[Autoblog] 20 New Entries: Chevy Camaro Daytona 500 Pace Car unveiled

Chevy Camaro Daytona 500 Pace Car unveiled

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The Daytona 500 has been paced by Corvettes the last two years in a row, but there's a new breed of performance car in the bowtie barn; thy name is Camaro. This past weekend Chevy's modern muscle car was officially announced as the pace vehicle for the 51st running of the famous Daytona 500, replacing its big bro' and becoming the first Camaro to earn the honor since 1969 and only the third overall. The pace car will be an SS model brandishing a 426-hp 6.2L V8 and special Cyber Grey (and Orange) paint scheme developed by PPG. It will also be outfitted with a fully integrated strobe system to help light the way for dozens of NASCAR cars that will be following its every left turn. Thanks for the tip, Tim!


[Source: Camaro5]

Continue reading Chevy Camaro Daytona 500 Pace Car unveiled

Chevy Camaro Daytona 500 Pace Car unveiled originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 10:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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REPORT: Nissan projects $2.9B loss, announces 20,000 job cuts

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Nissan hasn't posted an annual loss in nine years, but the automaker is poised to take a big hit on its 2008 earnings, and like the rest of the industry, it is scrambling to restructure. The Japanese carmaker is expected to report a $2.9 billion shortfall, prompting Carlos Ghosn and his team to chop 20,000 jobs - fully 8.5 percent of its employees worldwide. Some of the job losses will be arrived at through early retirement packages and the ending of temporary worker contracts, but most will be out-and-out layoffs. The personnel cuts will leave Nissan with 215,000 workers globally and take place now through March of 2010.

Nissan's planned cuts are markedly more aggressive than those employed by other Japanese automakers, suggesting that Japan's third-largest automaker is even more pessimistic about the potential for near-term economic gains. That appears to be particularly true in its domestic market, where the strong Yen and other factors have conspired to result in 12,000 of the planned job losses. Thanks for the tip, Karen!

[Source: Associated Press via ClockOnDetroit | Image: Akihiro I/Getty

REPORT: Nissan projects $2.9B loss, announces 20,000 job cuts originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 10:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Handling Evolved: Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano to gain new HGTE package?

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Ageing can be a tedious affair, especially for Italian beauty queens. So when Ferrari GTs begin to show their age, Maranello typically treats them to a spa vacation, re-emerging more youthful and exuberant than before. The 575M got a GTC handling package as it approached retirement, the 612 Scaglietti got the HGT-S package a couple of years ago, and the next guest booked for treatment, according to sources, is the 599 GTB Fiorano.

However, the Fiorano's nowhere near the end. It was only introduced three years ago; both the 612 and the F430 are due for replacement before the 599 is sent off to play mahjong and shuffle-board. But reports suggest that the 599 is to gain from a new HGTE package - the H standing for "handling", GT for "gran turismo" and E for "evoluzione", telling us that this package, tipped to debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, promises more than those installed on its sisters. Sources suggest that $25k over the $300k sticker price will get you 20-inch modular wheels wrapped in fresh rubber, a retuned exhaust, new front grille, upgraded spring rates, revised anti-roll bars, and some more carbon fiber bits in the cabin. Strictly necessary? Hardly. But if Maranello wants to make the 599 GTB even sharper, who's going to complain? Thanks to Jerome for the tip.

[Source: Driver's Republic via CarPlatform.com]

Handling Evolved: Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano to gain new HGTE package? originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 09:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Today's Buyer's Dilemma: Buy a new home or a new car?

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The only major market that may be faring more poorly than automotive during this economic recession is housing. While cars just aren't selling, homes aren't selling and they're dropping in value by 30% or more. Unlike the auto industry, though, home sales actually increased by 6.3% versus December.

The reason for the sales spike has a lot to do with the amount of foreclosures on the market right now, with over 20% of all homes selling for $100,000 or less. Many homes have dropped so far in value that they're now worth $20,000 or less. We're not necessarily talking dilapidated goods, either. In some cases, a brick, 1,100 sq. ft. home in the Midwest with three bedrooms and two bathrooms can be had for the price of a meagerly equipped Toyota Camry. About five years ago, that same home could have cost more than a Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It seems like just yesterday when people were offering up free cars as an incentive to buy a home. Soon it will be the other way 'round! Thanks for the tip, Pete.

