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Can you input a conscience into a car, can ethics be broken down into data and codes.

Skeptics of driverless cars have a variety of criticisms, from technical to demand based, but perhaps the most curious is the supposed ethical trolley problem it creates. While the question of how driverless cars will behave in ethical situations is interesting and will ultimately have to be answered by programmers, critics greatly exaggerate it’s importance. In addition, they assume that driverless cars have to be perfect rather than just better.

The basic trolley problem involves being put in a situation where you have to choose between killing some people and killing others. For example, imaging you are driving your car and another car is headign right towards you and you have to either hit them head on or swerve into a group of pedestrians. What does a robot do!? This, it is argued, presents a big issue for driverless cars. How do we program them? How will they react in such situations?

The first problem with this is that humans are assumed to be doing a pretty good job at driving already, including in so-called trolley car situations. For example, here is Patrick Lin writing at the Atlantic with a paean to human’s driving abilities:

“But there are important differences between humans and machines that could warrant a stricter test. For one thing, we’re reasonably confident that human drivers can exercise judgment in a wide range of dynamic situations that don’t appear in a standard 40-minute driving test; we presume they can act ethically and wisely. Autonomous cars are new technologies and won’t have that track record for quite some time.”

The idea that humans will act ethically and wisely while driving is an absurd and false assumption. For starters, in 2013 over 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, which accounts for 31% of vehicle related deaths. So from the start we have a third of all driving deaths resulting from humans who are probably often using poor judgment, and unethical and unwise decision-making.

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Recalls are frustrating drivers due the inconvenience, as well as the danger they put their families in.

The 2015 American Consumer Satisfaction Index, an annual survey that involved 4,300 consumers, found that satisfaction with automobiles dropped for the third straight year to the lowest level since 2004. High new-car prices also were a factor.

“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” said Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of the survey.

Honda records 20 per cent rise in profit despite massive recalls Last year automakers recalled a record 64 million vehicles for problems such as exploding air bags and ignition switches that can unexpectedly cause engines to stall. The problems can be deadly. So far General Motors has agreed to compensate families of 124 people who died in crashes caused by the faulty switches. Eight more people have died worldwide after being cut by shrapnel from exploding Takata air bag inflators.

Rising prices also contributed to the consumer frustration. Car prices are up 11 per cent since 2010 and hit records all year, rising to an average $32,932 in July, according to the Edmunds.com auto website.

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The recent dream for car companies is to be able to sell a car that can drive itself, which company will get there first?

Last week’s “exclusive” in the Guardian claiming to “confirm Apple is building self-driving car” raised quite a buzz. Much of that buzz was skeptical, with many pointing out that the facts failed to support the Guardian’s conclusion.

The logical leap that Guardian made was that an Apple engineer’s interest in the GoMentum Station vehicle test track confirmed Apple’s driverless car program. This is too big a leap, as a range of Apple car-related aspirations—self-driving or not—might have use for such a test track.

Let’s assume, however, that the Guardian is right and Apple does have a driverless car ready for testing. (This is possible, as Apple has hired many automotive engineers, including the former CEO of Mercedes Benz’s Silicon Valley research center.) What would that say about the relative state of Apple’s driverless car?

It would tell us that Apple is millions of miles behind Google, and falling further behind every day.

As one of the few companies in the world richer than Google, Apple can match the cars, sensors, processors, navigational systems and other pieces of hardware that Google might deploy. It can replicate the sophisticated maps that Google has compiled. It will have a very hard time, however, catching up with Google’s on-the-road learning.

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One of the most dangerous offences is taking your eyes off the road to send a quick text to friends. Do you text while driving?

Teenagers calling themselves safe motorists overwhelmingly admit to checking phones when behind the wheel, and those who text while driving say they are often distracted by parents who expect immediate responses, a survey found.

