Google has quietly shuttered its car shopping service, saying that it is focused on building the next version of its “experience for car-related searches.”
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Self-driving cars have been proclaimed as the solution to car accidents, removing the human risk factor from the equation, but those working on the technology say it won’t be perfect. Continue Reading…
Placing confidence in a self-driving car will be a big step for any driver, but a new study from KPMG LLP shows that consumers trust big tech companies more than automakers to get the job done.
A new patent application by Google reveals that the company is working on motion-based in-car controls.
As more and more automakers develop autonomous driving technology, experts believe that the industry needs a single standard sooner rather than later.
Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, wants Google’s autonomous vehicles to be equipped with mandatory data recorders.
According to recent reports, Continental AG is in the final stages of an agreement with Google and IBM to develop a self-driving system for vehicles.
Tech giant Google, which has been investing heavily into self-driving vehicles, could potentially seek opportunities in the electric vehicle market in the future.
Just a day after Google was awarded a driver’s license for its self-driving car, the tech giant brought one of its autonomous Toyota Prius out to Washington D.C. in hopes to make driverless cars legal in the United States.
It appears that Google made its way to the nation’s capital in hopes to appeal to federal policymakers and to maybe convince some to take a ride in its self-driving Prius. We’ve already seen what it can do for a blind man, and Google’s main focus right now is to prove its benefits to lawmakers. For the most part, Google is confident in the technology developed in its self-driving cars, its biggest concern now is for the public to widely accept the benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road.
But of course, the U.S. government has been officially tight-lipped on the issue of autonomous vehicles with the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology stating that it had no knowledge of Google’s plans of operating its Prius out in D.C.
The state of Nevada has just become the first to issue a driver’s license to a car.
The vehicle in question is Google’s autonomous Toyota Prius, which company engineers have been testing on California roads for the past two years, logging 140,000 miles with just one traffic-incident. That accident, caused when a car driven by a person bumped into the back of the autonomous car, is just the sort of thing Google intends to dramatically reduce or even eliminate with its revolutionary technology.
The car uses video cameras as well as radar and laser sensors to “see” as well as impressive computing power to control the vehicle’s next function, adapting to a rapidly changing environment. During the entire testing process Google engineers have been on hand in the vehicle in case human intervention became necessary.
Google’s driverless car has been issued a red license plate, with an infinity sign on it next to the number 001.
While the first, Nevada may soon be joined by California, which recently introduced similar legislation to introduce autonomous driving to the state’s busy freeways.
It was only December of last year when Google earned patents for autonomous vehicles. Now, the technology continues to rapidly move ahead as automotive supplier Continental has commenced testing a semi-autonomous vehicle of its own that is more affordable and could be among the first licensed for use on Nevada’s designated public roads by months end.
Nevada is the first state to pass laws regulating driverless vehicles. To qualify for a special state license, engineers at Continental have built and driven a heavily modified Volkswagen Passat with its brake and steering controls removed and replaced with sensors to digitally read and interpret surroundings. According to engineer Ibro Muharemovic, the Passat has logged almost 10,000 miles of autonomous driving and during a more recent trip from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Brimley, Michigan, home of Continental’s development and testing center, more than 90 percent of the journey did not involve the use of hands and feet.
Unlike Google’s ambitions to create a sophisticated fully autonomous vehicle, Continental went along to develop an interim semi-autonomous option that could take over duties during stop-and-go traffic or extended stretches of highway, the least satisfying of driving conditions. However, Continental and Google’s endpoint is identical: to create a solution that will reduce accidents, congestion, and fuel consumption. Continental director of engineering systems and technology Christian Schumacher said, “We still have a long way to go, but the technology is amazing.”
According to Ravi Pandit, CEO of India’s global IT and engineering company KPIT Cummins, “There is a strong business case for an autonomous car that can drop you off or a cab without the expense of a driver.”
Despite the optimism, mass production semiautonomous cars are still a couple years away. The technology exists but the idea raises questions of liability, regulation, and public acceptance. NHTSA will begin a study of autonomous driving in August with a one-year pilot project in Ann Arbor, testing 3,000 cars with the ability to communicate with one another to avoid an accident. What’s more, in an event of a crash, the law has yet to resolve who is reliable or whether the occupants of an autonomous car are legally exempt from bans on mobile devices.
As for passenger anxiety, Ravi Pandit is confident that, “A car can see better than a human can, and the car responds faster.”
Engineer Ibro Muharemovic commented, “I was surprised by how well it worked.” Continental’s Volkswagen Passat is fitted with a stereo camera that can monitor speed-bumps or potholes as far as 220 yards away and adjust steering, braking, and acceleration accordingly. Muharemovic adds, “The driver is always in control and can override the system any time.”
