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  • 2019 Audi e-tron first ride: pulling all the brakes

    Ignore the flashy, high-tech vehicle wrap, a cross between pixelated camouflage and hunting orange. The 2019 Audi e-tron is a non-event from inside, and that’s just what its maker intended.

    When it goes on sale next year, the e-tron electric crossover SUV will be the anti-Tesla. Its conservative crossover SUV shape will draw no more and no less attention than the countless leased Audi Q5s that infest big city streets like Japanese beetles mowing down a prized rose bush. Its interior wows with its trio of screens and its dearth of buttons, but then so does the Audi A6 parked across the showroom.

    MORE: Reserve a 2019 Audi e-tron following September 17 global debut

    From the front seat, where I find myself perched next to bespeckled Audi engineer Oswin Roeder as he gently guides this crossover SUV, everything seems normal.

    Well, other than the fact that this comfortable Audi is gliding silently down the buttery smooth pavement at Pikes Peak as the sun rises over our shoulders.

    2019 Audi e-tron prototype drive, Pikes Peak2019 Audi e-tron prototype drive, Pikes Peak

    The Audi e-tron prototype I’m riding in has all the hallmarks of a high-end, mid-size crossover SUV. Its doors close with a solid “thunk,” the mix of leather and synthetic suede surfaces feels just right, and its seat heaters are plenty warm for a chilly 32-degree morning at the summit of of a Colorado mountain. A trio of screens handle infotainment, audio, and instrument information. It's all very high-tech, but there's nothing to be found here that doesn't show up in the latest Audi A6 and A8.

    The e-tron’s ride quality is firm over the occasional bump in the road, and it’s clear that the 21-inch wheels fitted to the prototype contribute to little lean into corners.

    ALSO SEE: No mirrors, just screens: Audi shows off e-tron electric SUV's cockpit

    Roeder’s voice barely rises above a whisper as the e-tron snakes down the mountain before tourists begin to arrive. He’s attempting to explain why we didn’t drive up Pikes Peak in the e-tron. The focus of this drive, he tells us, is to show how effective the e-tron is at recuperating power from coasting and from using its unique braking system. In most situations—90 percent, Audi optimistically estimates—the vehicle’s hydraulic braking system, including its pads and rotors, will be charged but not activated. Instead, its two electric motors—one per axle—handle braking until the pedal is pressed extra hard, such as during an emergency maneuver. That’s when the hydraulic system kicks in to bring the e-tron to a halt.

    To wit: about halfway down Pikes Peak sits a small hut, where a park ranger uses an infrared thermometer gun to check brake temperatures of every vehicle. The e-tron’s front brakes are barely above the ambient temperature, about 55 degrees at this point.

    Flatlander tourists sometimes cook brakes to the tune of 500 degrees.

    “We see it all the time,” the park ranger chuckles. “But we smell it first.”

    Certainly, Roeder’s careful driving has something to do with the low temperatures. But it’s also a reminder that the e-tron’s electric motors have done nearly all of the braking downhill.

    2019 Audi e-tron prototype drive, Pikes Peak2019 Audi e-tron prototype drive, Pikes Peak

    Paddle shifters mounted behind the e-tron’s steering wheel control three levels of recuperation.

    Level 0, signified by a tiny marker in the digital instrument cluster, means the e-tron drives like a normal car. Level 1 amps up the electric motors’ deceleration for something closer to one-pedal driving. Two taps of the paddles activates Level 2, which Roeder says is true one-pedal driving.

  • The fat Dodge Demon brakes harder than a Viper ACR

    Haters love to bash the Hellcats, and already the Demon, for only going fast in a straight line. They pounce on the fact that these Mopar muscle cars weigh over two tons.

    While that's true, weight is only one piece of the equation.

    Despite being somewhat "fat," the Demon is good at more than just blasting down a dragstrip into the sunset. In fact, it can brake harder than a Dodge Viper ACR.

    You read that correctly. The Viper ACR, which set 13 lap records and in so-doing destroyed the million-dollar Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren P1 lap times, can't stop as well as the new Demon.

    ALSO SEE: Dodge Demon can actually do 0-60 mph in 2.1 seconds, but there's a catch

    First, fun with numbers. The Viper ACR weighs 3,374 pounds, and the Demon weighs 4,280 pounds. For those at home busting out the calculators right now, the Demon weighs 906 pounds more than the Viper ACR.

