GM shows off crash test dummy technology (+video)

April 12th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Who doesn’t love crash test dummies? There’s nothing like seeing a car go flying at 80 kph into a cement barrier with the crash test dummies getting all shaken up. When most people watch the slow-motion footage they see the twisting metal and the broken glass, but the crash test dummys are mainly back seat passengers.

Howver,  a lot more than first thought goes into the modern crash test dummy and GM has just released a video explaining the work and technology that goes into making a new test dummy. The video tells us that each dummy can have 50 to 100 information channels and a data collection box that is about as big as a mobile phone. The video also answers the question why the dummies wear clothes and why those clothes are baby pink.

Check out the video below.

GM showcases intelligent HUD

March 19th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham


Enhanced vision systems are starting to become popular in cars and will ultimately be a standard safety feature just like airbags (almost) are. Click through to watch the video.
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GM looking globally for next Corvette design

March 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The Chevrolet Corvette is about as American as apple pie, baseball and starting foreign wars. It’s the quintessential sportscar over in the States which makes it surprising that for the next Corvette, General Motors is seeking out design proposals from its various styling studios from all around the globe, particularly those in Europe.

That’s the word from GM’s vice president of global design, Ed Welburn, who revealed in a recent interview that the automaker’s design studios from across the world have begun sending in design studies for the C7 Corvette, which is expected to kick into gear late 2012.

More than ten new Corvette designs have been submitted so far, some of which have been described by Welburn as “absolutely phenomenal”.

This marks the first time that input from designers outside the U.S. is being seriously considered by GM. The thinking is that a more international flavor will enable the new Corvette to sell better in Europe and also attract younger buyers in the U.S. who might usually purchase an imported vehicle.

“We have challenges in the States with the Corvette,” Welburn explained. “The average age of the customer is really rising.” According to surveys, the current average age of a Corvette buyer is 54 and sales of the model last year are down 48 percent from where it was at in 2008.

Welburn hopes to change the design of the Corvette so it will be smaller and more aggressive, and improve interior quality.

One design element that’s already known is that the C7 Chevrolet Corvette will get a split rear window along with some other retro styling cues.

The 50th Anniversary Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept (pictured) may be a fair starting point. Click the link below to check out more images of the concept.

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GM and NASA make giant leap in Robotic Technology (+video)

February 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

If robots never freaked you out before, things are about to change as NASA and GM have teamed up to create some creepy-looking humanoids.

Called R1 and R2, the Astrobots are designed to perform tasks that are too dangerous for humans.

To perform these functions, the robots have been equipped with dexterous hands, which allow them to grab objects like a human would. According to a human spokesman for the robots they “can work safely alongside people, a necessity both on Earth and in space.”

NASA big title Doug Cooke – associate administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, said “This cutting-edge robotics technology holds great promise, not only for NASA, but also for the nation. I’m very excited about the new opportunities for human and robotic exploration these versatile robots provide across a wide range of applications.”

Cooke’s excitement was repeated by GM’s vice president for global research and development, Alan Taub, who said “…this is about safer cars and safer plants. When it comes to future vehicles, the advancements in controls, sensors and vision technology can be used to develop advanced vehicle safety systems. The partnership’s vision is to explore advanced robots working together in harmony with people, building better, higher quality vehicles in a safer, more competitive manufacturing environment.”

It’s not entirely clear how exactly the robot technology is going to make cars better. R1 and R2 are sure to spark speculation that the start of a Terminator-style human vs robot war is imminent.

Check out the video and images below to see legless robots pumping iron and performing other semi-sinister duties.

Protoscar Lampo 2 Electric sportscar revealed (+video)

February 8th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Earlier this month, Swiss electric vehicle makers Protoscar showed a teaser of its new Lampo 2 electric sportscar, which is headed for the Geneva Motor Show. Now we’ve been given a whole series of images to gaze upon and it’s a funky little beast.

Based on General Motors’ Kappa platform, the Lampo 2 features some unique sheetmetal and a powertrain consisting of twin electric motors — one for each axle giving it all-wheel drive. It uses a large-capacity lithium ion battery pack and also solar cells mounted out back to help range.

Total combined output comes in at 408 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque, enough to get it to 100kph in around five seconds. It doesn’t have Tesla Roadster-slaying performance, and it certainly isn’t as attractive as the Roadster either.

Protoscar’s strongest feature is the Lampo 2’s recharging options, including one that offers up 100 kilometers of range after a 10 minute charge via an off-board DC rapid charger interface.

Check out images and a video of the Lampo 2 below.

Chevrolet Camaro shifting from Commodore platform

February 8th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro has only been around for less than a year but according to fresh reports, GM is already considering its replacement. The current model is based on GM’s Zeta rear-wheel drive platform that was developed by Holden, Australia. While the Zeta platform, also used in the Commodore is generally praised for its dynamics, it still isn’t perfect. The platform is heavy and many of the originally planned applications have not been developed, which has raised the per vehicle cost in the process.

Last year during its bankruptcy, GM showed off many of its upcoming vehicles to members of the media, including a new smaller Cadillac dubbed ATS. The ATS makes use of a new rear-wheel drive platform that has been referred to as Alpha. GM hadn’t officially named the ATS platform, but it did state that it would be shared with the next-generation CTS which will likely increase in size to better compete with the BMW 5 Series. Given the harsh economics of profitable car manufacturing and the volumes expected for both the Cadillacs and the Camaro, it makes sense that the Camaro would move over to the Alpha architecture. Especially because one of the goals for all three models will be reduced mass, necessary to meet new fuel economy standards and improve performance.

Saab brand dying a slow death

December 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Saab logo

When Koenigsegg’s deal to purchase Saab failed late last month, many feared the worst for the brand’s future. Now, those fears have become reality, as GM has announced that it will begin winding the brand down after “certain issues” arose in the deal with Spyker.

Last week GM sold the tooling systems for the last-gen 9-3 and 9-5 sedans to Chinese carmaker Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co (BAIC), but left the door open for the sale of the actual operations if it could find the right buyer. That hasn’t happened.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time. In order to maintain operations, Saab needed a quick resolution,” said GM Europe President Nick Reilly.

The real loss will come in the form of products that will now never be produced, including the 2010 9-5 sedan and 9-4X crossover. Both vehicles had created genuine excitement for the future of the marque.

GM estimates a worldwide tally of 3,400 workers that will potentially be made redundant by Saab’s closure.

The death of Saab comes just as GM passes the 20th anniversary of its purchase of a controlling 50% interest in the Swedish brand. It purchased the remaining 50% back in 2000.

GM 1968 crash tests compilation

December 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Bam! And your life is gone