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CNET -- Hyundai's Elantra has been a tremendous success for the Korean automaker. Over 10 million Elantas have been sold, an achievement that Hyundai claims makes the Elantra the 6th-best-selling car in the world. Today, at the 2015 LA Auto Show, the Elantra enters its 6th generation.

The new Elantra doesn't look much different from the old one; the broad strokes are similar enough that the car is immediately recognizable as an Elantra. Look closely and you'll notice the details are all new. The hexagonal grille, for example, is more angular and is now flanked by vertical LED daytime running lights. The elongated roofline now stretches its arc nearly to the vehicle's end, which gives the sedan a more coupelike profile.

The headlights are narrower and sweep out horizontally, rather than back toward the windshield, which accentuates the car's width and makes it look broad. Hyundai uses a few visual tricks to make the Elantra look like a larger car, but they're not strictly necessary because the 2017 Elantra simply is a larger car than before. Though it's only about an inch longer and wider than the 2016 model, the interior volume has increased so much that the EPA now technically classifies it as a midsize sedan.

Read the rest of the story here:

HNTB -- Travel safety is the single most important issue emerging transportation technologies must address, according to the findings of a new national public opinion poll.
The latest America THINKS survey by HNTB Corporation, “Technology-driven transportation innovation — demand for safety, concern for personal privacy,” finds Americans want and expect new technologies and emerging innovations, such as connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles and smart roads, to improve travel safety. That expectation, however, is tempered by significant personal privacy concerns about access and use of information generated by those very technologies.
“With human errors accounting for nearly 90 percent of all highway crashes — and between 30 percent and 50 percent of all peak-period delays being caused by crashes — minimizing the human influence in driving performance can have a two-fold benefit. Not only can smarter infrastructure and vehicles save lives and reduce injuries, they also can lead to improved mobility of the traveling public,” said Jim Barbaresso, HNTB’s national practice leader for intelligent transportation systems and 2014 chairman of the ITS World Congress.
Privacy concerns surround the technology, too. At a June 2015 press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Barbaresso joined Khaliah Barnes of the Electronic Privacy Information Center to discuss connected vehicle technology and related privacy questions. Both agreed standards and guidelines concerning data capture and its management will need to be carefully crafted. But Barnes also stated standards and guidelines are not substitutions for strong, baseline federal privacy protections.
Barnes said, “The public will not tolerate government agencies’ unfettered access to the information their cars collect and share.”

Safety First
The survey confirms the belief in a direct relationship between travel information and safety.
More than half (52 percent) of those surveyed agree the single most important use of transportation technology – for every means of transportation – is to reduce accidents or make travel conditions safer. Americans are far less likely to prioritize technology’s ability to enhance personal convenience, such as guaranteeing travel time or accurate route planning (10 percent), improving the environment (10 percent), enhancing the ability to use the best transportation option (8 percent) or reducing congestion (8 percent). Improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists is the most important use of technology to 6 percent, and increasing traffic capacity is most important to 4 percent.
As new transportation technologies emerge, more than seven in 10 (71 percent) Americans believe they should be used to improve safety on highways, while 53 percent feel this way about providing traffic condition information.  Fifty percent want new technologies to reduce congestion, and 42 percent desire information about alternative routes or modes of travel. 
The HNTB survey found most people are optimistic about transportation innovations, such as connected vehicle technology. They believe this technology will lead to increased safety (65 percent), fewer traffic accidents (61 percent) and reduced fatalities (58 percent). 
“Evolving connected and autonomous vehicles will make travel on our cities’ streets, on our nation’s corridors and in our vehicles more reliable, predictable, faster and safer,” Barbaresso said. “The full benefits of this transformation won’t be realized overnight, but cities can start now to incrementally create a safer world for future generations of travelers.”

Read the rest of the story here:


The New York Times, 11-17-2016, LOS ANGELES — For decades, the car business has been about style, performance, image and fuel efficiency. But suddenly, the industry is in a technological and sociological upheaval that may force automobiles — and the companies that make them — to change more in the next five years than they have in the last 50.

