The Truth About Cars » Gizmology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 28 Aug 2015 20:00:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Gizmology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/gizmology/ BREAKING: Finicky Mazda Remote Start App Has Stopped Working, Power Outage Blamed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/mazda-remote-start-app-stopped-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/mazda-remote-start-app-stopped-now/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 14:05:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154985 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 […]

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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.”

Mazda says that users’ data wasn’t compromised in the outage. Early adopters reported to Mazda that the system was particularly slow to start their cars — in some cases taking a minute or longer — and that its app was particularly finicky.

We reached out to Mazda to see if all users are affected and what exactly went wrong with its data center to cause the power outage, but haven’t heard back.

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Who Reads The Instruction Manual? (Update: No One) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/reads-instruction-manual-update-no-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/reads-instruction-manual-update-no-one/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 21:22:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152689 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 […]

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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?


“While dealers are expected to play a key role in explaining the technology to consumers, the onus should be on automakers to design the technology to be intuitive for consumers,” said Kristin Kolodge, who is the executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power. “Automakers also need to explain the technology to dealership staff and train them on how to demonstrate it to owners.”

Ongoing cost could be a concern too. For example, Chevrolet’s mobile WiFi hotspot, which is equipped in all of its new cars, requires a subscription to OnStar in addition to monthly fees for data usage beyond the initial 3 GB of data. A monthly plan for data could range between $25 and $85 a month for 200 MB to 5 GB of data.

Beyond what the dealer doesn’t tell you about your new car, there’s no real resource for drivers to learn about their car, is there? (Answer: maybe.)

The study doesn’t directly ask the question, but many car manuals are disorganized encyclopedias of frustration that few people seem to use. For example, a current-generation Mini comes with seven booklets (the longest is 222 pages, the shortest is a fold-out brochure) one USB drive and three informational cards.

(Included in the instruction manual are gems such as: “Due to system limitations, warnings may not be issued at all, or may be issued late or improperly. Therefore, always be alert and ready to intervene …” Owner’s manuals are too much and not enough, all at the same time.)

More importantly than wasting your time, unused tech may be wasting money.

“In-vehicle connectivity technology that’s not used results in millions of dollars of lost value for both consumers and the manufacturers,” Kolodge said in a statement announcing the findings.

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Apple Hiring All The Robot Car Experts Now http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apple-hiring-all-the-robot-car-experts-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apple-hiring-all-the-robot-car-experts-now/#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2015 15:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1150825 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 […]

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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?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has address the fact that a few of his employees have left Tesla to work at Apple. In May, Musk said he welcomed whatever “special project” Apple would be working on and said that he had poached employees from Apple at a rate of about 5-to-1.

“I actually hope Apple gets into the car business, that would be great,” Musk said.

Reportedly, Apple has dubbed their secret car program “Titan,” although many insiders believe that is the name for the company’s mapping program. Whatever it’s called, they’re hiring a lot of people who know a lot about cars to do — something.

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Apparently All Cars Can Be Hacked Now: Insurance Dongle Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apparently-cars-can-hacked-now-insurance-dongle-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apparently-cars-can-hacked-now-insurance-dongle-edition/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 17:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138530 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 […]

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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.

The story focused on a dongle provided by a Bay Area-insurance provider, MetroMile, who uses the dongle to charge customers by the mile. Hackers remotely shutdown a Corvette using the device by sending the dongle an SMS message that confused the device into controlling the car’s vital functions. The hackers say they could control steering, throttle and brakes using the hacks. Although the target was a Corvette, the researchers said they could apply the hack to many more cars.

From the story:

“It’s not just this car that’s vulnerable,” says UCSD researcher Karl Koscher. He points to the work of researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, who revealed and published the code for a wide array of attacks on a Toyota Prius and Ford Escape in 2013 that required only access to a vehicle’s OBD2 port. “If you put this into a Prius, there are libraries of attacks ready to use online.”

MetroMile says it wirelessly updated its devices when it became aware of the hack weeks ago.

Hackers say that the hack may apply to Progressive Casualty Insurance Company’s Snapshot device, which also uses telematics to transmit information, however hackers didn’t provide a proof of concept for the device’s vulnerabilities earlier this year.

The Wired story offered a tidbit of terrifying information: UCSD hackers scanned the web using Shodan and found “thousands” of hackable devices — mostly in Spain. It was unclear in earlier hacking reports how vulnerable cars could be targeted without first having direct contact with the car or physical access. Now, apparently, there’s a web search for that.

In addition to insurance dongles, the hackers say similar hacks could be used for dongles placed in fleet vehicles used for tracking.

