McLaren Combines Technology, Automotive Branches to Become McLaren Group

Budding supercar company McLaren is often hailed as a true automotive startup success story, and for good reason. It's been held in high regard in the motorsport world since the 1960s, but the recent successes of its production cars have fueled Mclaren's lust for expansion. (It also helps that: 1.) McLaren produced what is widely considered to be one of the greatest cars ever made, with the F; and 2.) the McLaren P1 is a member of the Holy Trinity of hypercars alongside the Porsche 918 Spyder and the Ferrari LaFerrari.) Now, McLaren's highly-anticipated 720S is set to bring in even more dough for the British startup, and as a result, the company is combining its branches, shifting management, and planning its future as a production company.

McLaren Automotive announced today that it will merge with McLaren Technology Group to become the more-unified McLaren Group. The first step towards this cohesion is the ousting of CEO Ron Dennis and redistribution of his shareholdings. McLaren says this consolidation will advance the company's relations with customers and allow for more fluid expansion.

This process also saw a change in long-time shareholders TAG Group and Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, which will now be given more control over the company, gaining valuable positions such as Executive Chairman and Executive Committee Principal. TAG has been a huge part of McLaren for 30 years, so these management changes aren't a bad thing.

As a fan of the brand, we hope these changes won't stifle McLaren's passion for supercars, and that the company will continue to put out awesome, record-breaking vehicles for decades to come.

Watch David Donohue’s Porsche 911 Turbo Attack The Pikes Peak Hillclimb From Inside The Car

David Donohue is a legend in the Porsche community. Son of the famed Mark Donohue, championship winning racer in his own right, and most recently Porsche's go-between for 918 Spyder owners, David has been racing for a couple of decades and shows no signs of slowing down. For 2017 he wanted a new challenge and decided to take on the mighty Pikes Peak hillclimb in a heavily modified 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S. Because the car carries parts from the 911 GT3R, the 911 GT America, and the 911 GT3 Cup, they decided to slap the tongue-in-cheek name badge of "911 Turbo S GT3R America Cup" on the back of the car.

For still having his Rookie stripe at Pikes Peak, Donohue did a hell of a job racing up the hill. In this car that came down an assembly line and was available for sale at a Porsche dealership, Donohue placed 6th overall out of 80 competitors. His final time of 9:49.954 was good enough for second in the Time Attack 1 class just 2 seconds behind PPIHC veteran & legend Rhys Millen. He finished just a few fractions of a second behind a nearly-200-horsepower KTM race motorcycle. All of that is pretty astonishing for a guy who has never raced up to the peak before.

If you're interested in what a 991 Turbo with some serious aerodynamic modifications is like to drive up the winding road in Colorado, here is the onboard video from David's full sub-10-minute run. Looking at the split times, Rhys Millen was much faster than David in the lower sections of the mountain, but as the elevation increased, David clawed back a bunch of time. It's unclear what it was that helped him gain that much speed, but perhaps it was just confidence in the car and the road and himself. Either way, well done Donohue, and we hope to see you back at the mountain next year! Maybe in a GT2 RS?

Mazda to Introduce ‘Driver’s Choice’ Advertising Campaign

You know those Febreze commercials where people are blindfolded, put in a disgusting location that's been sprayed with the product, and told to talk about what they smell? Now it seems like car manufacturers are hopping on that "surprise and delight" advertising bandwagon—except the settings are a lot more sanitary, and actually nice to look at. First came Chevy's internet-famous "Real People" commercials, and now Mazda is getting on board with this campaign strategy to attract the luxury-minded. It wants consumers to know that you don't need to spend big bucks on a car to get refinement and luxury.

Mazda is introducing its Driver's Choice event this summer, which displays Mazda's passion for affordable luxury. Mazda's first advertisement will launch on July 1st and shows a bunch of luxury car buyers testing a group of de-badged premium sedans on a track, giving their views on each of the cars they drove. Only then do they find out that among the Mercedes-Benzes and Audis is a 2017 Mazda6 (this is certainly a lot like the Chevy's campaign, Mazda). Whether you think the ad campaign is weird or not, Mazda's message is pretty clear. It wants to advertise luxury car levels of comfort, technology, and refinement at half the price.

The Driver's Choice segments will appear on major stations such as NBC and ABC and run until early September. Is it enough to get premium-brand buyers to pick up a Mazda this summer?

Dozens of Pigs Released Onto Texas Highway After Crash

A truck accident can be a huge hassle for emergency personnel and road workers when an extensive amount of debris is involved. For example, when a Pepsi truck decides to take a tumble, thousands of sticky liquid-filled cans spray across the roadway, making a complete mess. The only real benefit is the Pepsi is not a living thing—thus it does not try to walk (or run) away.

Unfortunately, a recent tractor-trailer accident in Wilmer, Texas on Interstate 45 was a different story. Around 6:30am on Thursday, a tractor-trailer came in contact with the median, rolling over and releasing dozens of pigs onto the highway. The agitated animals ran up to four miles away from the accident scene, and snarled up traffic for hours. Emergency personnel were forced to take on the role of herders to ensure as many of the pigs could be recovered as possible.

Police stated traffic was closed in both directions as wrangling up a ton of pigs proved more difficult than anticipated. On the bright side: Later that day, a linen truck rolled over, spilling blankets all over I-45.

(I immediately regret making that joke.)

UNICEF Launches Africa’s First Drone ‘Air Corridor’

While drones can be incredibly fun and provide a wide variety of entertainment and competition, these nifty little unmanned aerial vehicles can also be used for the betterment of humanity. We've seen examples of this before, like when the London Fire Brigade helped monitor the aftermath of Grenfell Tower with the help of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). In Sweden, they've been testing defibrillator-carrying drones, in order to cut down on vital emergency response time that could mean the difference between life and death. There's a pattern here, and the nexus is located at the intersection of UAVs and saving lives. In Malawi, a landlocked country in central Africa, Unicef and US company Zipline have now partnered up to use the city of Kasungu as Africa's first drone "air corridor" to test ways of doing exactly that with the help of drones. What is an air corridor, and what does this mean for Malawi?

According to BBC, the agreed-upon air corridor will be used to test drone use primarily in correlation with emergency services and humanitarian missions. Naturally, the transportation of medicines and supplies comes immediately to mind. Only last year, Rwanda began using UAVs to deliver medication, and underdeveloped countries with imperfect infrastructure and lack of resources are most certainly the biggest potential benefactors of this innovative method of saving people's lives. It just makes sense, and it's great to see countries stacking up and implementing drones into their healthcare models, no matter how unsophisticated the ground-level systems may be.

Take a look at one of the drones in Kasungu, Malawi in action.

According to BBC, the air corridor in Kasungu will solely be utilized for this testing project until 2018. Apparently, Unicef has been working with governments and corporate sponsors around the world, looking for places and people it can help by using drones on humanitarian and developmental missions. These drones will have a range of 24 miles, which could powerfully affect the country's death toll if these drones are implemented as a standard and used effectively. For now, we'll have to wait and see. The testing period ends next year, and only results will tell how well things are currently going. Stay tuned.

Audi RS Models Could Go Rear-Wheel-Drive, Audi Sport Boss Says

If loose lips sink ships, then Audi Sport boss Stephan Winkelmann is a walking, talking U-boat. Fresh off revealing that Audi's performance division plans on giving the RS treatment to one of the the company's crossovers before the venerable R8, the former Lamborghini CEO told Auto Express today that Audi Sport might take the automaker where it's never gone before—rear-wheel-drive.

The modern Audi brand started out building front-wheel-drive cars like the 100 and 80 in the late 1960s, and it's been pretty much synonymous with all-wheel-drive since the introduction of the ubiquitous "Quattro" nameplate in the early 1980s. The performance wing was even called Quattro GmbH up until last year, sharing in that heritage. All this to say that rear-wheel-drive is basically nowhere to be found in Audi's DNA.

But one of Winkelmann's first moves last year when he took the helm of Quattro GmbH was to ditch the old name and re-christen it Audi Sport, and now we know it's not just because "GmbH" is a really weird combination of consonants in English.

"When looking at the name, we decided Quattro could be misleading. Quattro is the four-wheel-drive system and is one of the things that made Audi great—but in our opinion was not the right name for the company," he said to Auto Express at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. "I can imagine we can also have cars with rear-wheel drive or two-wheel drive in the future."

Winkelmann wouldn't reveal which models exactly could be converted, but we'd be lying if we said we'd never dreamed about an Audi RS 7 putting all its power to the rear wheels. And then there's the R8, which already shares a platform with the RWD-available Lamborghini Huracan. Winkelmann added that the automaker will unveil two new RS models at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, though that's probably too soon for these RWD comments to make their way to reality.

