Auto IQ News: Ferrari hybrid, Daimler self-driving trucks, plus hydrogen fuel cell aircraft
This week’s round-up of stories ranges from highly practical to high flying to extremely high performance.
From hydrogen fuel cells taking to the skies, big money being pumped into the development of self-driving trucks and news of Ferrari’s first plug-in hybrid car, here’s what caught our eye this week:
Alka’i Technologies and Designworks creates hydrogen fuel cell eVTOL aircraft
US-based Alka’i Technologies has unveiled Skai – an eVTOL aircraft created to literally and figuratively rise above today’s crowded, polluted streets. Designed in collaboration with BMW’s in-house creative studio Designworks as a predominantly urban transportation device, the Skai is powered by three hydrogen fuel cells that provide electricity to six 100kW emotors.
The company claims top speed is 118mph, range is up to 400 miles and the standard model can fly for around four hours. A 200 or 400-liter fuel tank is available, refillable in less than 10 minutes – the larger tank giving over 10 hours of flying time. The Skai has a payload of 450kg, which equates to four passengers and a pilot. However, the vehicle is autonomous ready, giving capacity for five once FAA regulations give it the go-ahead. All major systems are triple redundant, and the Skai has an airframe parachute, should things go spectacularly wrong.
Self-Driving Truck testing ramps up in the USA
Waymo added its self-driving tech to Class 8 big-rig trucks, beginning initial development testing for a short time in Arizona in August 2017. The firm has just announced that the trucks will be back on the road in a more advanced state on highways around Phoenix with two safety drivers on board.
The news comes as Daimler Trucks establishes the Autonomous Technology Group, a global center for highly automated truck driving, working between its R&D centers in Stuttgart, Germany, and Portland, OR. These locations will be supplemented by teams from Blacksburg, VA, based Torc Robotics, which has just been acquired by Daimler Trucks, plus teams working on highly automated driving from its passenger-car division.
The €500m investment kicks off on June 1, and aims bring trucks capable of Level 4 autonomy to a highway near you as soon as possible.
Ferrari SF90 Stradale PHEV is a 1,000hp supercar with no reverse gear
In order to celebrate 90 years of its Formula 1 team, Ferrari has unveiled the SF90 Stradale, a new supercar complete with a typically long list of superlatives – for example, at just 2.5 seconds, it takes longer to read how fast the SF90 completes the benchmark sprint from 0-62mph than it does for it to actually complete it.
The car does represent a number of interesting firsts for the company though, proving that even Ferrari is being forced to change its approach in the face of tougher emissions standards – the fact that these can also offer a significant performance boost is just an added bonus.
It’s the first plug-in hybrid Ferrari, and first flagship supercar to be powered by a V8. This one produces 780hp, and is helped along by three electric motors that add an extra 220hp. The first sits between engine and new eight-speed gearbox – the latter is 10kg lighter than the current seven-speeder used by Ferrari today, helped in part because it doesn’t need a reverse gear. That’s taken care of by the two emotors that drive the front wheels, and provide the power when the car is in eDrive EV mode – a front-wheel drive Ferrari! Who knew?
The emotors add torque vectoring when in Qualifying mode, trimming the SF90’s lap time around Ferrari’s Fiorano test track to 79 seconds – Ferrari’s previous record holder, the 963hp V12 hybrid LaFerrari is 0.7 seconds slower. The SF90 can travel at speeds of up to 84mph in electric mode, and has a range of 16 miles. The 7.9kwh lithium-ion battery, associated electronics, and motors, add 270kg to the car’s weight.