Ford today announced that the new Ford Escape SUV would come with a powered liftgate that opens and closes when you kick your foot under just below the bumper . Using gesture-based technology similar to games consoles, it ensures that the liftgate doesn’t open accidentally.
Todd’s Noytes: Having actually seen this work at a Ford Demo today. It’s pretty cool and unlike anything I have seen on a car.. You can essentially kick/wave/wiggle your foot just under the bumper from almost any angle and so long as you have the key on your person.
Combined with Ford’s Intelligent Access key-less entry, owners can unlock the car and open the liftgate without even getting the keys out of their pocket or bag. Very handy if your hands are full and need to dump stuff in the back before you drop it all! The ‘gate can be closed again with a similar motion: again handy if you are taking stuff out of the car.
“The hands-free power liftgate is yet another innovative Ford technology that makes customers’ lives easier,” said Jason Sprawka, Escape brand manager. “New Escape owners will be able to load their vehicle without ever having to set packages or gear down.”
The system is like that used in games consoles and has a pair of sensors to detect the shin and the kicking motion. This stops other motions, say, from an animal, or bumps on rough roads, from operating the liftgate by mistake. It’s the first time the technology has been used in this market segment.
The new Escape will debut at the Los Angeles Motor Show on 16 November and will go on sale in the US in the spring.
I was going to run with a headline about Ford “giving the boot a boot” but didn’t think enough people would get the joke…
Travelling by air can be pretty dull – you’re jammed into a metal tube with nowhere to go even if you could get out of your seat. Inflight entertainment has evolved from one or two screens for the whole cabin to multichannel personal media players in seat headrests, which certainly helps to alleviate the boredom. More recently and largely responding to the requests of business travellers, more and more flights now have Wi-Fi, bringing the Internet to your foldaway table, albeit usually at a price.
If you are lucky enough to be on a plane equipped with Gogo‘s inflight Wi-Fi connectivity, Ford has teamed up with Gogo to offer access to Ford’s Mustang Customizer and free access to Facebook for the rest of the flight. The Customizer is a notch above the usual car modelling websites where you can only change the colour of the paint and the interior trim. Starting out with Mustang V6, GT, Boss 302 or Shelby GT500, the Customizer lets you choose the exterior before tweaking under the hood and then placing the car in one of three backgrounds – dragway, cityscape or drive-in restaurant. Apparently there are over 78,791,049,216,000 combinations of vehicle to dream up.
Once you’ve got the car of your dreams, the picture can be downloaded as a background or posted to Facebook and entered into contests to see who has the best car. If you’ve cash to match, you can get a .pdf pricing out the components you’ve chosen.
“We are really excited to give Gogo users a chance to customize their very own Mustang while in flight,” added Brian McClary, emerging and social media specialist at Ford. “The Mustang Customizer has proven to be a great way for users to create their own Mustang and provides an interactive and immersive experience.”
Definitely of interest to bored petrol heads, small boys and Facebook junkies. The special promotion starts 21 October, 2011 and ends 18 November, 2011
The Institute of Engineering and Technology’s monthly magazine always has plenty of tech articles and this month is no exception with a look at the different approaches to space flight being adopted by the US and Russia in Gateway to the Stars.
In the US, privateers are pushing forwards with the new Spaceport America in New Mexico, while the Russians continue with the Soviet-era Baikonur Cosmodrome. The pictures of the new spaceport under construction and Virgin Galactic craft contrast sharply with the utility of Baikonur. Obviously the sites are aiming at different markets, one consumer-led into sub-oribital flight, the other for ballistic launches, typically satellites and cargo runs to the ISS.
Picture courtesy of Virgin Galactic. The new spaceport terminal is the building under construction in the foreground.
The article also has some great trivia. Did you know that the nearest settlement to Spaceport America is called “Truth or Consequences” or that Baikonur Cosmodrome is actually 300 km from Baykonur so as to mislead the West? Or that the launch countdown to zero can be credited to Fritz Lang’s 1929 film “The Woman in the Moon”?
Ford yesterday announced a new SYNC Services feature, “Operator Assist”, which lets drivers speak to a real person in order to help with enquiries such as business searches or address entry. It’s currently in beta and is being offered free to registered users of SYNC Services.
Operator Assist is voice activated and the new feature provides customers with the ability to safely connect with a live person who can quickly access information databases to help drivers get where they want to go. No additional hardware or software is needed and the driver (or passenger) simply says, “Operator” if he or she needs assistance with the automated system. After confirming the request, the individual is connected to a live operator for help in finding a business or entering an address. Directions can be sent directly to the vehicle’s navigation system or the business address and phone number can be texted to a mobile phone.
Taking the concept a step further, in the instance when a driver says an address or business that the automated system can’t identify, the driver will be offered the option to connect to a live operator for further assistance. If the user confirms he or she would like to speak with an operator, the system automatically connects the user to the live operator. This avoids the frustration that I think we’ve all encountered when we know where we want to go but the GPS doesn’t recognise the address.
