Volkswagen Is Considering Pay-Per-Use Automated Driving, Hopefully Via Quarters Into A Coin Slot

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It’s not Thomas writing this today, it’s me, Torch, and I’m not happy about it. I specifically started my own site (with David and Beau, yes, yes) just so I wouldn’t have to do this, and now, thanks to janky Canadian internet, here we are. Wonderful. But, you still deserve your puréed automobilianic news, I guess, so let’s get to it. Volkswagen’s software plans are in here, twice, as is some Tesla investigation, Argo AI having a lousy day, and the most important spark plug merch news you’ll read all week. No, month. Fine, let’s do this.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Automated Driving In Single-Serving Containers Considered By VW


At the moment, all the currently-available semi-automated driving systems from Tesla, GM, Ford, VW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, whoever work like most car options currently work: you pay a bunch 0f money for them up front, or, in some cases like Tesla’s poorly-named FSD (Full Self-Driving, and it isn’t) you can subscribe to the service for $199 per month. The head of VW’s software subsidiary, known as Cariad, CEO Dirk Hilgenberg, seems to have ideas about other ways to get automated driving to customers, as he said in an interview with Bloomberg, where he was asked about how the company could monetize various software-based features:

There’s a new business model already out there — a subscription model, or function-on-demand — where the AI will tell you, you can drive autonomously if you want, for the next 50 miles. We would support that. We could give you autonomous driving for the next 50 miles, so you can relax or sleep or do whatever.

I just want to be clear that, according to sources I just now made up, right here in my mind, when Hilgenberg says “or do whatever,” he is 100% referring to masturbating.

Hilgenberg goes on to remind us all that VW (nor anyone commercially) does not have Level 4 automation yet – that is, a car that can drive on its own, with no human input required, at least in a specific area, so all of this is still pretty much hypothetical. Still, VW could offer Level 2 driver assistance on demand, if they wanted. The code would need to be already installed in the car’s computers, but a remote code could be sent to activate or deactivate the feature on demand.

The process of disengagement would need to be well-considered, though: if you hit a given time or mileage limit, and wanted to disengage, you’d have to provide a lot of warnings to the driver, because, remember, those people may “sleep or do whatever.” In a Level 4 or better system that may involve getting the car off the active roadway if the driver is non-responsive, something yet to be demonstrated by anyone.

If it’s just Level 2 semi-automation then you should be able to count on a driver paying attention, but, as we know from all this (gestures to all of reality) even that isn’t guaranteed.

So, you know, good luck with that.

NHTSA Opens Probe Into Tesla Crash That Killed A Pedestrian And May Involve Autopilot

TeslaNHTSA has been investigating crashes involving Level 2 driver assist systems like Tesla’s Autopilot in a more focused way recently, and are now opening a special probe into a crash that occurred on June 7 in San Diego, California that killed a pedestrian. While the investigation is at least in part about a suspicion that a driver assist system was in use, it’s also worth noting that the 39-year-old driver was apparently huffing something and under the influence at the time of the crash, which adds an extra level of complexity here.

If the driver was using Autopilot, but was also driving while impaired, how should those factors interact? Would the assistance provided by the Level 2 system be considered as enabling the man to drive while high, and would he have been capable of driving at all while high otherwise? Or did the system help manage his impaired driving to some degree? It’s possible for this to be both revealing limitations of an L2 system and also a reminder that for fucks’ sake, don’t drive while huffing anything, idiot.

Also related is a preliminary investigation opened into another Tesla crash that killed two people on Wednesday, when a 2015 Tesla crashed into the rear of a Walmart truck parked at a rest stop. This is a confusing crash situation and the NHTSA is in contact with Tesla about it, presumably to assess if any driving automation systems were involved.

Automated Driving Company Argo AI Lays off 150 Employees

ArgoArgo AI, backed by both Volkswagen and Ford, much like the VW Apollo, is laying off 150 of its nearly 2,000 employees, employees that fill a wide variety of roles in the company, technical and otherwise. The company issued a statement that tells us almost nothing about the situation:

“With incredible growth and progress made in our mission to deploy driverless vehicles, we are making prudent adjustments to our business plan to best continue on a path for success.”

Prudent adjustments. Okay.

The Pittsburgh-based company is currently testing automated vehicles in Miami, Florida and Austin, Texas, and has not yet actually brought driverless technology to market.


The Colors You Can Buy An 11th-Generation Civic Type R Are Now Known

The forum for people very excited about the upcoming new Civic Type R have discovered, ahead of any announcements from Honda, the colors they’ll get to choose from! And a solid 2/5ths of the colors are actual colors! Look:

  • Crystal Black Pearl (Black/Red interior)
  • Boost Blue Pearl (Black/Red interior)
  • Sonic Gray Pearl (Black/Red interior)
  • Rallye Red (Black/Red interior)
  • Championship White (Black/Red interior)

Okay, a blue, a red, then a black, gray, white. Ehh. Would it have killed Honda to get a good yellow in there? A green? Orange? It’s a sports car, time for some bright-ass YOLO colors! Honda’s not decorating a chain hotel conference room here! Come on!

