The Truth About Cars » telematics The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:48:26 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » telematics U.S. DoT To Mandate Vehicle to Vehicle Telematics for Crash Avoidance, Sparking Privacy Concerns Tue, 04 Feb 2014 10:30:22 +0000 connectedcars

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Automotive News that U.S. regulators will soon begin working on telematics regulations that will require new cars and light trucks sold in the United States to be equipped with systems for vehicle to vehicle communications. The impetus is safety, as the telematic systems can be integrated with semi-autonomous crash avoidance systems.

Foxx didn’t set a date when the mandate would become effective, but he made it clear that he supports the technology, calling it a “moon shot” and saying that it could prevent 70 to 80 percent of crashes involving drivers that are not impaired.

“Keeping drivers safe is the most important advantage of V2V, but it’s just one of many,” Foxx said. “V2V can also help reduce congestion and save fuel. The potential of this technology is absolutely enormous.”

Car companies like GM, Toyota and VW, have been working together, along with government regulators and engineers for more than a decade on standards for what some have called “the internet of cars” or “connected cars”.

That connection would take place over a dedicated wireless wireless frequency called Dedicated Short-Range Communications, or DSRC, which would be separate from the current 3G and 4G cellular networks that currently allow Internet-based services in your car.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a lobbying group, was reserved in its reaction. A spokesperson for the Alliance told AN that it recognizes the benefits of DSRC technology, but that there are issues that need to be resolved and that the organization’s members prefer a voluntary standard to a mandate.

“DSRC radios may play a larger role in future road safety, but many pieces of a large puzzle still need to fit together,” the AAM said in a statement. “We need to address security and privacy, along with consumer acceptance, affordability, achieving the critical mass to enable the ‘network effect’ and establishment of the necessary legal and regulatory framework.”

Car companies are starting to roll out connected cars in Europe, with the first vehicles hitting the road sometime next year. London-based consultancy ABI Research predicted last year that global acceptance of the technology in new vehicles will grow from 10 percent in 2018 to 70 percent by 2027.

DSRC works much like the Wi-fi used by personal computers and other electronic devices, and can handle data from the cameras and sensors that have proliferated in today’s cars. Vehicles equipped with DRSC chips would receive and process signals from nearby DRSC-enabled cars to learn their location, direction and speed. If a driver does not react to an impending collision, the car could then sound a warning or apply the brakes automatically to prevent an accident.

Regulators say that the system could also process signals from smartphones and other devices carried by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of older cars. Aftermarket transmitters for retrofitting are also anticipated, though there is no word yet on making them mandatory on all vehicles, not just a new factory standard on new cars.

A$25 million study conducted on the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan proved that telematics products from different vehicle manufacturers and suppliers will communicate with one another. The government agency said that a published report will be released for public comment in the next few weeks.

The move to embrace DSRC technology is part of a shift in strategy by regulators from passive safety systems to more active technologies. As cars and light trucks have gotten safer, finding areas to improve accident survival rates has become harder.

“While the auto industry has made great strides to reduce fatalities and injuries after a crash,” said Scott Belcher, president of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, “the next giant leap is to enable real-time communication between vehicles and with the world around them so crashes can be avoided in the first place.”

Currently automakers use a differing variety of warning sounds and symbols in their accident avoidance systems. Mercedes-Benz has flashing lights, General Motors has patented a vibrating seat that warns drivers, and Ford uses a haptic steering wheel. The government could implement standardizing regulations on those warnings.

Privacy advocates have concerns because regulators and automakers are also thinking of other ways that DSRC could be used for purposes besides safety. Richard Bishop, who led the DOT’s vehicle automation program in the 1990s, says that the new wireless technology could be used could be used to collect tolls, or to tax drivers based on the number of miles they travel. As the use of hybrids and EVs grows, governments are looking to alternatives to taxes on gasoline and diesel.

In addition to privacy as related to civil liberties and the government possibly tracking motorists’ movements, DSRC creates a new opportunities for hackers and identity thieves.

U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., asked, in a May 2013 hearing whether wireless communications could potentially allow “some 14-year-old in Indonesia” to “shut your car down.”