“Seventy percent of all SYNC Services calls are for business search and directions“, said David Gersabeck, product manager, SYNC Services. “Our customers asked for additional assistance in situations where their voice request was not understood…Being able to connect with a live person at any time contributes to that [assistance].“
I love my GPS and use it whenever I’m going to a new place. Last night I had to go photograph a band at a small club in San Francisco so I programmed the address into my GPS. I also used it to get home since the one-way streets in San Francisco can be confusing at night. Like most users I have a place called Home in my GPS address book. Handy, but is that really safe?
There was story in the news a few months back about thieves breaking into cars at long-term airport parking lots and stealing GPS devices from the cars. The thieves know the owner is away and may even have observed the family leaving for a family vacation. What better time to break into a house when the family is on vacation. Even better, if there is a GPS in the car, there is a good chance it has a Home favorite that leads directly to the goodies.
The take-away here is to not have a Home favorite or entry in your GPS address book. All you need to do is change the name to something else: Bob’s home; Doctor; Church. (If you travel a lot the thief may wonder why you’re going to Church every other day if he/she looks through your GPS Recent/History entries.) If you really want to be really careful, don’t use your GPS to lead directly to your house, but some place close. I changed mine to a shopping center two miles from my house.
It’s also not a good idea to have anything left in your car that has your home address. I think it’s safe to block out your address on your car registration and proof of insurance forms. If you are ever questioned, you can say you did it for security reasons.
Technology is a great time-saver but you need to be careful. Be safe out there!
We all have seen those cameras at red light intersections. We all have slammed on our brakes when we do see one if fear of Big Brother mailing us a bill for our “transgression”. At intersections with no camera we usually just go on through a yellow light, safely I might add. Basically the cameras which we are told are there for public safety are there to generate revenue for the county or city, whichever the case may be. There are many studies out that state that more accidents happen at red lights with cameras than occurred without them there. Just google it. The only study I found that suggested that the cameras reduce accidents was research done by a group connected to the insurance industry. Hmmm, I wonder what they have to gain from more traffic violations and accidents? I have even seen reports that the time between yellow light and red light is decreased so more people get caught! Boy they are really looking out for the little guy! I’m all for safety but I can count on one hand the times I have seen a blatant red light infraction that was dangerous. 99% of the time people are just trying to go through a yellow instead of slamming on the brakes.
Technology is great so when it is used to keep the public safe I like it even more. But when it is used by people who have an incentive to do things that are immoral it is a dangerous tool. If you ask the average person they will tell you that 95% of politicians and bureaucrats are corrupt or at least have questionable character. So how can you trust that they have your best interest in mind when installing cameras at red lights? I can not trust them. The facts show that cameras cause more accidents so there is no excuse to continue using them. The powers that be must have seen this data so why not take action to keep the roads safer? I am afraid they do not want to let go of the cash cow that the cameras bring. People who ignore this data just to bring money into their coffers are sick humans indeed. Think about this the next time you see something about a new technology the government has to catch criminals or keep us safe. They may just need some $$$.
I read an article this morning touting the safety of the Smart Car, the tiny two-person, just shy of 9-foot car in production by Daimler. The Smart twofer did well in crash tests, achieving an overall rating of “good.”
But that’s not what caught my attention about the article. No, what caught my eye was the touted gas mileage the Smart twofer gets. “Up to” 31 mpg in the city, and 40 on the highway. We all know those factory-touted numbers are inflated; actual mileage is usually 3-5 points less. This means the Smart twofer, in reality, probably gets about 28 or 29 mpg city, and 37 or 38 highway.
Color me not impressed. My 1989 Toyota Corolla Wagon regularly gets 30 mpg in the city, and 40 on the highway. That’s with the air conditioner running! And I can fit four people easily in my Toyota, and carry cargo as well. I’m not sure what my Toyota is supposed to get in mileage, I just know that in the year and a half I’ve owned it I’ve been happy with the mileage it gets.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting awfully tired of hearing “gets 25 miles to the gallon” like that’s a good thing. My 1967 four-door Ford Fairlane got 25 mpg city, and that was back in the early 80′s. When they can start advertising 50 miles to the gallon, or at the very least, 40 miles to the gallon, in most cars, we’ll be getting somewhere.
In the meantime, I’m growing less and less impressed with the Smart Car. It’s not cheap to buy, and doesn’t get good enough miles per gallon to even pay for that extra cost over the years you would own it. I’ll stick with my Toyota, thanks.
The Telegraph has published the results of its poll on the 100 most beautiful cars of all time. The list is dominated by English and Italian cars, which may partly be due to a natural bias of The Telegraph being a UK paper, but I cannot find much fault with their judgment (although I would have put the Aston Martin DB 5 a couple of places higher, and the Alfa Romeo 8C would be #1 in my book.
It is fact that the English and the Italians make the most beautiful cars (and their share of shockers as well). If only they made reliable ones