[Source: ABC News | Image: MSN]

Today's Buyer's Dilemma: Buy a new home or a new car? originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 09:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Kia Soul'ster considered for production

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Click above for a high-res gallery of the Kia Soul'ster

According to Automotive News, the Kia Soul'ster concept garnered a fair amount of praise at the Detroit Auto Show. So much so, that the automaker is considering producing the two-door pickup variant of Kia's new xB competitor.

Kia Motors America spokesperson, Alex Fedorak, said, "the response was so overwhelming" that production is a possibility. Although the Soul'ster was strictly a design study, the Soulamino was created "in a fashion that was production-capable."

At this point, Kia execs haven't given the Soul pickup the green-light, but if the boxy five-door version does well after it goes on sale March 1st, we may see the front-wheel-drive pseudo-'ute make it to market in a few years.


[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

Kia Soul'ster considered for production originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 08:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Jaguar turns to Lotus for development of new XE

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Click above to view the 2000 Jaguar F-Type concept in high resolution

According to recent reports, Lotus has its hands filled with more than just Kia. Jaguar is supposedly outsourcing some of the initial development of its anticipated upcoming sportscar to Lotus Engineering. The two British marques, both owned by Asian automakers based just across the Bay of Bengal from each other, recently collaborated on the suspension tuning for the latest Jaguar XKR. But Lotus' involvement in the project, tentatively known as the XE, may be more involved, with Jaguar entrusting Lotus to assess production feasibility before the go-ahead is given and possibly producing the car at its Hethel plant if approved.

If Jaguar and Lotus undertake the partnership to produce the XE, sources suggest a potential debut at the 2011 Geneva show, but it's far too early to tell at this point. Adding another level of intrigue to the debate over what form Jaguar's new sportscar could take, the report suggests that outsourcing the production of a mid-engine supercar was also considered. The plot thickens.

[Source: Autocar]

Jaguar turns to Lotus for development of new XE originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 08:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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One Fast Hard Drive: Acer's latest Ferrari 1200 laptop

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While Ferrari prepares the replacement to the F430 and its racing team continues to fine-tune the new F60 ahead of the Formula One season opener, the company's tech partner Acer has released the latest addition to its Prancing Horse-emblazoned laptop range.

Called the Acer Ferrari 1200, the new ultraportable succeeds the 1100 (pictured above) introduced last year. It comes packed with an AMD Turion X2 Ultra CPU, four gigs of RAM, a SATA HDD, 12.1-inch LED-backlit screen, WiFi, fingerprint reader, bundled Bluetooth mouse and optional VOIP one, all packed inside a partial carbon-fiber case, with vents supposedly inspired by an F1 exhaust and an anodized metal touchpad styled after the pedals on a Ferrari sportscar. A load of BS? That depends entirely on your perspective, but Acer and Ferrari have lead a trend in automotive-themed laptops, and you can bet they're going to push through every corner to stay ahead of the pack. Pricing has yet to be released as the laptop nears market launch in the UK, with the rest of the world to follow. See the press release after the jump for more details.

[Source: Engadget and Inside Line]

Continue reading One Fast Hard Drive: Acer's latest Ferrari 1200 laptop

One Fast Hard Drive: Acer's latest Ferrari 1200 laptop originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 07:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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AutoblogGreen for 02.09.09

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click to visit AutoblogGreen

Even though there have been a lot of contenders, no vehicle has yet been able to knock the Toyota Prius off of its green car poster child pedestal. But here comes the new Ford Fusion hybrid, which USA Today likes better than the Prius. Does this mean we should look out the window for three other horsemen?


More headlines after the jump.

Continue reading AutoblogGreen for 02.09.09

AutoblogGreen for 02.09.09 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 05:52:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Chicago 2009: Ford ready to offer Transit Connect van in U.S.

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Ford Transit Connect
Click above for high-res gallery of the Ford Transit Connect

One year after announcing it would bring the compact Transit Connect van to the U.S. market, Ford is now ready to put it on sale. The little van hasn't changed much since we first saw it, although the styling of the nose has been tweaked a bit, primarily around the grille area. The lower front fascia now has the trapezoidal opening characteristic of Ford's Kinetic design. The Transit is intended to be a more maneuverable and efficient alternative to the big old E-series full-size vans targeted primarily at commercial customers, although anyone will be able to get one.

