Drive Wire: October 16, 2015
Tesla Autopilot, Red Bull F1 news, Viper rumors, a rooftop tent, and huge mountain bike jumps.
Hey guys, it’s Christina Thompson, and this is Drive Wire for Friday, October 16.
Big news in the world of cruise control, Tesla has released a new “Autopilot” mode for the Model S that enables the car to change lanes, park, and largely drive itself in stop-and-go traffic without driver input. Drivers have seen some of these features in BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Honda among others. Still it is pretty cool that the autopilot mode was delivered as a software download. But we’d prefer to just hammer on a Model S in ludicrous mode.
Somehow all Formula One news ties back to Red Bull racing. F1 overlord Bernie Ecclestone says he has a line on an alternative engine for next season due to two teams being without power units – Toro Rosso and Red Bull. The engine will either be a return of the V8s from three seasons ago, or a twin-turbo V6 with an energy recovery system on board. This would put two different engine types on the grid, which sounds interesting for fans. But, the move would require huge last-minute rule changes and the turmoil would be visible from orbit. Some race experts say that Ecclestone is using Red Bull’s failure to find an engine for next season as leverage to get the alternative power units.
In the sports car realm, the future could be a lot tamer. Yes, the Viper could be going away once again with the Conner Avenue plant slated to shut down in 2017. The Viper has already been cancelled once in 2010, brought back to sluggish sales in 2013, and had its price discounted last year. Now it may be homeless in a couple years. We may be old school, but a future without the Viper—and without an American sports machine built in Detroit— will feel just a little emptier. Still, let’s hold back our tears until Fiat-Chrysler executives weigh in.
In gear news, you might want to consider our new favorite piece of camping gear, the Treeline Outdoors Rooftop Tent. It’s in its second generation, so the kinks have been worked out of what’s basically a condo for the top of your rig. The tent comes with a comfy foam mattress, accommodates solar panels, and starts around $1700.
Today’s ridiculous video features mountain bikes jumping improbable heights and distances in the desert. Red Bull’s rampage brings together the world’s best free-riding mountain bikers to make us realize we’re not that good at riding bikes. Good to know that if they leave Formula One, Red Bull will still make crazy stuff for us to watch.