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, 19 Dec 2014 15:54:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. 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/ Jaguar Land Rover Enhances Driving With Ghost Cars, Pillars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/jaguar-land-rover-enhances-driving-ghost-cars-pillars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/jaguar-land-rover-enhances-driving-ghost-cars-pillars/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961753 Worried about checking those corners with those thick pillars in the way? Always wanted to bring the Forza experience into the real world? Jaguar Land Rover’s got you covered. Regarding the pillars, JLR unveiled its 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen, which combines a high-end HUD with cameras embedded in the surface of a given vehicle’s A-, […]

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jlr_urbanwindscreen_followmeghostcar-and-transparent-pillars_01

Worried about checking those corners with those thick pillars in the way? Always wanted to bring the Forza experience into the real world? Jaguar Land Rover’s got you covered.

Regarding the pillars, JLR unveiled its 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen, which combines a high-end HUD with cameras embedded in the surface of a given vehicle’s A-, B- and C-pillars to help the driver see potential problems that would otherwise be obscured by said vehicle’s blind spots.

How? Upon checking the corners to change direction, a given pillar would go transparent, showing the pillar’s live video feed of what might be hiding. The same effect occurs upon approach toward an intersection, when the system automatically makes either right- or left-side pillars transparent.

The virtual windscreen can also pull information from the cloud — gas prices, restaurant locations, parking spots — helping to keep the driver’s eyes where they’re needed the most: on the road. This is further enhanced with the addition of JLR’s Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation, which places a ghost car in front of the driver to aid in arriving at a destination with help from the cloud.

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Iowa DOT Introducing Driver’s License App In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/iowa-dot-introducing-drivers-license-app-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/iowa-dot-introducing-drivers-license-app-2015/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=959217 Live and drive in Iowa? The state’s DOT will soon have an app that will act as your license. The Des Moines Register reports the app will be free of charge to all Iowa drivers when it arrives sometime next year, and is as official as the traditional plastic license card one receives after waiting […]

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Iowa Drivers License App

Live and drive in Iowa? The state’s DOT will soon have an app that will act as your license.

The Des Moines Register reports the app will be free of charge to all Iowa drivers when it arrives sometime next year, and is as official as the traditional plastic license card one receives after waiting forever and a day in the DMV; drivers can still get the more tangible version if so desired.

Iowa is also one of 30 states that allows drivers to present insurance information in electronic form during a traffic stop. Per Iowa DOT director Paul Trombino, having a digital license is only logical. He adds that the app will be secure via PIN verification, and will be accepted by security in Iowa’s airports, as well.

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Ford Kills MyFordTouch, Introduces SYNC 3 Connected-Vehicle System http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-kills-myfordtouch-introduces-sync-3-connected-vehicle-system/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-kills-myfordtouch-introduces-sync-3-connected-vehicle-system/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=959081 Joy to the world, MyFordTouch is dead. In its place, Ford introduced Thursday its new SYNC 3 connected-vehicle system. Pulling from suggestions and comments from 22,000 consumers, in combination with clinics and surveys, the QNX-based SYNC 3 aims to be more intuitive than the outgoing technology, delivering an interface similar to those found on smartphones […]

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SYNC 3

Joy to the world, MyFordTouch is dead. In its place, Ford introduced Thursday its new SYNC 3 connected-vehicle system.

Pulling from suggestions and comments from 22,000 consumers, in combination with clinics and surveys, the QNX-based SYNC 3 aims to be more intuitive than the outgoing technology, delivering an interface similar to those found on smartphones and tablets. The system also offers day and night settings, reduced complexity, and better voice recognition.

Speaking of smartphones, users can connect theirs via SYNC 3’s AppLink, allowing them to control their smartphones through voice commands. The latest version of AppLink can automatically discover music and news apps such as Spotify, iHeartRadio Auto and NPR One.

Software updates can now be achieved via Wi-Fi: once a user links the system to their home network, updates can happen while the car is parked in the garage or on the driveway.

Finally, users can dial 911 via the subscription-free 911 Assist service, which uses a Bluetooth-connected phone to call first responders in the event of an accident, and providing detailed information location, whether airbags were deployed, how many seat belts were used, and the type of crash that occurred.

Owners can expect SYNC 3 to arrive in the 2016 model year, with full replacement by New Year’s Eve 2016. Lincoln will have a slightly touched-up version for its customers, as well.

SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3

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EFF: ECU Modification May Result In DMCA Notice http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/eff-ecu-modification-may-result-dmca-notice/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/eff-ecu-modification-may-result-dmca-notice/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 11:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951321 Planning to work on your new car? Pray you don’t receive a DMCA notice upon opening the hood. Per Autoblog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says modifying the ECUs’ code could be seen as an act of copyright violation should the automaker and/or the supplier decide to make it so. Thus, the non-profit is asking the […]

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Auto Repair

Planning to work on your new car? Pray you don’t receive a DMCA notice upon opening the hood.