American buyers of the Transit Connect will only have one conventional powertrain option, a 2.0L four cylinder Duratec gas engine paired up with a four-speed automatic transmission. Ford has also confirmed that the Transit Connect will be the basis of its new electric van to be offered starting in 2010. The battery electric version is being developed in conjunction with Smith Electric Vehicles from the UK. Follow the jump to learn more about Ford's latest European transplant.

Continue reading Chicago 2009: Ford ready to offer Transit Connect van in U.S.

Chicago 2009: Ford ready to offer Transit Connect van in U.S. originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 09 Feb 2009 00:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Saleen's new owners in the running for Viper acquisition?

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Click above for high-res gallery of the Dodge Viper ACR

Saleen's future has been in upheaval the last few years. First, company founder Steve Saleen left, then the company's assets were sold off to private investors. Its new owners plan to continue making superchargers and bolt-on parts, but Saleen's turnkey Racecraft and S lines could face the axe, while the company's former keepers retain ownership of its supercar manufacturing business while they figure out what they can do with it.

Meanwhile, Chrysler has been looking to sell of its Viper operation, but while Saleen could have been a contender in years past, in its current condition few expect it to make such a large acquisition. That may be a false assumption, however, as silence is speaking louder than words. Understandably, Chrysler's management is not disclosing the identities of the three potential buyers with which it is discussing the future of the Viper enterprise, but Saleen's new owners are likewise refusing to comment. That kind of silence can be as deafening as a Saleen exhaust note, leaving us to wonder if the company's new owners could turn the broken shards of a once-great American company into a new powerhouse with the Viper packing the punch.

[Source: AutoWeek]

Saleen's new owners in the running for Viper acquisition? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 18:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Along came a Spyder: Maserati to roll out GranTurismo GTS, convertible

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Click above for a high-resolution gallery of the Maserati GranTurismo

For an automaker with only two model lines, Maserati is certainly keeping busy. One of a handful of luxury carmakers to improve its sales figures in 2008, the Trident marque is undoubtedly looking to build upon its growth with an eye towards setting yet another sales record. Fortunately that push is product-driven, prompting Modena to improve upon its already-mouthwatering offerings and give us something new to drool over, too.

First up is the Quattroporte GTS, the sportiest version yet of Maserati's performance luxury sedan, which debuted at the Detroit show and goes on sale next month. That will reportedly be followed by a similarly-equipped version of its two-door counterpart. Called the GranTurismo GTS, we can't help but wonder if it was named by someone with a stutter... or maybe by former UN sec-gen Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Naming aside, the high-spec GranTurismo is expected to ditch the robotized manual in favor of the performance-tuned automatic coupled to the 433-hp, 4.8-liter V8 from the Quattroporte GTS. Other changes will include a tighter suspension and sporty touches all around.

The bigger news, however, will be the debut of the new Spyder. While a smaller sports car has been speculated, sources expect this Spyder to be GranTurismo-based, retaining its four proper seats under the open sky. The new Maserati Spyder could make its public debut as soon as Frankfurt later this year, so stay tuned.


[Source: What Car?]

Along came a Spyder: Maserati to roll out GranTurismo GTS, convertible originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rendered Speculation: Ford's next Euro Focus to spawn Scirocco-fighting coupe

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Having driven the current European Focus in sporty ST trim and with the even hotter RS version rolling off the assembly line, we can tell you that our friends across the Atlantic have one fine-handling hatchback on their hands. And for the next generation, Ford is planning to give the Focus the styling and rakish profile its chassis deserves.

The next Focus, which we hope will replace the American version as well, will spawn several body-styles. First up to bat will be the C-Max minivan, but while the standard five-door will continue as the mainstay model, a new coupe variant is also in the works. Following the lead of Volkswagen, whose Scirocco cuts a sleeker profile than the Golf/Rabbit on which it's based, and Renault, whose new Megane looks startlingly different in coupe and five-door guises, the Focus coupe will feature a sportier shape while retaining usability. You can bet the design for the new Focus range will follow the cues set down by the Fiesta (which we also drove in Europe), with the coupe adopting more pronounced wheel arches, a higher beltline, angled C-pillars, a sloping tail and sporty aero bits. Inside, the cabin will benefit from a complete redesign, with a central controller that we hope works better than BMW's iDrive. Bank on a lineup of gasoline and diesel engines ranging from 89 horsepower all the way up to 197 ponies. The next-generation ST and RS should up the ante even further. Expect to see the Focus coupe debut later next year, with other variants to follow. We hope and pray Dearborn follows the One Ford plan and brings its best hatchbacks home. Thanks for the tip, Colin!

