Waymo Is Already Running Cars With No One Behind the Wheel

Waymo announced Tuesday that it has been running Level 4 autonomous cars, with no human behind the wheel, in Arizona since mid-October, reports The Verge.

Level 4 autonomy is achieved when a car, rather than the driver, is able to make all of the necessary decisions required in all but the most unusual driving conditions. Tesla's Autopilot and similar semi-autonomous systems are only Level 2 systems, and require the driver to constantly monitor the situation and be ready to take over at any time. Waymo's leap to Level 4 is a huge step beyond even the Audi AI system of the new A8, which can take over driving but only through low-speed highway traffic jams. (You can read more about the different levels of autonomy here.)

Waymo is Google's self-driving car program that was spun off from its parent company last year. It has already been conducting extensive testing in Phoenix, Arizona, and recently announced that it will be tackling less-than-optimal weather conditions in Michigan this coming winter.

Tesla Going Ahead With Nov. 16 Truck Reveal

In April, we learned of Tesla's plan to unveil its electric semi in September. But the electric upstart's plan went awry, and the unveiling was delayed until late October. Later, it was postponed again, to a tentative Nov. 16, as Tesla volunteered emergency assistance for a still-stricken Puerto Rico, and dealt with a rough start to Model 3 production. On Friday, Tesla all but confirmed its plans to steam ahead toward its aspirations of a Nov. 16, as Electrek reports that qualifying referral program members received invitations to RSVP for the truck's reveal event on the 16th, with doors at 7 p.m.

Elon Musk has hinted at a second vehicle to be shown off at the event, but it's anyone's guess which of Tesla's other upcoming products it will be. Candidates for reveal include the Model Y crossover, based on the Model 3's underpinnings, the revived Tesla Roadster, or even a pickup, hinted by Musk to be a scaled-down version of the semi.

Musk and Tesla have done nothing but hype up the electric semi so far. Said to utilize an army of the electric motors that power the Model 3, Musk has described it as "spry," and "like a sports car." He has further raised expectations by declaring it a "beast," and "unreal." Musk even boasts that the truck has greater torque than any diesel on the market. "If you had a tug of war competition, the Tesla Semi will tug the diesel semi uphill," he said in his TED appearance in April.

One trucking executive has even predicted the semi to be capable of a 300-mile range, but a tweet from Musk suggests that even more is possible, describing its specifications as superior to anything reported so far.

With all that Elon Musk has said to raise expectations of the Tesla semi, anything short of setting the gold standard for commercial trucks will be lambasted by Tesla's proponents and detractors alike.

We've reached out to Tesla for further comment and will update this report when the company responds.

Stolen Ford Mustang Leads Police on Hour-Long, 100-MPH Chase Through L.A.

In this era of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the other bajillion video streaming services out there, live events have become one of the last reasons for Americans to collectively gather around their televisions to watch the same thing. But while the Super Bowl and the Oscars certainly bring people together on a national scale, nothing gets a region all huddled around their screens quite like a good old-fashioned car chase.

In this case, the place was Los Angeles, the time Monday night, and the car a dark-colored fifth-generation Ford Mustang. According to Los Angeles Police Department officer Mike Lopez’s account to local news station KTLA 5, the L.A.P.D. began chasing the stolen Mustang around 10:45 p.m. local time, picking up the muscle car around the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Main Street in the neighborhood of El Sereno. From there, the driver pointed the Ford onto the freeways and hustled the car south to Orange County before looping around and returning to Los Angeles County, dipping into the wrong lanes and plowing through red lights.

During the chase, the Mustang’s driver pushed the car to speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, according to Lopez. Other sources pegged the Ford’s top speed at more than 110 mph.

The pursuit finally came to a close just before midnight local time, when a California Highway Patrol officer driving a Ford Police Interceptor Utility performed a PIT maneuver and knocked the Mustang to a standstill near the corner of Vineburn Avenue and Valley Boulevard—ironically, just three and a half miles from where the cops began chasing the purloined pony car. The driver then surrendered to authorities, who took him into custody.

