Nvidia Says Its New Autonomous-Driving Computer Will Enable “Robotaxis”

In the promised future of self-driving cars, suppliers of computers will be as important as suppliers of brakes or transmissions. Nvidia wants a piece of that market.

The company unveiled its latest and most powerful autonomous-driving computer at the GTC Europe conference in Germany. Called Drive PX Pegasus, Nvidia claims it can handle SAE Level 5 autonomous driving—meaning it can be used in cars with no manual controls whatsoever.

The Drive PX Pegasus succeeds Nvidia's current Drive PX 2 computing platform. Nvidia claims the new computer can handle over 320 trillion operations per second, or 10 times the amount of its predecessor. Given the immense amount of sensor data an autonomous-driving system must process, that's not just a good thing, it's necessary.

Several companies have incorporated various versions of Nvidia's Drive PX system into self-driving car projects, including Roborace, which hopes to develop a race series for autonomous cars, as well as automakers Toyota and Volvo. But Nvidia says the Drive PX Pegasus system will hasten the development of so-called "robotaxis." In a press release, it said more than 25 companies are currently developing them, using its computers.

It's not surprising that Nvidia is highlighting the use of its computers in robotic taxis. The first mass deployment of self-driving cars will likely involve shared vehicles that could supplant both taxi services and current ride-sharing services that rely on human drivers. You'll probably be able to hail a self-driving car, using an app, before you can buy one.

Autonomous cars will certainly need capable computers, but the software running on those computers will need to deal with the full scope of real-world driving situations. Whether engineers really can write a piece of code for every eventuality, or teach cars to "think" for themselves, remains to be seen.

Automated Driving Systems Are Considered People in Tennessee

Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney caught flak for declaring “Corporations are people, my friend.” The Tennessee state Senate has added an additional definition of a person: An engaged automated driving system.

Tennessee Senate Bill 151 makes a number of revisions to the state’s motor vehicle codes regarding the use of automated driving systems. The bill defines automated driving systems as follows:

“‘Automated driving system’ or ‘ADS’ means technology installed on a motor vehicle that has the capability to drive the vehicle on which the technology is installed in high or full-automation mode, without any supervision by a human operator, with specific driving mode performance by the automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task that can be managed by a human driver, including the ability to automatically bring the motor vehicle into a minimal risk condition in the event of a critical vehicle or system failure or other emergency event.”

Though clearly intended to pave the way for autonomous cars, this definition seems to encompass existing systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot or Cadillac’s SuperCruise. Many of the updates and revisions to existing laws address questions of liability and responsibility when ADS is engaged. For example, ADS is not considered responsible for making sure children are wearing seat belts, which human drivers are. This is an area of great concern, and it is good to see the Tennessee legislature actively addressing this topic while the federal government seems to be throwing caution to the wind.

But Section 55-8-101, which provides terminology definitions for the motor vehicle code, has been revised by Senate Bill 151 to read as follows:

“(46) ‘Person’ means a natural person, firm, copartnership, association, corporation, or an engaged ADS.”

Not only are corporations legally people, but so are automated driving systems when they are in use. In the eyes of Tennessee law, a Cadillac CT6 on SuperCruise is just as much a person as you or me.

This definition change is limited to the motor vehicle code, so we don’t have to worry about a Terminator-style rise of the machines in our legal system just yet. But it does apply to the entire Tennessee motor vehicle code, which could have unintended legal consequences. In the unfortunate event that a car kills someone while ADS is engaged, can the victim’s family now sue the ADS for damages or negligence? Who pays up if the ADS is found to be at fault? The owner? The non-owner occupant? The manufacturer? The subcontractor who programmed the ADS logic?

These aren’t situations that can only happen in the distant future once the technology’s bugs are all worked out. ADS is specifically defined as “high” as well as “full” automation, and some driver assistance systems available today qualify. It will be worth watching what situations and legal cases come up in Tennessee, as they may set a precedent for how the entire country handles the many legal questions that still remain regarding autonomous cars.

