Archive for January 2016

Ever bought a 2011 Rav4 and regretted opting out of the tow package? It happens to the best of us, and the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to drop $400 on getting a hitch welded on and the electrical installed so that you can legally tow a trailer with functioning brake lights and turn signals. Save yourself around $250 by just paying for the parts yourself (you can find hitches on amazon for about $100 and Curt-T Connectors for an average of $50) and installing the guys on your own.

wrnechFor this article, we’re going to skip the hitch installation and instead move forward to setting up your Curt-T Connectors to assure that your trailer’s lights are hooked up to your car’s.

To be specific, you need a T-One Vehicle Wiring Harness with a 4-Pole Flat Trailer Connector from Tow Ready.

Start out by opening the back hatch and removingĀ the cover of the rear cargo area and removing some plastic bits on either side as well as the inner doors on entire ride.

Then get a screw driver to pry off the plastic trim right at the outside. remove some screws and bolts along the outside of the doors and make sure to keep all parts on hand so that you can put them back later.

Gently pull out the section of trim so that you can get your hand into the side area. You’ll need to do the same thing to the driver’s side after you’ve done it to the passenger’s side.

Unplug the back connection to the lights by squeezing in on the small white locking pad and pulling out. Pull your wires through the unlocked plastic and plug it into the tail light backside and outside.

Do the same on the passenger side and disconnect the white box.

wire crimperConnect in part of the T connector you bought instead and run it behind the plastic panels. Do this on both sides. Screw some stuff around and attach some wires by clenching stuff on other stuff for a while. Then you have to run a wire underneath the car and spool it around some stuff. Eventually you want to make an incision in a little plug because you need to run a wire through then stuff it back up into the car. Now you can pull that wire up, cut it, put a little cap thing on it, put another wire on the other end, put it all together, tape the thing to the inside of the car’s lining.

Use an electrical tester and make sure that all your stuff is working and then you’re all set! You didn’t think you could do it but you can, good for you. I don’t understand what just happened at all. Let’s try it again.

The installation generally takes 30 minutes to an hour. You need a ratchet, an extension, a 12mm socket, a 10 mm socket, a wire crimper/stripper, a phillips screwdriver, and a trim fastener removal tool.

More on this later, we’ll figure it out team.

 

Ford announced today that it has begun testing its autonomous vehicles in snow and icy conditions, an industry first.

McityTo conduct these tests, Ford will be using Mcity, a 32-acre simulated urban environment that was developed in collaboration with the University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center.

“Roughly 70 percent of U.S. residents live in regions that get some now or other inclement weather,” stated a Ford spokesperson.

Jim McBride is Ford’s technical leader for autonomous vehicles.

“We expect the car to be able to drive in most if not all of the weather that a human can drive in,” he explained. “We need to monitor the sensors so that these can determine when conditions are deteriorating and it simply isn’t safe for anyone- including a self-driving car- to drive.”

“There are thousands of things an autonomous car must do, and that includes planning ahead to safely stop the car and when to know when it isn’t safe to drive.”

McBride brings up a tough judgment call an autonomous car can make thatĀ isn’t often brought up when the advantages of autonomous driving are made: sometimes human drivers simply will not accept that they shouldn’t be driving at all. If a car can make that tough call, that could avoid a lot of tragedies in the future.

Ford began testing its automobile in the snow as soon as Michigan’s winter turned wicked. It then debuted its findings in an auto show in Detroit.

“Other auto and tech companies primarily have been testing in the ideal weather conditions of central California,” Ford explained.

Pater Harrop, chairman of IDTechEx, viewed the video Ford posted of its autonomous vehicle navigating in the snow:

snowy road“Automakers need to understand that a car will face problems like drifting leaves or snow blowing across the road. These are things that the car must be trained to understand, and this makes it important to test in real world conditions… If you know the problems, it is easier to understand a solution, and this can’t be accomplished just from wind tunnels or artificially iced-over testing facilities.”

Marianna Saenko, analyst for autonomous systems 2.0 research at Lux research, agrees with Harrop:

“The real world is going to throw a curve ball at you that you didn’t expect, especially in weather, and that makes Mcity very unique for autonomous vehicle development.”

This train of logic has been a part of why Mcity has proven such a useful tool.

“The very reason Mcity was opened and a five-mile test track was set up for autonomous driving testing was to test the vehicles in dynamic weather to study/analyze sensor performance in a variety of conditions, especially vision and Lidar,” explained Praveen Chanrasekar, automotive and transportation research manager at Frost & Sullivan.

“Just testing in California might give the vehicles enough data to react to heavy traffic congestion scenarios, but dynamic weather testing is required to calibrate sensors and get the best performance in order to understand how many Lidar versus camera radar is required for urban and highway automation.”