Still, it's all part of the plan to give Audi Sport a higher profile outside the company, similar to the way BMW's M Division and Mercedes-AMG are basically household names. Seems to us that going against the grain with a car capable of a proper burnout would be an excellent start.

A British Online Supermarket Is Testing a Self-Driving Grocery Delivery Vehicle

From drone delivery to self-driving trucks, the next phase of Amazon's assault on brick-and-mortar stores seems to rely on high-tech delivery methods. But a British online supermarket may have beaten the retail giant to the punch.

Ocado has no physical stores, instead delivering groceries directly to customers from warehouses. It's now using a small autonomous vehicle to do that job for a 10-day trial in London. Ocado hopes to perfect this delivery system and market it to other retailers, including those in the U.S., according to The Verge.

The "CargoPod" used for the trial resembles a golf cart with a cargo box on the back. It was built by Oxbotica, a U.K.-based tech firm that also tested a small autonomous shuttle bus in London earlier this year. The CargoPod can hold eight boxes of groceries, far less than the 80 boxes Ocado's regular delivery vehicles can carry. But the self-driving delivery vehicle is really more a proof of concept than anything else.

Testing is only conducted over three kilometers (1.8 miles) of residential streets, and the CargoPod has two human chaperones onboard at all times—one from Ocado, and one from Oxbotica. Both companies expect the technology to be commercially viable within a few years, but don't believe regular autonomous deliveries will be a reality for some time. As with self-driving passenger cars, the need for proper regulations may hold back autonomous delivery vehicles.

If technology and regulations ever allow it, Ocado wants to not only use self-driving trucks for its own delivery service, but also market the concept to other companies. Its Ocado Smart Platform already offers other retailers the ability to set up shopping apps, and use robots to organize warehouses. Ocado would like to add self-driving trucks to that catalog.

Ocado's plans could put it in direct competition with Amazon. The U.S. company recently bought grocery chain Whole Foods, and is also exploring self-driving delivery trucks. Amazon even tested a service that delivers groceries to customers' parked cars, and its interest in drone delivery has gotten a lot of attention. Seems like Amazon will do anything to avoid conventional delivery trucks.

House Bill Advances Federal Drone Delivery & Management Regulations

We at The Drive Aerial have been keeping a close eye on federal drone legislation, which aim to construct cohesive regulation for private and corporate unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) use. Only last month did we report on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and their proposed drone registry for hobbyists being deemed unconstitutional. The government seems keenly intent on resolving these intricate regulations and restrictions which have been argued over for the past year, and last week we saw President Trump invite four of the most significant drone companies in the world to the White House for a sit-down. Well, things are moving even more rapidly than we thought. Yesterday a House panel approved Rep. Bill Shuster's (R-Pa) legislation that would set rules for drone deliveries, beyond-line-of-sight drone operation, and agreeing on a unified air traffic management system.

With the incredible increase in both corporate use of drones and their urge to boost profits and increase efficiency by implementing drone delivery into their business models, and recreational hobbyists having very capable flying vehicles at their disposal, the demand for an overall set of rules, regulations, and restrictions is at an all-time high. The federal government is meeting with executives from some of the most sophisticated drone tech leaders around. Businesses in the anti-drone tech field are flourishing. Drones are new and the dust has barely settled, but creating a blueprint for the standards of corporate use is smart and necessary if these things are to become common, profitable practice in the future.

Though previous congressional drone regulation deadlines have been missed by the FAA before, it seems as though the current momentum can not be stopped, or is at least promising. The CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Brian Wynne, said these recent developments "represent a strong and sustained commitment for the growth" of the drone industry. Pentagon departments such as DARPA and corporations like NASA have already begun developing a wide variety of drone tech like air traffic management systems that could regulate thousands of UAVs in the air at one time. This will all become very necessary to have in place for overall legislations such as the House bill in question, which calls for the secretary of transportation to decide within 120 days whether or not air traffic management systems are a viable choice for the problem at hand, while giving the FAA 18 months to decide the same issue for UAVs that reach up to 400ft.

Wynne is a big advocate, stating that this would be a "responsible and reasonable approach" to this complex problem. This is all very much in the air as of yet, and finalizing all the various intricacies of an issue as tricky is this will take some time. It's not easy to set new federal standards that involve transportation, aviation, security, and privacy, and compromises from all entities involved will be required. It is great to see, however, that this issue is not only stalled or forgotten, but very relevant and highly focused on. We'll be sure to keep you posted on any new developments. Stay tuned.

