Toyota’s Guardian and Chauffeur Autonomous Vehicle Platform has reached a new stage in development. For the first time, automotive enthusiasts and curious minds alike witness the advancements made the Toyota Research Institute.
In March 2017, Toyota Research Institute unveiled their Platform 2.0 research vehicle. This vehicle would be the hub for Toyota’s inquest into the world of automated driving. Six months later and Toyota is releasing Platform 2.1 along with a demonstration to show how their technology has progressed over the past few months.
The Platform 2.1 utilizes two driving modes: Chauffeur and Guardian. Under Guardian mode, the human driver maintains vehicle control and the automated driving system operates in parallel, monitoring for potential crash situations and intervening to protect vehicle occupants when needed. Chauffeur mode assumes all vehicle occupants are passengers. This is the mode that’s closest to fully autonomous driving.
The Chicagoland area is celebrating National Coffee Day with freebies. Find out where you can score a cup of joe!
Oh Happy Day! It’s National Coffee Day and some of your favorite coffee spots are handing out freebies. But first, le’s talk about Chicago’s coffee scene. According to WalletHub, Chicago ranks as the 7th best city for coffee in the United States. We’re lucky to live on the southwest side of Chicago because we have some of the city’s BEST coffee shops. These are a few of our favorites. Have we left anything out?! We love supporting our local small businesses so please let us know your favorite local spot to grab a cup of joe. Keep reading for coffee freebies after our local coffee guide…
Chicago’s Best Coffee Spots on the Southwest Side
Beverly Bakery & Cafe: Roasting over 21 coffees from all over the world, this coffee-lover’s heaven specializes in daily small-batch roasting for optimal bean freshness, resulting in a delicious cup of joe!
Bridgeport Coffee Company: A retail and wholesale purveyor of fine coffee beans and roasts on the South Side of Chicago, Bridgeport Coffee Company builds a bridge to the land where your coffee is grown.
Xando Cafe: Come for a frothy cappuccino or specialty Greek Coffee, stay for Grecian panini.
Doughs Guys Bakery: Most people head to Doughs Guys for the delicately sweet macaroons and delicious donuts, but we go for the classic cup of black coffee and grab a glazed cinnamon roll for the ride to work.
Los Pekes Ice Cream & Coffee: Sometimes you need a little sugar to start your day so head to Los Pekes for a sweet caramel latte and give yourself permission to indulge in decadence.
Car seats are vital to a child’s health & safety but many of us are installing the seats incorrectly. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your child’s car seat or booster can be found here.
I do not have any children (unless you count my dog, Riggs, and I do but I don’t want to cause confusion here) so for the sake of this article, I will define my “parenthood” status solely by the raising a human being. So no, I am not a mother. I do, however, have seven nieces and nephews. They are the loves of my life and I feel pretty darn lucky to be their aunt.
On the occasions that I take one or two or three of them out to do something special, I keep my fingers crossed that I can borrow one of my sibling’s minivans. *And no, I have never taken all seven out at once because that would be a suicide mission. I hope for the Sienna in part because I LOVE it (I can discuss this at a later occasion on the blog, but real talk—the Sienna is one of the best vehicles in Toyota’s lineup) and also in part because I’m lazy and transferring car seats and/or boosters seats from one vehicle to another is a PAIN in the butt. The seats are large, awkward and so terribly difficult to install. I can remember one particularly frustrating experience in which I attempted to install my nephew’s car seat in my Corolla—the fiasco ended with me in tears after failing to find the metal anchor in the back seat cushion. Once it was pointed out to me, I was embarrassed that I couldn’t see it all along!
While the frustration of the installation might drive us all crazy, studies show over and over again that it is worth the fuss when it comes to the safety of a child. Unfortunately, many of us are installing or using our baby/booster car seats incorrectly, rendering their safety benefits practically useless. According to the CDC, ”Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death to children in the United States.” These are preventable deaths. From the CDC:
Car seat use reduces the risk for death to infants (aged <1 year) by 71%; and to toddlers (aged 1–4 years) by 54% in passenger vehicles. Booster seat use reduces the risk for serious injury by 45% for children aged 4–8 years when compared with seat belt use alone. For older children and adults, seat belt use reduces the risk for death and serious injury by approximately half.
The 2017 Toyota Highlander is one of my favorites in Toyota’s current lineup. So what makes it so special? Check out my guide below.