[Source: Auto Express]

Rendered Speculation: Ford's next Euro Focus to spawn Scirocco-fighting coupe originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 15:07:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Smashing idea: Hyundai giving away Superbowl ads soundtrack

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How did you like Hyundai's Genesis Coupe ads during the Super Bowl? They rocked, right? With that hard-driving soundtrack from The Smashing Pumpkins, of course they rocked. The song is called "FOL," and it isn't available for purchase anywhere. But you can get it for free just by giving Hyundai your e-mail address. Click here to fill out the two-question (name and e-email) form, then click on download. Hit play, close your eyes and you'll be lapping the track with Billy Corgan any time you wish. We're not sure how long the offer is available, so if you're interested, click here. Don't want to give up personal info to Hyundai? Watch the ads as much as you like right here.

[Source: DealMac]

Smashing idea: Hyundai giving away Superbowl ads soundtrack originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 13:36:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Bought the Farm: barn-find Bugatti Atalante sells for $4.4M

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Bugatti Atalantes don't come up for sale very often, so when one unused example was unearthed from the garage of the reclusive late Dr. Harold Carr, enthusiasts and collectors alike stood up and took notice. The rare barn find 1937 Type 57S rolled across the Bonhams "Retromobile" auction block in Paris this weekend as scheduled, where it sold to a European collector for the equivalent of $4.4 million. While that may sound like a chunk of change - and certainly is by most standards, especially in this economy - it's only half of the highest estimates placed on the Bugatti's value upon discovery. You can bet that, after decades of neglect, its new owner will put in another hefty sum to have it restored to pristine quality before it starts hitting the concours circuit around the world. Thanks to Zack for the tip.


[Source: AOL]

Bought the Farm: barn-find Bugatti Atalante sells for $4.4M originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 12:06:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mr. Clean moving into sudsy world of car washing

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A very large, very happy and very bald man with a single earring would like to wash your car. In case that description wasn't sufficient, that man is none other than Mr. Clean, the iconic trademark and popular squeaky-clean brand name from Proctor and Gamble. P&G is best known for its line of consumer goods, including a home car-wash kit, but the company is now branching out to include franchised bricks-and-mortar car washes.

Currently, the P&G is operating two Mr. Clean Car Washes in Cincinnati, Ohio, where the company is based, and to expedite the process of opening more, P&G recently purchased the franchise assets of Carnett's Car Wash. It may not seem like the best time to launch a new franchise operation, but P&G believes that its well-known brand and marketing scheme will make its offering an attractive option for those looking to become franchisees. Thanks for the tip, Ekow!

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

Mr. Clean moving into sudsy world of car washing originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 10:36:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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REPORT: GM may cut more than 5,000 additional white-collar jobs

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GM is is putting the finishing touches on its viability plan ahead of the federal government's February 17 deadline, and more job losses could be part of the package. Bloomberg reports that the General plans to cut as many as 5,000 salaried workers as part of a broader restructuring plan. The anonymous sources told Bloomberg that the workers could be "fired," which likely means that GM isn't likely to try to achieve their target through layoffs. In late 2008, GM was able to score 5,100 retirement and separation packages to trip its workforce, which now sits at about 29,000 in North America.

GM also offered packages to its entire union workforce with aim of convincing 10,000 or more take a walk. The offer to leave the General includes $20,000 in cash and a $25,000 vehicle voucher. GM's larger goal is to shrink its union and salary workforce in North America from 95,000 to as few as 65,000 men and women by the year 2012. We're not sure how much of GM's February 17 plan will be made public, but with the date just over a week away, we're sure to know about the job cuts sooner than later.

[Source: Bloomberg]

REPORT: GM may cut more than 5,000 additional white-collar jobs originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 08 Feb 2009 09:09:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Delphi seeking court's permission to end retiree health care

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If you thought things were looking bleak at General Motors, perhaps you should take a peek at Delphi, the parts supplier that spun off from The General in 1997. It declared bankruptcy in 2005 after the revelation that its poor financial position was being masked by irregular accounting practices. Delphi has yet to emerge from bankruptcy and now says that its value has fallen to the point where it may be unable to pay back the debts it has amassed since filing for Chapter 11.

