Gary S. Vasilash
Gary S. Vasilash is the founding editor of Automotive Design & Production (AD&P) magazine, a publication established in 1997 by Gardner Publications with the cooperation of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). He is responsible for the editorial management and direction of the monthly magazine. Vasilash continues to write a monthly column for AD&P and contributes several stories to each issue.
Vasilash has more than 20 years of experience writing about the automotive industry, best practices and new technologies. His work has appeared in a variety of venues, ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Lightworks, a journal of contemporary art. He has made numerous presentations at a variety of venues ranging from the annual meeting of the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) to the Center for Constructive alternatives at Hillsdale College.
Prior to his present position, Vasilash was editor-in-chief of both Automotive Production and Production magazines—predecessors to AD&P. He joined Cincinnati, Ohio-based Gardner Publications in 1987 as executive editor of Production magazine.
Prior to that, Vasilash had editorial positions with the Rockford Institute and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and a Master of Arts degree from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He is a member of the Automotive Press Association.
Continental Tech for Easier Riding
9. December 2016
One of the more usual navigation apps is Waze, as in addition to the basic mapping/routing function, it provides information about the route—traffic jams, accidents, etc.—that is captured in real-time from the Wazers who are using the app.
Continental has developed something that’s somewhat analogous, but in this case, the Conti developers based in Singapore focused on the needs of motorcyclists rather than four-wheel drivers.
Info about incidents on the route
It is based on “swarm intelligence,” which is based on individual behaviors that are accumulated and coordinated for the ends of many.
In this case, there is an app with a map; information from riders who have the app on their phones can be uploaded and then used to help advise other riders.
“The stored data is collated in the cloud and made available to all motorcyclists,” says Ralf Lenninger, head of Continental’s Intelligent Transportation Systems. “As a result, the eHorizon system informs bikers in advance of obstacles along their route, such as construction zones, accidents, slippery conditions, or traffic jams. Having this information can enhance safety, not only for motorcyclists, but for other road users.”
Obviously, it is one thing to be sitting in a car and being able to input information regarding conditions. For the Conti system, there is a button on the digital instrument cluster that they’ve developed that allows the rider to record their position. Then upon arrival at their destination, they can provide more detailed information regarding road conditions.
There is a smartphone app that uses a Bluetooth Connection Manager to pair between the instrument cluster and the cloud.
Warhol and Cadillac
8. December 2016
This is a 1962 Cadillac Eldorado:
The relevance of this car goes to some of the work of Andy Warhol, the American artist and celebrity and oddity who died in 1987.
Warhol actually used Cadillacs as models throughout his career.
Like Seven Cadillacs, a 1962 silkscreen, ink on linen. It is thought to be a work based on a 1963 Fleetwood. (This is not to be confused with the 1963 silkscreen Eight Elvises. Warhol clearly had a thing for American icons.)
Then there are works he did for Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s, which include a Coupe de Ville.
There is a pencil sketch of 1962, Cadillac.
And there is a work consisting of four photographs, Sign (Keep Out), from 1986, which includes what appears to be a Coupe de Ville d’Elegance.
And the relevance of all is that Cadillac has inked a multi-year partnership with The Andy Warhol Museum on a global traveling exhibition, “Letters to Andy Warhol”*.
The initial showing will be at Cadillac House (in Manhattan, 330 Hudson Street, through December 26).
That Cadillac is sponsoring an art exhibit is not all that astonishing. Auto brands regularly support the arts, with high-end companies like Cadillac doing the visual arts and symphonies and mainstream companies sponsoring things like Lollapalooza (e.g., Toyota is a sponsor of the 2017 event that will be held in Grant Park).
What’s interesting is the fact that Warhol made as much use of Cadillacs as he did. Especially as he reportedly never had a driver’s license.
*To or from Yves Saint Laurent, Mick Jagger, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York State Department of Public Works, and a mutual friend of his and Truman Capote. Not the DMV.
2017 Audi Q7 3.0T quattro tiptronic
7. December 2016
Here’s something important to know about the 2017 Audi Q7 as it is a vehicle that seats seven and, consequently, is likely to carry passengers: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded it with the Top Safety Pick+ designation, which is the highest possible rating from IIHS for 2016.
There are two aspects to achieving this high rating. One is structural. The other is safety tech. The first is about crashworthiness under a number of conditions, so know that the vehicle is fundamentally constructed for keeping the driver and passengers safe.
Although there is an extensive use of aluminum throughout the vehicle to reduce overall mass, hot-stamped steel (the reason that it is hot stamped is because it is so hard that it is necessary to use heat to soften it up so that it can be formed, but when it cools it becomes really strong again) is used to create the passenger cell (e.g., the B-pillars, side sills, etc.).
But it is worth noting that they are such things as highly engineered aluminum components such as the front longitudinal members that absorb energy in the case of collisions.
So that’s the structural aspect.