    That's not insignificant.

    2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, 2017 New York auto show2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, 2017 New York auto show

    The Viper ACR sports Brembo 15.4-inch carbon ceramic brake rotors with 6-piston calipers up front and 14.2-inch rotors with 4-piston calipers in the rear. The Demon? Steel, 2-piece vented and slotted 14.2-inch rotors with Brembo 4-piston calipers up front and 13.8-inch vented and slotted rotors with 4-piston Brembo calipers in the rear.

    Yes, the steel rotors on the heavier Demon are more than an inch smaller up front and nearly half an inch smaller in the rear compared to the Viper ACR's carbon ceramic rotors.

    READ: How the Dodge Demon runs a 9.65 quarter mile and a 2.3-second 0-60

    2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, 2017 New York auto show2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, 2017 New York auto show

    So how does it stop shorter? Dan Reid of SRT Communications says it's mostly the tires. The Demon runs a square setup of 315-mm wide specialized Nitto NT05Rs all around. The compound of the barely street-legal Nitto drag radials helps them bite the pavement. It's also worth highlighting that while the main performance numbers for the Demon were certified on a prepped dragstrip, this braking number was achieved on regular pavement, not at the strip.

    The Viper ACR, on the other hand, runs specialized Kumho Ecsta V720s with 295s in the front and 355s in the rear. While the Demon has wider front tires than the Viper ACR, the meats on the rear of the ACR throw shade on the Demon's setup. Nonetheless, it's the Nitto's compound that get the job done.

    How well do they do that job? The Viper ACR takes 101 feet to go from 60 to 0 mph. The Demon does the same thing in just 97 feet.

    DON'T MISS: Dodge can't stop dealers from pricing Demons above MSRP, but is taking some measures

    Not only that, but the Demon handles, too.

    "You put this car into Sport mode, this car has amazing handling. This car will pull 1 g on the skid pad. This car will handle better than a Hellcat," Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger cars at FCA North America, told Motor Authority.

    And that's with those wide 315s up front.

    So, the next time someone makes fun of the Demon's weight, feel free to remind them it will bring them to a halt faster than the world-beating Viper ACR and it will pull a lateral g on the skidpad.

    Not bad for more than two tons of American iron.

  • Replacing brake pads and rotors--it’s not as hard as you think

    No matter if you buy a new car, a pre-owned car, or lease a vehicle, maintenance is unavoidable. And at some point, the brakes will need to be replaced.

    Although many will let a mechanic take care of the work, it's not a terribly difficult process. Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained is here to help anyone who may want to tackle the project on their own or with some supervision.

    First and foremost, the car needs to be raised in order to gain access to the brake rotors and pads themselves. Be sure the car is level when raising it, and check the owner's manual for the proper jacking points as they differ from vehicle to vehicle. Remove the wheels, and the brakes will be accessible.

    Great, now to actually get to the rotors and brake pads, the brake caliper needs to be removed. A wrench should be used to hold the caliper pin in place and a socket wrench to remove the two bolts at the back of the caliper to gain access. However, make sure the caliper does not dangle or hang from the brake lines as this could cause damage. At this point, the pads can be removed as well. After removing the caliper bracket itself, the old rotors are all that will be standing in the way of some fresh stopping power.

    The rotors may be snug, but they will come off with a bit of elbow grease, a screwdriver, and some light taps from a mallet. Before placing a new rotor on, ensure there's no residue left on them with a quick spray of some handy-dandy brake cleaner. Then, install the new pads, replace the hardware, and the job is done.

    Of course, there are a handful of other things that should be checked or cleaned at this time, but many are optional. Jason cleans the rotor's hub with a wire brush to remove some of the rust that has formed over time, for example. For more help and additional tips, check out Jason's entire procedure in the video.

  • What are the differences between race car and street car braking systems?

    You might know that there's a physical difference between race car brakes and street car brakes. The size of the rotors, the materials used in the pads, and the brake lines are all going to be upgraded to handle the rigors of motorsport. But that's only part of the story. Did you know that more is going on under the skin of the vehicle as it pertains to the braking system? If not, Wyatt Knox from Team O'Neil Rally School is here to explain the differences between race car and street car braking systems.