The e-Dumper is the World’s Largest and Most Efficient Electric Truck

With news of the Tesla Semi coming to mainstream media, electrification of the commercial industry is beginning to find its way into the public eye. After all, if the concept of an electric vehicles is good enough for businesses to adopt in day-to-day operations, why can't the average Joe?

Meet the e-Dumper, an all-electric commercial truck meant to change the way that commercialized mining and quarry work is viewed. It might not set any land speed records, and certainly isn't be best looking vehicle on the market (among both the electrified or petrol-powered), but the notches on its belt signify function over form. This 100,000-pound truck towers above the ground, carrying nearly one-tenth of its weight in battery cells.

The e-Dumper stores the energy capacity of eight Tesla Model S 75Ds, making its total power reserve a staggering 600 kWh. To put that number into perspective, it's as much power as the average home in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States uses in an entire month.

Not to worry though, this truck isn't going to consume a month's worth of electricity every time it takes a trip up the mountain. In fact, this truck actually generates more electricity than it uses. No, this isn't some weird perpetual motion machine, but instead uses physics to put regenerative braking as its main source of energy.

When the e-Dumper climbs to its destination, it consumes around 30 kWh of energy. But when descending the terrain, the previously-empty truck will now be hauling 120,000 pounds of rock. Thanks to regenerative braking, the e-Dumper actually generates a surplus of 10 kWh on its descent. Over the course of a day, the truck is expected to make around 20 trips, dumping not only rocks on its return, but as much as 200 kWh of extra energy back into the grid.

Komatsu is no stranger to utilizing electric power plants in its trucks. The company has been releasing hybrid diesel-electric powerplants since as early as 2009, and automated commercial equipment for nearly as long. This particular concept, however, is a modified Komatsu dump truck being designed by heavy equipment manufacturer, Kuhn Schweiz, and a Swiss battery storage company called Lithium Storage.

More businesses are searching for hybrid, fuel cell, or pure electric vehicle alternatives which have increased longevity and decreased costs. Some governmental involvement is even being considered across Europe that would completely ban the sale of fossil-fuel vehicles within the next 25 years. The e-Dumper is a look at the very real possibilities of what is to come in the world of commercial vehicles.

Porsche Builds a Fully-Electric Cayman To Show Off Fast Charging, Mission E Tech

The much-hyped Porsche Mission E will be the marque's first fully-electric production sports car when it arrives on the scene in 2019, but the company is already giving us a sneak peek at the underlying technology this week with a new, battery-powered Porsche Cayman e-volution concept car. The sparks, they are a-flying.

Even though the Mission E is shaping up to be one of the most promising offerings from a mainstream manufacturer to rival the Tesla Model S, Porsche knows it's going to have to acclimate a lot of potential customers to the idea of an electric P-Car. Swapping out the 2.7-liter flat-six in one of their most recognizable models for an electrified powertrain is a decent start. The Cayman e-volution, based on the last-gen 981 Cayman, is reportedly capable of 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds (making it faster than its gas-powered counterpart) and has a maximum range of just under 125 miles.

More importantly, the Cayman e-volution is set up to take advantage of Porsche's new fast-charging technology, the awkwardly-named "Turbo Charging" system that Porsche aims to launch alongside the Mission E. More than anything else, it's range and charging anxiety that have help stymie the growth of electric vehicles thus far. Porsche Turbo Charging promises to solve both those problems by juicing up EVs with 320 kW at 800 volts—more powerful than Tesla's fastest supercharger, and enough to charge an EV from 0 to 80 percent in fifteen minutes.

What makes the charging system interesting is its use of a rechargeable battery, which can be topped up over time on a lower-voltage utility connection and quickly "emptied" to charge up a car. Porsche claims to be working with Audi, BMW, Daimler, and Ford to build its first network of Turbo Chargers in Europe by the end of the decade. The chargers will be compatible with other electric cars. That includes Tesla, though an adapter will be required.

