The five-feet tall humanoid can navigate its way across urban settings ranging from sidewalks to flowerbeds to deliver packages
Photo Credit: Agility Robotics

Ford has announced that it is purchasing a new two-legged, two-armed robot produced by Agility Robotics, which the car-maker hopes will soon be walking around neighborhoods carrying parcels from the delivery vehicle right up to your door. 

Going by the name of Digit, the five-feet tall humanoid can navigate its way across urban settings ranging from sidewalks to flowerbeds in a surprisingly human-like manner, due to the mobile limbs attached to its upper torso. The uncanny valley effect is fortunately avoided thanks to the robot’s lack of a head. 

Digit has only just gone on sale, and the reason that Agility can boast Ford as the very first buyer is that the robot provides a solution to the so-called “last 50 feet problem”. In the home delivery industry 2.0, those 50 feet are the final steps between the autonomous vehicle carrying a customer’s order, and that customer’s doorstep. 

Ford’s interest in making driver-less delivery vans and pick-ups is not new. The car-maker has committed to providing autonomous vehicles “for commercial operation” by 2021 and has already teamed up with pizza maker Domino’s in Miami to deploy self-driving Fusion Sedans, vans, and SUVs to deliver meals.

Digit is designed to fold itself up in the back of the vehicle, pop out of the car trunk when needed, grab packages up to 40 lbs, and work its way to the correct door. But contrary to most delivery robots out there, such as those already deployed by Amazon or FedEx, Agility’s humanoid walks on legs, and not wheels.

Ken Washington, the vice president of Ford Research, said: “Gaining access to a customer’s door often requires walking through obstacles, including going upstairs and dealing with other challenges, which can be hard for robots with wheels to do. Digit has been designed to walk upright without wasting energy, so it has no issue traversing the same types of environment most people do every day.”

Teaching a robot to walk like a human is no easy task, even for an Oregon State University spin-out like Agility. In fact, the robotics company has been working on tailoring Digit to Ford’s delivery project for several months, in what was announced last May as a “research project” in partnership with the car-maker. 

As part of the project, the two companies looked at ways to integrate their technologies, and it emerged that cars and robots did have much to learn from each other.

Ford’s vehicles, indeed, can provide both data and power. Not only can Digit recharge in the back of the car; the robot can also benefit from the vehicle’s knowledge of maps, of the surrounding environment – and therefore, of the best pathway to the customer’s front door.

“While Digit needs to function on its own,” said Washington, “the desire to keep it lightweight and capable of a dynamic movement led to an innovative idea: letting it tap the resources of another robot – one that’s equipped with advanced sensors and heavy computing hardware.”

And so, should Digit encounter an unexpected obstacle, the robot can send an image via its cameras and LiDAR sensors, back to the vehicle, and let the car configure a solution. 

Washington added that the vehicle could even send that information into the cloud and request help from other systems to provide multiple levels of assistance to the robot.

Thinking forward, Ford said that the car could even send Digit-specific information such as where a customer prefers the package to be left or other delivery needs. The two technologies, therefore, would effectively be “talking” to each other.

So far, however, the project is still in its very early days, with Ford having purchased only two of Agility’s Digit. The car maker has not even started commercializing autonomous delivery vehicles yet. So, it doesn’t look like humanoid delivery men will be walking the streets anytime soon. 

McLaren Is Working On A Mid-Engined Grand Tourer

Mike Flewitt, Automotive CEO of McLaren said at the Geneva Motor Show that the company is working on a grand touring car which will “redefine the rules” of grand touring. The car’s name which is yet to be launched and any real details will be released over the coming months.

The new car will be the fourth model introduced under McLaren’s Track25 business plan comprising of 18 new models and variants. These new models are intended to make the company’s entire lineup hybrid by 2025. He additionally described the model as the car that combines “competition levels of performance with continent-crossing capability,” wrapped in a lightweight body with a spacious interior for the “comfort and space expected of a grand tourer.”

In addition to it, the CEO also claims that the car will be one among the lightest of the grand tourers along with the best power to weight ratio. He added the said model will share its DNA with the 250 mph McLaren Speedtail. He mentioned that the unnamed car won’t be part of any of McLaren’s existing model series.

Source: https://goo.gl/dz6E18

Lamborghini Adopts 3D Technology for End Use Parts

The Italian sports car brand, Lamborghini has adopted 3D printing technology for its production process. The automotive company is working in association with Carbon to efficiently produce high- quality, lightweight, end-use parts. In particular, they are using Carbon technology to re-design various parts needed for the vehicle. The initially produced parts include new textured fuel cap with the Urus label and a chip component for an air duct.

