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KIA unveils new Concept

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At the recent Frankfurt International Motor Show, KIA Motors’ new concept car, the Proceed Concept, made its world debut.

“The Proceed Concept is our bold and engaging vision for a potential member of the next generation cee’d family,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer Europe for KIA Motors. “Embodying the spirit and athleticism of the current pro_cee’d, the Proceed Concept is an extended hot hatch that encapsulates KIA’s performance spirit. It’s an ambassador of all our emotion, our passions and our dynamic values. It’s the pro_cee’d reborn, more beautiful than ever before.

“The pro_cee’d has always been KIA’s performance halo model in the cee’d family. Since its debut in 2008 it has embodied all our driving passion, and the model that succeeded it in 2012 extended this dynamic lineage. However, with many European drivers seeking alternatives to the traditional three-door hot hatch, we began thinking about a new halo model.

“The extended hot hatch you see here could be an alternative for us. It’s a third body type – one that retains the athleticism of the pro_cee’d, but reworked and reimagined to combine a striking new visual presence with a dash of real-world versatility. The Proceed Concept is our vision of how the vibrant spirit of the pro_cee’d could be reincarnated and revitalised for a new generation of drivers.”

Kia-concept

KIA provided the following information:

Low, lean and lithe, the five-door Proceed concept marries its imposing proportions with a compact footprint that hints at its outright agility. The silhouette of the car is complemented by a series of distinctive design cues. The highlight line that frames the glasshouse extends to the rear tailgate, enhancing the car’s dynamic proportions. Together with the glass roof, the acutely angled ‘Sharkblade’, complete with GT logo, reinforces its lack of B-pillars. This in turn emphasises the dramatic roofline as its flows in to the rear shoulders. Lateral strakes further exaggerate the Proceed Concept’s slim waistline, and lend an air of muscularity to the rear of the car.

Daytime running lights have become a key element in a car’s identity, helping other drivers easily identify KIA models, by day and night. However, in low light conditions, cars viewed from the side often lack bold design cues. The Proceed Concept uses light to highlight its fastback shape. Guillaume comments: “This inspired us to take a step further and develop what we call the ‘Luminline’ – an illuminated outline of the Proceed concept’s glasshouse that greets drivers as they approach the car. This serves as a powerful nocturnal visual identifier when the car is on the move.”

Further tactile and visual highlights include atmospherically backlit headlamps in red, stacked rear air vents, and large six-spoke, 20-inch alloy wheels with central locking nut. The rippled surface of its rear light strip is inspired by molten ferromagnetic metal.

Kia-ProCeed-concept-rear-three-quarter

Its stance and proportions may be new, but the Proceed Concept features many of KIA’s now familiar design motifs. The iconic ‘tiger nose’ grille, the sculpted ‘island’ bonnet inspired by the Stinger, the castellated windscreen, the full-length roof glazing, and KIA’s inimitable mix of curvaceous sheetmetal and taut creases. Each element singles out the Proceed Concept as a truly modern KIA.

The Proceed Concept’s body, including the low-mounted ‘Wingcams’, is coated in unique Lava Red paintwork. The result of a highly complex, week-long paintshop process, Lava Red combines 19 hand-applied layers of black, chrome-effect silver and red tinted lacquer for a glossy and lustrous paint finish. Incredibly sensitive to changing light conditions, its depth and metallic sheen further enhances the Proceed Concept’s contours and curves.

Interior design: inspired by bespoke tailoring

“Colour and trim played a key role in the development of the car, and our discussions on the look and feel of the Proceed Concept’s cabin took place at the same time as our talks on exterior form. The two dovetailed together perfectly, which is not always the case,” explains Guillaume.

“Inspired by the world of bespoke tailoring and haute couture, we decided on a truly unique cabin environment enriched with materials used in innovative and unconventional ways – methods that might be familiar to fashion houses, but not in the automotive arena.”

