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After several incidents with autonomous driving and cars being hacked and taken over, a more dangerous side of the new technology appears.

Hacker attacks or faulty software could shift the burden of legal and regulatory liability toward makers of self-driving cars and away from customers, experts say, forcing regulators and insurers to develop new models.

Autonomous cars have the potential to reduce the rate of traffic accidents as sensors and software give a car faster and better reflexes to prevent a collision. However, a greater level of automation increases the need for cyber security and sophisticated software, experts said.

“Although accident rates will theoretically fall, new risks will come with autonomous vehicles,” said Domenico Savarese, Group head of Proposition Development and Telematics at Zurich Insurance.

“What should be done in the case of a faulty software algorithm? Should manufacturers be required to monitor vehicles post-sale in the case of a malfunction or a hacker attack?” Savarese asked.

While established models for assigning liability – such as holding the owner responsible for what the car does – will still be relevant, the onus may shift toward manufacturers.

Greater automation may also change consumer behavior and affect insurance costs if drivers become less vigilant and less practiced in their ability to avert an accident.

 

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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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While self-driving cars are expected to have many positive impacts, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.

Just as Wired magazine published a headline-grabbing story about hackers taking control of a new Jeep Cherokee with UConnect, engineers, computer programmers, professors, and lawyers were meeting in Ypsilanti, Michigan, to discuss evolution of the autonomous, connected automobile.

The Automated Vehicle Symposium is held every year by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Transportation Research Board (TRB), and so it measures advances in these technologies in increments. Questions and concerns about security, ethics, and who’s responsible for the first crash caused by an autonomous car are not new for this group.

This year’s AVS followed the University of Michigan’s grand opening of its Mcity autonomous vehicle test track, where some of the suppliers and automakers participating in the symposium gave demonstrations of their latest technologies. I stayed indoors and listened to presentations. While there were no revelations, there were some interesting ideas that give clear indications where the automobile industry and our transportation system are heading. Herewith, a few tidbits:

The University of Michigan is extending its three-year-old testing of smart cars on public roads into an “entire system of connected roads,” entailing some of the major roads between metro Detroit and Ann Arbor, according to John Maddox, assistant director for the U-M Mobility Transformation Center (MTC). It could rival Google’s autonomous car-testing efforts in Silicon Valley and adds the element of ice- and snow-covered roads, which semi-automated cars can’t handle very well so far.

The MTC essentially is an extension of the university’s test of smart car technology that began on public roads in 2012, with a $100 million budget funded by automakers and suppliers, state and federal governments, and the university.

Read more here.

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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If you’re looking for a summer ride that won’t break the bank, you’re in luck.

A web site, ClassicCars.com, has picked five used cars that fit the bill for summer fun, mostly small roadsters and under $10,000. Here’s the lineup:

MGB convertible

The MGB is called “every bit as fun and stylish as the pricier British roadsters.” There are many enthusiasts who own them and parts are still available to fix them, which judging from those we know who have owned one, you’ll be doing often. ClassicCars.com says the best years are 1966 or 1967. The 1970s ones are the cheapest.

Triumph TR6

The Triumph TR6 is set apart by what ClassicCars.com calls as “lusty six-cylinder engine.” It says the car has been underappreciated in the last decade, which could help when it comes to price.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Even today, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is still made and has such devoted fans that Mazda has been able to drop the “Miata” part out of the name. It was introduced in 1990 and the early ones are fun because of their hidden headlights.

Read more here.

If you’re sick of companies tracking and analyzing your every move, you’ll want to keep reading.

Technology related to tracking patterns in consumer-spending habits continues to improve, allowing advertisers or marketers to better target the public with specific, albeit mostly unsolicited, product offers. Now, MasterCard International appears to be looking to jump further into that game by looking for a better way to analyze purchasing data to reflect automobile choices and driving habits.

Specifically, the credit-card giant has applied for a patent related to technology that can scan purchasing habits to determine a consumer’s car type and driving habits, according to Free Patents Online. Anything from car-buying information to service-station expenses to gasoline purchases could theoretically be analyzed.

