News Roundup: Detroit unveils, autonomous cars, and more

This past week we’ve had a lot of great things in the news, despite the holidays that would normally interfere. With the big Detroit show coming up very quickly, a lot of announcements around that have been made. Of course, autonomous vehicles are also big news. As usual.

BMW will introduce the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid at the Detroit show. The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) opens in January and BMW will features its latest PHEV. Fuel economy numbers will be announced on the car’s introduction.

Volkswagen will introduce the newest I.D. family model in Detroit. This all-wheel drive electric show car is designed to have a “multi-functional, flexible interior” and full connectivity. The I.D. series aims to be both zero-emissions and autonomous.

Autodesk VRED Professional 2017 SR1

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles has delivered 100 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV vans to Google subsidiary Waymo for autonomous driving tests. The specially-built Pacifica models are modified from the now-available Pacifica PHEV. They are fitted with Waymo’s computers and sensory equipment for self-driving testing.

Mercedes-Benz integrates with Google Assistant on Google Home. This allows users to interact with their Mercedes vehicle using their Google Assistant and app. This feature will become available in 2017.

BMW will introduce HoloActive Touch at CES 2017. This holographic interface for human interaction with  a vehicle is a sort of virtual touchscreen that gives tactile feedback without actually touching anything but virtual images that are holographically projected.

2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan begins delivery to Southern California. The third-generation of the fuel cell vehicle is now delivery to Honda dealerships throughout the region with retail leasing now available through 12 dealerships in California.

California vouchers for electric commercial trucks are dropping costs below diesel trucks, but funding is running out fast. Fleets in California can purchase a T-Series electric terminal truck for less than the cost of a Tier 4 diesel truck, says supplier Orange EV. The Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) subsidizes point-of-sale purchase for approved low-emissions vehicles, but funding is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.

MIT researchers have analyzed strategies for vehicle platooning, a form of autonomous driving. They’ve identified the best fuel-saving options with minimal delays. Their analysis was presented at the International Workshop on the Algorithmic Foundations of Robotics.

The University of Waterloo has shown the first autonomous vehicle on Canadian roads. Researchers at the U of Waterloo Center for Automotive Research have modified a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid to be self-driving and have dubbed it “Autonomoose.”