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US Marines testing GUSS automated vehicle that could save lives

Posted Jul 21st 2014 7:59PM



The machine you see in the video up above is the Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate. Called GUSS for short – because who doesn't like a handy-dandy nickname – this vehicle, as it's proper name suggests, is capable of operating without a driver.

It's possible to get in and drive, as you'll see in the video below, but the novel part of GUSS is that it uses a series of sensors and on-board computer programming to navigate itself over all kinds of terrain, day or night, no matter the weather. The machine above is undergoing testing by the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab during Rim of the Pacific 2014 at Kahuku Training Area on Oahu, Hawaii, according to the video's description.

Based on a military machine that's more like an armored ATV than a Jeep, GUSS is only capable of moving at speeds up to five miles per hour, which makes it a bit less useful than, say, an automated HMMWV, but it's still just a prototype, and we're sure the technology will spread.

News Source: AiirSource via YouTube, Gizmodo

What you missed on 7.21.14

Posted Jul 21st 2014 7:31PM

Daily U-Turn

Ford ExpeditionFirst Drive: 2015 Ford Expedition

It might not be totally all-new, but Ford's refreshed Expedition now features updated looks and twin-turbocharged power underhood. Of course, there are still plenty of old bones underneath that shiny sheetmetal. Does the big Ford have what it takes to compete with the rest of the fullsize set? Find out in our First Drive.




Gazelles RallyRallye Aïcha des Gazelles: Part 1

The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, now in its 24th running, is an all-female off-road rally through Morocco. It's one of the most grueling, challenging motorsports events in the world, and our man Jonathon Ramsey rode along with this year's competitors to see what it's all about. Read the first part of our two-installment story, here.




Chevy SSChevy SS getting 6MT, magnetic ride

Aw, yeah. Rumors had been circulating for a while regarding Chevy's SS performance sedan getting a much-needed manual transmission and magnetic ride suspension for the 2015 model year, and now, thanks to the official order guide, we've finally got confirmation of these updates. Consider us on the edge of our seats.



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Father-son team grows close by building tuned Porsche

Posted Jul 21st 2014 6:58PM

Porsche 911 father-son project

We've seen several heartwarming videos of kids bonding over cars with their parents, whether racing together or giving them as gifts. The story of Leh Keen and his father McGrath, though, is somewhat different. Not many dads are looking for a vehicle quite this mental.

As Leh tells it, his dad saw a video online of one of the wild Porsches from Japanese tuner Rauh-Welt Begriff and decided that he needed one of the creations in his own garage. Since Leh knows something about cars himself as a driver for Alex Job Racing in the United SportsCar Championship, McGrath put his son in charge of managing the build from the company.

When the car made it to the US for completion from Rauh's famed builder Nakai, father and son bonded over the red, widebody 993-platform 911. The final product is certainly eye-catching. Scroll down to watch the video that features not only an engrossing father-son tale but also a seriously wicked, tuned Porsche from one of Japan's finest.

News Source: eGarage via YouTube

BMW 5 Series wagon makes incognito grocery run by way of the 'Ring

Posted Jul 21st 2014 6:15PM

BMW 5 Series Wagon: Spy Shots

With a debut in 2009, it's high time that BMW delivered the world with the standard mid-cycle refresh of its popular 5 Series. While we aren't expecting to see it here in the United States, that freshening will include the vehicle shown above, the 5 Series wagon.

This is only the second time we've spotted the camo'd, long-roof 5er in the past year, and while it was chained to a flat-bed in those snaps, today, we can see it lapping the Nürburgring. In addition to the images from the track, we also have our first look at the cabin of the freshened 5 Series, although even it is covered in camouflage, making it quite difficult to spot anything of substance.

As for the exterior, expect modest changes for the second-half of the F10 5er's life, with typical tweaks like new headlights and taillights, and perhaps a freshened front fascia. Considering we last saw the upcoming 5 Series just over a year ago, we'd expect an auto show debut for this smoothed-over model in the not-so-distant future, with Paris a leading candidate.

Take a look up top for our full gallery of spy photos.

