Former Self-Driving Uber Safety Pilot Says He Wasn’t Allowed Bathroom Breaks

Apparently, there are some speed bumps on the road of progress. That's according to former Uber employee Ryan Kelley who, according to an interview with Business Insider, wasn't allowed to take bathroom breaks while performing his day-to-day duties.

Kelley's role was as a safety driver. His job was to ride around in an autonomous Uber from the driver's seat, ready to take over if anything catastrophic happened. During December 2017—a month before he was fired—he was allegedly encouraged to avoid taking bathroom breaks.

Apparently, if the self-driving Uber was stopped, it would take up to an hour to reboot, limiting the amount of time and number of miles it could log during testing that day.

On another day during that same month, the self-driving Ubers were braking aggressively. Kelley stated that the experience was akin to "being in a series of low-end collisions for three hours, with my head slamming against the headrest constantly." He also complained of a headache and blurred vision as a result.

He wasn't alone, either; several drivers complained of similar symptoms that day. The safety manager, Rob Shoup, went so far as to claim that the safety drivers were faking their injuries.

After urging from his wife, Kelley sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with a mild concussion—an injury consistent with being in a low-level car accident, just as he described. Kelley brought his diagnosis into work and reported Shoup to the human resources department.

One month later, Kelley was fired, reportedly accused of rolling through a stop sign and not reporting it to his manager. Kelley thinks that Uber had ulterior motives for firing him, though no more information on the matter is currently available.

Watch This Formula 1 Race Filmed Entirely in Stop-Motion by Sport’s Most Dedicated Fan

Formula 1 has some of the most dedicated fans in the world, and that's on full display in this YouTube video from Team No Limits 865. Not content to merely collect die cast F1 cars, the creator of this video built a track and painstakingly filmed a 10-minute Grand Prix in stop-motion, complete with replays and commentary.

The project was a massive undertaking for its creator. Staring with a sizable collection of Formula 1 die-cast, construction of the track began in May, with photography starting in June. The project was completed and uploaded to YouTube just a few days ago.

The fictional New England Grand Prix lasts for twenty laps, making for a 12 minute long video with pit stops, replays, and cautions. The quality of the stop-motion video is surprisingly high, easily as good or better than the Rankin-Bass holiday specials we all grew up with.

Really, if it wasn't for the fact that the car's front wheels don't turn while cornering and there’s no damage when contact occurs between two cars, the filming is smooth enough to look pretty close to the real thing.

Most impressive, though, was the attention paid to on-screen graphics and overlays, which were carefully added in post-production to mimic the look of a real F1 broadcast. The audio element, with muted race car sounds underneath enthusiastic commentary, was equally impressive.

It's hard to comprehend the amount of work that went into this video, but we certainly hope that you enjoy it as much as we did.

Babies Love the Sound of the 2019 Acura NSX, Study Proves

When this journo was a fussy baby (which is roughly once every couple of days, if you ask my girlfriend), my folks would drive me around in our Mercury Sable station wagon until I fell asleep. The gentle movement of the suspension and the muted hum of the engine and tires was soothing then as it is now—I'm still known to fall asleep on long road trips (thankfully, not while driving).

Honda decided to do a bit more research into this phenomenon, and created the Sound Sitter, a cute, stuffed plush Honda S600 coupe with a Bluetooth speaker sewn into the car's fluffy body. This speaker was used to play the sounds of 37 different Hondas, from the 1965 T360 pickup to the 2019 NSX.

In a test that Honda admits is less than scientific, 12 babies were monitored when they expressed discomfort, having the Sound Sitter rev for two minutes near the baby while its breathing and heart rate were monitored. One car's sounds stood head and shoulders above the rest, soothing 11 of the 12 babies.

Surprisingly, Honda discovered that babies found the noise of the newest NSX more soothing than a CRX or even the Odyssey minivan. Apparently, the sound of Honda's twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 revving was most analogous to the muffled hums a baby hears inside its mother's womb.

Typically, sports cars are marketed as raucous, angry, and brash. The exhaust note is a big part of that high-performance image. It makes one wonder how other high-performance cars would stack up, and if there's some primal reason we love these sounds. Honda probably didn't expect this result out of their test, and it probably won't sell any more NSXs. However, if they decide to sell those pillows, I know what’s going on my wish list.

World’s Fastest ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee Runs 9 Seconds in the Quarter-Mile Without any Boost

When you think of fast Jeep Grand Cherokees, naturally, your mind is going to gravitate to the Hellcat-powered Trackhawk. Boasting 707 horsepower and capable of an 11.6 second quarter mile time, it's faster than any Jeep has any right to be.

