Self-Driving

Volvo partners with Luminar for integrated full self-driving tech in redesigned 2022 XC90

LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a sensing method that uses light to measure the range from a known object to an unknown object.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo will be partnering with Luminar for LiDAR and perception technology on the next generation of their cars, starting with the 2022 XC90. The partnership is set to yield the first fully self-driving technology for highways, called Highway Pilot, and paves the way for future active safety developments, according to a release. There are currently no self-driving cars on the market.

According to a release, "Luminar's technology is based on its high performance LiDAR sensors, which emit millions of pulses of laser light to accurately detect where objects are by scanning the environment in 3D, creating a temporary, real-time map without requiring internet connectivity."

2022 Volvo XC90 LiDAR The LiDAR tech will be integrated into the roof of the next-gen XC90, seen here.Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Volvo's next-gen SPA 2 vehicle architecture is said to be hardware-ready for autonomous driving starting in 2022, with Luminar LiDAR seamlessly integrated into the roof of the vehicle.

Buyers who opt for Highway Pilot on their vehicles will have the technology activated via an over-the-air (OTA) update. It will only be activated once the vehicle has determined it is safe via geographic locations and conditions. Volvo has not specified which highways they are designating as safe.

As described by Volvo, "To enable the Highway Pilot feature, Luminar's perception technology will be combined with autonomous drive software and the cameras, radars and back-up systems for functions such as steering, braking and battery power installed on forthcoming Volvo cars equipped for self-driving. Put together, this gives Volvo users who want it access to a safe, fully self-driving feature for use on highways."

"Soon, your Volvo will be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so," said Henrik Green, Chief Technology Officer, Volvo Cars. "At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for the driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Over time, updates over the air will expand the areas in which the car can drive itself. For us, a safe introduction of autonomy is a gradual introduction."

Volvo has been testing self-driving technology in vehicles for years, including trials near its headquarters in Sweden. Its in-house Drive Me program was designed to be suitable for families that were given special training.

The partnership between Luminar and Volvo also extends to exploring LiDAR's role in improving future advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), with the potential for equipping all future SPA 2-based cars with a LiDAR sensor as standard. This means that everything from the S90 to the XC40 could get the tech as well.

ADAS isn't as easy to scale up or down as cruise control. Because of the variety of vehicle angles and sight lines, each model requires its own tuned engineering from multiple angles. However, each vehicle may use the same hardware and software.

As part of the agreement, Volvo Cars has also signed an agreement to possibly increase its minority stake in Silicon Valley-based Luminar.

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Hardtop and softop versions the MINI John Cooper Works have been updated for 2022.

Photo courtesy of MINI

MINI recently announced refreshed model information about more traditional Cooper models. Enthusiasts have been patiently waiting for the plans for the performance-focused John Cooper Works models to be made public. Now those retails are known.

The 2022 MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop and Convertible will feature newly fashioned round LED headlights, a larger hexagonal grille, large side air intakes, modified front scuttles, and a diffuser on the rear apron.

MINI's twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine sits under the hood of both models and generates 228 horsepower and a maximum torque of 235 pound-feet of torque. The engine moves the MINI Hardtop from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds when equipped with its standard six-speed manual transmission. To cut that number to 5.9 seconds, opt for the eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission. The cabrio has a 6.3 zero to 60 mph time and has its engine paired exclusively with the automatic transmission.

2022 MINI Cooper John Cooper Works

Photo courtesy of MINI

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The rag top of the MINI JCW Convertible opens in 18 seconds via the touch of a button at speeds up to 18.6 mph. Buyers can get the MINI Yours soft top that features a woven-in Union Jack graphic.

Two 85-millimetre stainless steel tailpipes serve as the car's available exhaust option.

MINI's engineers have fine-tuned the car's sporty suspension and given the car a sports brake system co-developed with Brembo and 17-inch JCW light alloy wheels. Eighteen-inchers are available, including a new JCWW Circuit Spoke two-tone designed wheel.

