Self-driving cars are coming, there’s no doubt about that. I myself have ridden in more than a few autonomous cars over the years, and the technology is MUCH closer than you think.
But with most of these concept, the approach is the same. You’ve got a car that you can switch into self-driving mode on a long trip, after which you can sit back and relax, letting the car deal with traffic and the monotony of a long drive, while you occupy yourself otherwise.
Volvo has a completely different vision for the future of passenger travel, reimagining the role and functionity of a self-driving vehicle like never before. Feast your eyes on the Volvo 360c autonomous concept; a bedroom, office, living room, or night club on wheels.
Sounds (and looks) pretty wild, right? To learn more about this unique vehicle, Volvo brought us out to their headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, where we got to speak with their design and product leaders and get a better understanding about how the Volvo 360c concept came to be, and how they see it playing a part in the the future.
“The 360c explores what becomes possible when we remove the human driver, using new freedoms in design and recapturing time – it’s a glimpse at how autonomous drive technology will change the world as we know it. The possibilities are mind-boggling,” said Mårten Levenstam, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Volvo Cars.
Volvo’s concept presents four potential configurations depending on your needs – a sleeping environment, mobile office, living room and entertainment space – representing an attractive travel option that could rival air, bus and train providers, but with competitive advantages in comfort, convenience and privacy.
Lets start with the most interesting of the bunch, the futuristic sleeper car. Volvo is suggesting that the 360c could be a viable alternative to air travel for short-haul flights. Consider a flight from Philadelphia to Washington DC. On paper, the flight is just over an hour long. But when you factor in the time it takes to drive to the airport, park your car, shuttle to the airport, go through security, and then get a ride to your destination once you arrive, it’s more like four hours or more, and it’s anything but a relaxing experience.
Or, you could simply call for a 360c on your smartphone when you’re good and ready to leave rather than operating on the airline’s schedule, and enjoy first-class private cabin travel from door to door, without the nightmare of airport security, queuing, noisy and cramped planes. Travel time would be roughly the same (maybe even faster if that flight is delayed), and you would arrive feeling nice and refreshed. Which option sounds better to you?
I actually got to try out the sleeper configuration in a prototype for myself, and it was really cool. The seat fully reclines into a bed, with a safety blanket serving to keep you securely in place while you sleep in place of a standard seatbelt. Three spacious drawers hold everything you need (personal belongings, food for the trip, a pillow and blanket). There’s even a sink where you can brush your teeth in the morning, and a table where you can eat breakfast. It’s an interesting alternative to flying for sure!
But that’s not all. There’s also a mobile office configuration that’s ideal for those people with long commutes to work. Instead of wasting hours on end in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you can simply let the vehicle deal with the gridlock while you enjoy a fully-functional, connected, comfortable, mobile office from which to work. With seating for four, you could even use the vehicle to hold meetings in, with a display window that you can cast presentations to from your laptop or phone. Heck, there’s even a coffee machine on board.
“People becoming less reliant on proximity to cities is just one example of the impact of removing the burden of unproductive travel time,” said Levenstam. “The 360c driving office makes it viable for people to live at greater distances from crowded cities and use their time both in a more pleasant and more effective way.”
Meanwhile, the living room configuration is how most people would utilize these vehicles, a comfortable environment that lets 1-4 people get from point A to point B, with a number of niceties to make your trip more enjoyable than a standard taxi. Touch panels let you control the temperature, there’s a scent selector, reclining seats when you want to relax, and whatever entertainment you desire courtesy of the voice assistant. And since there’s no driver, there’s no awkward small talk that you need to make. Simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
As you can see from these photos, the 360c is surprisingly roomy, despite being the same size as a Volvo XC90. But since there’s no bulky engine up front (it’s electric) or steering wheel or pedals to contend with, they’ve been able to recover a LOT of wasted space, which explains how they’ve managed to seat four people in comfort, along with a table, sink, etc.
