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KIA unleashes the Ceed

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KIA Motors has unveiled its latest models at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. Taking centre stage, the new KIA Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon make their world debuts, alongside the upgraded Optima range, and new Rio GT Line.

The new KIA Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon

The third-generation Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon are designed, developed, engineered and built in Europe. Available later this year as a five-door hatchback and Sportswagon, the new Ceed model family strengthens KIA’s presence in the European C-segment with innovative new technologies, a mature and athletic design, and a more engaging drive.

Since the first-generation KIA cee’d started production in Slovakia in December 2006, more than 1,28 million units have been built. A new naming format – cee’d becomes Ceed – consolidates its reputation as a car for the Community of Europe, with European Design. More than 640,000 units of the second-generation model have been built since 2012. In its third iteration, the new Ceed will account for an even greater proportion of KIA’s European sales – up from 15% in 2017.

The new Ceed is lower and wider than its predecessor, and boasts a striking, contemporary new design. Standard ‘ice cube’ LED daytime running lights echo the appearance of earlier Ceed GT and GT Line models. In profile, the sharp, straight lines visually lengthen the bonnet and give the car a more upright stance. At the rear, new LED daytime running lights give the Ceed greater visibility – and recognition – on the road. Straight lines in the bodywork and a subtle rear boot spoiler add stability to the Ceed’s overall presence.

The Ceed Sportswagon’s tourer shape ensures cargo capacity grows to 600 litres, more than many D-segment tourers. The Ceed is also among the most practical C-segment hatchbacks, offering 395 litres of cargo space.

The Ceed and Ceed Sportswagon will be powered by a wide choice of powertrains to meet diverse buyer needs. European buyers can choose between three petrol engines. KIA’s popular 1.0-litre T-GDi (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine, producing 88kW; a new 1.4-litre T-GDi power unit, producing 103kW; or a 74kW 1.4-litre MPi (multi-point injection) engine.

The new Ceed range is also available with KIA’s all-new ‘U3’ diesel engine. Designed to go beyond the stricter limits laid down by the latest Euro 6d TEMP emissions standard, the new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi (common-rail direct injection) uses Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) active emissions control technology to significantly reduce emissions. Available with a choice of power outputs (85 kW and 100kW), the new 1.6-litre diesel produces 280 Nm of torque.

A Drive Mode Select system enables owners to tailor engine and steering characteristics with Normal or Sport modes. Every engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission, while 1.4-litre T-GDi and 1.6-litre CRDi engines are also available with KIA’s seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

The Ceed is available with KIA’s latest Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) including a new Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system which combats distracted or drowsy driving by monitoring a number of inputs from the vehicle and driver. Other ADAS features include High Beam Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Forward Collision Warning with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.

The new Ceed hatchback will go on sale across Europe at the end of Q2 2018, while Sportswagon models will be available during Q4.

Upgraded Optima: updated interior and exterior design and new powertrains

The upgraded Optima makes its world debut at the Geneva International Motor Show, featuring an updated design and a pair of new engines. More KIA Optima models were sold in Europe in 2017 than in any previous year, with sales growing from 9,600 to 16,800 units – aided by the introduction of new Sportswagon, Plug-in Hybrid and GT variants.

The upgraded Optima sedan and Sportswagon offer two new powertrain options. KIA’s all-new ‘U3’ 1.6-litre CRDi diesel engine, producing 100kW and 320 Nm of torque, replaces the earlier 1.7-litre CRDi engine. A new 1.6-litre T-GDi engine, producing 132kW, is also available, sitting between the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre (120kW) engine and the Optima GT’s 2.0-litre T-GDi power unit (180kW). The new engine is paired with KIA’s seven-speed double-clutch transmission.

Exterior design modifications include revised bumper designs, new LED tail-lamps and a revised head- and fog lamp design. The ‘tiger-nose’ grille is now finished in bright chrome to create a more sophisticated, purposeful appearance. The designs of the Optima GT Line and high-performance Optima GT are also updated for greater on-road presence. Upgrades include new LED fog lamps, 18-inch aluminium alloy wheel designs, and subtle gloss black mirror caps, side sills and air intake grille. GT Line models are distinguished by new dual twin exhausts, while the Optima GT is fitted with chrome twin exhaust tips.

The Optima is available with KIA’s latest 7.0- or 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with navigation and KIA Connected Services powered by TomTom®. The system offers Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.

KIA’s latest ADAS are also available, to avoid or mitigate the effects of collisions. The new Optima comes with same Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system available in the new Ceed, as well as other safety features including: Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA); High Beam Assist (HBA), and full LED headlamps with Dynamic Bending Light.

The upgraded Optima sedan and Sportswagon will be available in Europe from Q3 2018.

New sport-inspired Rio GT Line

KIA is also exhibiting the Rio GT Line for the first time today – the latest KIA model to be available in GT Line specification. Like other GT Line models in the KIA line-up, the Rio GT Line features a stylish exterior design. Upgrades include a gloss-black and chrome ‘tiger-nose’ grille, a new 17-inch alloy wheel design, and ‘ice cube’ LED fog lamps, echoing those of the cee’d GT and pro_cee’d GT. The exterior is finished with twin exhaust tips, LED daytime running lights, chrome window trim, a gloss black roof spoiler and sill highlights.

The Rio GT Line is powered by KIA’s lightweight 1.0-litre T-GDi engine, with either 74kW or 88kW, and a manual transmission. In Q3 2018, the 88kW 1.0-litre T-GDi engine will be available with a seven-speed double-clutch transmission, while 1.2- and 1.4-litre petrol engines will also be available in GT Line specification.

The optional large 7.0-inch ‘floating’ touchscreen HMI (human-machine interface) includes navigation, and Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. A rear-view parking camera, heated steering wheel, and heated seats are also available.

The new Rio is the safest B-segment car KIA has ever made, featuring an Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS)-body construction and six airbags fitted as standard (front, front side, and curtain). With a five-star Euro NCAP crash safety rating when fitted with optional ADAS technology, the Rio offers Forward Collision-avoidance Assist (FCA) with pedestrian recognition. Lane Keeping Assist (LKA) will also be available to buyers from Q3 2018. The Rio GT Line is also available with KIA’s new Driver Attention Warning (DAW) system, designed to combat distracted or drowsy drivers.

With one of the most spacious cabins in its class, the Rio also features a split-level boot floor, enabling owners to change its height to fit items under the floor and prevent them rolling around, or to keep them out of sight. Luggage capacity is 325 litres (VDA).

The new Rio GT Line will be on sale across Europe from the end of Q1 2018.

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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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