More than half of the teens confessed to texting while driving to update their parents, and 19 per cent said moms and dads expected a response within one minute, according to a study issued Tuesday by Boston-based Liberty Mutual Holding Co. and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

“We have a generation of parents that are used to being very connected with their children,” Stephen Wallace, chief executive officer of SADD, said in an interview. “They’re looking for that constant communication.”

Of the almost 3,000 fatal crashes in 2013 caused by distracted drivers, 10 per cent of those deaths were teens, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Auto insurers including Allstate Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. have publicized the risks of distracted motorists.

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Not only do you have to worry about car thieves braking into your vehicle, now we also have the possibility of hackers taking over it.

The idea that someone could remotely take over your car and cause it to behave erratically has been talked about for several years — though typically dismissed by auto companies as an irrational fear.

But it all got real on Tuesday after Andy Greenberg, a former FORBES writer now at Wired.com, posted a chilling story about how two hackers sitting on their living room couch managed to remotely take control of the Jeep Cherokee he was driving on a busy freeway in St. Louis. The car’s air conditioner suddenly cranked up to full blast, the radio started blasting hip-hop music and the windshield wipers kicked on. Then it got really dangerous as the hackers remotely turned off the car’s engine.

It was all part of an experiment to draw attention to the cyber-security risks in today’s cars which have morphed into rolling computers. The hackers, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, were able to exploit a weak spot in the Jeep’s Uconnect system, which links the vehicle to the Internet. It turns out as many as 471,000 Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles equipped with the 8.4-inch U-Connect touchscreen system could be vulnerable. All are made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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Many different car shows are hosted every year, but this is the only show where the cars you see have most likely appeared on screen in movies and television.

The Television Motion Picture Car Club’s sixth annual Fourth of July car show at CBS Studio Center is half Hollywood, half local car show and half fireworks. If that’s three halves that’s only because it’s about 50 percent more fun than your typical hot-rod and muscle-car hoedown.

The TMPCC show is held in conjunction with Studio City’s Fourth of July Fireworks Festival, an event that includes live music by Deana Carter, magic shows, strolling pirates, model airplanes, cool cars and, just before it all ends, fireworks.

But let’s talk about the cars.

The club started out with just TV and movie industry people who liked cars. Some of them had cars that had been in movies or TV shows, but a lot of them just liked cool things with wheels. The club has recently expanded to include members from the music, radio, sports and motorsports industries, too. Their biggest event is this one, where they take over the parking spaces of big time studio execs at CBS.

Most of the actual movie cars on hand were brought by agencies that supply them to the industry. The Picture Car Warehouse brought the Gladius Jet Bike from the 2011 movie “Priest.” Bob Ratinoff, owner of Classic Auto Rental Service brought a 1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III that has been seen on various screens. And Phil Fiori, owner of Next! Pictures, brought a number of cars and replicas of cars from movies.

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The race has begun for car companies everywhere to manufacture an autonomous car. The concept is simple, but the execution has been difficult. Everybody cannot wait for Mercedes to release their Class- E car for the world to see.

What has so far only been shown in test situations will be available as of about March next year, when Daimler’s new model goes on sale. The technology packing the vehicle shows how quickly automated driving systems have advanced since 1998, when the Mercedes S class first featured cruise control that could adjust its speed to follow a car in front.

“Innovations in this area are coming thick and fast,” Thomas Weber, Daimler’s head of development, said in his office in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, Germany. “While we don’t want to feed wrong expectations such as sleeping in the car, autonomous driving is set to become a reality much more quickly than the public thinks.”

Self-driving systems are among many areas in which Mercedes is working to gain an edge on rivals Audi and BMW. Currently No. 3 in luxury-car sales, Daimler is fighting to take the lead in the segment by 2020.

It’s also testing the limits of what’s allowed under current regulations, which in most places require the driver to be in a position to control the vehicle at all times.

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Today there are many distractions in the car to distract the driver. These distractions include more than just the ones mentioned by the government such as arguing kids, turning on the radio and roadside diversions. Therefore, the driver can sometimes miss accidents that are about to happen.


