Ever since we were kids, we’ve always thought of the future having self-driving or flying cars thanks to the movies we watched. For Audi and the Aicon concept, that reality might come sooner than we think. At least for the self-driving part.
The Audi Aicon was introduced back in 2017 but it’s over at this year’s CES that we got a glimpse of the company’s take on the future of transportation. The vehicle is capable of level five autonomous driving, meaning it can get from one point to another without any help from humans in navigation. It also promises to offer about 700 to 800km of range on a single charge which is double the usual range of most electric vehicles today.
For a concept vehicle, it still looks like a fairly normal car — only more fluid and sleeker in design. Its windshield stretches to the top and all the way to the back. This, plus the wide unobstructed windows, provide passengers a better view outside.
What would likely catch your attention next are its front and back ends. The mesh-like grille is populated by lights that display information and warnings for pedestrians (think Cars but with digital eyes for conveying certain expressions).
Inside, the absence of a steering wheel is compensated by a wide panel that acts as the dashboard. And when we say wide, we mean wiiide. This touch panel extends all the way to the doors so one could easily navigate through the menu when the seats are reclined all the way back.
There’s an onboard personal assistant named PIA (Personal Intelligent Assistant) which you can ask questions to, like about a nearby restaurant or your next destination. Although it has a more interesting feature called the Gaze Selection. Basically, it’s a hands-free approach at navigating through the interface’s menu using only your eyes. Simply look at a certain menu tile for a few seconds to select it — almost like controlling the menu with just your mind.
It’s true that the Audi Aicon is not the first to show off a level five autonomous driving system. Having lights that communicate to pedestrians isn’t a new idea either. What makes this worth looking forward to is that it will be ready for mass production sooner than we think.
Audi has confirmed that they will be mass producing autonomous vehicles by 2021 and that’s already in two years. So even if we’re bound to head towards a sea of self-driving cars in the future, Audi is expected to be one of the firsts to offer this technology on a commercial level.
Modified Land Rover Discovery has an entire lab for malaria research
Bringing the lab straight to the field
Car brands have been coming up with ways to fit more baggage inside a vehicle — be it groceries, full-size suitcases, or even surfboards. Those are all good and impressive, but this special vehicle from Land Rover just upped the ante. An entire research laboratory is now mobile thanks to the modified Discovery. Not only that, this lab on wheels is helping beat malaria.
Addressing the current malaria situation in Africa, the Mobile Malaria Project was conceived as a trans-African journey to work closely with smaller research groups. Through the mobile genetic sequencing laboratory tucked inside the mid-size SUV, they aim to extract and sequence parasite and mosquito DNA. In other words, they’re bringing the lab research directly to the field this time.
Embarking on this journey of Discovery (pun intended) are three researchers from Oxford University. They will be driving through different countries in Africa, gathering needed research and educating groups with limited resources along the way.
Packing all the lab equipment needed onto the luxury SUV was no easy feat, either. The team needed a small freezer to keep test supplies cool, a reliable power source to run said freezer 24/7, and storage space. These were successfully installed in the vehicle but some things (like the two rear seats) were needed to be taken out.
Additionally, the scientifically pimped-out Discovery was installed with awnings to cover the sides of the car. This way, researchers will be able to work around the vehicle while the hot African sun is above them or even when rainstorms are passing.
It’s a very interesting project with a very promising goal in mind. If you want to know more and get into the details, you may visit their page.
2019 Mazda 3 arrives in the Philippines
Still has the KODO design language
The highly awaited 2019 Mazda 3 has finally arrived in the Philippines. This compact car (first seen during its grand debut in Los Angeles last year) still has the company’s KODO design language but comes with a fresher look.
Up front, both the sedan and hatchback models have a large meshed grille with Mazda’s logo proudly sitting at the center. This is flanked with a more aggressive pair of headlamps that sort of stretch to its sides. Rounding up the front fascia is an accented lower lip.
Walk to its back and you’ll be greeted by a refreshed tailgate that protrudes outward. Together with its rear bumper and new taillights, the Mazda 3 exudes a sportier, more agile vibe that blends well with the contours of its body. All that is standing on 18-inch alloy wheels.
The same attention to detail that gives the exterior attitude can also be found inside. The seats are wrapped in elegant red leather while the rest of the interior has a simple approach. There’s an 8-inch infotainment display, three-spoke steering wheel, and redesigned control hub at the center.
Mazda Philippines wanted this event to be more like a welcome celebration for the arrival of the Mazda 3 in the country. As such, a number of things are not yet final. It’s still unclear if the models to go on sale here will already have the company’s SkyActiv-X technology that has the responsive traits of a gasoline engine with the conservative fuel consumption of a diesel unit.
Pricing and availability were also not disclosed, although Mazda says they will be announcing the details once everything has been finalized. We’ll just have to make do with the photos for now — good thing this car is such a looker.
Nissan pushes through with electrification of Asia and Oceania
One step at a time
It’s that time of the year again when Nissan gathers thought leaders, government officials, and media representatives from around the region to discuss how to improve and reshape the way people use transportation.
With the theme “Transform the way we drive and live,” this year’s Nissan Futures offers updated statistics and tackles the company’s plans and strategies to fully electrify Asia and Oceania.
Through a report, Nissan kicked off the event by showing us our current situation and where this could lead. They said that in about 30 years, the human population will hit 9.9 billion and two out of three people will be living in cities. This translates to more carbon footprint for each city and heavier air pollution for everyone if we simply continue going down this path.
“Asia Pacific is home to more than 2.1 billion urban residents, that is 60 percent of the world’s urban population. This brings increased pressure on the region’s cities and mobility systems. Events like Nissan Futures create the appropriate platform to discuss solutions for our region’s societies and mobility systems,” said Yutaka Sanada, Regional Senior Vice President for Asia and Oceania. “Driven by our Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision, we are committed to bringing safe, smart, and sustainable mobility to more people.”
We already talked about the benefits of electric vehicles (as well as myths that surround them) and how they will significantly reduce tailpipe emissions on the streets and eventually reduce air pollution. With that in mind, Nissan envisions a city with a more sustainable environment by jumping on the electric bandwagon. And right now, their Leaf electric vehicle is what embodies their plans for the future.
“The Leaf remains the icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, our strategy for moving more people to a better world,” said Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s Global Head of Marketing, Sales, and Electric Vehicles.
Just earlier this month, the Leaf cemented itself as the most successful EV to date — surpassing the 400,000 sales mark. Although, we weren’t that surprised since we got to drive and experience the Leaf for the second time. I’d say the drive was more exciting this year since we drove it around the open streets of Hong Kong and witnessed how it fared in terms of its safety features, handling, power, and battery consumption.
We made a short video of the drive:
Yes, we’re still far away from cities being fully electric, but Nissan is relentlessly pushing through. It has already put its foot in and is paving the way for electrification that will soon extend beyond the confines of a vehicle.
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