Department of Blechhh!!

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Volvo Cars is introducing an advanced version of the company’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist software on the all-new Volvo S90 sedan and making it standard on all S90s sold in the United States.

Pilot Assist was first introduced on the 2016 Volvo XC90 and allows the vehicle to accelerate, decelerate, come to a complete stop and steer in road conditions with clear lane markings based on the car in front up to speeds of 30 M.P.H.. The second generation Pilot Assist on the S90 will allow these functions to work up to highway speeds (80 M.P.H.) without the need for a pilot car. The Volvo S90 will be the first car in the United States that makes semi-autonomous technology standard.

“Making semi-autonomous features standard in the S90 symbolizes Volvo’s commitment to autonomous driving and our Vision 2020,” said Lex Kerssemakers, President & CEO of Volvo Car USA, “The S90 will be the first vehicle to offer this semi-autonomous technology as standard.”

The all-new Volvo S90 will make its public debut at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and will be available in U.S. retailers later in 2016.



  1. Well, yesterday morning I saw several vehicles in the median, including a semi, or at least the trailer. The cab was in the travel lane, pointed sideways. Snow and slick roads will do that.

    Lots of people wonder how autonomous vehicles will handle inclement weather. Well, I think they’ll just pull off and shut down (or not start) if the NWS issues a severe weather alert. The liability and risk is way too great. Of course, there will be complaining at first (and “hilarious” stories on the local news shows), but we’ll all get used to it, especially when we get a “snow day” from work, or get to sit at home in our ‘jammies for that conference call.

    Humans have been fighting weather for 10,000 years. Indeed, much of our progress as a species has been directly because we don’t like to be too hot, cold, wet or parched. With the promotion of wind and solar power we’re actually regressing, relying on intermittent production sources for (expected) on-demand service. There’s no reason to believe our transportation systems can’t follow the same path.

    The ultimate cost of weather is lost productivity. When our transportation system won’t let us travel to work (as opposed to today’s delays and increased travel time), we won’t be as valuable to employers, especially in rural and suburban communities, further concentrating wealth in cities and sprawl. The end game is (of course) to push us down so that the elites shine that much brighter. I’m not against automation, and certainly understand that when used properly can cause massive productivity increases (which lead to greater wealth for all, not just the 1%), but our state-driven and tightly controlled marketplace seems hell bent on control and wealth concentration, not true/real progress.

    • Agenda 21 well now Agenda 2030 would have us all in dense cities where all our stuff could be stuffed into a shipping container so we can be moved around by the corporations as they see fit. Unstable energy is of course just another aspect of this 21st century serfdom. The agenda keeps moving forward. The vow of poverty required for principles of independence get higher. The population at large will say it’s a choice. The statist choice. Either do as their authority says or suffer the consequences, some of these of course being legal with prison time. This is the redefined idea of freedom. You’re free to choose your own way and be punished for it.

      • Makes me wish I were younger… or older. Younger, so I’d be physically able to fight the bastards when it comes to the nitty gritty. Older, so I won’t be around to see it.

        As it stands, I’ll be too old to fight, but not old enough to miss the worst of what’s coming.

      • The Future of work:

        “Adding cameras to gather information about what workers do can be equally valuable, particularly in gathering data from various kinds of meters or documenting operations to make sure they’ve been carried out properly.”

        Or to have an “expert” located in a far off land working for peanuts, but instructing the onsite knuckle-dragger how to perform a task. Not so much “now remove the cover plate” but more like “take the RED handled nut driver and put it on that bolt… no the one to the left of that one… no, your other left…”

        Of course that’s just version 1.0. The “upgrade” will be an online AI that takes the place of the expert… “OK Siri, I’m done with that. What next?” Version 2.0 will be a redesigned workplace that is made for robots, not people. Then it’s game over. Already happened at Amazon.

        It’s the logical outcome of bureaucratic profit-at-all-costs businesses. Divide labor and knowledge into finer and finer “specialities” and have employees that perform the same repetitive tasks. That way you can minimize training, avoid “rock star” employees (we’re all special snowflakes, but no one gets a rating too far out of the bell curve), and pay crap wages. Once computing power catches up with the work, automate the specialists away.

        And of course, your supervisor will be watching, or at least reviewing the recorded log of your day. Better not take too long in the bathroom or sneak out for a smoke. For the unskilled or unimaginative worker, it will be a great time to be alive. You’ll get to call yourself an Engineer or some other such devalued title, have enough money to buy the ever cheaper crap and get high on the weekends and feel like you’re contributing to society.

        For the rest of us who have many skills, it’s going to be hell on Earth. The great tragedy of the 2000s is that government took the side of big business when they saw what happened to the real (original) AT&T, IBM, and Eastern Airlines -not to mention USX, The big car makers and the broadcast networks- when they finally had some competition from small startups. Startups are where new, truly good ideas that benefit society come from. Ideas that aren’t necessary going to maximize efficiency or dehumanize work.

        • “For the rest of us who have many skills, it’s going to be hell on Earth.”