Rimac Reveals Additional Details About Richard Hammond’s Crash While Filming ‘The Grand Tour’

In a recent interview on Drive Tribe, Richard Hammond sat down with CEO of Rimac, Mate Rimac, to discuss the elephant in the room - the Rimac Concept One that was totaled with The Grand Tour host behind the wheel. In the 26 minute interview, Rimac and Hammond dissect his crash and go over some specifics of the crash.

After a successful three runs, Hammond had one more run to make with the Rimac. Jokingly, he even put out the idea that this would be the run where he crashed (something he tends to do fairly regularly). As predicted, when Hammond reached the top of the hill, the rear-end of the electric supercar slid out and caused the Rimac to fall onto the road underneath. The car proceeded to roll for around 110 meters (360 feet), narrowly missing a house thanks to the curvature of the surrounding landscape.

And also I was aware that the car was taking just such a beating. I mean if you look at those craters, that's a big hole that's just impact and it looks like the thing has been dropped from space to leave a whole that big. So yeah I was probably going 'well this is it'. In fact that is what was going through my mind. I thought 'I've had it'.

One might wonder how Mate Rimac feel about this crash; after all, any person would hate to see their hard work destroyed. Surprisingly, his first takeaway is just how safe the car was, despite the severity of the crash. Rimac considers his organization a technology company, not necessarily an auto manufacturer. One that started with just 6 people and has since grown to around 250 - the company builds technology for petrolheads, by petroheads. The Concept One's goal was not meant to be efficient by going all-electric, rather because it was the best powerplant for the idea that Rimac felt would be right for the company.

With nearly 1,100 horsepower, the Concept One is fast. Four motors couple to four gearboxes and apply torque vectoring to the wheels over 100 times per second. It even allows for selectable front, rear, and all-wheel-drive configurations. Hammond might simply not have been ready for the technology of the torque vectoring coupled with the sheer torque produced by the vehicle.

Rimac believes that Hammond may have simply been going too fast to provide adequate braking into the corner. During the first run, Richard reached a top speed of 145 km/h before reaching the problem corner. On his last run, a maximum speed of 177 km/h (110mph) was reached. Fortunately for the other seven Concept One owners, the value of their cars just went up. Rimac brought in a customer car for this trial - not one of their own. And what makes matters worse, Mate Rimac states that his company will not be manufacturing a replacement.

Good news for all who want to see the Rimac perform its hill climb, though. Hammond states that they will not be scrapping the piece, as they have enough footage to finish the bit to include in the next season of The Grand Tour.

Volkswagen Jumps on the V2V Bandwagon, Plans to Launch System in 2019

Your next car may not be able to drive itself, but it might be able to “talk” to other cars. Automakers like Cadillac are beginning to deploy vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V) systems that allow cars to send information back and forth using a WiFi-like communications band.

Now, Volkswagen is jumping on that, err, bandwagon. VW will begin selling cars equipped for V2V beginning in 2019. Initially, they will warn drivers of traffic hazards like construction zones. But Volkswagen hopes to partner with governments and other companies to expand the use of this tech.

At launch, VW claims its system will have the capability to warn drivers of potentially hazardous traffic conditions or weather. Some examples include warning nearby drivers when a car makes an emergency stop, or using onboard sensors to detect black ice, then sending that information to other cars.

Eventually, Volkswagen hopes to partner with emergency services to allow its cars to tell drivers when an emergency vehicle is coming–even if it’s too far away to see. It also wants to connect cars with infrastructure like traffic lights. VW’s Audi luxury division demonstrated a system that used similar to tech to predict when lights go green last year.

Volkswagen’s V2V pitch echoes that of other automakers, but VW will also have to deal with the same issues those companies face in implementing V2V. Because it relies on a network of cars transmitting and receiving information, V2V only becomes effective when a large number of “talking” cars are deployed.

VW may try to address that by making V2V standard, although it will still take awhile to amass a significant number of V2V-equipped cars. Another major issue is the government and emergency-service partnerships Volkswagen discussed. It will have to develop a lot of them in order to ensure all V2V features are available in all areas.

Implementation of V2V is more an issue of coordination than technology. Getting the various stakeholders together will be a challenge, and if they don’t cooperate, V2V may never get off the ground. After all, what good is a “talking” car if no one is listening?