Thursday, August 18, 2016

Select 2017 Audi Vehicles Will Recognize Traffic Light Changes Before They Happen

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


While automotive technology has been opening the door to a both amazing and concerning motoring future where cars will be self-driving through sophisticated algorithms as well as electronic sensors, a more immediate driving reality seems to depend solidly on hands on a steering wheel and a foot on a pedal. However, the common practice of human drivers operating automobiles is by no means a "business as usual" experience.

In the last decades, many cars have introduced electronically-based driving aids meant to provide a driver with more information in making smarter driving decisions. Blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning as well as enhanced hands-free operations for audio and navigation controls can be found in many modern vehicles. On certain 2017 model year Audi models, a new source of information will be relayed to motorists related to the changes in traffic lights.

With the advanced notification of traffic light changes, attentive drivers are given a heightened sense of awareness. Launching in select cities this fall in a real-world testing phase, Audi A4, A4 allroad and Q7 crossover vehicles will be provided with a new countdown timer-style Traffic light information system. Through Audi's on-board 4G/LTE data technology, real-time traffic signal information is transmitted into the car and displayed for the driver in the dashboard message center or on the head-up display system. The indicator appears as a traffic light that includes a numerical countdown beneath.

The system Audi's Traffic light information relies upon is the server belonging to cities and municipalities used to intelligently time light changes. A new method for managing traffic, connected and adaptive signals utilize a traffic flow monitoring system to alter the timing of green and red lights. Requiring considerable infrastructure, smart traffic signal have been slowly introduced into pocket of the United States. One place where the adaptation of connected traffic lights has flourished was in the state of Utah. When Salt Lake City prepared to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2002, roughly 80 percent of Utah's traffic signals are connected and adaptable. California's Los Angeles and Orange County feature the greatest prevalence of smart traffic light technology according to an article published by Time. In Canada, the city of Toronto is preparing for an upgrade to smart traffic light technology as part of a congestion reduction plan. The smart light system is expected to be tested fall of this year. For the meantime, one of the limitations towards the expansion of Audi's Traffic light information will be the lack of smart traffic signals.


Traffic light information will be a components within Audi Connect PRIME services offered to United States drivers of the German brand as either an initial trial or for a paid subscription. The service currently costs $199 US for 6 months or $750 on a 60-month plan.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Fast Facts on Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres

Photo Credit: Jack Webster


Trois-Rivieres (or sometimes translated to 'Three Rivers' in the United States) has been a rich and beloved French-Canadian contribution to motorsports for almost five decades. Often depending upon smaller racing series, the event has provided the opportunity for rising stars of motorsports to claim limelight. Races within the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres have been contested by many auto racing legends in the making with past victors including Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Ron Fellows and Patrick Tambay. A great deal of other drivers have been deprived a win at the tricky, street race In recent years, racing has taken place during two weeks as the FIA World Rallycross and Formula Drift Canada compete on a paved/dirt track on the first weekend while a more traditional event on the all-paved street course takes place on the second weekend.


Fact #1: The Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres was first held on September 8th and 9th of 1967 sanctioned by the Club Autosport Mauricien (CAM). The first event winner of the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres was Jacques Duval. In a 50-lap main event sanctioned by the Canadian Automobile Sport Clubs, Duval drove a Porsche to victory. A 2011 Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame inductee, Jacques Duval motorsport accomplishments include five Quebec championships. He is also recognized as a successful member of media that includes major contributions to automotive journalism in Canada.   


Fact #2: The 49th year of the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres in 2016, the event is the oldest remaining street course auto race in North America. However, due to a lack of event funding from 1986 to 1988, the three-year interruption in racing activities on the streets resulted in 46 events held at Trois-Rivieres. The longest continuously operating street course auto race is reserved for the Grand Prix of Long Beach in California operating annually since 1975. 



Fact #3: Since 1967, the street course used for the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres has undergone a multitude of noticeable configuration changes. Originally racing on a 1.6-kilometer (1.15-mile) track, the course's length was extended to 2.01 kilometers in 1968. The next major reconfigurations were performed to the track in 1973 and 1978. The current Trois-Rivieres street course's main shape was employed during the traditional open wheel and sports car racing weekend was adopted in 1989 presently running 2.46 kilometers (1.53 miles). An enlarged pit road was incorporated into the track in 2009.


