First California Permit to Test Self-Driving Cars Goes to Audi

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Audi announced today that it had received the first permit issued by California for the testing of self-driving, or autonomous, cars on the Golden State's roadways. The news comes the same day as California's new laws governing the testing of automated vehicles take effect with an eye toward the eventual consumer use of driverless cars.

Related: Survey: Motorists Apprehensive About Driverless Cars

"California roads are especially crucial to Audi Piloted driving testing because the state is home to the brand's Electronics Research Lab," the automaker stated in a news release. "ERL engineers are working on a wide range of automated driving issues, including human-machine interface prompts that indicate when the human or the vehicle are handling driving functions."

By Matt Schmitz | September 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

Should You Use the Apple Watch in Your Car?

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Apple just took the wraps off its new iPhone 6, which ships on Sept. 19 for a contract-tethered starting price of $199. Along with the phone came a new — and much-anticipated — device from the Cupertino, Calif., company: the Apple Watch. Apple's first foray into the field of wearable devices, which are multiplying like digital rabbits, the Apple Watch heralds new ways to do a lot of old things: text messages, checking the weather and social media, but it also has maps and turn-by-turn directions built in. It will start at $349 and be available in early 2015.

Related: Navdy Rethinks the Head-Up Display

Having all this information on your wrist may be as convenient — or more so — than having it on your phone, but looking at your wrist while driving may not be an advisable experience for drivers.

By Kelsey Mays | September 10, 2014 | Comments (2)

Cadillac Preps Self-Driving Tech for 2017

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In the not-too-distant future, your Cadillac could know that another car is approaching from a blind corner and warn you before you or the other car could see or detect the danger.

Related: Feds: Car-to-Car Tech Can Save Lives

That's because so-called "vehicle-to-vehicle" technology will make its debut in an all-new 2017 car from GM's luxury division, CEO Mary Barra told reporters at the Intelligent Transport System World Congress in Detroit on Sunday. The 2017 Cadillac CTS will also boast such tech.

GM plans to debut the technology under the term "Super Cruise," which will also enable semi-autonomous driving. Super Cruise can brake, accelerate and maintain your lane through steering assist without any driver input. Many automakers already offer such technology — Mercedes-Benz's Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, for example — but require you to periodically keep your hands on the wheel. In certain highway conditions, Super Cruise will not.

By Kelsey Mays | September 8, 2014 | Comments (0)

GM's OnStar 4G LTE Rolling Into Dealerships

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As we reported previously, GM aims to be a leader in onboard 4G LTE connectivity and has begun selling 2015 models equipped with the technology. To date only Audi has provided onboard 4G, appearing first in its newly redesigned 2015 A3 sedan. A 4G LTE connection in the car has broader and probably more meaningful implications than onboard Wi-Fi, such as fast delivery of navigation and traffic data and, eventually, the capacity to update onboard multimedia or even car functions wirelessly. But for now, the focus is on the OnStar hotspot, to which up to seven devices can connect.

Related: 2014 Chevrolet Impala: Five Surprising Features

GM is making the hardware standard on most of its models, even the tiny Chevrolet Spark, though the goods will come later in the 2015 model year to the full-size truck-based models: the Chevy Tahoe, Suburban and Silverado; GMC Yukon and Sierra; and Cadillac Escalade. Other vehicles that can actually fit seven humans, the full-size crossovers -- the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia - will wait until the 2016 model year. GM says some of its base work-truck pickups will be sold without the hardware.

By Joe Wiesenfelder | August 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

Cyber-Security Experts Name 'Most-Hackable' Cars

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We'll get right to the point, as time is of the essence in this fast-paced new world of connected cars and cybersecurity anxiety: You may be driving one of the "Most Hackable" cars as designated by researchers. On Wednesday, Twitter security engineer Charlie Miller and Christopher Valasek, director of Security Intelligence at computer security firm IOActive, presented a study at the 2014 Black Hat USA security conference in Las Vegas, identifying popular car models they determined to be the vehicles most vulnerable to a remote cyber-attack.

Related: AAA Wants to Protect Personal Data With Connected-Car Bill of Rights

The top three Most Hackable vehicles are:

By Matt Schmitz | August 7, 2014 | Comments (1)

Navdy Rethinks the Head-Up Display

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Imagine: You're driving to meet a client, following turn-by-turn directions on a small display that's superimposed on the windshield. An incoming call alert appears on the display's right side; it's your spouse. You lift your hand, give a thumbs-up to a small projecting device that sits atop your dash, and the call commences via Bluetooth. Sure, you'll pick up the dry cleaning tonight. You make a swiping gesture across the air above the steering wheel and the call ends.

