Category: Technology

By on May 31, 2019

With China having become the world’s largest automotive market by individual sales, it’s worth keeping tabs on it for burgeoning driving trends. While that’s predominantly revolved around electric vehicles, the People’s Republic also has pretty strict driving rules backed by some of the tightest monitoring of a civilian population imaginable. China is setting up a vast surveillance system that tracks every single one of its 1.4 billion citizens and is adapting it for use in its new “social credit system,” which sounds like the most Orwellian thing in existence.

The system is intended to publicly shame criminals, debtors, jaywalkers, and those with “controversial” political views while monitoring their every move but it’s also doing a fine job of making life harder for drivers.  Read More >

By on May 30, 2019

With automakers perpetually promoting daft new technologies as a way to appease investors, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new idea that made us take pause and wonder why nobody else had come up with it first. Fortunately, Jaguar Land Rover has done us a solid, with research help from Glasgow University, and delivered a “sensory steering wheel” aimed at giving drivers silent feedback through temperature variances.

The applications of the device are yet to be settled upon but JLR has suggested that the wheel could be used to notify the driver of less-pressing issues that don’t warrant an audible announcement or even offer silent turn-by-turn navigation.  Read More >

By on March 20, 2019

Volvo has burdened itself with the unrealistic duty of ending fatalities in its cars. While an admirable goal, eliminating roadway mishaps in their entirety is an exceptionally tall order. We’ve often wondered how the company intends to progress toward its zero-death target. The automaker has already said it intends to reduce speeding by limiting the top speed of all models to 112 mph.

On Wednesday, the company said it will introduce an orange “Care Key” that allows owners to apply whatever maximum velocity they desire (below 112 mph) and an in-car camera system designed to keep you from misbehaving behind the wheel. Volvo’s commitment to safety seems to exist without boundaries, but it leaves us wondering how far is too far.  Read More >

By on February 15, 2019

Forty countries, led by Japan and the European Union, have agreed to require passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to come equipped with automated braking systems starting as soon as 2020.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the new regulation will become compulsory for all countries that adopt it during an upcoming June session. However, the measure will only apply to vehicles operating at “low speeds,” which the U.N. claims is anything under 42 mph. Read More >

By on January 30, 2019

Argo AI, the Pittsburgh-based firm Ford pumped $1 billion into and handed responsibility for educating its self-driving vehicles, just received a go-ahead for testing in the State of California. The company gained a testing permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday, making its autonomous trials perfectly legal on public roads.

Ford’s current trajectory has its autonomous vehicles entering the commercial market by 2021. That’s two years after General Motors promised to do the same. However, recent events cast doubt over whether GM will be able to meet its self-imposed deadlines (some of which dictate future investments from its partners) and start mass production of computer-controlled cars by the end of this year. It’s not just GM that’s having trouble, either. A critical look into autonomous development shows many companies are struggling with advancing the technology to a point that would make it commercially viable.

The Blue Oval might be better positioned in the autonomous race than initially presumed.

Read More >

By on November 20, 2018

Volvo released a mysterious teaser image for the Los Angeles Auto Show on Monday. The photo features what is obviously a phone boasting bold text that reads “this is not a phone” while resting on the seat of an automobile.

While it’s not immediately evident what the car brand is promoting, the hashtags #FutureIsMobility and #AutoMobilityLA give us a few hints. Volvo has an app and intends on debuting it in Los Angeles at the end of the month. As for what it might be for, we have some hunches. The strongest of which results in a follow-up press image where the phone says it’s a car dealership or key.  Read More >

By on October 21, 2018

The Federal Communications Commission has decided to review how the radio spectrum intended for wireless communications should be divided. While a seemingly normal part of its duties, the reassessment could open up a part of the spectrum that was previously reserved for automotive applications. The super-high 5.9 GHz frequency reserved for cars was deemed important because it would help enable low-power connectivity in remote and high-density areas, allowing for vehicles to more reliably transmit information between each other and the infrastructure. This was framed by the interested parties as essential for helping to develop safe, autonomous driving systems but it could likely also work to aid any data-based services they offer in the future.

Meanwhile, cable companies, the telecom industry, and internet service providers (ISPs) don’t think it’s fair that automakers are getting their own slice of bandwidth when they’re not even using it yet. Carmakers have been working on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure, and dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) for years without much in the way of consumer applications.  Read More >

By on October 19, 2018

Everyone who spends the majority of their time obsessing about cars seems to low-key adore the Genesis G70. It’s handsome, comfortable, and apparently handles like a sports sedan should. The dealership will even sell it to you with a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive if you can live without the 365-horsepower twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6. It also undercuts the starting price of its self-selected rival, the BMW 3 Series, by a full ten grand — softening the blow of any shortcomings it may possess.

However, there is one aspect that puts it a step behind its more-expensive competition. The G70 still uses analog instrumentation in conjunction with its digital interfaces. While this is a non-issue for many enthusiasts, as most electronic gauges simply mimic traditional clusters (and sometimes rather poorly), the general public expects premium autos to have the most-flashy tech available.

Genesis is remedying the situation in South Korea as read this. But, rather than than simply bringing the G70’s display up to the bar, it has decided to do a front flip over the status quo by offering what it claims is the world’s first 12.3-inch 3D instrument cluster.  Read More >

By on October 16, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk says a new chip aimed at improving its vehicles’ Autopilot features will be available in about six months.