Per Autoblog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says modifying the ECUs’ code could be seen as an act of copyright violation should the automaker and/or the supplier decide to make it so. Thus, the non-profit is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to exempt hobbyists and shade-tree mechanics from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, specifically Section 1201 (which we’ve talked about before).

For now, modifications to the ECU, such as boosting fuel economy or horsepower, would void a given warranty at worse. As automakers continue toward the path of consolidation, though, the potential profit in the untapped remapping market would be enough for them to lock out competitors and grab all rights to the technology.

However, a ruling could curb those DMCA notices: a 2012 case involving Lexmark and printer cartridges resulted in the decision that “companies like Lexmark cannot use the DMCA in conjunction with copyright law to create monopolies of manufactured goods for themselves.” The ruling provides protection for the original work, but not to the extent of using security measures — such as those lovely, Red Book-violating CDs from the 2000s — to protect said work.

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VW Unveils New 10-Speed DSG, Other Technologies From Innovation Workshop http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-unveils-new-10-speed-dsg-technologies-innovation-workshop/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-unveils-new-10-speed-dsg-technologies-innovation-workshop/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944441 At its 2014 Innovation Workshop, Volkswagen unveiled an assortment of technologies, ranging from doors that open and close automatically, to 10-speed transmissions and more powerful diesels. On the powertrain front, the aforementioned 10-speed DSG will handle engine power up to 406 lb-ft of torque, while the layout of its gear steps helps further lower CO2 […]

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Volkswagen TDI

At its 2014 Innovation Workshop, Volkswagen unveiled an assortment of technologies, ranging from doors that open and close automatically, to 10-speed transmissions and more powerful diesels.

On the powertrain front, the aforementioned 10-speed DSG will handle engine power up to 406 lb-ft of torque, while the layout of its gear steps helps further lower CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, the new 239 horsepower twin-turbo diesel unit in the Passat could be pushed to 268 horsepower with electric assist, variable valve trains, and an optimized gas exchange cycle. The mill also burns a gallon of diesel for every 44 miles, while VW’s newest stop-start system cuts power at 4 mph, as well as at higher speeds when the accelerator is released. A mild hybrid system uses energy recovery to further efficiency.

Inside, the driver will be able to make use of either Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto thanks to the latest version of MirrorLink and its App Connect software. VW also introduced a prototype navigation system that “takes notes” of where the driver prefers to go without the need to be first called upon. They can also check on their car’s vitals via updates to VW’s Car Net’s Security & Service suite, connecting drivers to the Internet to determine what fluids, if any, need to be topped-up prior to a trip, as one example.

Other technologies on display at this year’s workshop include dashboards and glass sunroofs whose pigments and coatings block infrared radiation; lightweight construction and materials techniques derived from motorsport — specifically the 2014 Polo R WRC; and need-based air-conditioning systems for EVs such as the e-up! and e-Golf.

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Study: Most Drivers Addicted To Texting While Driving http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/study-drivers-addicted-texting-driving/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/study-drivers-addicted-texting-driving/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 14:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944025 Add one more reason for Greg to have missed that stop sign: He was likely addicted to texting while driving, per a study commissioned by AT&T. Edmunds reports the study, conducted by Dr. David Greenfield of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, noted that three out of four individuals surveyed — from a sample […]

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texting-driving

Add one more reason for Greg to have missed that stop sign: He was likely addicted to texting while driving, per a study commissioned by AT&T.

Edmunds reports the study, conducted by Dr. David Greenfield of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, noted that three out of four individuals surveyed — from a sample size of 1,004 between the ages of 16 and 65 — simply couldn’t put the phone down to change lanes safely, look out for that semi-trailer et al.

The reason: Dopamine. According to Greenfield, those who check their cell phones every time an update blinks into existence — Facebook, Instagram, texting, etc. — receive a lift in mood thanks to the neurochemical. This could then lead into a feedback loop that could get in the way of driving to the detriment of all on the road.

Further, 90 percent of those surveyed knew it was wrong to do so, but kept texting away through the power of rationalization, with 30 percent placing said power in the belief that they can multitask like their laptops and tablets at home.

As this is a study commissioned by AT&T, the telecom giant is in the midst of a campaign promoting safe driving by putting away the phone (of which the study plays a part). The campaign, It Can Wait, includes an app available to Android and iOS users — sorry BlackBerry and Windows Mobile users — named DriveMode, which can silence text alerts once it senses speeds greater than 15 mph, shutting down once the driver comes to a stop. Over 1.8 million users have downloaded the app thus far.