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And you're doing this in your 8-year-old Honda.

It's all thanks to Navdy, a San Francisco-based company whose $499 aftermarket head-up display combines the usual HUD assortment (vehicle speed, engine rpm, warning lights) with navigation directions, phone calls, texts and more. It streams off an iOS or Android smartphone via Bluetooth and Navdy's dedicated apps.

Navdy's HUD has the potential to become a sort of Google Glass for cars; it ships in early 2015, with discounted preorders starting today for $299. Google's techie eye-ware has invited some controversy behind the wheel, and Navdy's device could prompt similar complaints. But if it works as advertised, this HUD holds promise.

By Kelsey Mays | August 5, 2014 | Comments (1)

Sign of the Times: Today Marks Traffic Signal Centennial

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In our fast-paced world where we're always on the go, we might forget to slow down and stop to reflect on how we got to here. Take traffic signals, for example. Such a safe and orderly (most of the time) system for moving high volumes of motorized vehicles through an intersection didn't always exist. In fact, today marks what is popularly agreed upon as the 100th anniversary of the world's first electric traffic signal.

Related: The Zipper Merge: Convincing Motorists Isn't a Snap

The first electric traffic signal was installed Aug. 5, 1914, at the corner of Euclid Avenue and East 105th Street in Cleveland, according to the History Channel's website, history.com. Based on a design by James Hoge, who received the U.S. patent for his device in 1918, the "Municipal Traffic Control System" comprised four pairs of red and green lights that served as stop-and-go indicators, each mounted on a corner post and operated by a switch inside a control booth, configured to make conflicting signals impossible. This invention brought to an end a growing problem in the early days of automobiles, when pedestrians, bicycles, horses and streetcars all converged on the same roadways, the History Channel states.

By Matt Schmitz | August 5, 2014 | Comments (4)

2015 Cadillac ATS Gets Powermat Wireless Charging for Smartphones

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Cadillac is making it easier for you to simply drop your smartphone in a secured bin and focus on driving. The company will offer Powermat wireless charging on the new 2015 ATS coupe and sedan when they go on sale this fall.

Related: 2015 Cadillac ATS What's Changed

The rubberized mat will be located in the storage bin that's hidden behind the motorized door/touch-screen in the center console. The mat wirelessly charges compatible smartphones via electromagnetic induction technology. Just drop your phone onto the mat and charging begins automatically. The new feature will debut on the 2015 ATS, but it will be rolled out to the CTS sedan this fall and the Escalade SUV by the end of the year.

By Aaron Bragman | July 29, 2014 | Comments (0)

Are You Here Yet? Glympse Has the Answer

Glympse

Tucked beneath a canopy of tower cranes in Seattle's booming South Lake Union neighborhood stands a single-story office building that houses Glympse, a 5-year-old internet startup with a laser focus on answering one question: Where the heck are you?

Related: Texting-While-Driving Consequences Vary by State

Not the existential, where-are-you-in-life sort of query, but the more practical where are you and when will you get here. And there lays the in-car potential. Glympse, whose app launched in 2009, allows you to share real-time location via a GPS-enabled mobile device with your friends (or the whole world, if you post to social media) for a period of time you choose. BMW/Mini, Ford, GM, Jaguar/Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Volvo have current or forthcoming integration in their multimedia systems.

I can see why.

By Kelsey Mays | July 29, 2014 | Comments (4)

Google Unveils Android Auto

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Last week, we told you of Google's plans for a vehicle operating system to rival Apple's CarPlay; at today's Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco, the tech giant unveiled the details of its new Android Auto system.

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The operating system runs on a smartphone, and after connecting the phone to the car, it projects its interface to a vehicle's touch-screen, allowing the user to interact with the system's functions via vehicle screen or voice command. Users can access and control Google maps and Google Play Music, as well as their phone's contacts and messages; third-party apps like Spotify and iHeartRadio will also be compatible.

Android Auto is the first system to come from the Open Automotive Alliance, a coalition of tech and auto companies working toward bringing the Android platform to cars. The group consists of more than 40 members, including Google, Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia, a tech company. Honda, Hyundai and Audi have announced that Android Auto will be available in select model-year 2015 vehicles, but specific models and trims will be announced at a later date.

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By Jennifer Geiger | June 25, 2014 | Comments (0)

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