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Apparently All Cars Can Be Hacked Now: Tesla Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apparently-cars-can-hacked-now-tesla-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/apparently-cars-can-hacked-now-tesla-edition/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 16:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135386 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 […]

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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.

The hackers say they are presenting their findings at the annual Def Con Hacking Conference, which begins Thursday. The hackers praised Tesla for a robust gateway between the car’s vulnerable systems and the computers that control vital functions such as steering, brakes and throttle.

At speeds lower than 5 mph, when Tesla cars lose power, the vehicles are stopped using the car’s handbrake. At speeds higher than 5 mph, the cars are put into neutral and steering and airbags still remain functional.

“That in itself I think is a huge achievement that I’d like to call Tesla out for,” Marc Rogers, chief researcher for CloudFare, told Wired. “This is a directly contrasting story to the Jeep story … Tesla had actually thought about the ramifications about what might happen and had designed the car to handle it gracefully and be safe … in such a way that catastrophic (failure) would not happen.”

The duo say that they’re using the hack to showcase how little attention some automakers have given to security.

“Early in the industry you have this kind of weird lemming effect, that if nobody does security well, they all kind of jump off the cliff simultaneously,” said Kevin Mahaffey, who is the chief technical officer for mobile security firm Lookout, told Wired. “And if there are one or two companies that are actually doing it well, then shining the light on them … helps raise the overall bar for the entire industry.”

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Scion Wants to Sell Cars on New-fangled Thing Called “The Internet” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/scion-wants-to-sell-cars-on-new-fangled-thing-called-the-internet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/scion-wants-to-sell-cars-on-new-fangled-thing-called-the-internet/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 21:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1134665 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 […]

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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.

The Pure Process program, as Scion calls it, allows #millenials to login to AOL, use the Scion keyboard, and pay for their vehicle by money order shop for a brand new car via their tablet, computer or other iDevice, get a final price, arrange financing, and have the vehicle delivered. The Detroit Bureau points out that last point can only be done where it’s legal to do so.17

The system is linked to dealers. A pilot program brought 10 dealers into the test. Now there are 60 participating Scion locations as part of Pure Process. Average purchase time, from start to finish, was four hours, though about 50 percent of participants completed the process in about two hours.

If you are not a #millenial and unsure about this whole Internet thing, here’s a how-to video from some smart, British IT people.

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Battery Tech – Not Better Range – Is Why We Should Be Excited about Chevrolet Volt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/battery-tech-not-better-range-excited-chevrolet-volt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/battery-tech-not-better-range-excited-chevrolet-volt/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 20:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133705 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 […]

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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.

On paper, the Volt’s new battery capacity is 18.4 kWh compared to last generation’s 16.5 kWh — an only 11 percent increase in capacity. Even further, there’s 96 fewer cells in the 2016 Volt compared to the current model and the batteries themselves are 20 pounds lighter.

So where does the 40-percent bump in range come from? Better batteries and a better approach.

Chevrolet has steadily improved its batteries in the Volt since the car came out in 2011 — 16 kWh to 16.5 kWh — but the bump to 18.4 kWh would be the largest improvement in six years to overall storage. Chevrolet has put the car on a diet, too, and that signals a change for the automaker from previous years.

The overall weight of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is down 250 pounds over the current car (3,543 pounds vs. 3,781 pounds) and 100 pounds of that alone comes from slimmer energy storage.

All the little things — plus big improvements in battery tech — have equaled a 38-percent increase in EV range in six years and the car still costs $33,995, which is only $453 more than the average new car price in the United States. Range wars may become the new horsepower wars.

Almost two years ago, GM announced it was tripling its investment in its battery labs. It appears that investment is starting to pay off.

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NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132601 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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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.

Last month, FCA recalled 1.4 million cars after a vulnerability in its system was detailed by Wired, which allowed hackers to control critical functions in a Jeep Cherokee, including throttle, brakes and steering.

The automaker said the recall would fix a loophole in the 8.4-inch Uconnect systems that permitted the intrusion by hackers.

Last week, Wired detailed another hack that could reportedly open doors on an OnStar-equipped car made by General Motors and start its engine. GM said it patched that vulnerability without recalling its cars.

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German Automakers Buy Mapmaker, Maybe for Robot Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/german-automakers-buy-mapmaker-maybe-robot-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/german-automakers-buy-mapmaker-maybe-robot-cars/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 18:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132577 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 […]

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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.

In a statement announcing the purchase, the automakers said the company would be jointly held by all three automakers and would operate independently from the consortium. Pending approval, the sale would become final early next year.

The automakers hinted that the mapmaking company and the cars could work together by relaying traffic or road conditions from each car to a centralized server that could redistribute the information to other cars. So-called “swarm technology” would help other drivers avoid accidents or icy roads.

