Volkswagen indefinitely delays the ID.7 electric sedan’s arrival in North America

Volkswagen has delayed the launch of its ID.7 sedan in the US and Canada. Before Wednesday’s indefinite postponement, the automaker had slated the EV’s North American launch for this year. The ID.7, which was set to be Volkswagen’s first electric sedan in the US, has seen high demand in Europe, where it arrived last year.

“As market dynamics continue to change, Volkswagen is delaying the introduction of the ID.7 sedan in the U.S. and Canada,” the automaker wrote in a press release announcing the delay. Volkswagen added that its Microbus is still slated for a Q4 2025 stateside arrival. The company also touted in its press release how well its electric SUVs did in North America during Q1 2024.

Shadow sepia-like image of the Volkswagen ID.7 electric sedan.
Volkswagen

Volkswagen confirmed to Engadget sister site Autoblog that it doesn’t currently have a new timeline for the delayed ID.7 in North America, not an encouraging sign for folks who were eagerly waiting for the sedan. The Verge notes that the model would fill a gap in the American electric industry’s offerings: a decently affordable electric sedan. Right now, most non-SUV electric vehicles in the American market sit on the high end of the pricing spectrum, starting at around $70,000.

The European ID.7 is an “upper mid-size” EV sedan that merges a powerful and efficient 282-hp motor with a 77-kWh battery. Rated for around 300 miles of range, it was expected to start at around $50,000 in the US.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/volkswagen-indefinitely-delays-the-id7-electric-sedans-arrival-in-north-america-175929524.html?src=rss

Volvo and Aurora introduce their first self-driving truck

Volvo and Aurora have unveiled their first production autonomous truck, three years after the companies initially announced that they were teaming up. They've just showed off the Volvo VNL Autonomous truck, which was designed by autonomous trucking and robotaxi company Aurora but will be manufactured by Volvo, at ACT Expo in Las Vegas. 

It's powered by Aurora Driver, a level 4 autonomous driving system that uses high-resolution cameras, imaging radars, a LiDAR sensor that can detect objects up to 400 meters away and even more sensors. Aurora's technology has driven billions of virtual miles for training, as well as 1.5 million commercial miles on actual public roads. For safety purposes, the truck has "redundant steering, braking, communication, computation, power management, energy storage and vehicle motion management systems."

According to TechCrunch, the vehicle will still have a human driver behind the wheel to take over whenever needed when it starts ferrying cargo across North America over the next few months. An Aurora spokesperson told the publication that it will be announcing pilot programs with its clients that are planning to use Volvo's truck sometime later this year. It didn't name any companies, but the startup previously ran pilot programs with FedEx and Uber Freight. 

The autonomous vehicle company also intends to deploy 20 fully driverless trucks between Dallas and Houston soon, but it's unclear if this inaugural fleet of driverless vehicles will be comprised of Volvo's trucks or of its other manufacturing partners'. The companies did say at the Las Vegas event, though, that Volvo has already started manufacturing a test fleet of the VNL Autonomous truck at its New River Valley assembly facility in Virginia. Nils Jaeger, President of Volvo Autonomous Solutions, called this truck the "first of [the company's] standardized global autonomous technology platform." Jaeger added that it will enable Volvo "to introduce additional models in the future."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/volvo-and-aurora-introduce-their-first-self-driving-truck-080058835.html?src=rss

Waymo says its robotaxis are now making 50,000 paid trips every week

If you've been seeing more Waymo robotaxis recently in Phoenix, San Francisco and Los Angeles, that's because more and more people are hailing one for a ride. The Alphabet-owned company has announced on Twitter/X that it's now serving more than 50,000 paid trips every week across three cities. Waymo One operates 24/7 in parts of those cities. If the company is getting 50,000 rides a week, that means it receives an average of 300 bookings every hour or five bookings every minute. Waymo has revealed, as well, that it's had over one million rider-only trips across four cities, including Austin, where it's currently offering limited rides to select members of the public.