However, if you’re hoping the automaker is preparing to light some candles and knock its vehicles up with legitimate self-driving technology, you’ll need to keep on wishing. During a string of tweets on Tuesday, Musk explained that the new chip would be a $5,000 extra for customers who did not purchase their cars with the “Full Self-Driving” package — an automotive claim that’s about as valid as Donald Trump’s hair or Elizabeth Warren’s status as a Native American.  Read More >

By on September 27, 2018

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NATCO) has joined Ford, Uber and Lyft to work with the data platform SharedStreets to glean a better understanding of America’s infrastructure. Their collective goal is to “make it easier for the private sector to work with cities around the world and leverage data to improve urban mobility.”

That means different things to different companies. For Uber and Lyft, aggregate data on passenger pickups and drop-offs could be useful in deciding where to deploy their vehicles. The information could also prove helpful in telling city planners how to best manage traffic patterns. Uber also said it would track speeders and what on types of roads people are more apt to drive dangerously.  Read More >

By on August 15, 2018

Porsche has grown rather chummy with the video game community of late. In 2017, the automaker used North America’s largest gaming expo as a platform for the debut of the 911 GT2 RS. You can attribute that to a relatively recent marketing push that resulted in its vehicles appearing in interactive media after a long-standing absence. Porsche, for whatever reason, spent years being exceptionally choosy about which developers can license its vehicles for their games. This usually results in blockbuster titles using “RUF” as a placeholder or simply abandoning Porsche vehicles entirely.

The last five or six years have been different, however. Automakers want to broaden their marketing approach and get away from the big industry trade shows. For Porsche, that means video games, and the relationship is only getting stronger.

This week, Porsche Epic Games and the graphical processing wizards at NVIDIA gathered to showcase what they claim is a major breakthrough in computer design rendering. While we can’t say with any authority that this will forever change automotive design, what they’ve managed to accomplish certainly looks impressive.  Read More >

By on July 12, 2018

autonomous hardware

Autonomous vehicles have created an endless series of unanswerable questions. As the technology continues to advance, decisions on how best to implement it have not. We’ve yet to discern who is liable in the event of an accident, how insurance rules would change, if they can coexist effectively with traditional automobiles, how they will impact vehicle ownership in the long term, and the infrastructure necessary to ensure they’ll function as intended.

There’s also a myriad of security concerns involving everything from the very real prospect of vehicle hacking to automakers selling the personal information of drivers. Both of those topics are about to come to a head as automakers continue shifting toward connected vehicles.

In March, the U.S. Transportation Department met with auto industry leaders, consumer advocacy groups, labor unions, and others in an attempt to navigate the minefield that is autonomous integration. The department previously hosted similar roundtable discussions in December after releasing the new federal guidance for automated driving systems, called “A Vision for Safety 2.0.” That guidance freed up automakers and tech firms to test self-driving vehicles with fewer regulatory hurdles to cope with.

However, the December report seemed to focus mainly on how little everyone outside the industry understands the new technology. Read More >

By on June 22, 2018

BMW smartphone sync

Keys have evolved quite a bit over the last century. Most cars don’t require that you use a traditional key anymore, and proximity sensors take away the need to even lock and unlock a vehicle’s doors. While some of us appreciate the satisfying sensation of pressing a button or turning a key, it’s grown unnecessary. But some automakers want to take things a step further and abandon keys altogether.

We’ve heard BMW mention this before. Back in 2017, the brand’s head of sales said the automaker was actively reassessing the practical value of car keys now that keyless entry is the norm. “Honestly, how many people really need [keys],” Robertson said. “They never take it out of their pocket, so why do I need to carry it around?”

Now, the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), which includes BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Audi, Lincoln, Apple, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, and more, has published the Digital Key Release 1.0 specification. The aim is to establish a standardized solution for the industry that enables drivers to download a digital key onto their smart devices and use it on every vehicle they own.  Read More >

By on June 13, 2018

There’s been plenty of discussion about how autonomous vehicles will effectively annihilate the trucking and taxi industries. We’ve certainly discussed it — in addition to concerns that self-driving vehicles may not reduce pollution and traffic congestion as promised.

Fear not, claims a recent report sponsored by Securing America’s Future Energy. The problem of self-driving cars displacing huge numbers workers is apparently overblown when compared to the economic impact as a whole. According to the study — “America’s Workforce and the Self-Driving Future” — the loss in employment opportunities should be offset by the potential advantages in safety, cheaper transportation, mobility, air quality, and individual productivity.

The report says that by 2050, AVs will contribute between $3 and $6 trillion in cumulative consumer and societal benefits to the U.S. economy. While it’s not clear how much of that will go into the pockets of people who’ve lost their jobs, it sure sounds great in theory.

But is this really the future of autonomous transportation? And who are these wizards of analysis who tell us the future looks so damn bright?  Read More >

By on April 30, 2018

When General Motors first deployed OnStar, it was a little more than an emergency services hotline. Drivers in need could tap a blue button on their rearview mirror and immediately get in contact with an operator. The system could also do this automatically in the event of a crash. OnStar later introduced anti-theft measures, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote access as part of a subscription plan.

However, with General Motors seeing dollar signs wherever connectivity is involved, the automaker wants to retool the system. OnStar will continue offering existing services, but GM is changing the subscription model and placing a new emphasis on data acquisition. The good news is that the tiered payment model will offer more features starting in May. Unfortunately, some those amenities used to be free and those fed up with companies selling your data or paranoid about Orwellian Big Brother scenarios might be less enthusiastic about the long-term corporate vision. Read More >

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