Apple’s VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall just demoed Eyes Free, Siri’s new vehicle integration. The feature is being framed as a safety booster, letting you tap a steering wheel-mounted button to toggle Siri on your iOS device, rather than reaching around for your iPhone or iPad and taking precious seconds away from the road. This being Apple, there are already plenty of partners lined up — BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda are all said to be on board, with Siri support making its way to vehicles within the next 12 months. It’s certainly not the first example of smartphone/car integration we’ve seen, but it could soon end up being one of the most widely utilized, despite the years-long head-start competing technologies have enjoyed.
Nissan has big plans for the still-budding Leaf. The Japanese automaker lit up its impressive Leaf-powered Smart House at the Tokyo Motor Show last week, but also demoed its wireless charging solution for a much smaller crowd at the company’s Oppama factory. The device uses electromagnetic induction to transfer power between a charging pad and a receiver on the bottom of the car, with an efficiency level between 80 and 90 percent — simply park your EV directly above the system to begin charging, and monitor progress on the ground transmission unit’s control panel. The pad is expected to become available as soon as 2013, but will only be compatible with new vehicles, so you won’t be able to use it with an older Leaf, unfortunately. There’s a silent demo video waiting for you just past the break.
Using LEDs to display messages on the back of a car? Looks like we have yet another contender with the same idea, except this time all four sides get an LED panel each. The idea behind Daihatsu’s Pico concept EV is that it can interact with surrounding pedestrians and drivers using messages with matching colors. For instance, the LED belt can issue a red warning on the back if a car is following too closely; or when driving past pedestrians in close proximity (think rascal scooters but with front and back seats), the belt can turn green and indicate that the car’s limited to a safe top speed of 3.7mph.
Other than that, the Pico’s very much just a cute little EV with a driving range of up to 31 miles (with a full two-hour charge), plus a top speed of 31mph. We also dig the touchscreen console inside the car, but with just the two LED bars acting as doors, we sure hope it’ll withstand a bit of rain. Video after the break.
Sure, we may not see flying cars in our lifetime, but a mainstream digital dash is a definite possibility. The all-glass vehicle dashboard has been conceptualized by other manufacturers in the past, but this year it’s Panasonic’s turn to try its hand at building a multi-display system. The electronics maker brought its Cockpit prototype to the CEATEC floor, causing quite a stir among passersby. The dash itself was little more than a semi-functional mockup, presenting recorded rendered video on the main 20-inch LCD and dual 10.4-inch secondary displays. The main display’s current objective appears to be improving safety, using a series of cameras to eliminate blind spots and alert drivers to other road hazards. Real-time driving stats are displayed atop a video feed, either from the rear camera (when in reverse), or one up front.
We spent a few minutes behind the wheel of Panasonic’s mockup, which consisted only of a pair of (rather comfortable) leather seats, along with a trio of LCDs, which the company claims are currently based on panels used in other Panasonic products, but may eventually utilize custom displays. This wasn’t an actual vehicle prototype — only the “cockpit” was on hand. The main display will (hopefully) focus the driver’s attention away from distractions on those two smaller screens — the one in the center can be used to control standard vehicle settings like climate and entertainment, while a second display positioned directly in front of the passenger seat can play movies and other content.
Are we there yet? No, so you better get comfortable for the long drive ahead. Overall the setup looked like it could have potential, though Panasonic warned us not to expect anything final until the end of the decade (2018 at the earliest). Jump past the break for a Cockpit drive-by.
Bad news for Brammo’s electric bikers: according to Asphalt and Rubber, word has it that the company’s flagship Empulse motorbike will now be delayed to 2012, citing CEO Craig Bramscher’s decision to integrate a certain new technology before launch. What could this be? Well, the site speculates that this has something to do with the six-speed Integrated Electric Transmission (IET) that Brammo recently licensed from Italian firm S.M.R.E., and this technology’s already featured on the company’s Engage and Encite dirt bikes announced last week. That said, there’s also a rumor that Brammo didn’t reach its pre-order goal of 1,000 units, which would certainly make sense for the company to delay the launch to pimp up its 100mph ride. We asked the Stig for a comment, and he wasn’t impressed.
You know how we said that 780bhp electric pipe dream Jaguar had last year wasn’t going to be anything more than a concept? Well, we were wrong. Sort of. You see, the British automaker has just announced its intention to produce a limited run of 250 C-X75 supercars in partnership with Formula 1 team Williams, however the retail model will eschew the craziest aspect of the original design — the twin turbine engines at the back. Those will be replaced with a four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine, which will aid the four electric motors (one attached to each wheel). Don’t worry, though, this tweak has actually made the C-X75 accelerate even faster, as it’s now rated to go from 0 to 60mph in under three seconds. 2013 is when the earliest production of this road-faring beast is expected to commence, with prices starting at £700,000 ($1.15 million), and there’s even a glimmer of hope that a version with the gas turbines will also be built at some point down the line. Crazy, just crazy. Check the C-X75 out on video after the break, where Jay Leno gives you a tour around its dramatic design.
It isn’t exactly the hottest hybrid we’ve ever seen, Porsche’s ludicrous 918 RSR still takes that crown, but the Veritas RSIII Roadster Hybrid is certainly no wheezy commuter. It’s a tiny, open-topped racer that features a 507HP V10 from BMW that’s been paired with a 105kW motor to spin the front wheels. It’s much the same arrangement of the Porsche, again relying on a KERS flywheel to generate electricity that’s stored in a Li-ion battery pack, which can also be charged separately. The car can actually limp around for up to 31 miles powered by just that front motor, but when both sources of thrust are called upon the sled gets to 62MPH in 3.1 seconds, as fast as a 911 Turbo S, and it’ll keep on going until the speedo hits 205 — or the car hits something immovable. No word on price or availability, but there is a version with a roof coming this summer, and a fully-electric model due in 2013.
Google gave folks a brief glimpse at its super secret self-driving cars last fall, but nothing like what it’s just showed off at the TED conference that’s happening this week in Long Beach, California. The company is not only actually letting attendees inside the autonomous car for a first-hand demonstration, but it’s intentionally stepped things up to an “aggressive” level to show just how capable the car really is — we’re talking squealing tires and really tight cornering (all on a closed course, naturally). Head on past the break for a view from both inside and outside of the car courtesy of Search Engine Land.
Who says dreaming doesn’t pay? A young designer by the name of Heikki Juvonen recently won himself a six-month job placement at Citroen’s PSA Design Centre in Paris after producing the most compelling response to the company’s Double Challenge set to students at London’s Royal College of Art. The premise was simple — put together an aesthetic for an ultra-compact urban vehicle that Citroen could call its own, and judging by the imagery above, we can all probably agree that Heikki achieved a very distinctive look with his E-3POD. We’re not yet certain how we feel about being inside the largest of the three wheels for the duration of our electrically powered journeys, but the young gent has half a year on his hands to tweak and refine his eye-catching design. We’ll be ready to test-drive the prototype as soon as Citroen becomes mad enough to build one.