KIA_Proceed_Concept_05

The seats are wrapped in more than 100 metres of black elastane fabric, cut, trimmed and tailored by hand to create rippled and ruched upholstery, producing a striking contrast with the sleek and shiny instrument panel.

The Lava Red bodywork creates a bold visual link between the Proceed Concept’s exterior design and its interior. Inspired by the visceral power and drama of an erupting volcano, the cabin’s striking colour palette combines fiery reds higher up with charcoal greys and velvet blacks further below. Finished in the same Lava Red as the bodywork, both the dashboard and steering column create the impression of the bonnet flowing into the cabin. The door linings are covered in glossy hand-painted fabric, graduating from solid black near the window line through to reflective red in the footwells.

The instrument and horizontal infotainment panels illustrate three intuitive, colour-coded driving modes – Lava Red for ‘GT’ mode, Forest Green for ‘Eco’ mode, and Ghost White for ‘Autonomous’ mode.

The four individual, interlinked seats feature a contoured welcoming wave – a hat-tip to the KIA Provo concept, unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show. The split backrests of the seats are held in place by metal exoskeletons to reinforce a sense of structural strength and material lightness.

The concept of combining lightness and strength is carried through to the minimalist and intelligently configured floating centre console. This clean and ergonomically-designed unit houses the Proceed Concept’s aluminium controls, which draw inspiration from the haptic, machined actions of top-end audio controls. The uncluttered console is itself supported by a visible carbon fibre spine that runs the full length of the car’s interior.

The Proceed Concept is a car that unashamedly appeals to the heart of the driver. While KIA embraces the future, it also knows how important it is to treasure the past. Performance cars are all about indulging the senses, and smell is the most powerful sense humans have for evoking memories. Guillaume and his team has recreated the ‘Memory Bank’ for the Proceed Concept – a flush-mounted shelf housed within the dashboard, containing a trio of evocative aromas.

“Each of these three engraved flacons contains a scent synonymous with power, passion and performance; aromas that any petrolhead will instantly recognise,” describes Guillaume. “There’s the warm musky smell of aged leather, the oily fragrance of a garage that’s home to a classic car, and the tang of high-octane motorsport fuel. This is about automotive passion and the love of car culture.”

“The idea behind the Proceed Concept is the same idea that’s behind all of our concept cars – it’s to challenge people’s perceptions of KIA and start conversations around what is and what could be,” says Guillaume. “Because that is what KIA’s power to surprise is all about.”

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Project Bloodhound saved

The British project to break the world landspeed record at a site in the Northern Cape has been saved by a new backer, after it went into bankruptcy proceedings in October.

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Two weeks ago,  and two months after entering voluntary administration, the Bloodhound Programme Limited announced it was shutting down. This week it announced that its assets, including the Bloodhound Supersonic Car (SSC), had been acquired by an enthusiastic – and wealthy – supporter.

“We are absolutely delighted that on Monday 17th December, the business and assets were bought, allowing the Project to continue,” the team said in a statement.

“The acquisition was made by Yorkshire-based entrepreneur Ian Warhurst. Ian is a mechanical engineer by training, with a strong background in managing a highly successful business in the automotive engineering sector, so he will bring a lot of expertise to the Project.”

Warhurst and his family, says the team, have been enthusiastic Bloodhound supporters for many years, and this inspired his new involvement with the Project.

“I am delighted to have been able to safeguard the business and assets preventing the project breakup,” he said. “I know how important it is to inspire young people about science, technology, engineering and maths, and I want to ensure Bloodhound can continue doing that into the future.

“It’s clear how much this unique British project means to people and I have been overwhelmed by the messages of thanks I have received in the last few days.”

The record attempt was due to be made late next year at Hakskeen Pan in the Kalahari Desert, where retired pilot Andy Green planned to beat the 1228km/h land-speed record he set in the United States in 1997. The target is for Bloodhound to become the first car to reach 1000mph (1610km/h). A track 19km long and 500 metres wide has been prepared, with members of the local community hired to clear 16 000 tons of rock and stone to smooth the surface.