Well, it seems someone forgot to tell these guys. MSP Motorsports has built what they call the "EEP," a ZJ—yes, the first Grand Cherokee—that can best the Trackhawk's quarter mile times without even breathing hard. In fact, by the end of the video, it's running deep into the nine-second range.

With no front bumper, grille, or headlights, holes in the front fenders for the abbreviated exhaust, and a sheet-metal hood scoop, the EEP won't win any beauty contests. That doesn't matter one iota, though, because this thing is brutally fast.

MSP claims that this is the fastest ZJ in the world, and apparently, there is more than one sub eleven-second Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ out there. That's a world we're more than happy to live in.

While the previous world record was held by a supercharged 408 cubic inch stroker with a healthy dose of nitrous added, MSP's EEP is running a normally-aspirated 387 stroker. That record was 10.8 seconds; the EEP was able to squeak by with a 10.756 second pass to beat the record.

Things really started to get fun when the crew at MSP began adding nitrous to the equation. With a 150 shot, the EEP was able to run a 9.87 at 136.63 miles per hour. That's a world record that we're sure will stand for quite a long least, until MSP decides to add a supercharger, more cubes, more nitrous—or all three.

Supercharge Your Collection With This Lego Technic Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1

There's two kinds of car enthusiasts: those that still enjoy playing with Lego, and liars. Lego's newest Technic kit is sure to garner interest from both parties. Following a successful run of European performance cars from the likes of Bugatti, Ferrari, and Porsche, Lego is now bringing things stateside with a Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 kit.

While not as large or complex as some of its other car kits, Lego's Corvette ZR-1 comes in at just $49.99, considerably cheaper than the Porsche 911 GT3 kit ($299.99) and the Bugatti Chiron kit ($349.99). Just like in real life, the Corvette my be simple compared to its peers, but it gives its European counterparts a run for their money.

The Lego Corvette ZR-1 still has awesome features that will endear it to enthusiasts, like working steering and a V-8 with pistons that move. Interestingly enough, the Lego Corvette ZR-1 has a feature not shared with its larger Porsche and Bugatti siblings: an alternate set of instructions. Per a press release, the Corvette ZR-1 kit will include an additional set of instructions to build a classic hot rod.

The hot rod build actually looks pretty neat, considering that it only uses the pieces that came in the box to build a modern Corvette. For the price, we might be persuaded to pick up two. We'll have to wait just a little bit longer, though, as the Lego Corvette ZR-1 won't be available to order on Lego's website until New Year's Day. What a great way to start 2019.

The 10 Worst Self-Driving Stories of 2018

One hour after publishing my "10 Best/Worst of Automotive Tech 2018," I realized it was too short. A "Worst 100" couldn't cover the universe of incompetence, stupidity, shilling, and prostitution in the automotive sector, let alone those hives of BS and assorted chicanery known as Mobility and Autonomy. So this holiday season my gift to you is this supplement, my 10 Worst Self-Driving Stories of 2018.

Waymo One? Come on, guys.

10. Waymo "Driverless" Waymo One "Launch" — From the guys who are supposed to be leading the idiotic "race" for self driving cars came the biggest disappointment so far: Waymo's long-awaited commercial launch. I have no doubt L4 self-driving vehicles are inevitable, but if and when you're in the lead, you need to execute. Waymo had long promised commercial service by the end of 2018, but "Waymo One" was little more than a rebranding of what they were already doing, safety drivers included. Ars Technica's dogged Timothy Lee found an actual passenger to talk about the service, and the brilliant transportation analyst Eric Paul Dennis really dismantled the reality behind Waymo One on Twitter. Both are must reads. I know some great people at Waymo, but this was really suboptimal.

WTF is

9. Zoox "Drivered" Autonomous Vehicle Announcement — You'd think that after the Waymo One debacle no one else would wade into the self-driving trough of disillusionment. You'd be wrong. The trough exists because company after company — many with tens or hundreds of millions of dollars of funding — keep missing deadlines, or worse, keep making hollow announcements. The worst are those bending language to generate press releases to boost valuations. Which brings us to the impressive sounding press Zoox got last week: "Zoox Wins First Permit to Ferry California Public in Robot Rides", "Peninsula Startup Zoox Gets 1st State Permit for Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service", "First Company Approved For Autonomous Passenger Vehicle Program". The average person might think autonomous vehicles are finally here. Wrong. According to the California Public Utilities Commission, Zoox is allowed to participate in Cali's first pilot providing "drivered" autonomous vehicles. So...not autonomous. This is another company where I have really smart friends. Zoox has some really brilliant investors. Come on, guys. Suboptimal.

