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GM Wants Student Drivers To Learn With Autonomous Cars

Autonomous vehicles could become teachers in Driver’s Ed.

Lewin Day
LEWIN DAYView Lewin Day’s Articles


Over the past decade, work on autonomous vehicles has become a major focus for automakers around the world. Much of this work has involved humans training autonomous vehicles on how to drive. GM looks to flip that script, however, patenting a design for an autonomous vehicle system intended to teach human students how to drive, as reported by Motor1.

While many think of autonomous vehicles as supplanting human drivers entirely, GM sees the issue differently. It notes in the patent filing that humans may wish to drive for pleasure, or may need to take over from an autonomous vehicle in areas or situations where such systems may not be allowed to drive or be capable of doing so.

Thus, the patent filing with the USPTO proposes a system where a student driver would be placed in an autonomous vehicle, which then trains the human on the driving task. The student’s inputs during driving, such as throttle and steering, for example, would be compared with the autonomous system’s own idea of what the best actions would be.

The driver can then be scored on their performance relative to the ideal set by the autonomous vehicle itself. This can be in the form of a numerical representation after completion of a task, or in the form of real-time feedback during the driving process itself.

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The vehicle could also help train student drivers in an incremental fashion. Various features would be placed under the student’s control, bit by bit. as the driver became more familiar with the operation of the vehicle.

Such vehicles aren’t likely to show up at your local high school’s Driver’s Ed course for some time. Such a system would necessarily need to be based on a Level 4 or Level 5 autonomous vehicle that was capable of driving itself in a majority of situations. Down the track, though, autonomous vehicles with in-built scoring systems could be the first teacher for a great deal of future student drivers. At that point, though, it raises the question of whether many will feel the need to learn to drive at all. Time will tell.

Source :  https://www.thedrive.com/news/gm-wants-student-drivers-to-learn-with-autonomous-cars

Rivian CEO Warns of Looming Electric-Vehicle Battery Shortage Much of the battery supply chain isn’t built, challenging an industry aiming to sell tens of

NORMAL, Ill.—Rivian Automotive Inc. Chief Executive RJ Scaringe is warning that the auto industry could soon face a shortage of battery supplies for electric vehicles—a challenge that he says could surpass the current computer-chip shortage.

Car companies are trying to lock up limited supplies of raw materials such as cobalt, lithium and nickel that are key to battery making, and many are constructing their own battery plants to put more battery-powered models in showrooms.


Electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle stories keep flowing, and below are several from the past week that we appreciate but didn’t cover in full. First, though, in case you missed this fun one, what a nice change to find a lighthearted traffic stop:

Perhaps the most uplifting story was one about the usefulness of scooters in Kiev, Ukraine. Bird Cities Blog shares:

“It’s difficult for cars to navigate damaged city streets strewn with anti-tank obstacles. That’s where shared scooters come in.” — In Kyiv, Scooters Are Helping Local Businesses Reopen

Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX First Ride: Mercedes’ Megameter EV

This swoopy sedan crossed the Alps, went 87 mph on the autobahn, and finished a 1,000-km drive with juice left in its 100-kWh pack.

Mercedes Benz Vision EQXX 73

Behold the most efficient Mercedes ever: the Vision EQXX. On Tuesday April 5 this experimental concept car drove 626 miles—or 1,007 km, just over a megameter—from its birthplace in Stuttgart Germany, up and over the 6,900-foot Gotthard Pass in Switzerland to the French Riviera on a single 100-kWh battery charge. The car averaged 56 mph by strictly adhering to all speed limits, peaking at 87 mph on a no-limit stretch of autobahn. They made two 15-minute bio-break stops, arriving in Cassis having consumed only 88 percent of the battery with 87 miles of range remaining (certified by German TÜV authorities). We traveled to the Nice design center that penned the exquisite EQXX to learn how this impressive feat was accomplished and to get a sense of how close the forthcoming EQC sedan might come to achieving similar results.