Fact #4: In 1974, Trois-Rivieres hosted its first Formula Atlantic event. A series later transforming into the Toyota Atlantic and finally functioning as the Atlantic Championship, this particular form of auto racing was the longest-running tradition at the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. The 1974 Formula Atlantic race on the Quebec street course was won by American Tom Klausler driving a Lola chassis supported by the recently-departed Carl Haas. Also part of the inaugural Formula Atlantic outing in Trois-Rivieres was George Follmer, French Formula 1 pilot Patrick Depaillier and Canadian racing legend Gilles Villeneuve. Gilles as well as his brother Jacques Villeneuve (often called Jacques Villeneuve Sr. or Uncle Jacques to prevent confusion between Gilles Villeneuve's son and 1997 Formula 1 champion) would combine to win four Formula Atlantic events on Trois Rivieres.


Fact #5: Continuing with Formula Atlantic or its later related series, seven Canadian drivers won an event at Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. Of the seven, four won on multiple occasions. Uncle Jacques Villeneuve and Toronto's David Empringham captured three victories while Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier collected a pair of wins. Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame driver Bill Brack won in 1978 while Michael Valiante became the last Canadian driver to win a Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres Atlantic event in 2002. The final running of the Atlantic Championship at Trois-Rivieres occurred in 2009 with Simona de Silvestro taking a monumental victory.


Fact #6: In addition to the Formula Atlantic series, the racing schedule for past Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres event weekends have accommodated the Can-Am Series, Canadian Formula Ford, Trans Am Series, American Le Mans Series as well as Indy Lights. In 2001, stock car racing made its debut on the circuit with the presence of the CASCAR Super Series. For 2016, the event weekend on the 2.46-kilometer track consists of Formula Tour 1600, Canadian Touring Car Championship, IMSA Prototype Lites, Porsche GT3 Challenge Canada Cup, Nissan Micra Cup and the NASCAR Pinty's Series for the Can-Am Tours 50.  


Photo Credit: Matthew Murnaghan/NASCAR


Fact #7: French-Canadian driver Marc-Antoine Camirand currently holds the record for most victories at the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres. In various forms of racing during the grand prix race weekends, Camirand has won a total 11 times on the track including in US F2000 and Canadian touring car.




Fact #8: Perhaps the most famous landmark on the Grand Prix Trois-Rivieres' 2.46-kilometer course is Porte Pacifique-Duplessis. A concrete gateway constructed in 1938, three-section architectural structure memorializes renowned turn of the 17th century missionary Pacifique Duplessis. 


Friday, August 12, 2016

Feud Between Nissan BladeGlider and Panoz DeltaWing Enters A New Round

Photo Credit: Nissan



Not even five years since being revealed to the public, one of the most profoundly distinct designs to have emerged for modern auto racing has become the subject of innovation, envy and contention. This month, Don Panoz, CEO of DeltaWing Technology Group and Japanese automaker Nissan have reignited a dispute over the ownership of a breakthrough engineering philosophy for modern automobiles on the race track as well as on the street.

When the IndyCar Series welcomed proposals to visions of American open wheel racing for the 2012 season, a jet plane-like concept premiered generating an instant sensation. The radical DeltaWing presented an ultra-aerodynamic shape and lightweight construction boasting high-speed potential with less horsepower. A narrow front wheel track and the lack of downforce enhancing devices such as the conventional rear wing found on most modern race cars created a thought-provoking possibility to IndyCar competition that resulted in both reverence as well as criticism citing whether the design was too outrageous. While IndyCar did not choose the DeltaWing (selecting Dallara as the chassis constructor for the 2012 season), the innovative, bold vehicle idea proved too remarkable to be denied a chance of survival. Instead of the ovals and road courses of IndyCar racing, the DeltaWing design was adopted to sports car competition where it made its debut at the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans within a special 56th garage spot reserved for team experimental vehicles. A turbocharged, gasoline direct-injected 1.6-liter Nissan engine similar to the production powerplant found in the Juke propelled the DeltaWing in its first major field test. The 2012 Nissan DeltaWing machine would again appear at the American Le Mans Series' Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta owned by the wealthy motorsport mogul Don Panoz.


Photo Credit: Nissan

The limited 2012 outing for the vehicle ended with the Japanese auto manufacturer and the principals behind DeltaWing going their separate ways. However, by the end of 2013, both entities involved in the 2012 Le Mans entry each staked claim to the design. A company related to the vehicle's original developer, DeltaWing remains a regular participant in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Following their involvement with the so-called Project 56 effort at Le Mans in 2012, Nissan developed explored similar vehicle design theories to the DeltaWing with the BladeGlider concept and the Nissan ZEOD RC competition car entered at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans event. Don Panoz has been moving to prevent Nissan from using details of the DeltaWing design is protected intellectual property. He filed a cease-and-desist order against Nissan shortly after the BladeGlider concept was unveiled in late 2013. Interesting enough, Ben Bowlby, the designer credited to the original DeltaWing, has been part of the creative team for the Nissan project cars (He was also behind the design of the Nissan GT-R NISMO LM car that competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015).