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GM, Harman Delivering Android-Equipped Vehicles By Late 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-harman-delivering-android-equipped-vehicles-late-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/gm-harman-delivering-android-equipped-vehicles-late-2016/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940961 Remember how the heads of Volkswagen and Daimler were urging their fellow automakers not to drink so much Google Kool-Aid? General Motors thinks the punch isn’t spiked at all, pressing forward with a plan to bring Android into its brand portfolio by late 2016. Automotive News reports supplier Harman International will be the one to […]

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Chevrolet MyLink

Remember how the heads of Volkswagen and Daimler were urging their fellow automakers not to drink so much Google Kool-Aid? General Motors thinks the punch isn’t spiked at all, pressing forward with a plan to bring Android into its brand portfolio by late 2016.

Automotive News reports supplier Harman International will be the one to supply the new connected-vehicle system to GM, having won a $900 million contract in 2012 for the right to do so. CEO Dinesh Paliwal explains what’s in store for consumers when they sit behind the wheel of an Android-powered vehicle:

As you would expect, this next-generation infotainment solution will enable an app store, which allows this infotainment system to stay technologically relevant over the life cycle of the vehicle. Apps will be developed by General Motors, Harman and a bunch of other third parties, not just Google and Apple.

Harman, a member of the Open Automotive Alliance, will also make their system available to other automakers, so long as they don’t mind being “one life cycle behind” GM, who would be the first to use the system.

As for where in the lineup the first Harman/Android units will turn up, Paliwal didn’t say. At present, though, it may be a while before full assimilation occurs; within Chevrolet alone, QNX, Linux and Microsoft rule the day in vehicles like the Malibu, Impala and Sonic.

Meanwhile, GM hasn’t commented on Paliwal’s announcement. The automaker had planned to roll-out a service called AppShop, announced during this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, only to bail this summer when the service failed to meet consumer expectations.

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Report: Electric Turbocharging Could Provide Fuel Economy Boost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-electric-turbocharging-provide-fuel-economy-boost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/report-electric-turbocharging-provide-fuel-economy-boost/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940937 Though full electrification might not be in the cards for most consumers, those looking for turbo power for their vehicles could find a little bit of that black magic in the turbo itself down the road. A report by Navigant Research posits that the best way to eliminate lag without using a supercharger to make […]

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Valeo Electric Turbocharger

Though full electrification might not be in the cards for most consumers, those looking for turbo power for their vehicles could find a little bit of that black magic in the turbo itself down the road.

A report by Navigant Research posits that the best way to eliminate lag without using a supercharger to make up for said lag — at the expense of increased friction at higher speeds — an electric turbocharger may be the best bet yet. The technology offers a handful of improvements over exhaust-driven units, including packaging of components, responsiveness and flexibility.

Supplier Valeo recently unveiled such a piece — for 12V and 48V electrical systems — with the first applications coming online in 2016. According to their findings, the best application for the turbo is with an engine that uses cylinder deactivation to maintain fuel economy. As power is reduced with cylinder count, an electric turbo can help with small boosts in power to tackle situations that would otherwise switch all of the cylinders back on, such as mild-and-above inclines.

Meanwhile, engineers wouldn’t have to figure out where to package all of the plumbing required for an exhaust-driven turbo with an electric unit, allowing for a placement that provides the best peformance and setup.

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Smartphone-Vehicle Pairing NFC Tech On The Horizon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/smartphone-vehicle-pairing-nfc-tech-horizon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/smartphone-vehicle-pairing-nfc-tech-horizon/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 15:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939745 NFC — near-field communication — technology not only can allow you to buy a My Little Pony: Equestria Girls doll from Walmart (or will, once Walmart et al decide Apple Pay and Google Pay are better than CurrentC), but it may soon allow you to start your car by simply tapping the ignition. Automotive News […]

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Hyundai Smartphone Key

NFC — near-field communication — technology not only can allow you to buy a My Little Pony: Equestria Girls doll from Walmart (or will, once Walmart et al decide Apple Pay and Google Pay are better than CurrentC), but it may soon allow you to start your car by simply tapping the ignition.

Automotive News reports Netherlands-based NXP Semiconductors will soon offer automotive-grade NFC chips and tags to its clientele, including a first-of-its-kind controller chip that can support numerous functions, such as climate control and seat adjustment, over single-function chips.

The NFC integration cost is expected to be $2 per vehicle, though the price could climb if automakers want their NFC systems to do more than start the engine. Meanwhile, a few operating systems running today’s modern connected-vehicle setups have the ability to use NFC, such as BlackBerry’s QNX.

Though NXP won’t say who among their base have signed up to bring the technology into the automotive market, the company says the first vehicles with their wares will leave the assembly line in 2016.

