App Gives Japanese Drivers Free Coffee for Not Checking Their Phones at The Wheel

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In a bid to convince drivers in Aichi Prefecture to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, a new Japanese smartphone app offers free coffee coupons to drivers who don’t check their phones for at least 100 km.

For the last 13 years, Aichi Prefecture has recorded the highest rate of traffic fatalities in Japan. Last year, there were 443,691 accidents that resulted in injuries or deaths, and 50,101 arrests involving the use of smartphones while driving. With handhelds becoming such a big part of people’s lives, there appears to be an increase in violations of this nature, and authorities have yet to come up with an effective plan to combat the problem.

Interestingly, a trio of Japanese company seem to think that an ingenious new app could incentivize drivers to restrain themselves from checking their phones at the wheel and reduce the number of traffic accidents. Toyota Motor Corporation, Komeda Co Ltd and KDDI Corporation have teamed up to create Driving Barista, an app that uses the phone’s gyro sensor to sense the tilt of the device, and the GPS to determine the distance driven. This allows it to calculate the number of kilometers a driver has traveled with the smartphone facing down.

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Russian Driver Turns Dented Car Door into an Artistic Map

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True to the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, a Russian driver turned a badly dented car door into a beautiful map of the Altai mountains.

The details of the accident are unclear, but by the looks of things, the artistically-gifted driver got a bit to close to a parked BMW SUV and dented one of the car doors pretty badly. According to Slavorum, Russia doesn’t have mandatory car insurance, so in most cases, drivers have to pay for repairs themselves. But instead of getting a fresh paint job, our man went for a much cooler alternative – turning the car car door into an artistic map of the Altai Mountains. As you can see in the photos below, the dent actually blend into the artwork perfectly, either enhancing the shading effect of the mountains or acting as lines in the map.

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Indian Man Rents Car, Sells It Online, Then Steals It Back on the Same Day

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A 28-year-old man from New Delhi was recently arrested for selling a rented car online and then stealing it back from the new owner on the same day. His scheme actually worked the first time, but he was apprehended when he got greedy and tried to pull it off a second time.

Mintoo Kumar, son of a retired Army captain and struggling entrepreneur, was looking for a way to make some money after his businesses failed, when inspiration struck. He rented a used Mahindra XUV 500 and soon also started looking for an identical one in New Delhi. Once he found it, the conman spent the next couple of months trying to get the registration details of the car and used them to forge a registration certificate for the rented vehicle. Once the paperwork was ready, he posted an ad for the car on an eCommerce website and waited for gullible buyers. He actually managed to sell the car pretty fast, but in order to complete his grand scheme he needed to steal it back again, fast. Using a GPS device, he managed to track down the rented vehicle to its new location, and since the owner hadn’t had time to change the locks, stole it using a duplicate key.

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Inventor Creates Wheels That Let Cars Roll in Any Direction

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Omnidirectional wheels have been around for a while, but they are mostly used on utility vehicles like forklifts. London-based inventor William Liddiard has created a special set of omni wheels that can be bolted on to any car, allowing it to move in any direction, spin 360 degrees and slide into a parallel park with ease.

“Unlike other omni capable wheels, my wheels do not require the vehicle to be built around them. This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels,” Liddiard wrote in the description of a YouTube video he uploaded to show how his invention works on an old Toyota Echo. “They are stronger, faster, and more accurately controlled than prior art. They can take a beating. The tires can have the same build characteristics (siping, grooves, rubber compounds etc.) as regular tires. Now you can drive in all directions, and turn on the spot, when needed.”

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Man Spends Small Fortune on “Lucky” License Plate, Gets Pulled Over 8 Times in One Day

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A Chinese man recently decided to spend more money on a set of special license plates that he did on the actual car they were installed on, in the hopes that it would bring him goof luck. The idea instantly backfired on him, as he was pulled over by police on the first day sporting the new plates.

