Everyone seems to be super bullish on autonomous vehicles these days. Pundits and product planners alike are hailing this technology as the industry’s next big game changer, but not everyone is so optimistic.
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The J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) is an annual report that’s closely followed by both automakers and consumers. It measures problems reported by vehicle buyers during the first 90 days of ownership. The research firm released its 2013 findings today at an Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit and the report was full of surprises.
We live in a digital world. For many new-car shoppers megabytes and gigahertz are just as important as horsepower and fuel economy. To members of the younger demographic chips are made of silicon, not potatoes, and ram has nothing to do with trucks. But what about the rest of us? To help customers understand the high-tech features of their cars, every Lexus dealer is staffed with dedicated experts that are at the ready to answer any questions a buyer may have about their vehicle.
Luxury and learning to use a new computer probably don’t align themselves readily in your mind, which is why Lexus, among other luxury brands, is taking measures to soften the curve after your purchase.
“With the advent of more technology in luxury cars, customers often have questions about their navigation system, establishing a Bluetooth connection for their phone or managing other telematics systems,” Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president said. “While we’re happy to answer their calls, we think it will be much more beneficial to have experts at our dealerships who can establish and maintain relationships with customers to answer any questions about their cars.”
In order to offer those experts, the brand is partnering with its dealer network and creating two new positions at each facility: a vehicle delivery specialist to introduce customers to their new cars and a vehicle technology specialist to answer tech questions about their car’s increasingly sophisticated electronics.
People filling those positions will be trained through iPad apps designed to educate users on the latest Lexus technology and vehicles. The same app is available for customers to download and learn from too, meaning they won’t be left unaware after dealing with the specialist on the lot.
Lexus also plans to follow up with customers to evaluate their experience and gather feedback during the vehicle’s first scheduled service, something the vehicle technology specialist will carry out.
We may know McLaren for their exotic sports cars and race cars, but company founder and CEO Ron Dennis recently told the Wall Street Journal that McLaren is looking to expand its $1.5 billion company into other fields – including drugs (the legal kind of course).
As a technology company “first and foremost”, McLaren is looking to ”applying the technological savvy evident in decades of Formula One podium finishes to fields like pharmaceuticals and transport management.” And it looks like companies are already interested and are using McLaren’s services.
GlaxoSmithKline is looking into McLaren’s Mission Control center, what McLaren uses to monitor all their F1 races. GlaxoSmithKline believes that McLaren could assist in developing a similar control center for data modeling and high-speed process control.
Currently the United Kingdom’s National Air Traffic Services and California’s rail system utilizes McLaren’s telemetry and predictive ability. Ultimately though, McLaren wants to offer custom solutions in various fields including electronics, pneumatics, kinematics, fluid dynamics, material sciences and to implement their telemetry systems to monitor hospital patients in real time.
Us? Well, we just want to see what McLaren’s second vehicle is going to be in their new lineup.
[Source: Inside Line]
Microsoft is enjoying a new generation of success with the release of its Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360, but true gamers aren’t fooled by all the motion-sensing gimmickry. The thought of enjoying Forza 4 while waving your hands and arms aimlessly in the air pretending to drive a car is a little discerning, to say the least. So we’re more than a little grateful to see that Microsoft will be releasing a new Wireless Speed Wheel for those that still want to hold something in their hands while they virtually drive.
Forza 4 isn’t too far behind and it looks like the release of this wheel will be synced in time for those passionate virtual racers. Interestingly enough, this wheel isn’t your standard circular steering wheel, but rather a U-shaped device that Microsoft found to be a compromise between a comfortable controller and a steering wheel. Even better is its affordable price tag at $59.99, set to release on September 26th.
The Wireless Speed Wheel does feature motion sensors for accurate steering, trigger buttons for acceleration and braking, your standard Xbox 360 buttons for game interactivity (though the shoulder buttons are noticeably missing, but shouldn’t impact driving games) and Rumble feedback. So for those that have been cringing at the price tag of Logitech’s offerings, this may be your best bet to get an affordable, real-world driving experience. Just don’t be that guy magically driving in Forza 4 with nothing in your hands…please, don’t be that guy.
GALLERY: Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel
In what might be the most puzzling vehicle packaging discussion ever, the upcoming 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK will come with an in car internet system.
We’re assuming that nearly 100% of SLK owners have a phone with some kind of data plan, not to mention that there’s no a lot of room in an SLK for one to stretch out and enjoy internet browsing. The Mercedes sytem will even use your smartphone’s browsing capability, saving you money on a separate data plan, but begging the question “why not just use your phone?”
A report out of Europe claims that BMW and General Motors are collaborating on a system that will scan road signs, including speed limit warnings and relay the information to drivers. The system still has a few kinks being worked out, but the objective is for the system to be able to display warning signs as well as speed limits for any road the car is being driven on.
Technology like this might add a little pizazz to an otherwise unremarkable car, but there’s certainly the prospect of a slippery slope with this sort of system. Invasive speed limits mandated by the government might not be far off, and that could quickly spell an end to one of the greatest pleasures of driving, the complete autonomy one has when behind the wheel of a car.