America's big cities are increasingly home to people living in their cars

In King County (which encompasses Seattle), the number of people living in their cars surged by 46% in the past year; and other big cities are catching up: LA, San Francisco, Portland, etc. Read the rest

Modded, post-apocalyptic Hot Wheels cars

Back when I was a teen Car Wars player, one of my great pleasures was kit-bashing toy cars together with arms and armor from tank models to make Mad Max-ish battlewagons to use in our autoduels (a friend with family in the USA used to help us blow up our cars with smuggled in firecrackers to make "battle-damaged" models -- pretty much the perfect dangerous, stupid teen boy activity) (sorry, Mom). Read the rest

Watch this beautiful tour of Manhattan's Classic Car Club

Mike Prichinello co-founded Classic Car Club in Manhattan, which recently moved into a beautiful new space. Mauricio Mochon shot some of the gorgeous cars on display. Read the rest

Making an espresso machine from a (thoroughly scrubbed) motorbike piston

Rulof Maker used a salvaged motorcycle piston and cylinder, mounted in an Ikea lamp, to create a homebrew espresso machine, using a lever to pressurize water at temperature through a puck of coffee grounds. Read the rest

China mandates radio-tracking beacons in all cars

As of July 1, registering a car in China will involve registering an RFID radio-beacon that will be planted on the car in order to track its movements. Read the rest

California proposes location-tracking, e-ink license plates that display "STOLEN" if a car is boosted

A new California pilot program will let drivers replace their metal license plates with e-ink versions that will eliminate the need to use stickers to prove that you've renewed your tags, allow you to display arbitrary vanity messages when the car is stationary (the license plate number shrinks down and displays in a corner under these circumstances, allowing meter-maids to still ticket you), and to remote switch your plate display to STOLEN if your car is ripped off. Read the rest

John Scalzi wrote a science fiction story about the DMCA to help EFF's Right to Repair campaign

Every three years, the US Copyright Office asks America about the problems with Section 1201 of the DMCA, which bans breaking DRM even for legal reasons, and America gets to answer with requests for exemptions to this rule. Read the rest

The used cars that Europe sends to Nigeria are filled with illegal, toxic e-waste

EU and Nigerian law both ban the export of e-waste to Nigeria, but a new study jointly authored by scholars from UN University and the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Africa found that exported used cars represent a smuggler's bonanza for the illegal dumping of toxic waste. Read the rest

Waze has turned the nearly undriveable, fifth-steepest hill in America into a disaster-strewn major thoroughfare

Baxter Street in Echo Park, East Los Angeles, is the fifth-steepest hill in America; it's so steep that inexperienced drivers struggle with it, spinning out and crashing, especially in the rain. Read the rest

The future legal shenanigans that will shift liability for pedestrian fatalities involving self-driving Ubers

This week, a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Arizona, the first pedestrian fatality involving an autonomous vehicle; in his analysis of the event, Charlie Stross notes that Arizona's laws treat corporations that kill people with considerably more forbearance than humans who do so, and proposes that in the near future, every self-driving car will be owned by a special-purpose corporation that insulates its owner from liability. Read the rest

GPS routing increases city throughput by shifting traffic jams onto residential streets

A trio of engineering researchers from UC Berkeley modeled the effect of heavy reliance on GPS routing on municipal road efficiencies and found that people who are GPS-routed are likely to move to surface streets and secondary highways when the main highways are congested; though this increases overall throughput in a city and reduces overall drive-time, it also creates heavy traffic on residential streets, effectively transferring traffic jams from highways to neighborhoods. Read the rest

US smart traffic flow systems vulnerability would allow a single car to mess up intersection timing

All new cars are equipped with "Connected Vehicle" signaling technology, which allows them to send messages to other cars and to traffic lights and other fixed road infrastructure to help improve road signaling and, eventually, guide self-driving cars. Read the rest

Thanks to "consent" buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

Millions of new cars sold in the US and Europe are "connected," having some mechanism for exchanging data with their manufacturers after the cars are sold; these cars stream or batch-upload location data and other telemetry to their manufacturers, who argue that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want with this data, thanks to the "explicit consent" of the car owners -- who signed a lengthy contract at purchase time that contained a vague and misleading clause deep in its fine-print. Read the rest

This is what happens when you fill a car's gas tank with Coke

I have never once asked myself what would happen to my vehicle if I poured liters of Coca-Cola into its tank. But YouTuber TechRax did. Watch as he fills his 2003 BMW 325i wagon with Coke and then drives it. I have no words.

(The Fresh Toast) Read the rest

California's record poverty and real-estate bubble are creating a "wheel-estate" boom of people with good jobs living in their cars

Extreme housing prices in California -- driven by a combination of speculation, favorable legal/tax positions for landlords, foreclosures after the 2008 crisis, and an unwillingness to build public housing -- has created vast homeless encampments, but there's a less visible side to the crisis: working people in "good jobs" who have to live in their cars. Read the rest

German VW exec is going to US prison for seven years for his role in Dieselgate

Oliver Schmidt, the general manager of Volkswagen's Michigan environmental and engineering office, is going to jail for his role in Dieselgate, the company's criminal conspiracy to trick regulators about the emissions from their diesel cars, allowing them to emit lethal levels of NOx on roads all over the world. Read the rest

Hackers can force airbags to deploy

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures number 2017-14937: in unspecified post-2014 passenger car models, the explosive charge that deploys the airbag is controlled by an instruction that is secured by one of only 256 keypairs, and there is no rate-limit on authentication attempts over the CAN bus. It gets better! "In addition, at least one manufacturer's interpretation of the ISO 26021 standard is that it must be possible to calculate the key directly (i.e., the other 255 key pairs must not be used)." Read the rest

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