Do you remeber Knight Rider? It was a 1980s US TV series featuring “the Hoff” (David Hasselhoff) as Michael Knight, a high-tech crime fighter who was aided and abetted by an articicial intelligent car. The car spoke to him and could be commanded remotely to drive to him. It was pretty cheesy as a show, but everyone admired the idea of a car that was like a faithful dog, or the Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver, that would come when you whistled for it.
Fiction is beginning to turn into reality. The world’s first production car with remote driver controls has been unveiled in Beijing by the Chinese manufacturer BYD.
There are two models the “F3 Plus” and the Dual Mode “Qin” (pronounced “Chin”) ehibited at the 2012 Beijing International Auto Show. This year’s show theme was “Innovate and Excel” and BYD did both displaying 3 new break-through technologies in their new vehicles.Before we look at the remote driving feature that allows you to move the car remotely, let’s see the the rest of the specs:
The BYD Qin is an intelligent, next-generation, highly-efficient dual mode vehicle that uses BYD’s innovative Dual Mode II system with improvements over the first generation’s F3DM system. These improvements include: 7% better efficiency, power and energy-saving and in pure EV mode, the Qin can travel 50 km (31 miles) on a single 10 KWh charge. In hybrid mode, the Qin can use both its 110 KW electric motor and its 1.5 Turbo engine to output 223 KW of power and a huge 440 Nm of torque. With this amazing torque, the Qin can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in only 6.9 seconds and has a top speed of 185 km/h (115mph). In hybrid mode, the Qin requires just 16 RMB (~$2.50 USD) of energy per 100 Km (equating to a little less than 2 liters of fuel per 100 km or a jaw-dropping 118 miles per gallon.)
The Qin is also equipped with the BYD “i” intelligent cloud system platform incorporating features like telematics, cloud-computing and a full-range of services 24 hours a day (like roadside assistance, vehicle positioning, remote monitoring, music and video downloads etc..).
The new BYD F3 Plus best represents the Auto Show’s concept of “Excel.” The F3 Plus uses BYD’s self-developed, 1.5 Turbo-charged, Direct-injection, Dual Clutch engine and incorporates, as a standard feature, the break-through “Remote Driving Controller” technology—a first for a mass production vehicle. This is where the Knight Rider scenario comes in:
The Remote Driving Control technology allows many driving functions to be performed remotely with a specially design remote “key.” With the key in their hands, the driver can start the car, move it forward or back, turn left and right, and travel at a restricted speed all by itself, without the driver being inside the vehicle. It is a perfect solution when the parking space is not wide enough for the driver to exit the car once parked. In windy and rainy weather, drivers can remotely move their car for easy entrance.
It has been dubbed Remote Driving Controller technology. The car will only move at a limited speed in remote control mode. The feature will be standard on the F3 Plus and pricing is unannounced on the car at this time.
I wonder what the implications are for insurance and the law, if you are “driving” a vehicle remotely? Must you have passed your driving test to use the Remote Driving Controller technology? What happens if you hit another car? Cue amendments to the Highway Code and the law, I guess.
Finally, BYD displayed another first in EV technology features – standard Bi-directional Charging and Discharging technology able to allow vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) discharging for stranded vehicle assists, Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) and Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) solutions. This technology transforms your EV into a mobile energy storage station.