Image Credit: CarPix

Chop the top of your new Dodge Viper for $35,000

Posted Jul 21st 2014 5:31PM

Prefix Performance Dodge Viper Medusa convertible

We have good news, and we have bad news. First, the good: It's now possible to get a brand-new Dodge Viper roadster, which is nice, considering we're in the dead of summer and many of us like wind-in-the-hair motoring. Now, the bad: This is not a factory option from the automaker, instead coming courtesy of an aftermarket company called Prefix Performance, and that means it's going to cost you some serious coin.

Called Medusa, this drop-top Viper was created without the knowledge or consent of Dodge, but that's probably fine because Prefix works with the automaker already for the final preparation of the American supercar, including paint. According to the company, the current, fifth-gen Viper was built with a convertible version in mind, so no chassis strengthening is required. From the looks of the somewhat grainy photos available, the conversion appears of very high quality.

Want one? Well, that means you're going to need to procure a Viper – Prefix has 10 units ready for transformation as it stands – and that's going to cost at the very least $102,485. Then, you'll need to write a check for an additional $35,000 for Prefix to surgically remove the car's roof. Thing is, for that kind of cash, a prospective owner could buy, among other very nice options, a Viper hardtop and a loaded Miata, or a Corvette Stingray convertible and several pockets full of change. Or, perhaps a new Viper hardtop and a used, first-gen Viper convertible?

If you're still interested (and we wouldn't blame you if you were, regardless of the value debate), we'd suggest getting in touch with Prefix and getting yourself in line. In the meantime, feel free to check out the images above and below.

Jaguar Land Rover puts the freeze on wounded soldier-athletes [w/video]

Posted Jul 21st 2014 4:59PM

Invictus Games Training Jaguar Land Rover Gaydon

For athletes, the cold is often a powerful ally in treating injures, with RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) a popular means of treating muscle pulls, bruising and other common forms of discomfort. Did you know, though, that frosty temps are also popular tools for simply recovering from a rough training session?

Well, we're guessing Jaguar Land Rover knew that, as the British company was kind enough to loan out its climactic testing chamber to Jaco van Gass and Luke Darlington, a pair of veterans wounded in their service to Queen and Country. Van Gass, a former private in the Royal Army, and Darlington, a Royal Marine, are attempting to earn a spot on the British Armed Forces cycling team for the upcoming Invictus Games.

The Games, inspired by the Warrior Games held in the United States, are a sporting competition reserved for injured servicemen and women, either active duty or veterans, and is slated to take place from September 10 to 14 in London's former Olympic venues. Van Gass lost his left arm below the elbow after getting hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (he also suffered from a collapsed lung, punctured internal organs, severe shrapnel and blast wounds, a broken tibia and a fractured knee). Darlington, meanwhile, suffered a traumatic brain injury during action in Afghanistan, and he now suffers from weakness in his right side and cognitive issues.

As for why a pair of cyclists opted to take the military lingo "stay frosty," to its literal extreme, it's all because of cryotherapy. As explained in the video, full-body cryotherapy is an increasingly popular form of recovery training for professional athletes, as it forces the body to saturate the blood with powerful (and natural) endorphins, which can alleviate the stress and strain from training. That means quicker recovery times and, consequently, more training for athletes like van Gass and Darlington.

Scroll down to see the pair in action, as they prepare for the 2014 Invictus Games.

News Source: Jaguar Land Rover, InvictusLondon via YouTube

CHP seizes medical records of woman seen repeatedly struck by officer [w/video]

Posted Jul 21st 2014 4:28PM

Highway Patrol Woman Punched

In early July, a video of Marlene Pinnock being struck repeatedly by a patrolman on the side of a Los Angeles Interstate stirred allegations of police brutally against the California Highway Patrol. Pinnock was reportedly walking in traffic on the freeway when a CHP officer responded to the scene. According to police, she resisted arrest, and a passing motorist filmed a portion of the ensuing altercation that left the woman in the hospital. The video subsequently went viral.

