Are we ready for a future not too dissimilar to that portrayed in Minority Report? I’m not referring to bald people predicting murders before they occur, but rather to cars that don’t need us — the drivers. Being a big fan of driving myself, this is a question that naturally presented itself when I read news of Audi’s new autonomous car system.

TTSSaltLake2712_610x406-e1359466231108

Audi itself prefers to call it a “piloted” system, reinforcing the idea that these cars should not necessarily be left entirely to their own devices, but that human guidance should still be present to supervise the whole driving experience. The human element is then not altogether done away with, but still present like pilots are with commercial sized airplanes — ready to take the wheel should gremlins suddenly make their presence felt.

Autonomous cars have been on the radar for a while, with Google being the main pioneer in this field, but Audi has proven itself to be at the forefront of this technology where automakers are concerned.

In 2010, working alongside Stanford University, the Volkswagen Group put an autonomous Audi TTSon the Pikes Peak hill climb, completing the 156-turn, 19.99 km track in 27 minutes. Proof then, that although we are encouraged to be mindful over driving, a truly autonomous form of personal transportation is not that far in the future. In fact, the Nevada DMV recently awarded Audi with the first automaker autonomous car license — making Audi autonomous vehicles road-legal.

audi-tts-shelley-autonomous-car_100233367_m

What are the implications of such technology though? Well, we can imagine that it will take navigation to the next level, wherein tech will not only guide you to your destination, but drive you there as well. Self-parking vehicles are already entering the market, but as it becomes a standard feature busy parking lots will now have more space than ever, with regular and consistent parking behavior occurring across the board.

A couple of years ago I would have looked upon this technological advance with disdain, pretending to be a purist and reminding others of the sheer driving pleasure that can be derived from jumping into a car and driving through a mountain pass. However, I am a bit older now, and maybe the novelty and excitement of driving has subsided because I can look at this and think — wow, how nice would it be to actually look at, and appreciate, the mountain pass that I’m driving through? The end verdict — we’re looking at the best of both worlds. Drive when you want, relax when you want.

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So, a little disclaimer at the bottom here just to say that this is a story that I wrote for a very good website – Gearburn.com.  Click for all things gadgety.  Click Here for a direct link to the story on their website.

 

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Alright, so this is probably one of the coolest things that I have seen in a while.  This is a new music video done by the band OK Go in partnership with Chevrolet.  To be honest, I’ve never heard of this group until I stumbled across this little nugget. After this though, I think I’m going to be quite the fan…

OK Go set up over 1000 instruments over two miles of desert outside Los Angeles.  They drive a Chevrolet Sonic through an obstacle course of these instruments, fitted with retractable pneumatic arms designed to play the instruments as they drive past.

The video took four months to prepare and 4 days to shoot.  Everything is legit, no stand-ins or anything.  Front man Damian even took stunt-driving lessons.  Get this: the pianos had their lowest octaves tuned to the same note so that they’d play the right note no matter where they were struck.

Genius.  Now watch and learn.

So, in the grand scheme of things, life has happened.  Where I once lived in Hong Kong, I now live in England.  The move was a strategic one for my career, but that’s a story for another day.  What I want to share with you is my experiences around one of life’s basic necessities – owning a car.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate in the past, as I had access to a car from the moment that I passed my driving test.  For those unfamiliar with South African roads and public transport, having your own car is more beneficial than one can believe.  I drove a Fiat Palio 1.2l, and she was my first love.  How could she not be after having passed my driver’s on Valentine’s Day?  For the rest of my final year in high school, I felt more independent than ever before, and having the ability to drive around and take care of myself became part of my identity.  There was just something infinitely cool about driving home from school on a sunny Friday afternoon, AC/DC blasting from the stereo, and thoughts of the possibly epic weekend that lay ahead.

With only my phone's camera at hand, I used to love snapping pictures of Patricia.

Then, I matriculated and I was off to University.  My little Palio just wouldn’t cut the mustard anymore, not with the long haul drives that I would now be doing on a fairly regular basis.  At least, this was my parents’ logic, as I have seen the mighty Palio perform well in this area before.  Knowing that it was more for safety than anything else, we hit the car market, where I sadly bid farewell to Patricia the Palio and greeted Chewbacca the Opel Astra 2.0l (so named because of the little noise he developed on the odd occasion over the years as he pulled off from a stop sign).

The Astra was in my life from age 19 to 25, right through university and loyally awaiting my return home after I left for Hong Kong.  And despite the many memories that we had made together, a truth had to be faced.  With my long absences – much longer than anticipated – poor Chewbacca was sitting alone in the garage, aging and not being looked after, the wheels slowly going square and the battery dying.  Chewy belonged on the road, not dying a disgraceful death in some garage.  So, I’d agreed to sell him, it was for his own good really, and I do need the cash to buy something for England.

Weirdly, the day that my Dad took the car in to the dealer to be evaluated, he bumped into one of my friends from high school.  Coincidentally, he was looking to buy a car, and my Dad was looking to sell one.  They struck up a deal on the spot, and not two hours after leaving my garage the car was sold.  That’s how special a car Chewbacca is.  I had mixed feelings about the whole thing.  On one hand, he was my loyal steed, and I didn’t even have a chance to say good-bye properly.  On the other, he was going to someone that I knew well, and I know that ol’ Chewy will be looked after.