Bulls**t or Suboptimal? Why not both?

8. Anthony Levandowski's Pronto AI Comes Out Of Stealth — The comeback no one was waiting for from the guy no one wanted to hear from, Pronto AI is "controversial" engineer Anthony Levandowski's (AL) new project. He has much to be ashamed of, from his super sketchy move from Waymo, to Uber, and on to ignominy. Lawsuits and investigations follow him like flies to flypaper. Why? Rumors of stolen tech, something something Lidar, and yet here he is claiming to have driven cross country in a self-driving car.

I call bulls**t. Let's take a look:

Pronto AI's" />

Oh...what's that just right of the rear-view mirror? That's a Panda, designed by George Hotz and sold by Hotz is also controversial, but Hotz is also a genius who doesn't rip off other people's work and claim it as his own. How much additional code did AL write on top of Comma's open source L2 solution? That's right! Comma's Openpilot — which I consider the best L2 solution available today — probably deserves all the credit for whatever it is AL did. It certainly wasn't self-driving though. Not even Comma claims that. Whatever AL did, he has scant evidence. If you want to claim a record of any kind, you've got to prove it. Time-lapse video without third-party witnesses? What a crock. Here's a seminal article on evidentiary standards. Pronto.AI? Suboptimal.

Those wheels are very 1902.

7. The Boring Company Tunnel — Everyone knows I love Elon Musk, but that doesn't mean one should look past a truly weak demonstration of his magical mystery solution to LA traffic. See those wheels attached to that Tesla? That tech comes from old-school roller coaster technology, also known as "side-friction wheels", given up long ago by a sector where safety has to be #1, or people don't buy tickets. Check out this article deconstructing why, a rare piece of real journalism over at NBC. Sorry Elon, but this was...suboptimal.

Tim Kentley-Klay, former CEO of Zoox

6. The Self-Driving CEO Shuffle — Why do CEOs (step aside/get replaced/retire)? Unless they're old or get a better offer, it's because there's a problem. If they're young, it's because there's a major f*****g problem, and there seems to be a lot of this going around in the self-driving sector. "Visionary" Timothy Kentley-Klay of Zoox? Gone. "Genius" Kyle Vogt of GM's Cruise Automation? Replaced by GM's Dan Ammann. If you want results, put adults in charge. Pretending otherwise wastes time and money. Wasting time and money? SUBOPTIMAL.

Paying for Full Self-Driving? Puhleez.

5. Tesla Full Self Driving Pullback — Everyone knows I love Tesla (how many times do I have to repeat this to fend off the trolls?), but I also call it like I see it. Paying for Tesla's Full Self Driving (FSD) was absurd in 2016 and it's absurd today, which is probably why Tesla removed the option from their site. Will it ever work? As in reach L4 somewhere, sometime? I think so. But anyone who knows anything about self-driving technology understands the concept of geofencing. It's not when it will work, but where. Why are so many self-driving developers testing in southern states with good weather and moderate traffic? Because it will be easier to deploy there. Where will Tesla FSD work first? Wherever it's easiest. When? If you sign up for a 36 month lease today, even if you live in an optimal location, you're not likely to get L4 before that lease is up. If you do, it will be so limited as to make you wish you'd waited to pay for it. Oh wait! You can still pay for it now, but only through the Tesla app, or platform, or whatever, if you already have one. Elon, I love you, but these games are silly. Paying for FSD now? Suboptimal.

L3 semi-automated driving in 2018? Not so much.

4. Audi Highway Pilot Delayed — Again, I love Audi. I've owned a lot of Audis. I really want Audi to succeed, and I don't feel that way about everyone. But...did someone say L3 semi-automated driving will be here in 2018? It depends on how one reads Audi's official press release from 7/11/17:

That's a lot of words. They forgot the word

A lot of people translated that to mean Audi will release an L3 system in 2018. I've been saying for two years that NO ONE can or will release an L3 system until someone develops and deploys a real Transition Warning System. I've yet to see one. The Cadillac SuperCruise system is decent, Tesla's is mediocre, and everyone else's is garbage except for George Hotz's brilliant Comma.AI system, which is aftermarket only. What happened to Audi's "piloted-driving"? Audi claims "a quagmire of legal, infrastructural and consumer issues" in the United States. Guess why those issues exist? The system isn't ready, or it lacks a transition warning system, or the very concept of L3 is flawed. Lame or suboptimal? Why not both?

Rarely true.

3. Uber Wait Times — These are never accurate. Never. STOP. IT. UBER.

Whatever Electrek is, it's suboptimal.

