technology and cars

Self Driving Cars

The Jetsons broadcast into American living rooms in 1962. The futuristic cartoon was based on how we all might be living in 2062. Flying cars, housecleaning robots and video calls…hmmm… looks like we’re right on track. Motor Trend listed the Buick as the best car of 1962, which came standard with an AM radio.  

Twenty years later Night Rider was created in 1982, by this point, cars had advanced to include AM/FM radios and tape players.  

Today our vehicles are essentially equal parts computer/machine. A voice command can start off verbal directions to anywhere, a beep tells us we’re too close to another car or object and can hit the breaks for us. We’re currently to some degree co-piloting with our cars. It makes absolute sense that the next level of auto-evolution would be self-driving cars which ironically rename the dash, the cockpit.

A recent Verge article asks and answers the question, where are the autonomous cars?  As it turns out, the technology is here, though the profit is not. Much like the manufacturing of fast cars has an extremely small American market due to the still remaining popularity of large vehicles, self-driving cars fall into the same category. They’re small.

The article continues to include a few urban locations where these cars are being tested on real streets in real traffic, more specifically for use of delivering products and people.

Google Lexus Self-Driving Car

Google Lexus Self-Driving Car

Either way, the race is still on to bring the car of the future into our driveways sooner than later. Tesla, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, and even Kia are all digging their mechanical and software engineering heels into the starting line. According to Market Watch, we’re ready and set, GO however is not expected to happen for another 15-20 years.

For many of us, that’s a crushed dream of anxiety-free parallel parking and nap to work wishes. For most, however, we’re psychologically not so sure about the idea. A report compiled by AAA in 2016 found that 75% of people are afraid of letting their car do the driving; although psychologists feel it will be a fairly easy fear to defeat. Somehow we all got over the Computerphobia of the 1980’s, we’ll likely do the same with our phobia about self-driving cars in the 2030’s. 

In the meantime, we can expect to see more and more cars with self-driving aspects such as self-steering and breaking. Phasing into trusting our car to do all the driving might just be the best way to go. 

Guest Blogger: Allison Green

 

 

Artificial Intelligence to Make Your Drive Safer & Even More Fun!

Do you have one of the many personal assistants through Amazon’s Alexa, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, or a Google Assistant that can communicate with other devices at your home and control them?  Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take your personal assistant with you on the road? Artificial Intelligence is expanding through the universe at furious speeds with a German Company, called German AutoLabs offering up the first personal assistant to compliment our driving experience.  This will also be the first male personal assistant with the name Chris.

Chris will allow you to make calls, listen to voicemail, checkout your Facebook, What’s App, or even check your email messages all while safely keeping your hands on the wheel.  (Yahoo Tech)

According to the company it will also include assistance with navigation and allow you to listen to your favorite music with merely a simple voice command. “Chris, play the Lumineers.”  Wala! Discover more about Chris through the informational video on Youtube.com.

According to Forbes.com:  “Investment in AI has accelerated from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015, a 746% increase in five years. In 2016, this continued to increase with roughly another $1.5 billion being invested in more than 200 AI-focused companies in 2016.”

It's not only Chris making a splash in this competitive industry, another report from @FordOnline delves deeper into the future of AI in our cars through Cloud-based voice control that will be available on 75% of new vehicles by 2022. The future personal assistants will do everything for us in our cars as they do in our homes with smart technology taking over the world! 

 "This summer, Ford’s in-car connectivity system SYNC 3 will enable drivers to connect to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa and offers 23 different languages and many local accents. By accessing cloud-based resources, cars of the future could enable even more drivers to speak their native language…” 

“Voice commands like ‘I’m hungry’ to find a restaurant and ‘I need coffee’ have already brought SYNC 3 into personal assistant territory,” said Mareike Sauer, voice control engineer, Connectivity Application Team, Ford of Europe. “Eventually, drivers will not only be able to use their native tongue, spoken in their own accent, but also use their own wording, for more natural speech.”  