Nissan BladeGlider Concept at 2015 CIAS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy


Fast-forwarding to August of 2016, Nissan emerged with a revised version of the BladeGlider concept car updated as a three-passenger, fully-electric demonstration automobile in Rio de Janiero. One of two examples of the Nissan BladeGlider in Brazil is a functioning model operating with a pair of 130-kilowatt electric motors. The new version of the Nissan BladeGlider exhibiting what the auto company calls a "... on-going commitment to the development of zero-emission vehicles and new automotive technologies including autonomous drive systems and connectivity."      

On Thursday, less than two weeks after Nissan revealed the latest evolution of their BladeGlider concept, DeltaWing Technology Group has published a release again staking a personal claim to design characteristics that appear to be shared between the Nissan BlideGlider and original DeltaWing concept. "We're pleased though not surprised Nissan publicly recognized the innovation and viability of the DeltaWing™ design," said the CEO for DeltaWing Don Panoz reasserting that his automotive group are the rightful holders to any vehicle sporting the likeness to the unique, functional appearance. Panoz acknowledged the partnership with the Japanese automaker that initially brought the DeltaWing shape to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans but goes to lengths to state they lack the intellectual property. As Nissan displays their newest BladeGlider, DeltaWing expresses the intent to have a street-legal variant of their racing vehicle.

Along with proclaiming ownership of the design characteristics used on their competition sports car, DeltaWing has provided a rendering of a two-passenger DeltaWing GT road car. The company plans to have a prototype of the GT ready before the end of this year. Along with the two-passenger model, a four-passenger DeltaWing street-legal vehicle is also slated. DeltaWing has expressed the desire to explore multiple powertrain options with the car with small internal combustion engines, hybrid electric-assisted power units as well as all-electric versions potentially attached to their production lineup.


Photo Credit: DeltaWing Technology Group


For the time-being, protection of the design attributes shared with the DeltaWing and Nissan vehicles is still under a legal dispute related to the 2013 actions launched by Panoz. At this point, it is uncertain what kind of resolution could be arrived at between the two parties that could see a positive move forward for innovative automotive engineering.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Canadian-Derived DriveCare Offers Measure Preventing Pokemon Go Smartphone Access



This summer, thanks to the popular blending of the real world and virtual world, there has been a new method of captivation for many smartphone-enabled individuals. Called Pokemon GO, the popular augmented reality app turns the surrounding world into a scavenger hunting ground for characters based on a 20-year-old Japanese franchise co-managed by Nintendo. Since its release on July 6th in North America and Australia (before being offered in Europe and Japan at later dates), the app has been downloaded 4.2 million times on just Android devices and is also available on Apple iOS. In total, more than 80 million people are now engaged in the technological phenomenon of Pokemon GO worldwide.

Since the runaway success of the Pokemon GO app, a number of recorded incidents have occurred where virtual hunters have been operating in ways that functioned outside of courtesy and even in a dangerous manner. In some of the more dangerous cases, some mobile users has chosen to combine automobiles in the hunt for Pokemon. In the City of Vaughan this week, one driver was caught by police helicopter driving in an erratic manner as a result of what was confirmed to be a Pokemon GO player. While the incident did not result in any injuries and the driver was warned by police not to resume this form of highly reckless operations of a motor vehicle, the occurrence is one of several potentially dangerous situations is a growing concern in relation to Pokemon GO as well as other app-based distracted driving. A concern that could be potentially lessened by a product from Keeping Roads Safe Technologies Incorporated.





A company founded in Halifax, Nova Scotia by Angus Poulain after a serious but not life threatening multi-car accident involving his children, Keeping Roads Safe set out to create an electronic module called DriveCare. An accessory that is integrated with a vehicle's electrical system, DriveCare prevents full access to cellular phone or connected device content while a car is traveling. The unit's installation into a vehicle performed by a mechanic would take approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

The hardwired DriveCare unit activates about 30 to 45 seconds after the vehicle turns on. A customized screen appears on the smartphone restricting the driver to access to only emergency calls including 911 as well as four additional programmed safety numbers. All apps remain locked as the vehicle remains in operation including Twitter, Instagram and Pokemon GO. Text messages are also withheld as the automobile is powered while an automated text is relayed back to the sender. GPS data is also monitored by the DriveCare system in effort to properly monitor speed in specific stretches of road.

Initially focused on fleet deployment to prevent distracted driving of work vehicles, Keeping Roads Safe Inc. is also eyeing the availability of DriveCare on family cars.