Posts Tagged ‘car’

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Across the way from my house you can find a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit IV, and other than getting the odd clean every now and then, it doesn’t get touched.  What a travesty!  To have such a beautiful car standing across from you, just to watch the wheels go square.

The first version of this car was launched in 1980, with three versions having been released up until the Silver Seraph succeeded it in 1998.  The particular model that stands across the road was produced between 1994 and 1998.  An interesting pub fact is that the Silver Spirit was the first Rolls to feature the retractable Spirit of Ecstasy.

The Silver Spirit IV has a 6.75-litre Rolls-Royce V8 engine, coupled with a 4 speed automatic gearbox.  The car was based on the same floorplan as its predecessor, the Silver Shadow.  It managed a top speed of 243 km/h and had a combined fuel consumption (city and highway) of 18.4 litres/100km.

The badge on the back of the Rolls says Silver Dawn, which means that it was probably imported from the US at some point as the Rolls was sold as a Silver Dawn only on the American market.

I’m sure there’s more of a story there, and if given the chance I’ll confront the owner and ask why the poor thing doesn’t get to move at all…  A sad, sad state of affairs.

Porsche 911 GT3

Kung Hei Fat Choy!  Happy Lunar New Year!  Things have slowed down quite a bit on the blog, and I’ll admit that it’s purely because I’ve been too busy having a good time to sit down and get anything done.  Oh well.

This week’s Spotted in Hong Kong goes to the Porsche GT3, mostly because I saw it whilst heading off to get some much needed early morning food after a late night of welcoming in the Lunar New Year.  Being in the jovial mood I was in, and having a camera at the ready, it was more than natural for me to snap a few pictures of the car.

If I’m honest, I’m not a massive fan of Porsche.  Don’t get me wrong, they produce some remarkable stuff, but I’ve always felt that they’ve been too scared to venture too far away from the safety net that is the 911, hence the overwhelming tendency of each car to look like the next.

0 - 60mph in 5.5 seconds

The GT3 is different though, because I can find no fault in taking an already, very good car (the 911), and then tweaking it to make it that little bit better.  Every car manufacturer has done this at some point, and if they haven’t they really should start thinking about it.

Launched in 1999, the Porsche 911 GT3 is named after the FIA GT class that it was originally intended for, and as such sports a 3.8 litre naturally-aspirated six cylinder engine – based on what can be found in the Porsche 911 GT1 race cars.  The GT3 also utilizes a six-speed gearbox that helps to give the driver a true sense of racing ability.  The GT3 does 0 to 60mph in 5.5 seconds, and to 100mph in 13 seconds.  In short, the GT3 is a track car, and in a city like Hong Kong, I have to be honest, it could be a bit of a waste, unless you’re involved in some underground racing or have the time to drive out to the airport everyday.  Hong Kong’s streets are not very conducive to fast driving, but that won’t stop anyone from buying the most insane sports cars.  Awesome.

Rumours are flying around that a new GT3 is expected to make an appearance at some point, with a bigger engine.  Good news, good news indeed.  Until then, I give you the Porsche 911 GT3…  Like what you see?  Click on this link to see Richard Hammond of Top Gear take the GT3 for a spin…

Top Gear presenters left to right: Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May

It seems that the guys at Top Gear have offended yet another group of people – this time it’s the Mexicans.

Eduardo Medina Mora, Mexican Ambassador to the UK, wrote a letter to the BBC about “insults” made by the Top Gear presenters, Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson.

The boys where doing their usual news bit where they reviewed a Mexican sports car and were less than complimentary about the car and the nation it originates from.

There’s not much else that I can add that the video itself can’t tell you better, so make sure you watch it.  What I can tell you though is that Mr. Mora didn’t hesitate to let the BBC know just how he felt about the comments uttered on the popular motoring TV show, as he said: “The presenters of the programme resorted to outrageous, vulgar and inexcusable insults to stir bigoted feelings against the Mexican people, their culture, as well as their official representative in the United Kingdom.”

“These offensive, xenophobic and humiliating remarks only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes and perpetuate prejudice against Mexico and its people.”

The BBC has not responded to this as of yet, but they have assured that they will respond directly to the Ambassador.  As a result, this makes Sky Sport’s very public handling of the football sexism case quite a bit more laudable.

Source: Autoblog UK

Typical Hong Kong Taxi - Toyota Crown Comfort YXS10

Seeing as this is my first installment of Spotted, I thought it would be very fitting to pay tribute to the modest taxicab that runs around Hong Kong in abundance.  Although there are several models being used throughout the region, the most popular seems to be the Toyota Crown Comfort YXS10.

First released in 1995, the Toyota Comfort was designed for use as a taxicab in Japan.  The long wheelbase version of this car, the Toyota Crown Comfort, was then exported to Hong Kong in 2001.  The main difference between the two versions is that the Crown Comfort has an extra seat in the front, allowing the taxi to carry 5 passengers, excluding the driver.  The Crown Comfort also has automatic doors and a 4-speed automatic transmission, which only became standard in 2004.

All Hong Kong taxis ran on diesel fuel until the late 1990s, barring the 4-passenger taxis that ran on petrol.  In 1996, a few taxis were introduced that ran on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as part of the government’s test project for alternative fuels.  This experiment proved successful, and now all new taxis have been factory-built LPG since 1999.  Today, diesel taxis cannot be imported and it is actually illegal to drive a taxi running on diesel.

Red - All areas; Green - Parts of the New Territories; Blue - Southern Lantau Island

Taxis in Hong Kong operate in different areas, and as such are colour coded.  Red taxis have the highest fares, and they serve all areas of the New Territories, Kowloon and Hong Kong Island.  Green Taxis are the second most expensive and only serve parts of the New Territories.  Lastly, the blue taxis run exclusively on southern Lantau Island, the airport and Disneyland.  There are not many of these, as they only serve a small area.  Not familiar with Hong Kong regional geography?  Click here.

The history behind Hong Kong’s taxicabs is a long and interesting one, dating back to the 19th Century.  If you feel the need to educate yourself a bit further on the subject, click here.