          Pretty much already is. The value of the man who can do just about anything is severely diminished both in the world of work and in social standing. It doesn’t mean anything today with all the licenses, degrees, specialization and debt to pay them. Most people don’t try to live independently and that diminishes the value of collecting these skills even further.

          The generalist is dangerous. The generalist isn’t brought up in a silo. He doesn’t have any allegiance to prevailing views of specialists. He can see things the specialist will never see because he knows things from other fields.

          I don’t want to think about it. I’ll just collect more knowledge and more skills for apparently no good reason.

          • “The value of the man who can do just about anything is severely diminished” – or, as my Dad used to say, “Master of all trades, and makes jack at none.”

          • Hey Brent,

            Do you happen to know of any quick way to approximate CR (modified bike engine, aftermarket pistons) without disassembly? It’s that… Harley again.

            • You would have to know the bore, the stroke and then fill the combustion chamber at top dead center something which you could measure it’s volume. I am not sure what that would be on an assembled engine nor how to keep the valves closed to make it accurate.

              Every method I know involves measuring the parts when the engine is disassembled which I guess you already know.

              • Yeah… I was just looking for something easy!

                I suspect the bike has very high CR; cranking pressure seems to be very, very high…

                • Why not put a compression gauge on it and see what the pressure is?

                  If you know the bore then you can calculate the force to create that pressure. From the rest of the geometry and the gear ratio the starter torque can be calculated.

                  Assuming that’s where you’re going with it.

                  • That’s my next step!

                    PS: The float’s stuck (again). And it has developed new electrical problems. I truly would roll this bike off a cliff, just to watch it fly, if it were mine.

                • I once learned the hard way I should have removed the head and checked the rings and the cylinder for hard, black crap(oil, fuel, dirt, contaminants all built up into a cylinder/piston killer). And filling one with diesel and trying to rotate it without knowing what the diesel made turn loose is just as bad…..or worse. High compression might simply be gall waiting to happen……and sometimes when it’s all worn out and doesn’t have much compression. Sometimes removing a valve cover tells the whole story too.

                  It’s a shame you’re not as smart as clover. She’d know what to do with her 20/20 hindsight. Heard from her? She musta got onna them remote control 8 way dildos for Xmas.

                    • eric, this isn’t here nor there I suppose but one thing, and this is all it takes, that would keep me from purchasing a Hardley is dealers that won’t fix defective bikes when they’re brand new. I know several people who’ve had some problem or another and got nothing from the dealer.

                      I have wondered aloud to them if the dealer had no mechanic, incompetent mechanics or what? Surely HD compensates the dealer for stuff like that???? An acquaintance bought a brand new cruiser of some sort, I forget the model. His belt kept getting off to the side, simply not being lined up correctly from the factory. He didn’t fix it since it was evidently a big deal……and I can understand how that could be but his dealer wouldn’t fix it either.

                      He went on a road trip from west Tx. to Canada and around the country with friends who were riding the then new ultra badass Honda Goldwings. They had to work on that Hardley ever few hundred miles, get the belt back on as lined up as it would go and use belt dressing. I lost contact with the guy but he never got the bike right as long as I was aware.

                      I suggested the easy way to fix it, go to court but his Hardley buddies would probably have shunned him, never mind he got ripped off for a way over-priced bike, close to $30 grand I think before “personalizing” it.

                      You gotta really need that approval thing to take a screwing like that. Non-Hardley riders wouldn’t take 10 minutes of that bs.

                    • Amen, Eight.

                      I have 40-year-old Japanese bikes I would not hesitate to venture cross country on. My ’76 Kz900 is an anvil. My ’83 Honda has never once failed me, either. Even my ’75 S1 – a two-stroke – starts every time. Even after it’s been left sitting for a couple months.

                      I just don’t understand why people tolerate crap engineering.

                      What good is a bike you can’t trust to take you 100 miles (let alone 1,000 miles) without having a truck following you the whole way?

        • Hi Eric,


          Read (I’m sure you have) about the economic system of the Third Reich, the partnering of cartel capitalism (Krupp, IG Farben, DaimlerBenz and… yes, IBM and Ford and GM, too) and the state. About “marching in step.”

          The Germans may have lost der krieg, but they won nevertheless.

          • The thing I can’t get over is just how terribly inefficient the system really is, even though we’re constantly assaulted by the newspeak telling us how “logical” and efficient the corporate structure is.

            Over the holidays I did some traveling, which gave me the chance to listen to the audio version of “The Science of Liberty” by Tim Ferris:

            The big take away from the book is that there are basically two schools that formed after the reformation: those based on Francis Bacon and Descartes, and how the differences in the schools of though influenced political thinking. And of course, how politicians justify their power grabs with pseudo-science.

            The only option I see is for the system to collapse. It has already started, as we’re very close to a “knee” where people disconnect from the old media at an ever increasing rate. I’ve mostly given up on television, although I still watch a few shows. Sitcoms are unwatchable, not because they’ve changed, but because several months ago I just quit watching them. Over vacation I was forced (since the TV was always on) to watch mainstream media and found nothing of interest. I also figured I’d see the new Star Wars movie and found the plot so predictable as to be quite boring. Of course I haven’t sat through an entire footbaaaaaaah game for about 5 years. Once you stop watching the media, you start to ignore everything else too.