The surface ahead of that knurled knob allows navigation input by spelling out the place or address with your finger: there’s handwriting recognition
As for the other part, the crash avoidance and mitigation, the Q7 is rated by IIHS as “superior” thanks to its “pre sensing” system operates at speeds up to 52 mph and that helps prevent or lessen the severity of collisions. The front camera (located by the rearview mirror) looks out ahead of the vehicle by 328 feet (a.k.a., 100 meters). Should it detect that there is a potential intersection with another vehicle or pedestrian, it warns the driver and deploys automatic braking if necessary. Audi calculates that at speeds up to 24.9 mph the system can avoid accidents. At speeds higher than that, it reduces the impact. What’s interesting to note is that the system actuates the brakes in such a way that skidding—and potentially additional collisions—is avoided. What’s more, the front seat belts are electrically tightened, and if the windows and sunroof (and know that the Q7 offers a MASSIVE two-panel sunroof) are opened, they’re automatically closed.
Yes, that’s Google Earth on that screen
The second-generation Q7 is a big car. An imposing vehicle. It is more than 16-feet long. More than 6.5-feet wide. It is over 5.5-feet high. Big.
Yet thanks, in large part, to the aforementioned materials, the engineers have managed to make the Q7 comparatively light.
Why do you care how much it weighs?
Simple: because it has a considerable effect on handling dynamics, and when you’re piloting something as large and as massive (yes, it is light but you’re still leading with 4,938 pounds), you want all the advantages you can get.
It should be noted that the vehicle—as one should expect from a full-size SUV, offers quattro drive, which means permanent all-wheel-drive capability for those untoward conditions. (Under normal circumstances, the center differential distributes power front to rear 40/60; in the event of grip loss, as much as 70 percent of the power can go to the front and as much as 85 percent to the rear.) Also, there is wheel selective torque control that uses braking to adjust wheel torque during cornering.
In addition to which there is the ability to select from drive modes “efficiency,” “comfort,” “auto,” “dynamic,” “individual,” and “offroad.”
As regards power, there is a supercharged 333-hp V6 mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. According to Audi it goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph.
And in terms of the interior: know that Audi has been the benchmark for interior quality for many years. It still is.
Engine: 3.0- liter TFSI quattro, 333 hp// Transmission: Eight-speed automatic//Cargo volume: Seats folded, 71.6-cu. ft.; Seats up: 14.8-cu. ft. second row folded// Fuel economy: 19/25/21 city/highway/combined mpg
Beer, Data & Big Rigs
6. December 2016
A few weeks ago, a self-driving semi carrying 50,000 cans of Budweiser traveled 100 miles, from a weight station in Fort Collins, Colorado, to a depot in Colorado Springs. The 18-wheeler (a Volvo) was engineered with tech from Otto, a company owned by Uber. It uses two cameras for lane detection, LIDAR, two front-facing radar sensors, and GPS.
There must be something about tech companies and big rigs.
Last week Amazon, through its Amazon Web Services (AWS), introduced the Snowmobile.
According to AWS, “Each Snowmobile comes with up to 100PB of storage capacity housed in a 45-foot long High Cube shipping container that measures 8 foot wide, 9.6 foot tall and has a curb weight of approximately 68,000 pounds. The ruggedized shipping container is tamper-resistant, water-resistant, temperature controlled, and GPS-tracked.”
As for that 100PB: that’s 100 petabytes. If you were to write it out, it would look like this: 100,000,000,000,000,000.
The Snowmobile is driven to the site where you have massive amounts of data to be stored, hook it up to the trailer, and “in as quickly as a few weeks,” the data is stored on board, ready to go somewhere to be securely stored.
AWS says that data migration of this scale had previously required years.
But what if you don’t have 10PB of data or more?
Then there’s Snowball, designed for a more modest amount of data.
Alfa Romeo Giulia in Depth
5. December 2016
Say you’re looking for a premium sport sedan. Say you’re looking for one that has not only four doors (let’s face it, sometimes you’ve got to take the family somewhere) but a 2.9-liter, bi-turbo V6 that happens to generate 505 horsepower. Say that you’re looking for something that isn’t owned by every attorney, doctor and hedge-fund manager on your block.
Which pretty much means that you’re probably going to be looking for an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
Yes, a sedan that set a 7:32 lap at the Nürburgring, a record for a production four-door sedan. (A record set by one of the engineering development drivers for Alfa, not a professional race car driver. If you check out the video of the run, which you can see here, note that he’s wearing regular street clothes, not an exotic racing jumpsuit. But don’t try it at home.)
Although Alfa is a brand that has been absent from the U.S. market for a number of years, the Giulia (which is also available in models with a 2.0-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four that provides 280 hp and has a 0 to 60 mph time of <5.1 seconds), is certainly going to bring more than a modicum of visibility to the company whose theme is “La meccanica delle emozioni”—the mechanics of emotion.
The Giulia is a machine. A stylish, powerful machine.
After having spent a day driving a Giulia in northern California, I had the opportunity, joined by Tim Stevens, editor of Roadshow, to sit down and talk with Reid Bigland, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati, Richard Cox, head of Alfa Romeo and Maserati global product planning, and Fabio Di Muro, vehicle line executive for the Giulia.
All of which is to say that we’ve got the guys who not only are instrumental in the launch of the Giulia on the roads here and in other places around the world, but people who have a huge effect on the entire Alfa endeavors.
Then Tim and I are joined on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” by Rebecca Lindland, senior director, Commercial Insights, KBB.com, and Tony Quiroga, senior editor, Car and Driver, who then talk about the Giulia in particular from the points of view of market (Rebecca), driving dynamics (Tony) and technology (Tim).
And you can see it all here: