Wednesday, February 19, 2014

1 in 5 motorists name their car, do you?


We all know someone who's named their car. And chances are – let's face it – that person is probably a girl. We're not being sexist here: we're just looking at the numbers presented by a new study from DMEautomotive.

The industry research group conducted a study that indicates that one in five American car owners have named their vehicles. But that one in five is likely to be female and between the ages of 18 and 24. The study upsets certain notions of men being more attached to their cars than women, and millennials not caring about cars: at 23 percent, women proved more likely to personify their vehicle than men (at 18 percent), and car owners in their late teens or early twenties are the four times more likely to name their cars than someone over 55.

Because most women (by far) view their car as female and men are pretty evenly split, there's about twice as many "female" cars on the road as "male" ones (those identities having been ascribed by the vehicles' owners). But this part had us scratching our heads the most: apparently one in four cars that have names, have names that begin with the letter B: as the tidy infographic above shows, Baby, Betsy, Bessie and Betty (along with Black Beauty) rank among the most popular names for cars in America.

Of course some cars may be more susceptible to being named than others, though the study (whose findings you can read below) doesn't get into that. As our friends at Road & Track discovered, Mini dealers have devised a simple way of figuring out whether an owner may be interested in trading in: if they've named their Mini, chances are slim that they'll be willing to part with it.

By Noah Joseph
Courtesy of

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ford partnering with MIT, Stanford on autonomous vehicle research


Ask any car engineer what's the biggest variable in achieving fuel economy targets, and he'll tell you "the driver." If one human can't understand human driving behavior enough to be certain about an innocuous number like miles per gallon, how is an autonomous car supposed to figure out what hundreds of other drivers are going to do in the course of a day? Ford has enlisted the help of Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to find out.

Starting with the automated Fusion Hybrid introduced in December, MIT will be developing algorithms that driverless cars can use to "predict actions of other vehicles and pedestrians" and objects within the three-dimensional map provided by its four LIDAR sensors.

The Stanford team will research how to extend the 'vision' of that LIDAR array beyond obstructions while driving, analogous to the way a driver uses the entire width of a lane to see what's ahead of a larger vehicle in front. Ford says it wants to "provide the vehicle with common sense" as part of its Blueprint for Mobility, preparing for an autonomous world from 2025 and beyond.

By Jonathon Ramsey
Courtesy of