    Once you start turning a street car into a race car, each part you change will affect other parts of the car. There are wheel speed sensors, vacuum lines, and computers that talk to each other. The same is true about parts of the braking system. Race teams might keep some of the stock components as they upgrade others, but they also alter many of the pieces left behind so they don't interfere with the newer, race-ready items. For example, brake boosters get tossed, creating a very firm pedal. ABS systems are disabled, leaving the safety they provide up to the driver. Brake lines are also re-routed inside a race car to protect them.

    CHECK OUT: Learn the difference between rally and street tires

    When you build a race car straight out of the gate, you'll find that it's a bit easier to create the braking system you need, but also considerably more expensive. A racing braking system will run off an aftermarket pedal box with a brake pedal that operates two separate master cylinders. One handles the front brakes and the other operates the rear stoppers. This is so that you can alter braking bias quickly and easily to get the braking feel you desire for a given circuit.

    It gets even more complicated when you're dealing with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. A hydraulic handbrake is employed to help a rally car slide through corners. When the handbrake is pulled, it opens up the center differential while also locking the rear wheels. When the lever is released, that differential is locked again and the four-wheel-drive system resumes operation.

    This is a complex topic, but Knox does a fantastic job of breaking it all down.

    Pun very much intended.

  • Wonder why carbon-ceramic brakes are so expensive? Watch how they’re made


    Although carbon-ceramic brakes will outperform cast iron rotors all day, there's a good reason why only the most high-performance cars wear them. Foremost, they cost thousands of dollars, but ever wonder why?

    The manufacturing process behind carbon-ceramic brakes is extravagant, to say the least. A video shows the exact process and it's not your average assembly line.

    The brakes start life as raw materials: heat-moldable resin and chopped pieces of raw carbon fiber. As they head through the production process, machines pour the mixture into a mold the shape of the disc. The process doesn't only rely on machines, though. A worker receives the mold filled halfway, who then installs a slotted belt and aluminum cores into slots. The cores become the ventilation channel in the disc ring for the final product.

    Another machine fills the mold the rest of the way before its pressed and heated with 44,000 pounds of pressure and heats the mixture to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. The process transforms the carbon and turns the moldable resin into plastic. Yes, the best brakes on Earth start out as plastic-infused carbon fiber at one point in the process.

    After a cooling process, workers extract the disc and a computer-controlled machine drills ventilation holes and smooths out any rough areas. Then it's back into the heat for the batch of brakes. An oven bakes the discs for two days up to 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit. Here is where the plastic becomes carbon during a chemical process.

    Moving right along, the brakes then receive a ceramic silicon powder. And, you guessed it, it's back into an oven. Over the course of 24 hours, the oven rebakes the disc at 3,092 degrees Fahrenheit, which melts the silicon. Low suction is applied which then forces the material into the disc.

    As the process wraps up, the disc receives a coat of protective paint, one more round in an oven to cure the paint, and finally, a robot sands the surface and polishes the surface for the final look. Get your geek on and check out the full process in the video above.

  • How do Formula 1 and Le Mans LMP1 brakes differ?

    Brembo breaks down F1 and Le mans brakesBrembo breaks down F1 and Le mans brakes

    Formula 1 race cars are amazing feats of motorsport engineering. Equally as amazing, however, are the LMP1 prototype racers that run in the various endurance events around the globe, including the 24 Hours of LeMans. Each type of cars represents the pinnacle of what's currently possible with a race car. Each is capable of tremendous speed and the production of brutal G forces. How do they stack up with regard to braking power, though? Brembo sat down with its slide rules and calculators to figure out the differences, and the results are quite interesting.

    To start, we should examine the weight difference between the two types of cars. That's the heft the brakes have to bring down from high speeds. The minimum weight of a current F1 car is 1,616 pounds, while an LMP1 car weighs between 1,836 pounds and 1,929 pounds. The weight difference for LMP1 depends on a team's decision to run a hybrid or non-hybrid car as the battery pack adds a bit of weight.

    The brakes themselves are are also quite different, as they need to behave in very different ways for a number of reasons. First, an F1 race lasts about 100 minutes while a race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans lasts much longer. During an F1 race, the driver will hit the brakes around 350 times, but that's nothing compared to the 4,000-plus times the brakes are applied during a 24-hour endurance race. Still, both brake discs are built using carbon as that's the best material for the task of consistent, fade-free stopping.