Active safety systems such as forward collision prevention and lane keeping assist can automatically take over a car’s brakes and steering when sensors detect that an accident is imminent. These so-called “driver assist” systems use cameras and other sensors as well as software to detect and then respond to potentially dangerous situations that drivers may miss.


While driver assist systems look at external factors to determine whether to take action, researchers at Cornell and Stanford that go by the name Brain4Cars are working on a prototype that also takes into account internal elements, namely drivers and their body language. The system uses some of the same cameras and sensors employed by driver assist systems along with a new computer algorithm to predict what a driver will do and then issues a warning or takes corrective action.


“There are many systems now that monitor what’s going on outside the car,” said Ashutosh Saxena, an assistant professor of computer science at Cornell who spearheaded the project. “Internal monitoring of the driver will be the next leap forward.”


Systems such as Driver Attention Monitor found in some Lexus vehicles already keep an eye on drivers by using a small infrared camera mounted on the steering column that detects their head position. If it senses that a driver is looking away from the road for a certain length of time, a warning sounds to draw attention forward. I’ve also tested prototype systems from Continental and Volvo that can track drivers’ head as well as eye movements to determine if they are looking away from the road.

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The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention state that in 2011, 2,650 kids in the US were killed in car accidents and 292,000 were sent to the emergency room. The most important thing we can do is teach young drivers how to drive properly.

Kia Motors, fresh off the New York auto show debut of its new Optima show, will continue to partner with BRAKES (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) teen driving school in 2015 to offer free training for new drivers. The program is expanding to San Francisco and Boston, which join a selection of other cities, listed below.

Kia is the official vehicle and presenting sponsor of the BRAKES teen driving school.

According to some scary reports, at any given time, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving and drivers under 20 have the largest proportion of fatal accidents involving distracted driving. Even for folks who don’t take the course, Kia and BRAKES want to raise awareness.

The BRAKES curriculum covers five main topics:

Accident Avoidance/Slalom is a two-part course that simulates an animal jumping out in front of a car. Students have to make an evasive lane change, focusing on weight transfer and hand positioning. We call it the moose test.

Distracted Driving demonstrates the dangers that cell phones, texting and other behaviors can pose while driving.

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The life of a new graduate is expensive. There are student loans, rent, food and cell phone bills to pay for. Graduation is a transition for students from the comfortable life of class to working full-time. A cost effective car to get them to work and back while being stylish is important for new grads.

Moving up is an ideal time to move on and scrap the old clunker that may have sufficed for a student, but just seems shabby for an up and coming mover and/or shaker. Fortunately, the range of models in today’s new-car market is so broad, those entering a new-car dealer’s showroom for the first time can choose from an ample selection of affordable makes and models that can stir the soul and be kind to the pocketbook while transporting an owner from the proverbial Point A to Point B.

How affordable? The personal finance website GOBankingRates recently compiled a compelling list of 30 cars from the 2015 model year that can be purchased and financed for under $300 a month. Actually, most of the models on the list can be had for a monthly nut of less than $250, with a few – including the Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage coming in with payments under $200. That’s a new car for what is essentially the cost of stopping at Starbucks each day on the way to the office.

We’re featuring 30 2015/2016 cars GOBankingRates determined can be financed for less than $300 a month (at least in their base versions) in the accompanying slide show, with estimated payments noted for each.

These models run the gamut from the small and economical (Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio and Ford Fiesta) to the expressive (Dodge Dart, Kia Soul and Fiat 500) and the downright aggressive (Jeep Renegade, Nissan Frontier and Hyundai Veloster). The selection even includes a fuel-saving gas/electric-powered hybrid car, the Toyota Prius c.

Of course one doesn’t have to be a recent graduate to appreciate a new car at an affordable price, so each of these models possesses broad appeal for the budget minded of all ages.

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