The possibilities that begin to form through ideas of technology such as Android Auto And Apple CarPlay are limitless.
Technology updates are a large part of the refreshed 2016 Volkswagen Passat (full review), and perhaps the boldest change to this historically sedate midsize sedan is seen in its CarNet infotainment platform, which receives Apple AAPL -3.45% CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integrations.
When using CarPlay or Android Auto, the smartphone is displayed in the in-dash display instead of the vehicle’s infotainment system. However, don’t expect to see a mirror image of your home screen–the smartphone integrations use a “vehicle mode,” which contains a subset of approved media and navigation apps on the device’s phone, including the native Apple Maps and Google GOOGL +0.59% Maps. These apps have been optimized (and in some ways restricted) for use in the car and integrated with the vehicle controls to provide a seamless and theoretically safer way to use your smartphone.
Volkswagen Electronic Strategy Specialist Thanh Uy Phan Tan demonstrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to highlight its features and differences between the two integrations.
How to you get to work everyday? Do you take the train, subway, drive or walk to work. The way people get to where they want to go has changed recently with new car sharing apps.
Jack DeManche’s commute to work was like many in the Boston area — long. But that was before Mr. DeManche, a digital strategist for an advertising agency, began sharing a ride with other commuters with the service Bridj.
Now, the hourlong trip from his home in Brookline to his office at the Boston seaport has been cut in half. And at $70 a month, he estimates that the trip costs less than using the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
“The ability to book a week in advance is a time-saver,” he said. He is guaranteed a seat, he can use Wi-Fi on board and the van drops him off a block from his office.
Bridj is just one of the new services that are helping to redefine car-pooling.
Long the province of shift workers headed to the same factory and suburban parents who drove children to after-school activities, car-pooling is getting an urban makeover as technology becomes more prevalent and a younger work force relies on mobile devices.
When you need a ride what do you use? Uber and Lyft have quickly become the solution to that question allowing passengers to get around simply. However, now it has grown so that it is no longer only used for one time trips and now has started to catch up with car rental companies.
“Ride sharing, having already overtaken cabs, is catching up to rental cars,” says Kevin Wolf, spokesperson for business expense management firm Certify, based on data from July through September of 2015.
In fact, he says, ride sharing has “actually has surpassed [rental cars] already in Boston and San Francisco.”
Business travelers now prefer ride sharing services to taxis across the U.S.,” reads Certify’s sharing economy report for the third quarter of 2015. “Trends also reveal how ride sharing providers like Uber and Lyft are beginning to gain ground on rental cars.”
“Over the past 7 quarters, ride sharing has steadily increased as a percentage of overall ground transportation, while taxi and rental car [sic] have declined,” the report says. In San Francisco, Certify found that some 82 percent of hired car rides by its customers were in ride shares, versus a mere 12 percent for rental cars and a minuscule 6 percent for taxis. In Boston, the difference was 45 percent for ride shares versus 23 percent for rental cars, though taxis maintained a higher market share of 32 percent.
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.
Self-driving cars aren’t so far off in the future anymore. In fact, Google has announced that its compact prototype vehicle will start driving Mountain View, California’s public streets this summer. Though the cars are autonomous, each will be manned by a safety driver aboard who can use a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal if need be. The vehicles’ speed will be capped at 25 miles per hour.
The arrival of the Google-built cars on public roads follows Google’s extensive tests of a fleet of Lexus SUVs the company turned into self-driving vehicles. Those cars have driven nearly one million miles autonomously and are now traveling about 10,000 miles per week.
Earlier this week, Google revealed that its self-driving cars have been involved in 11 minor accidents over the last six years, though the company says they were all the fault of other human drivers that collided with Google’s vehicles.
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.
The self-driving car looks to be the future of safer driving. Accidents due to road rage, speeding and distracted driving could drop drastically thanks to this new technology.
Self-driving cars could generate billions of dollars a year in revenue from mobile Internet services and products, even if occupants spend only a fraction of their free time on the web, according to a new study by McKinsey & Company.
The study, released Thursday, also projects that widespread adoption of self-driving cars could lead to a 90 percent reduction in U.S. vehicle crashes, with a potential savings of nearly $200 billion a year from significantly fewer injuries and deaths.
In addition, the McKinsey study warns of several risks to established companies, including vehicle manufacturers, dealers and even insurance companies.
McKinsey projects that future owners of self-driving cars could save up to 50 minutes a day, some of which is likely to be spent surfing the web.
The consulting firm estimates the additional free time in the car could generate about $5.6 billion a year in digital revenue for each additional minute that vehicle occupants spend on the internet – as much as $140 billion if half their free time in the car, or roughly 25 minutes, is devoted to daily web surfing and shopping.
Is it time that good driving is rewarded for younger drivers too?
Car insurance is always expensive for new drivers, however that is all about to change. A UK insurance company called Ingenie will be arriving in Canada to revolutionize car insurance for the average young driver. This will allow people between the ages of 16- and 24 the opportunity to lower their insurance through technology.
The goal is to repeat the success the company had in the UK, evaluated by Aviva Insurance this is one of the first companies to use technology as a way to observe and correct young drivers through an Internet connected device. This allows the company to stand out from the many other who offer discounts based on driving habits and records, but this is the first in history to offer to young drivers.
I sat down with the company’s founder and CEO, Richard King, to learn more.
Plug the Smartbox into a port in your vehicle, install the accompanying app onto your iPhone or Android mobile device, and let the tracking begin. That’s the key here – you’re trading your driving information for lower rates.
Like ingenie’s tagline says: “drive well, pay less.”
Drivers get 10% off by signing up, and save up to 25% during the year by proving they’re driving safely. If they’re not, though, then the prices increase.
A car that tells us where we want to go, plays the music we love, and lets us communicate with the outside world, all without distracting us from driving is every driver’s dream. That dream may soon become a reality, as many automakers are hoping to deliver truly connected cars next year.
Last week, I combed the floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show with Ron Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor at Edmunds.com, sliding in and out of dozens of vehicles, smearing touchscreens with our fingerprints, and, in some cases, syncing our own phones to the next generation of connected vehicles to decide which of these systems we’d recommend to our readers.
The connected cars of tomorrow
For a certain breed of car customers, these tech-drives will become as important as test-drives. “You certainly want to get a feel for the car itself, but it’s just as important to test the technology,” says Montoya.
For 2015 autos, this technology will either be a customized “infotainment” system or basically a killer app: syncing the car with a drivers’ in-phone system, a la the recently announced Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Some smart cars will eventually offer both options.
While using a smartphone behind the wheel is illegal, your smartphone has the potential to enhance your driving experience.
To wit, here are two of five of the best car-related apps.
Available for both iPhone and Android, it is one of the most comprehensible offerings on the market. You plug in an accompanying device to your car’s data port, which then sends gads of information to your phone. It will monitor your car’s mechanicals to tell you when you need to change the oil and what the problem is when the “check engine” light comes on; it monitors and makes suggestions on your driving habits, will contact authorities in the event of a crash and even find your car for you in the mall parking lot. The downside? It only works in the United States.
Chamberlain MyQ Garage
You’ve left the house for a date night, heading to that swank restaurant downtown. Wait a minute. Did you close the garage door? No need to sweat or take time out of your romantic evening; just check it on your smartphone. This app uses a supplied WiFi hub and door sensor to allow you – via your home’s Internet – to control the garage door. It works with most major brands of automatic door openers made since 1993, will alert you when your door has been opened or closed and will even remind you to close the door when it senses you’ve left.