    Formula One vs LeMans LMP1 brakesFormula One vs LeMans LMP1 brakes

    On the F1 car, the brakes are much smaller. That's because the Formula 1 regulations require a wheel size of just 13 inches. LMP1 cars, by comparison are allowed to run 18-inch wheels and therefore have larger diameter rotors. As a result, the F1 brakes can only be 10.95 inches in diameter, while the LMP1 brakes can be as large as 14.96 inches in diameter up front and 13.98 inches out back. Both rotors, however, are a maximum of 32 mm thick.

    Each type of race car faces a unique problem, and it allows Brembo to tailor the discs to suit the different applications. On an F1 car, the discs can climb as high as 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit during heavy braking. This means that the Brembo engineers need to supply brakes that can quickly dissipate all of that heat through differing brake ventilation strategies. An F1 brake rotor has 900, 1200, or 1400 ventilation holes and the amount is dictated by the various teams as to which their driver prefers.

    For the LMP1 cars, the problem is quite different. Here teams don't want as much heat dissipation because they can't have their disc temperature drop below 662 degrees F. This could occur during the colder nighttime portions of the race, and if it does the brake material could glaze over and seriously hamper braking efficiency. LMP1 cars also only get to about 1,472 degrees F. To keep the temperatures in the sweet spot, the brakes have 430 ventilation holes and Brembo offers friction materials for the discs and pads that have a more efficient thermal conductivity.

    Brembo dissects the brakes of an F1 race carBrembo dissects the brakes of an F1 race car

    So how exactly do the cars stack up with respect to actual braking performance? The F1 car has the edge here. Brembo has found that an F1 race car can shed more than 55 mph of total speed in just one second. By comparison, the best LMP1 cars drop about 43 mph of speed in the same period. These figures change a bit depending on the circuit and conditions, but the F1 car always comes out a bit ahead. Still, the LMP1 car has to deliver consistency for a far longer period of time.

    It's a delicate dance and one that's crucial to both driver safety and to winning. Head to Brembo's website to read the full report.

  • As consumer demands shift, so do braking needs

    As consumer demands shift, so do braking needs

    As light trucks become the preference of drivers, suppliers are adjusting to keep pace

    There is a universal truth when it comes to cars: SUVs and crossovers own the road. Globally they represent the fastest-growing segments in the auto industry. In Canada, there are more light trucks than passenger cars. This reality is reshaping aftermarket parts and sales.

    When it comes to avoiding an abrupt halt, suppliers are developing calipers and brake systems to perform as well for this segment as any non-SUV segment, said Dan Caciolo, head of product management for Continental Independent Aftermarket North America Powertrain and Brake Systems in Allentown, Penn.

    “Performance attributes such as good brake pedal feel, modulation, dust, roughness, and noise are being developed to perform as well as other vehicle segments where a high level of braking satisfaction is required and expected,” he said.

    The devil is in the details for drivers and their aftermarket suppliers. But it starts with the manufacturers, said Brian Kowalski, vice president of branded sales with Brake Parts Inc., in Vancouver.

    “The small details in a pad make a difference when it comes to CUVs, SUVs and trucks, so it is critical that load, driving situations and weight are all considered during the research and development process. To fully service all applications and platforms, a manufacturer needs to offer a wide array of friction formulas.”

    Friction formulations must be developed and selected based on the class of vehicle, the year and platform, and the type of driving that will be done with the vehicle. Great friction formulas are not necessarily great for all uses.

    “The platform may fit, but the use of the vehicle may require a different formula if it is to be used for commercial situations, under heavy loads, for frequent towing, or other high energy requirements,” noted Kowalski.

    In response to the new wave of vehicles hitting the road, vehicle manufacturers and their brake suppliers are designing braking systems that can meet the demands of multiple platforms. The OEs will typically develop a system to meet the requirements of their full-size SUVs and then those technologies will trickle down to smaller platforms, such as crossovers and passenger cars, said Christopher Battershell in Southfield, Mich., director of braking product management in North America with Federal-Mogul Motorparts, supplier of the Wagner Brake brand.

    “As a result, many smaller late-model vehicles are equipped with more robust braking systems than they might have been in the past,” he said.

    “To fully service all applications and platforms, a manufacturer needs to offer a wide array of friction formulas.”

    — Brian Kowalski, Brake Parts Inc.