Considering that the European Union is indeed considering mandating equipment that would let police and other authorities to disable your car by remote control, the senator’s concerns may not be hyperbolic, though civil libertarians might be more concerned about potential abuse by government agents than by hackers in Indonesia.

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Chrysler Adding Microsoft-Based Infotainment System To UConnect Range Mon, 27 May 2013 14:55:07 +0000 chrysler-uconnect-access-ram-1500

The UConnect system used on everything from Jeep Grand Cherokee to the Dodge Dart to the Chrysler 300, is one of the better infotainment systems on the market. But the 8.4 inch screen is getting a companion with a smaller 5-inch screen, that will run on an entirely different operating system.

Dubbed UConnect 5.0, the Microsoft-based system system uses a 5 inch screen that can support multiple devices like tablets and media players. Like UConnect, it will also support navigation, but it will use a TomTom system rather than the Garmin software used in the larger UConnect.

The smaller UConnect has been installed on the Fiat 500L in Europe since last year, but Automotive News reports that it will now be installed on lower trim levels of the Ram 1500. Microsoft is claiming that further vehicles will receive the system, but Chrysler has declined to comment on the matter. Having enjoyed largely positive press regarding UConnect, Chrysler could be putting itself in a tough spot if the Micrsoft based system doesn’t live up to the same standards as its QNX-based big brother.

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2013 Ford F-Series Super Duty Gets MyFord Touch With Physical Controls Fri, 09 Mar 2012 20:47:31 +0000

Ford’s revised F-Series Super Duty was announced today, and aside from the giant chrome grille, the big news here is a revamped MyFord Touch system – now available with knobs and buttons in addition to the touch screen.

Gone are the haptic controls used on Ford passenger cars with MyFord Touch, replaced by the stack of buttons mounted just below the LCD screen. Ford says that truck owners often wear their work gloves while using the car’s stereo or HVAC controls, and the physical pieces were a necessity. Anyone with a touchscreen smartphone knows that texting with gloves on is generally a non-starter, and the same goes for MyFord Touch. Automotive News reports that only the Super Duty will get physical controls. No other Ford vehicle, not even the F-150, will be available with both MyFord Touch and non-haptic controls.

We’re pretty positive that Ford owners and potential customers who don’t wear work gloves would really like to do away with the current iteration of MyFord Touch and adopt the one used in the Super Duty. Ford has endured a number of complaints from both customers and outlets like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power, who measure vehicle quality and reliability. If anything, the sheer annoyance of using the system would be enough to deter me from getting a higher trim level Ford – and it would be hard to imagine truck buyers getting to enthusiastic about a complicated touch interface when the current setup works just fine.

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Bill Ford’s “Blueprint For Mobility” Calls For Cars, Bicycles, Pedestrians In Integrated Network Mon, 27 Feb 2012 22:33:44 +0000

We didn’t get to go to the World Mobile Congress in beautiful Barcelona, Spain, but it may have been nice to catch both the unveiling of the Ford B-Max and a keynote speech given by Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. Ford (the man, not the company) outlined an overarching vision for helping manage the estimated 2 billion cars that will be on the road by 2050.

Dubbed the “Blueprint for Mobility”, Ford’s idea takes the notion of in-car connectivity beyond using it just for playing music or getting directions. Ford’s plan seeks an integrated plan to manage traffic using “connected cars”

The telecommunications industry is critical in the creation of an inter-connected transportation system where cars are intelligent and can talk to one another as well as the infrastructure around them. Now is the time for us all to be looking at vehicles on the road the same way we look at smartphones, laptops and tablets; as pieces of a much bigger, richer network.

In the short term, Ford is hoping to take a leading role in both car sharing services like ZipCar, as well as mobile phone integration, with a new program called AppLink being integrated into the company’s SYNC system. The end goal will include vehicle-to-vehicle integration over WiFi spectrum, single seat or two seat commuter vehicles and eventually, autonomous vehicles. Long term, Ford is looking at how to manage traffic in terms of motor vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Gridlock is already a major problem in many countries, and with 60 percent of the world’s population expected to live in urban areas in the future, congestion will not only be a major annoyance, but it will have an undoubted impact on car sales as public transportation, cycling or walking becomes a more desirable method of transportation.