Mercedes Benz Vision EQXX 70

Prioritizing Efficiency Efforts

The overarching goal set for the EQXX team was to achieve a single-digit kWh/100 km consumption figure (9 kWh/100 km=233 mpg-e). The Riviera Run yielded an overachieving 8.7 kWh/100 km (241 mpg-e). The team prioritized its efforts proportionately to the forces acting on such an electric compact sedan at speed: 62 percent of the energy expended goes to overcome aerodynamic forces, 20 percent to overcoming the vehicle’s weight and rolling resistance, and 18 percent goes to drivetrain losses.

Mercedes Benz Vision EQXX 27

Lowest Drag Without Fender Skirts

Aero was obviously the development team’s No. 1 priority, and wheels are a huge problem (front wheels typically create one-third of a sedan’s aero drag). The easiest (and ugliest) way to fix this is by faring the wheels into the bodywork with skirts or spats, but the team in Nice managed to minimize wheel drag with very smooth unvented wheel covers, by specifying the tire sidewall contours and demanding all labeling be carved into the rubber, not embossed on it, and by insetting the rear wheels almost 2 inches relative to the fronts, putting them in the “wind shadow” of the front wheels. The considerable plan-view taper of the greenhouse makes possible those sensuous rear shoulders that mask this “design don’t” (it also benefits aero), but at considerable cost to rear seat shoulder room.

The next biggest aero advance (good for 0.01 Cd) is the rear diffuser, which extends almost 8 inches and drops down 3 degrees at speeds above 35 mph to work with the rest of the sharp edge that rings the tail of the vehicle to manage airflow separation and minimize drag-inducing turbulence. The rest of the story is more conventional: smooth underbelly and A-pillars, smaller, more aerodynamic mirrors, an underbody “cooling plate” that rejects heat directly to air passing under the car, meeting most of the vehicle’s cooling needs so the conventional radiator need only be used for climate control or extreme heat. That’s fed by shuttered openings in the lower grille that exhausts air through hood vents. The end result: a drag coefficient below 0.17 and a frontal area of 2.10 square meters for a total drag reduction of 29 percent relative to the EQS sedan (0.20, 2.51 sq m).

Weight Savings

Mercedes claims the EQXX tips its scales at 3,870 pounds—a bit less than the 3,902-pound single-motor Tesla Model 3 Long Range we weighed in 2017 with a smaller 75-kWh pack. A more energy-dense battery pack that relies on passive cooling is partly responsible. At 1,091 pounds including the one-box charger/controller, it weighs about the same as a Model 3’s actively cooled 75-kWh pack. The body structure employs a megacasting in the rear that, unlike the one in the Tesla Model Y, features “bionic design.” The team utilized ZBrush “digital sculpting” software (like Disney/Pixar used to render Shrek) to shape this megacasting, as well as the cast front shock towers, die-cast rear shoulder-belt anchors, and the 3-D-printed aluminum windshield wiper motor support. These parts only feature metal where mechanical stresses require it, with lightening holes where no stress flows. Where necessary, these holes are covered by UBX polymer panels produced from post-consumer waste. There are also composite springs, a carbon-fiber rear motor carrier, and aluminum brake rotors.

Mercedes Benz Vision EQXX 34

Motor/Battery Optimization And Solar Roof

Mercedes has yet to divulge full specifications on the EQXX’s battery and motor, except to say that they operate at 900 volts to further reduce amperage, cabling size (and mass), and overall system losses. The battery still utilizes nickel-manganese-cobalt chemistry employing high-silicon anodes and is said to deliver 95 percent of input energy to propulsion (90 is more typical). The 241-hp Mercedes-developed eATS 2.0-based motor employs a novel stator winding leveraging Formula E technology that places more copper near the rotor for greater power and efficiency. The roof and rear window area are covered in 19.4 square feet of 25 percent efficient photovoltaic panels intended to largely power the infotainment and other non-propulsion systems, extending the car’s range by up to 16 miles on a sunny day.