In its announcement, Waymo credited its "safe and deliberate approach" to scaling its program for reaching the milestone. "We see people from all walks of life use our service to travel carefree, gain independence, reclaim their commute and more. Fully autonomous ride-hailing is a reality and a preferred mobility option for people navigating their cities every day," it added. 

While Waymo certainly seems to be doing better than Cruise, which only recently re-deployed some of its autonomous vehicles following a much-needed hiatus, it's had its share of controversies. In April, six Waymo robotaxis blocked traffic in a San Francisco freeway, and it was just one of the instances wherein the company's vehicles caused traffic blockage. Earlier this year, two Waymo vehicles crashed into the same pickup truck one after the other, because their software had incorrectly predicted the future movements of the truck. The company issued a software recall after the incident to fix the issue and prevent similar incidents from happening. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/waymo-says-its-robotaxis-are-now-making-50000-paid-trips-every-week-130005096.html?src=rss

Boom’s XB-1 supersonic jet has been authorized to break the speed of sound

Boom's supersonic XB-1 test jet has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to fly past Mach 1, the company announced. Tests are slated to take place later this year at the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor in Mojave, CA, and the results could help prove the feasibility of the design in areas like fuel consumption, speeds and flight characteristics.

"Following XB-1’s successful first flight, I’m looking forward to its historic first supersonic flight,” said Boom Supersonic founder and CEO Blake Scholl. "We thank the Federal Aviation Administration for supporting innovation and enabling XB-1 to continue its important role of informing the future of supersonic travel."

The approval arrives just weeks after a successful X-B1 test flight at subsonic speeds by a pair of test pilots. It follows a thorough review and environmental assessment, and mandates a chaise plane to trail the XB-1 to monitor and record flight safety, according to the company.

The company will conduct 10-20 flights before attempting to break the speed of sound. It will "systematically expand the flight envelope during that time" to confirm performance and handling qualities, Boom said, while performing in-flight checks of all systems and demonstrating a safe margin to flutter/vibration boundaries. Test pilot Tristan "Geppetto" Brandenberg will be at the controls during the first supersonic flight.

Passenger flights are still a long way off, though. The XB-1 is a scaled-down version of Boom's ultimate goal, a commercial liner called Overture that's expected to carry under 100 passenger at "business class" comfort levels. The company has said that plane will be able to fly from Tokyo to Seattle in four hours and thirty minutes. 

The company has seen its share of issues, with test plans delayed and a rupture with original engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. The company subsequently partnered with a company called FTT to develop its own custom "Symphony" jet engine. Still, the company already has customers lined up, with American Airlines and United Airlines having place orders for multiple jets. 

NASA is also working on a supersonic jet called the X-59 with a reduced sonic profile, but Boom Supersonic hasn't provided much detail on how it plans to reduce the, well, supersonic boom.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/booms-xb-1-supersonic-jet-has-been-authorized-to-break-the-speed-of-sound-120036963.html?src=rss

US will require all new cars to have advanced automatic braking systems by 2029

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just announced new federal safety standards for automobiles. These standards include a mandate for advanced automatic braking systems for all new cars, which manufacturers must comply with by 2029. That’s just five years out.

This applies to all passenger cars and light trucks under 10,000 pounds. The automatic emergency braking systems must be able to bring a car traveling up to 62 MPH to a complete stop while avoiding a collision. These systems will also have to account for oncoming pedestrians at speeds up to 45 MPH in both daytime and nighttime conditions.

Automatic emergency brakes use a bevy of sensors, lasers and cameras to detect collisions. When a crash is imminent, the system brakes on its own or applies brake assist to help the driver quickly and safely come to a stop. It’s worth noting that manufacturers already include these systems in 90 percent of new cars, according to reporting by The New York Times, but many of these tools don’t meet the MPH thresholds as mentioned above. The NHTSA says that most manufacturers should be able to meet these requirements with software updates. 

The federal agency estimates that these new rules will prevent over 360 road deaths per year and should reduce the severity of more than 24,000 injuries. It’s also expected to save people a lot of money on property damage costs. Cathy Chase, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told The Washington Post that the new rules were a “major victory for all consumers and public safety.” There were over 41,000 automobile-related deaths in the US in 2023 alone, and that’s actually a slight decrease from the previous year.