Check out Ford’s official press release below;

  • Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford outlines vision for smart transportation and need for development of intelligent vehicles and transport systems at Mobile World Congress
  • Ford Motor Company’s “Blueprint for Mobility” calls for partnership with telecommunications industry to create an inter-connected transportation network as part of the solution for alleviating “global gridlock”
  • Ford envisions a radically different transportation landscape where pedestrian, bicycle, private car, commercial and public transportation traffic are woven into a connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety
  • Ford is already developing new business models and partnerships in anticipation of personal vehicle ownership in cities becoming increasingly impractical
  • Ford announces AppLink smart phone app voice-control system to go global

During his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ford told delegates that the number of cars on the world’s roads is forecast to grow from 1 billion now to up to 4 billion by mid-century.

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 27, 2012 – Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford has outlined a plan for connected cars to help avoid a potential future of crippling congestion.

And he proposed that one way of avoiding the potentially global problem of an overcrowded road network is to create a global transportation network that utilizes communication between vehicles, transport infrastructure and individual mobile devices.

“If we do nothing, we face the prospect of ‘global gridlock’, a never-ending traffic jam that wastes time, energy and resources and even compromises the flow of commerce and healthcare,” said Ford in a preview of Ford Motor Company’s “Blueprint for Mobility”. “The cooperation needed between the automotive and telecommunications industries will be greater than ever as we prepare for and manage the future.  We will need to develop new technologies, as well as new ways of looking at the world,” he added.

“No one company or industry will be able to solve the mobility issue alone and the speed at which solutions take hold will be determined largely by customer acceptance of new technologies. The telecommunications industry is critical in the creation of an inter-connected transportation system where cars are intelligent and can talk to one another as well as the infrastructure around them. Now is the time for us all to be looking at vehicles on the road the same way we look at smartphones, laptops and tablets; as pieces of a much bigger, richer network.”

Addressing Mobile World Congress delegates earlier in the day Ford Motor Company also took the opportunity to announce that AppLink, a feature which delivers voice control of smart phone apps from the driver’s seat, is being introduced globally as part of the SYNC voice-control and in-car connectivity system.

In the spirit of cooperation outlined in the keynote address, Ford plans to work closely with app developers around the world to provide the best services for Ford customers through AppLink.

“Blueprint for Mobility” adapts to a changing transport landscape

The company’s “Blueprint for Mobility” will seek solutions for a problem that is already becoming a reality in expanding vehicle markets around the world. In Sao Paulo, traffic jams regularly exceed 100 miles and the average commute lasts between 2 and 3 hours a day. Despite this, car buying is growing at a rate of 7.5 percent annually. In China, the world’s longest period of gridlock was registered at 11 days during 2010.

The problem is not restricted to emerging markets, either. For example, it is estimated that the cost of congestion to the economy in England through lost time will rise to around $35 billion (€26 billion) annually by 2025. In Germany, sustaining a town of 300,000 people is estimated to require 1,000 truck deliveries daily.

Solving the issue of urban mobility is a huge challenge that will only be successful if government collaboration, infrastructure development and industry come together globally.

During his keynote address, Ford focused on the opportunities and challenges presented by expanding communication networks and increasing global demand for personal mobility and commercial transportation as he outlined his vision for a future transport network integrated with mobile communications.

And as with the company’s “Blueprint for Sustainability,” which set near, mid- and long-term goals for significant reductions in the company’s global environmental footprint, the “Blueprint for Mobility” defines the start of Ford’s thinking on what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and the technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get there, including;

Near-Term (5-7 years)

  • Ford Motor Company to be at the forefront of developing increasingly intuitive in-car mobile communications options and driver interfaces that proactively alert drivers to traffic jams and accidents
  • Developmental projects such as the vehicle-to-vehicle warning systems currently being explored at Ford’s European Research and Advanced Engineering Centre, in Aachen, Germany, and intelligent speed control features to grow in capability
  • The delivery of a better-connected, safer and more efficient driving experience with limited autonomous functions for parking and driving in slow-moving traffic – building on existing Ford features including Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Active City Stop
  • Further development and defining of new vehicle ownership models, as already demonstrated through the Ford collaboration with Zipcar, the world’s largest car sharing and car club service