Five Reasons to Check Out the 2017 Toyota Highlander
USB Ports for Everyone: if you’re anything like me (and I hope you’re not as bad as I am) but I’m attached to my phone 24/7 and as a result, my battery is drained by noon. The 2017 Highlander is an electronic-addict’s dream because it boasts five USB ports, three up front and two in the rear passenger area. Now your child’s iPad can stay charged in the back seat while they’re watching Kayou and you can continue charging your phone in the front. (Plus another three devices left to charge with the remaining USB ports.)
Panoramic Moonroof: some nights are meant for quiet drives and watching the stars. You can catch a more complete show thanks to the Highlander’s moonroof stretching all the way into the back seat.
Bird’s Eye Camera: You no longer have to ask your passenger to hop out of your car and direct you into a parking spot like you’re piloting a 737 into Gate C4. The new Highlander is equipped with technology called Perimeter Scan which utilizes four cameras to deliver a live, unobstructed, 360-degree view of the Highlander’s surroundings.
Three Zone Automatic Climate Control: remember road trips with the family when you were a kid? For us, this included two fights, one over which movie to watch *It was a toss up between Father of the Bride and Beethoven in our car* and the other fight over how hot or cold we wanted the temperature inside the car to be. Thankfully, the new Highlander solves the latter fight with its three zone automatic climate control feature. The driver, driver’s side passenger, and the second and third rows can enjoy their own climate zones without the hassle of fighting with the driver that it’s “too hot back here”.
New Engine with Giddyup: sometimes you want an SUV that packs more of a punch underneath the hood. Toyota heard your cries for something more and has delivered with a newly issued 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. This engine is both more powerful and fuel-efficient that the previous generation’s Highlander.
To learn more about the Highlander and to schedule your test drive, click here.
We’re reaching out to our friends in Houston, TX to see how we can help them during these incredibly tough times. The Houston Food Bank will be an indispensable resource for those affected by hurricane Harvey.
Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from all over the country are on the ground now, working to provide safe shelter and comfort to people impacted by this devastating storm. The Red Cross has enough shelter supplies in Texas to support 28,000 people and supplies for an additional 22,000 people are being sent in now.
In addition, tractor trailer loads of ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies are on the ground in Texas. Nearly half of our emergency response fleet — more than 150 vehicles – have been mobilized. The Red Cross also prepositioned blood products in Houston ahead of the storm to help ensure we can maintain an adequate blood supply over the weekend. We have staged additional blood inventory in Dallas.
The National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster or simply, “‘National VOAD’, an association of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters, provides a forum promoting cooperation, communication, coordination and collaboration; and fosters more effective delivery of services to communities affected by disaster.” They recommend supporting a local Texas VOAD member as that local team knows best how to handle your donation. To learn more and to donate, click here.
Toyota patents a device that catches the stuff you drop in between seats.
We’ve all been there: you’re driving along, the sun is shining, and you’re jamming to that one song you love (but you pretend not to know it when in the company of friends), you take a left turn–and just like that, you hear your phone sliding and listen for the barely audible clunk as it drops into the abyss. The abyss, or crack between the center console and your driver’s seat, is that familiar territory your change, lipstick, crumbs, and phone go to life wants to play a petty trick on you.
Fishing for the lost items is the most frustrating part–using the chair as a pendulum, pushing forward and then back–contorting your hand like an awkward skinny claw shape in an attempt to simply touch a piece of the object so you can push it or yank it or maneuver it in a way that will bring it back in your possession. It’s an ordeal. But a genius at Toyota just filed a patent to make that entire scenario a thing of the past.
Toyota’s aptly-named “under seat capture device” consists of a chute positioned on either side of the center console that can sense when something has fallen onto it, a platform that the chute funnels to, and an actuator coupled to the platform that delivers your fallen quarters/iPhones/taco crumbs to an easily accessible position.
The patent goes on to cover manually-operated under seat capture devices and also devices installed in between the seats and door sills.
So call off the search teams, Toyota will take care of the “into the abyss” items. PS. There is no date or timeline for when they will implement this nifty device, but we can all hope it’s sooner rather than later.
Do you remember the Corolla GT-S?! The Corolla GT-S was a stylish alternative to the lame sedans of the eighties. Today, the Corolla GT-S is a favorite of auto enthusiasts who look to restore the vehicle to its original glory.