Ol' Faithful Chewbacca the Astra

Now with the cash in hand from the sale, I’ve been looking to buy something in England.  Used cars in England are relatively cheap, and I can get a pretty good car for the money that I got from selling the Astra.  There is always a catch though, and in this case it was a particularly frustrating one.  It is illegal to drive a car without being insured, a valid and important system to have I believe, but car insurance rates have risen to a point where unless you can actually afford a really good car, insurance is just too expensive.  The following two links explain this phenomenon a bit further:

Car Insurance costs soar 15%

Car Insurance going up due to whiplash claims

As an experiment, I tried to insure a Ford KA costing £394 (not that I was ever considering buying this).  The cheapest quote that I got back was £674.  Now, quotes do go according to driver age and experience, and fortunately being over 25 costs should go down for me, but for anyone younger than 25 the costs are just insane.  Even if you agree to pay an excess of £500, you’re still in a unique situation.  If I were to claim on insurance in this scenario, not only would I be paying close to twice the value of the car in insurance, I would still have to pay an excess of £500 before seeing any claim for that car come through.  The only time these numbers make any kind of sense is when you start getting the cost ratios correct, i.e. that you’re spending enough cash on the car for it to be worthwhile insuring.

This in turn nullifies the positives behind having cheap second-hand cars.  Even if it is in good condition and has low mileage, it makes absolutely no sense to buy cheap.  So now I find myself in a position where I have sold my car only to find that I can’t actually afford anything half-decent here.

Then again, I have been wrong before, and I’m really hoping that I am wrong again now.  I’m going car shopping on Thursday to see if I can get some hands-on experience with this market and you can expect a report on that soon.  Having completed my rant, I must leave you to rant about something else.

Keep on driving.

 

Hello! It’s been way too long since my last update on this here blog, and for that I am eternally apologetic.  Here’s something pretty to look at:

The Ferrari 458 - quite the looker...

To be honest, I have no truly valid excuse to give as to why I have been so slack.  Without wanting to go into too much detail, my life has been pretty crazy of late.  What with relocations and job-hunting, I’ve only recently found myself settling down a little bit.

Now that I have the time and energy to devote back into my writing, I think it’s about high time that I get things rolling with this blog again.  I have some plans for growth and expansion in the future, and yet again I want to encourage you, the readers, to get involved.  The glory of using a platform such as this is that it really allows us to create a community, and I can hardly think of anything more Utopian than a car-loving community.

On that note, you can look forward to more news, fun, eye-candy and opinion pieces, as well as input from new contributors.  In short, I’m talking about progress.  MADmotoring is back, come ride with us…

New TopGear Trailer!

Posted: June 17, 2011 in News, Videos
Tags: , , , ,

This is for fans of TopGear out there.  The new season starts on 26 June, and in the trailer we’ve been given some hints as to what we can expect from the boys this time around.

From driving over cars in a monster-truck type vehicle, to a race against Winter Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams and her skeleton bob sled Arthur, the new season looks promising.

Have a look at the trailer…

A head-on collision involving a Ferrari 456 was caught on CCTV in Buenos Aires last week.  After having lost control, the supercar swung sideways across the road directly into an oncoming VW Gol.

Reports have said that the Ferrari driver didn’t sustain any major injuries, but more importantly the driver of the VW Gol survived and escaped with several broken bones and other minor injuries.

Here’s the video:

Source: Autoblog UK

In the news today you can read about how the Nissan Leaf is going to be driven by Chad Hord at Pikes Peak.  They’ve left it pretty bog standard, except for the addition of bucket seats, harnesses and a roll cage, and most of the interior software has been removed.  The engine hasn’t been touched.

So it’s going to battle to reach the podium, but it does have the small advantage of not needing air, so when it hits the higher end of the course it won’t suffer from any power loss.  I’m still a bit sceptical though…

I found this commercial for the Leaf online and it made me laugh.  Enjoy.

Formula One reached its peak at the Canadian Grand Prix.  The race lasted for over four hours from lights to flag, thanks mostly to the rain and the safety hazards that came with it.  Below is a video by Allianz with post race news…

This posting is just for fun, because like a dullard I was slow to react to the unveiling of the new Lamborghini Aventador.  However, seeing as I’m a massive fan of Lamborghini, and seeing as this is my blog where my rules apply, I’ve decided to showcase a gallery and two videos of the Aventador.  Enjoy the eye-candy!

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It’s the new M5!

Posted: June 16, 2011 in News, Pictures
Tags: , , , ,

The new M5 has finally been revealed by BMW, and it looks good.

The biggest change can be seen under the hood, where BMW have switched the V10 for a 4.4litre twin-turbocharged V8 that puts out 555bhp and a massive 506lb ft of torque.  BMW promise that it is “lag-free” and gives a “trademark M car thrust”.

The new M5 has a seven-speed double clutch auto ‘box and three modes installed, with S1 being the gentlest to S3 where things get a bit more brutal.  In S3, the M5 clocks 0-62mph in 4.4 seconds and 0-124mph in 13 seconds.  The top speed is limited to 155mph, or 190mph with the “M Driver’s Package”.

On the M5 you can also find damper control, stability control, six-piston brake callipers and an “M dynamic mode”, while you can also programme two individual setups for the car and called up through the M Drive buttons.

In terms of looks, well… Take note of the 19inch M light alloy wheels, the rear spoiler, a rear apron with diffusers, flared wheel arches, intakes for the engine and brakes and the pair of tin exhaust tailpipes.  An aggressive super saloon that acts like it looks.

You can find the same stuff you’d expect on the inside too: sport seats, an M leather steering wheel, M-specific instrument cluster and the full options range from the 5 Series saloon, including a 10.2inch screen with iDrive control display.  Oh, and there’s also a head-up display.

Enjoy the M5 gallery…

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Source: TopGear.com