FBI arrest the VW executive who stonewalled on the first Dieselgate reports for defrauding the US Government

Oliver Schmidt led Volkswagen regulatory compliance office from 2014 to Mar 2015, and it was he who issued statements dismissing the initial West Virginia University reports of cheating in the emissions control systems of the company's cars, lying to US regulators and insisting that the systems were merely buggy, and not deliberately designed to get around emissions testing; after the company admitted to the fraud, he appeared before the British Parliament and insisted that the fraud didn't violate EU law. Read the rest

Hedge fund managers' sports car ownership predicts their unwise risk-taking

In "Sensation Seeking, Sports Cars, and Hedge Funds" Three business school researchers analyze a huge data-set of previous and current hedge-funds that have been hand-matched with the vehicle-ownership records of the funds' managers and analyze the data to see if the ownership of a "performance car" correlates with a hedge fund manager's willingness to take risks, and whether those risks pay off. Read the rest

Ah yes, the short-lived 1950s fad of illuminated tires

In the 1950s, car enthusiasts began playing around with illuminated tires made of translucent synthetic rubber that could be tinted any color. Goodyear soon got in the game in case it took off, which unfortunately never happened.

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Car Wars: a dystopian science fiction story about the nightmare of self-driving cars

Melbourne's Deakin University commissioned me to write a science fiction story about the design and regulation of self-driving cars, inspired by my essay about the misapplication of the "Trolley Problem" to autonomous vehicles. Read the rest

London Mayor sends VW a £2.5m bill for Dieselgate cheaters' Congestion Charges

Drivers in London have to pay a daily "congestion charge" intended to encourage the use of public transit and bicycles, but low-emission vehicles are exempt, and so for years, drivers of VW diesels got free rides thanks to the company's fraudulent claims about their cars' pollution. Read the rest

Amazing photos from Kinshasa's scrap car-parts megamarket

The N’Djili district of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo is home to an enormous market of scrap auto-parts, carefully salvaged from Japan's waste-stream and meticulously arrayed on blankets by merchants eking out a marginal existence. Read the rest

Electric cars must now emit engine-tones at low speeds

My friend Gilbert was the first Prius owner I knew; a hacker, Gilbert was accustomed to eating at a drive-through at 3AM, but the first time he took his silent car through the lane, the order-taker curtly said that they didn't serve people on foot; when he insisted that he was in a car, she demanded to know why she couldn't hear the engine idling? Read the rest

Mercedes' weird "Trolley Problem" announcement continues dumb debate about self-driving cars

In 1967, Philippa Foot posed the "Trolley Problem," an ethical conundrum about whether a bystander should be sacrificed to rescue the passengers of a speeding, out-of-control trolley; as self-driving cars have inched toward reality, this has been repurposed as a misleadingly chin-stroking question about autonomous vehicles: when faced with the choice of killing their owners or someone else, who should die? Read the rest

How self-driving cars could make everything worse, and what to do about it

The promise of self-driving cars is to take our vehicle fleets from 5% utilization to near-100% utilization, reducing congestion, parking problems, emissions and road accidents. But what if the cheapest way to "park" your autonomous vehicle is to have it endlessly circle the block while you're at work? What do we do about the lost jobs of bus-, truck- and cab-drivers? How will we pay for roads if gas-tax revenues plummet thanks to all-electric fleets? Read the rest

100 million VWs can be unlocked with a $40 cracker (and other cars aren't much better)

In Lock It and Still Lose It—On the (In)Security of Automotive Remote Keyless Entry Systems, a paper given at the current Usenix Security conference in Austin, researchers with a proven track record of uncovering serious defects in automotive keyless entry and ignition systems revealed a technique for unlocking over 100,000 million Volkswagen cars, using $40 worth of hardware; they also revealed a technique for hijacking the locking systems of millions of other vehicles from other manufacturers. Read the rest

Profile of People's Ride: a co-operative, driver-owned alternative to Uber

People's Ride is a co-op ride-hailing company in Grand Rapids, Michigan: drivers own the service in common and collectively decide how to spend its profits (for example, on deploying an app to go with its website); for-profit competitors like Uber take 30% commissions from their drivers and deliver them to investors, while People's Ride spends all the revenue paying drivers and improving the service. Read the rest

Return of Dieselgate: 3 more hidden programs found in VW Audi/Porsche firmware

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag says that US investigators have discovered three more hidden cheat apps in a Volkswagen product line: these ones were discovered in 3-liter Audi diesels. Read the rest

Big rigs can be hijacked and driven with software-based attacks

In a two-month-long class assignment, researchers from the University of Michigan found vulnerabilities in J1939, the standard for networking in big rigs and other large industrial vehicles, that allowed them to control the acceleration, braking, and instrument panels of their target vehicles. Read the rest

San Francisco's bike lanes have become Uber's pickup/dropoff zones (and the cops don't care)

It's no secret that San Francisco's cops hate cyclists -- they won't investigate hit-and-runs, they blame cyclists for accidents and harass them, they run them down in bike lanes -- so it's no surprise that they stand by idly while San Francisco's busy biking lanes are turned into pick-up and drop-off zones by Uber and Lyft drivers, forcing cyclists to swerve into traffic. Read the rest

To hell with the Trolley Problem: here's a much more interesting list of self-driving car weirdnesses

Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest

Rolls-Royce's futuristic self-driving luxury car

Revealed yesterday in London, the Rolls-Royce 103EX is the car company's vision for a futuristic luxury autonomous whip. The (way) over-the-top concept car features a massive OLED display, Macassar wood detailing, silk carpeting, and an artificial intelligence named Eleanor.

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Kickstarting beltbuckle multitools

Tony Zentil, a mechanical engineer, has a fully funded Kickstarter for a variety of multitool belt-buckles aimed at skateboarders, snowboarders, and motorcyclists -- they're a significant advance on my old, beloved 686 belt-buckle stolen by the security staff of London Gatwick airport in 2011. Read the rest

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