Riding Along In The EQXX

As engineering development vehicles developed from scratch in 18 months go, this one seemed uncannily production ready. Its 47.5-inch 8K-resolution pillar-to-pillar micro-LED (not OLED) screen rendered dazzling navigation info, with an intuitive interface and zero-lag responsiveness. Five different data-visualization tech screens displayed oodles of engineering and eco-coaching info in sharp gamer graphics. The sun’s angle of incidence and wind direction are used to precisely forecast solar energy gain, and the aerodynamic effects, the road grade, and traffic forecast helps estimate instantaneous range remaining throughout the journey.

And the navy and white interior design is concept-car eye-popping while demonstrating a host of new eco-friendly materials (bamboo-based carpet, vegan “leather” from cactus and mushroom materials, and textiles spun from e-coli-produced faux silk) appear to meet luxury expectations right now. The level of noise and vibration could use a tiny bit of work, but the suspension soaked up bumps with reasonable comfort and the car cornered nice and flat. Performance seemed roughly on par with that one-motor Tesla 3. On the downside, the low-energy, “personal listening” headrest speakers didn’t deliver Burmester fidelity, the back seat is laughably unusable, one must duck under the low doorframes, and we didn’t get a peak in the trunk.

Mercedes Benz Vision EQXX 77

Might The Next C-Class Be A Megameter Mileage-Master?

The EQXX is sized like the forthcoming MMA-architecture C-Class, but a production version won’t go as far on 100 kWh. Simply raising the roof and widening the rear track and/or greenhouse sufficiently to provide a competitive rear seat will erode much of the EQXX’s aerodynamic superiority. Engineers describe the EQXX technology as a third production-ready now, one-third coming soon, and one-third completely experimental. We wonder whether unvented wheels and aluminum rotors can pass braking durability testing in a production car. The passively cooled battery is limited to 100 kW charging power, which may not be deemed commercially sufficient. And finally, it must lose another few drag counts each for putting rain gutters on the A-pillars and making the mirrors comply with size and rain-shedding requirements. But we’ll call it a huge win if it looks at least a little like this—inside and out—and goes 450 miles on 100 kWh.

Source : https://www.motortrend.com/reviews/mercedes-benz-vision-eqxx-electric-car-first-ride-review/

California unveils proposal to ban new gas-fueled cars by 2035

  • California’s clean-air regulators introduced a plan this week that would ramp up the sale of electric and zero-emissions vehicles while phasing out the sale of new gasoline-fueled vehicles by 2035.
  • The proposal, if enacted by the California Air Resources Board, would require 35% of new passenger vehicle sales to be powered by batteries or hydrogen by 2026, and 100% of sales to be net-zero emissions less than a decade later.
  • Shifting the transportation sector to cleaner energy is a key component of the state’s plan to combat climate change, as cars, trucks and other vehicles represent roughly 40% of its pollution.
Morning traffic makes its way along a freeway in Los Angeles, California, September 19, 2019.
Morning traffic makes its way along a freeway in Los Angeles, California, September 19, 2019.
Mike Blake | Reuters

California’s clean-air regulators unveiled a plan this week that would ramp up the sale of electric and zero-emissions vehicles while phasing out the sale of new gasoline-fueled vehicles by 2035, in an aggressive effort to combat the state’s greenhouse gas pollution.

The proposal, if enacted by the California Air Resources Board, would require 35% of new passenger vehicle sales to be powered by batteries or hydrogen by 2026, and 100% of sales to be net-zero emissions less than a decade later. The proposal also calls for zero-emissions sales to account for 68% of total sales by 2030.

Shifting the transportation sector to cleaner energy is a key component of the state’s plan to combat climate change, as cars, trucks, and other vehicles represent roughly 40% of the its pollution.

Electric vehicle sales in the state rose to 12.4% of total sales last year, a jump from 7.8% during 2020, according to the board.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal in August. At least 15 states, including New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, have adopted California’s vehicle standards on prior clean-car rules.

The plan follows Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order in 2020 that called for phasing out new cars with internal combustion engines within 15 years by requiring that all such vehicle sales produce zero emissions by 2035.