That was evident in this week’s AutoMobility LA conference, an event held by the organizers of the Los Angeles Auto Show, which will continue over the next two weeks.

AutoMobility is an apt name, because much of the innovation seems to involve making the car ever more like a giant smartphone on wheels. But social mobility is a factor, too, as carmakers confront the surging popularity of ride-hailing services, which means fewer people see a need to own a car, while the push toward autonomous vehicles portends a time when many cars will not need people to drive them.

Maybe this auto convention should be renamed the Los Angeles Technology Show, given the presence of companies like Intel, Cisco and Garmin here, all intent on making digital, internet-connected vehicles even more so. Digital security companies, like Argus Cyber Security and QNX, were also here, promising to protect networked cars against hackers.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

The Hill -- Major vehicle manufacturers are telling Congress to keep its distance as the industry evolves to take advantage of the “Internet of cars.”

Representatives of Toyota, Tesla and GM are scheduled to testify before a House Oversight subcommittee on Wednesday, when they will tout the safety and comfort benefits of increasingly connected cars in prepared testimony. 

“Regulation at a time of rapid innovation runs the risk of limiting the realization of the full extent of safety advances,” Tesla’s head of business development Diarmuid O’Connell will say when testifying Wednesday. 

Increased regulation should be avoided unless “absolutely necessary,” he will say.

O’Connell said the Chrysler vulnerability could have been avoided if manufacturers ensured that their vehicles were not directly connected across the Internet. He also said connected cars must isolate their mechanical systems, such as braking, and make sure to use encryption technology to protect privacy of information transferred to and from vehicles. 

“Tesla is seeing increased vehicle security interest and scrutiny from academic and industry security researchers,” he said. “Tesla encourages and applauds this assistance — to the extent of even providing financial rewards for the best research.”

Read the rest here:

Telegraph -- Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, has said he wants to transform from a carmaker into a mobility services company.

“You have autonomous driving, connected cars, new ways of accessing ownership like Zipcar, Uber or Lyft, you have data collection. We are looking at all of it,” he told the audience at Europe’s largest technology event, the Dublin Web Summit.

“It’s the company that can stitch all that together to make people’s lives easier [that] will emerge as a winner. It will require partnerships with big technology companies and also with startups.”

Speaking about whether Ford may partner with the likes of Apple and Google to make driverless technology, Mr Ford said, “You never know. I do think partnerships will be important.

“In my great grandfather’s time, when he founded Ford, there was a single vertical, where they did everything,” he said. “But one company shouldn’t know it all or do it all. That’s going to change.” 

Read the rest here: -- It's called the "silver tsunami": a huge wave of aging baby boomers that will build to its peak as that demographic enters its geriatric years. The 70-plus crowd is projected to increase from 30.1 million in 2013 to 53.7 million by 2030, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), citing U.S. Census Bureau data.

This means there will be more aging drivers on U.S. roads in the coming years, continuing a trend that's been building for more than a decade. The IIHS estimated that the number of licensed drivers 70 years old and older jumped 30 percent between 1997 and 2012. Older drivers have also been traveling more miles. From 1996-2008, average yearly mileage for drivers 70 and older rose by 42 percent.

The IIHS notes that fewer people in their 70s are licensed to drive than are drivers between ages 20 and 69. And motorists in their 70s also log fewer miles than younger ones. But boomers are nevertheless keeping their licenses longer than previous generations and make up a bigger proportion of the driving population than in past years.

Help for Boomers Behind the Wheel
From music to medical care, baby boomers have exerted enormous influence on society and they will likely rewrite the rules of what it means to age and drive, too. But boomer drivers can't escape the toll that aging can take. AAA points out that nearly 90 percent of motorists age 65 and older suffer from health issues that may affect driver safety.

At the same time, however, mobility is important to mental health. For many aging people, driving is synonymous with independence.