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Daimler, Volkswagen Urge Independence From Google Data Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/daimler-volkswagen-urge-independence-google-data-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/daimler-volkswagen-urge-independence-google-data-platform/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939705 Google knows what you’re thinking. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.” Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG aren’t too thrilled with this electric eye’s […]

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Google-Android-KitKat

Google knows what you’re thinking. If you decide to search for brown diesel manual station wagons that bring out your inner American, Google will auto-complete that very phrase as one of its suggested searches as soon as you type out the word “bro.”

Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG aren’t too thrilled with this electric eye’s ability, urging its fellow automakers to develop automotive data platforms that would secure sensitive customer information from the Mountain View, Calif. tech giant.

According to Bloomberg, VW boss Martin Winterkorn says that while his company seeks a connection with Google’s data systems, it still wants to have dominion over its own vehicles, citing “potential conflict” rising from making consumer data available to Google. Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche stated similar concerns with Google:

Google tries to accompany people throughout their day, to generate data and then use that data for economic gain. It’s at that point where a conflict with Google seems pre-programmed. That’s where we need to negotiate.

Zetsche also found the discussion of in-house data systems among automakers like his company and Volkswagen encouraging, proclaiming the move would maintain independence against the rising tide of “third parties,” such as Google’s Android Auto, Apple’s CarPlay and BlackBerry’s QNX OS, as it would “boost” Daimler’s position “when working with Google.”

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Ford Brings Telematics To Law Enforcement For Greater Safety, Transparency http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ford-brings-telematics-law-enforcement-greater-safety-transparency/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ford-brings-telematics-law-enforcement-greater-safety-transparency/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937850 To further transparency and improve safety, Ford and Telogis have debuted a system that will gather information on a given police officer’s driving practices. The Detroit News reports the system — having debuted in both Explorer- and Taurus-based Police Interceptors last week — can track speed, when lights are switched on, whether an officer is […]

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Chicago PD Ford Explorer Interceptor

To further transparency and improve safety, Ford and Telogis have debuted a system that will gather information on a given police officer’s driving practices.

The Detroit News reports the system — having debuted in both Explorer- and Taurus-based Police Interceptors last week — can track speed, when lights are switched on, whether an officer is wearing their seat belt et al, all in real time from its place under the dashboard.

The goal? For agencies to use the information to improve how their officers drive, and to have detailed records linked to any crashes that may occur in the line of duty. Ford’s manager of business and product development, Bill Frykman, explains:

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of officer fatalities, and even the slightest improvements in driver training and behavior within law enforcement organizations can potentially save lives. Whether in emergency operation or not, vehicle data from this technology, in context with different driving situations will help illustrate to police organizations where changes can be made that will have a profound effect on officer safety.

The telematics technology originated in Ford’s line of commercial fleet models back in 2009, with Telogis coming in to help the automaker bring the system to the law enforcement market. Ford has no access to whatever is recorded, with the data secured between the vehicle and the agency that owns it.

The Los Angeles Police Department will be the first to implement the system, with other agencies coming on-board in early 2015.

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Auto Industry Groups Join Forces To Secure Vehicle Communications http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/auto-industry-groups-join-forces-secure-vehicle-communications/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/auto-industry-groups-join-forces-secure-vehicle-communications/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935578 A pair of auto manufacturer groups are coming together to form a consortium meant to prevent crackers — the correct term for those whose goal is to give computer security a good thrashing — from busting up a given vehicle’s communication system, one that has the blessing of the federal government. Automotive News reports the […]

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Cowboy Bebop At His Computer... Not
A pair of auto manufacturer groups are coming together to form a consortium meant to prevent crackers — the correct term for those whose goal is to give computer security a good thrashing — from busting up a given vehicle’s communication system, one that has the blessing of the federal government.

Automotive News reports the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers want to help automakers establish firewalls for V2V — vehicle-to-vehicle — and vehicle-to-cloud communications, with the intent for them to share information of a given vulnerability for quick neutralization.

The CEOs of both industry groups sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this summer, proclaiming their joint support of the “mechanism for sharing vehicle cyber-security information, threats, warnings and incidents among industry stakeholders.”

Meanwhile, former agency head David Strickland, doing consulting work for one of the participants of the new consortium, says the group will be called the Information Sharing Advisory Center — a.k.a. Auto-ISAC — when it comes online a year or so from now.

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Privacy Advocates Take Law Enforcement To Task Over Handling Of License Plate Data http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/privacy-advocates-take-law-enforcement-task-handling-license-plate-data/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/privacy-advocates-take-law-enforcement-task-handling-license-plate-data/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935546 The panopticon grows taller every day, as motorists who try to learn what information is gathered by the automatic license plate readers face roadblock after roadblock, with three cases set to determine once and for all what can be seen. Autoblog reports the advocacy groups, journalists and private citizens supporting the cases aim to help […]

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Automatic Plate Number Reader

The panopticon grows taller every day, as motorists who try to learn what information is gathered by the automatic license plate readers face roadblock after roadblock, with three cases set to determine once and for all what can be seen.