Other companies have toyed with the idea of electrifying their existing models in lieu of developing new EVs, but Porsche states up front that they don't plan on putting the Cayman e-volution into production. Still, as a glimpse of the beeping, whirring future we're all dreading—not so bad.

Kawasaki Teases Supercharged Sport Touring Bike

The Kawasaki Ninja H2 is a supercharged missile. While the H2 and H2R are tremendous sport bikes, they’re not very accessible to most riders due to their limited production, high price tags, and intimidating performance. However, it looks like Kawasaki could be bringing forced induction to the motorcycling masses with a new bike.

In the teaser video below, Kawasaki uses the line “Supercharge Your Journey.” The 30-second doesn’t give us a good look at a new product, but it does heavily imply that a new supercharged bike is coming. Rather than showing us a racetrack where a bike like the H2 would be at home, we see a highway and a winding road in a mountainous landscape.

The change of scenery implies that Kawasaki’s new motorcycle will be a non-Ninja touring bike.

“Supercharge your journey with the only manufacturer that can deliver such a machine,” says the YouTube video description. "Be prepared for Sport Touring to accelerate impressively and efficiently into its next exciting phase.”

While forced induction on motorcycles isn’t a new idea, it’s mostly absent from mainstream, production motorcycles. The idea makes sense when considering tightening emissions regulations, especially in Europe, as a way to get strong performance out of fuel-efficient engines. The fact that a supercharger sounds cool and makes the bike faster are just bonuses.

Kawasaki will unveil the new bike on Nov. 7 at the Milan Motorcycle Show. What do you think we can expect from the new supercharged Kawasaki?

Watch this Aston Martin DB4 GT Continuation Prototype Hit the Test Track

It’s not often that a car design comes around that looks just as good today as it did when it was conceived decades ago. One timeless piece is the Aston Martin DB4 GT, built from 1959 to 1963, and the British marque is doing a run of 25 new continuation cars.

The GT variant was a lightweight, sporty version of the DB4. It has a shortened wheelbase, two seats, and a limited slip differential. The new cars are not street legal (track use only!), and they’ll come equipped with an inline-six engine producing 340 horsepower with a four-speed manual transmission. You also get an FIA-spec roll cage and a fire extinguisher.

At $1.9 million, all 25 Aston Martin DB4 GT Continuation cars have already been claimed. They come with a two-year driving program to ensure you’ll be able to enjoy your expensive new toy the way it was meant to be enjoyed. That might sound expensive, but it’s a bargain compared to original examples which go for over $3 million.

In the video below, we get a glimpse of a prototype of the new Aston Martin DB4 GT Continuation being tested at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, England. Dressed in green with red and white striped down the middle of the car, this particular prototype is a replica of the original 1959 DB4 GT prototype which just sold at Pebble Beach for $6.7 million.

Porsche Kicks Off An On-Demand Subscription Service Called “Porsche Passport” For Metro Atlanta

PCNA has announced today the launch of a new program called "Porsche Passport", which will be rolled out in the Atlanta area . Passport will allow Porsche drivers the freedom to choose which model appeals to their particular desires for the short term, and swap for another model depending on their needs. If you're headed to Florida for a weekend at Disney with the kids, grab a Macan. If you want a Boxster for a fun weekend away with your significant other in the mountains, you can swap it. It's basically that simple, and it's all controlled by a phone app. Recently Cadillac and Volvo have announced similar programs that would allow users to 'subscribe", so there is a precedence for such a thing.

Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America: "Our Strategy 2025 vision is to be the most aspirational brand in a new era of mobility and consumer expectations. Catering to customers' desire to experience our sports cars in new ways is a part of our core strategy, With Porsche Passport, we now offer our customers a simple and flexible driving solution at their fingertips."