Luckily, it seems as though no one was injured during the lengthy pursuit. Also luckily, the last hour of the chase was captured on camera by a KTLA 5 helicopter, giving the greater L.A. area a chance to follow along…and giving those of us not awake at that hour a chance to watch it the next day.

Workhorse Offers Optional Integrated Drone with New, Downsized Electric Van

Workhorse Group is launching a new, smaller electric van called the N-Gen that can be equipped with the HorseFly drone that the company began testing with UPS earlier this year. It's another indication that passenger cars aren't the only vehicles going electric.

In its standard, all-electric configuration, the N-Gen has a range of 100 miles, according to Workhorse. An optional gasoline range extender adds another 75 miles of range, and the company expects energy efficiency of up to 65 MPGe. The bodywork is composite, to save weight. Autonomous emergency braking and lane centering will be standard, and Workhorse plans to offer all-wheel drive as an option.

The carbon-fiber HorseFly octocopter drone can carry packages weighing up to 10 pounds. Workhorse claims drones can drastically reduce the cost of transporting a package over the last leg of the delivery. The drone can deliver packages at a cost of just $0.03 per mile, according to Workhorse.

Technology isn't the only potential advantage the N-Gen has over conventional delivery vans. A low floor height of 19 inches allows drivers to get into the van in one step instead of two, according to Workhorse, which should reduce the potential for knee injuries. The N-Gen's compact size also allows a 26-foot turning radius, making the van easier to maneuver on crowded streets.

Workhorse has already supplied its larger, medium-duty E-Gen van to multiple companies, including UPS and FedEx. It recently signed up a new, unnamed customer and will begin testing electric vans in Ohio and California cities next year, CEO Steve Burns said in an interview with Reuters.

Electric delivery vehicles may be easier to deploy on a larger scale than electric passenger cars because they operate on fixed routes that never take them too far from a central base, which makes range anxiety and charging infrastructure needs less complicated. Many companies seem to be figuring this out.

In addition to Workhorse, California-based startup Chanje is marketing its own electric delivery van. Daimler is building small numbers of its Fuso eCanter electric box truck, and will add an electric powertrain option to the next-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. After all, why should electrification be limited to cars?

Mercedes ‘Intelligent World Drive’ Tests Autonomous Tech on 5 Continents

Mercedes-Benz is progressing on an ambitious world tour to showcase its autonomous technology called Intelligent World Drive. The plan is to use a vehicle based on the S-Class, with self-driving capabilities, to collect data and test the car in a variety of traffic situations. The initial launch tested the car in Germany with the next step going on now in China, followed by Australia in November, South Africa in December, and a final leg at CES in Las Vegas this January. The car will not be driverless; rather it will have varying autonomous tech working as it rides along. That’s five continents of traffic jams, texting drivers, and road rage.

Speaking on the event was Ola Kallenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

“Recording, processing and interpreting highly-complex traffic situations is the key to safe automated and autonomous driving. This is particularly demanding in dense urban traffic. This is why we are deliberately testing our automated driving functions in everyday driving situations in large cities. In this way, not only do our vehicles become more intelligent, they also become safer."

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Each leg of the journey will have a different focus, with the team gathering data on specific driving behaviors given the countries' own specific peculiarities. The focus in Germany is going to be on how drivers act in traffic jams. In China, it’s all about how to navigate the dense traffic in Shanghai. Melbourne will bring a test of the latest in digital maps. In and around Cape Town, South Africa, the goal will be to use the available maps in everyday use. Finally, the drive from LA to Las Vegas will not only include dense urban traffic study but also how traffic overtakes on the right on highways.

So if you find yourself on the road to CES in January, don’t freak out if you see an S-Class coming down the highway literally ghostriding the whip.

