Fun and Humor

Stanford Creates DeLorean That Drives Under Robot Control

PALO ALTO, Calif. –We may not have hover boards and robots as waiters but we are half way there to the future we predicted in Back To The Future II.

Despite the wishful thinking of the 1989 science-fiction film “Back to the Future Part II,” in which scientist Dr. Emmett Brown and all-American teenager Marty McFly ride a time-traveling DeLorean DMC-12 forward by 30 years to Oct. 21, 2015, those futuristic gadgets still haven’t become a reality. (No matter what Lexus says.)

But on Tuesday, on the eve of what has become known as “Back to the Future Day,” Stanford University researchers unveiled a self-driving DeLorean that can burn rubber under robot control, suggesting the future might not be so dismal after all.

The car, nicknamed Marty after Michael J. Fox’s character in the film, does doughnuts with near-flawless precision. The researchers ultimately want Marty to drift around corners better than any human race car driver, because if self-driving cars are able to function at the limits of grip, they may be able to avoid crashes in extreme scenarios.

“We aren’t literally envisioning roads full of automated vehicles that can produce clouds of white tire smoke,” said Chris Gerdes, the Stanford professor who led the project, “though that would be cool.”

At an event Tuesday evening hosted by special effects guru Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the Discovery Channel TV show “MythBusters,” Stanford released a video of Marty filmed at Thunderhill Raceway Park north of San Francisco.

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How Can Your Car Help You To Drive

Car companies, now focus on helping drivers increase their driving experience by adding more features to their new automotive creations, but few drivers know what each and everyone of them are, if they were not mentioned in the commercial how will you know they are there.

While automakers are spending billions of dollars loading up their vehicles with technologies of all kinds, many owners are not using them and would rather use their smartphones instead, according to the first-ever J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report.

The market research firm found that at least 20 percent of new vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features that DrIVE measured. For the consumer, this means they are paying for something they are not using, said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power.

The report looked at driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership and was based on responses from more than 4,200 owners and lessees of 2015-model-year vehicles.

Features that owners did not use

43 percent—In-vehicle concierge feature such as OnStar.
38 percent—Mobile connectivity, such as a factory installed Wi-Fi hot spot.
35 percent—Automatic parking system, which aids in either parallel or perpendicular parking with limited interaction by the driver.
33 percent—Head-up display.
32 percent—Built-in apps such as Pandora.

“Tired and impatient, car buyers just want to get out of the dealership, often without becoming fully oriented with all of their new car’s features,” says Tom Mutchler, Consumer Reports’ automotive human factors engineer. “But many high-tech features aren’t immediately obvious or intuitive, especially when trying to decipher their use for the first time when driving.”

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New Strategy For Car Makers, Share The Bare Minimum With Tech Companies

Will the advancements in technology and automotive decrease in pace once car makers continue to share the bare minimum of information to get the results they desire.

Carmakers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple and Google through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.

Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetizing the information. Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.

But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.

Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems — steering, brakes and throttle, for instance — as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas.

“We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co.’s executive director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.

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GM’s New Hybrid Collection Is Revealed

Hybrid is the new black in the automotive field. GM recently released their plan to release several new hybrid plug in options for every consumer.

General Motors has mapped out a comprehensive electrification strategy that includes a reinvented 2016 Volt plug-in hybrid, a 2016 Malibu hybrid, the retail launch of the Spark EV in Canada and other markets, and the Bolt EV.

The Bolt, with a range of 321 kilometers, will be priced at $30,000, subsidies included.

All will be sold in global markets through GM dealerships, covered by factory warranties and backed by service procedures proven over the five years the current Volt has been on sale – with more than 70,000 Volts in the hands of customers.

Despite all this, Tesla remains the darling of the EV set. GM has made a demonstrable commitment to putting affordable electrified cars in the hands of the masses, but Tesla is considered a “buy” by a number of Wall Street analysts.

For instance, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas has a $320 per-share price target on Tesla (trading today at about $266), yet the company continues to lose money. The first-quarter loss at Tesla amounted to $154.2 million (U.S.). Nonetheless, the stock market puts a market cap on Tesla of more than $30 billion.

By contrast, GM today was trading at $35.43, for a market cap of about $57 billion. This begs the question: Does it gall Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electrification, and her team to see such buzz about Tesla, but not so much for GM? She pauses and says, “We just showed you a video of a real car.”

She also points out that GM purposely puts key electrified vehicles into the Chevrolet brand. GM’s hybrids, plug-in and pure electric cars are not just for the elite, she says, taking a jab at Tesla. The base price of a Model S in Canada is $77,200, or more than twice the expected price of the coming Bolt – or the estimated $33,000 price tag of the Spark EV when it hits retailers in Canada this October.

GM is anxious to get out its electrification message, naming it one of the key elements of the Chevy brand moving forward.

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What To Do When Your Car Starts Making Weird Noises

When your car is running smoothly everything is okay, but how do you know when there is something wrong with your car? Each noise your car makes will tell you what’s wrong, and from there it is easy to find the solution.


You hear a high-pitched squeal that stops when you shut off your engine: Readjust or replace the belt. These belts should have about half an inch of play and shouldn’t be frayed, cracked, or glazed on the underside.


You hear a continuous high-pitched sound that may continue after the engines shut off: Check the radiator pressure cap. The rubber gasket may be worn.


Something ticks rhythmically while your engine idles: Shut off the engine, wait ten minutes for the engine to cool and the oil to settle, and then check the oil level. If you have enough oil, have a mechanic check the valve adjustment.

If you hear a loud tapping or knocking sound in your engine, pull to the side of the road and call for road service. The source may be a loose rocker arm or carbon buildup inside the engine, but if it’s a loose bearing or a faulty piston, it can destroy the engine.

Mild knocking or “pinging” may be the result of using fuel with the wrong octane rating.


You hear the engine running after you turn off the ignition: Your engine is dieseling. This condition only happens to cars with carburetors. It is usually caused by an idle speed that’s set too high or excessive carbon in the combustion chamber.


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Short, Feel Good Video

From Russia!

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Funny Recycling of Bus

This is pretty silly but funny looking!

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When Your Car Looks Like This It is Ready for the Junkyard!

Wow, talk about a bad paint job!

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BMW Transformed

This used to be a BMW

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The Art of Auto Recycling

Great idea by Ken Marquise in Pennsylvania!  He has spent the last three years convincing other artists from all the US states and 52 foreign countries to give old hubcaps the artistic treatment. Ken got the idea to use hubcaps while attending an auto show near Allentown, where a collection of 41 rusted wheel covers inspired and got him thinking they could be re-purposed. He bought the entire cache for $82, and just a few weeks later acquired 1,000 more.

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