    Still, vehicle type is not the primary driver to brake design. Duty cycle and energy loading are the key vehicle parameters impacting vehicle brake design, notes Eric Roszman, vice president of research and development in North America for Akebono Brake Corporation in Farmington Hills, Mich.

    “Many crossovers and compact SUVs share the same foundation brake system as their sedan cousins. Because of the additional weight and additional weight transfer, because of the higher center of gravity, the front brakes may operate at higher temperatures.”

    Rotor size, dynamic weight transfer, vehicle weight, and foreseeable use of the vehicle are all critical factors in determining the correct brake formulation, he added. “Friction material should be closely matched to the energy load of the vehicle, not necessarily just to the size of the vehicle.”

    Ensuring the right brakes are installed in new vehicle classes goes beyond materials and manufacturer. Customer expectations need to be understood and met.

    “The type of friction material paired with a particular brake system arguably has as much to do with if not the most to do with meeting the expectations of the customers of each class of vehicle,” said Caciolo.

    Someone driving an entry-level car often cares most about being able to stop predictably and noiselessly with low to moderate effort, he notes, while the performance sector cares about an extreme level of deceleration regardless of other factors. Somewhere in the middle are the luxury brand customers looking to achieve the best of both worlds: predictability, high deceleration, low dust, no noise, and more.

    Meeting expectations requires education. Jobbers need to look beyond suppliers’ marketing assertions, said Battershell. “It’s simply not enough to claim a brake pad ‘meets OE specifications,’ ‘reduces noise,’ or ‘offers longer life.’ Look for test results conducted to simulate real-world operating conditions.”

    Service for brakes is becoming an increasingly important competitive opportunity for service and repair shops. Consumers are sensitive to changes in braking characteristics after they’ve had a repair and both the brake pad design and friction formulation need to match each vehicle’s unique attributes, said Battershell.

    “Shops that get it right in selecting brake pads designed for today’s vehicles are more likely to gain and retain customers, while those that rely on older pads designed for older vehicles are likely to experience more comebacks.”

    “… many smaller late-model vehicles are equipped with more robust braking systems than they might have been in the past.”

    — Christopher Battershell, Federal-Mogul Motorparts, supplier of the Wagner Brake brand

    As obvious as it sounds, not all brakes are made the same. Caciolo cautions jobbers not to discount the engineering and design time OEMs take to pair the proper formulation to the brake system and vehicle.

    “Due to a lack of braking standards in North America, you will find several very low-grade options disguised as viable options,” he warned. “Work with your suppliers to educate yourself on the quality of products they provide, if they are an OEM, and what they recommend for your customer base.”

    Presently, the focus is on one specific part of the braking system, noted Battershell. “Where we’re seeing the greatest product differentiation is in the brake pad itself, where it is critical for manufacturers – both at the OE and replacement levels – to use sophisticated modeling technologies, laboratory analysis and on-vehicle testing to develop an ideal pad design and material for each application,” he said.

    Jobbers will also want to familiarize themselves with the new and emerging trends in brake pad designs and technologies. The next wave is toward copper-free friction materials. The trend on lighter SUV and CUVs has been ceramic pads. Now heavier vehicles are also coming equipped with ceramic brakes.

    “Ceramics can produce lower dust and quiet operation,” said Jerry Forystek, director of friction product development with Brake Parts Inc., in McHenry, Ill.

    “However, using ceramic on heavier vehicles that came OE with a semi-met may challenge vehicle braking performance.”

    Jobbers, technicians, and the aftermarket in general also need to be wary of copper-free friction materials that are not genuine ceramic materials, said Roszman, noting that, in some cases, older semi-metallic friction formulations are being reconstituted.

    “These formulations, while copper free, will not have the noise, dust, and judder-free performance of a well-developed ceramic,” he said.

    “Government regulation,” Roszman added, “is also influencing basic brake design to enhance their environmental impact.”

    Another trend is cars that come equipped with higher-performance brake systems usually with fixed calipers. Electric parking brake calipers with motor gear unit integration allow parking functionality and are becoming the choice of many OEMs over the more traditional drum in hat style parking systems, noted Caciolo.

  • Backup driver in fatal Uber crash was distracted: police

    The human backup driver in an autonomous Uber SUV was streaming the television show “The Voice” and looking downward just before fatally striking a pedestrian in suburban Phoenix, according to a police report.