2. Electrek & The Tesla Fanbois — I really want Tesla to succeed on the merits of everything good Elon Musk has done for the automotive industry. Better ADAS, semi-automation, connectivity, EV powertrains, fast charging, literally everything that's coming from the OEMs is coming sooner because Tesla forced their hands. Is Tesla perfect? No. But automotive history is chock full of scandals, liars and charlatans, and Tesla continues to shock, surprise and delight more than it disappoints, 100% of which is Elon Musk's work...and fault.

Innovation? Thy name is Tesla.

Alas, Tesla benefits from scores of fools, shills, and kneepad-wearing fanbois, few of whom appear to understand the technology behind the company whose stock they would seem to promote in daily tweets and blog posts. Safety, value, and quality are not served by the lies, stupidity and/or deliberate omissions foisted by sites like Electrek and countless fanboi's Twitter accounts, of which this one is the worst on my radar this week. To repeat, I love Tesla's cars, but the culture of fandom is rife with nonsense wearing the cloak of journalism and virtue signaling. There are too many examples to cite, so I'll cite my own critique of Fred Lambert, Electrek's petty and tempestuous propagandist-in-chief. His "coverage" is the most shameless PR journalism, lowering the bar for what "news" can and should be. When people's lives and wallets are at stake, the truth matters. Not partial truths. The WHOLE truth. Electrek is the tragi-perfect media outlet of our time, where facts and fake news dance around a fire of ethical conflict. I want to say it's suboptimal, but that would be an insult to others on this list, some of whom are at least trying to do something of value. Anything you might learn from Electrek is best read elsewhere, with context and fact-checking. As for Tesla twitter, follow Musk for entertainment, and Zoox investor Josh Wolfe for the counter-arguments. I don't agree with either of them all the time, but boy, these two make for great bathroom Twitter.

Guess what Theranos and Tesla have in common? This guy.

1. Larry Ellison Joining The Tesla Board — Ellison was on the board of Theranos, one of the biggest frauds ever to come out of Silicon Valley. This is not how trust is built. The last thing Musk should want is to have something in common with Theranos.

Is this the dumbest story of the year? It's certainly suboptimal.

BONUS SUBOPTIMAL STORY: David Pogue's Tesla Model 3 Review — Absolute garbage. Too many errors to list; here's my line-by-line fact check, which is a disaster for Pogue's credibility on pretty much anything IMHO. I wish the Tesla I'm about to buy was self-driving. But it isn't.

See you next year.

Alex Roy is founder of Geotegic Consulting and the Human Driving Association; editor-at-large at The Drive; host of The Autonocast; co-host of /DRIVE on NBC Sports; and author of The Driver. He has set numerous endurance driving records, including the infamous Cannonball Run record. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Watch a Bugatti Chiron Find Its Top Speed on a Former Space Shuttle Runway

A video posted to the Johnny Böhmer Proving Grounds' YouTube channel shows a small crew testing the top speed limits of the 1,500-horsepower Bugatti Chiron. The facility was once a space shuttle program landing site on Merritt Island, Florida, but now its 3.2-mile runway has been re-purposed so supercar drivers can let loose in a controlled environment.

Like its Veyron predecessor, the Bugatti Chiron is powered by an 8.0-liter quad-turbocharged W-16 engine. That means four banks of four cylinders being fed by four turbos. This complex arrangement of pistons and blowers results in an output of 1,500 horsepower, 1,200 pound-feet of torque, and a noise that sounds like the world's largest vacuum cleaner sucking up an angry puma. Combine that power with all-wheel-drive and expensive aerodynamic engineering, and you end up with a top speed deep into the 200s. Bugatti itself has chosen to electronically limit the Chiron to a speed of 261 miles per hour, but just how fast is it able to go on this runway?

The Chiron briefly met 261 miles per hour before hitting the brakes at the proving grounds' 2.7-mile mark. That number is impressive on its own, but the fact that the car still eagerly gained speed after passing the 240 threshold makes it even more so. Throughout the run, the Chiron stays totally planted, traveling smoothly over the runway's surface. The video also shows off the Bugatti's braking ability. The driver applies the brakes with half a mile of runway left, and once the vehicle comes to a stop, it's nowhere near the edge of the course.

It makes one wonder what the car is capable of with its limiters taken off. Unfortunately, we may never know, as Bugatti has chosen not to conduct any unlimited top speed tests on the Chiron.