"Helping seniors remain mobile with new technologies and a good car fit is important for quality of life," says AAA spokesman Michael Green. "Older Americans who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility compared to those who remain behind the wheel."

Fortunately, the technology that makes cars safer for everyone is arriving just in time to be particularly useful for aging motorists. Groups such as AAA and AARP offer resources that can help older drivers understand new technology and pick a vehicle that's best suited to their age and abilities.

"Older drivers should consider choosing vehicles that best meet their needs in order to improve safety and comfort behind the wheel," adds Green. 

Read the rest of the story here:

USA Today -- Teenagers, already saddled with worries about grades, soon will encounter cars that can issue their own "report cards" when it comes to driving skills.

Several companies, ranging from global automakers to technology start-ups, have introduced services that enable parents to track, influence or restrict the driving habits of their teenage children.

General Motors will go a step further later this year when it installs an optional system on certain 2016 Chevrolet Malibu models that will compile a touch-screen "report card" for parents that will blow a whistle if their kids' speed or drive aggressively.

"The whole point is to help teens develop safe-driving habits," Detroit-area GM engineer MaryAnn Beebe said in a recent interview while giving a demo of the new Teen Driver system.

The report card is visible only to parents via a personal identification number (PIN), and the data is not sent to GM servers. The data is housed in the vehicle itself.

Chevy's new system will eventually be made a standard feature on all the brand's vehicles, GM spokesman Chad Lyons said. For now it's part of an optional upgrade to premium trim levels.

Read the rest of the story here:

Network World -- What with the fervor over autonomous cars, and predictions of the arrival of the machines being anywhere from 20 years to 2 years, as is Tesla CEO Elon Musk's latest projection, many might be forgetting a major development that will become prevalent before any of this self-driving stuff.

That is over-the air (OTA) networked updating of cars. And it will probably end up in the majority of cars within the next 5 to 10 years, pundits say.

One solution: a connected car that can update its software.

Amazingly, only 2% to 7% of current U.S. vehicles “have some capacity for OTA updates,” says Connected Car, a publication that was distributed at the Connected Car Expo in November.

That will change rapidly.

“We are not necessarily changing cars for horsepower anymore, but changing to keep up with technology,” Mahbubul Alam, CTO of Movimento Group, told Connected Car.

Read the rest of the story here:

3/2/2016, State Tech -- As more U.S. city governments deploy automated, digital and connected services to make their urban environments smarter, they will need to make sure they have the right mix of wireless network connectivity options and the infrastructure to support those technologies, industry analysts say.

According to analysts at IHS Technology, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco are the leading U.S. metropolises that are turning to smart-city technology. But recently, other cities have announced prominent smart-city partnerships, as well. For example, in January AT&T forged partnerships with Cisco, Deloitte, Ericsson, GE, IBM, Intel and Qualcomm to make it easier to deploy technologies and selected Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas to be among the testing grounds for the new alliances.

Undergirding all of these changes is wireless technology, according to Roz Euan-Smith, senior analyst for smart cities at IHS. The company predicts that smart cities will provide $25 billion in opportunities for wireless operators by 2020.

“When cities want to implement smart-city projects, regardless of the scale they’re thinking of, they need to address the connectivity in the city,” Euan-Smith said in an interview with StateTech. “[Internet of things] projects just aren’t going to work if they don’t have the connectivity part right.”

Finding the Right Wireless Technology

The promise of smart cities is largely in adding connectivity to infrastructure so that it can become more automated and efficient, delivering savings for municipalities and improved services for residents. Indeed, some form of connectivity to record and transmit data is required for all of those connected streetlights, intelligent parking systems and efficient utilities.

The technology landscape for many U.S. cities is “fragmented at the moment,” according to Euan-Smith, and “often, the city’s economics will dictate what they invest in.” There will always be trade-offs, she said, noting that cellular wireless technology is very expensive to deploy but also more reliable than Wi-Fi.