The team said in its announcement this week: “Although it has been a frustrating few months for Bloodhound, we are thrilled that Ian has saved Bloodhound SSC from closure for the country and the many supporters around the world who have been inspired by the Project. We now have a lot of planning to do for 2019 and beyond.”

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Motor Racing meets Machine Learning

The futuristic car technology of tomorrow is being built today in both racing cars and
toys, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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The car of tomorrow, most of us imagine, is being built by the great automobile manufacturers of the world. More and more, however, we are seeing information technology companies joining the race to power the autonomous vehicle future.

Last year, chip-maker Intel paid $15.3-billion to acquire Israeli company Mobileye, a leader in computer vision for autonomous driving technology. Google’s autonomous taxi division, Waymo, has been valued at $45-billion.

Now there’s a new name to add to the roster of technology giants driving the future.

DeepRacer on the inside

Amazon Web Services, the world’s biggest cloud computing service and a subsidiary of Amazon.com,  last month unveiled a scale model autonomous racing car for developers to build new artificial intelligence applications. Almost in the same breath, at its annual re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, it showcased the work being done with machine learning in Formula 1 racing.

AWS DeepRacer is a 1/18th scale fully autonomous race car, designed to incorporate the features and behaviour of a full-sized vehicle. It boasts all-wheel drive, monster truck tires, an HD video camera, and on-board computing power. In short, everything a kid would want of a self-driving toy car.

But then, it also adds everything a developer would need to make the car autonomous in ways that, for now, can only be imagined. It uses a new form of machine learning (ML), the technology that allows computer systems to improve their functions progressively as they receive feedback from their activities. ML is at the heart of artificial intelligence (AI), and will be core to autonomous, self-driving vehicles.

AWS has taken ML a step further, with an approach called reinforcement learning. This allows for quicker development of ML models and applications, and DeepRacer is designed to allow developers to experiment with and hone their skill in this area. It is built on top of another AWS platform, called Amazon SageMaker, which enables developers and data scientists to build, train, and deploy machine learning quickly and easily.

Along with DeepRacer, AWS also announced the DeepRacer League, the world’s first global autonomous racing league, open to anyone who orders the scale model from AWS.

DeepRacer on the outside

As if to prove that DeepRacer is not just a quirky entry into the world of motor racing, AWS also showcased the work it is doing with the Formula One Group. Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s managing director of Motor Sports, joined AWS CEO Andy Jassy during the keynote address at the re:Invent conference, to demonstrate how motor racing meets machine learning.

“More than a million data points a second are transmitted between car and team during a Formula 1 race,” he said. “From this data, we can make predictions about what we expect to happen in a wheel-to-wheel situation, overtaking advantage, and pit stop advantage. ML can help us apply a proper analysis of a situation, and also bring it to fans.

“Formula 1 is a complete team contest. If you look at a video of tyre-changing in a pit stop – it takes 1.6 seconds to change four wheels and tyres – blink and you will miss it. Imagine the training that goes into it? It’s also a contest of innovative minds.”

AWS CEO Andy Jassy unveils DeepRacer

Formula 1 racing has more than 500 million global fans and generated $1.8 billion in revenue in 2017. As a result, there are massive demands on performance, analysis and information. 

During a race, up to 120 sensors on each car generate up to 3GB of data and 1 500 data points – every second. It is impossible to analyse this data on the fly without an ML platform like Amazon SageMaker. It has a further advantage: the data scientists are able to incorporate 65 years of historical race data to compare performance, make predictions, and provide insights into the teams’ and drivers’ split-second decisions and strategies.

This means Formula 1 can pinpoint how a driver is performing and whether or not drivers have pushed themselves over the limit.

“By leveraging Amazon SageMaker and AWS’s machine-learning services, we are able to deliver these powerful insights and predictions to fans in real time,” said Pete Samara, director of innovation and digital technology at Formula 1.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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