Read more here: http://www.autoblog.com/2015/06/26/mastercard-patent-car-driving-habits/

Will the technology enhancements in vehicles ever end? Car manufacturers seem to chomping at the bit to out modernize the other with whose vehicle is more modern. Have you ever tried to change a clock on a car? The older ones it seems easier, you have two buttons. That’s it, however now that just doesn’t seem good enough.

An example of this is cars with a GPS. Some vehicles require the system to be re-programmed to set the time. The navigation system comes with a CD that contains details of the geographic area and territory as set by the selling dealer. The vehicle then links up with the appropriate satellite that provides the GPS guidance.

This disc must be initialized into your navigation system to set the correct time zone and recognized landmarks. Once the time zone is set, you must activate daylight savings to get the correct time displayed for your location.

Another example is scrolling through your radio tuner one frequency at a time. I’d much rather choose the station myself, not arrive at what the radio thinks is the next best frequency.

 

To read more, click here.

Have you ever been stopped behind someone who just annoys you, they’re fuelling that road rage inside you. While you’re screaming at the car in front of you for cutting you off. Maybe they’re just going to slow, or too fast as they race by you on the right hand side.

Who knows maybe you are one of these people. From the list we can see that on one or more occasion we’ve all done something like this. For example we have the The Good Samaritan Driver. The busybody Good Samaritan can’t enter an intersection without making things better for the drivers around them: whether other drivers want their help or not. At four-way-stop intersections, the Good Samaritan will direct traffic to their liking. With oncoming turning traffic, the Good Samaritan will stop, wave them through, ignoring other cars that may be coming up from behind who don’t share their generous ways, usually causing confusion, or worse, an accident. Here’s a big tip to the Good Samaritan Driver: don’t bother, nobody cares!

Click here, to learn about all the different stereotypes of bad drivers.

 

We’ve all been there, that long drive and we start yawning. We all know how dangerous it can be, but according to new studies, driving tired is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. It can be as serious as distracted driving or even drunk driving. Tiredness behind the wheel has caused an estimate of 11.6 percent of all fatal accidents.

With many motorists getting behind the wheel during prime time road trip season this winter , driver fatigue is bound to happen during any long drive. DMEautomotive recently conducted a study which revealed the 15 worst things drivers do to stay awake, confirming that drivers are combating the issue in the wrong ways, opting for ineffective fixes that do little to alleviate drowsiness.

The results of the survey showed drivers are far more likely to drink caffeine, open windows, pull over and exercise/stretch, blast loud music and turn up air conditioning — all of which do little to nothing to lessen the effects of sleep deprivation. The only proven solution is to safely pull over, stop driving, and take a nap for a proper amount of time or switch drivers with someone who isn’t tired. Although drinking a caffeinated beverage can produce a jolt of alertness, the effect wears off quickly, according to experts and contrary to the popular belief, coffee is not a replacement for sleep.

Read more here

The province of Alberta keeps sixty million dollars in annual traffic ticket revenue from drivers who are caught breaking the speed limits on it’s highways.

It’s a guaranteed windfall, and though you’ll never get the government to admit it, that cash is likely one of the key reasons signs reading “Maximum 120” won’t be appearing alongside Alberta’s major highways anytime soon.

Never mind studies showing higher speed limits do not make highways more dangerous or convince drivers to push their pace ever higher, or the fact Canada has long maintained artificially low limits, in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world.

When it comes to speed limits, provinces like Alberta have too much to lose financially if they match limits to what most people actually drive, and thus Canada continues to lag in allowing motorists to take advantage of modern roads and technology.

And there it would have remained, if not for meddling British Columbia.

If you ventured west this summer, you saw the signs reading Maximum 120 along major highways like the Coquihalla, as well as higher limits on almost all roads in B.C.

Now boasting the highest speed limits in Canada (though still nine clicks shy of the 80 mph allowed in neighbouring Idaho), B.C. has bucked Canada’s refusal to consider higher limits, by actually studying the science of speed, and determining safety is not always intuitive.

Intuition is what tells you faster cars must crash more, or that a higher limit will only encourage drivers to break that law too. But repeated studies, including a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, shows that doesn’t happen.

Read the full story here.