Mid-Term (2017 – 2025)

  • The introduction of semi-autonomous driving technology including driver-initiated “auto pilot” capabilities and vehicle platooning in limited situations – technologies that will provide improved safety and driver assistance features, but allow the driver to take control, if needed
  • Significantly more interaction between individual cars on the road through utilization of  ever-increasing computing power and numbers of sensors in vehicles, helping reduce the number of accidents at intersections and enabling limited semi-autonomous and autonomous highway lane changing and exiting
  • The arrival of vehicle-to-cloud and vehicle-to infrastructure communication that contribute to greater time and energy efficiency by enabling vehicles to recommend alternative transport options when congestion is unavoidable and to pre-reserve parking at destinations
  • The emergence of an integrated transport network, featuring cars plugged into public databases
  • New city vehicle options as more and more 1, 2 and 3-passenger vehicles are introduced to help manoeuver city streets

“Cars are becoming mobile communications platforms and as such, they are a great untapped opportunity for the telecommunications industry. Right now, there are a billion computing devices in the form of individual vehicles out on our roads. They’re largely unconnected from one another and the network,” Ford said.

“We’ll increasingly take advantage of the car as a rolling collection of sensors to reduce congestion and help prevent accidents. I’m confident that we will see many of these advances on the road in this mid-term period because the early versions are already being designed, and in most cases, tested.”

Long-Term (2025+)

  • A radically different transportation landscape where pedestrian, bicycle, private car, commercial and public transportation traffic will be woven into a single connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety
  • Arrival of smart vehicles capable of fully autonomous navigation, with increased “auto pilot” operating duration, plus the arrival of autonomous valet functions, delivering effortless vehicle parking and storage
  • Development of a true network of mobility solutions, with personal vehicle ownership complimented by greater use of connected and efficient shared services, and completely new business models contributing to improved personal mobility

Bill Ford’s keynote at the 2012 Mobile World Congress was the first ever to be delivered at the leading annual communications industry event by an automotive industry executive, and followed his address at the TED 2011 conference in Long Beach, Calif.

Ford at 2012 Mobile World Congress

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.

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Ford B-Max To Debut At Consumer Electronics Show Wed, 15 Feb 2012 13:48:38 +0000

Ford is showing its fealty to the machines putting its money where its mouth is regarding telematics systems by unveiling their new B-MAX MPV at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, a week before the Geneva Auto Show begins.

The B-MAX is also expected to show off some of Ford’s newest in-car mobile technologies (which have not yet been announced to the press). Bill Ford, the company’s chairman, will deliver a keynote address on the future of mobility as well as the role that mobile technology will play in the automobile’s future. The move is not without precedent for Ford, as the company unveiled their Focus EV at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which overlapped with the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Ford’s new habit of unveiling cars at electronics shows is something to look out for – don’t be surprised if other OEMs start copying the Blue Oval as they look for greater exposure for their new product. The car is not necessarily the star of an automaker’s lineup, and if major tech companies like Microsoft are on board, then launching a new car at a geek show, rather than an auto show, might be the way of the future for OEMs with major tech tie-ups – especially when their partner is launching a brand new mobile platform.

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2013 Ford Fusion, Ford Flex To Get SYNC As Standard Fri, 10 Feb 2012 16:08:03 +0000

As lifetime President of the “Auxillary Cable Fan Club”, it saddens me to see that Ford’s annoying system will be standard on the 2013 Flex and 2013 Gamechanger Fusion, with Ford boasting that over 4 million vehicles have had SYNC installed since 2007.

My latest annoyance with SYNC came yesterday with the 2012 Lincoln Navigator (yes, it still exists). SYNC did not allow my passenger to pair their phone while the vehicle was in motion – ostensibly this is to cut down on driver distraction and any potential liabilities, but pulling over to a stop in rush hour is not possible, especially with “no standing” by-laws that prohibit idling in curb lanes. Pairing phones at traffic lights wasn’t an option either, was the system took longer to pair than the length of a red line, and as soon as the vehicle is rolling, SYNC automatically cancels the pairing. Oh yeah, the iPod integration sucks too.

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