Category: Gizmology

By on August 31, 2015

Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

Self-driving cars could usher in a new form of terrorism, an investment analyst writes (via SlashDot).

Alex Rubalcava, who is an investment advisor in California, says that autonomous cars would be “the greatest force multiplier to emerge in decades for criminals and terrorists.

“A future Timothy McVeigh will not need to drive a truck full of fertilizer to the place he intends to detonate it. A burner email account, a prepaid debit card purchased with cash, and an account, tied to that burner email, with an AV car service will get him a long way to being able to place explosives near crowds, without ever being there himself.”

Criminals in Denver have already used burners, pre-paid cards and fake names to rent Car2go cars for drive-by shootings.

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By on August 28, 2015

Mazda Mobile Start

Mazda’s remote start app, which the automaker rolled out last month, has been suspended until Sept. 2 while the automaker restores its servers, the automaker said in an email Thursday to owners.

… we regret to inform you that, due to a system outage at our supplier’s data center, the MMS website and smartphone application are currently unavailable. We anticipate full system recovery on September 2, 2015.

The email notice stated the service was crippled by a “power outage that affected the data servers.”

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By on August 25, 2015

manual characteristics

J.D. Power and Associates on Tuesday released its study of in-car technology that showed many new car buyers either don’t use features available on their car or aren’t aware they exist.

According to the study, at least 20 percent of buyers haven’t used 16 of 33 features targeted by the study, including in-vehicle concierge services such as OnStar (43 percent); mobile Internet connectivity (38 percent); automatic parking aids (35 percent); heads-up displays (33 percent); and apps (32 percent).

Owners said their smartphones probably do all those things better, and who has time to learn systems when you have to text and drive anyway?

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By on August 22, 2015

Apple Logo Circa 2005

Expert marketing company, and sometimes computer-maker, Apple has poached an automated car engineer from Tesla to join its growing roster of robot car builders, Reuters is reporting.

According to Jamie Carlson’s LinkedIn profile, the former Tesla engineer has joined Apple in “Special Projects.” Carlson is the seventh high-profile hire for the Cupertino-based company who has specific automotive experience. Carlson joins a former Volkswagen engineer, a Chrysler VP and the former deputy director of autonomous systems at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, among others, at Apple.

Maybe they’re all working in the cafeteria?

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By on August 11, 2015

OBD II

Hackers say they may be able to control any vehicle with a telematics-enabled sensor — including a popular sensor that insurance companies use for consumers — plugged into the car’s diagnostic port, according to Wired report (via The Verge).

In recent weeks, several hacks have surfaced — Chrysler, General Motors and Telsa — related to specific automakers. According to the report, the On-Board Diagnostic system hack could apply to any make or model fitted with an insurance or tracking dongle. The University of California San Diego researchers say they’ll present their findings at the Usenix conference Tuesday.

And, um, there’s no easy way to put this, but … it doesn’t appear that it would be all that hard to find cars with the dongles at the moment.

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By on August 6, 2015

2013-Tesla-Model-S-Rear

Two men say they’ve managed to shut off a Tesla Model S at low speeds, proving that no car is actually safe on the streets anymore and we should all go back to driving Chevrolet Vegas.

The hack, which was reported by the Financial Times and detailed exhaustively by Wired, requires physical access to the car’s infotainment system to exploit the vulnerability. The car can then be remotely disabled.

Similar to hackers who recently said they could start and stop OnStar-enabled vehicles, the two men who broke into Tesla’s software said they presented their findings to the automaker and Tesla released a patch for its cars Thursday. Last month, a vulnerability in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Uconnect system forced the automaker to recall 1.4 million cars.

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By on August 5, 2015

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iM_007

Scion — the youth focused, geriatric-coveted Toyota Junior Team brand — is looking to push sales in a different direction as it tries to shed its “retiree in an xB” image in favor of #millenials Snapchatting their road trips in Scion iMs.

According to The Detroit Bureau, Scion wants to offer their wares online in more markets in an effort to appeal to younger consumers who don’t want to take test drives, I guess.

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By on August 4, 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet announced Tuesday that its new 2016 Volt would extend its all-electric range from 38 miles to 53 miles, which is a 40-percent improvement and would satisfy more than 90 percent of normal drives.

The feat itself would put the Volt on par with many all-electric commuters, whose normal range is anywhere from 60 to 90 miles. Of course, the Volt packs with it a 1.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder that bumps that range up to more than 400 miles, but that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s talk about the batteries.

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By on August 3, 2015

Harman Kardon Speaker

Fresh from the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles infotainment-hacking flap, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it would look further into supplier Harman Kardon for possible vulnerabilities in other cars, the Associated Press reports (via Autoblog).

Harman Kardon produces radios for automakers such as BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, in addition to FCA.

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By on August 3, 2015

Old Map

Audi, BMW and Daimler have joined forces to buy map-making company Here from phone-maker Nokia for an undisclosed amount, the automakers announced Monday.

The purchase of the company, which provides cloud-based maps and location services to more than 200 countries, could help the automakers develop further technology for autonomous cars that use the crowd-sourced maps instead of unreliable and outdated humans to steer.

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