”HERE will be able to offer users a continuously improving product, bringing highly automated driving and location based services a step further. As the volume of anonymized data from the vehicles increases, services will become more convenient, more connected and further tailored to the users’ individual requirements,” the automakers said in the statement.

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Refer 10 New Tesla X Buyers, Get Your Tesla Model X for Free http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 20:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129465 Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver). The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, […]

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver).

The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, we asked) and you’d need to do it by Oct. 31.

Despite how you feel about Tesla, the company is proving that an automaker can be run like a tech startup and not a car company.

The incentive is part of a larger program that Musk detailed in his call.

Any current Model S buyer who refers another new Model S buyer gets $1,000 off the purchase of another Tesla. The new buyer also gets $1,000 off the purchase price of their new car too. Refer five new buyers, and you get a tour of the new Gigafactory. Refer 10 new buyers and get $20,000 knocked off the price of a new Model X.

There isn’t a similar program in place for Tesla’s used cars, but Musk said he’d be open to the possibility.

So, who wants to be a Tesla dealer today?

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OnStar Hack Can Open Doors, Start Car, Track Driver http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/onstar-hack-can-open-doors-start-car-track-driver/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/onstar-hack-can-open-doors-start-car-track-driver/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 19:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129417 Not content with scaring the bejesus out of Chrysler owners, Wired has uncovered a hacker who says he can open a GM car with OnStar, start it or track it remotely. The only thing he can’t do is put the car in gear or steer it, which still requires a key. Hacker Samy Kamkar says […]

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Not content with scaring the bejesus out of Chrysler owners, Wired has uncovered a hacker who says he can open a GM car with OnStar, start it or track it remotely. The only thing he can’t do is put the car in gear or steer it, which still requires a key.

Hacker Samy Kamkar says his $100 device can seriously annoy — or seriously rob — a GM car owner if he wanted it to. GM promptly responded by saying it fixed the flaw in a way that owners won’t have update their cars.

Kamkar said his exploit wasn’t mean to cause mayhem, but rather to show how modern, technological cars can be vulnerable to hackers.

Kamkar’s hack wasn’t as simple as the St. Louis duo’s Uconnect exploit that prompted a recall earlier this month.

A WiFi-enabled box would be attached to the target vehicle and emulate a well-known network, such as a popular coffee shop hotspot. Assuming the user logged onto the phony network and launched the GM RemoteLink app, Kamkar’s hack could retrieve the car’s data, including position. Kamkar could unlock the doors — or start the car.

“As soon as you’re on my network and you open the app, I’ve taken over,” Kamkar told Wired.

Kamkar said he’s only tried the hack on his friend’s 2013 Chevrolet Volt, but he’s confident the system would work on any OnStar-enabled car.

GM said it became aware of the hack a few days ago and patched the issue within hours of the story’s publish earlier today.

Surprisingly, this photo is provided by the manufacturer.

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GM Opens $14M Safety and Autonomous Car Testing Area http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-opens-14m-safety-and-autonomous-car-testing-area/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-opens-14m-safety-and-autonomous-car-testing-area/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 16:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125113 General Motors has opened a 52-acre testing ground for safety features and self-driving car technology at its Milford Proving Ground facility, the Detroit News is reporting. The site includes areas for pedestrian safety, highway testing and 16 acres for autonomous vehicle testing. The $14,000,000 facility is already being used for some testing. The facility opens […]

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GM safety

General Motors has opened a 52-acre testing ground for safety features and self-driving car technology at its Milford Proving Ground facility, the Detroit News is reporting.

The site includes areas for pedestrian safety, highway testing and 16 acres for autonomous vehicle testing. The $14,000,000 facility is already being used for some testing.

The facility opens as the automaker is still under fire for failing to recall millions of cars with faulty ignition systems, which is being investigated by federal and state officials.

The automaker is reportedly testing Super Cruise at the new facility and on the streets, which is an advanced safety features that GM says could debut in 2017. The system would drive the car completely at highway speeds and in stop-and-go traffic.

GM is also working on vehicle-to-vehicle communication that could enable cars to “talk” to each other, communicating road conditions and alerting traffic of upcoming accidents.

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Michigan to Stay Ahead of Silicon Valley with “Mcity” for Autonomous & Connected Car R&D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/michigan-tries-stay-ahead-silicon-valley-mcity-autonomous-connected-car-rd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/michigan-tries-stay-ahead-silicon-valley-mcity-autonomous-connected-car-rd/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 14:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1121737 The facility was mostly deserted by the time I got there deliberately late to avoid politicians’ speechifying. Between the very realistic — but empty — roadways with functional traffic lights, railway crossings, and even parking meters, on one hand, and the two city blocks of obviously faux buildings, theatrical scrims really, on the other, I […]

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The facility was mostly deserted by the time I got there deliberately late to avoid politicians’ speechifying. Between the very realistic — but empty — roadways with functional traffic lights, railway crossings, and even parking meters, on one hand, and the two city blocks of obviously faux buildings, theatrical scrims really, on the other, I felt that at any second, things might switch to black and white and Rod Serling would step out from behind one of the backdrops.