After getting his license and buying a car for 30,000 Chinese yuan ($4,500), the man, surnamed Liu, decided to splurge on his license plate, spending a whopping 1 million yuan ($150,000) on a lucky license plate that he hoped would keep him out of trouble on the road. His plan didn’t go exactly as planned – he got pulled over by police on his very first day behind the wheel. And it wasn’t because of his driving, either.

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Bumper Cars a Unique Driving Opportunity for Women in Saudi Arabia

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In a country where women are not allowed to drive, bumper cars have become an unlikely alternative to real automobiles. Unlike men, most of whom love nothing more than to bump each other when using the popular amusement park attractions, Saudi Arabian women prefer to cruise beside each other while honing their driving skills.

For reasons that are hard to understand in the Western world, women in Saudi Arabia are still forbidden to drive. Despite moves towards rights for women under King Abdullah before his death, current crown prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud recently said that the Saudi community “is not convinced about women driving”. It’s hard to predict if things will ever change in that regard, but in the meantime, Saudi women have found an ingenious way to practice driving – riding bumper cars.

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Dubai-Based Company Creates World’s Most Expensive Set of Tires

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A high-end tire company in Dubai has recently secured the Guinness World Record for the most expensive set of tires, after creating four tires encrusted with 24-carat gold and diamonds.

In keeping with the luxury and glamour Dubai is so well-known for, Z Tyres has gone to great lengths to create a unique set of tires that could make some of the world’s most expensive cars seem cheap. Designed and fabricated at the Z Tyres factory, the Z1 tires were shipped to Italy to be encrusted with diamonds by Italian artisan jewelers before being returned to the rich Arab country for the application of gold leafing by the very same craftsmen who have worked on the new presidential palace in Abu Dhabi. The four bespoke tires were individually inspected by Guinness experts and recognized as the most expensive in the world.

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Need for Speed – 81-Year-Old Polish Lady Loves Driving Her 300hp 2016 Subaru WRX STI

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Challenging the idea that elderly ladies are slow is 81-year-old Michalina Borowczyk-Jędrzeje. The Polish grandmother is the proud owner of a 2016 Subaru WRX STI, a car that she enjoys taking out for a spin every single day. Photographs and video clips of her driving the cool sports car have gone viral online, much to the amusement of younger Polish residents.

Speaking to the media, Michalina revealed that she’s been passionate about fast cars since childhood. And now that she’s retired, she has plenty of time to drive around town in her favorite car. Some reports have suggested that the Subaru isn’t Michalina’s first car – she has apparently owned several Opels, a BMW, a Mazda, and a Honda before this. But Subaru has always been her favorite, and she saved up for 13 years before she could finally afford the €46,000 ($50,285) car. “I love the sound of its engine,” she said. “It purrs, it is a pleasure. This car has a soul, a heart, and unlike other cars, it got me hooked.”

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New Startup Has Gas Delivered to Your Parked Car

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WeFuel, a new Silicon Valley startup, is the latest to join a host of ‘Uber for Gas’ type services. It’s an app-based refuelling service that promises to have a gas truck reach users at the location of their choice within 30 minutes of placing the order. The app can currently be used in Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

The launch of WeFuel last week kicked up several debates online; those in love with the idea are quick to point out its obvious advantages – if you run out of gas, you can get it delivered to your car at the touch of a button. Pumping gas is a waste of time, according to many, and WeFuel addresses that problem beautifully.

Obviously, this premium service comes with an added cost, so WeFuel does not appeal to those who want to save money. They argue that the only time you’ll want gas delivered is in an emergency, which isn’t likely to happen very often. Also, it’s lazy, wasteful and hazardous to the environment to have a gas truck come to you all the time, because of all the extra gas needed to transport fuel. 

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26-Year-Old Hacker Builds Self-Driving Car That Teaches Itself to Drive Like a Human

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While companies like Google, Tesla, and Mercedes are spending millions on research and development of self-driving cars, a 26-year-old hacker from San Francisco believes he might just have nailed the technology all on his own. George Hotz, previously known for his legendary iPhone jailbreaking skills, says he has developed autonomous car technology that actually works. What’s more, the technology only costs a few thousand dollars, and can be implemented on any car in the world.

