Self-Driving Trucks

“Since early October, autonomous trucks built and operated by the startup Embark have been hauling Frigidaire refrigerators 650 miles along the I-10 freeway, from a warehouse in El Paso, Texas, to a distribution center in Palm Springs, California.”

“For now, the Embark milk runs are designed to test logistics as well as the safety of the technology. On each trip, a human driver working for Ryder (a major trucking company and Embark’s partner on this venture) heads over to the Frigidaire lot in El Paso, picks up a load of refrigerators, hauls them to the rest stop right off the highway, and unhitches the trailer. Then, a driver working for Embark hooks that trailer up to the robotruck, cruises onto the interstate, pops it into autonomous mode, and lets it do its thing. The truck mostly sticks to the right lane and always follows the speed limit. Once in Palm Springs, the human pulls off the highway, unhitches the trailer, and passes the load to another Ryder driver, who takes it the last few miles to Frigidaire’s SoCal distribution center.”

WIRED

The end of human-driven vehicles

Bob Lutz worked for Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and BMW, usually as a product guru. I believe he was the guy responsible for the Dodge Viper. In this article he predicts that in 20 years (at the latest) human-driven vehicles will be legislated off the highways.

The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway. On the freeway, it will merge seamlessly into a stream of other modules traveling at 120, 150 mph. The speed doesn’t matter. You have a blending of rail-type with individual transportation.

Dashboards

As automobiles got smarter and smarter, dashboards got more complex. My MINI dash can show stuff I still haven’t discovered, six years in. Better to have that kind of data than not (I guess), but I rarely look at most of it. Really old cars didn’t tell you much. So you had to be looking under the hood (And everywhere else, I suppose) with some regularity. But I found this simplicity refreshing. Hard to see in this photos because the museum was pretty stingy with the lighting.

Originally, the word dashboard applied to a barrier of wood or leather fixed at the front of a horse-drawn carriage or sleigh to protect the driver from mud or other debris “dashed up” (thrown up) by the horses’ hooves. (Wikipedia)

1947 Hudson Pickup

1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II

1932 DeSoto CSC Roadster

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Auto World Museum

I’ve been driving past the Auto World Museum (Fulton, MO) for years. Just wasn’t interested in old cars. Spent a couple of hours there yesterday with my friend Henry and it was pretty amazing. Way more interesting than the automotive museum I visited in San Diego earlier this year. I’m still trying to ID some of the cars (more photos) but will take notes on my next visit.

How cars went from boxy to curvy


I confess I’ve spent more time thinking about cars/trucks in the last six months than in the rest of my adult life combined. No idea why. But when my Land Rover fixation took hold back in May, it was the look of the trucks that grabbed me. And if there is a more boxy vehicle than the Land Rover, I haven’t seen it yet.

These days I’m more apt to notice other vehicles and I’m struck by the similarity… and the “roundness” of the designs. This short video explains how this came to be and why it isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

Uber and Lyft

Relied on Uber and Left to get around in San Diego last week and every ride was a positive experience. Never waited more than 8 or 10 minutes for a ride; drivers were all courteous; cars were very clean. And in almost every instance, the driver took Uber and Lyft hails. The little emblem in the windscreen had Uber logo on one side and Lyft on the reverse.

I had a problem (with my credit card) the first night and had to call a local taxi. Took half an hour to get picked up. I find myself taking more trips than I would if relying on taxis. Just don’t see how taxis can compete. There’s something about opening the app and seeing how near or far the Uber and Lyft cars are, then watching as it approaches my location.

San Diego Automotive Museum

San Diego’s Balboa Park is home to a number of museums. I spent part of an afternoon looking at vintage vehicles. The current exhibit was JAPANESE STEEL, A collection of classic Japanese vehicles.