I wasn’t in the Twilight Zone, though. I was on a gentle hillside on the north side of Ann Arbor.

While Serling’s landmark science fiction and fantasy show sometimes gave us a peek at what the future might look like, the 32 acre Mcity autonomous and connected vehicle research facility that opened yesterday on the University of Michigan’s north campus is definitely one of the places where the future of personal transportation will be made.

7/15/15               2015 UM Aerials -July                 MCity, North Campus, Munger Grad                            Residency,Campus construction.

At first glance, Mcity does look more like a movie set than a high tech R&D installation and the $10 million that it cost to build doesn’t seem like much to an industry where it costs a billion dollars to develop a new car, but the facility’s promise is such that almost 50 private sector companies are partners in the project.

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The fact that Mcity even exists is because of a unique partnership between the public and private sectors. The state of Michigan, via MDOT, put up $3 million, with UofM, a public university, also kicking in part of the construction costs. It looks like operational costs, at least for the next three years, will be covered by the private sector. Fifteen companies make up what is being called the Leadership Circle, which means they’ve each pledged $1 million to be paid out over three years. The Leadership Circle is a veritable who’s who of the industry including Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Delphi, Denso, Bosch, Xerox, Verizon and Qualcomm. Another 32 firms have committed $150,000 each.

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The members of the Leadership Circle aren’t being completely altruistic. That level of contribution gives those companies access to all the research that will be performed at the facility, regardless of who is doing or sponsoring the work.

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That level of cooperation between car companies would not have been possible a generation or two ago, when the U.S. Dept. of Justice had automakers so worried about possible charges of collusion or violating anti-trust statutes that auto executives wouldn’t play golf with their counterparts for fear of an investigation. Of course, that level of cooperation will be necessary for the development of technical standards for vehicle to vehicle communication and other aspects of connected and autonomous driving.

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The interest of the auto industry in Mcity is obvious — they can use it to test their tech. The interest of the University of Michigan is also pretty obvious. UoM’s engineering school has long had a very close relationship to the auto industry and the school wants to stay on the cutting edge along with their corporate partners. Mcity is part of the university’s Transportation Research Institute. The state of Michigan’s interest is keeping itself the global center of the auto industry.

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With Elon Musk dissing “Detroit” at every opportunity (while staffing Tesla with engineers and designers with the domestic automakers on their resumes), tech behemoth Google testing a fleet of driverless cars, and even rumors of Apple getting into the car biz, there has been boasts from the West Coast and concerns from the rust belt that as computer technology becomes more and more important to how cars work Silicon Valley might displace Detroit as the center of innovation in the auto industry.

Mcity is the state of Michigan saying, “not so fast” to Silicon Valley. So far, it appears to be the only facility of its kind in the world.

The site is realistic down to the handicapped parking spaces and meters. So far no meter maids.

The site is realistic down to the handicapped parking spaces and meters. So far no meter maids.

The test environment (Mcity is adverse to calling it a mere “test track”) is supposed to replicate “the broad range of complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments.” There are about five miles of roadways including, intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, benches, simulated buildings (both fixed and moveable), street lights, and obstacles such as construction barriers, “pedestrians”, and railroad crossings. A variety of road surfaces are used including concrete, asphalt and brick paving as well as metal grid and gravel surfaces. There’s a 1,000 foot straight along with a variety of curves and ramps with different radii. There are two, three and four lane roads as well as bike lanes and a roundabout. What looks like a covered bridge is supposed to simulate tunnels and overpasses. One street is covered overhead with netting to reproduce the shade from a canopy of trees. There are parallel and angle parked cars as well as mechanized bicycles, fire hydrants and both fixed and variable lighting and traffic control devices.

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The Mcity facility is supported by the University of Michigan, the Michigan Dept. of Transportation, and about 50 corporate partners, including 15 “Leadership Circle” members that have each pledged $1 million.

While there are ramps and signs that look like they do on an interstate highway, there will be no high speed testing at the facility, despite the ‘road train’ of cars and trucks traveling in unison on a highway in Mcity’s animated promotional video. The top speed allowed at the facility is just 40 mph.

