japan.

According to the announcement, “Nissan and DeNA started collaborating to develop a new mobility service that uses autonomous driving technology in January 2017. The two companies aim to combine the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision, through technological assets in autonomous driving, vehicle electrification and connected cars, with DeNA’s experience in developing and operating driverless mobility services using its expertise in the internet and artificial intelligence.”

Customers who are interested in being part of the test can sign up from today until the 15th of January, 2018 via the website.

Nissan To Start Testing Self-Driving Taxis In Japan Next Year , original content from Ubergizmo. Read our Copyrights and terms of use.