Cars

New York International Autoshow

I spent a day at the NY Autoshow this weekend with my son to take a look at the latest concept cars and the newest production cars from the world's largest and most exclusive automobile brands, and to check in on the progress of UIMA, an XML standard that has the potential to one day be used by cars to communicate with the road and with other cars around them.

Being a technology aficionado, I was very impressed to find more evidence of a move to carbon-fiber and aluminum construction evident with many manufacturers this year. Similarly there was are a lot of new developments with respect to electric and hybrid vehicles that could be seen in New York.

Here is a quick gallery of some of my favorite cars at the show:

Mazda Furai Concept Car

Mazda Furai Concept Car

Saleen Raptor

Saleen Raptor

Audi R8

Audi R8

BMW Concept Car

BMW Concept Car

And my favorite of the entire show - and a great example of the use of carbon-fiber and aluminum in a high-end production vehicle - is the Aston Martin DBS:

Aston Martin DB2

Aston Martin DBS

Sadly, a few revolutionary cars that I would have liked to see were absent from the show, such as the Tesla or the Gibbs Aquada. And a few other high-end car manufacturers were also missing, for example the Koenigsegg or the Pagani Zonda.

But there was a flying car on display. Well, at least a prototype of one. You just can't have a car show without a flying car:

I was also looking in vain for evidence of any production applications of UIMA or other similar software approaches that would allow XML to be used by cars to communicate with the road and other cars around them. But that technology still seems to be a few years in the future before it reaches production vehicles, as UIMA is presently being standardized by and OASIS TC.

The exciting thing about UIMA is, of course, that it is not only based on XML, but being described by a specific domain model in XMI (which can be used in the UModel UML Modeling Tool), and contains specific Web Services descriptions in WSDL (which can be viewed in the XMLSpy XML Editor and utilized in our MapForce data integration tool). Last, but not least, there are semantic web implications with respect to knowledge integration in UIMA (which result in RDF and OWL information that can be viewed and processed in our SemanticWorks RDF and OWL editor). I will be following UIMA closely and will report on any progress in this XML Aficionado blog.

More photos can be found in this gallery on my photo website. And for more news from the New York Autoshow, please refer to the various in-depth reviews on Popular Mechanics...

Tesla Roadster takes shortcut when it comes to safety

Tesla

I love technology. And I love cars. So when cool technology is used to build a cool car, such as the Tesla Roadster, I get excited. I've been following the Tesla story for the past couple of years and the idea of an all-electric car and the performance advantages and torque that they get as a result are just impressive. I can't wait to see the first units hit the road - it's supposedly going to happen in Q1 this year and all 2008 production units are sold out.

However, Engadget reports today that the Tesla Roadster will not need to meet the advanced airbag requirements that are now common for gasoline-based vehicles. In Engadget's post Paul Miller writes:

"Apparently when you're saving the planet with an all-electric car, there's no need to kill yourself over safety. The Tesla Roadster has been granted a waiver in regards to advanced air bags by the NHTSA, since the 'public interest is served by encouraging the development of fuel-efficient and alternative-fueled vehicles.' Standard air bags are still included..."

That's a bit of a disappointment, since I don't like to see it when safety needs to take a back-seat, but I guess the reality of creating an electric car company from scratch is that there are some financial and regulatory hurdles in your way.

Let's hope that they will fix this issue for the 2009 model year - they are already taking wait-list reservations...