2021’s Top Ten Tech Cars: Land Rover Defender

It tells you when the river’s too deep to ford

2 min read
Image of the 2021 Land Rover Defender.
Photo: Jaguar Land Rover

The rebornLand Rover Defender grinds its way up Mount Equinox in Vermont, the tallest peak in the Taconic Range, showing off some techno-wizardry. As the front wheels roll into a stream, a water sensor sounds the depths ahead, assuring me I'm not exceeding the vehicle's 90-centimeter (35.4-inch) wading limit. A waterproof camera feeds imagery of obstacles below the vehicle, with animated overlays tracking the front wheels on the dashboard display. For ultimate, eye-rolling ease, we set our desired speed to 6 kilometers per hour (4 miles per hour), and the Rover's systems—including a height-adjustable air suspension, active electronic rear differential and selectable Terrain Response—sort it all out automatically, walking this stylish beast up and down slopes steep enough to make a 4x4 newbie cringe. A maximum 29-cm (11.5-inch) ground clearance tops even that of the mighty Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

Base price:

US $47,450

Honestly? The Rover's off-road chops are impressive yet unsurprising, basically a deluxe, digitized gloss on the abilities that made the post–World War II Defender a globe-trekking legend (those of a certain age may remember the 1966 film Born Free). What is surprising is the Defender's on-road comportment and performance. Forget your Wranglers, your Ford Broncos, even a six-figure Mercedes G-Wagen: Nothing in this burly class can match the Defender on a winding stretch of pavement.

Our mountain-man work accomplished, the Rover makes a hot run to a more likely natural habitat: Gather Greene, a rustic glamping spot near New York's Hudson River. Along the way, it takes advantage of a rigid, all-aluminum D7x architecture and 295-kilowatt (395-horsepower) Ingenium in-line six, a mild hybrid goosed with a 48-volt electric supercharger and a small lithium-ion battery. The sprint from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) is dispatched in 5.8 seconds, besting many comparable SUVs.

A modular, industrial-chic interior flaunts an exposed, powder-coated magnesium alloy beam connecting the dash and an off-road grab handle to keep a shotgun passenger in place. An optional, folding jump seat allows old-school, three-across seating up front. Skylights integrated into roof pillars are a first in a production car, and it was a challenge to engineer them to meet crash standards. Jaguar Land Rover's notoriously behind-the-curve infotainment systems are replaced with Pivi Pro, a smartphone-style touch screen with over-the-air software updates. The exceptional Meridian audio system includes a sparkling 700-watt, 15-speaker unit.

More than 170 adventure-grade accessories include an optional rooftop tent, inflatable waterproof awning, and integrated air compressor. Two seem a must: The Defender's signature, side-mounted gear carrier and Expedition roof rack—the latter ideal for tomb raiding. Or at least antique hauling.

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Cybercrime Meets ChatGPT—Look Out, World

Misused chatbot could create customized malware and whole new cybersecurity threats

3 min read
illustration of a text bubble with red x pointing to a laptop with chat on screen against a red background

The world is abuzz with what ChatGPT is capable of. Sure, it answers both mundane and philosophical questions, it writes code and debugs it and even could help screen for Alzheimer’s. But as with every new technology, the AI-powered chatbot by OpenAI is at risk of being misused.

Researchers from Check Point Software found that ChatGPT could be used to create phishing emails. Combined with Codex, a natural language-to-code system also by OpenAI, ChatGPT could then be used to develop and inject malicious code. “Our researchers built a full malware infection chain starting from a phishing email to an Excel document that has malicious VBA code. We can compile the whole malware to an executable file and run it in a machine,” says Sergey Shykevich, threat intelligence group manager at Check Point Software. He adds that ChatGPT mostly produces “much better and more convincing phishing and impersonation emails than real phishing emails we see in the wild now.”

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Bosch Powers the Automotive Sector Toward an Electrified Future

The German company has optimized three-phase inverters and their DC link capacitors with a simulation-powered design process

8 min read
Digital art showing a 3D transparent car with the electric engine connected to batteries.

The global transition toward electric cars is getting a boost from industry suppliers like Robert Bosch, which provides electrical components and systems to car manufacturers. The Bosch team optimizes three-phase inverters and their DC link capacitors with a simulation-powered design process, which enables them to identify potentially destructive "hot spots" early in the development cycle.

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

Just as tourists in Paris are drawn to the Louvre, visitors to Stuttgart, Germany, also flock to museums displaying the great works of the city. Stuttgart may not boast of Degas or Monet, but its prominent names are perhaps even more famous than Paris’ painters: Mercedes–Benz and Porsche. Each of these iconic automakers maintains a museum in the southwestern German city they call home. Their gleaming galleries feature many historic and influential cars, almost all of them powered by petroleum-fueled internal combustion (IC) engines. Looking ahead, Stuttgart will likely continue to be the heart of the German auto industry, but how long will the IC engine remain the heart of the automobile?

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