global positioning system (GPS)

We have already been over Cadillac’s “automated” driving system , which is basically just an adaptive cruise control system that takes over the steering too. Basically, it is not a true automated driving system, but it is semi-autonomous. Well, we all knew that Ford wouldn’t just sit back and watch GM take over this realm, as it has just announced that its engineers are working on a slightly similar, but far more restrictive, system.

The system that Ford is working on is called Traffic Jam Assist, and it does exactly what its name tells you. When you’re get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you can enable this system and it will move the car with traffic and keep it within the lines. This frees up your hands to do far more important things than look at the road, like text message, enjoy a coffee and doughnut, or reprogram your stereo system.

One the traffic clears up, the system asks you to take over and you’re then forced to attempt to complete the uncompleted tasks that you started in traffic while driving… What a bummer.

Ford has even released a video displaying the system, and we have to say that on 99 percent of the roads in the U.S. with heavy congestion, we doubt this system will do little more than increase your stress. From what we can see, this system waits for the car in front to get a good car length or two ahead of you before moving your car forward. That just may induce a few “friendly” honks and one finger salutes from the less patient drivers behind you.

So, unless Ford can develop a way to have the system respond more quickly, we can see this being a really cool feature until you catch the first severe traffic jam. Fortunately, this system is nowhere near ready for release, so Ford has lots of time to perfect it.

We’ll let you know if any new features of this system pop up.

Posted on by Alexander + 6

According to the FBI, we’re coming up to a couple of the hottest months of the year, and we’re not talking about the weather. Turns out, July and August are the top two months for vehicle theft, and LoJack and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) are doing their part by holding their 6th annual National Vehicle Theft Protection Month. For this year, they have come up with an infographic that provides a few details and stats about car theft, as well as some helpful hints to ensure you are not a victim.

First, the facts. In 2010, there were 737,000 vehicle thefts and only 56% of those vehicles were ever recovered. The average loss per vehicle was $6,152. Not exactly a small number by anyone’s standards. What’s worse is that, if you own a Honda Accord , Honda Civic , and Toyota Camry , you are more likely to be a victim because these were the top three vehicles stolen in 2010. The Ford Mustang made up a total of 9,116 instances of car theft in 2010, so we can only imagine how many of the top three vehicles were stolen during that time.

Where you live is also a factor. Nine out of 10 areas in numbers of stolen cars are in California and Washington State, with seven of the areas belonging to The Golden State.

Being the trusting - or rushed - souls that we are, 68% of people have left their car running when they aren’t in it or have left their car unlocked, while 64% of people have their home address programmed into their GPS system and 32% have left an electronic device or personal documents in plain view.

So what can we do to protect ourselves and our vehicles from theft? The number one protection aid is to use COMMON SENSE. Hey, they said it, we only repeated it. The second and third are to use theft protection products and a tracking and recovery system.

Check out the rest of the infographic after the jump to get more helpful information and remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series.

The Apple vs. PC war has gone from computers to laptops, from laptops to MP3 players, from MP3 players to phones, and from phones to tablets, but Apple has never attempted to compete with Microsoft in its automotive form (see: Ford Sync)… That is, until now. Apple has just announced that it will start fitting its Siri system into vehicles.

For those that hate having only one mouse button to choose from (A.K.A. those that could give a rat’s backside about Macs) you may have no clue what Siri is. Well, Siri is, as Apple calls it, an “Eyes Free” system that allows you to control various items, like the iPad and iPhone, with only your voice. Before you start thinking “OMG, that’s like so 2007,” Siri actually learns your speech pattern and does not require you to use a series of ridiculous keywords to activate certain features, so it is basically a 2012 twist on 2007 technology.

So, this means that you can now drive “Eyes Free…” Okay, maybe not, but you never have to unglue your hands from the 10-and-2 position ever again when controlling whatever iDevice you happen to have, via Bluetooth, plus it also controls a turn-by-turn navigation system with crowd-sourced traffic updates. We are sure that there are tons more features to the automotive variant of Siri, but for now, this is all that Apple has released.

As for the cars that will include this new system; let’s just say that Apple definitely flexed its superpower connections, as according to Macworld, it has signed up Land Rover , Jaguar , BMW , GM , Mercedes , Audi , Toyota , Chrysler , and Honda . According to reports, you can pick up your first “iCar” starting in about 12 months.

Given this system is as cool as it sounds on paper, I can add one more product to the short list of Apple items I can actually stomach, making that list the iPad, iPod, and Siri.

Every single year cars continue to get closer and closer to being completely autonomous, but that’s still a distant goal. In today’s world, automakers are simply trying to make getting lost a thing of the past with new integrated navigation systems. Chevy has taken this a step further by announcing that it is planning to release a new type of navigation system in the fall of 2012.

Chevy has dubbed this new system GogoLink and will debut it at the 2012 New York Auto Show. What’s weirder than the name itself is that it is a smartphone application. Yup, this application loads into any smartphone and offers a fully functional navigation system with live traffic updates. This system works through the MyLink infotainment system installed in the upcoming 2013 Sonic and 2012 Spark via Bluetooth or cable connection, and displays the navigation system on MyLink’s 7-inch LCD touch screen.

But why on Earth would Chevy put a smartphone app as its navigation system? Well, Chevy claims that 90% of Sonic and Spark buyers own a smartphone and that these higher-end customers are accustomed to using their phones for everything. We honestly think it is a cheap way for Chevy to say “Even our entry level cars have navigation systems,” but we’re skeptics.