Watch the Evolution of the Ford Mustang

Last week in its Evolution series, Donut Media covered the Honda Civic. Donut Media's Evolution videos generally show you how enthusiast car models morph from model to model over time while providing important changes and facts about each model year. This week Donut features the Ford Mustang.

The video starts takes you through all of the generations of Mustang from it's start to where we are now. It begins of course with the first Mustang - the 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. It is a 1/2 because it was produced months before the start of the official model year. The car debuted at the World's Fair in 1964. The next big Mustang milestone was the work of Carroll Shelby. Shelby is possibly the most well-known car designer ever and in 1965 he helped create the 1965 Shelby GT 350. Donut's video shows one of the more famous Mustangs: The 1968 Mustang GT. Fans know this car from being driven in the movie Bullitt by Steve McQueen.

Sadly, no car is without having a bad model and the Mustang was not immune. The 1974 Mustang II is well regarded as the worst. It was produced during the gas crisis and only had 105 horsepower, ditching the V-8 in favor of a V-6 engine. Eventually, the Mustang reached it's new era which took design cues from its history in the form of the 2005 Mustang GT. The car had just a little over 300 horsepower which forced Ford's hand when the retro-styled competitor Camaro came back from it's hiatus to its Bumblebee fame with 400 hp. Ford fought back with the Mustang GT in 2011 bringing the V-8 numbers on par with Chevrolet.

The video ends with where the Mustang is now. The 8th generation Mustang GT supplemented by the Shelby GT 350 and GT 350R which is known for being the first production car (that is not a supercar) that uses carbon fiber wheels.

Check out Donut Media's Mustang Evolution video below for more of the details.

Chevy Truck 100 Pandora Station Brings Country Classics

The one thing David Allen Coe tried to teach everybody is that you can’t have a real country song without saying anything about Mama, trains, trucks, prison or getting’ drunk. For the last 100 years, those trucks in those country songs have likely been Chevrolet’s. To honor 100 years of Chevy trucks and country music, Chevy has curated a Pandora station called Chevy Truck 100. The station is full of songs referencing pickup trucks.

Working with Chevy on the project, famed record producer and songwriter Frank Rodgers helped explain the connection: “At its most basic level, every song tells a story, while the very best songs also make an emotional connection with the audience. For artists, many of us grew up riding in a Chevy truck, making it a natural way to tell the story of our experiences. For our fans, a reference to a Chevy truck is something they can instantly relate to, helping make the story relevant to their life as well.”

It's true, pickup trucks are as American as apple pie, baseball, and riots on Black Friday. The segment has historically been a cash cow for U.S. manufacturers as well, prompting a recent entry from Mercedes But when you think pickup trucks, it’s hard not to think about that bowtie in the grill.

Pickup truck in the country

Marketing Director for Chevrolet Trucks Sandor Piszar commented on the public’s love affair with Chevy trucks throughout the years. “We have built 85 million Chevy trucks over the past 100 years. In turn, our customers have created millions of memories associated with our trucks, be it working in the field or job site, cruising with friends or camping with families. That connection with generations of people is a defining characteristic of Chevy trucks, and something few other brands can match,” he said.

While I’m sure the Chevy Truck 100 Pandora station will provide hours of listening pleasure, let’s hope this doesn’t become a "thing." I can already hear the Def Leppard screaming from the Camaro Channel and M3’s pounding Tiesto.

Watch This Extreme 12.3-Liter, Quad-Turbo, 5,000-HP V-16 Engine Get Dyno Tested

Of all the various vaporware supercar schemes of the last twenty years, the saga of the Devel Sixteen has got to be one of the most outlandish. The Dubai-designed hypercar claimed to boast specs that make the Bugatti Chiron look like a shrinking violet: A 748-cubic-inch V-16 engine. A top speed of 348 mph. 5,000 horsepower. Impossible, right? Wrong, according to video of a new engine dyno test.