Mcity looks very modern and tidy. Everything follows the latest designs for roadways, etc. and I have to wonder how a car developed at Mcity might do in an urban area that’s a bit more vintage — like San Francisco or Rome. I wonder if Mcity has developed a protocol for dealing with New York City levels of litter.

Aerial photo and infographic courtesy of the University of Michigan. All other photos by the author.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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The Future of Roads May Be in Lego-type Construction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/future-roads-may-lego-type-construction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/future-roads-may-lego-type-construction/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 20:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115337 Dutch company VolkerWessels is proposing a new type of roadway construction that could make it easier to remove, replace or resurface streets in the near future, Gizmodo is reporting. The engineering firm is working with the City of Rotterdam to test its early concept. The streets are prefabricated and dropped into place. The roadways use a below-surface […]

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Dutch company VolkerWessels is proposing a new type of roadway construction that could make it easier to remove, replace or resurface streets in the near future, Gizmodo is reporting.

The engineering firm is working with the City of Rotterdam to test its early concept. The streets are prefabricated and dropped into place. The roadways use a below-surface tunnel to house infrastructure like water, cables and utilities.

The civil engineering firm is responsible for massive projects in the U.K. and Europe, so their idea isn’t completely out of left field. The company already produces a recyclable asphalt in Rotterdam.

VolkerWessels’ concept for roadway sections would be created out of plastic turned into aggregate for production. The company told The Guardian that it would like to produce fully recyclable roadways within three years.

“It’s still an idea on paper at the moment; the next stage is to build it and test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on. We’re looking for partners who want to collaborate on a pilot — as well as manufacturers in the plastics industry, we’re thinking of the recycling sector, universities and other knowledge institutions,” said Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ road division.

The company said asphalt attributes to more than 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions globally, which comprises about 2 percent of overall emissions.

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Pictures Inside Google’s Car Reveal Future Full of Buttons http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pictures-inside-googles-car-reveals-future-full-buttons/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pictures-inside-googles-car-reveals-future-full-buttons/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114785 Google showed off its autonomous car in California on Saturday and the Washington Post has pictures of what the interior of the self-driving car looks like. The pictures, which were taken at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, California, show the prototype’s basic layout and a screen to relay pictures from the side-view […]

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Google showed off its autonomous car in California on Saturday and the Washington Post has pictures of what the interior of the self-driving car looks like.

The pictures, which were taken at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View, California, show the prototype’s basic layout and a screen to relay pictures from the side-view mirrors.

There is no steering wheel, nor discernible accelerator or brake in the prototype, but thankfully there are cupholders.

The cars are on display at the school to promote the search engine’s contest to decorate the prototypes as they roam California streets.

Earlier this month, Google sent two self-driving Lexus hybrid cars to Austin, Texas for mapping and testing. Last month, Google said one of its vehicles was involved in a crash in California, the 12th so far.

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Mazda App Will Start Your Car, Lock Your Doors, Improve Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-app-will-start-car-lock-doors-improve-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/mazda-app-will-start-car-lock-doors-improve-life/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1112049 Mazda announced today a dealer-installed option that’ll let owners start their car, lock their doors and annoy everyone in the neighborhood via panic alarm. The app, which is free for the first year and $65 annually after, will be called Mazda Mobile Start. The suggested retail price is $500 for the option, but allegedly official kits […]

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Mazda Mobile Start

Mazda announced today a dealer-installed option that’ll let owners start their car, lock their doors and annoy everyone in the neighborhood via panic alarm.

The app, which is free for the first year and $65 annually after, will be called Mazda Mobile Start. The suggested retail price is $500 for the option, but allegedly official kits are selling on Ebay for $419.50.

The remote start will run for 30 minutes to warm up or cool down your car, according to Mazda. The system runs via GPS, but it’s unclear if navigation is a required option on the car. We reached out to Mazda to ask if the system could remotely stop an engine, but haven’t yet received a response.

In addition to remote start, panic and locking, Mazda is also offering a GPS locating system to help frequent flyers find cars in massive, crowded airport parking lots.

The app is available for most major smartphones, which basically means any phone not made by Blackberry.

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Google Sends Self-Driving Lexus Hybrids to Test in Texas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/google-sends-self-driving-lexus-hybrids-test-texas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/google-sends-self-driving-lexus-hybrids-test-texas/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109377 Google’s autonomous cars have made it to the Lone Star state for testing, The Detroit News is reporting. A self-driving Lexus 450h prototype was recently dispatched to Austin, Texas for testing on that city’s streets. The cars are used to map roadways and signs for future autonomous vehicles to use. Google said the car has begun […]

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Google’s autonomous cars have made it to the Lone Star state for testing, The Detroit News is reporting.