The Associated Press reports that there's a new development in the case: Investigators for the CHP have seized Pinnock's medical records with a search warrant. Her lawyer argues that this is a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality. "She suffered a traumatic head injury," attorney Caree Harper said, adding, "How can you give away files about someone injured ... to the very people who beat her?"

According to Pinnock's attorney, the warrant requests "property or things that are evidence that tend to show that a felony has been committed or tends to show that a particular person has committed a felony." The files allegedly include the woman's statements to her doctor about her condition.

Since serving the warrant, Pinnock's attorney has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the CHP for the alleged assault seeking monetary damages. The police are reportedly conducting their own internal investigation into the incident. Scroll down to watch a CBS Evening News report about the initial video that started the controversy.

News Source: Associated Press The Big Story [1], [2], CBS Evening News via YouTube

Image Credit: David Diaz, File / AP Photo

Cadillac issues stop-sale on recalled CTS, SRX

Posted Jul 21st 2014 3:43PM

Cadillac CTS

General Motors has issued a stop-sale order on the Cadillac CTS and SRX, both of which were recalled late last month. Why the stop-sale after all this time? Well, um, GM apparently doesn't know how to fix them.

The stop-sale covers all used Cadillac CTS sedans, coupes and wagons from model years 2003 to 2013, as well as new 2014 coupes and wagons. The SRX crossover stop-sale, meanwhile, only covers used vehicles from model years 2004 to 2006.

Automotive News reached out to GM spokesperson Alan Adler, who told the news pub that the company's engineers were "looking at one common solution" for the affected vehicles, although "they don't have it yet."

GM recalled the Cadillacs as part of an enormous 8.4-million-unit recall on June 30. The CTS and SRX were – like the overwhelming majority of vehicles (some 8.2 million units) – recalled due an issue with the ignition. The key in affected vehicles can rotate out of the run position if jostled, much like an earlier recall for the Chevrolet Camaro.
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2014 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles: Part 1 [w/video]

Hitching A Ride In Morocco's Grueling All-Female Off-Road Rally

Posted Jul 21st 2014 2:58PM

2014 Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles

For if the truth be told there is little more than a single path to all the goals that the undisguised European may reach.

– Morocco (1904), Samuel Levy Bensusan

Smiling Rallye Aicha Des Gazelles competitors in their truckCounting competitors, staff, press, guests and strangers, we were about 350 people bunched up in a conference room in the Xaluca Hotel in Erfoud, Morocco. We'd arrived there via a flight to Paris, another to Casablanca, a mythic ten-hour drive through Rabat and Meknes and stupefyingly emerald-green-grass valleys in the plains of the Middle Atlas Mountains, cracking the spine of the High Atlas to descend into the grueling void edged by jagged, prehistoric cliffs that Edith Wharton called "the savagery of the south." This is where it would begin.

"It" was the 24th running of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles, an off-road rally for women only. There were 320 competitors in the room – 160 teams of two women apiece from 24 countries, some of them ex-Olympians, professional rally drivers and celebrities, 243 of them first-timers, somewhere around the same number of them French.

Automakers had come, too: Volkswagen sent ten teams in Amarok pickups, Women@Renault and La Poste put 13 teams in Dacia Duster utilities, Mercedes-Benz had three teams driving Sprinter vans, BMW Azzuro sponsored a motorcycle team. The rest was run-what-you-brung as long as it fit into the three categories: 4x4, Crossover – where the Dusters and Sprinters lived, and Quad – where the ATVs, side-by-sides and the sole motorcycle duo lived.

Rally organizer Dominque Serra told the crowd, "You are all amazing to embark on this great adventure without really knowing what to expect for the next ten days!" When I read that line after the event, I lost my half-swallowed drink to involuntary laughter. I didn't know it then, but Serra's cheer was like a Roman empress telling Christians at the Coliseum "I know you're all going to be fantastic!" as the lions clandestinely waited in the nearby dark.

At the time, I was too busy laughing at another line, delivered twice because the organizers took it so seriously. It's the kind of directive you'd only hear when 320 women go on a mission through the North Sahara with a large contingent of male support staff: "No sex with the competitors!"