The rule would not ban people from owning gas vehicles or from selling them on the used market.

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“With Californians still experiencing the harmful effects of smog-forming emissions and the effects of climate change, which are expected to worsen in the coming decades, adoption of the proposed ACC II [Advanced Clean Cars II] regulation is critical and necessary,” the state plan said.

Newsom, when signing the executive order, said the plan could curb the state’s emissions from cars by more than 35%, and that zero-emission vehicles would “almost certainly” be cheaper than gas-powered vehicles by the time the regulations start.

“Building on 30 years of work to electrify light-duty vehicles in California, the market is clearly poised for massive transformation,” the plan said.

California, which is grappling with worsening wildfires and drought as temperatures rise, also has a goal to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2045.

Some environmental groups urged the board to set even tougher targets and transition faster toward electric vehicles, arguing the state should impose a rule to achieve 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030, five years earlier than the current proposal.

“Time is running out before the world as we know it disappears in the rearview mirror,” Scott Hochberg, a transportation attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement.

“To protect people and the planet, California has to free our streets from tailpipe pollution as fast as possible,” Hochberg said.

Editorial: California mandate picks up pace for electric cars, but not with the speed required

California air quality officials on Tuesday released a groundbreaking proposal to require all new cars sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035, a rule that would make it the first state to mandate the phaseout of gas-powered vehicles that are fueling the climate crisis. It signals the beginning of the end for combustion engines in California.

The state Air Resources Board plan follows through on a 2020 executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom and is expected to be voted on this summer. It would require automakers to sell increasing percentages of zero-emission vehicles starting with 35% of new car sales in 2026, reaching 68% in 2030 and 100% by 2035.

It’s a much-needed mandate to avoid a disastrous heating of the planet and curb deadly and health-damaging air pollution, but regulators can do better. Some environmental groups have called on them to set a sales target of at least 75% zero-emission vehicles by 2030. Others have called for reaching 100% by 2030, a goal the state of Washington has set (but not mandated) to end the sales of new gas-fueled cars.

If they are not willing to go that far, regulators must at least strengthen the rule to ramp up more quickly. They must ensure that these standards go beyond the zero-emission pledges car manufacturers have already made and force them to get more electric vehicles on the road faster.

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General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, has already announced plans to sell only zero-emission cars by 2035, and other major companies including Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have pledged to work toward ending the sale of gas-powered cars by 2040 globally and by 2035 “in leading markets.”

Electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles accounted for 12.4% of California’s new car sales in 2021, up from 7.8% the year before. The market is expanding quickly, and setting a more aggressive zero-emission standard of at least three-quarters of new sales by 2030 would send a clear message that the nation’s largest auto market — and the other states that follow its rules — will force manufacturers to pick up the pace.

Speed is of the essence because we are running out of time to act on climate change and California is not on track to meet its legal obligation to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Passenger vehicles are the state’s single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for about one-quarter of its climate pollution.

Getting more people into electric cars is not just a climate imperative, it is necessary to reduce smog in some of the nation’s worst-polluted regions, including Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley.

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The current proposal would achieve only an 8% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, the year by which climate scientists say that global emissions must be slashed nearly in half. And because many cars stay on the road 15 years or more, an estimated 56% of vehicles on the state’s roads would still be gas-powered when sales of fossil-fueled new cars end in 2035, according to the air board.

Regulators should also strengthen environmental justice provisions in the rule to ensure that more electric vehicles get into low-income communities of color that have long borne the brunt of vehicle pollution but have been largely left out of the benefits of shifting to cleaner technologies.

Climate impacts are quickly worsening, battery technology is making great strides and surging gasoline prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have underscored the perils of our reliance on fossil fuels. This moment calls for bolder action on electric vehicles, and California’s regulators should push carmakers to go further and faster.

Single Model Y reservation goes through as Tesla tests order page

The Tesla Model Y order page went live on Saturday and Sunday – but only temporarily, as Tesla Australia apparently tested the page ahead of an official pre-order launch.