    The 300-page report released Thursday night by police in Tempe revealed that driver Rafaela Vasquez had been streaming the musical talent show on her phone via Hulu in the 43 minutes before the March 18 crash that killed Elaine Herzberg as she crossed a darkened road outside the lines of a crosswalk. The report said the crash, which marks the first fatality involving a self-driving vehicle, wouldn’t have happened had the driver not been distracted.

    Dash camera video shows Vasquez was looking down near her right knee for four or five seconds before the crash. She looked up a half second before striking Herzberg as the Volvo was travelling about 44 miles per hour. Vasquez told police Herzberg “came out of nowhere” and that she didn’t see her prior to the collision. But officers calculated that had Vasquez been paying attention, she could have reacted 143 feet before impact and brought the SUV to a stop about 42.6 feet before hitting Herzberg.

    “This crash would not have occurred if Vasquez would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted,” the report stated.

    Tempe police are looking at a vehicular manslaughter charge in the crash, according to a March 19 affidavit filed to get a search warrant for audio, video and data stored in the Uber SUV.

    The detective seeking the warrant, identified as J. Barutha, wrote that based on information from the vehicular homicide unit, “it is believed that the crime of vehicular manslaughter has occurred and that evidence of this offence is currently located in a 2017 Grey Volvo XC-90.”

  • Continental to offer cybersecurity updates

    Technology company Continental has announced end-to-end cybersecurity and over-the-air software update solutions from Argus Cyber Security (Argus) and Elektrobit (EB) pre-integrated into its connected vehicle electronics products including telematics units, infotainment systems and gateways.

    With more than 60 million vehicles with connected capabilities to be sold throughout the world by 2021, cybersecurity concerns will have to be dealt with by the automotive industry.

    “And time is short as the share of connected vehicles is increasing rapidly all over the world, making cars the next big target for cyber attacks after mobile devices,” said Wolfgang Bernhart, senior partner at consultancy firm Roland Berger.

    “Just as brakes are imperative for safe driving, connected vehicles require state-of-the-art cybersecurity as a basic feature,” said Werner Koestler, head of strategy, interior division at Continental. “Therefore, we have decided to offer end-to-end cybersecurity solutions from Argus and Elektrobit in all of our connected vehicle electronics and as a standalone solution for third-party products.”

    Continental, Elektrobit and Argus’ cybersecurity philosophy is based on three critical pillars: enabling OEMs to prevent, understand and respond to cyber threats.  Continental will now offer solutions from Elektrobit and Argus, providing vehicle manufacturers with an end-to-end offering to secure their fleets from current and future cyber threats. To prevent possible attacks, Elektrobit said it will provide more than just consultation, but also security components for the application layer, hardware-specific security products, Autosar basic software and security solutions for bootloader.

    Those components are designed for applications including secure communication, authenticated identification, secure updates and diagnostics, and are already on the road in millions of cars today.

  • Tesla’s autopilot is better than you, statistically

    When it’s machine versus man, it’s more likely you’ll be exchanging insurance information with man, according to data released by the electric-car maker Tesla.

    In the first quarterly report on the safety of its autonomous vehicles, Tesla said it recorded one accident for every 3.34 million miles driven when the autopilot was engaged. That is a vastly better record than the one compiled by humans.

    The most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows one auto crash for every 492,000 miles driven in the U.S. without an autonomous assist.

    In Tesla cars that do not have the autopilot engaged, the company said it recorded one accident or crash-like event every 1.92 million miles.

    The crash of any autonomous Tesla vehicle receives intense coverage due to the fascination over the confluence of technology and man, and also fascination with the company’s CEO, Elon Musk.

    Musk has grown agitated over that coverage.

    After a Model S collided with a firetruck this spring in Utah and the driver suffered a broken ankle, Musk tweeted that “It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage.”

    Tesla says it’s now going to start publicly releasing accident data every quarter.

    Early Friday, Tesla put the brakes on the autonomous features of its latest software, called “Version 9.”

    The technology is intended to allow autonomous technology to take over a vehicle to pass cars on highways, and also handle highway entrances and exits.

    Musk said in an early morning tweet that the software is being released widely right now, but that the autopilot functions will undergo a few more weeks of testing.

    “Extremely difficult to achieve a general solution for self-driving that works well everywhere,” Musk tweeted.

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