Equally intriguing is Volvo’s ideas on how to have the vehicle communicate with other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians and let them know its intentions. To accomplish this, the 360c emits audible and visual signals, which should be very effective. At least until you end up in a dense city with hundreds of these vehicles driving around simultaneously, at which point it’s going to be a cacophony of sound effects and flashing lights.
“We strongly believe this communication method should be a universal standard, so all road users can communicate easily with any autonomous car, regardless of which maker built it,” said Malin Ekholm, vice president at the Volvo Cars Safety Centre. “But it is also important that we do not instruct others what to do next, in order to avoid potential confusion. Our research shows this is the safest way for fully autonomous cars to communicate with others.”
If you had your heart set on purchasing one of these vehicles, I’ve got some bad news for you. Volvo doesn’t plan on selling them to individuals, nor is it looking to become the next Uber or Lyft. Instead, they see themselves more like Boeing, simply selling the vehicles to airlines or ride-sharing companies as needed, and letting them handle the logistics of operating such a fleet. And honestly, with traditional car ownership gradually giving way to ride-sharing and such, that business model makes perfect sense.
There’s no question that the Volvo 360c concept has got us thinking about autonomous cars in an entirely new way, and that was exactly what Volvo set out to do. According to Levenstam, the car is “a conversation starter, with more ideas and answers to come as we learn more.” We are probably still a good 5-10 years away from seeing a vehicle like this on the road, but I’m really excited for what the future holds, and you should be too!
What do you think of the Volvo 360c autonomous concept?
The Best Way To Wash Your Car At Home
I don’t about you, but I care about my car far too much to take it through a machine wash. Not only will you save time and money by washing your car at home, but it just gives you a sense of satisfaction when you see it all shiny and clean afterwards. Here are some tips on how to wash your car at home the right way:
Before getting started, inspect your car for any tar, bugs or overspray. You can find tar and bug removers at most auto parts store, or you can seek out an overspray removal specialist if it is really bad. You also want to avoid washing your car in direct sunlight, as the sun will cause the soap to dry up too fast, leaving behind water spots and streaks.
If you’ve got a garage, wash your car there. Otherwise, find a shady spot to wash your car in, or wait till near the end of the day when the sun isn’t as bright, making sure to keep the car wet at all times until you’re finally ready to dry it completely.
Make sure you’re using a quality car wash soap. I have been using Meguiars Car Wash for years now, and it foams away tough dirt, road grime and contaminants without compromising wax protection. You’ll also want some premium microfiber sponges, along with two buckets – one filled with plain water, the other with soapy water.
So now you’re ready to get started. Just make sure that the doors are shut, all windows closed, and double-check your sunroof if you’ve got one. Because the last thing you want to see when you open your car afterwards are puddles of water inside.
Before washing the car, rinse off the entire car to remove any loose dirt and debris before you apply any soap, so you’re not rubbing dirt into the paint. And remember, keep the body wet from here on out, and avoid spraying water under the hood.
Once your car has been completely rinsed off, soak your sponge in the soapy bucket, and start washing from the top of your vehicle, working your way down. You’ll want to soap up the car with the straight line technique for the best results. Don’t use circular motions because they will cause swirl marks. Also, don’t apply pressure while wiping the car.
When you are completely done washing the car, start rinsing off the soap from the top of the car down. Afterwards, dry off the car, using multiple towels for maximum efficiency. If it has been awhile since you last waxed/polished your car, now might be a good time to do so.
But if water is still beading up on the paint and the car is looking nice and shiny, call it a day and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition To Debut At Detroit Auto Show
We’ve been fans of the Lexus RC F since it was first released back in 2015, but often wondered why it didn’t enjoy the same success as the competition, like the BMW M4 and others.
Truth be told, while the RC F was a great car to rip around town in (with a monster 5.0-liter V8 engine that puts out 467 horsepower and rockets from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds), it’s not nearly as much fun on the track, with softer handling and a lot of weight to hustle around.
But with the introduction of the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition, which makes its debut next month at the Detroit Auto Show. As the name suggests, this will be a more track-focused RC F variant, with Lexus promising to deliver “a higher degree of F.”
As you can see from this teaser photo, the Lexus RC F Track Edition features a massive carbon fiber wing, because downforce. To save even more weight, the hood, roof, front splitter, rear diffuser, and side skirts could all be done in carbon fiber as well.
We fully expect to see an increase in power to somewhere in the low 500HP range, with Robert Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America, stating that “with the exception of LFA, this is the fastest, most powerful vehicle we’ve ever built.”
Bigger brakes and a set of 20-inch lightweight wheels wrapped in ultra-high-performance tires would make sense as well, improving the RC F’s braking performance and lateral grip.
For now, this is all just speculation, and we’ll have to wait until January 14th to find out all the juicy details. The Lexus RC F Track Edition is expected to be produced in limited numbers, so if you want one, you’re going to have to act fast!
Five Of The Best Superbikes On The Market Today
Creating a list of just five superbikes is a mammoth chore. Even picking the top 10 superbikes takes a lot of work, head-scratching and hours of YouTube research. But after all that, we have whittled down the list to five of the best superbikes on the market today.
Admittedly, some of them you need a heavy wallet and the right connections to track down, but that goes to show how brilliantly these bikes have been built.
1) Honda RC213V-S
The Honda RC213V-S is probably as close to a MotoGP bike as you’ll find. Brand new, it would have set you back a teeth-clenching $184,000, which is some pretty serious money for a bike. The limited production numbers means that price is only going up.. and people who’ve ridden the bike say it’s worth every penny of the price. The chassis is hand-fabricated and the whole thing weighs just 375 pounds. It’s a superb bike as is, but the Sports Kit package takes it to a whole other level, blowing away the competition. If what you’re after is basically a MotoGP bike with lights, then the Sports Kit version is for you.
2) MV Agusta F4CC
The MV Agusta F4CC might be a little difficult to track down, seeing that only 100 bikes were made. And it came with a whopping $120,000 price tag to boot. Almost everything on this bike is limited edition, with materials borrowed from the aero industry and supercars. Each F4CC has its unique serial number printed on a platinum plaque, and the owner gets a leather jacket to match. With a 200-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, a top speed of 195 mph, and plenty of carbon fiber and high-end tech, this bike really does deserve to be called super.
3) Suzuki GSX-R1000 K5/K6
Many owners of this bike caution against using it on the road simply because it’s so fast. One of the only downsides is you will probably end up with a good collection of speeding tickets if you’re not constantly checking your speed. It’s unlikely, and a shame, that bikes aren’t made as light these days, the lightweight (365lbs) paired with the superb engine means this is still one of the best superbikes out there.
4) KTM 1290 Superduke R
The KTM 1290 Superduke R is known for its crazy power, a fact fully acknowledged by KTM in the nickname they gave it – ‘The Beast’. A few laps around a track and you’ll know exactly why this bike earned its nickname. It’s pure, raw and straight to the point, with a monster 177HP on tap. Thankfully, the super high-tech electronics work their magic to keep the two wheels firmly planted on the road. If you want one, it’ll set you back around $18K.
5) Aprilia RSV4 RF
Riding most superbikes, you sacrifice the gadgets and gizmos for the pure power. But with the Aprilia RSV4 RF, you get the best of both worlds. In corners, it sticks to the road and seems to know where to go before you do. In 2016, the RSV4 RF was unveiled to comply with, or more accurately, take advantage of the new rules restricting the number of modifications allowed on superbikes. The RSV4 RF has smarter electronics, improved handling, is lighter, and more importantly, packs a bigger punch.
Sure, there are some truly awesome bikes that didn’t make this list – like the Ducati 1299 Superleggera. But the ones featured here really are monsters on the track and well worth seeking out if you are planning (or attending) a race day soon.