One lucky customer even managed to place a deposit for a pre-order, though whether Tesla will honour it is very much up in the air.

Pegged by Tesla boss Elon Musk as the EV maker’s best-seller before it was even released, the Model Y has been proving very popular overseas.

In March, it proved the best-selling passenger car in the UK beating the Model 3 in second-place. In California in 2021, it accounted for almost 44% of its segment beating the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Unsurprisingly, its availability in Australia where SUVs are also very popular and interest in EVs is gaining momentum is highly anticipated.

Reports started coming in on social media on Saturday from potential Model Y customers (many of whom have been repeatedly refreshing the page after news of the electric crossover’s pricing in Australia broke on Wednesday) that they had seen a live order page – but only for moments.

“Oh, it’s gone. I saw 2 models. SR and Performance. 70k driveaway for SR. SR was 65500 and Performance was 90900,” said one forum member.

“2nd this, order page did appear, but it seems to be gone again,” said another.

“I tried to place an order and it didn’t go through. We’re getting close!!” said a third.

Source : https://thedriven.io/2022/04/11/single-model-y-order-goes-through-as-tesla-tests-order-page/

The Last Big Obstacle to Electric Cars Is All in Your Mind

The average American drives fewer than 40 miles a day, well within the 200- to 300-mile range of most current-model electric cars. Yet electric cars still make up less than 5 percent of new motor vehicle sales. As EV technology has improved, range anxiety—the fear of running out of juice before you get where you’re going—has given way to anxiety about where you’re going to charge and how long it will take. And that may be holding people back from making the leap from gas to electric.

There’s no question that America needs more charging stations to accommodate the growth of electric vehicle sales and fuel the transition away from gasoline. If the escalating climate crisis hasn’t put a fine point on that, skyrocketing gas prices should. But it’s going to take more than infrastructure to wean Americans off the pump and get them hooked on electrons. We’ll need to reengineer the country’s car culture, learning to see the charging cord as a liberator not a tether, and changing some of our most ingrained travel habits outright.

“Right now the thinking is, ‘Build stations, we’ve got to build stations,’” John Eichberger, executive director of the Fuels Institute, a transportation energy research group, told The Daily Beast. “But once they’re built, how are we going to deal with human behavior?

There are about 46,000 public chargers across the country, according to the Department of Energy’s latest count. The majority can give you 25 miles of range in about an hour. Fast chargers, numbering fewer than 6,000, can do it in 10 minutes or less. (These are rough estimates—it can vary a lot depending on the charger, the car, the state of the battery, and so on.) For comparison, there are around 150,000 gas stations in the U.S., most with several pumps, and all of which can fill ’er up in five minutes flat.

There are many parallel efforts to adequately wire the country. President Biden’s infrastructure plan puts $7.5 billion over five years toward building up America’s public charging network, with a goal of installing 500,000 chargers—many in disadvantaged and rural areas—and standardizing hardware and payment options to make it easier for anyone to charge anywhere. Charging companies are starting to collaborate even as they jockey for footprint, and a consortium of 50 utility companies is expanding their high-voltage connections to create a coast-to-coast fast-charging network along interstate highways.

Experts estimate that if we are to meet Biden’s target to make half of U.S. car sales electric by the end of the decade, the country needs between 100,000 and 1 million public fast chargers alone. BloombergNEF predicts EVs will make up only a quarter of sales by then—but even still, we’re running short.

A Tesla supercharger station in Redondo Beach, California.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Some people barely need public chargers. The roughly half of Americans who park in their own driveways or garages can plug in their cars when they get home each night and drive to work the next morning on a full charge. The cost is barely noticeable on their utility bill, about equivalent to running a refrigerator overnight.

For the other half of drivers, who don’t have reliable access to off-street parking, it’s more complicated. Some commuters might be able to charge up at work. Maybe your apartment complex or monthly lot has a few spots where you can plug in an EV. God help you if you need curbside charging in a dense city.

