(CNN)Dubai has announced yet another pioneering initiative, but this time it’s not the world’s first rotating skyscraper or 3D printed office. It’s a fleet of flying taxis.
The California government, long cautious with self-driving cars, has changed its tune.
The state DMV issued proposed rules for the testing and deployment of fully self-driving vehicles Friday. The news appears to clear the way for cars with an empty driver’s seat to operate on state roads by year’s end.
“This is a big deal,” said Jason Orr, an attorney who follows autonomous vehicle law at O’Melveny & Myers. “Despite being more sensitive than other states, at the end of the day, it will potentially result in widescale deployment of autonomous vehicles.”
California’s DMV had long frustrated the self-driving car industry, which felt state regulators were holding back innovation that could improve public safety. The DMV previously missed a deadline for autonomous vehicle rules. And when it released rules in December 2015, it excluded fully self-driving vehicles, citing safety concerns.
Over the years, some companies, such as Google (Tech30) and Uber, resorted to shifting tests outside their home state.,
The California DMV has wrestled for years with how to comfortably sign off on a self-driving car operating on public streets. While experts agree that self-driving cars will eventually be far safer than human drivers, autonomous vehicles will not immediately be flawless or even better than a human. Governments worldwide are struggling with how to certify that a fully autonomous vehicle allowed to drive on public roads is safe enough.
The DMV previously considered using a third party to examine vehicle data, or external test tracks for autonomous vehicles. But Friday it revealed it would allow manufacturers to self-certify that their vehicles are safe, a move that follows in the footsteps of the current federal government plan for autonomous vehicles.
In a sense, the licensing process for a robot that wants to drive on California roads is more lax than what a human driver seeking a license must go through. Humans must pass a state driver’s test. The makers of self-driving cars must just provide a safety assessment letter to the state.
In a briefing with reporters, California DMV deputy director Brian Soublet downplayed the different approaches to putting humans and robots on public roads.
“It’s a minimal test. It’s basically seeing that they have the skills to operate the vehicle,” Soublet said the driver’s test for humans. “And there’s all of the post-licensing discipline that goes with it. We believe that that same type of a structure is being established here.”
Just as the DMV can revoke a human’s license, it can also revoke a company’s ability to operate self-driving cars on state roads, under the proposed rules. The DMV will exercise this right if it sees recurring safety issues with a vehicle, according to Soublet.
The DMV also took a step toward embracing new vehicle forms, such as a car without a steering wheel or pedals. Under its proposed rules, the DMV will allow cars without a steering wheel or pedals, provided that the maker has the approval of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.
By Agnieszka Flak and Andreas Cremer
GENEVA (Reuters) – Lamborghini is open to an all-electric addition to its line-up of luxury sports cars, its chief executive said on Wednesday, evidence that German parent Volkswagen’s (VOWG_p.DE) interest in producing zero-emission vehicles could extend to the very top end of its brands.
The 54-year-old Italian car firm is already deviating from its tradition of producing high-powered, low-slung sportscars with its new sport utility vehicle, called Urus, itself a variation in its bovine branding.
The SUV will be launched at the company’s headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, towards the end of this year, with deliveries starting in the second half of 2018.
“Electrification is an area of great attention for us, but I’m not expecting it will happen in the short term,” CEO Stefano Domenicali told Reuters at the Geneva car show, ruling out a purely battery-powered Lamborghini before 2025.
“We need to be realistic,” he said, pointing to the need to preserve the characteristics of a supercar in terms of handling, weight and performance even in an electric model, while at the same time considering its cost and the required investments.
Lamborghini, one of VW’s stable of superluxury brands along with Bentley and Bugatti, already plans to bring a plug-in hybrid version of the Urus SUV by 2020.
Separately, the CEO held out the prospect of another record year for Lamborghini in 2017, powered by undiminished demand for super-luxury cars in the United States, China and Europe.
The company was showing its new Huracan Performante in Geneva ahead of first deliveries in June, with the level of pre-orders already looking good, said Domenicali, the former head of Ferrari’s Formula One racing team.
“Since the financial crisis, the market for super sports cars has seen a constant recovery,” he said.
“For the medium term, I don´t see a change in that substantially positive trend, especially since economic regions like the U.S. and China are showing unchanged growth.”
Domenicali said he expected sales this year to increase by a single-digit percentage rate from last year’s record 3,457 deliveries.
Future shipments for sportscars would be capped at around 3,500 a year but could go slightly higher as the market expands to a maximum of 3,800, to safeguard the brand’s exclusivity, he added, although the Urus SUV could double overall production volumes.
“We will be prudent. Of course we will grow sustainably, but being in the luxury market we must not take every growth potential that is there,” he said.
Depending on demand the Urus could add at least another 3,500 vehicles to Lamborghini’s total output, he added.
It’s no secret that Bugatti designs and builds some of the most powerful, exotic, distinctive, and technologically advanced super cars on Earth. And it’s also no secret that in the past, Bugatti has developed and branded a wide variety of products ranging from model cars and complete furniture collections, to high-end watches and motorcycles.
But According to Etienne Salome, the Design Director and Head of Interior Design at Bugatti, “I strongly believe the Bugatti design philosophy is so unique and original that it can be applied to a great number of products. However, a yacht is something special.”
And it comes as no surprise that Salome and Bugatti have partnered with the expert yacht designers and builders at Palmer Johnson to develop this extremely innovative and powerful yacht. Palmer Johnson has a well earned reputation for innovative ideas and questioning the status quo. And according to company CEO Timur Mohamed, since the company had already designed and developed a new series of fast day yachts, collaborating with Bugatti was logical. “We are always looking to design next generation yachts,” said Mohamed recently, “… and we were all excited to have the opportunity to design such a unique yacht for Bugatti.”
In fact, according to Mohamed, Berkeley March, Palmer Johnson’s Head of Design and his team all studied car design, so they were perfectly suited to work with Salome’s team to develop a truly unique yacht that combines the design language and philosophy of Bugatti and Palmer Johnson.
And part of the yacht’s appeal is no doubt due to the fact that its profile is so unmistakably Bugatti with its instantly recognizable C-shaped profile that comes directly from the Chiron,” Salome tells me. “In fact, this yacht successfully carries the DNA of more than a century of history of our brand with its specific architecture: center-line accentuation, Bugatti Signature Line as well as the duotone, symmetry and multiple other elements that one discovers in Bugatti sports cars as well.”
In fact, Salome continues, “This yacht was not designed to please a corporate brief. It was created for people in search of a very unique—a Bugatti—experience. Personally, I have always dreamed of designing this kind of yacht; a yacht for an audience that appreciate quality and luxury beyond a label or contemporary fashion.” Needless to say, the first Bugatti yacht has some exceedingly high expectations to meet.
Bugatti founder Ettore Bugatti once said: “If comparable, then it is no longer Bugatti.” So the challenge for both the Palmer Johnson and the Bugatti design teams was to create a very unique concept—a holistic piece of art, performance, form, and technique—at the very pinnacle of the yacht industry.
“The design process at Bugatti is not a very rational or mathematical process,” Salome continues via email. “It is something that comes from the heart and cannot be illustrated on a chart or placed inside a mathematical formula. It is the result of a unique love for everything related to Bugatti and this makes it a very human element, one that cannot be easily explained in a traditional and rational business plan.”
But it is pretty easy to see how the new Niniette 66 was directly inspired by the Bugatti Chiron. And you don’t really need to be an expert to see how this stunning, never-seen-before yacht is going to rock the “yachting” world with the beast-like super car power that all Bugatti’s are known for.
The most impressive thing about a Bugatti Veyron is not that it can do 267.8 mph flat out in Super Sport trim–it’s that it can do it without overheating in spectacular fashion afterwards. That’s what makes the Veyron a technical achievement unlike anything else in the world.
In his latest video, Engineering Explained‘s Jason Fenske explores the tricky catch-22 of developing a car like the Veyron. Essentially, if you want a high top speed, you need big power, but that requires a lot of cooling. The more air you send to the engine, though, the more you increase drag, which slows a car down.
A standard, non-Super Sport Veyron has a drag coefficient of .36 Cd, the same as a Cadillac Escalade. That’s why it needs 1000 horsepower to exceed 250 mph. What would it take to push the Bug all the way to 300? According to Fenske’s math, about 1800 horsepower would do the job. Of course, you could theoretically get a road car to 300 mph with much less power if you had a more aerodynamic body, but you’d almost assuredly blow the engine due to insufficient cooling air flow.
There are other factors beyond drag to consider, too–you have to account for the rolling resistance of the tires, the parasitic losses in the drivetrain, and more and more.
Who knows though—the way Bugatti is headed, 300 mph doesn’t really seem like a distant possibility for street-legal cars.