Project Cars 2 reviewed: It’s good, but don’t expect it to be easy

It’s a great time to be alive for fans of serious racing simulations. Codemasters has been in fine form, giving us two very good games this year. New installments of Forza and Gran Turismo are just around the corner.

But today, I’m here to talk to you about Project CARS 2. The work of Slightly Mad Studios and a followup to the original Project CARS of 2015, it’s an expansive title that features road cars, current and historic racing cars, a massive array of tracks to race on (including dirt and even ice), and some heavily revised physics. After several days behind a steering wheel putting the game to the test, I found Project CARS 2 to be extremely rewarding to play and a massive improvement on its predecessor. But it’s still no easy arcade racer, and the hardcore nature of its simulation means it’s not going to appeal to everyone.

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Lidar tells distance, radar tells velocity, this new sensor does both

Silicon Valley is crawling with startups looking for a piece of the emerging self-driving car business. One of those startups, Aeva, just came out of stealth mode with a big write-up in The New York Times. Its breakthrough: building a single sensor that can determine both the position and velocity of surrounding objects.

Most experts say that the best self-driving cars need a trifecta of sensors: cameras, lidar, and radar. They need all three sensor types because each performs a different function. Cameras can tell you what objects look like but not how far away they are or how fast they’re moving. Lidar measures distance, while radar provides a precise estimate of velocity.

According to the Times, Aeva’s sensor provides information about both position and velocity:

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Report: Tesla snubbing Nvidia, developing its own self-driving chip

Tesla is working on custom silicon for its self-driving software in partnership with AMD, CNBC reported Wednesday. “The carmaker has received back samples of the first implementation of its processor and is now running tests on it,” a source told CNBC. Shares of AMD soared more than six percent on Wednesday after news of the partnership leaked.

Tesla has been working to beef up its in-house hardware capabilities over the last year after going through a nasty divorce with Mobileye, a leading supplier of self-driving hardware and software, a year ago. Mobileye had supplied the hardware for Tesla’s first-generation Autopilot technology, but the two companies went their separate ways after a Tesla customer died in a crash that occurred while Autopilot was active.

Since the split, Tesla has built a new Autopilot technology stack using non-Mobileye hardware, including Nvidia graphics processors. Developing chips in-house will make Tesla less reliant on Nvidia in the future, according to CNBC, and Nvidia stock fell almost 4 percent on Wednesday evening after the news broke.

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McLaren builds a virtual hypercar for the next Gran Turismo game

McLaren

Way back in the mists of time—OK, it was 2013—Polyphony Digital’s Kazunori Yamauchi challenged the automotive world to think outside the box for Gran Turismo 6. Kaz wanted some unique concept cars for the game, and a bunch of car companies (as well as a few design studios and even Nike) signed on to the project, called Vision GT.

I must confess, I thought the idea dead and buried what with GT6 being four years old and yesterday’s news. The Vision GT website hasn’t been updated since 2015, and there are plenty of placeholders for concepts that never materialized (including one from Tesla that I’d love to see). But it seems the project is still alive, and in the lead-up to the next installment of the franchise—allegedly due this October—McLaren has created the Ultimate Vision Gran Turismo.

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A Proterra electric bus just drove 1,100 miles on a single charge

On Tuesday, Proterra revealed that one of its Catalyst E2 Max electric buses just set a new world record for the longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle on a single charge. The bus, which packs a hefty 660kWh of storage—equivalent to 11 Chevy Bolts—drove a total of 1,101.2 miles (1,772.2km) at the Navistar Proving Grounds in Indiana. It’s quite an impressive feat, considering the previous record holder was a lightweight experimental single-seat EV.

While 1,100 miles is a lot more than an average bus drives in a day, Proterra’s record may prove quite helpful in persuading range-anxious transit authorities to ditch internal combustion in favor of battery power for future fleets.

Of course, the other factor is how long it takes to recharge. This is probably less of an issue with vehicles like buses, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks that spend their lives crawling around cities, since that kind of low-speed, stop-and-go duty cycle plays right into the strengths of an electric powertrain, and the vehicles can recharge at the end of their route. Proterra also developed a high-speed charging system for buses (which it’s offering to anyone without licensing fees), although even with its high-voltage system in operation, the 660kWh record-breaking bus would still need at least an hour to get back to a full charge.

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Nikola Motor Company and Bosch team up on long-haul fuel cell truck

Salt Lake City-based Nikola Motor Company and German auto components giant Bosch are teaming up to build the Nikola One and Nikola Two—a pair of hydrogen-electric, long-haul trucks that will compete with the handful of other low-emissions trucks and powertrains that have been announced in mid-2017.

The Nikola One truck isn’t a new development, but the startup’s partnership with Bosch is. Last December, Nikola Motor Company announced that it would build a hydrogen-electric truck that would be able to travel 1,200 miles on a tank of hydrogen and deliver 1,000 horsepower and 2,000 foot-pounds of torque. The company said at the time that its truck, deemed the Nikola One, would be market-ready by 2020.

Now, that market-ready date has been pushed back to 2021, but adding Bosch’s experience into the mix no doubt helps firm up Nikola Motor Company’s projections. According to a press release from the startup, the class 8 Nikola One and Nikola Two will now be built on Bosch’s eAxle—an integrated unit blending motor, power electronics, and transmission. Bosch’s eAxle was only just announced this January.

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The United States Air Force turned 70 today

The United States’ position as the sole remaining superpower on earth is in large part thanks to its air force. That organization—the United States Air Force, or USAF—turns 70 years old today, and since we know there are plenty of plane spotters and aviation geeks here at Ars, we thought we’d assemble a gallery of some of our favorite USAF planes to celebrate.

Of course, the US military had access to air power before September 18, 1947. The Army started playing around with planes a few short years after the Wright brothers took to the skies and proved heavier-than-air flight was possible, getting its first airplane—a Wright Flyer, naturally—in 1909. Around the same time, the US Navy also started getting into the flying business, but since today isn’t the Navy’s birthday, that’s the last we’ll say about naval aviation here.

By World War II, the US Army had its Army Air Forces, which flew combat missions in the European and Pacific theaters. The USAAF even brought the war to a close when a pair of B-29s dropped atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In the aftermath of WWII, Congress decided that the country required a dedicated air force and creating a new branch of the military with the National Security Act of 1947. The United States Air Force was born.

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Intel reveals it has been working with Google on self-driving cars since 2009

Self-driving cars have Silicon Valley salivating. Something of a gold rush is going on right now, as everyone is trying to perfect the technology that could banish gridlock and traffic casualties once and for all. Google started working on the problem back in 2009, then in 2016 spun the project out as a company in its own right called Waymo. Today, we learned something new about the Waymo project: it’s powered by Intel.

The chip-maker publicly stated today that it has been partnering with Waymo since 2009. Intel has been supplying Xeon processors, Arria field programmable gate arrays (for machine vision), and gigabit ethernet solutions (to let all the various components talk to each other).

“With three million miles of real-world driving, Waymo cars with Intel technology inside have already processed more self-driving car miles than any other autonomous fleet on US roads,” wrote Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a blog post announcing the news.

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