 Stefan Gramse, Chief Procurement Officer of Lamborghini found that many of the automotive company’s vehicle components were ideal for digital manufacturing and will be using Carbon printers along with Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology. DLS uses light and oxygen to produce products from resin at a faster pace. Lamborghini said to join hands with Volkswagen’s Electronic Research Lab in the redesign process.

While other automakers are experimenting with different materials and manufacturing techniques, Carbon showcased its first digitally manufactured Polymer parts in production for Ford including Focus HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling Lever Arm Service Parts. Audi has adopted Stratasys 3D methods to reduce the time required for prototyping.

Source: http://bit.ly/Lambo-Carbon

BMW Vision iNEXT’s Avante-Garde Technology Turns Interior into One Touchscreen

A highly automated, electric and fully connected sports activity vehicle (SAV), BMW vision iNEXT is a production model based on the concept intended for 2021 and is positioned as the automaker’s new technology flagship. It features some of the technology they may reportedly use in the future including three ‘shy tech’ applications such as intelligent materials, an intelligent personal assistant, and an intelligent beam.

Intelligent materials provide users a chance to control applications with the use of simple-touch functionality on surfaces.

Meanwhile, intelligent personal assistant is designed to respond to verbal prompts and links to home networks and smart devices.

As for the intelligent beam technology, it projects moving content, images or interactive video graphics on command.

The futuristic model sports the large interlinked double-kidney grille, blue accents upon its surfaces and side window graphic. It also features clearly sculpted forms and surfaces as well as liquid greyrose copper paintwork which changes in shade. Completing the design are cameras that serve as replacement for exterior mirrors, 3D printed patterns, as well as rear lights and slender head.

What’s more, there are two large opposing doors which open through touch-sensitive illuminated door openers. Occupants can also enjoy a ‘living space’ on wheels that serves as a place for interaction, relaxation, concentration or entertainment. Below the panoramic roof, the cabin comes with two individual seats in the front as well as a one-piece bench in the rear. The driver’s area is defined by nude-shade materials where there is a steering wheel and two visible display panels that adjust as per two modes.


Source: https://bit.ly/2Kwn4n1

Rolls-Royce and Fabergé Team Up for a Luxuriously Iconic Egg

Being one of history’s most legendary objets d’art, the Fabergé Egg has lured the world’s richest people for more than a century. To continue the legacy of this precious collector item in the 21st century, Rolls-Royce has recently tied up with luxurious egg maker, Fabergé to create a bespoke “Spirit of Ecstasy” Fabergé Egg.

Rolls-Royce bespoke division designers Alex Innes and Stefan Monro sketched the preliminary design which was rendered by Fabergé lead designer Liisa Talgren. The iconic object was then brought to life by craft master Paul Jones who began to make a modern interpretation of one of the globe’s most illustrious possessions.

According to Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce chief executive, its creation was inspired by an ingrained desire to further the realms of bespoke personalization. He adds that a designer at the House of Rolls-Royce sketched an egg in response to the continuing demands of patrons in a quest for distinctive and cherished possessions that will indubitably become one of the most collectable items in the contemporary era.

Employing the finest materials and using their special skills as artist jewelers, a team of seven craftspeople from the house of Fabergé started re-creating the Spirit of Ecstasy’s design. The mascot is sculpted in frosted rock crystal and cocooned within the egg. The ultimate design exudes Fabergé’s heritage, which stands at 160mm and weighs 400g.

The precious Fabergé Egg rests on an engine-turned, hand-engraved, purple enamel guilloché 18-karat white gold base. The shape is defined by arms of rose gold, which cocoons the egg inside.

The operating mechanism is intricate and entails micro engineering, which Rolls-Royce claims as the most intricate opening of any Fabergé Egg. It is also worth mentioning that the movement is operated through a hidden lever at the base of the stand for a theater sense as the boughs open to present the sophisticated figurine of the “Spirit of Ecstasy”. The rose gold vanes, which are embellished with around 10-karats of round white diamonds, resolve into swathes of natural 390-karat amethyst, exclusively chosen for its quality and color saturation. Ultimately, the purple hue of the amethyst and enamel give a spirited nod to the use of color in the Fabergé heritage.

Sean Gilbertson, Fabergé chief executive, said in a statement that the creation represents the meeting of two masters of unparalleled design and quality, exhibiting two globally renowned symbols—the Fabergé Egg and the Spirit of Ecstasy.

The finalization of the “Spirit of Ecstasy” took over two years. It marks the second precious object to to be commissioned in the “Imperial Class” since 1917–a category designed only for Fabergé’s most prestigious creations.

The “Spirit of Ecstasy” Fabergé Egg is currently showcased at the House of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, UK and will be available on display for the public at the Fabergé London boutique for Christmas.