Read the rest here:

Everyone from app developers to navigation companies to thought leaders are gathering today at the Connected Car Expo (CCE), part of the Los Angeles Auto Show, the first major auto show of the season. The expo precedes the LA Auto Show’s press and trade events at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Nov. 18-19, 2015. 

The CCE, now in its third year, has gathered quite a bit of momentum since its beginnings. “We used to be situated at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but we outgrew it,” Andy Gryc, conference director, CCE. The expo is now being held at the J.W. Marriot L.A. LIVE, the hotel and entertainment complex adjacent to the convention center. The move to the new location has afforded the expo 60,000 square feet of exhibit space and a presentation room with seating for up to 1,500 people.

“Car companies are here because of the auto show so this expo is a natural extension of that,” Gryc said. “We’re showing where the connected car is going and how the industry is evolving.”

Last evening, the CCE hosted a networking reception, but things officially kick off this morning with a welcome address by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti followed by an opening keynote by Lyft co-founder and president John Zimmer.

Not only is the event in a new location, but it’s also drawing a larger number of exhibitors who aren’t involved in manufacturing cars at all—they’re developing the software and services to go in them. The show is offering a diverse mix of more than 40 companies on the show floor.

For instance, OpenCar, an automotive software company, is involved in the development of the world’s first Connected Car ecosystem for automakers. High Mobility is making cars more responsive to a user’s presence. Its software allows cars to communicate with users via wearables. Remoto is a Connected Car platform that helps car owners to manage their cars—start their engine or open/close doors—remotely by Smartphone. HONK is an on-demand mobile app for tow, tire change, jump start, fuel and lock out services from more than 20,000 tow trucks nationwide.

But don’t expect the same old song and dance from the regulars who have booths at the expo. Magellan is showing both its Off-Road Vehicle and SmartGPS Eco connected car navigation. Magellan's Off-Road Vehicle navigation solutions deliver detailed 3D maps, over 44,000 vehicle trails and community generated trails, improved driver safety and a superior user experience. The SmartGPS Eco features the company's cloud platform that brings together automotive quality navigation and routing, content services, iOS and Android smartphone apps, and connected car platforms.

Hyundai is demonstrating its augmented reality owner’s manual app called Virtual Guide. The automaker said it is a “modern take” on the traditional owner’s manual that usually ends up gathering dust in the glove box. This version allows consumers to use their smartphone or tablet to get information on repairs, maintenance and vehicle features. The Hyundai Virtual Guide is compatible with the 2015 Sonata model, and will soon become available for additional models. 

Volvo Cars has something up its sleeve, but is waiting until opening day of the auto show to reveal what it has teased as its concept time machine. The automaker has been working on the concept for the last several years at its Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Camarillo, California.

“You won’t be able to go back in time and meet the legends of history, or go into the future and meet your kids,” Anders Tylman-Mikiewicz, General Manager of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center, said in a press release, “but when our planned concept is applied to a SPA based vehicle, it has the potential of giving significant time back to drivers.”

The conference program is also expected to be a highlight as it addresses hot-button topics like cyber-security, car sharing and autonomous vehicles, and features a diverse group of speakers from Google to Volkswagen.

 “We’ve taken a lesson from successful conferences and modeled our program after that. We’re going with a short format for our presentations,” said Gryc.

Another key component of the show is the Innovation Zone where the Top 10 start-ups are being recognized. “We’re taking a look at who the next Ubers and Googles are,” Gryc said.

Start-ups were chosen based on their potential to shape the future of the new automotive industry and make cars safer, more accessible and more exciting. The CCE Advisory Board chose the companies based on vision, innovation, unique perspective and the likelihood of technology adoption and success.

Each of the Top 10 are being recognized and have their solutions on display at the show. Among the Top 10 Automotive Startups are Capio, which is developing the next-generation speech recognition and natural language processing technologies that are redefining human computer interaction; Driversiti, which is a cloud-based, situational awareness technology company focused on enabling mobile devices to transform from driving distractors to driver assistance systems; and HopSkipDrive, a ride service for kids, founded by three experienced professionals who are also working moms.