The team has also worked on the available Adaptive Suspension, adding new frequency-selective damper technology that operates with an additional valve acting on the traction side. Additionally, the maximum damping force of the Adaptive Suspension is up to 10 percent higher than before.

MINI buyers will get their cars equipped with the company's redesigned 8.8-inch infotainment touch screen display with a black panel design. Two different color schemes are available for the displays on the central instrument display - Lounge and Sport. In Lounge mode, the display surfaces appear in relaxing shades of blue and turquoise. Switching to Sport mode causes the screen backgrounds to glow in red and anthracite. If desired, the color worlds of the displays can be linked to the standard MINI Driving Modes.

The JCW sport seats have integrated headrests and the model gets an anthracite-colored roof lining, a stainless steel pedal gallery and a model-specific gearshift or gear selector lever.. There's a Nappa leather steering wheel with fresh multifunction buttons, grey contrast stitching, and a John Cooper Works logo on the center spoke.

MINI will sell the models with new comfort, connectivity, and driver assistance equipment packages. The roster of new options includes a heated steering wheel, lane departure warning in the Driving Assistant and the Stop & Go function for Active Cruise Control.

Pricing for the 2022 MINI John Cooper Works Hardtop starts at $32,900 and maxes out at $33,900. The Convertible has a starting MSRP of $38,900 and stretches to $44,900 in its top-tier trim level. Every model has an additional $850 destination and delivery fee.

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The Ford Mustang Mach-E did not perform as well as the Volvo XC40 Recharge in IIHS testing.

Photo courtesy of IIHS

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) has released the results of its latest round of crash testing, which includes two new-to-market electric vehicles (EVs), the 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge and 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. The Volvo earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation while the Ford got a Top Safety Pick award.

The 2021 XC40 Recharge joins the Audi E-Tron, Audi E-Tron Sportback, and Tesla Model 3, all EVs, that have received 2021 Top Safety Pick+ designation.

"It's fantastic to see more proof that these vehicles are as safe as or safer than gasoline- and diesel-powered cars," says IIHS President David Harkey. "We can now say with confidence that making the U.S. fleet more environmentally friendly doesn't require any compromises in terms of safety."

2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge IIHS crash test

Photo courtesy of IIHS

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In order to earn a 2021 Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must get all Good ratings in each of the six IIHS crashworthiness tests — driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. Winners must also be available with Good or Acceptable headlights and a front crash prevention system that earns Advanced or Superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.

To qualify as a Top Safety Pick+ award winner, vehicles must come with Good or Acceptable headlights across all trim levels and packages in addition to the Top Safety Pick criteria.

The XC40 Recharge's adaptive LED reflector headlights, which are installed on every XC40 Recharge model. The SUV's standard front crash prevention system also earns Superior and Advanced scores in the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to- pedestrian evaluations, respectively.

Ford sells the Mustang Mach-E with Good-rated LED projector headlights on Premium, GT, and First Edition trim levels. However, LED reflector headlights that are on the Mustang Mach-E Select and California Route 1 grades are rated as Marginal, which prevented the Mustang from earning the top-tier rating. IIHS found that these headlights provided inadequate illumination around curves.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E IIHS crash test

Photo courtesy of IIHS

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The Mach-E's standard front crash prevention system earned Superior ratings in both the vehicle- to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.

A recent study of electric and internal combustion engine vehicles from 2011 to 2019 by the IIHS-affiliated Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that rates of injury claims related to the drivers and passengers of electric vehicles were more than 40 percent lower than for identical conventional models over 2011-19.

HLDI points to the weight of EVs as being one of the key drivers of this statistic. Large batteries that are required to run EVs are substantially heavier than traditional powertrain components. Occupants of heavier vehicles are exposed to lower forces in multi-vehicle crashes.

The XC40 Recharge has a curb weight of 4,787 pounds, compared with 3,811 pounds for the conventional model. The Mustang Mach-E weighs 4,516 pounds.

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