Discover more about a research project Ford is currently running with RWTH Aachen University which includes using multiple microphones to improve speech processing and reduce the effect of external noise and potential disruptions. Nuance says that within the next two years, voice control systems could prompt us with: “Would you like to order flowers for your mum for Mothers’ Day?” “Shall I choose a less congested but slower route home?” and “You’re running low on your favorite chocolate and your favorite store has some in stock. Want to stop by and pick some up?”  

"Future gesture and eye control would enable drivers to answer calls by nodding their head, adjust the volume with short twisting motions, and set the navigation with a quick glance at their destination on a map." @FordOnline.com

Lastly, the future of AI is meeting us coming and going in a world of fast paced answers to every question.  In addition, it will provide more safety and security in our daily commutes. As AI grows our cars will even be able to sense our moods through facial recognition software. Learn more about this amazing AI feat at nytimes.com.  The future looks bright with the advancement of AI! 

 

Rip Roaring Fast Cars in 2017!

Last year we brought you “Rip Roaring Fast Cars in 2016” which highlighted the Venom GT taking you up to 270 miles per hour, the McLaren 675LT at 205 mph and the Audi R8 also up to 205 mph.  So will 2017 cars move even faster? As unimaginable as it may seem, the answer is YES!

Photo Credit: venomgt.com/venom-f5/

The Texas manufacturer has beat its own record of 207 mph with the 2017 Hennessy Venom F5 at 290 miles per hour made in America!   This hypercar has 1500 horsepower and reaches speed in two seconds.  However, don’t expect to see too many of these in the grocery store parking lot.  According to Hennessy Venom website: "Production is very limited, making the Hennessey Venom F5 not only one of the quickest and fastest hypercar in the World, but also one of the most exclusive."

The Venom GT that we reported on last year sold 12 of its $1.2 million Venom GTs in its six-year production run. But now, the era of the Venom GT draws to a close.  According to Road and Track, as of January 19th, all these beauties are SOLD OUT

Coming in second place is the Bugatti Chiron with a speed up to 260 mph, 1500 horsepower, and a 16 cylinder engine. This super-car is manufactured by the Bugatti Automotive Group which is owned by Volkswagen.  Start saving your pennies for this one, it is currently running around $2.6 million plus (based on current exchange rate).

Also making the list this year:

  • The Saleen S7 Twin Turbo at 248 mph and $550,000

  • The McLaren F1 at 240 mph and $1.1 million

  • The Noble M600 at 225 mph and $300,000

For something a little more affordable, fast and fun you might want to check these winners out.

  •  The 2017 Lotus Evora 400 will get you 0 to 60 in 4.1 seconds for just under $90,000.  The Lotus is returning to the United States after two years and capable of reaching 186 mph.
  • The 2017 Hyundai Genesis Coupe will take you up to 146 mph at a kinder price tag of around $30,000. 
  • The 2017 Chevrolet Camaro makes a fast highway pass reaching 60 mph in 4.3 seconds for around $27,000. 

Looking even further into the future, the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon promises, even more fun rolling off the assembly line 200 pounds lighter than the Dodge Hellcat.

Looking for speed and fuel efficiency? According to Forbes, this is entirely possible through a few engineering marvels. The Audi TSS gets up to 27 miles per gallon while still capable of making 60 mph in 5.8 seconds.

The Chevrolet Camaro previously mentioned can maintain up to 29 miles per gallon and the Ford Mustang up to 31 miles per gallon hitting 50 in 5.3 seconds. 

Out of all of the dynamic super sonic fast cars which one would you choose? For those willing to travel at hyper speed with all the bells and whistles car manufactures can instill there appears to be something for everyone.

Happy, fast and safe travels to all!  

2017 Auto Design Summed Up In One Word - Technology

It feels like a recent memory that Auto Technology meant having a CD player instead of a tape deck.  Previous to that, we had a portable CD player that plugged into the cigarette lighter with a cassette tape popped into the car’s tape deck.  One bump and that ever so fun music jam was over.  Just twenty years later, 2017 is proving that auto technology is far from ceasing to surprise us in improving our driving experience.