A self-driving Lexus 450h prototype was recently dispatched to Austin, Texas for testing on that city’s streets. The cars are used to map roadways and signs for future autonomous vehicles to use. Google said the car has begun to drive itself after testing in Texas it will be sending another Lexus to Austin soon.

The search-engine giant likely selected the Texas capital because a free-range Lexus fit in very well with that city’s culture.

“We also want to learn how different communities perceive and interact with self-driving vehicles, and that can vary in different parts of the country,” an official with Google told The Detroit News.

Local officials praised the move by Google.

“Austin is special in part because we welcome new technologies that could help improve our daily lives, and we can easily see the potential self-driving cars have to reduce accident rates and congestion, and to provide mobility for people who can’t get around easily,” Mayor Steve Adler told The Detroit News.

Self-driving cars are forbidden to travel faster than 25 mph by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Google started testing its autonomous prototypes in California last month.

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General Motors Repurposes Chevrolet Volt Batteries For Energy Storage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/general-motors-repurposes-chevrolet-volt-batteries-for-energy-storage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/general-motors-repurposes-chevrolet-volt-batteries-for-energy-storage/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 15:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094633 Having already recycled battery covers into animal habitats, General Motors is turning its efforts toward the Chevrolet Volt’s batteries themselves. General Motors battery life cycle boss Pablo Valencia says the packs used in the PHEV can still be of use in storage applications once its days providing energy to the vehicle draws to an end, […]

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Having already recycled battery covers into animal habitats, General Motors is turning its efforts toward the Chevrolet Volt’s batteries themselves.

General Motors battery life cycle boss Pablo Valencia says the packs used in the PHEV can still be of use in storage applications once its days providing energy to the vehicle draws to an end, “delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale” in repurposing.

To demonstrate this, five packs from the first-gen Volt are working in concert with a 74-kilowatt solar array and two wind turbines — each good for 2 kW — to generate power at GM’s Enterprise Data Center at the Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Mich. The packs can also provide emergency power for four hours in the event of a power outage, while the full setup can deliver up to 100 MWh of energy — the equivalent of the amount used by 12 average households — annually to the data center, with excess sent to the proving ground’s grid.

Though supply of Volt packs remains low for now, GM says it’s working with partners to “validate and test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.” Valencia adds the repurposing of packs for energy storage would be perfect for commercial use, providing “full functionality” from the packs while also reducing upfront costs in implementing the system.

[Photo credit: Chevrolet]

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General Motors Announcing Entry Into Stationary Energy Storage Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/general-motors-announcing-entry-into-stationary-energy-storage-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/general-motors-announcing-entry-into-stationary-energy-storage-next-week/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1090601 Forging a different path than rival Tesla, General Motors will announce its entry into the stationary energy storage market next Tuesday. While Tesla plans to bring energy storage to the home and office with its Powerwall system — consisting of new battery packs linked to solar power — GM will instead extend the economic life […]

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Forging a different path than rival Tesla, General Motors will announce its entry into the stationary energy storage market next Tuesday.

While Tesla plans to bring energy storage to the home and office with its Powerwall system — consisting of new battery packs linked to solar power — GM will instead extend the economic life of its EV and PHEV packs once they can no longer fulfill their service in automotive applications, Reuters reports.

As early as 2012, GM had the emerging storage market in mind when it paired with Swiss engineering group Advanced Auto Batteries to develop a stationary pack composed of five used Chevrolet Volt batteries. The resulting modular unit was good for two hours of power as needed by three to five average U.S. homes.

According to battery lifecycle management chief Pablo Valencia, the automaker’s development of a given pack includes secondary uses:

In many cases, when an EV battery has reached the end of its life in an automotive application, only 30 percent or less of its life has been used. This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications like powering a structure before the battery is recycled.

The market back when Valencia made those comments delivered $200 million in total profit by the end of 2012. As more competitors jump into the game, however, research firm IHS CERA says end-of-year profits could climb as high as $19 billion by 2017.

GM’s announcement will be made during the second day of AAB’s AABC conference at the Marriott inside the Renaissance Center in Detroit.

[Photo credit: Chevrolet]

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Google’s Autonomous Cars See 12th Accident, Virginia Opens Highways For Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/googles-autonomous-cars-see-12th-accident-virginia-opens-highways-for-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/googles-autonomous-cars-see-12th-accident-virginia-opens-highways-for-testing/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084305 Google acknowledges the 12th accident involving its autonomous cars, while Virginia opens 70 miles of highway to Google and others for testing. Google’s acknowledgement of the accident was made Wednesday during the tech giant’s annual shareholders meeting, Autoblog reports. Co-founder Sergey Brin said the vehicle was stopped at a traffic light when it was rear-ended, […]

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Google acknowledges the 12th accident involving its autonomous cars, while Virginia opens 70 miles of highway to Google and others for testing.