Source: https://bit.ly/2PosFRj

Rolls-Royce Discloses Soundproofed Isolated Rear Cabin

Rolls Royce has come with a new option at the Chengdu motor show which allows the passengers to have a completely private space in the rear of their car, sealing them off from both the outside world as well as from the driver.

The Private Suite option introduced by the Rolls Royce adds a privacy screen between the rear passenger area and the two front seats as well as increases the acoustic insulation to block out the sound from the passenger area for the added privacy. An intercom communication is also present between the front and rear occupants at the rear passenger’s discretion. With this, the driver can contact the rear compartment but the occupants can choose to reject the call if they need.

The privacy screen is made of the electrochromatic glass and can be turned to opaque at the flick of a switch. A small opening in the divider is present in the Rolls- Royce to allow the objects to be seen before being passed through.

In order to provide more privacy to the passengers, the windows are fitted with privacy glass as well as full curtains which allow the occupants to be shielded from the outside. It also has the option of blocking the view out of the windows.

Two 12.0-inch monitors have been mounted to the dividing structure between the front and rear with device connectivity as well as access to the car’s infotainment system. The option is a part of the Rolls -Royce’s customisation programme.

Source: https://goo.gl/nA2yJK


Aston Martin to recreate Goldfinger DB5 with functional spy gadgets

Aston Martin is planning to create the limited-edition version of the definitive James Bond Car- Aston Martin DB5, 1964 model. In association with the James Bond film producer EON Productions, the automaker will be building 25 “Goldfinger DB5s”, with a straight six, 282 horsepower and 3,9995cc motor which will allow a maximum speed of 145 mph. The famous revolving license plate and other gadgets are also present in this exquisite model built by the Oscar winning James Bond effects supervisor Chris Corbould.

Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin said, “To own a Silver Birch DB5, complete with gadgets and built to the highest standards in the very same factory as the original James Bond cars … is surely the ultimate collectors’ fantasy,”.

Aston Martin hasn’t disclosed yet which other gadgets the Goldfinger DB5 would include but can safely rule out the bulletproof windshield, machine guns, radar and passenger seat ejector. It is speculated that not to expect airbags, seatbelts and other safety measures as this car is considered not legal in the road. The car is expected is to be out for sale soon for $3.5 million plus tax.

Source: https://goo.gl/dWeC5j

Rolls-Royce Pays Homage to the Silver Ghost

In 1907, Rolls-Royce made history and captured global attention when its Silver Ghost, which was registered and designated AX 201, set the record for the longest non-stop motor run of 15,000 miles without hiccups. From then on, it became the epitome of the automaker’s commitment to attaining the pinnacle in luxury carmaking.

This year, the legendary British automaker pays homage to the Silver Ghost with a collection of contemporary Ghosts outfitted with certain design elements and features referencing the original AX 201.

At the tip of the hood is a solid sterling-silver Spirit of Ecstasy figurine with a black-gold-plated collar and a copper AX 201 Hallmark around the base. The wheel surrounds are chrome and the ‘Silver Ghost’ label is engraved on them. Meanwhile, Tudor oak features with pure silver inlays are prominent in the interior. The car also boasts a distinctive coachline which is hand-painted with pure silver particles.


Source: https://bit.ly/2Myaffm


Rolls-Royce Dives into the Flying Cars Trend

Self-driving cars have just started to navigate roads and innovators are already conceptualizing the next big trend in transportation—flying taxis.

According to reports, Uber intends to create a network of flying taxis in Dubai and the Dallas area two years from now. In fact, Kitty Hawk, a flying car startup that was created by Google cofounder Larry Page – is already providing test flights to potential clients.

Rolls-Royce has recently jumped on the bandwagon with its debut of a concept electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle at the Farnborough International Airshow held in Britain. According to the British automaker, the vehicle could have a seating capacity that fits up to five passengers and speed of up to 250 mph for around 500 miles.

Rolls-Royce noted that the vehicle could be airborne as soon as the early 2020s. However, the company revealed that it intends to create a vehicle prototype within the next 18 months.

In a news release, Rob Watson, who heads Rolls-Royce’s Electrical team, stated that building on their existing expertise in electric technologies and aviation, they are dynamically exploring an array of possible markets and applications for electric and hybrid electric flight. “We are well placed to play a leading role in the emerging world of personal air mobility and will also look to work in collaboration with a range of partners.”

Rolls-Royce’s concept vehicle will reportedly be powered by six electric propulsors that are designed to have a low noise profile. To take off or land vertically, the wings of the vehicle rotates 90 degrees. The moment the craft reaches its cruising height, the propellers fold away and the craft depends on a number of rear propellers for thrust.

According to Rolls-Royce, the vehicle will fill a niche created by overtaxed transportation systems in progressively crowded cities.


Source: https://bit.ly/2vi4pnA