The actual auto industry, however, isn’t quite as bullish about the mandate. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobbying group that works on behalf of auto manufacturers, has urged the NHTSA to consider other options. One major suggestion is to lower the speed threshold in certain cases, as the group stated that “significant hardware and software changes will be needed to achieve a level of performance that no production vehicle can currently achieve.”

To that end, tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that these systems will likely require major overhauls to adequately comply with the mandate. The research group says it tested crash avoidance systems on 10 small SUVs at speeds up to 43 MPH, and many failed to stop in time to avoid a crash in the most difficult testing scenarios. The Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V performed best, for those in the market. 

Heavy-duty vehicles, like larger trucks, could be getting their own mandate in the near future. The NHTSA is currently working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a truck safety agency, to draw up similar standards for chonky vehicles.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/us-will-require-all-new-cars-to-have-advanced-automatic-braking-systems-by-2029-184455802.html?src=rss

US will require all new cars to have advanced automatic braking systems by 2029

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just announced new federal safety standards for automobiles. These standards include a mandate for advanced automatic braking systems for all new cars, which manufacturers must comply with by 2029. That’s just five years out.

This applies to all passenger cars and light trucks under 10,000 pounds. The automatic emergency braking systems must be able to bring a car traveling up to 62 MPH to a complete stop while avoiding a collision. These systems will also have to account for oncoming pedestrians at speeds up to 45 MPH in both daytime and nighttime conditions.

Automatic emergency brakes use a bevy of sensors, lasers and cameras to detect collisions. When a crash is imminent, the system brakes on its own or applies brake assist to help the driver quickly and safely come to a stop. It’s worth noting that manufacturers already include these systems in 90 percent of new cars, according to reporting by The New York Times, but many of these tools don’t meet the MPH thresholds as mentioned above. The NHTSA says that most manufacturers should be able to meet these requirements with software updates. 

The federal agency estimates that these new rules will prevent over 360 road deaths per year and should reduce the severity of more than 24,000 injuries. It’s also expected to save people a lot of money on property damage costs. Cathy Chase, the president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told The Washington Post that the new rules were a “major victory for all consumers and public safety.” There were over 41,000 automobile-related deaths in the US in 2023 alone, and that’s actually a slight decrease from the previous year.

The actual auto industry, however, isn’t quite as bullish about the mandate. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a lobbying group that works on behalf of auto manufacturers, has urged the NHTSA to consider other options. One major suggestion is to lower the speed threshold in certain cases, as the group stated that “significant hardware and software changes will be needed to achieve a level of performance that no production vehicle can currently achieve.”

To that end, tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate that these systems will likely require major overhauls to adequately comply with the mandate. The research group says it tested crash avoidance systems on 10 small SUVs at speeds up to 43 MPH, and many failed to stop in time to avoid a crash in the most difficult testing scenarios. The Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V performed best, for those in the market. 

Heavy-duty vehicles, like larger trucks, could be getting their own mandate in the near future. The NHTSA is currently working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a truck safety agency, to draw up similar standards for chonky vehicles.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/us-will-require-all-new-cars-to-have-advanced-automatic-braking-systems-by-2029-184455802.html?src=rss

NHTSA concludes Tesla Autopilot investigation after linking the system to 14 deaths

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system after reviewing hundreds of crashes, including 13 fatal incidents that led to 14 deaths. The organization has ruled that these accidents were due to driver misuse of the system.

However, the NHTSA also found that “Tesla’s weak driver engagement system was not appropriate for Autopilot’s permissive operating capabilities.” In other words, the software didn’t prioritize driver attentiveness. Riders using Autopilot or the company’s Full Self-Driving technology “were not sufficiently engaged,” because Tesla “did not adequately ensure that drivers maintained their attention on the driving task." 

The organization investigated nearly 1,000 crashes from January of 2018 until August of 2023, accounting for 29 total deaths. The NHTSA found that there was “insufficient data to make an assessment” for around half (489) of these crashes. In some incidents, the other party was at fault or the Tesla drivers weren’t using the Autopilot system.