            Home schooling is another area where continued growth will accelerate independent thinking. But unfortunately this trend is more about literal interpretations of the Bible and not independent thinking.

            • We haven’t watched tv since ’09 when it went digital and I canned the satellite. I miss it like I miss the shingles. Nearly two years ago I sat down in one of the company RV’s and some guys were watching a really perverted sitcom about two gay guys with some unfortunate(my opinion)adopted children swishing and lisping(really, no exaggeration)and making lots of hilarious jokes about stupid bust-ass working guys like me and various other things like guns and pickups. I sat there kinda in awe this shit could even be dreamed up or that anyone would watch it and if they did they thought it was funny. All the while, these young guys who were watching it thought it most funny. That 15 minutes of tv(I had to leave)is the only thing I’ve seen in the last six years except to look up and see Dr. Phil spouting some bullshit while I was in a doctor’s waiting room.

              I did hear a line taken from King of the Hill on the John Boy and Billy show this week where Bill says “Guns are dangerous? Well, we always had them around and I never thought about that”. No shit Bill, I hadn’t either. A friends mom who is about 90 sent an e the other day. She said she took her Winchester Model 94 and half a dozen rounds of 30/30 and sat them by the front door. The postman came and went, the neighbors kids came by, the UPS guy dropped a package. She went to the door and looked later that morning and the gun was still right where she’d put it and so was the ammo. It hadn’t managed to load itself and shoot anyone the entire morning.

  2. There are bound to be horrible accidents without a driver to be found at fault. How will these car manufacturers survive the onslaught of lawsuits?

    • “How will these car manufacturers survive the onslaught of lawsuits?”
      My guess is that the gunvermin will establish standards for these vehicles and offer immunity to makers who meet them.

    • Just like the GPS navigation people, they’ll put up a disclaimer/EULA that you’ll have to click through to move the vehicle.

      You did read that (20 pages of legalese) disclaimer, right? Did you re-read it after the latest “firmware upgrade” too?

      I encourage you to watch the very offensive and extremely NSFW South Park episode “HumanCentipad” to graphically remind you that you should at least give the EULA a cursory glance before agreeing.

  3. I am guessing automated vehicles will start out (and quickly take over, once it works somewhat well) with large trucks and other commercial fleets first. There would be more economic incentive and ability to pay (at least big trucking and cab firms that have lots of drivers) for what will likely be expensive tech (at least at first).

    They will be the ones that be able to clear away regulations and laws that will (and already do) disallow computer driving. Unions and ironically enough, the government will be the only things to slow its adoption.

    I am sure trucking, cab and other companies with fleets would love being able to get rid of human drivers. Even though pay in those industries are not high anymore, there would be lots of incentives to not have humans. Trucks could be run 24/7, stopping only for fuel, pickups and drop offs. No more problems with log books, abandoned loads, downtime because the driver has run out of driving time, paying the driver, traffic tickets etc.

    I bet big trucking firms are chomping at the bit for this tech. No more having to recruit crappy drivers who drive brand new 30 ton trucks over 1880 no more then 6 ton antique bridges.

    Just look at GM investing in Lyft. The minute they have driverless cars, bye bye drivers. That’s how they will survive nobody being able to afford to buy their cars, they will become the worlds largest taxi company.

    When it happens it will happen fast. That’s the worst part for the four or so million people who drive for a living. A lot of people with no longer useful skills will be dumped on the already terrible job market with little prospects for even matching the not so great pay they had.

    I am thinking within the decade for commercial vehicles. No businesses will have the nostalgia for driving on your own. The only resistance to personal cars being computer driven (required that is) will be people on websites like this one. So a little longer for personal cars. Many be the end for truly personal cars for most.

    There will be some good things with self driven cars:
    They will be great for older people, the disabled, those who just don’t want to drive. They won’t be stuck with the lousy public transits (or nothing) that people who can’t drive have to deal with. Maybe even some clovers will quit driving! Though we can’t count on that. People who really can’t afford to own will have better access to rentals and have on demand.

    Some things will be good or bad depending on who you are. Self driving cars will probably bankrupt and finish off most public transit systems. For most of us on this site, good riddance. You know what some statists will say about the loss of “public” transportation.

    And some things will be bad. There will still be accidents (even if they manage to ban human drivers). There will be millions of pro drivers who will lose their jobs and the societal turmoil (other industries like restaurants will be automating at the same time) that will result. The safety nazis will keep speed limits low, and those self driven cars will not speed, resulting in LONGER travel times for many.

    Its going to be far messier then most can imagine.

    • The self-driving car taxi services will only be available in big cities. And if they eventually make it to your medium/small city, they won’t go past a certain point outside city limits. Similar to ordering delivery.

      So they’ll ban driver-controlled cars when these services reach a certain point in popularity, but many still won’t be able to get/use the service because they’re too far in the suburbs or rural area. So to get places we’ll STILL need to buy or lease a car, and all the liabilities that come with it.

      That’s one fear I have anyway.


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