This week, WIRED Transpo checked out a few bits of tech that might not sound alluring—but oh, magic lives in the details. General Motors’ new electronic platform should unlock a whole new world of in-car software, at exactly the moment when customers begin to expect their vehicles’ gizmos run even more smoothly than their phones. (Crashing car software is no good.) Self-driving startup Aurora, the one run by all those high-powered autonomous alums, acquired a lidar company, at exactly the moment when lidar feels a bit ho-hum. But no, Aurora insists—this velocity-detecting laser tech really will unlock AVs. And we explored the rationale (and complicated logistics) behind bus services to trailheads. Turns out the future of US public lands might just hinge on those sorts of transit experiments.
Plus, Elon Musk’s Boring Company earns (the first part of) a paycheck, a helicopter flies upside down over New York (do not try that at home! Or anywhere, really), and a new report finds VW’s Dieselgate settlement funds probably aren’t going where you expected. It’s been a week; let’s get you caught up.
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- The Boring Company lands its first paying customer, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which is paying Elon Musk’s tunneling venture $48.7 million to built twin 0.83-mile tunnels. It’s fun, but perhaps not the “traffic destroying” tech Musk has been hyping.
- The autonomous trucking company TuSimple launches a two-week, driverless-ish pilot project with the US Postal Service. “Ish” because there will be a certified driver and a safety engineer aboard.
- GM rolls out its new “electronic platform”, which is not sexy enough to warrant its own flashy marketing name but should revolutionize the way the carmaker’s all-important software runs on future vehicles.
- The Great American Rail Trail—a cross-country biking or hiking trail that meanders through 12 states—is 52.4 percent finished.
- How to build a bus map from scratch in a place that doesn’t have one.
- Drop the phone and get outside! A few transit agencies and nonprofits are trying to make it easier for everyone, even those without cars, to hit the trails.
- Self-driving startup Aurora acquires Montana-based lidar startup Blackmore, which creates laser scanning tech that can detect nearby objects and discern their velocity.
- How a helicopter over New York did what helicopters really are not built to do: fly upside down.
- As part of VW’s settlement for its Dieselgate flap, states received billions to spend on low emission vehicles. But a new report finds that much of that money is funding new diesels, not new electrics.
Bespoke Rolls-Royce Champagne Chest of the Week
Every so often, a luxury car brand rolls out an accessory that is too ridiculous to ignore. This week, we have the Rolls-Royce Champagne Chest, which, according to the company, “endows conviviality with one’s closest friends, family or business associates.” How, you say? Once open, the exterior lid becomes a Tudor Oak wood serving tray, revealing the four embroidered, monogrammed cotton napkins concealed inside. The chest lights up, illuminating its four hand-blown crystal champagne flutes, “arranged to evoke memories of a V12 engine.” Unfurl the chest’s side hammocks, and you will find apartments perfectly designed to “cradle” champagne, caviar or canapes. I know what I’m doing this weekend.
Stat of the Week
The drop in Tesla’s stock price since the beginning of the year. This week’s drop comes after Wall Streets analysts—and particularly longtime Tesla optimists at Morgan Stanley—indicated they have concerns about demand for the Model 3.
News from elsewhere on the internet
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
In 2014, WIRED took a look at the tech and tweaks that promised to transform Formula 1 racing.