Attendance is expected to be high. According to Gryc, the show could draw anywhere from 1,000 to 1,200 attendees which is both a good and not-so-good thing. “We may have outgrown this location before we expected, but I can’t say yet. We’ll just have to see how things go.”

For more information on the show, go to

PC Mag -- Thanks to Internet connectivity, cars are becoming more like computers, smartphones, and tablets. But as with consumer electronic devices, most people who own a car don't use and probably aren't even aware of all the tech features that come with their vehicles.

That's what J.D. Power and Associates found in a new report that surveyed 4,200 car buyers from April through June of this year about the tech features in their new vehicles. The report revealed that at least 20 percent of respondents "never used" more than half—16 out of 33—of the vehicle technology features mentioned in the survey.

More than half of those surveyed said they don't use their vehicle's voice-texting and voice-recognition systems, and 32 percent ignored in-dash apps such as Pandora and Yelp. The report noted that 38 percent didn't care about their car's ability to create a Wi-Fi hot spot in the cabin using built-in wireless broadband connectivity. And of those surveyed, 35 percent didn't use their car's automatic parking feature, 43 percent never called a "concierge service" to provide navigation directions or a restaurant reservation, and a third didn't depend on a heads-up display to project information onto a car's windshield.

This isn't much different from the average person using their PC or other electronic device. I know I don't use all of the features on my devices.

Read the rest of the story here:,2817,2490244,00.asp

New Electronics -- Imagine you’re driving down the highway with the music blaring, enjoying the open road. Now imagine that the sound from your rear speaker system is delayed by a split second from the front; your enjoyment of the fancy in-car infotainment system comes to a screeching halt.

Ethernet is emerging as the network of choice for infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems that include cameras, telematics, rear-seat entertainment systems and mobile phones. A typical system is shown in fig 1. But standard Ethernet protocols can’t assure timely and continuous audio/video (A/V) content delivery for bandwidth intensive and latency sensitive applications without buffering, jitter, lags or other performance hits.

Audio-Video Bridging (AVB) over Ethernet is a collection of extensions to the IEEE802.1 specifications that enables local Ethernet networks to stream time synchronised, loss sensitive A/V data. Within an Ethernet network, the AVB extensions help differentiate AVB traffic from the non-AVB traffic that can also flow through the network. This is done using an industry standard approach that allows for plug and play communication between systems from multiple vendors.

The extensions that define the AVB standard achieve this by:

* reserving bandwidth for AVB data transfers to avoid packet loss due to network congestion from ‘talker’ to ‘listener(s)’

* establishing queuing and forwarding rules for AVB packets that keep packets from bunching and guarantee delivery of packets with a bounded latency from talker to listener(s) via intermediate switches, if needed

* synchronising time to a global clock so the time bases of all network nodes are aligned precisely to a common network master clock, and

* creating time aware packets which include a ‘presentation time’ that specifies when A/V data inside a packet has to be played.

Designers of automotive A/V systems need to understand the AVB extensions and requirements and how their chosen microcontroller will support that functionality.

AVB: a basket of standards

AVB requires that three extensions be met in order to comply with IEEE802.1:

* IEEE802.1AS – timing and synchronisation for time-sensitive applications (gPTP)

* IEEE802.1Qat – stream reservation protocol (SRP)

* IEEE802.1Qav – forwarding and queuing for time-sensitive streams (FQTSS).

In order to play music or video from one source – such as a car’s head unit – to multiple destinations, such as backseat monitors, amplifiers and speakers, the system needs a common understanding of time in order to avoid lags or mismatch in sound or video. IEEE802.1AS-2011 specifies how to establish and maintain a single time reference – a synchronised ‘wall clock’ – for all nodes in a local network. The generalised precision time protocol (gPTP), based on IEEE1588, is used to synchronise and syntonise all network nodes to sub-microsecond accuracy. Nodes are synchronised if their clocks show the same time and are syntonised if their clocks increase at the same rate.

