A Meditation on Moon Shots, a Mid-Engine Corvette, and More Car News This Week
Space! The final frontier! Humankind has gone there a few times now, but nothing has seemed to capture the imagination—or, at least, the American imagination—like the Apollo 11 mission. It happened 50 years ago this week. We celebrated here at WIRED Transpo by wondering what a “moon shot” is these days. And by exploring what went wrong, and what could go wrong in the future, if our satellite system went down, as Europe’s Galileo did this week. And by learning about a new combat helicopter. And by driving around (digitally) in the new mid-engine Corvette. Hey, you can’t look to the sky all week. Your neck would hurt.
Plus, we talked to researchers who think self-driving delivery robots belong not on the road but in the bike lane. It’s been a week. Let’s get you caught up.
Stories you might have missed from WIRED this week
- The Air Force’s new Sikorsky combat rescue helicopter was built to carry the wounded, not missiles.
- In which Alex Davies drives the hotly anticipated mid-engine Corvette through a fence. OK, a virtual fence.
- It’s the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, a great time to reflect on why “moon shot” isn’t quite the right metaphor for the complex work of building, say, a self-driving car. How about a moon boom instead?
- Europe’s Galileo satellite outage—which took nearly a week to fix!—is a reminder of how integral navigating systems like GPS are to modern life, and how screwed up everything would be if they went down.
- Big, heavy cars have bedeviled autonomous vehicle development. So when these researchers began to develop their own food delivery bot, they set their eyes on a new piece of real estate: the bike lane.
- Formula E racing is cool, but the five-year-old electric car event has an even cooler ulterior motive: spurring development of EV tech that might one day make it to your driveway.
New-moji of the Week
In 2018, Ford made an unusual move for an automotive company. It submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the official organization that reviews and approves brand new emoji. This week, an exciting development: Ford’s pickup truck emoji has been shortlisted. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to tap out your own blue pickup in texts and tweets in 2020. Ford spent $50,000 on the effort, according to The Atlantic, and designed the ‘moji to echo elements of the Ranger and F-150.
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Stat of the Week
The drop in fuel consumption for vehicles using adaptive cruise control, compared to their less-advanced driving cousins. That’s according to a study released this week by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in collaboration with Volvo. But those savings might be erased, at least partially, if all vehicles use adaptive cruise control, because it would take each vehicle time to detect speed changes in the ones around them.
News from elsewhere on the internet
- Southwest, American and United Airlines all delay the return of the troubled Boeing 737-MAX jet until November.
- Tesla factory workers building the Model 3 said they had to take shortcuts to meet aggressive production goals, including using electrical tape to make fast fixes to plastic parts.
- Lyft wins its lawsuit against San Francisco after a judge decides its bike-share company, Motivate, has exclusive rights to rent docked and dockless bikes in the city.
- Some Uber and Lyft drivers were paid to protest a California bill that would threaten those companies’ ability to classify them as independent contractors. Others are fighting for a seat at the negotiating table.
- An investigation from the Detroit Free Press finds that Ford knew about defective transmissions in Focus and Fiesta vehicles when it began to sell the cars.
- Inside the US collapse of Chinese EV company Seres (formerly SF Motors).
- A AAA study finds some car windows are very difficult to break, even if you’ve got that emergency hammer to hand.
- The Lotus Evija hypercar charges in just nine minutes.
- An Uber driver reviews the new movie Stuber. Five stars?
In the Rearview
Essential stories from WIRED’s canon
In memory of the Mercury astronauts who led the way to the Apollo program, peep our oral history of the 1983 film The Right Stuff.
The DIY Space Suit
As a kid Cameron Smith dreamed of becoming an astronaut but his eyesight keep him out of the pilot's seat. Now he's an anthropologist in Portland, Oregon, where he's building a fully functional homemade space suit.