The most serious were 211 crashes in which “the frontal plane of the Tesla struck a vehicle or obstacle in its path” and these were often linked to Autopilot or FSD. These incidents led to 14 deaths and 49 serious injuries. The agency found that drivers had enough time to react, but didn’t, in 78 of these incidents. These drivers failed to brake or steer to avoid the hazard, despite having at least five seconds to make a move.

That’s where complaints against the software come into play. The NHTSA says that drivers would simply become too complacent, assuming that the system would handle any hazards. When it came time to react, it was too late. “Crashes with no or late evasive action attempted by the driver were found across all Tesla hardware versions and crash circumstances,” the organization wrote. The imbalance between driver expectation and the operating capabilities of Autopilot resulted in a “critical safety gap” that led to “foreseeable misuse and avoidable crashes.”

The NHTSA also took umbrage with the branding of Autopilot, calling it misleading and suggesting that it lets drivers assume the software has total control. To that end, rival companies tend to use branding with words like “driver assist.” Autopilot indicates, well, an autonomous pilot. California’s attorney general and the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles are also investigating Tesla for misleading branding and marketing.

Tesla, on the other hand, says that it warns customers that they need to pay attention while using Autopilot and FSD, according to The Verge. The company says the software features regular indicators that remind drivers to keep their hands on the wheels and eyes on the road. The NHTSA and other safety groups have said that these warnings do not go far enough and were “insufficient to prevent misuse.” Despite these statements by safety groups, CEO Elon Musk recently promised that the company will continue to go “balls to the wall for autonomy.”

The findings could only represent a small fraction of the actual number of crashes and accidents related to Autopilot and FSD. The NHTSA indicated that “gaps in Tesla’s telematic data create uncertainty regarding the actual rate at which vehicles operating with Autopilot engaged are involved in crashes.” This means that Tesla only receives data from certain types of crashes, with the NHTSA claiming the company collects data on around 18 percent of crashes reported to police.

With all of this mind, the organization has opened up another probe into Tesla. This one looks into a recent OTA software fix issued in December after two million vehicles were recalled. The NHTSA will evaluate whether the Autopilot recall fix that Tesla implemented is effective enough.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nhtsa-concludes-tesla-autopilot-investigation-after-linking-the-system-to-14-deaths-161941746.html?src=rss

Mercedes-Benz quad-motor G-Class could be the ultimate EV off-roader

The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, aka the Gelandewagen (which means "all-terrain vehicle" in German) has been in regular production since 1979. It's changed a lot since then, evolving from a utilitarian off-roader to a desirable luxury icon, but it's never seen a change quite like this.

Meet the Mercedes-Benz G 580 with EQ Technology. That's a long and mild name for a pretty radical reinvention of the classic G. This is the first battery-powered G-Wagen, driven by a whopping four electric motors that draw juice from a 116-kilowatt-hour battery pack. Total output is 580 horsepower.

Those four motors enable the electric G to do some amazing things, like a so-called G-Turn, where it spins in place. The idea is to help this big rig get out of some tight off-road situations, but we think it'll be even more effective at impressing your neighbors. There's a bevy of other tech here too, including dedicated off-road driving modes and a series of cameras that allow drivers to spot every rock and rut when crossing the trails. No formal word on pricing just yet, but it's important to note that the gas-powered versions of the G-Class live on, so if you're really attached to internal combustion there's still a G for you.

Really, though, if you can't do a tank turn, then what's the point? Watch the video above for the full story.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/mercedes-benz-quad-motor-g-class-could-be-the-ultimate-ev-off-roader-120024168.html?src=rss

The Morning After: Senate passes the bill that could ban TikTok

The Senate approved a measure that will require ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban, in a vote of 79 to 18. The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act next goes to President Biden. The president has already said he’ll sign the bill into law. (Yes, as predicted, I'm writing about this again.)

TikTok has faced the ire of US politicians for a few years now, but this bill has picked up support across both political parties. It sailed through the House of Representatives before being approved (bundled with a package for foreign aid) by the Senate on Tuesday.