- See more at:

CNET -- Ford's had a change of heart. When every other automaker went running for smartphone apps that connected to a vehicle via an in-car modem, Ford chose to hold off, claiming the smartphone was the method for providing vehicles with Internet-based functionality. That's all changed with the release of Sync Connect, which will launch with the 2017 Ford Escape unveiled at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.

"There's a recognition that we need to be multifaceted in regards to connectivity," said Don Butler, Ford's director of connected vehicles and services. "With where we see the industry going, built-in connectivity will become an increasing part of what we do. I think the approach that we've taken at Ford has been consistent with our customers and their needs."

Sync Connect is similar to apps from other automakers in that it allows the owner to access certain vehicle functions and information from the owner's own smartphone. Available features include remote lock and unlock, vehicle status including tire pressures and fuel level, vehicle location and remote start.


Its standout feature is the ability to remote start a vehicle according to a schedule. You can, for example, program your car to start at 7:15 every morning for your 7:30 departure. Other automakers offer remote-start capabilities, but none let you schedule it ahead of time. Ford also believes its user interface will help set it apart from its competitors.

The app will also receive over-the-air updates, which require the car to be running. However, you won't lose infotainment functionality while that happens. According to Ford, the updating takes place on a module that operates independently of the Sync 3 infotainment system, so the driver won't miss anything while it's happening.

Read the rest of the story here:

4/7/2016, Washington Post -- Commuters, this is for you. Ford is rolling out a new, semi-autonomous feature that promises to help cope with the tedium and stress of bumper-to-bumper traffic. It's an upgrade to its adaptive cruise control technology that supports stop-and-go traffic.

Currently, many adaptive cruise control features on the market will slow you down when the car ahead applies the brakes, and it'll speed you up again when things get moving. But usually, at speeds of around 12 mph, the cruise control will deactivate and hand the driving duties back to the human.

Ford's stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, which will be available this spring on new Fusion sedans, works below that speed threshold, and will still function even when your car has come to a full stop. Using a suite of cameras and radar, the technology tracks the car ahead and matches its speed, slowing or even stopping if the situation warrants it.

If you're standing still for more than three seconds, the feature will ask you to tap a button to reactivate it, which could get annoying. Still, so long as the traffic is frequently starting and stopping, so will the car, all by itself.

Read the rest here:

Information-Age -- The bookies have predicted that we’re headed for a white Christmas - great news for those who like a picture perfect festive season, but what about those whose job it is to be out on the road?

Plummeting temperatures, ice and sludge and plus poor visibility all make driving even more dangerous. But drivers such as those delivering Christmas presents, service companies fixing broken down cars and those maintaining power lines, will all be out and about, no matter what the weather.

Winter amplifies safety concerns on the road, but there is actually a lot of innovation through tech that is aiming to improve the safety of fleets all year round, no matter the weather.

For example, Samsung has been developing an idea that could make a big difference to fleet and road safety. The Korean tech giant recently blogged about its new ‘Safety Truck’ which uses four screens attached to the back of a trailer to display the view in front to vehicles behind.

Samsung says this is to help traffic behind large vehicles make informed decisions about overtaking, sudden braking or even animals on the road.

Supported by Volvo, it's at prototype stage with trials taking place in Argentina, a country where head-on collisions caused by overtaking is one of the biggest contributors to road deaths.

But prototype or not, it’s a concept that has the safety of all road users at its core - which means there is every chance we will see this kind of innovation come to UK roads soon.

This is undoubtedly forward-thinking from Samsung, but it’s actually just the tip of the iceberg in terms of tech innovations designed to advance road and fleet safety.

Telematics is one tech solution that is playing an increasing role in fleet safety, with platforms that now analyse a driver’s style and provide feedback to both managers and drivers in real time. This helps correct the likes of harsh acceleration and braking in real-time, before they become a safety issue.

