Never Stop Driving #20: Thor to the rescue
One of the most maddening things of the past two years was the chip shortage and how it affected production of new cars. These microchips are effectively tiny computers that link all the various electronic systems in modern vehicles. When the pandemic disrupted supply chains, the lack of the crucial chips, in some cases, halted new-car deliveries.
This was the case a year ago for the fetchingly butch Ford Bronco, eagerly anticipated by both potential customers and the Ford designers, engineers, and assembly-line workers who created the new 4×4. After hundreds of nearly finished Broncos had to be set aside, waiting for chips, some enthusiastic, soon-to-be-new owners found them in a depressing parking lot that was dubbed “dirt mountain.” The Bronco, of course, survived the chip shortage and is now available as a super capable Raptor. Check out this video of a vintage model if you want to know why the Bronco is such a big deal.
The Bronco episode came to mind when I heard about a new, seemingly minor piece of tech from NVIDIA: a new computer platform called DRIVE Thor combines driver-assist computing power with in-car entertainment and digital dashboard systems. The goal is to reduce complexity by unifying the computer hardware rather than having multiple chips. Fewer required chips potentially means relief from the shortage. The transportation revolution will mean thousands of small steps like DRIVE Thor, which, by the way, is a hilarious name for a computer chip, right?
There will be many setbacks, like the Cruise driverless taxis that were involved in three traffic incidents in one day. I’m also continually amazed by how quickly the autonomous vehicle timeline predictions were thrown aside and how some people are just now waking up to the reality that mixing human and robotic drivers will be a disaster for the robots. We know they can’t hit us, so they’ll just get bullied out there. I have no crystal ball, but autonomous-only zones in dense cities seems like the most likely outcome. Am I wrong on this?
Meanwhile, car passion continues to burn at real-life events near and far. My colleague Aaron Robinson attended the Goodwood Revival, that southern England bastion of Fifties costume wearing and British charm, and reports that there were plenty of Yankee cars in attendance. Back here in the States, Hagerty Media’s Brandan Gillogly filed this great piece on a vintage Bonneville racer brought back to life, and at the Hagerty video garage in Traverse City, Michigan, star wrench Davin Reckow promises he’s really, really close to finishing our Subaru WRX engine rebuild.
If you love cars anywhere as much as I do, bookmark Hagerty Media, where we post roughly 10 new articles and videos every day. You’ll want to know, for example, that someone spent a million dollars for a pile of rusty parts and probably got a good deal.
Yep, car people are crazy in the best possible way. Have a great weekend!
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