Volvo Makes Life Easier with Roam Delivery Service

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In the past, Volvo's one and only message to the consumer was safety, safety, safety. While today's consumers are still safety conscious, they've also tech savvy and on the lookout for ways to simplify even the smallest details in life. Volvo is adding a new goal to its platform: to make life simpler and easier for the Volvo car owner.

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What could be easier than having packages delivered directly to your car, no matter where it's parked? That's actually proven feasible in a pilot program of Volvo's Roam Delivery Service, which uses an app to allow a delivery person one-time access to an enabled car.

By Kristin Varela | March 5, 2014 | Comments (3)

Apple Unveils CarPlay for Volvo, Mercedes, Ferrari at 2014 Geneva Motor Show

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Having already revolutionized the way people around the world buy and listen to music, communicate with one another and generally manage their daily lives, Apple is taking its innovation on the road. The tech giant today at the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show announced the rollout of its latest bid to dominate the in-car operating-system market: Apple CarPlay — touted as "the best iPhone experience on four wheels." Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will lead the way in offering CarPlay to their customers starting this week, to be followed later by BMW, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota, according to Apple.

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

The system allows iPhone users to access all of their content while in the car, with minimal distraction, Apple stated in a news release. CarPlay is available as an update to iOS 7 and works with Lightning-enabled iPhones, including the 5s, 5c and 5 models.

"Once iPhone is connected to a vehicle with CarPlay integration, Siri helps you easily access your contacts, make calls, return missed calls or listen to voicemails," Apple said in a statement. "When incoming messages or notifications arrive, Siri provides an eyes-free experience by responding to requests through voice commands, by reading drivers' messages and letting them dictate responses or simply make a call."

By Matt Schmitz | March 3, 2014 | Comments (2)

Ford May Sync With BlackBerry

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Sync is the voice-activated central command system used to connect mobile devices, entertainment and emergency services within Ford's lineup of cars, trucks and SUVs. Though developed by Ford, at the core of Sync is Microsoft's Windows Embedded Automotive software. Well, for now, anyway. An unnamed industry source says the next-generation Sync is going to ditch Microsoft for BlackBerry's QNX automotive unit used by many other major automakers, according to USA Today (read more here).

Cars.com's struggles with Ford's Sync-powered MyFord Touch are no secret, and new background software could potentially speed up a lot of the lag and address glitches we've experience with the system. Still, the layout and hands-on interface of MyFord Touch is our biggest sore spot. Meaning, the new software could be amazing, but without an update to the interface drivers use every day there could still be problems.

Cars.com's Issues With MyFord Touch

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Joe Bruzek | February 25, 2014 | Comments (1)

Cheetah Tail Could Prevent Car Rollovers, Seriously

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Along with anthropomorphic accessories like eyelashes and mustaches, it's not uncommon to see cars dressed up with plush jungle-cat tails affixed to their rear end, especially in a college town where the dominant sports mascot is, say, a tiger. Researchers in South Africa have found that a tail on a car may in fact be a breakthrough in preventing high-speed rollovers. But the tail belongs to the cheetah and it isn't just for show.

By Matt Schmitz | February 14, 2014 | Comments (12)

Planned Safety Tech Would Prevent Drunken Drivers From Starting Car

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You've heard of cars of the not-so-distant future that drive themselves. But in the even-less-distant future your car may refuse to let you drive — if you've been drinking alcohol, that is. A pair of technologies now under development would automatically detect blood-alcohol content through touch or breath and determine whether the person behind the wheel is sober enough to drive.

New Safety Tech Takes Decades to Hit Entire Car Market

According to Insuarance.com, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has extended its multimillion-dollar agreement with a coalition of 15 automakers to develop the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. The safety feature would gauge whether the would-be driver's BAC was greater than the legal limit of 0.08 percent and, if so, prevent them from driving. Unlike in-car devices that use a breath tube and ignition interlock systems for people convicted of alcohol-related driving offenses, DADSS would be more accurate and reliable, Insurance.com reported.