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL, Nicole Dreon

Opel dropping Ampera, the European Chevy Volt, because of weak sales

Posted Jul 21st 2014 2:15PM

Opel Ampera

Sales of the Chevy Volt in the US have been fairly stable for the last few months (between a low of 1,478 and a high of 1,777 since March), but in Europe, the Opel Ampera (sister-vehicle of the Volt) has been trending downwards. The sales decline is prompting discussion that the vehicle will be killed off in Europe, according to Automotive News Europe.

The car was a relative hit back in 2012, when it was named the European Car Of The Year and sales topped 5,200 units. Compared to 2012 numbers, which were good, Ampera sales dropped 40 percent to fewer than 3,200 in 2013 despite a massive price cut. They are down another 67 percent so far in 2014 and the car has sold just 332 units through the end of May. That's why, according to ANE, the Ampera will be discontinued once Chevy introduces the 2016 Volt in late 2015 (we've got spy shots here). The current Volt and the the Ampera are identical except for the front fascia, and it doesn't make sense to rebadge the new Volt for Opel if they're not even selling a thousand copies per year.

As far as an official word on the company's plans, Opel's Andrew Marshall told AutoblogGreen that the only thing the company is saying right now is that, "We do not comment on potential future product plans." That's vague, sure, but it's also not a resounding vote of confidence for the European Volt. Of course, GM's manager of Electrification Technology Communications, Kevin Kelly, told AutoblogGreen the same thing about the Volt's future when we asked about it based on the Ampera rumors, so we should probably just admit that no one's saying anything official about anything just yet.
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Race Recap: 2014 German Grand Prix is relapse and recovery

Posted Jul 21st 2014 1:30PM

Graphic for the 2014 German Grand Prix.

The 2014 German Formula 1 Grand Prix is the hump-day race in the season and the penultimate chance for drivers and teams to rack up points before the summer break. Trying to stay on top after his first DNF of the year at the British Grand Prix, Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Nico Rosberg didn't have to wait until the race for misfortune to find Lewis Hamilton; his British teammate crashed out of the Q2 qualifying session due to a brake failure, then had to change his gearbox due of the crash, a calamity that left him starting 20th on the grid.

Rosberg took pole ahead of the Williams duo of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, with Kevin Magnussen surprising everyone with a fourth place in his McLaren. Daniel Ricciardo put the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing in fifth, ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari pilot Fernando Alonso, Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat, the Force India pair of Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez finishing the top ten.

In a replay of events in Britain but with a German accent, a first-lap incident brought out the Safety Car and the same Brazilian was taken out of the race.
Related Gallery2014 German Grand Prix
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Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AP Photo | Getty/AFP, AOL

Leno lives the lowrider life with a pair of Chevy Impalas

Posted Jul 21st 2014 12:45PM

Jay Leno lowrider

Jay Leno gets low in his latest episode of Jay Leno's Garage by showing off two custom lowriders based on a pair of '60s Chevrolet Impala classics and talks to some experts in the field. The whole culture surrounding these cars is a product of Southern California; so it makes sense for Golden State Jay to finally put a spotlight on them.

Leno focuses on different flavors of lowriders. First, there is a sinister-looking '66 Impala coupe with simple black and chrome styling. It's just a clean-looking vehicle without much bling to attract attention, but it still shows a great eye for detail. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there's the '63 Impala convertible shown above with a tuned 409-cubic-inch (6.7-liter) V8 that just screams "look at me!" from every angle. Owner Brandon Brusca says that the paintwork alone took nearly five years to complete. Possibly even more impressive is its hydraulic system made from airplane parts. The attention to detail is pretty incredible, with portions of the suspension featuring engraving that most people would never see.

Jay admits that lowriders aren't really his style, but that doesn't keep him from gushing about these classic Chevrolet cars. The amount of work and that goes into them is something that any auto enthusiast ought to appreciate. Scroll down to watch Leno take a cruise.

