Self-Driving

Ford celebrates how math is impacting the future of autonomous technology on Pi Day

One Ford executive is celebrating Pi Day by reminding people that math is a big part of the reason their vehicle exists.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The long road to autonomous vehicles is built on the backbone of mathematics. This Pi Day, John Rich, Chief Operating Officer, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC has written a post on Medium celebrating the influence his father had on him falling in love with math, technology, and the pursuit of transportation solutions of the future.

Rich says that he sees Pi Day, "as an opportunity to appreciate the people who helped me understand and get excited about numbers and formulas." He cites his father as his main source of inspiration saying that he "learned to appreciate the importance of mathematics from him."

Rich goes on to describe how his father fanned the flames for his passion:

"My dad would take me to observatories and explain in incredible detail how telescopes worked, what we were looking at when we saw stars in the sky and how far away other planets were. Without realizing it, these conversations were capturing my imagination and steering me down a career path heavily reliant on math."

Cars work because of math, Rich tells readers. It's as simple as how a door opens and closes to as complex as inventing the next steps of automation on the path to self-driving cars. Programming the computers to analyze vehicle surroundings and make precise decisions requires complex algorithms, the products data injected by the cameras, LiDAR, and radar units on self-driving vehicles.

Rich urges readers to take a moment on Pi Day to, "think about and thank that person in your life who helped you understand algebra, translate trigonometry or decode calculus."

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The Polaris Slingshot is one of the most unique vehicles on sale today.

Polaris

The Polaris Slingshot is an interesting beast. It is, by far, one of the most unique vehicles you can buy in the U.S. today, though depending on where you live, it may require a motorcycle license. However, in most states, you can buy and drive one just like a normal car, albeit one that should only be driven while wearing a full-face helmet.

I recently spent a week with a 2021 Polaris Slingshot R and came away from the experience more than a little conflicted. On one hand, it's too much for me on a personal level, as I think it's too wildly styled and costs too much money. On the other hand, it's impossible to ignore the charm of the thing. It's loud, too quick for its own good, and a totally crazy driving experience that lands somewhere between being a complete riot and terrifying, depending on how and where it's driven.


2021 Polaris Slingshot There's no ignoring this when it's next to you in traffic.Chris Teague


However, for many, the Slingshot remains a complete mystery, so here are three things you need to know.

It's Loud

No, I don't mean loud in the sense that you can hear it coming – though that's part of the deal, too. I mean loud in the visual sense. Like, 1990s ugly sweater loud. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the one thing that isn't up for debate is that the Slingshot is eye-catching. Add a couple of people wearing full-face helmets and it's nearly impossible to look away from the thing.

It's a Crazy Driving Experience

It's true that this isn't a motorcycle, but the way the Slingshot puts its passengers' rear ends just a couple of inches off the road surface and not all that far away from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine creates one lively experience. Every bump, crack, and sound can be felt and heard, though it's not unpleasant at all and adds to the experience. Couple that with the open-air driving experience and giant tires communicating it all into the steering wheel and the Slingshot is a wild ride.

It's Surprisingly Quick

I tested the Slingshot R, which is one of the flashier and more expensive models Polaris makes. Its in-house four-cylinder engine checks in at 2.0 liters and delivers 203 horsepower, 144 pound-feet of torque, and a whole lot of noise. The advertised 0-60 mph time for the R is 4.9 seconds, which is quicker than some sports sedans, though it feels much more violent and faster than that in person. The optional Autodrive five-speed gearbox is an automated manual, which means that it will shift itself when asked, but is happiest with the driver firing off shifts with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.



The Slingshot is one of the few vehicles that defies almost everything to be what it is. It doesn't make sense for people who want a motorcycle and it's not particularly appealing to someone wanting a convertible or roadster. You have to be in the market for a Slingshot to end up buying a Slingshot, and for those that are, they've never been better than they are now.

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The Bronco will get two new colors for 2022.

Ford

The new Ford Bronco was in such high demand that buyers were in for a long wait, even before the pandemic and microchip shortages wreaked havoc on automotive supply chains and production. Even now, with little hope of a speedy vehicle delivery, buyers are still lining up to get the new SUV, and to reward those whose dreams will have to wait until 2022, Ford is debuting two new colors: Eruption Green and Hot Pepper Metallic.


2022 Ford Bronco Eruption Green and Hot Pepper Metallic will be available. Ford


Ford revealed the colors at this year's Woodward Dream Cruise. The first-generation Bronco, which ran from 1966 through 1977, was the featured vehicle at the cruise, which presented the opportunity to introduce new colors for the upcoming model year. The two new colors won't join the Bronco's existing color catalog until order banks open for the new model year later in 2021. Ford says that the current color catalog which includes Antimatter Blue, Lightning Blue Metallic, and Rapid Red Metallic will be available through the end of the 2021 model year.


2022 Ford Bronco Many Bronco buyers will have to wait until 2022 to get their new SUV.Ford


The new colors may end up being the shades of choice for many current hopeful Bronco buyers. Along with pandemic-related delays, Ford's rollout of the new Bronco has been plagued by hardtop-related cosmetic issues. The problem is big enough for the automaker to replace the top of every hardtop Bronco built so far. This includes vehicles already purchased, the rare few sitting on dealers' lots, and even recently produced vehicles still hanging around the factory. Buyers still waiting for their Broncos to be built will be waiting a while, to the point that Ford says many orders will be pushed into the new model year. Ford is offering Bronco-related merchandise and promises a price lock for all buyers whose orders have been pushed, and now it appears they'll have two new colors to choose from as well.

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