The McLaren F1 automobile is a $10 million car, and there's only 100 in existence. It's the world's greatest supercar according to Jalopnik.com. It was the first proper production car to use a carbon fiber monocoque chassis, designed by Formula One legend Gordon Murray. It turns out, when they built these in 1998, that the state of the art computing was a DOS based Compaq laptop. Apparently, to this day, if a McLaren F1 needs service, it requires that same DOS based Compaq laptop. The problem is, they're running out of them.
Oculus Rift went on sale to the public this week. It's a virtual reality headset that has motion tracking in it along with a camera that can track your body's movements. It also has headphones with very good quality sound. For video, it means that you'll be able to look around and see things all around you. Instead of a camera man or director determining what you'll be seeing, you can look at anything you choose. Gaming is another big use case for these headsets. HTC has made a VR headset called the Vive in conjunction with Steam, a distributor of games for PC.
Elon Musk announced the Tesla Model 3 this past week, and they have already received 232,000 preorders. Customers had to put down $1,000 to preorder, and it may not be available for 2 or more years yet. This is the first Tesla at a relatively reasonable price of $35,000.
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Teddy has a used car he bought for his daughter, but it has a bunch of buttons for answering a mobile phone. He had it connected to an iPhone and now he's moved to an Android device. How can he adjust that? Leo says that it could be something he'd have to get from the auto manufacturer.
Steven travels for business and he wants to be able to automatically track his mileage. Leo suggests the Automatic. It plugs into the car's OBD2 port and it keeps track of mileage, will tell him what error codes mean, calculate gas mileage, and even estimate how much mileage he has left before he runs out of gas. Leo likes that it specifically tracks mileage for business vs. personal. It'll even let him know where his car is. There are also apps that will work with Automatic.
Clyde heard about the Jeep that got hacked and worries that it could happen to his car since he connects his phone to the car with USB. Leo says that simply connecting the phone to the car stereo isn't sufficient for this. The Jeep hack involved using the car's built-in 3G access. The real flaw is that the entertainment unit of the car and the computer running the car (braking, ignition, etc), are not physically separated. They are connected in many cars through the CamBus, or internal car network.
Mike says it's ironic that cars with computer touch screens make it impossible to keep our eyes off the screen when adjusting the radio. They want us to keep our eyes on the road, but they include touch screens and that's nuts. Leo agrees with Mike. Leo says that car companies, and even Apple and Google are looking for hands free solutions including voice operated directions, which work with a smartphone. But Leo doesn't know if that will make things better or worse.
Michael needs a camera to install in his car that has radar. Leo says that it's probably best to go to a car installer about that since it's more than just buying a camera. It's not only the camera, but the screen itself. So Leo advises letting a professional handle it. The chatroom says that Garmin makes one called the BC20 that wirelessly connects to GPS devices.
Gabriel is visually impaired, and would greatly benefit from this self-driving car that Google has been working on. Leo believes the technology has been perfected, and it works really well already. Gabriel says he has connections to people working on this, and that they should be ready to go on sale by 2017. Legislation needs to be written in California by 2015 for it.
Tom says that cellphone use while driving is bad and that we're overdue to have technology that can prevent accidents by applying breaks automatically (with infrared rangefinding technology). Leo says that autonomous vehicle technology exists now, and many companies use LIDAR to determine if a car is drifting, and adaptive cruise control to slow down if the car gets too close.