By Matt Schmitz | February 13, 2014 | Comments (1)

Survey: Motorists Apprehensive About Driverless Cars

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If the thought of getting in your car and being chauffeured around by a computer makes you feel vulnerable, unsafe or otherwise powerless over your fate on the freeway, you're not alone — not by a longshot. According to a Harris Poll, an overwhelming 88 percent of motorists reported that they would be worried about riding in a driverless, or autonomous, car. The study surveyed 2,039 adults age 18 or older and found that drivers were apprehensive over a variety of potential mishaps resulting from relinquishing control to a machine.

NHTSA Maps Strategies for Driverless-Car Safety

More than three-quarters of U.S. adults worry that equipment — such as braking software or warning sensors alerting the driver to danger — in a driverless car will fail. "Only 12 percent said they would not be worried about riding in a driverless car," researchers stated. Other concerns, followed by the percentage of respondents reporting so, include:

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

The Ryno is a Cooler Segway … At Least Until All Those Mall Cops Get One

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Maybe mall security guards would get more respect if they trolled the food court on Rynos. Wired.com tested the contraption, a sort of love child between a Segway and a unicycle, and it found the motorized unicycle, which uses a Segway-like combination of gyroscopes and accelerometers to effect movement, felt pretty stable. It looks a lot cooler than a Segway, in part because it looks like it should be a lot faster.

Study Shows Fewer Cars, Less Driving in U.S. Cities

It isn't. Maximum speed is 10 mph, and total range is 10 miles after six hours of charging on a 12-volt DC charger, Ryno says. Like on a Segway, you lean forward or backward to move around on the Ryno's 25-inch motorcycle tire, and Wired says it's more intuitive than the vehicle's ungainly stance suggests. With most of its 160 pounds centered low to the ground, the Ryno easily balances on its own, too, Wired says. It parks on rubberized feet that perch beneath the handlebars.

By Kelsey Mays | January 27, 2014 | Comments (3)

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

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As we usher in the age of the "connected car," consumers must be increasingly aware of the tradeoff between modern safety and convenience and the potential for the information they share to be exploited. To help foster accountability on the part of companies and government agencies collecting and using driver data from connected cars, roadside-service giant AAA has drafted a bill of rights, of sorts, and is urging those companies to adopt it.

Report: Privacy Concerns Persist for Navigation, Telematics Services

AAA's threefold Consumer Rights for Car Data, unveiled at this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, calls for transparency, choice and security, stating that:

By Matt Schmitz | January 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

Most Backup Cameras Don't Like Bad Weather

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Face it, we're addicted to gadgets that make our lives easier. Drivers of cars with backup cameras, which display images on a dashboard or mirror screen when the transmission is in Reverse, come to rely heavily on them.

Tips for Starting Your Car in Subzero Weather

These cameras not only show the way when you're backing up, but they can save lives, make ham-fisted drivers look like parking champs and help countless motorists survive one of the scariest driving experiences — backing out of a parking space at a shopping mall during the holiday shopping season.

If only they worked as well in foul winter weather as they do on sunny days.

By Rick Popely | January 10, 2014 | Comments (11)

Report: Privacy Concerns Persist for Navigation, Telematics Services

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Use a navigation or telematics system? You might share a lot more information with third-party providers than you realize. As each year brings new advancements to the connected car, the risk only increases.

At the behest of Congress, the Government Accountability Office audited privacy practices for 10 providers of navigation or telematics services in 2013: the Detroit Three, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, portable navigation providers Garmin and TomTom, and smartphone navigation developers Google Maps and Telenav. GAO interviewed privacy advocates, investigated exactly what those companies do with your information and compared it to industrywide best practices for privacy protection.

Automakers Wrestle with Smartphone, Multimedia Integration

In a 32-page December 2013 report to Congress posted on Jan. 6, GAO found the providers fall well short of those practices.

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

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