Good news, Aliens: NASA’s MRV is bringing sideways performance to a planet near you

When we think of space travel, we often focus on sleek starships, hyperdrive engines, and hull-crushing weaponry. Don’t get us wrong, we love X-Wings and Borg cubes as much as anybody, but a new video from NASA JSC Engineering shines some light on another form of extraterrestrial transportation.

It’s called the Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV), a battery-electric two-seater with a penchant for lateral driving. It’s not a drifter per say, as all four of the MRV’s independently-powered wheel modules (called e-corners) actuate up to 180 degrees, but the car’s crablike inclinations could make you feel like Ken Block in space.

“It’s like driving on ice but having complete control,” said Justin Ridley of the Johnson Space Flight Center. “It’s a blast to ride in and even more fun to drive. We’ve talked about it being like an amusement park ride.”

Despite the vehicle’s endearing handling characteristics, the MRV has real scientific merit. As Ridley explains, it could pave the way for exploratory vehicles of the future.

“This work allowed us to develop some technologies we felt were needed for our future rovers,” he said. “These include redundant by-wire systems, liquid cooling, motor technology, advanced vehicle control algorithms. The ‘fun’ of driving was not something we tried to design for, just something that came out of the design.”

The omni-directional MRV features a drive-by-wire control system, so there are no mechanical linkages between the steering wheel, pedals, electric motors, or suspension. Instead, sensors record the operator’s inputs through the controls, then transfer energy to the electronics. The result is smooth, effortless driving, and as the video shows, picture-perfect parallel parks. The rover-in-training can also spin completely within its own wheelbase.

Speed is expected to top out around 40 mph, and the vehicle also flaunts a 62-mile range. Lasers not included.

Product Review

Want an electric car that doesn't look like an electric car? Meet Audi's E-Tron

The 2019 Audi E-Tron is the German automaker’s first series-production electric car. Rather than make a bold statement with its first electric vehicle, Audi chose to make the E-Tron as much like its other cars as possible.
Cars

2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport uses cameras to spot off-road obstacles

The 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport gets a host of new tech features, including a camera system that shows what's underneath the car. It also gets a mild-hybrid powertrain to improve gas mileage.
Cars

Alexa and Google Home-compatible JuicePlan simplifies EV charging at home

JuicePlan, eMotorWerks' new residential electric vehicle level 2 charging service subscription plan that simplifies EV home charger selection and installation, is now available in parts of California, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Cars

Mercedes-Benz safety-car concept monitors the road ahead and your kids

The Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicle 2019 was designed for a world where humans and machines share driving duties. It can use lights to communicate with other road users and even monitor an infant's vital signs.
Cars

Cover your risky riding with Voom’s A.I.-driven insurance for e-rides and drones

Voom wants to protect your assets. An outgrowth of drone insurance provider Skywatch, Voom covers user risks for short-term mobility platforms. Without insurance, an hour riding an e-scooter or piloting a drone could end in financial ruin.
Cars

Weighing the risks: The most dangerous cars, trucks, and SUVs in the U.S.

Larger passenger cars are safer than smaller cars, reports iSeeCars. In its analysis of the NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) annual report, the fatal accident rate for passenger cars decreases as their size increases.
Product Review

The segment-bending 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an SUV in a track suit

For the 2020 model year, Porsche is expanding the third-generation Cayenne lineup with a more stylish Coupe-badged model. It's lower than a regular Cayenne, a little bit wider, and it wears a more muscular design.
Cars

Live out your 007 fantasy with this special edition Aston DBS Superleggera

Aston Martin is releasing a limited-edition DBS Superleggera inspired by the James Bond movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The Superleggera's ancestor was 007's car in that movie.
Cars

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup lets you see through trailers — sort of

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup truck gets a handful of updates for the new model year, including a transparent trailer camera system and a big boost in maximum towing capacity.
Cars

Insiders claim the Tesla Model S nearly became the long-rumored Apple car

Apple offered to buy Tesla in 2013, according to an analyst who spoke to people familiar with the talks. Apple made Tesla a great offer, but the deal fell through when Elon Musk refused to step away from the company he helped found.
Product Review

Hyundai’s luxurious Tucson suffocates you with more – in a good way

The refreshed 2019 Hyundai Tucson may be one of the more affordable compact SUVs on the market, but there are more safety features than before as standard, as well as a hint of luxury.
Cars

Parents will never miss soccer practice with BMW’s new 523-horsepower SUVs

BMW is launching M Performance versions of its biggest SUVs, the X5 and X7. While not full-on M models, they do pack 523-horsepower twin-turbo V8 engines, allowing both SUVs to sprint from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds.
Cars

Don’t trust Tesla’s new automatic lane-changing feature, Consumer Reports warns

Consumer Reports warns that last month's Autopilot updates that enabled automatic lane changing may put you at risk of a ticket or accident. Reaction times lagged what a human could do, testers say.
Cars

Texas awaits one signature to put a statewide stop to red light cameras

When Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs state House Bill 1631 into law, he will bring a halt to red light cameras in the state. The central issue in the bill's passage is the presumption of guilt of the registered owner of the car.