“In places like Manhattan, I know what a pain it is to find a parking spot,” Jeremy Michalek, a mechanical engineering professor and co-founder of the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University, told The Daily Beast. “If you add the constraint that some of those spots have chargers and some of them don’t, it just makes it even more of a nightmare.”

Source : https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-last-big-obstacle-to-electric-cars-is-requires-a-mental-fix-in-our-travel-habits

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Source : https://jalopnik.com/ev-trucks-save-1-5-times-as-much-co2-as-electric-cars-1848777242

Elon Musk touts Cybertruck, Optimus, the future of self-driving cars at Giga Texas grand opening

Elon Musk made a grand entrance to Cyber Rodeo to open Tesla’s new Gigafactory and global headquarters in Austin, Texas, on Thursday evening, driving up on stage in a black roadster in a cowboy hat and sunglasses before giving a bold speech that was capped off by a fireworks show.

“Why Austin? Well actually, I asked the Tesla team, because California is great, and we’re continuing to expand in California, but we ran out of room,” Musk told a raucous crowd. “We need a place where we can be really big and there’s no place like Texas.”

About 15,000 people traveled from all over the world to attend the invite-only event at the electric vehicle pioneer’s new headquarters, which is nearly 4,000 feet long and took about two years to build.

“It wasn’t easy building this incredible asset, this humongous building and getting all this equipment here,” Musk said. “We went through deep freeze, rain, quicksand. Incredibly fast build. It was very difficult but it’s done.”


Giga Austin is already producing the model Y hatchbacks with plans to produce half a million vehicles annually.

Next year, the factory will start churning out the futuristic Cybertruck, which Musk called Tesla’s magnum opus on Thursday.

“I’m not going to spill all the beans right now, but what I can say, what I can say is we’re going move to just truly massive scale that no company has ever achieved in the history of humanity,” Musk boldly claimed.

While Musk entered in the original roadster, he touted the future of Tesla, including the transition to full self-driving, a robotaxi, and the Optimus humanoid robot, which Musk said will be able to do “basically anything that humans don’t want to do.”


Giga Texas will employ about 10,000 people in the Austin area, a point that was touted by Travis County commissioners at a meeting last month in which they approved the permit for Cyber Rodeo.

“I think this is a genuine opportunity and an important one for our community that will provide many, many benefits,” Commissioner Brigid Shea said on March 23.

Not everyone has been thrilled about Tesla’s Cyber Rodeo and future in Texas, though. Paul DiFiore, a representative of the environmental group PODER, urged commissioners to deny Tesla the permit to host the grand opening.

“I urge you to consider rejecting this permit and forcing Tesla to delay their celebration until they start treating the community of Eastern Travis County as more than a workforce for Elon Musk, but rather as neighbors and partners,” DiFiore told the commissioners last month.


Source : https://www.foxbusiness.com/technology/elon-musk-touts-cybertruck-optimus-the-future-of-self-driving-cars-at-giga-austin-grand-opening

As Gas Prices Went Up, So Did the Hunt for Electric Vehicles

Prices at the pump have apparently given some Americans second thoughts. But two practical problems remain: not enough cars and relatively few charging stations.

Electric cars at a charging station in San Diego.


Thinking about buying an electric car? You’re not alone.

With gas prices painfully high and a series of climate reports underscoring the urgency of moving away from burning fossil fuels, more Americans are expressing interest in electric vehicles.

Google searches related to electric cars have skyrocketed, reaching a record number last month. On the automotive classifieds website Cars.com, searches for electric vehicles increased 43 percent from January to February and a further 57 percent from February to March. And automakers are ready with encouragement: Almost all of the car commercials during the Super Bowl in February featured electric vehicles.

But the journey to actual purchases that put more electric vehicles and fewer gas-powered vehicles on roads in the United States has two major roadblocks: the supply of cars and infrastructure to charge them.

With the United States, like most countries, struggling to find the political will to make the drastic changes needed to limit climate change, there is no question that more people switching to electric vehicles would be a positive step.

Source : https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/08/climate/gas-prices-electric-vehicles.html