The bill states that TikTok would have up to 12 months to divest from its parent company ByteDance, or face a ban in US app stores and web hosting services. The company, naturally, has protested this push, calling the bill unconstitutional and vowing to mount a legal challenge if the bill is signed into law. If it does so, it could bounce around courts for years before any eventual ban, if the company declines to sell. A few years is a long time in social media. Ask Snap, or worse, Vine.

And who would buy TikTok? While many major tech companies might love to grab the social network’s engaged young audience, many politicians would balk at making a Big Tech company even bigger. Steve Mnuchin, who was Treasury secretary in the Trump administration, told CNBC he was putting together an investor group. What could go wrong?

— Mat Smith

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Microsoft has unveiled its latest light AI model, called the Phi-3 Mini, for smartphones and other local devices. The aim is to provide a cheaper alternative to cloud-powered large language models (LLMs), allowing smaller organizations to adopt AI, with presumably lower energy burdens and without heady processing costs. According to Microsoft, the new model handily outperforms its previous Phi-2 small model and is on par with larger models like Llama 2. In fact, the company says the Phi-3 Mini responds close to the level of a model 10 times its size. The trick is apparently in the data Microsoft used to train its tiny model.

Continue reading.

Tesla teased ride-hailing features coming to its app ahead of an August robotaxi unveiling. The company released mock-ups of the upcoming feature, which showed the ability to “summon” a ride from the Tesla app. The company has been promising self-driving taxi services for years. Tesla didn’t offer many details, but it seems to have Uber-like functionality and the ability to remotely set the car’s temperature before arrival.

Continue reading.

TMA
Meta

After a few months of testing, Meta is bringing multimodal AI to its smart glasses. Multimodal AI means the system can process multiple types of information, including photos, videos, text and audio. You might have seen feature showcases of AI-connected devices that can view what a device is looking at and offer extra information — that kind of thing. Meta also announced hands-free video call integration with WhatsApp and Messenger and a few more frame designs.

Continue reading.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-morning-after-senate-passes-the-bill-that-could-ban-tiktok-111556543.html?src=rss

Mercedes-Benz finally unveils its electric G-Class luxury off-roader

Back in 2022, Mercedes-Benz announced that it was going to release an electric G-Class by the end of 2024. Now, the automaker has formally introduced the electrified version of its iconic luxury vehicle that's known for its exclusivity. The Mercedes-Benz G 580 with EQ Technology comes equipped with a 116 kWh lithium-ion battery that gives it enough energy to run for up to 473 kilometers (294 miles) on a single charge. It also has a maximum total output of 432 kW and a maximum torque of 1,164 Nm.

The electric model looks pretty much like the gas-powered G-Class, with its sharp angles and its distinctive door handles, grilles and round headlights. Mercedes offers optional lighting exclusive to the EQ version of the vehicle, though, so you can change its looks and give it a design that's considerably different from a standard G-Class. The vehicle is powered by four electric motors located near each wheel and has several modes for off-road use: G-TURN, which will allow you to turn the vehicle almost on the spot, G-STEERING, which could eliminate the need for multi-point turns, and the intelligent off-road crawl function that provides cruise control for off-road drives. 

Mercedes-Benz made sure the vehicle's battery is ready for off-road journeys, as well, and encased it in a torsion-resistant casing that protects it from water and dirt. Since the vehicle can be driven in up to 33.5 inches of water, the battery definitely needs that kind of protection. It can charge with both alternating current and direct current, and when plugged into a fast-charging DC system, it can go from 10 to 80 percent in just 32 minutes. The G-Class can convert kinetic energy into electrical energy when you coast or hit the brakes, as well. 

EDITION ONE, the G-Class with EQ Technology coming out at launch later this year, will have an "an expanded palette of standard features." A company spokesperson told TechCrunch that a range-extended version with a battery that uses a more energy-dense silicon-anode technology from Mercedes' partner Silas will also be available in the next few years.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/mercedes-benz-finally-unveils-its-electric-g-class-luxury-off-roader-110040316.html?src=rss