Transmission systems

Tech Costs Force Honda To Let Go of Engineering Legacy

TOKYO — A semiautonomous Honda SUV was traveling down a test track at 20 miles an hour in March last year when a child-size test dummy moved into the middle of the road. Oblivious, the Honda mowed it down.
 It was part of a brutal day of Japanese government testing for Honda Motor Co., whose vehicle was equipped with a camera and sensors that were supposed to detect obstacles and apply brakes to avoid a collision.

Colliding with reality

Elon Musk — tech visionary, showman, fixture of the gossip columns — knows how to mount a charm offensive. As the Tesla boss opened his company's annual shareholder meeting last week he appeared to choke back tears, declaring: “This is going to sound a little cheesy, but at Tesla we build our cars with love.”

Why We Find Self-Driving Cars So Scary

TESLA CEO Elon Musk recently took the press to task, decrying the “holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie.” That, he said, is “why the public no longer respects them.”
 Mr. Musk's frustration is fueled in part by widespread media attention to accidents involving Tesla's self-driving “autopilot” feature. On the company's most recent earnings call, he said that “there's over one million… automotive deaths per year. And how many do you read about? Basically, none of them…but, if it's an autonomous situation, it's headline news…. So they write inflammatory headlines that are fundamentally misleading to the readers. It's really outrageous.”

Fiat Chrysler Bets on Trucks, Tech

BALOCCO, Italy—Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV on Friday presented a five-year vision for the company that embraces the two biggest trends in the industry—meeting demand for SUVs and trucks and investing in future technologies such as electric powered and self-driving cars.
 If its plan pans out, the auto maker expects to double operating profit to €16 billion ($18.71 billion) by 2022 and hit double-digit profit margins, compared with 6.8% today.

Lamborghini's Guide to Genius: Get Out of the Way

At the Geneva Motor Show in 1971, an Italian industrialist named Ferruccio Lamborghini unveiled a new sports car his company hoped to build. Then something remarkable happened.
 Frantic onlookers began mobbing the yellow prototype—banging elbows to get a better view. Three years later, when it went on sale, the automotive press couldn't believe their stopwatches. Not only was this the most breathtakingly futuristic rolling sculpture anyone had ever seen—but it also was the fastest production car they'd ever tested.

Uber Car's Failure to Brake Puts Focus on Sensor

TEMPE, Ariz.—The roads north of Arizona State University are in many ways ideal for testing self-driving cars, with wide, clearly marked lanes and minimal traffic late at night, when the vehicle's laser sensors work best.
 The optimal conditions make it especially troubling that an Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving car plowed straight into and killed a pedestrian walking across a street here at night, without appearing to brake or veer, according to a video from the vehicle released by police Wednesday.

Role of Human 'Driver' Is Scrutinized in Uber Fatality

TEMPE, Ariz.—The test operator in the Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving car that killed an Arizona woman was a felon with a history of traffic citations who wasn't watching the road before the accident happened, facts that raise new questions about the company's testing process for autonomous technology.

Electric-Car Startups Lure Big Talent

Deep-pocketed investors looking to create the next Tesla are turning to seasoned automotive executives for help making sense of the complicated and capital-intensive car business.
 A little-known Los Angeles electric-vehicle startup, EVelozcity, is the latest firm to lure big-name talent. The company, attracting commitments for $1 billion in funding since December, has hired Karl-Thomas Neumann, the former head of General Motors Co.'s European division, along with several former BMW AG executives.

Waymo Hits the Road in Phoenix

Waymo LLC is taking a historic step in the development of fully driverless cars by unleashing the first fleet of robot vehicles on public roads without humans behind the wheel.
 The self-driving car division of Google parent Alphabet Inc. on Tuesday said it quietly began testing the robot vans on Oct. 19 in the Phoenix metro area, and shared its vision of deploying the technology to the public through a taxi service.