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Tag: Cars Technica (Page 1 of 76)

Waymo hires Avis to look after its autonomous cars in Arizona

Enlarge / Waymo is using a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to develop its self-driving technology. (credit: Waymo)

Back in April, we reported on Waymo's plans to offer an autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Arizona. Spun off from Google's self-driving car project, Waymo is using a fleet of adapted Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to perfect its self-driving technology. Today, the company announced it is entering into a deal with the rental car company Avis to service and store the vehicles.

Autonomous ride-hailing services are being viewed by car and tech companies as a potential gold mine in a near future where car ownership is losing its luster. Instead of selling autonomous vehicles directly to the public—which will happen eventually—operating the fleets themselves means they can be commercially insured, solving (for the time being) one of the big unanswered questions about the evolving technology. But owning and operating a fleet of vehicles is easier to do if you're a car manufacturer with the resources and experience already in-house. Hence this Waymo-Avis deal.

Waymo will own the autonomous test fleet and will pay Avis to look after the vehicles. It proved to be quite a positive move for the latter's share price, which rose by 12.5 percent this morning once news broke. That's understandable, as the rental car industry is one that could be seriously affected by the arrival of autonomous vehicles, although it's worth remembering that for the first few years, such services will be geofenced to certain metropolitan areas.

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If Ferrari built an M3: The 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Video shot and edited by Jennifer Hahn (video link)

It's fair to say that I'd been looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio for some time. The brand's new flagship sedan is a $72,000, 505hp (377kW) rear-wheel drive statement of intent, a car that says to rivals at BMW and Mercedes and Cadillac that the Italians are back. It first caught our attention at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, then again in Los Angeles. Last year, the Giulia Quadrifoglio teased us some more in New York 2016 and then once again this year when we awarded it Best New Luxury Car. But a build-up like that can be risky. Cars don't always meet our expectations, and there's little worse than the feeling when you fail to gel with a car you've been looking forward to driving.

A man on a TV show once said something along the lines of "you can't consider yourself a true petrolhead until you've had an Alfa Romeo." At the time, I wasn't entirely sure what he was talking about. The Alfas that populated the roads during my early driving years in the 1990s were unremarkable and badly compromised. During the 2000s, they were pretty but almost exclusively front-driven. And the Giulietta rental car I crossed Europe in a few years back had the most amazingly uncomfortable driving seat I'd ever encountered.

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Rhode Island bill sees highway surveillance cams ticketing uninsured motorists

Enlarge (credit: Jef Nickerson)

A Rhode Island legislative committee has approved a bill that would greatly expand the surveillance state though the deployment of license plate readers. For the first time in the US, these devices would be attached along Rhode Island highways and roads for the stated purpose of catching uninsured motorists from any state.

Jacquard

Jacquard

The House Corporations Committee approved the bill on a 7-2 vote earlier this week. The legislation spells out that the contractor for the project would get 50 percent of the fines paid by uninsured motorists ensnared under the program. The state and the contractor would each earn an estimated $15 million annually. Fines are as high as $120.

Many police departments nationwide are using surveillance cameras tacked onto traffic poles and police vehicles to catch traffic violators and criminal suspects. The proceeds from traffic fines usually are divvied up with contractors. But according to the Rhode Island lawmaker sponsoring this legislation, it's time to put surveillance cameras to get a new purpose—fining uninsured motorists.

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Citrix isn’t just for telecommuting, Red Bull Racing uses it at the track

Enlarge / Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing prepares for the 2017 Australian Grand Prix. (credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images for Red Bull)

"Big Data" has been all the rage for the last few years. But the sport of Formula 1 racing caught that bug a long time ago, certainly in the days predating that buzzword. In the past, we've taken a look at how teams like Williams Martini Racing, Renault Sport Formula One, and Caterham F1 (RIP) have handled collecting and crunching their terabytes. Today, it's Red Bull Racing's turn.

"I've worked for the team for 13 years now, and we've been doing this for ages. The complexity of what we measure and sophistication of the analytics continues to improve, but we've been doing big data for a long time," explained Matt Cadieux, Red Bull Racing's Chief Information Officer. The data in question is collected by myriad sensors all over the team's race cars, roughly adding up to a terabyte each race weekend (500GB for each of the two cars).

"But if you look at all the other data we use—video, audio, number crunching to run through various simulations—it's a huge multiplication factor on top of that," he told Ars. Cadieux wouldn't give us an exact number for that data volume over a race weekend, lest that information prove too useful to the team's rivals in the paddock, but company-wide the team manages 8PB of data. Cadieux reckoned that 95 percent of that was related to car design and car performance—think CAD (computer-aided design) and CFD (computational fluid dynamics), but also strategy simulations and historical telemetry data from previous seasons. "We have a very data-hungry business," he said.

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Honda shuts down factory after finding NSA-derived Wcry in its networks

Enlarge (credit: S-8500)

The WCry ransomware worm has struck again, this time prompting Honda Company to halt production in one of its Japan-based factories after finding infections in a broad swath of its computer networks, according to media reports.

The automaker shut down its Sayama plant northwest of Tokyo on Monday after finding that WCry had affected networks across Japan, North America, Europe, China, and other regions, Reuters reported Wednesday. Discovery of the infection came on Sunday, more than five weeks after the onset of the NSA-derived ransomware worm, which struck an estimated 727,000 computers in 90 countries. The mass outbreak was quickly contained through a major stroke of good luck. A security researcher largely acting out of curiosity registered a mysterious domain name contained in the WCry code that acted as a global kill switch that immediately halted the self-replicating attack.

Honda officials didn't explain why engineers found WCry in their networks 37 days after the kill switch was activated. One possibility is that engineers had mistakenly blocked access to the kill-switch domain. That would have caused the WCry exploit to proceed as normal, as it did in the 12 or so hours before the domain was registered. Another possibility is that the WCry traces in Honda's networks were old and dormant, and the shutdown of the Sayama plant was only a precautionary measure. In any event, the discovery strongly suggests that as of Monday, computers inside the Honda network had yet to install a highly critical patch that Microsoft released in March.

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