Autoblog reports the advocacy groups, journalists and private citizens supporting the cases aim to help uncover how and what data is collected and used by police, while the police support keeping the electric eye solely on others under the premise that the data is part of ongoing investigations. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reporter Steve Orr, who filed a FOIA request with Monroe County officials about his own vehicle, disputes the reasoning:

What investigation is that? Most people in the database are not, and haven’t been associated with an investigation. There’s no criminal concern here… They’re saying, “OK, maybe there’s not an investigation now, but there could be one down the road”… What it says is that we’re all suspects in waiting.

Another case in Los Angeles calls out both the LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriffs Department for the same issue and the reasoning behind it. According to Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Jennifer Lynch, the data collected would be held for, at most, two days before being deleted, as it wouldn’t be necessary to hold onto it for longer during a stolen vehicle investigation.

However, most law enforcement agencies can hold onto plate data for two to five years, if not indefinitely. Further, the data could be pooled with other agencies, eventually coalescing into a picture of a given driver’s personal life as tracked by the plate readers. Without public oversight in how the data — obtained from a public piece of identification — is used, it would become “too easy for the government to overreach,” per the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Daimler Financially Divests From Tesla, BMW Could Step In http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-financially-divests-tesla-bmw-step/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/daimler-financially-divests-tesla-bmw-step/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935314 Over five years ago, Daimler AG acquired a 9.1 percent interest in Tesla, gaining 1,000 battery packs for its Smart EV in exchange for helping to put the Model S on the road to production. Wednesday, Daimler sold its remaining 4 percent in the company, netting $780 million for the trouble. Despite the divestiture, both […]

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Mercedes-Benz B-Klasse Electric Drive – Laden / Mercedes-Benz

Over five years ago, Daimler AG acquired a 9.1 percent interest in Tesla, gaining 1,000 battery packs for its Smart EV in exchange for helping to put the Model S on the road to production.

Wednesday, Daimler sold its remaining 4 percent in the company, netting $780 million for the trouble.

Despite the divestiture, both automakers will continue cooperating on ongoing projects, such as the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive recently launched in the United States. Daimler financial management board member Bodo Uebber said the sale would allow Tesla to “broaden its investor base,” adding that stock ownership wasn’t necessary to the overall relationship between the two companies.

As for who Tesla could now court, Forbes believes BMW could be drawn further into its own relationship with the company. International Strategy & Investment analyst Arndt Ellinghorst believes Tesla would benefit more from BMW’s carbon-fiber technology — put to great use in the i Series — than from providing batteries to Mercedes. Both companies met in June to discuss standardization for a potential EV charging network.

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Mercedes Turns Former Naval Base Into Autonomous Testing Ground http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-turns-former-naval-base-autonomous-testing-ground/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933802 With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research. Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif. Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous […]

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Mercedes-Benz-S-500-Intelligent-Drive-000

With the highway mostly conquered, autonomous vehicles now must navigate the cities through which they would otherwise pass by, a challenge unto itself with few proving grounds available for research.

Mercedes-Benz, however, happened upon a solution not too far from its R&D base in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Automotive News reports the automaker is testing its autonomous vehicles at the Concord Naval Weapons Station, a military base decommissioned in 2005 that may be redeveloped in the future.

Until then, Concord will be used as a “starter city” for autonomous city driving and navigation research and development. The strategy allows Mercedes “to run simulation tests with self-driving vehicles in a secure way, including specific hazardous situations,” per the brand’s head of autonomous driving, Axel Gern.

As for why Concord and similar spaces, such as the NASA facility Google uses to test its commuter pod, are in play over actual cities, Gartner analyst Thilo Koslowski says “existing proving grounds are not challenging enough,” while real-life testing is “too challenging at this point.” Further, both spaces are owned by the federal government, bestowing researchers the opportunity to test their theories without the California legislature dictating otherwise.

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Tesla’s First Battery Swap Station Opening Soon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/teslas-first-battery-swap-station-opening-soon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/teslas-first-battery-swap-station-opening-soon/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932362 While Tesla owners — and owners of all EVs, for that matter — may be waiting a couple of years before titanium oxide anodes bring battery charging levels down to the 3- to 5-minute fueling times found at a given gas station, CEO Elon Musk has another option for them to consider: Battery-pack swapping. SlashGear […]

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Tesla Supercharger

While Tesla owners — and owners of all EVs, for that matter — may be waiting a couple of years before titanium oxide anodes bring battery charging levels down to the 3- to 5-minute fueling times found at a given gas station, CEO Elon Musk has another option for them to consider: Battery-pack swapping.