News Source: Jay Leno's Garage via YouTube

2015 Ford Expedition

Blue Oval 'Burb-Fighter Boasts Turbocharged Boost

Posted Jul 21st 2014 11:57AM

2015 Ford Expedition

While the tide of bigger-is-better SUVs has been in recession since, well, the recession, fullsize utes are still very much with us. Conservative creatures that have been loathe to evolve, fullsize SUVs nonetheless remain enduringly popular among large families, livery customers, and anyone with lots of friends, relatives, and toys to tug around. With respect to Toyota and Nissan, the only players that really matter in the segment are the new-for-2015 Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, the GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, and this truck: the Ford Expedition, the latest evolution of which we just drove for the first time at a press preview in West Virginia.

Unlike the General Motors utilities, the standard Expedition and the long-wheelbase Expedition EL are not all-new, but rather are heavily refreshed versions of the same basic truck Ford started selling way back in 2007. The front fascia is where most of the exterior update happens for 2015, with a new three-bar grille design, halogen projector headlamps, and new bumper design with available LED foglamps. Despite all the new bits, the facelift breaks exactly zero ground in terms of design; in fact, it already looks dated, and will only look older once the macho 2015 F-150 bows later this year. Even less has changed out back, where the tailgate gets a wide chrome band spanning the taillamps and a new chrome exhaust tip. Other exterior changes are generally limited to colors and an all-new wheel lineup that includes a gleaming set of six-spoke 22-inch polished wheels on high-end models.

Speaking of high-end models, a new Platinum trim is positioned above the cowboy-spec King Ranch model for 2015. Both the Platinum and King Ranch get their own color combos and exterior trim finishes (satin metal for the Platinum, chrome everywhere and ginormous badges for the King Ranch) and posh, leather-lined interiors with their own aesthetic. The Expedition family also now includes a price-leading XL model, as well as XLT and Limited grades.

That's nice and all, but we didn't fly to Appalachia to ogle new headlights and caress leather seats. The real draw was to see how the Expedition fares after making the switch from its outgoing V8 to turbocharged V6 power, the only way it will come henceforth. The change makes sense on paper, given that the turbo six – the same engine found in the F-150 EcoBoost – simply trounces the old V8 with 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, compared to the outgoing 5.4's 310 hp and meager 365 lb-ft of torque. Notably, the EcoBoost V6 also outmuscles the 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque produced by the 5.3-liter base V8 in GM's portfolio, though it comes up shy of their forceful – and thirsty – optional 420-hp, 460 lb-ft 6.2-liter V8.

Vital Stats

Engine:
Twin-Turbo 3.5L V6
Power:
365 HP / 420 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Auto
Base Price:
$40,000 (est)
As-Tested Price:
$58,000 (est)

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Steve Siler / AOL / Ford

Ford considering return to Le Mans with new EcoBoost LMP2

Posted Jul 21st 2014 11:31AM

Ford EcoBoost Daytona Prototype

If you want to see a Ford racing prototype, you need look no further than the United SportsCar Championship, where the Blue Oval fields two Daytona Prototypes powered by an EcoBoost-branded 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. But according to the latest rumors, that may not be enough for Ford, which has as much brand to promote overseas as it does back home.

That could be why Racer magazine is reporting that Ford may be poised to return to Le Mans in the coming years. As we all know, Ford competed at Le Mans in the mid-through-late '60s, bringing home four consecutive overall wins with the legendary GT40. The new program would not, according to Racer, seek to relive those glory days, but would instead compete for class wins in the LMP2 category.

Currently, LMP2 regulations are somewhat split between the United SportsCar Championship in North America on the one hand and ACO-sanctioned series like the European Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series and FIA World Endurance Championship on the other, but plans are underway for the regulations to be unified in time for the 2017 season. That could be when Ford is targeting its return, allowing it to compete on both sides of the Atlantic to maximize its exposure.

Canadian chassis constructor Multimatic Motorsports, which built the Daytona Prototype for Ford, could be contracted again for the LMP2 program. But then with the ACO announcing the new LMP3 category with a V8 engine supplier yet to be announced, we can't help but wonder if this is actually what Ford has in mind. Either way, the prospect of Dearborn's return to European endurance racing should have racing fans excited, especially after a proposal to field a Mustang in the GTE category was reportedly shelved.

News Source: Racer via Motor Trend

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