Google’s acknowledgement of the accident was made Wednesday during the tech giant’s annual shareholders meeting, Autoblog reports. Co-founder Sergey Brin said the vehicle was stopped at a traffic light when it was rear-ended, the seventh or eighth occurrence of such a scenario per Brin.

Safety advocates want the company to release all records pertaining to the accidents so the public can know where each instance went wrong, a request reinforced by shareholder and Consumer Watchdog advocate John Simpson during the meeting. Brin gave a synopsis of each accident in response, adding Google would be open to giving more information, an action it has yet to take thus far.

The latest accident follows a disclosure made by Google in May, wherein 11 accidents involved its fleet of autonomous cars over a six-year period, with all accidents attributed to human error by the tech giant.

Meanwhile, Northern Virginia drivers may soon see Google’s autonomous cars on their way to work. Richmond Times-Dispatch says over 70 miles of highway on Interstates 95, 495 and 66, as well as U.S. 29 and U.S. 50, will become so-called Virginia Automated Corridors under the oversight of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The vehicles would be first certified for safety by VTTI at its Smart Road test track in Montgomery County, and at Virginia International Raceway in Halifax County prior to highway testing.

VTTI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Systems Director Myra Blanco says the aim of the program is for Virginia to show other states how to make testing of autonomous technologies easier, adding the program would “advance the technology and… attract companies and satellite offices in the Northern Virginia area to develop these new concepts.”

Testing is set to begin within a year, with the Center providing insurance and license plates for those companies looking to prove their concepts. The Virginia Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles are partners in the program.

[Image credit: Google]

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Ford Fiesta, Escape First With Sync 3 System Starting This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ford-fiesta-escape-first-with-sync-3-system-starting-this-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/ford-fiesta-escape-first-with-sync-3-system-starting-this-summer/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 17:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1082121 Coming to the Ford Fiesta and Escape this summer is the automaker’s Sync 3 connected-vehicle system, where it will be listed as an option on the order form. The Sync 3 system is based upon BlackBerry’s QNX operating system, Detroit Free Press reports, and replaces the MyFord Touch/MyLincoln Touch technology supplied by partner Microsoft. The […]

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Ford Sync 3

Coming to the Ford Fiesta and Escape this summer is the automaker’s Sync 3 connected-vehicle system, where it will be listed as an option on the order form.

The Sync 3 system is based upon BlackBerry’s QNX operating system, Detroit Free Press reports, and replaces the MyFord Touch/MyLincoln Touch technology supplied by partner Microsoft. The Redmond, Wash. tech giant will supply over-the-air updates to Ford’s new system via its Azure cloud-based global network, allowing the vehicle to update its system once parked at home.

New Fiesta and Escape owners who opt for Sync 3 will be able to connect their smartphones via AppLink, allowing for control of compatible apps from the system’s touchscreen. Apple iPhone users, meanwhile, will have an additional function available in the form Siri Eyes-Free, giving drivers the ability to call up Siri for information by holding down the push-to-talk button on their steering wheel.

The touchscreen uses a new capacitive-touch technology capable of delivering an experience similar to a given smartphone or tablet, including the ability to swipe and pinch-to-zoom. Voice and touch actions are claimed to be quicker, as well, while the overall system is optimized for hands-free use with reduced complexity on-screen.

Sync 3 is expected to be on over half of all Ford and Lincoln models by the end of 2015, with all U.S. models onboard by the end of 2016, and in all models sold globally by 2018.

[Photo credit: Ford]

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General Motors Receives Patent To Sell ‘Geoboxed’ Radio Presets At Auction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/general-motors-receives-patent-to-sell-geoboxed-radio-presets-at-auction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/general-motors-receives-patent-to-sell-geoboxed-radio-presets-at-auction/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 19:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076946 General Motors recently received a patent allowing the automaker to sell your radio’s presets to the highest bidder at auction. The patent — titled “System and method for auctioning geoboxed flexible, semi-locked or locked radio presets” — would let GM sell the presets to various bidders on different vehicles, Jalopnik reports, with each preset being […]

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General Motors recently received a patent allowing the automaker to sell your radio’s presets to the highest bidder at auction.

The patent — titled “System and method for auctioning geoboxed flexible, semi-locked or locked radio presets” — would let GM sell the presets to various bidders on different vehicles, Jalopnik reports, with each preset being geo-fenced.

Thus, if one were to be out on the road listening to NPR, the preset could switch abruptly from the sleepy sounds of “Morning Edition,” to the “wacky” antics of Scumdog McTatertot and the Mötley Breakfäst Crüe once the motorist entered the winning bidder’s geo-fence. Another scenario could have McDonald’s hijack your navigation settings when you were looking for Starbucks for breakfast.