So let’s start with the ever present device of the times, the smartphone. Automakers have found new ways to make the smartphone experience safer while driving by integrating the technology into our vehicles and for good reason. Smartphone use while driving is attributed to 26% of all car accidents. According to ATT, texting alone causes 1.3 million crashes a year, and this doesn’t include gaming, app use, checking in on social media, video chat, and web searches.

The Providence of Newfoundland, Canada began banning cell phone use while driving in 2003. Today, all ten provinces have strict driving with cell phone laws. Touching your phone while driving in Ontario will result in a $490 - $1000 fine.

Here in the United States as recent as September of this year, California extended its cell phone/driving laws to include banning all uses of a cell phone. To our health, and, longevity 2017 autos bring even more hands-free options for that cell phone than ever before.

Photo Credit: Chrysler Pacifica -  http://www.nwitimes.com

Photo Credit: Chrysler Pacifica - http://www.nwitimes.com

Addressing this issue, and one up-ing smartphone/vehicle technology, we now have… Onboard Infotainment.  Which is, basically, everything you love about your smartphone in that center spot of the car where only your stereo used to reside. A simple, touch screen access to Bluetooth, social media, GPS navigation and more. The Bluetooth technology even allows connecting to your favorite online commercial-free music such as Jango or Pandora. 

This technology is too new at this juncture to analyze if it’s less a distraction overall than actually touching a phone while driving, although as of today it is a legally allowable way to continue communicating with the outside world as you drive by it.

A few other new technologies coming to a dealer near you include:

  • Predictive Forward Collision Warning system
  • Improved Smartphone Infotainment Integration
  • Smartphone Vehicle Management
  • Self-Parking Systems

Ford, Lincoln, Toyota, Lexus and BMW all have new Self Parking technology. Thus far, my system of landing a parallel parking spot has been to keep driving until a more convenient parking spot appears.  The 2017 Ford Super Duty Pickup Truck has at least SEVEN cameras to make anyone look like an expert parker. 

Also look to see more vehicles with Predictive Forward Collision Warning systems and smart braking technology. Those capabilities are sure to help avoid accidents, an August 2016 report from AAA, states it is best to still keep you as the driver in control of the brakes.

For more mind-blowing details on what to expect in 2017, check out the following links:

Whereas it may still be a few years before the standard vehicle drives itself like that awesome car from Night Rider, we are every year closer to living like the Jetsons than we ever thought possible.

By Guest Blogger: Audrey Elder - See more of Audrey's blogs at Past to Present Research 

 

 

Vehicle Hackers Breach Automakers Cyber Dashboard Technology

cyber.technology.jpg

Do you know that hackers are able to control vehicles through the latest online systems equipped with cyber technology?   This is very concerning for many people.  Recently viewed a video from Wire.com that demonstrated how hackers can literally take control of a vehicle from a distant location through a computer.  The driver of the Jeep Cherokee in this particular scenario had no control and he was nearly run off the road.  Fortunately, some hackers do care and are willing to assist auto makers by revealing the tricks of their dangerous trade. 

You may ask:  what is being done by major auto makers to resolve this very serious issue?  Can it be completely resolved?  With such major safety implications Chrysler has issued a patch to secure their vehicles.  Fortune.com reported this month:  That the AAM,  An alliance of twelve automakers including Ford and General Motors said it will create a center for sharing information and analysis to help make cars more secure.”  The new ISAC hub will make it efficient for major automakers to transmit and share new security threats specifically targeting vehicle cyber systems as they come into the new hub. 

Fortunately, the major auto makers are on top of the threats and doing everything that they can to make the online systems in vehicles more secure.   Only time will tell if the security breaches hamper new vehicle sales.   One of our Twitter followers tweeted:  “Note to self, do not buy a new vehicle with online technology.” 

We understand the concerns and will keep you updated as automakers, technology firms and other related auto industry teams work together to make us all feel more secure as we travel with our online world at our fingertips.