SlashGear reports the first swapping station will come online within the next few months, offering S and X owners the option of allowing robots to swap a drained pack for a fully charged unit from underneath the car within 90 seconds. Not only is this method faster than refueling at the local ARCO, but it blows away the Supercharger’s 30-minute charging time, as well.

The pack swap would also enable owners to retrieve their original packs later on, or, should retrieval become inconvenient, pay the difference for the new pack. Critics note this could lead to supply problems, where some stations have batteries waiting for their owners to return, while others run short of new packs.

The first station will open somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco, though further details were scant.

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Google’s Autonomous Car Drives Sans Passenger, Hides Behind Security http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927994 Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard. According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, […]

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Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard.

According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, but were ushered aside by security so as no hard evidence of testing could be posted online.

As for why the commuter pod was tooling around with no soul to keep tabs on its progress, a likely idea, according to writer Mark Rogowsky, is an autonomous taxi being used by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft whenever the car’s owner isn’t using it. A report by Morgan Stanley cited by Rogowsky states that a car is used for only 52 minutes per day, sitting idle the rest of the time. Were a vehicle to be put into service by a TNC, it would see more road time, providing more transportation options in so doing.

Though Google isn’t in a rush to bring a product online tomorrow, automakers like General Motors, Mercedes and Tesla will press ahead with partial-autonomy tech, which could arrive as soon as 2016. Meanwhile, the main piece in the puzzle — a 360-degree laser — continues to fall in price, recently dropping from $85,000 to $7,999. Rogowsky believes another 80 percent to 90 percent price cut will come in the near-future, helping to reduce the overall cost of autonomy.

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Metaxas: License Plate Recognition Can Improve Originations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/metaxas-license-plate-recognition-can-improve-originations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/metaxas-license-plate-recognition-can-improve-originations/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922465 Aside from GPS-equipped starter interrupt systems, lenders have another tool to repossess a vehicle, with the added benefit of using the data obtained to acquire better contracts: license plate recognition. According to Auto Remarketing, the CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based Digital Recognition Network, Chris Metaxas, says his company’s LPR technology has found 55 percent of […]

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DRN LPR Guide

Aside from GPS-equipped starter interrupt systems, lenders have another tool to repossess a vehicle, with the added benefit of using the data obtained to acquire better contracts: license plate recognition.

According to Auto Remarketing, the CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based Digital Recognition Network, Chris Metaxas, says his company’s LPR technology has found 55 percent of their customers’ assets up to 100 miles away from where the paperwork claimed the vehicle would have originally been. As most assets are with the lenders’ customers, any deviation from that is a red flag.

Thus, originators seeking to minimize risk could use LPR data to “determine the truth of a statement someone may make on an application,” in turn enhancing the process so better contracts are entered into a given portfolio:

If you think about what a bank does in translating risk mitigation into their ability to grow their book of business, the loans they write, the policies they write, it is substantial and is exponential. What you lose on the back end is only a fraction of what you write on the front end.

Earlier this year, DRN and another LPR company entered into a lawsuit against Utah governor Gary Herbert and attorney general Sean Reyes over First Amendment issues regarding legislation that prohibited such technology from being used to analyze the image of the license plate in question. The lawsuit is part of an ongoing battle between privacy advocates who claim the private data tied to a plate can have the potential to be abused, and by LPR proponents like DRN who believe license plate numbers contain no such thing, citing the public nature of the plate itself.

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BMW, Baidu Team Up For Automated Driving Trials In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bmw-baidu-team-automated-driving-trials-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/bmw-baidu-team-automated-driving-trials-china/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921665 BMW has teamed up with the Google of China, Baidu, to begin work on automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai. According to Reuters, BMW says its group of research vehicles have already covered “thousands of kilometers” up and down the autobahns of Germany, and is now embarking “on a further research project which will […]

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BMW has teamed up with the Google of China, Baidu, to begin work on automated driving trials in Beijing and Shanghai.

According to Reuters, BMW says its group of research vehicles have already covered “thousands of kilometers” up and down the autobahns of Germany, and is now embarking “on a further research project which will pave the way for highly automated driving in China as well.”

The cars for the Chinese project expansion will be tackling the nation’s multi-level highways and other infrastructural challenges in Beijing and Shanghai, relying upon Baidu’s map and cloud services on-the-go to aid in a given vehicle’s navigation.

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Valet Mode Data Recorder In 2015 Corvettes Could Bring Legal Trouble For Some http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/valet-mode-data-recorder-2015-corvettes-bring-legal-trouble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/valet-mode-data-recorder-2015-corvettes-bring-legal-trouble/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921601 Not too long ago, General Motors brought comfort to many a new 2015 Corvette Stingray owner with a feature that would do for them what teddy-bear cams did for concerned parents, recording audio, video and vehicle data when the key was given to the valet. Alas, the spyware could land the owner in legal hot […]

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Not too long ago, General Motors brought comfort to many a new 2015 Corvette Stingray owner with a feature that would do for them what teddy-bear cams did for concerned parents, recording audio, video and vehicle data when the key was given to the valet. Alas, the spyware could land the owner in legal hot water in a dozen states, to say the least.

