(PHOTO: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)
Toyota. Editor-In-Chief's Note: From the "Cuddly Companion" File comes word that Toyota plans to sell a pint-size robot in Japan that is designed to provide companionship to people, according to The Wall Street Journal. Called Kirobo Mini - a combination of the Japanese word for hope and robot - it can hold basic conversations while blinking its oversize eyes and wagging its limbs. (Not to mention that the weird little thing looks like a Japanese Snoopy. Ugh. -WG) It also comes with a cradle that fits in a car’s cupholder, “helping it fulfill its role as a cuddly companion always on hand for heart-touching communication,” the company said. The Wall Street Journal goes on to report that in videos demonstrating Kirobo’s potential, the tiny robot entertains children, chats over tea with an elderly lady and gives a pep talk to a fresh college grad as she heads to a job interview. (Oh, joy.) Toyota says the robot can identify human emotions. If you’re feeling down, the robot will wobble about, look you in the eye and ask: “Why are you sad?” “As you live together, you will come to love and be kind towards the Kirobo Mini, just as it does to you,” says the video’s narrator. The robot also has some automotive applications, according to Toyota. If the driver brakes suddenly, the robot will yell: “That was scary!” Toyota said it hoped to use what it learns from Kirobo to make communication between humans and machines more like communication between people. (More like communications between people? Well, if that were the case, after yelling "That was scary!" I would venture to guess that little Kirobo Mini would find itself thrown out the window on to the pavement, soon to be crushed by an eighteen wheeler.) The robot goes on sale for ¥39,800 yen ($392) this winter in Toyota dealerships in Tokyo and the area around the company’s headquarters in Nagoya. To this entire exercise we say, in the immortal words of Loretta Castorini in Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!" Please. -PMD
General Motors is calling the Chevrolet Colorado ZH2 the most extreme off-road-capable fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle the company has ever built. Standing more than 6½ feet tall and more than seven feet wide, the Colorado ZH2 was built on a stretched midsize pickup chassis. Reinforced inside and out, the ZH2 rides on 37-inch tires and a specially modified suspension that helps the vehicle climb over and descend all types of terrain. The Army will evaluate the ZH2 fuel cell for: Near-silent operation enabling silent watch capability; reduced acoustic and thermal signatures; high wheel torque at all speeds via electric drive; low fuel consumption across operating range and water by-product for field uses. The Colorado ZH2 features an Exportable Power Take-Off unit (EPTO) that allows the fuel cell to power activity away from the vehicle, such as remote locations where electric power may otherwise be unavailable. GM and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) collaborated to develop the Colorado ZH2 from contract to concept in less than a year. The truck was revealed at the fall meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA).
Hyundai Motor America and Rockstar Performance Garage have partnered to develop a Santa Fe CUV capable of serious off-roading with Rockstar design attitude, for the SEMA show of course. The Rockstar Santa Fe Concept is powered by a hopped-up Hyundai-based 3.3L Lambda V6 engine juiced with nitrous driving all four wheels. An aggressively-raised off-roading chassis able to attack any terrain completes the package. The SEMA show remains a wonderful thing.
Editor-In-Chief's Note: So where is the "connected car" movement going? PricewaterhouseCoopers seems to have a handle on it and they have just released their study on how connected cars are totally shaking up the way business is done in the auto industry. The 2016 Global Connected Car Study from PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Strategy& takes an in-depth look at how the car is being transformed through technology and answers questions about the opportunities and risks to be found in the industry’s business models, ecosystem, market growth, geographic distribution and technologies, and what it will take to emerge on top. Some of the key findings include: The value of connected mobility services will grow threefold within the next five years, from US$52.5 billion in 2017 to US$155.9 billion in 2022 (24.3% AGR). Partnerships and M&A are expected to increase. Why? Industry players are striving for the newest technology; in order to succeed, they are more likely to build, buy, or partner to create the latest connected features. And finally, seismic growth of connected mobility is expected to reach 50% in 2022 (up from 35% in 2017), with two in every three cars worldwide equipped with connected car packages. You can read the full study here. -PMD
BMW of North America is presenting its largest bicycle collection to date, including the BMW Cruise Bike for the casual rider in urban environments; the BMW M Cruise Bike for the M enthusiast; a BMW Junior Cruise Bike and a BMW Kids Bike. The feature bike (above) in the line is the BMW Cruise e-Bike, built with a BOSCH Performance Line electric motor. The BMW Cruise e-Bike has a bull-neck frame made of hydro-formed aluminum developed in-house by BMW. The Cruise e-Bike is designed to provide optimal pedal support at speeds of up to 15 mph. The removable battery can be charged directly on the bike or separately in approximately 3.5 hours for a 100 percent charge, or 1.5 hours for a 50 percent charge. Oh, and by the way, it costs $3,430. For more information, visit ShopBMWUSA.com.
Editor-In-Chief's Note: A bit of advertising brilliance from Apple, "Practically Magic." Just because. -PMD
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