- See more at:

11-26-2016, -- As the high-tech and automotive worlds merge—with four disruptive technology trends driving change—a complex ecosystem is creating new rules for success.

As four technology trends reshape the global automotive sector, customer preferences are moving away from its traditional strongholds, such as chassis and engine development. This shift in customer preferences and the sheer size of the automotive sector have attracted new players: a potent mix of large high-tech companies and start-ups. Both differ from the automotive incumbents on virtually every level.

These new entrants and the disruptive trends they bring—electrification, autonomous driving, diverse mobility, and connectivity—will transform typically vertically integrated automotive value chains into a complex, horizontally structured ecosystem. The newcomers are well positioned (and expected) to make moves in novel areas such as autonomous driving. Consequently, today’s OEMs and tier-one suppliers must abandon strategies aiming at total control of vehicles and instead pick and choose where and how to play by shedding assets, streamlining operations, and embracing digital acquisitions.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

C3 Report -- As technology becomes more prominent in cars, consumers are finding it more difficult to understand all these new features. A J.D. Power and Associates report that surveyed 4,200 car buyers earlier this year about the tech features in their new vehicle revealed that at least 20 percent of respondents “never used” more than half of the vehicle technology features mentioned in the survey.

The reported also noted that the first 30 days of ownership are critical, and that car buyers’ “first-time experience with the technology is the make it or break it stage,” according to Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction research at J.D. Power. J.D. Power found that car dealers are partly to blame since new vehicle owners reported that if a feature wasn’t pointed out or if a dealer didn’t explain how it works, they’d probably never use it.

“Automakers need to explain the technology to dealership staff and train them on how to demonstrate it to owners,” Kolodge added. “While dealers are expected to play a key role in explaining the technology to consumers, the onus should be on automakers to design the technology to be intuitive for consumers,” she added.

As someone who tests more than 50 vehicles a year and is intimately familiar with car technology, some features even confound me. And I have to go digging for the owner’s manual to figure out how something works or what it does when it’s not intuitive.

BMW and Volvo vehicles include an electronic in-dash owner’s manual in addition to the paper variety. These allow searching alphabetically or by a section of the car to explain features, and even use animation to show how it works.

Now Hyundai has taken the concept one step further and out of the dashboard with its Virtual Guide app that allows owners to use a smartphone or tablet to get interactive information on vehicle features. User simply point their portable device to a part of the car they want to learn more about, and the app uses 2D and 3D tracking technology to highlight and deliver information on certain features.

The app offers six separate 3D overlay images for areas of a vehicle such as the engine compartment and dashboard. Included in the overlays are 50 individual informational guides, and the app also provides 82 separate how-to videos.

Read the rest here:

USA Today, 2/29/2016 -- Coming soon to a rental car near you: apps that let you make voice-activated reservations, programs that track the health of your vehicle, and wireless hotspots.

The upgrades are incremental, leading toward a future when self-driving rentals pick you up from home, the train station or the airport. That day is just around the corner.

"I believe it to be inevitable," says car rental analyst Neil Abrams. "Autonomous vehicles are on the horizon and in the next several years."

Would you rent a car that drove itself? Me, too.

Back to reality, all these new developments do raise the question: Are drivers ready for these brave new cars?

Car rental companies are upping the ante with their apps. Avis, in late 2015, became the first car rental company to launch an app for the Apple Watch. It lets you email yourself a car rental receipt and retrieve car rental reservations right from your wrist. The company also upgraded its Android app to allow consumers to make reservations by voice, which is a great feature if you're driving. And Audi surprised observers by introducing an app that allows "on demand" direct bookings that bypass the car rental agency entirely.

Read the rest of the story here:

11-26-2016, Autocar -- Padmasree Warrior is sick and tired of her car being crashed into. Twice in the past few weeks, the US boss of rising Chinese electric car company NextEV has been hit by other motorists as she commuted from her home in Palo Alto to her company’s office in the heart of Silicon Valley. 