From Porsche's press release:

Porsche Passport provides white-glove vehicle delivery in metro Atlanta through two membership plans – "Launch" and "Accelerate."

  • "Launch": Includes on-demand access to eight model variants such as the 718 Boxster and Cayman S, as well as the Macan S and Cayenne, for a monthly fee of $2,000.
  • "Accelerate": Includes on-demand access to 22 model variants such as the Porsche 911 Carrera S, the Panamera 4S sports sedan, the Macan GTS and Cayenne S E-Hybrid SUVs, in addition to the vehicles offered in the "Launch" package, for a monthly fee of $3,000.

Both of these plans include tax, registration fees, maintenance, detailing, and insurance for the fixed monthly fee.

Porsche is partnering with a company called "Clutch Technologies" to help facilitate such a program. To apply for the membership, assuming you live in the Atlanta area, you can download the Porsche Passport App (both Apple and Android are supported) and submit an application. Once approved, you'll be charged a one-time activation fee of $500, and accounts are subject to a background and credit check. Deliveries will begin next month, and you can schedule vehicle exchanges as quickly as same day through the app.

This seems like a very interesting move for Porsche, but could open the company up to many first time city-dwelling buyers with only the space for a single car, but still the desire to occasionally unleash their sports car soul.

The Top 10 Most Expensive Pickup Trucks in the World

If you thought pickup trucks were for poor people, you'd be wrong. Today, the full-size pickup truck—that timeless totem of the dusty-booted, jeans-wearing, drinking-beer-by-the-river dude who's always wooing that pretty girl in ripped jeans—is as much a toy for the upper classes as Mercedes or Audi. According to KBB.com, the average price of a full-size pickup truck exceeded $46,000 in 2016. That's compared to the average price of a passenger car, which is just over $34,000 (and rising). Poor people drive Sentras.

The pickup truck also comprises the top-selling three vehicles in the United States (that's the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and the Ram truck—in descending order). That Ford also manufactures the three most expensive full-size pickup trucks is no surprise: FoMoCo earns 40 percent of its annual profit through its truck sales. So why not extend those margins?

Recently, Ford introduced the first $100,000 pickup truck, the F-450 Super Duty Limited. On this occasion, we decided to reassess truck prices across the industry. So we used configurators on the manufacturers websites and tested the results in various area codes. We limited the search to full-size pickups that can be purchased from dealers, and that have no aftermarket upgrades (of which there are an infinite variety).

Here is the top ten list of most expensive full-size pickup trucks in the world. Ford owns the podium.

10. 2018 Ford F-150 King Ranch - $64,025

On second thought, make it a Platinum. The features of the full-size Ford F-150 King Ranch—an American classic if ever there was one—include a 5.0-Liter, 385-horsepower V-8 with a 6-speed automatic transmission. In the top configuration, the engine mates to a new 10-speed transmission, so we opted for that. The interior comes decked out with heated and vented leather seats in the front and rear, Ford's Sync infotainment system played on an 8-inch display screen, and enough room to fit mature livestock between the driver and passenger. This year's F-150 King Ranch comes with the updated Sync Connect on XLT and higher trims. The tow capacity? A modest 9,100 pounds.

9. 2017 Ram 1500 Limited - $64,770

This is the entry level luxury truck for the Ram family—a rugged and comely beast equipped with a 3.0-Liter V-6 EcoDiesel and an 8-Speed automatic 8HP70 transmission. It puts out 420 pound-feet of torque and has a tow capacity of 10,000 pounds. At this price—we're now entering 2017 BMW M3 territory—you get a solid pickup truck with a smooth-riding suspension that sets a highway ride standard for the full-size pickup category.

8. 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD High Country - $68,455

One of the more subtly-trimmed of the luxury pickups, the Silverado 2500HD High Country—when packing the monstrous Duramax 6.6-Liter V-8 turbodiesel engine—is one of the best-looking trucks on the market. The interior is set up with all the conveniences of a well-planned mancave—heated and cooled seats, copious cupholders, a Blu-Ray entertainment system, a gnarly Bose sound system—and the Duramax mated to an Allison suspension churn out 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque. That's enough to tow 13,000 pounds with a payload rating of 2,600 pounds.

