Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Uber Fleet is Ready

This week Uber revealed its initial self driving car on Thursday, and announced that it has begun testing the autonomous vehicle on the streets of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. “If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero,” said someone in the know for the auto industry. 

“But this is not movie prop–it’s a test car from Uber’s advanced technologies center in Pittsburgh.”

Uber believes it was still in the early days of the self driving efforts and was still attempting to focus on getting the tech just right to ensure its safe for everyone on the road including people, cyclists and of coarse other cars.

While Uber has maintained little transparency up unto this point, its plans in the the sector seem promising. The California based company had its first group meet last month amidst mixed understanding.

Uber has a big research team in Pittsburgh and it believes it chose the location because, “its an ideal environment to develop and test  our tech across a wide variety of read types and traffic patterns in addition to weather conditions.”

What remains to be seen is what the legislative effects will be for this and what we can expect for the work force going forward. If Uber goes completely autonomous where does all the cash flow go. This is probably the first act of an inevitability that people have feared for some time. This is going to have a hugely adverse economic effect and an argument could be made that legislation could go in place that would block the potential for autonomous vehicles in a commercial sense. Now this could still in principle allow for the application of driverless cars for the majority of citizens but would save a huge life line for individuals who rely on the service. That said it is likely the case that if this goes according to plan and the autonomous vehicle is responsible for the reduction in accidents and increases the safety in line with what the numbers predict then it may go without saying that this should be mandated. Either way that would take several years to ever potentially be even talked about, and from there it would take an additional few years to be put into place. At any rate, it would allow the majority of employees ample time to transition to other career paths.

As it stands now whatever legal action, or lack there of, will set an important and crucial precedent going forwards as we see the increase of autonomous tasks taking over many jobs away from the american work place. That said there is going to be a huge backlash against the company from liberal thinking individuals and workers rights advocates. But, everyone is still going to use Uber, the only alternative is that you take a Lyft but if you are close to the industry you know that they have plans in the works for their own fleet.

How is Fuel Economy Tested?

You’ve likely noticed that a car’s fuel economy is one of its most important features in today’s car market. The unstable prices of gas and growing concerns about the environment have all contributed to this rise in importance. But how does a car’s MPG actually get measured, and can you trust the rating given to it? Read on to find out.

Auto manufacturers are legally required to post their vehicle’s fuel-economy ratings, as certified by the federal government agency, the Environmental Protection Agency. These ratings are generally posted on a new car’s window stickers in dealerships. The only vehicles that don’t need to post these ratings are those with gross-vehicle-weight ratings over 8,500 pounds.

fuel economy2That said, these EPA accredited, “official” ratings don’t always reflect a driver’s reality. Depending on what you drive, where you drive it, and how you drive in general, you can find some major differences in terms of fuel economy.

The most common complaint is that even the most cautious drivers are not getting as high of a fuel economy as they expected. This is largely due to the fact that new cars and trucks are evaluated for their energy consumption. While that would seem somewhat logical to figure out a vehicle’s fuel economy simply by filling up the tank and seeing how far you can get, driving it on a road or a test track for a set number of city or highway miles, refilling the tank, and dividing the number of miles driven by the number of gallons consumed, this is not how the “experts” see fit to measure a car’s MPG.

Cars tested for mileage don’t touch the pavement in any way. A car or truck’s fuel economy is instead measured under very particular, rigidly controlled circumstances that could only be maintained in a laboratory. This is mandated by federal law, but automakers actually do their own fuel economy testing and submit the results to the EPA. The EPA only reviews 10 to 15 percent of the ratings at the National Vehicles and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, after which it confirms most.

prepaHow does the EPA manage this process? It doesn’t drive the vehicle, that’s for sure. Instead, it tests the vehicle on a device called the dynamometer, which is basically a giant treadmill. While the engine and transmission drive the wheels, the vehicle never moves out of its position in whatever laboratory; instead, the rollers upon which the wheels are placed are what ends up moving. A professional driver runs the vehicle through two standard driving schedules; one is meant to mimic the strains of city driving and the other is supposed to mimic the stressors of highway driving.

The city program is supposed to mimic rush hour situations, whereas the highway program is meant to emulate rural and interstate freeway driving.

As a model undergoes the test, a hose is connected to the vehicle’s tailpipe that collects its engine’s exhaust. The amount of carbon present in what’s been emitted from the pipe is then measured to calculate the amount of fuel that was burned.