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Volvo unveiled a concept named 360c

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Volvo envisions a future where motorists travel in private, business-class-like pods instead of flying. The Swedish firm has introduced an innovative concept car named 360c that sheds insight into how autonomous driving technology can replace many domestic short-haul flights.

The 360c concept looks like a car in the sense that it has lights, wheels, and bumpers on both ends. Everything else comes right out of the next century. The top part of it is made almost entirely of tinted glass to give the passengers an unobstructed view of the world around them. It’s hardly recognizable as a Volvo product; only styling cues like the curved rear panel create a visual link to current members of the company’s lineup like the XC40 and the V90 Cross Country.

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Volvo stresses the 360c is autonomous and electric. It’s designed to be software-driven 100 percent of the time, meaning there is no need for a steering wheel, pedals, or a dashboard. Its electric powertrain is more compact than a comparable gasoline-powered unit so designers carved out a generous amount of space in a relatively restrained footprint. This yields a modular interior that can be configured as a high-tech meeting room with a motion-controlled presentation board, a relaxing living room with book shelves, an entertainment space with a built-in champagne cooler, or a cozy bedroom with a mini closet.

The last configuration opens up the possibility of traveling overnight instead of flying. Users can conceivably get in the car, enter a destination, and fall asleep until they reach it. The 360c drives itself smoothly and quietly. Volvo adds it even designed a special safety blanket that restrains the occupant like a three-point seatbelt in the event of a collision.

Volvo 360c

Volvo 360c

“The sleeping cabin allows you to enjoy premium comfort and peaceful travel through the night and wake up refreshed at your destination. It could enable us to compete with the world’s leading aircraft makers,” explained Mårten Levenstam, the company’s senior vice president of corporate strategy, in a statement.

Volvo 360c

Volvo 360c

Make no mistake: the 360c is a look into the distant future of transportation. It’s not what you’ll be commuting in a year from now; there are still several legal and technical questions to answer before a concept like this becomes a mass-produced reality. Technology progresses at a rapid pace, however, and it’s not too far-fetched to imagine vehicles like the 360c transporting passengers on short routes like New York City to Washington DC or Los Angeles to San Diego.

Volvo 360c

Volvo 360c

When? That’s a good question; Volvo hopes its newest concept will start the conversation.

“We do not know what the future of autonomous drive will hold, but it will have a profound impact on how people travel, how we design our cities and how we use infrastructure. We regard the 360c as a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more,” Levenstam explained.

Volvo 360c

Volvo 360c

Volvo notably wants to start the conversation about the types of interaction autonomous cars should have with the human-driven ones they’ll need to share the road with. The 360c emits visual and audible signals to tell other drivers and pedestrians what it’s about to do. The firm notes that, significantly, the concept makes its own intentions clear without giving orders to other self-driving cars or human drivers. Preliminary research shows that’s the safest way for autonomous cars to communicate with fellow road users.

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(NHTSA) proposes to allow glare-free headlights on vehicles sold in the U.S.

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The technology in the so-called “matrix LEDs” consists of a grid of individually controllable lights. When sensors detect an object in front of the vehicle, the specific LEDs that would project light directly on the object shut down while the rest stay on.

At CES 2018, German lighting company Osram introduced the Evivyos adaptive headlight comprising 1,024 LEDs, each of which can be turned on or off.

“The idea of this is almost like an always-on high beam,” Osram CEO engineer Matthew Zajac explained to Digital Trends at CES. “You adapt your beam to traffic,” Zajac continued.

As seen in the image below from Osram, the headlights would illuminate the lower body of pedestrians and vehicles, but the LED that would shine in people’s eyes would shut down.

nhtsa self dimming matrix headlights proposal eviyos pixel light osram opto semiconductors

Toyota originally petitioned the NHTSA in 2016 to give manufacturers the option to equip vehicles with adaptive driving beam systems. In presenting the proposed rule change, the feds gave Toyota the nod.

“NHTSA has granted Toyota’s petition and proposes to establish appropriate performance requirements to ensure the safe introduction of adaptive driving beam headlighting systems if equipped on newly manufactured vehicles,” the proposal states.

The NHTSA proposal requires ADB systems meet standards for visibility and glare prevention. In addition to allowing matrix LED headlights and setting standards for high beam and low beam visibility and glare, the proposal also includes building and equipping a test track with laboratory-tested devices to measure the performance standards.

The NHTSA is asking for comments on the proposal. You can submit comments online, by mail, hand delivery, courier, or fax. The proposal includes complete instructions for comments. All comments need to be submitted in time for the NHTSA to receive them by December 11, 2018.

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Lexus is expanding its repertoire beyond luxury cars, to luxury boats

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Styling cues from the Sport Yacht concept were applied to the upsized, 65-foot LY 650, along with elements of the “L-Finesse” design language used on Lexus’ cars. Lexus did not discuss any technical details, but the original Sport Yacht concept used a pair of V8 racing engines producing a combined 885 horsepower, giving it a top speed of 43 knots (49 mph).

Lexus LY 650 yacht

Lexus LY 650 yacht

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Lexus is just one of many automakers to apply its branding to a yacht. Aston Martin and Bugatti have collaborated with boat builders in order to make the transition from road to water, and Mercedes-Benz has a long-standing relationship with Cigarette Racing that has led to a series of boats styled to reference the German automaker’s AMG performance cars. But Lexus has more yachting credibility than most.

Lexus parent Toyota has a substantial back catalog of boats. The Japanese automaker launched its Marine Business Department in 1997, and currently sells sport fishing boats and cabin cruisers in its home country under the Ponam name. Some of these boats use turbodiesel engines from Japanese-market versions of Lexus SUVs, including the 3.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder from the GX 300d and the 4.5-liter twin-turbo V8 from the LX 450d. The GX and LX are sold in in the U.S., but with gasoline engines only.

From 1998 to 2002, Toyota also sold the Epic line of fiberglass tournament ski boats and wakeboard boats in the U.S. These vessels used the 4.0-liter gasoline V8 from the Lexus LS 400 luxury sedan.

The company views the LY 650 as its “fourth flagship,” alongside the current-generation LS sedan, LC coupe, and LX SUV. But unlike those vehicles, Lexus won’t build the LY 650 itself. The automaker will contract with Wisconsin-based Marquis-Larson Boat Group for construction of the yachts. Lexus expects the first LY 650 to be finished by the second half of 2019, with a public debut scheduled for sometime later that year.

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