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Monday, March 7, 2016

Automakers Plan for the Future

By Beverly & Steve Smirnis



BMW’s i3 is all about forward-thinking technology with aluminum chassis driven by an electric motor, augmented by a two-cylinder gasoline-fueled “range extender” engine.  The passenger cell is skinned in carbon fiber to keep its weight down for improved efficiency and quicker acceleration.   It is rated to cover 72 miles on electricity while the 170-hp range extender gas motor keeps it going for approximately 70 more miles.  The cabin is surprisingly roomy in BMW’s rather funky-looking intro to the future. With a price tag in the $50K range, it is likely to be purchased as a toy second car by Euro sports car drivers.


While truly driverless cars are still a few years away, Tesla Autopilot, available on its new Model S, functions like the systems that airplane pilots use when conditions are clear. The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car. Tesla designed Autopilot to give more confidence behind the wheel, increase safety on the road, and make tedious everyday driving a thing of the past. Using cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors, Autopilot takes the stress of stop-start traffic away by steering, changing lanes and adjusting speed for you. 
The Audi RS 7 piloted driving prototype “Robby” tested limits
 of speed and handling at Sonoma Raceway
Rupert Stadler, chairman of the executive board of AUDI, says, “The intelligent car can unfold its enormous potential only in an intelligent city.” Audi and the city of Somerville, Massachusetts agreed to develop an urban strategy for Somerville, applying technologies automated parking, and networking cars with traffic lights.  In addition to networked infrastructure, Audi is bringing automated parking to the project. Self-parking cars result in three different benefits:  1) Parking garages can be relocated from the city center to less attractive places.  2) The parking area required per car is reduced by approximately two square meters.  3) The cars park closer together and need fewer, much narrower lanes in garages, where pedestrian paths, elevators and stairs are no longer required. A parking garage of the same size can then take up to 60 percent more vehicles – sufficient to end curbside parking.


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