7. 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD High Country - $69,065

Similar to the 2500, but with more wheels. This monster Duramax 6.6.-Liter Turbodiesel V-8 will pull 20,000 pounds behind its dually rear axle. How does it do that? Well, it generates 445-horsepower and nearly 1,000 pound-feet of torque. That's how. Other things you get with the top configuration of the Silverado dually is the Allison 1000 6-speed tranny and an immodest curb weight of 7,732 pounds. In the interior, you can choose between jet black or saddle leather seats, an 8-inch color touchscreen, all the driving aids in the Chevy family (park assist, lane departure warning, etc), and heated and vented bucket seats. It's a palace on six wheels.

6. 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali - $70,485

This GMC Sierra 1500 Denali 4X4 in the crew cab configuration is equipped with the Denali Ultimate package, which adds $6,700 to the price tag and includes "Tri-Mode" power steps, integrated trailer control, and 22" aluminum wheels with chromed-out inserts (among other amenities). At this level of investment—about what you'd spend on a Tesla Model S—you want something special, and where the Denali really shines is the new satin-smooth 8-speed automatic transmission. Combined with the 5.3-Liter EcoTec3 V8 engine, it rockets to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds.

5. 2017 RAM 2500 LIMITED CREW CAB 4X4 - $72,115

Ram builds a fine truck. We feel that the mid-level entry in Ram's full-size pickup truck family, the 2500 Limited with four-wheel-drive, works nicely with 6.7-Liter Cummins turbodiesel and the 6-speed 68RFE transmission. Standard in this trim level are the excellent Uconnect infotainment system set in an 8-inch touchscreen display. To get up to the price of $72,115, we opted for all the goodies: a 20,000-pound 5th wheel trailer hitch, a spray-in bedliner, clearance lamps, and cargo-view camera mounted atop the cab, and more. This Ram 2500 is workhorse for the well-heeled truck lover.

4. 2017 Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn - $75,710

Under the hood of this Ram 3500 Laramie Longhorn, which costs more than twice the price of the average American passenger vehicle, is the 6.7-Liter I-6 Cummins Turbodiesel and FCA's AISIN 6-speed automatic transmission. This is a handsome and capable truck, with well-earned pedigree of reliability. In the 4X4 configuration, we optioned it with 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, all the bells and whistles on the Ram 2500 shown above, with with an added auto-leveling rear air suspension.

3. 2017 Ford F-250 Platinum - $78,205

Once you start shopping in the upper reaches of the Ford truck world, you start to glimpse the majesty that is the modern American luxury full-size pickup. The F-250 Platinum that we configured included a 6.7-Liter 4-valve Power Stroke diesel V-8, the new "TorqShift" 6-speed automatic transmission and an off-road package to match the 4X4 drive. We also piled on the options (skipping the 5th wheel towing package, for economy's sake): Ford Telematics, power moonroof, Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support, Sync3, nifty upfitter switches, rear inflatable seat belts, etc., until the outside world starts to disappear behind the panoply of Ford truck luxury. We love this pickup—especially in Shadow Black.

2. 2017 Ford F-350 Platinum - $80,620

We extracted $8,095 worth of options from the configurator to arrive at the final price of $80,620 for the Ford F-350 Platinum. This is the second-in-command of the Super Duty fleet (see #1 for the Commander-in-Chief). It's big, burly, and unforgivingly awesome. It's the full-size pickup truck version of a gateway drug.