Even setting aside the stress, cost and inconvenience of road traffic accidents, the twice-daily journey is often a fraught one.

“The distance of my commute is about 20 miles,” said Warrior at the Los Angeles motor show last week. “On a good day, it takes about 45 minutes to make that one-way commute. If you do the maths, it costs me around ten work weeks of productivity per year, just sitting around in my car, not doing anything but getting frustrated.”

Warrior, a former chief technology officer at Cisco Systems and Motorola, has used her experience of computer engineering to create a future vision where using a car to commute to work is a zen-like experience, with little or no risk to our lives and no pollution. 

She calls it ‘Car 3.0’ and predicts it will “have a big impact on human life and many industries as we know them today”.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

Technology Review -- “Where would you like to go?” Siri asked.

It was a sunny, slightly dreamy morning in the heart of Silicon Valley, and I was sitting in the passenger seat of what seemed like a perfectly ordinary new car. There was something strangely Apple-like about it, though. There was no mistaking the apps arranged across the console screen, nor the deadpan voice of Apple’s virtual assistant, who, as backseat drivers go, was pretty helpful. Summoned via a button on the steering wheel and asked to find sushi nearby, Siri read off the names of a few restaurants in the area, waited for me to pick one, and then showed the way on a map that appeared on the screen.

The vehicle was, in fact, a Hyundai Sonata. The Apple-like interface was coming from an iPhone connected by a cable. Most carmakers have agreed to support software from Apple called CarPlay, as well as a competing product from Google, called Android Auto, in part to address a troubling trend: according to research from the National Safety Council, a nonprofit group, more than 25 percent of road accidents are a result of a driver’s fiddling with a phone. Hyundai’s car, which goes on sale this summer, will be one of the first to support CarPlay, and the carmaker had made the Sonata available so I could see how the software works.

CarPlay certainly seemed more intuitive and less distracting than fiddling with a smartphone behind the wheel. Siri felt like a better way to send texts, place calls, or find directions. The system has obvious limitations: if a phone loses the signal or its battery dies, for example, it will stop working fully. And Siri can’t always be relied upon to hear you correctly. Still, I would’ve gladly used CarPlay in the rental car I’d picked up at the San Francisco airport: a 2013 Volkswagen Jetta. There was little inside besides an air-conditioning unit and a radio. The one technological luxury, ironically, was a 30-pin cable for an outdated iPhone. To use my smartphone for navigation, I needed a suction mount, an adapter for charging through the cigarette lighter, and good eyesight. More than once as I drove around, my iPhone came unstuck from the windshield and bounced under the passenger seat.

Android Auto also seemed like a huge improvement. When a Google product manager, Daniel Holle, took me for a ride in another Hyundai Sonata, he plugged his Nexus smartphone into the car and the touch screen was immediately taken over by Google Now, a kind of super-app that provides recommendations based on your location, your Web searches, your Gmail messages, and so on. In our case it was showing directions to a Starbucks because Holle had searched for coffee just before leaving his office. Had a ticket for an upcoming flight been in his in-box, Holle explained, Google Now would’ve automatically shown directions to the airport. “A big part of why we’re doing it is driver safety,” he said. “But there’s also this huge opportunity for digital experience in the car. This is a smart driving assistant.”

CarPlay and Android Auto not only give Apple and Google a foothold in the automobile but may signal the start of a more significant effort by these companies to reinvent the car. If they could tap into the many different computers that control car systems, they could use their software expertise to reimagine functions such as steering or collision avoidance. They could create operating systems for cars.

Google has already built its own self-driving cars, using a combination of advanced sensors, mapping data, and clever navigation and control software. There are indications that Apple is now working on a car too: though the company won’t comment on what it terms “rumors and speculation,” it is hiring dozens of people with expertise in automotive design, engineering, and strategy. Vans that belong to Apple, fitted with sensors that might be useful for automated driving, have been spotted cruising around California.

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