Hotz, who at age 17 became the first person in the world to unlock an iPhone, also hacked a Sony Playstation 3 a few years later. He’s worked briefly at Google, SpaceX, and Facebook, but after studying artificial intelligence at Carnegie Mellon University, he decided to work on his own self-driving car technology. Once perfected, he plans to sell the system directly to customers through his startup, comma.ai.

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Ukrainian Drivers Are Converting Their Cars into Wood Burners to Save Money on Gas

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With the advent of an energy crisis and the rising cost of gas, people are becoming interested in alternative forms of energy. For example, a growing number of Ukrainian drivers are turning to wood to power their cars to save money on fuel.

With the automobile industry slowly going electric, using wood as fuel hardly seems like the most practical solution. The technology isn’t exactly new. People have been creating wood-powered cars for decades, and they were actually quite popular during World War I, but in modern times, people have mostly built them as experiments, to prove that it can be done. Nowadays, more and more drivers in the Ukraine are fitting their old cars with wood burners and boilers to save money.

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Ford Creates “Drug Driving Suit” That Simulates Drug Impaired Driving

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Ford has come up with an ingenious way of showing young people the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs. They’ve built a ‘drugged driving’ simulation suit that accurately replicates the effects of being high. Driving while wearing the suit will now be a compulsory module in the company’s worldwide driver education program, ‘Ford Driving Skills for Life’.

The suit, developed in collaboration with scientists from the Meyer-Hentschel Institute in Germany, is specially engineered to simulate distortion of the senses. It comes with padding, ankle weights, goggles, and headphones, all of which create the effect of reduced mobility and vision. So anyone wearing the suit will experience slower reaction time, distorted vision, and poor coordination. The goggles create tunnel vision while the headphones play random distracting sounds. Knee and elbow bandages slow limb movement, a neck brace limits head movement, while tremor generators make the hands shake uncontrollably.

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Company Builds World’s First Automobile Vending Machine

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Thanks to used-car website Carvana, it is now possible to buy your own set of wheels at the touch of a button, from the world’s first and only coin-operated car vending machine in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s err… not cheap, but cheaper than  buying a car the old fashioned way.

The company has been working on the concept for the past two years – their original car vending machine was installed in Atlanta in 2013. But they’ve spent time on improving the design, in order to take user experience to the next level. “Our new Vending Machine is a state-of-the-art, multi-story structure that delivers our customers’ cars by merely inserting a custom coin,” said Carvana CEO Ernie Garcia.

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Biker Repurposes Old Tractor into Unique Motorcycle

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Larry Medwig, from Painesville, Ohio, is so passionate about motorcycles that he can make one out of pretty much anything. A few years ago, he built the aptly-named ‘tractor cycle’ using parts from an old tractor!

Medwig’s unique vehicle has been spotted at various events and hardware stores across Ohio, as reported by a variety of bloggers. The earliest sighting was in 2010, at the ‘Hit and Miss’ show in Orwell. And according to blogger Andy Rupert – who spotted the tractor cycle on display at Joughin’s Hardware shop in Painesville – it looks like a “homemade vehicle” with the “front forks and handlebars made of iron plumbing pipes.”

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Lexus Unveils Drivable “Origami Car” Made of Precision-Cut Cardboard

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Luxury car giant Lexus is making headlines for creating a fully functional, drivable cardboard replica of its IS sedan. The ‘Origami Car’ was made by gluing slices of cardboard together on a steel and aluminum frame, with an electric motor powering it. The one-of-a-kind vehicle comes with fully fitted interiors, functioning doors, headlights, and wheels.

The striking cardboard car is meant to be a tribute to the thousands of skilled men and women – called takumi – who work on the Lexus production lines. These people apparently sharpen their craftsmanship and dexterity by practicing making an origami cat using only their non-dominant hand.

“The Origami Car takes the spirit of this talent to a far higher level, while also embracing the spirit of Lexus’s Creating Amazing global brand campaign,” the firm said in a statement.

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