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Update June,2019


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Flying to work

Skai Flying Car.

Los Angeles (AP) — Will hydrogen-powered electric flying vehicles someday serve as taxis, cargo carriers and ambulances of the sky, but wait, as experts say they will have to clear a number of regulatory hurdles before being approved for takeoff years in the future.

With six rotors on the roof and seats inside for five people, a passenger model of the Skai (pronounced "sky") unveiled near Los Angeles resembles an oversized drone crossed with a luxury SUV.  

Like a drone, the vehicle from Alaka'i Technologies takes off and lands vertically. It's one of many similar electric flying crafts in production, including prototypes from Boeing and Airbus that made successful test flights this year, according to Vertical Flight Society, an industry group. Mind you, Boeing has enough problems on its plate right now.

Most are powered by batteries, which can add a lot of weight. The Skai instead uses very light hydrogen fuel cells to run its rotors, giving it a range of 400 miles (644 kilometers) and the capacity to carry 454 kilograms in people or freight.

The test flight would be flown by an on-board pilot using a pair of joysticks, but the technology exists to eventually fly it remotely and even autonomously. (Now Mr Skai, take me home.)

Regulators are still grappling with the proliferation of smaller drones — those under about 50 pounds flown by hobbyists and filmmakers.

Drone-like vehicles such as the Skai must first simply prove their airworthiness, like any common plane. After that, getting commercial certification is another convoluted process.

"The technology is interesting, but the regulatory road will be very long adding that the idea of allowing people to fly in a large aircraft without a pilot is "well outside the current regulatory regime."

It could take at least a decade before the company realizes its vision of a fleet of electric flying vehicles ferrying passengers over major cities at nearly 200 kph.

The manufacturer says Skai aircraft could be used by first responders to send in food or water following disasters like hurricanes or wildfires that can destroy infrastructure. It could be used as an ambulance and to evacuate people. Outfitted with a transmitter, one could serve as a mobile cell tower, hovering for up to 10 hours over a neighborhood to provide communication services.

 

Big brother is watching you

Detroit (AP) — Would you pay more for a car or SUV that warns you if you're falling asleep or not paying attention behind the wheel?

Auto companies are figuring that because your life could depend on it, you will.

As safety features such as automatic emergency braking and lane-centering make their way from luxury vehicles down to lower-cost rides for the masses, distracted driver alert systems are coming with them. At last month's New York International Auto Show, Hyundai and Subaru both announced such systems in mainstream vehicles.

Every day, at least nine people are killed in the U.S. and 100 are injured in distracted driving crashes, according to the National Safety Council. Drivers who are preoccupied by cellphones, dashboard touch screens and other distractions caused 3,157 fatal crashes in the U.S. in 2016, the latest year that government statistics were available. That's 9 percent of all fatal crashes in the country.

Distracted driver alert systems started showing up in luxury cars about a decade ago. Mercedes-Benz had a system that displayed a lighted coffee cup icon on the dashboard. Over the years they've become more sophisticated and made their way into mainstream vehicles, usually on pricier versions.

For instance, Subaru's "DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System" uses a dashboard camera to watch the driver's eyes and face. If it sees the driver is looking away from the front of the vehicle for an extended period, it will beep and show the message "Keep eyes on road" on the dashboard. The system watches for heads nodding or someone talking on the phone or texting, or even looking into the back seat, said Subaru spokesman Ron Kiino.

On the newly redesigned 2020 Outback Subaru SUV, the system will be standard on the three priciest versions, the Touring, Touring XT and the Limited XT, and it will be an option on the Limited, the lowest cost version with leather seats. No prices for those models have been announced, and it won't be available on cheaper versions.

Subaru Outback 2020.

The Subaru system made its debut as standard equipment on the luxury version of its Forester SUV for the 2019 model year. To get it, you have to buy the priciest version, the Touring, which starts at USD 35, 270, more than USD 10,000 above the lowest-priced model.

Hyundai's system is standard on the Venue, an entry-level SUV that will start under USD 19,000. It doesn't watch the driver's face. Instead, it uses the same front-facing camera as the standard automatic emergency braking and lane assist. If you swerve or veer, the Venue's software will sound a bell and the dash display will politely show a coffee cup and the words "Take a Break."

Hyundai's market research found that people want the feature, said Mike Evanoff, senior manager of product planning. "It's just another layer that's a 'got your back' kind of thing," he said.

The warning system is already on Hyundai's Veloster sports car and will make its way to the entire lineup as vehicles are updated and outfitted with standard automatic emergency braking by September of 2022 in an industry agreement with the U.S. government.

Subaru, which has made safety a cornerstone of its marketing efforts, says its buyers are safety conscious and will be interested in the feature, even if it costs more. And if the system is too annoying, customers can turn it off.

Other systems on luxury vehicles are more sophisticated. The one on Cadillac's Super Cruise semi-autonomous system makes sure the driver is paying attention and will even pull to the side of the road if they aren't. Mercedes' Attention Assist system tracks more than 70 variables including time of day, elapsed driving time and steering movement to determine if a driver is tired or not paying attention. When a certain threshold is reached, it issues audible and visible warnings.

The devices are proliferating as vehicles make the transition from human drivers to full automation. Systems like Tesla's Autopilot and Super Cruise, which control steering, braking and speed under certain conditions, are steps toward autonomous cars, but they can't drive themselves because humans must be ready to take over.

 

Vettel to call it a day?

Ferrari’s number 1 is the four times world champion Sebastian Vettel, however he has now got a reputation for silly mistakes, something not expected of world champions.

Coupled with that is the fact that the new Number 2, Charles Leclerc, is faster than Vettel, and is being held back by the Ferrari pit wall which is now known for making strange decisions in Vettel’s favor. These are such as making LeClerc give way to Vettel; not sending the youngster out for qualifying, but leaving him in the garage; and sending him out on hard rubber, known to be slower than the mediums they fitted to Vettel’s car.

 Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel.

If Ferrari continue to hold Leclerc back, he will leave Ferrari. If Ferrari stop shielding Vettel, the four times champion will call it a day, rather than lose his position in the team and incidentally, lose much face as well.

If Vettel does resign, who would step in beside the young charger? The best fit would be Ricciardo, but I am sure Renault will have him on a watertight contract for a few seasons yet. Other drivers who could be available would include Ocon who was forced to sit out this year as there were no teams with vacancies. Where he should have been was the team previously known as Force India, before being bought by Lance Stroll’s father who gifted the seat to his son.

Whilst Ferrari is everyone’s sentimental favorite, the Scuderia is also well known for monumental stuff-ups from the pit wall, and this year has been no exception.

 

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, what is the connection between Alberto Ascari and Paul Hawkins? An easy one – both crashed into the harbor at Monaco.

So to this week.  What does FEV 2H and the Springfield Boys Club have in common?

Be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!


Canadian GP this weekend

Canadian GP.

In the 1960’s the rivalry between French and English speaking Canada meant that the country's Grand Prix alternated between Mosport Park one year and Mont-Tremblant the next. By 1970, however, Mont-Tremblant was deemed too dangerous and the race was moved full time to Mosport Park.

In 1977 the French Canadians, motivated by the incredible success of Gilles Villeneuve, decided to take the Ile Notre-Dame and connected all the island’s roads and made a circuit. The island had been the home of the 1967 World Fair (Expo'67) and was full of futuristic looking buildings.

The first F1 race was held there in October 1978. Gilles Villeneuve, in his first season with Ferrari, was yet to win an F1 race, but at his home Grand Prix he took a memorable debut victory. Following his death in 1982, the track was renamed in his honor.

With the time differential, the Canadian GP telecast will be seen at 1 a.m. Thai time. This does mean that you either watch at home with live streaming, or catch it the next day, as Fletchers Folly will not be open so late. Sorry.

The winners at this Canadian F1 track include Michael Schumacher who holds the record of having won seven times in Canada. It is also the scene of Jean Alesi's single Grand Prix victory in 1995, driving the number 27 Ferrari, the same car number which was carried by Gilles Villeneuve.

The final corner of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve became well known for crashes involving former World Champions. In 1999, Damon Hill, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve all crashed into the same wall which had the slogan Bienvenue au Québec (Welcome to Quebec) on it. The wall became ironically known as the "Wall of Champions". The wall also was involved in a crash with Ricardo Zonta, who was, at the time, the reigning FIA GT sports car champion. In recent years, then GP2 Champion Nico Rosberg, CART Champion Juan Pablo Montoya and Jenson Button have all fallen victim to the wall. In 2011 Friday practice the wall claimed the reigning F1 Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Before the wall was named it also claimed 1992 World Sportscar Champion and long-time F1 driver Derek Warwick who spectacularly crashed his Arrows-Megatron during qualifying for the 1988 Canadian Grand Prix.

 

Fiat Chrysler wants to form global giant with Renault

Paris (AP) — Fiat Chrysler proposed on Monday to merge with France's Renault to create the world's third-biggest automaker and combine their investments in the race to make new electric and autonomous vehicles.

The merged company would reshape the global industry: it would make some 8.7 million vehicles a year, leapfrogging General Motors and trailing only Volkswagen and Toyota.

Shares of both companies jumped over 10 percent on the news of the offer, which would see each side's shareholders split ownership in the new manufacturer.

Renault welcomed the idea. The company's board met Monday at its headquarters outside Paris to discuss the proposal and said afterward that Renault will study it "with interest." In a statement, Renault said such a fusion could "improve Renault's industrial footprint and be a generator of additional value for the Alliance" with Japan's Nissan and Mitsubishi.

Renault Zoe electric.

Fiat Chrysler's offer comes at a key moment for Renault. The French manufacturer had reportedly wanted to merge with Nissan, but those plans were derailed by the arrest of boss Carlos Ghosn on financial misconduct charges in Japan.

Now, questions are growing over the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which is the biggest maker of passenger cars in the world. While Fiat Chrysler says the merger with Renault would accommodate the alliance and lead to savings for them, it is unclear how the Japanese companies might react in the longer term to being tied to a much larger partner.

A deal would save 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) for the merged companies each year by sharing research, purchasing costs and other activities, Fiat Chrysler said in a statement. It said the deal would involve no plant closures, but didn't address potential job cuts.

The companies are largely complementary: Fiat Chrysler is stronger in the U.S. and SUV markets, while Renault is stronger in Europe and on electric vehicle developments. Together, they would be worth almost $40 billion euros.

Analysts at financial firm Jefferies said it was "hard to disagree with the logic" of the deal as there is a strong fit in the markets each company covers and the brands they offer.

"The elephant in the room is who will run the entity," analysts Philippe Houchois and Himanshu Agarwal wrote in a note to investors.

Mergers of equals can be difficult to manage over questions of who gets the top leadership positions and which brands are promoted and invested in most. A tie-up between Daimler and Chrysler in the 1990s was billed as a merger of equals, but it collapsed nine years later amid cultural differences and recriminations.

Investors were nevertheless enthusiastic, pushing shares in Fiat Chrysler up 11 percent and Renault 14 percent in European trading.

The French government, which owns 15 percent of Renault, said it is "favorable" to the idea of a merger with Fiat Chrysler but wants to study its conditions more carefully, especially in terms of "Renault's industrial development" and employees' working conditions, government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said.

Such a merger would show "our capacity to respond to European and French sovereignty challenges in a globalized context," she said. "We need giants to be built in Europe."

Collaboration between automakers has taken on greater importance in recent years as they seek to build their technological capabilities in pursuit of electrical vehicles, net connectivity and artificial intelligence for vehicles. Automakers are also under pressure from regulators, particularly in Europe and China, to come up with electric vehicles so they can meet tougher climate change regulations and after scandals over the amount of pollutants engines truly emit.

 

Another movie not to miss

We’ve had the movie ‘Rush’ about Niki Lauda versus James Hunt in their epic quest for the F1 championship. Now sit back and watch the epic quest for triumph at Le Mans between Ford and Ferrari in 1966.

The result is "Ford v Ferrari," a film that comes out later this year focusing not only on the American manufacturers' unlikely upset of the Italian juggernaut but on those who made it happen.

Christian Bale portrays Ken Miles, an engineer and driver, and Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, one of the most famous American car builders in history. Together, they took the financial backing of Ford and created the GT40, a car that not only conquered Le Mans but swept the 1966 podium.

"Racing is not just about oil and gasoline. It's about blood and sweat as well as the people inside those cars as well, and that's what makes it so thrilling," Bale said.

"Ken Miles was a purist," Bale said. "He's someone that would try to win every single battle but often lose the war, and he'd shoot himself in the foot again and again and again. And it wasn't until Shelby came along and gave him an opportunity that he finally made it on the world stage."

While Miles was the British-born driver with the sardonic sense of humor, Shelby was essentially his foil: a down-to-earth Texan who had a successful driving career of his own before reaching iconic status as the creator of the Shelby Cobra, a series of Ford muscle cars and, yes, the GT40.

His relationship with Miles serves as the centerpiece of Ford's dogged pursuit of Ferrari.

Carroll Shelby.

"He was a really, kind of a bigger-than-life guy," said Damon, "but I didn't know this story about their friendship, and that's why I wanted to do the movie. It's such a great underdog story."

The story, the subject of a 2016 documentary entitled "The 24 Hour War," began in the early 1960s, when Enzo Ferrari expressed interest in selling his company. Henry Ford II spent considerable resources doing background work on a potential deal, only for Ferrari to suddenly shut down negotiations.

That chapped Ford, who ordered his racing division to build a car to beat Ferrari, the Italian sports car company that had come to dominate endurance racing.

But despite pumping untold sums of money into its program, Ford kept running into problems with its project. So it ultimately turned it over to Shelby, who in turn sought out Miles, and together they not only got the program on track but also got it to victory lane in their first try at Le Mans.

"There's that relationship, right? And the friction in that relationship. They're opposites in so many ways," Damon said. "But they have the qualities the other needs. Carroll was great about politics and diplomacy. He could sell you anything. He understood that was a big part of putting a winning team on the grid, was the politics of it. Whereas Miles was horrible at that stuff."

Walt Disney Studios is due to release it Nov. 15 under the 20th Century Fox banner.

 

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked who bent a friend’s father’s Mini, then bought it to avoid admitting the damage, traded it for another Mini and after coming second in a hill climb traded it on a Porsche 911? Clue March. It was Niki Lauda and the March was the first open wheeler he raced.

So to this week. What is the connection between Alberto Ascari and Paul Hawkins?

Be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

 

 Pattaya Car Club on Monday June 10

Anyone with an interest in motor vehicles – of any sort – is welcome at the next meeting of the Pattaya Car Club held at Fletchers Folly, Siam Country Club Road, 300 meters up from the Chicken Intersection (Mitkamol) and opposite Maxxis tyres.

Ownership of any breed of car is not needed, just an interest. Very informal, we get there around 6.30 to 7 p.m. and have a meal there as well. Looking forward to meeting you.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Flying to work


Canadian GP this weekend