Volkswagen Decides To Use A BlackBerry

BlackberryYou remember BlackBerrys, right? Those phones with physical keyboards and tiny trackballs people used to use? Sure you do. Well, the company isn’t gone, they now make the popular embedded, Unix-like OS known as QNX, and VW has selected QNX to be a component of its VW.OS in-car software platform, being developed by Caraid, the company I mentioned a few paragraphs ago.

What VW seems to be specifically wanting QNX for are its stacks for driver assistance features and upcoming automated driving functionality. From BlackBerry:

BlackBerry will license its BlackBerry QNX technology to CARIAD, including its QNX® OS for Safety 2.2. It will be integrated in CARIAD’s software platform VW.OS, specifically in the stack for advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving functions (ADAS/AD). Within this ADAS/AD stack of VW.OS, QNX OS for Safety 2.2 will serve as a reliable, safe and secure foundation. As part of the agreement, BlackBerry QNX will also provide professional engineering and consulting services for system-level integration, performance optimization, and solution validation.


NGK Spark Plug Redesigns Its Fanshop!


Okay, this is the most important news you’ll read all day, maybe all month: NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd., has announced that its fanshop, the only place in the known universe to get official NGK Spark Plug-branded dartboards or jackets or keychains, has undergone a significant redesign, which you can see right here, right now.

Who wants to hug a stuffed sparkplug? YOU DO, motherlovers!

If you just shit your pants with delight and shock at this news, then I’m thrilled to tell you that, while you can’t really get new pants, you can get this smashing NGK Softshell Jacket and put your legs through the sleeves and just wear the jacket as new pants, and you’ll look fabulous doing so, because it’s NGK, baby!

According to Frank Massia, Director Marketing Aftermarket EMEA, NGK SPARK PLUG EUROPE GmbH:

“Over the past two years, the fanshop has been a success with our company’s enthusiasts. Now updated, the new fanshop will provide our fans with an even better shopping experience when purchasing our high-end lifestyle products.”

Fuck yeah it will, Frank! You know it will!



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29 Responses

  1. “I just want to be clear that, according to sources I just now made up, right here in my mind, when Hilgenberg says “or do whatever,” he is 100% referring to masturbating.”
    You didn’t need to tell us you wrote this today. We could definitely figure that out. Also, I am certain you are correct.

  2. For the non-maple syrup guzzling hosers, Rogers has a *country-wide* outage, which means roughly half the country doesn’t have internet. Given that Toronto’s useless mayor sits on their board and collects a salary, it makes sense the company could be taken down that easily. We’ve got an election in a few months, it doesn’t seem anyone’s running against him. Does Torch have political aspirations?

    Separately, I tried showing my 2yo The Love Bug a few weeks ago, in the hopes he’d be open to watching anything besides Blippi (what happens when AI generates children’s content), but I think the 60’s pacing lost him (although we hadn’t gotten to any of the racing scenes). My wife tried Adam West-era Batman this morning, and that seemed absurd enough to generate just a whole ton of questions.

    1. Id like to point out… meerely for the concept alone…

      If you paid anywhere north of $1,000 for a unit body (not ladder frame = SUV) and you got “sonic grey”… Id be pissed as shit.

      Doesnt matter if its a big god damn ugly thing with fucked up lights a entirely square body.. and you have to tote all you know in it… its still a Orrible color for a “SUV”.

      In short.. I will be eternally pissed off.. that you cant choose the color you want and NO.. shitball primer grey, rental white and anal rectum scan BLACK.. are not colors.

  3. OK, my German is just barely good enough to decline all but essential cookies on the NGK site, and the black softshell jacket is just a boring version of Uniqlo, but WHY ARE THE RED AND GREEN FERRULES ON THE DRAWSTRING BACKWARD??
    Everyone, even people who failed German, knows that Starboard=Green=Right and Port=Red=Left, don’t they?

  4. Every time I see one of these “NHTSA investigates a crash involving car automation” stories, particularly when Tesla is involved, I do wonder how forthcoming they actually are with their data. I sure as shit wouldn’t trust any of these companies, we’re I a regulator, but I’d also be concerned that given where we are in the age of regulatory capture (and wholesale regulatory dismantling), that I was pretty toothless.

  5. If VW’s AI driving subscription does work by inserting coins into the dash (as we all hope and pray it will), will they also include an option for a vibrating seat, in order to enhance the “whatever” that we’ll be engaging in?

    1. Nah, it’ll auto-renew like every other subscription. Can’t miss out on mistake money. I lost like $250 or so with a year of Ancestry DNA’s genealogy research service. I found everything I needed the first month and thought I had cancelled the subscription. I didn’t read carefully I guess as a year later I noticed it was still active and that what I had done was trigger them sending me an email with a link to click leading to the real cancellation page. Something like that.

  6. QNX was around long before RIM started up. When they changed their name to Blackberry and were desperate for a modern OS for their phones, they bought QNX, but QNX has been selling real-time OSs (including those to car makers) for decades before that.

  7. If carmakers want to nickel-and-dime me over features that *already exist in the car but are just turned off* then I for one am just not gonna use those features. As far as I’m concerned, they don’t exist. If I’m shopping for a car, I’ll be on the lookout for these phantom features and be sure to weigh them in my considerations.

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