Sounds pretty bad, no? It gets worse. The supplier has filed paperwork with the court asking for permission to end health care benefits for retirees that had been salaried employees. This move could be made as early as April, after which current Delphi employees would no longer be eligible for health care benefits after retiring. If approved, Delphi says this move would save $70 million per year and free up over a billion dollars in liabilities.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

Delphi seeking court's permission to end retiree health care originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 07 Feb 2009 17:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Humvee with Boeing Laser Avenger blasts UAVs

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Remember those Saturday morning cartoons from when you were a kid, where futuristic soldiers battled with laser guns? Well if you were wondering what ever happened to that future we were promised, it's here. Boeing's Direct Energy Systems project recently concluded a test in the New Mexico desert where the Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger system successfully shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a demonstration for U.S. Army officers.

The Laser Avenger was initially created to dispose of unexploded ordinance (bombs that didn't detonate) lying on the ground, but given the proliferation of UAVs for both surveillance and weapons deployment, Boeing adapted the lasers to shoot the UAVs out of the sky. The benefit over shooting down the drones with guns or missiles - in startling contradiction to the red lines depicted in the old G.I. Joe cartoons - is that the enemy can't see where the laser beam is coming from, thereby keeping the ground troops' position secure. Pretty awesome, unless you're a UAV. Fortunately UAVs are unmanned by definition, so what we're looking at here is lasers shooting down flying robots. You can check out the details in the press release after the jump if you'd like, but we're going to sit right here in our pajamas until the next commercial.

[Source: Boeing via NextAutos]

Continue reading Humvee with Boeing Laser Avenger blasts UAVs

Humvee with Boeing Laser Avenger blasts UAVs originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 07 Feb 2009 15:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Stuck in traffic? You're no ant, my friend

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Have you ever sat for a couple of hours and just watched ants work? Unless you have a government grant or just no life at all, probably not. They're actually quite fascinating according to The Discovery Channel. They (the ants, not TDC) can carry 10-50 times their own weight, get more done before dawn than you do in a month, can fill out 1040-EZ forms without the worksheets and never, ever get caught in traffic jams.

That last ant fact is from the research of one of those grant-funded ant watchers who spent the last 8 years watching the tiny insects' behavior. Audrey Dussutour of the University of Sydney, observed that even on a path as slim as a tree branch, leafcutter ants optimized their going and coming traffic with no entomological pileups.

And how is this supposed to help you during gridlock Monday morning? For starters, slow down. Apparently, not being in such a hurry to get somewhere could actually speed up the flow of human traffic. Dussutour observed that when faster-moving ants not carrying a load got behind slower, load-bearing ants, they chose patience instead of passing the pokey ant, which actually allowed the overall colony to move faster.

Which leads to the part that interests us most. Researchers are using algorythms developed from the ant behaviors to develop a multi-car navigation system that could one day lead to those driverless cars we've been hearing about for 50 years. Let's just hope that whatever they come up with, our robocars come equipped with anti-magnifying glass beam protection, otherwise we're all fried.

[Source: Wired Science | Photo: Audrey Dussutour]

Stuck in traffic? You're no ant, my friend originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 07 Feb 2009 14:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Frenzied Minds: AB reader's comic strip depicts how cars are made

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Click on the image above to view the cartoon in high-resolution

At one point, the Pontiac Aztek was a pretty cool-looking concept. But then, brand managers probably began asking where all the plastic cladding was, bean counters started looking for ways to do things as cheaply as possible, and the end result was the clunky, dorky punchline we all know and love to make fun of.

We all wish the process of creating a car was as simple as drawing something up, feeding it into a computer and pressing "BUILD." Unfortunately, there's a lot more to it than that, with dirty phrases like "build complexity", "government mandates", and "middle management" getting in the way of what was once a good thing.

Autoblog reader and comic artist Mark Reynolds has interpreted the crazy process that begins with a sweet sketch but winds up being designed and approved by committee... and evil monkeys. Click the image above for a good laugh. Mark, thanks for sharing your talents with the rest of us.


[Source: Got Graphic]

Frenzied Minds: AB reader's comic strip depicts how cars are made originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 07 Feb 2009 13:07:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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