Though GM has the patent to do this to its consumers to bring in revenue from the connected-vehicle space, whether it acts on the patent remains to be seen.

[Source: Cadillac]

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Study: Virtual Drivers Possible Key Toward Autonomous Vehicle Acceptance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-virtual-drivers-possible-key-toward-autonomous-vehicle-acceptance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-virtual-drivers-possible-key-toward-autonomous-vehicle-acceptance/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 17:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073074 Virtual drivers may be the key to developing trust in autonomous vehicles, so long as those drivers are quicker on the draw than Johnny Cab in an emergency. A study published in the Human Factors journal posits public concern regarding the safety of autonomous vehicles could be mitigated with a humanoid robot behind the controls, […]

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Johnny Cab

Virtual drivers may be the key to developing trust in autonomous vehicles, so long as those drivers are quicker on the draw than Johnny Cab in an emergency.

A study published in the Human Factors journal posits public concern regarding the safety of autonomous vehicles could be mitigated with a humanoid robot behind the controls, Edmunds reports.

The study by Eindhoven University of Technology in Eindhoven, Netherlands introduced over 100 volunteers to such a driver, named “Bob.” The virtual driver’s appearance, movements and driving style were programmed to match those belonging to each participant, who allowed Bob to do the driving in a simulator on a route pre-selected by said test subjects.

The goal was to assess trustworthiness levels in the virtual driver, finding the more Bob looked and drove like a given subject, the more trust the subject would bestow in regard to their safety. Said strategy is in place with other forms of technology already, such as Siri and Cortana in Apple’s and Microsoft’s smartphones, where if the tech in question has a slight bit of humanity — human voices, sociability et al — end users would respond as if the tech actually was human.

Whether there will be a Johnny Cab in the future to help one escape from baddies because they’re actually a spy who may or may not know too much about Mars, or a Hatsune Miku recolor to drive you to her next performance is up in the air for now. Not even Google has placed a Nexus 6 behind the non-existent wheel of its autonomous bubble pod in its testing thus far.

[Source: mrbillyt/Photobucket]

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More Legislators Move To Ban Red Light Cameras http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/legislators-move-ban-red-light-cameras/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/legislators-move-ban-red-light-cameras/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053273 The bane of many a motorist and freedom advocate alike, the red light camera’s days may be drawing to a close as more governments move to ban them. Over the past two months alone, legislators in California, Illinois and Texas have moved to do away with the devices based on both civil rights and financial […]

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Red light camera in Beaverton, Oregon

The bane of many a motorist and freedom advocate alike, the red light camera’s days may be drawing to a close as more governments move to ban them.

Over the past two months alone, legislators in California, Illinois and Texas have moved to do away with the devices based on both civil rights and financial concerns, Business Insider reports. The bans in California and Texas would be statewide if made into law, while Illinois’ ban would only apply to suburbs outside of Chicago and other communities with local authority.

The three states join 10 others that have imposed bans on red light cameras and another 19 that never bothered with the issue in the first place. The devices have garnered criticism from those who were caught by them, then received tickets in the mail, all without a chance to defend themselves under due process.

Meanwhile, the cities that once had them in place – such as the majority of the 110 municipalities in California that used red light cameras; only 39 of the 110 remain currently – took them down when they found that revenue from tickets issued didn’t do much to fill the coffers in the first place.

[Photo credit: Chris Phan/Flickr]

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Hyundai Patent Shows Cell-Phone Disabling Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hyundai-patent-shows-cell-phone-disabling-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hyundai-patent-shows-cell-phone-disabling-technology/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 11:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1045106 Can’t put down the smartphone while driving? Hyundai has a patent for technology that can render it as dumb as a Motorola DynaTAC. Autoblog reports the patent shows technology that “limits or disables the use of some of mobile device features which could cause distraction to the user.” The system determines when and what to […]

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Hyundai Driver Cell Phone Blocking Patent

Can’t put down the smartphone while driving? Hyundai has a patent for technology that can render it as dumb as a Motorola DynaTAC.

Autoblog reports the patent shows technology that “limits or disables the use of some of mobile device features which could cause distraction to the user.” The system determines when and what to disable on a phone based on vehicle speed, time of day, importance of message, and other factors, and can do so either at the driver’s seat or the entire vehicle.

According to the patent, this is done with cellular-signal-monitoring antennas placed throughout the cabin. When an antenna detects a signal, the system performs the tasks needed to disable functions that would otherwise hinder a driver’s ability to maintain vigilance. However, the system requires the phone in question to have firmware that would accept the former’s commands.

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