Automotive News reports GM and Chevrolet will send a software update in October to address the problems that could await owners in two-party states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington — were the data recorder used without the consent of the valet. The automaker also notified dealers to inform their customers to not use the system until the update goes through.

The proposed fix could include removing audio recording from the feature, adding a warning informing valets that they’re being recorded, or another method under consideration.

Another notification, signed by GM senior vice president for global quality and customer experience Alicia Boler-Davis, instructs customers to refrain from using the valet mode, or to inform the valet they would be recorded upon taking the car, and to “obtain their consent.”

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Lenders Monitor, Control Subprime Nexum Via Connected Vehicle Tech http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lenders-monitor-control-subprime-nexum-via-connected-vehicle-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lenders-monitor-control-subprime-nexum-via-connected-vehicle-tech/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920098 In a perverse nexus where connected-vehicle technology, privacy and subprime lending intersect, consumers who fall behind on so much as a single payment, or even stray outside a given teritory, may find their vehicles shutdown by their lender from a digital panopticon. The New York Times reports that some subprime borrowers — a group that […]

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Isis Panopticon Album Cover

In a perverse nexus where connected-vehicle technology, privacy and subprime lending intersect, consumers who fall behind on so much as a single payment, or even stray outside a given teritory, may find their vehicles shutdown by their lender from a digital panopticon.

The New York Times reports that some subprime borrowers — a group that made up a quarter of all new car loans in 2013 — must agree to have a GPS-equipped starter interrupt device installed in the vehicle of a given borrower’s choosing. In turn, the lender can keep track of where its property — and the borrower — is at all times, and with a single tap or click, cut all power to the vehicle if a borrower falls behind on payments.

However, some lenders are choosing to act only days after a missed payment — instead of the 30-day grace period before a borrower is considered in-default — no matter where exactly the vehicle is at the moment of shutdown. This has led to situations where a borrower has been stranded in a bad neighborhood, at the stop light, or, in one case, on the freeway.

Further, some loan agreements include so-called “geo-fences”: a maximum range a subprime borrower can travel before the lender, again, shuts down a vehicle and sends a tow truck to recover the asset. The claim is that a borrower who travels further than the fence allows — such as to their place of employment — may not be able to make good on their payments.

The consequences of using the devices have drawn considerable attention from both consumer lawyers and state regulators. The former argue starter interrupt systems give a lender all the more reason to remotely repossess a vehicle if even a payment is missed by a day, violating state laws on the matter as a result. The latter, in turn, is examining the potential safety hazards for the borrower and other motorists if the devices become defective.

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Future Of Auto Industry Linked To Silicon Valley http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/future-auto-industry-linked-silicon-valley/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/future-auto-industry-linked-silicon-valley/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917650 As companies like Google, Tesla and Uber seek to reshape the auto industry in their own ways, more automakers and suppliers are beating a path toward Silicon Valley and the Center for Automotive Research Stanford to help adapt to the new reality. Ward’s Auto recently sat down with CARS director Sven Beiker, who once worked […]

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Silicon Valley around San Jose

As companies like Google, Tesla and Uber seek to reshape the auto industry in their own ways, more automakers and suppliers are beating a path toward Silicon Valley and the Center for Automotive Research Stanford to help adapt to the new reality.

Ward’s Auto recently sat down with CARS director Sven Beiker, who once worked for BMW as one of the first industry observers sent to report on developments in Silicon Valley’s growing tech culture. From there, he relocated to Detroit for a couple of years to participate in a hybrid project with General Motors and DaimlerChrysler before joining Stanford in 2008.

Regarding his work since then, Beiker states that unlike other automotive industry think tanks that receive funding from federal grants, CARS relies on private funding from more than two dozen sustaining supporters, including Ford, Toyota, Delphi and Panasonic. Further, the supporters develop potential technologies with the center, with access to the university’s Dynamic Design, Interactive Media and Stanford AI Lab to help develop their ideas.

Stanford itself also has been pushing development of automotive technology, such as autonomous vehicles — a long-term project dating back to the first U.S. Department of Defense-sponsored DARPA Challenge in 2005 — electric-vehicle charging and advance batteries, and future business models for the industry as a whole.

When asked if Silicon Valley’s cadre of venture capitalists wanted to invest in a new car company, Beiker stated they were more interested in the next Uber than the next Tesla, going so far as to claim the VCs likely don’t want their home to become a new automotive industry mecca. That may be easier said than hoped, as both automakers and suppliers establish a presence alongside the game-changers in the valley.

