The Korean electronics behemoth unveiled a prototype tractor trailer that allows vehicles behind large lorries to essentially see through the vehicle. Samsung calls it the Safety Truck, and it is fitted with a wireless camera on the front and four large exterior monitors on the truck’s rear. The company says motorists behind the rig see exactly what is happening in front of it, enhancing drivers’ awareness of overtaking safety, whether during day or night. The Safety Truck is just a prototype for now, but Samsung’s in talks with non-government agencies and governments to do more testing.
Jaguar Land Rover sees smooth sailing ahead
As if the British marque’s products didn’t already offer some of the cushiest rides on the road, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is now tapping its Advanced Research Center in the UK to develop a new pothole detection system, aptly named Pothole Alert. The technology will use road-surface sensors, paired with forward-facing stereo digital cameras on the Range Rover Evoque, to scope out potholes and broken manholes, and even detect how deep they are. JLR intends to pair Pothole Alert with its current MagneRide system, which can adjust the suspension in milliseconds to match road conditions, and ultimately wants the technology to detect and drive around potholes for its driver. JLR also plans to send real-time pothole data into the cloud, so that – in a presumably linked future for passenger-car communications – other drivers may access it and respond to road conditions accordingly.
Will your next car pay for itself?
The sharing economy is no longer just for wide-eyed optimists. Mini announced that it would offer a DriveNow package for its US cars staring in 2016, allowing owners a simple way to rent out their vehicles by the hour. (Think of it as sharing, with a capitalistic twist.) Owners can also add friends and family to a list of people who can use the car for free. DriveNow has formerly been used for fleet rentals, but this is the first time individual Mini owners can use it for their own purposes. Similarly, Ford Motor divulged details on its own peer-to-peer car-sharing programme, which just launched in London and six US cities. Ford says young Americans rank their cars just under books as something they’d be most likely to share.
Audi has lunar fever
The German luxury automaker joined the Google Lunar XPrize mission – a challenge to land an unmanned rover on the Moon’s surface, drive at least 500 metres (1,640ft), and send high-definition video and images back to Earth. Dubbed the Lunar Quattro, the space vehicle is made mostly of aluminium, and wears a solar panel hooked to a lithium-ion battery back that feeds four electric hub motors. Audi is helping to finance the rover being built by a Berlin-based team, called Part-Time Scientists. Grab your telescope and look for the vehicle cruising round the former landing site of the Apollo 17 mission sometime in 2017.
This robot drives cars – and itself
A vaguely dystopic development this month. The winner of the US government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) Robotics Challenge managed to drive itself around in a car this month, then exited and rolled around on its own knees to finish other tasks. The winning ‘bot completed a series of natural disaster obstacles such as walking over rubble, turning off valves and flipping a circuit breaker. Having defeated its robot competitors in the timed race, the wheeled overlord earned $2m in prize money for its feeble underlings.
US military working on Star Wars-like hoverbikes
At the June Paris Air Show, UK-based Malloy Aeronautics announced it was teaming up with Survice Engineering in the US to build a hoverbike for the US Department of Defense. As our colleagues at BBC News reported, the bike will be a Tactical Reconnaissance Vehicle (TRV), with both manned and unmanned “flights” possible, but for the moment the prototype sooner resembles a drone with a motorcycle seat bolted in the middle than a fearsome war machine. The partners have not divulged performance figures or even how movement will be achieved, though it’s fair to assume tree-dwelling Ewoks will not be among its enemies in the field.
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