While the cheap-looking prototype raised the eyebrows of an entire industry back when it debuted in 2013, the project is being underwritten by some very real backers with some very real money. And just as they promised, they opted to hire a small engine shop to custom-build their powerplant instead of sourcing it from another established manufacturer. Steve Morris Engines of Muskegon, Michigan is a small shop best known for building Camaros and Corvettes into drag-racing demons, and they’ve spent the last three years designing this V-16 engine from the ground up.

In a Road & Track profile from last November, Steve Morris said the money guys only gave him three rules to follow: a V-16 configuration, four turbochargers, and 5,000 horsepower. The process of making that a reality was much more complex than just mashing two LS V-8 engines together and calling it a day. It certainly shares some similarities with the GM engines that SME knows so well—it’s got a single-cam, pushrod setup—but the block was machined out of a single aluminum billet, and it’s filled with custom-designed parts like a 48-inch, single-piece crankshaft.

Then there’s the four 81mm turbos, which were also custom-built and put out about 36 psi of boost. All that should have been good for the 5,000-horsepower goal, but the shop’s dynamometer maxed out around 4,500. Last week, SME finally managed strap it to an engine dyno with a higher readout, and what do you know: The 12.3-liter V-16 really does put out 5,007 horsepower and over 3,700 lb-ft of torque.

How does that all translate on the road? We don’t know yet. Morris told Road & Track that he’s just happy the one-off engine works, period, and it’s up to the Devel team to figure out how to shoehorn the quad-turbo monster into a car. He has built it—now the question is, will they come?

Ferrari Wins Fifth WEC Constructors Title

This weekend in Shanghai several championships were all but sealed up. Among the big winners after the 6 Hours of Shanghai was Ferrari. They captured the World Constructor’s Championship in the FIA World Endurance Championships after the two GTE 488s of AF Corse finished third and sixth. It marked the fifth time that Ferrari won the WEC constructor’s title, with previous victories coming in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. It was also the 24th time Ferrari has won manufacturers’ championships sanctioned by FIA. Not a bad way to continue Ferrari’s 70th anniversary celebration this year.

Even though the Constructor’s championship race is over, there’s still plenty to fight for when the competition heats up again in Bahrain on November 17 and 18. The Drivers title is still up for grabs as AF Corse’s James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi hold a narrow two-point advantage over Porsche’s team of Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz. Still in the running in the GTE-Pro class is the other Ferrari team with Davide Rigon trailing by 17.5 points.

Calado and Guidi win 3rd Place in Shanghai

Sunday was a rough day for both Ferrari’s as the Fords were much faster on the straights, pulling away from the 488s due to their limited top speeds. The first half of the race was a struggle, with both cars conserving their tires for the end of the race. In the second half, both GTE 488s climbed the standing, holding out while one of the Fords had tire problems. Ford’s struggles allowed Guidi to grab third and Rigon sixth behind the victorious No. 67 Ford team of Henry Ticknell and Andy Priaulx.

After the race, the celebration wasn’t in the Ford garage but rather in the AF Corse Ferrari garage as the team celebrated their newly acquired Constructor’s championship. The team posed for a celebratory photo with a couple of trophies, lots of thumbs up and a room full of smiles. Maybe this win can help ease the sting of recent F1 disappointments.

One Person Hospitalized after Train and Car Collide in West Florida

An accident involving a train hitting a car reportedly sent one man to the hospital in Escambia County, Florida Monday.

The early morning incident occurred in Cantonment, Florida where local emergency officials responded to a 911 call regarding a multi-vehicle collision, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

The car's driver, 79-year-old Herbert Turner sustained minor injuries and was taken to West Florida Hospital after the crash, the newspaper reported, citing an Escambia County spokeswoman.

Turner was driving a 2017 Nissan Pathfinder when he started to drive across railway tracks in the direct path of a CSX train, with the front of the train hitting his car's left rear side, according to the report.

Charges are pending in the case, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.