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Nissan’s Rogue is its first US car with semi-autonomous driving

You won’t have to wait long to try Nissan’s semi-autonomous ProPilot Assist on American streets. The automotive giant has announced that the 2018 Rogue crossover will be the first car in the US to have the feature as an option. Not surprisingly, it won’t come standard. While the Rogue starts at $24,680, you’ll need to spend about $35,000 for a Rogue SL with the Platinum Package to get that robotic assistance. In classic car maker fashion, you’ll have to spend on extras you probably don’t care for (like leather seats and large wheels) just to get the one option you do.

Again, ProPilot Assist isn’t as slick as Tesla’s Autopilot. It won’t roll out to meet you in the driveway, or change lanes just by flicking a signal stalk. It’s focused on single-lane highway driving: it’ll keep you in your lane, adapt your speed to traffic and warn you about vehicles in your blind spots. This is more about relaxing a bit on lengthy trips than having the car drive itself. You won’t get multi-lane highway driving until 2 years from now, and city support until 4 years from now.

All the same, this is important as one of the first semi-autonomous driving experiences that many American drivers will see. Tesla still caters to a relatively niche audience of upscale EV fans, but Nissan is thoroughly planted in the mainstream — the Rogue is one of the most popular cars in the US, full stop. Even if only a fraction of buyers spring for the high-end trim level, that’s a lot of drivers who can relinquish at least a little control on their highway journeys.

Via: Autoblog

Source: Nissan

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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