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Real-Time Data May Lead To Greater Automated Law Enforcement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-data-may-lead-greater-automated-law-enforcement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-data-may-lead-greater-automated-law-enforcement/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917562 Presently, V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technologies are meant to allow a vehicle so-equipped to better navigate its surroundings, and to exchange data with other vehicles like it. If law enforcement has its way, however, the red and blue lights in the rearview mirror could soon give way to the electric […]

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V2V

Presently, V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technologies are meant to allow a vehicle so-equipped to better navigate its surroundings, and to exchange data with other vehicles like it. If law enforcement has its way, however, the red and blue lights in the rearview mirror could soon give way to the electric eye of automated enforcement.

Autoblog reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges as much in the agency’s report on the technologies. Though the current framework isn’t meant for law enforcement, and data transmitted by current intelligent transport systems don’t provide enough to link speeding calculations to drivers, deputy administrator David Friedman says the possibility is there:

I know there is potential for law enforcement to optimize some of these things, but if we go too far, too fast in that direction, it could create some consumer backlash that could hurt its adoption. The technology is there, but our initial design is not focused on that.

Of course, automated enforcement wouldn’t obtain its information from ITS data alone, as it would augment a whole assortment of tools meant to nail speeders. Phoenix-based RedFlex is developing a camera network that would measure one’s speed between two points, while Colorado-based Laser Technology Inc. is building a dual laser/camera system that will both calculate speed and record video of the offender.

That said, the allure of real-time data may prove too great to contain on the enforcement front, putting the onus on the consumer to maintain vigilance in keeping data private, as National Motorists Association communications director John Bowman explains:

I hope people start to take notice of this stuff. We’re essentially tracked everywhere we go in almost everything we do. If people don’t push back against it like they’ve started to do with red-light cameras, I just think people will be surprised when they wake up one day and realize they have no privacy left.

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Virginia Company Unveils Text-Detection Device http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/virginia-company-unveils-text-detection-device/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/virginia-company-unveils-text-detection-device/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916050 From the commonwealth where radar detectors are verboten, and speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti, a local company has developed a device that can detect the sort of signals a phone might emit when its owner is texting. The Virginian-Pilot reports ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Va. has tweaked technology used by […]

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Fairfax County Virginia Police + Radar Gun

From the commonwealth where radar detectors are verboten, and speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti, a local company has developed a device that can detect the sort of signals a phone might emit when its owner is texting.

The Virginian-Pilot reports ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Va. has tweaked technology used by cable repairmen to find damaged wiring to detect transmission data from a phone sending a text. The device, as explained by calibration services manager Malcolm McIntyre, can differentiate between texting, phone calls and data transmissions by frequency.

Though the text-detecting device is “close to production,” according to McIntyre, privacy concerns, legislative red tape, and adoption by law enforcement are likely to slow down progress for now.

Virginia commonwealth law states phone calls by drivers are legal, while texting is illegal. Should the device enter into the fight, however, enforcement of the law may become more muddied, since anyone in a given vehicle could be sending texts; the device likely will not be able to nail down the exact position of the transmission.

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Real-Time Mapping Key To Autonomous Travel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-mapping-key-autonomous-travel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-mapping-key-autonomous-travel/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912698 Like famed explorers Lewis & Clark, Amerigo Vespucci and Dora, autonomous vehicles will be at the mercy of whatever maps are available as they navigate the uncharted technological waters of the United States and beyond. Automobile News reports mapping technology will become important in an autonomous vehicle’s V2I and V2V systems, with input coming from […]

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Lexus Autonomous Car

Like famed explorers Lewis & Clark, Amerigo Vespucci and Dora, autonomous vehicles will be at the mercy of whatever maps are available as they navigate the uncharted technological waters of the United States and beyond.

Automobile News reports mapping technology will become important in an autonomous vehicle’s V2I and V2V systems, with input coming from a collaborative effort between official sources and crowdsourcing.

In particular, mapping could be accomplished between vehicles via data collection and distribution on a real-time basis, such as the case now through smartphone apps that allow drivers to pass such data along to each other.

When the road runs out or hasn’t been mapped, however, it may end up in the hands of the driver passenger to take up where the vehicle left off. In turn, the data would be passed along as normal to others making a similar trek, improving upon what was discovered before so long as the road continues to see traffic on a frequent basis to ensure accuracy.

Meanwhile, government agencies and map makers could be called upon to create a digital infrastructure framework that would allow for “a static and dynamic representation of the physical world that would determine how autonomous vehicles get around,” according to Maxime Flament of ERTICO-ITS Europe. The standardized framework would further ensure accuracy and reliability in the maps for tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles.

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