McLaren Showcases Trio of Design Renderings for Speedtail Hypercar

A new release from McLaren states that all 106 examples of its Speedtail hypercar announced in October have been ordered by prospective buyers. Just in case owning such a limited run vehicle wasn't exclusive enough, the company has also tasked its McLaren Special Operations division to work with customers and tailor each car's appearance to its owner. The automaker promises an "almost limitless range of personalization available to owners" and states that Speedtail deliveries will begin early 2020.

To ensure each car is unique, owners will be able to select their choice of paint color, interior upholstery, and pinstriping graphics "limited only by the owner’s imagination." They'll also have the option to order aluminum or gold highlights woven into the Speedtail's carbon fiber body panels. Interior features include badging finished in carbon or gold, and "electro-chromatic" windshield tinting that automatically dims itself under sunlight.

To show its capabilities, MSO has created three Speedtail renderings with three separate custom themes. The "Stratosphere" theme combines dark glossy carbon fiber bodywork with aluminum accents finished in a light blue. These contrasting colors continue to the interior, where brightly colored upholstery meets a black driver dashboard.

The second "Astral" theme sees a burnt orange exterior finish with a jet black roof panel and interwoven aluminum highlights. The orange is complemented by a navy blue interior, where the two passenger seats are upholstered in nubuck leather, while the driver's seat is wrapped in aniline leather. Interior carbon fiber panels with white gold accents complete the look.

The final "Bloodline" theme is true to its name with deep crimson coloring inside and out. This Speedtail's black wheels are also accented by silver brake calipers and a copper band around their rims. The red driver's seat is contrasted by two bright white passenger seats and striping in both colors across the cockpit.

No matter how it looks, the upcoming McLaren Speedtail is sure to boast some impressive performance. While the car pays homage to the classic F1 with its center-seat layout, it also succeeds the P1 hypercar with a 1000-horsepower hybrid drivetrain. Mclaren claims the it will be able to travel to a 250 mile-per-hour top speed, while still maintaining luxury car comfort for its three occupants.

Woman’s Car Stolen From Airport, Shows up 5 Months Later in Same Lot

A Denver area woman fell victim to car theft in July, eventually calling off the search and taking to public transportation. With insurance money collected and her vehicle presumably gone for good, Natasha Gay showed up to work at the Denver International Airport only to find her once-stolen SUV had been the same lot it was taken from.

According to Fox31 Denver news, the 2007 Toyota was stolen from the Avis employee parking lot after Gay had been at her temporary job there for “probably three-and-a-half-hours.” With no sign of the vehicle or idea as to who stole the car, Gay's insurance company paid off the loan on the SUV. Although panicked at first, Gay moved on, taking the train to work and, even though she was still curious who stole her car, had “come to peace” with her loss.

It was then that the thief with a presumably guilty conscience decided to undo their wrongs. However, since Gay's insurance had already paid out for it, she's now unable to reclaim her car and is left with all kinds of questions.

“I was just surprised and wondering if a car was stolen...why would they return it to the parking lot four-and-a-half months later? It was just very off to me," Gay told Fox31.

Gay has since reached out to local news problem solvers hoping they can help her find answers to her questions with the eventual goal of getting her personal belongings back. “It just made me want to contact the Problem Solvers and I had to try and push a little harder,” she said.

Denver Police say they are investigating the odd case and Avis has reportedly been contacted to see if anything was caught on camera.

Bunker Talk: Let’s Chat About All The Stories We Did And Didn’t Report On This Week

Even though it was a pretty slow week due to Christmas break, I think it's accurate to say that it turned out to be Air Force One themed. So much of the news cycle was sucked up by President Trump's visit to Iraq that it gave us an opportunity to dive into more of the history and tech behind the magnificent flying icon. We also got our first real glimpse of Sikorsky's high-speed SB>1 Defiant helicopter prototype and learned of Russia's test of their hypersonic boost-glide vehicle. But still, there are many stories we didn't get to, so let's get after it.

Welcome to Bunker Talk!

This is a weekend open discussion post for the best commenting crew on the net, in which we can chat about all the stuff that went on this week that we didn't get to. In other words, literally an off-topic thread.

We can talk about this awesome shot of an SR-71's 'artistic' nosecone from back in the day:

Or how about this Kuwaiti Hornet getting zapped by lightning in-flight:

Then there is this clip of South Korea and Japan getting testy with one another on the high seas:

Or what about the fact that Sikorsky's SB>1 looks a lot like Toothless from the hit Disney animated movie How To Train Your Dragon?

Then there is Syria now that the U.S. is pulling out. How far will Israel go to make sure that Iran doesn't get its land bridge to Lebanon?

Once again, this is an entirely open exercise, so let's enjoy some pointed debate and have some laughs.

Fire away!

Contact the author: