The lastest in Ken Block’s driftastic series earned over 20 million views in its first week.
In the hands of director Ben Conrad and veteran rally driver Ken Block, any drab stretch of concrete can be transformed into a vehicular playground. Block, who is also the founder of DC Shoes, became an Internet sensation in 2008, when he uploaded a video of himself practicing a little known motorsport called gymkhana, in which a skilled driver maneuvers a vehicle through an obstacle course. Watching Block’s gymkhana was a little like watching a floor exercise in Olympic gymnastics, but instead of sporting a leotard and bounding across a spring floor, he was strapped into a tricked-out, 650-horsepower rally car and let loose on an abandoned air field. The video went viral overnight.
Tesla, a Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup that first came to prominence with the all-electric Roadster sportscar, isn’t yet known as a mainstream car manufacturer—unsurprising since it’s first product had a base price of $109,000. The Model S, a five-seat sedan released today, is Tesla’s debut into the mainstream market. If it succeeds, it could bolster the entire EV industry. If it fails, Tesla will be in trouble.
This week, I had the chance to test-drive the Model S at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif.. I can’t predict how well the car will do (though there are 10,000 reservations), but I can say this: it’s one of the most fun vehicles I’ve ever driven—and certainly the most exciting sedan. The car’s mammoth 17-inch central console touchscreen, which controls the sunroof, regenerative braking strength, music, maps, and more, doesn’t hurt. I experienced the Model S as both a passenger and driver.
Google’s self-driving cars may be out on the road already, but it will take awhile before public is truly ready to give up all driving control to artificial intelligence. In the interim, Volvo has a solution that lets drivers (sometimes) sleep at the wheel while still improving highway safety—and it just completed the first real-world tests.
Dubbed SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), the EU-backed project is working on road trains—vehicles equipped with software already found in many Volvo vehicles (including laser sensors, cameras, and radars) that are automatically led along the highway by a lead vehicle, which is commandeered by a professional driver. Regular drivers could one day simply use in-car navigation to find the nearest highway road train, get on the tail end, and let the vehicle platoon take over steering, braking, and acceleration.
The 2012 Chevrolet Caprice PPV is a futuristic cop car with 4G communications and a Knight Rider-like voice interface. It also automatically scans every license plate in its line of vision for warrants and unpaid tickets.
Police cars have come a long way since Car 54. Motorola Solutions, one of the world’s leading security communications technology firms, recently unveiled a blinged-out next-generation cop car. The heavily modified 2012 Chevrolet Caprice PPV and Detective vehicle retails for approximately $30,000 before bid and bulk discounts and functions like a mobile police station. Motorola’s re-outfitted Caprices feature a full array of cameras and an immersive computer system that turns it into, as CTO Paul Steinberg tells Fast Company, a “virtual partner.”
Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors isn’t just an electric car company—it’s perhaps the greatest test of Silicon Valley’s innovation model. And now is do-or-die time, when everything is riding on a new $50,000 sedan.