1. Ford F-450 Super Duty Limited - $100,000

Ford recently unveiled its newest top-shelf full-size pickup truck, and the entire truck world gasped. It costs $100,000! That's what a Mercedes S-Class luxury sedan costs. But the Ford F-450 Super Duty Limited is no ordinary full-size pickup truck. Properly configured, the $100,000 price tag comes with a "satin chrome" grille, panoramic moonroof with a retractable shade, seats that warm you, cool you down and massage you like a boss. There is copious real wood trim, a 10-speaker sound system and Sync3 out the wazoo. You want towing capacity? Go ahead and tow six of those little fancy Mercedes S-Classes, buddy: You have plenty of power.

Fun fact: In addition to earning 40 percent of its annual nut through truck sales, Ford and its F-Series is the number one selling vehicle line up in U.S. households making over $200,000 a year. Luxury indeed.

Marchionne Confirms Ferrari SUV, Says It’s Not Selling Jeep to the Chinese

Back in August, Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne said that a Ferrari SUV, excuse me, FUV was "probably happening," citing a marketplace "too big and too inviting" to ignore. Well, cue the outraged purist reactions and Enzo's rolling grave comments because Marchionne has officially confirmed that a Ferrari crossover is indeed happening.

Speaking to Bloomberg at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, the FCA CEO went as far as to confirm the existence of several prototype models along with a 30-month development timeline, pegging the release of the FUV (that's Ferrari Utility Vehicle) sometime around mid-2020. Marchionne went on to say that the off-road Fezza will sport four doors, the only Ferrari that will do so.

In regards to rumblings of a possible buyout of Jeep by Chinese automaker Great Wall Motors, Marchionne responded saying that the famed American utility brand is not for sale. The Fiat Chrysler boss adds that a deal with Great Wall would leave a "worrisome stump" in his company in addition to not making much sense since the two firms "have no market overlap and wouldn’t achieve greater scale together."

Lack of market overlap or not, perhaps Sergio has some unannounced, prancing horse-themed plans for his Jeep assets. V-12, Cherokee-based FUV, anyone?

‘Thor’ is a 4.0-Liter Four Cylinder That Can Make More Than 1,500 HP

Four-cylinder tuners have been poked fun at for too long. Some of the fastest cars on the drag strip or at time attack events are powered by these high-powered, volumetrically efficient power plants, and now, we may have seen the craziest example yet. This engine, dubbed "Thor," is a 4.0-liter four-pot that's capable of making roughly 375 horsepower per liter, eclipsing 1,500 hp in some applications. It's built by Elmer Racing in Finland for top motorsport applications and will soon be on sale for the price of €120,000 (about $140,490).

The engine, built specifically for hillclimb and time attack applications, is a rev-punching sweetheart that makes power all over the place. Lightweight billet materials are used to construct "Thor" and turn it into a resilient piece of kit that can stand the constant abuse of motorsports while keeping competitiveness as the top priority. Beautiful components make up this power-crazed engine, promising that it will be strong enough to withstand the crazy internal force.

When asked by The Drive what advantages this high displacement four cylinder yields over a similarly powerful V-8 unit, Elmer Racing explained, "A V-8 engine designed for racing can have a very high torsional rigidity. And lots of race classes have minimum weight limits, which create a necessity for very high-powered (expensive) engines, with less importance on weight. Racing V-8 engines suit these kinds of classes well."

"However, for unlimited class racing the weight penalty of a v8 is unacceptable," according to Elmer.

As a result, the team opted for "Thor." Compact packaging and extreme weight reduction make it a more viable option for these cars that run in pro and unlimited classes, allowing them to hit their targets for performance without sacrificing agility or cornering.

It will first be used in Rod Pobestek’s Porsche 968 RP968 for next year's World Time Attack Challenge. The team is expected to run it at a conservative 8,500 RPM, though Elmer Racing has projected that it will run without issue at as high as 10,000 RPM. Although not unusual for race-inspired four cylinders, that's a considerable redline for an engine with a displacement of four liters.

Here you can see bits and pieces of the engine's build process as it explains in detail what goes into such a wicked powertrain.