If testing is successful and Continental is qualified for Nevada registration, a special red license plate will be provided to distinguish the driverless car. In the future, production driverless cars would receive a green license plate.
Check out video footage of Continental’s autonomous Volkswagen Passat driving itself below. Continue Reading…
Any car from 1996 and newer can have a real-time gas consumption meter thanks to an Android app, but you might not want to pay for it.
OBD Mileage is now available for Google Android smartphone users who want to watch their car’s mpg change during hill climbs, highway driving and schlepping around town. The developer says the app can display “55 different kinds of information,” hopefully that includes switching between kilometers and miles per gallon. Unfortunately, the program looks sketchy at best and costs a boatload.
The picture you see above is a shot of what OBD Milage looks like while running — you can be the aesthetics judge here. Not only that, but running the app requires a plug-in bluetooth device to bridge communication between your phone and car. The device recommended on the OBD website costs $99.99 and that’s on sale.
The app itself also seems to cost something, though the site doesn’t make it readily obvious how much you’re spending. Instead it says discomforting things like: “We use the Google wallet for the payment,” and “When you purchased the validity period, it is not possible for the refund even if there is any reason.”
The validity period is also more-or-less unexplained but it seems like a temporary license to use the program. Worse yet, uninstalling the app and changing your phone’s date and time both render your purchase void.
So much for customer service, it’s probably better to use the in-dash fuel gauge and avoid all the nonsense.
Driving a Chevrolet Volt could get even more guilt-free in the future as the company plays with ways to coax consumers into charging with renewable energy.
GM is partnering with energy company PJM Interconnection to send data via their OnStar cloud service, called the Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS), to Volts that need to charge. The technology would notify drivers of renewable energy as it became available relative to their location.
There is also a smartphone app in the works to alert Volt owners of available energy when they aren’t in their car, though the overall project is still in the testing phase.
Those tests are being conducted on Google’s 17-vehicle “Gfleet” based out of their Mountain View, California headquarters. While renewable energy isn’t going to fuel your car any differently than a charge originating in a coal plant, it could help drive demand for more renewable sources.
By harnessing the hordes of anti-pollution diehards, comparatively tiny as they may be, GM might make a dent in promoting green energy beyond what selling their volt already can.
“This demonstration shows that in the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy,” said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development. “As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources.”
There’s also a silver lining to the plan: peak wind power hours, according to PJM, fall between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., meaning those taking advantage of a renewable charge-source would be taxing the system during off-peak hours.
GM’s continued push toward promoting the Volt is a strong demonstration of their commitment to the car, despite the controversy that hounded it last year after a few cars spontaneously combusted days after crash testing. Extended range hybrids like the Volt offer a practical solution to ultra-high milage transportation without the range anxiety we felt while road testing the Nissan Leaf.
GALLERY: 2012 Chevrolet Volt
Mark Zuckerberg, the introverted king of social media, has his fingers in so many pies that it’s starting to look like he grew a few thousand extra hands.
To be fair, it’s not so much Zuckerberg having a hand in Mercedes as it is Mercedes integrating Facebook into their new cars. Nonetheless, the fact that it’s happening and that this isn’t the first instance, means Facebook is evolving far beyond anything other social media tools creators could have fathomed.
We published a story late last week that talked about Mercedes’ mbrace2 technology, but at the time there wasn’t as much information as there is after the company elaborated.
Since then we’ve learned that the cloud-based apps previously mentioned will include Google, Yelp and -you guessed it- Facebook.
Feel free to debate the merits of checking your friends newsfeed or status update in the comments below, wasn’t that part of why we all started buying smart phones?
Regardless, other manufacturers are doing it, and Mercedes insists their adoption of the technology is just representative of staying on the cutting edge. Aside from keeping up with your BFF’s latest relationship quibbles, mbrace2 will let you stay up to date on news and events via a real-time concierge service.
Some people might look at this and feel a pang of nostalgia for when cars ran on gas, got fixed with wrenches and had little more than a spare tire and owners manual packaged with it from the dealer. Then again, the allure of being constantly connected could prove to be a seller. Expect mbrace2 in the MY13 SL-Class.
Google is all about advancing technology in order to improve our world and lifestyle, and it appears that they also support any other company that’s pro-technology.
The massive search engine turned all-things technology firm was given the keys to the first Ford Focus electric vehicle off the assembly line.
It’ll be interesting to see if Google will be going domestic in continuing to develop their autonomous vehicle technology that’s currently taking place on Toyota‘s Prius. There’s probably a better chance that the electric Focus will be making its way as a Google Street View vehicle though, spying on us and taking unsuspecting photos without wasting a drip of gas or polluting our world.
The day that a fleet of self-driving electric vehicles with Google plastered across the side of them doesn’t seem so far off.