Due to the fact that GogoLink will likely not debut in time for the release of the 2012 Spark , Chevy dealers will quickly upload GogoLink onto the MyLink system on your new Spark once it becomes available. For now, we’ll reserve judgment until more details come about, but we can certainly see a large number of Spark and Sonic customers complaining because they used up their entire smartphone data plan running GogoLink (See iPhone billing nightmares). However, if you happen to have an unlimited data plan, which we would assume most smartphone users would, this could be a pretty cool system to help get you around town.

Click past the jump to read the full press release and list of features.

Posted on by Matt McDonald 11

In-car navigation is still not something that every car on the road features - it’s not even something that is available on every new car - but the technology is growing by leaps and bounds. GPS and DVD style systems have been available for years and some even include real time traffic updates, but Pioneer is taking another step into the future with their augmented reality systems. These systems use a camera to project the image of what is in front of the car onto a screen in the cabin. Things around the car such as other vehicles, stores, traffic lights, etc are then superimposed with other images for identification.

The new Pioneer AVIC-VH09CS double din unit can be useful in a navigation system for several reasons, mainly making your destination easily identifiable. Audi has recently introduced navigation systems with Google Earth maps that show real satellite images of the destination. Since the new Audi A8 has more electronics than the space shuttle, it includes a 3G high speed cellular connection allowing data to be downloaded. This WiFi hotspot is also able to support your cell phone, computer, or ipad for internet use. The MMI navigation system uses Google Maps destinations in order to search and navigate to a specific location. The system is further enhanced by allowing the driver to select Wikipedia articles and panoramic images of certain points just as if you were searching Google on your computer. This can be helpful when searching for a hidden location in an unknown area.

Hit the jump to see what Pioneer has done to rectify this situation.

A few weeks ago, GPS manufacturer Garmin issued a recall on its Nuvi portable navigation systems after it was discovered that the batteries in these units have the potential to overheat and could, in a worst-case scenario, result in the system catching fire.

It also just so happened that Suzuki has three vehicles in its line-up that use the aforementioned Garmin GPS – the SX4 , the Grand Vitara , and the Equator – and as such will also be issuing a recall of the cars to fix the malfunction at the soonest possible time.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 20,000 of these Suzuki vehicles ranging from the 2008-2010 SX4, the 2010 Grand Vitara, and the 2009-2010 Equator, will be recalled beginning this month with Garmin technicians on hand to replace the malfunctioning batteries “by replacing the battery and inserting a space on top od the battery” at no cost to the customers.

So, if you own any one of these models, you can contact either Garmin (1-866-957-1981) or Suzuki (1-887-697-8985) for further information on the impending recall.

NHTSA Press Release after the jump.

Source: NHTSA
Posted on by Alexander + 9

This could be the start of a beautiful friendship or even the foot in the automotive door for Google through GM. Turns out, Google, OnStar, and Chevy are becoming quite the triumphant trio with their new smartphone mobile application through the Android. The original launch of this technology was at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show and already they have updated the application to add a cool new feature which will debut at the Google I/O Conference today and tomorrow. Their newest addition to the mobile app being demonstrated at the conference is the “navigation tab”. This tab will allow theChevy Volt owner to see the current location of their vehicle on Google Maps and will even give the location of the car in relation to their Android. That isn’t even the best part. The consumer can primarily use this application to get directions to any destination they wish to go. This works by having the consumer voice the destination to their Android. The phone then determines where this destination is and relays that information to OnStar. When the consumer hops into their Chevy Volt, the turn-by-turn directions will be waiting for them. These new features allow Chevy to maintain the commitment they have made “to providing Volt customers with the most connected vehicle experience possible”.

“These two new features add to the suite of mobile application features for Volt that given Volt owners a personal connection to their car,” said Tony DiSalle, Chevrolet Volt marketing director. “Connecting customers to their cars is one way we’re using technology to provide value and a real useful benefit to the Volt owner.”

Hit the jump for a full list of what the Chevy Volt application on the Android platform has to offer, a video, and the press release.

Ever get tired of that monotonous voice that comes out of your sat-nav? You know what we’re talking about; that voice that could just as easily lull you to sleep as it can give you directions.

TomTom has an idea; their actually bringing in some voices you might be familiar with, that is if you’re a Star Wars fan. For only $13, you can customize your TomTom by adding the voices of no less than Darth Vader to serve as your official voice-over. Now, if you can take that baritone, heavy breathing sound as in your TomTom, then you won’t have any problem with Darth Vader. However, if you can’t, you can opt for other Star Wars characters, including Yoda, Han Solo, and C3PO.

If you haven’t a clue as to how the whole thing works - or how you can use Darth Vader to direct you to the nearest K-Mart - check the video out and see how the folks from TomTom recorded Darth Vader’s voice.

Source: Tom Tom
Posted on by Alexander + 11

Exactly one month ago, we brought some interesting information about an Audi TTS that was planning on making the Pike Peaks International Hill Climb without a driver sitting in the driver’s seat. That technology was brought forth by the masterminds over at Stanford University who have spent a lot of time working on the automobiles of the future. This technology is rapidly approaching reality and eventually there will be no need for drivers at all. Case in point is the Volkswagen Passat by the name of Junior. The VW was wired up before the Audi TTS (Shelley) was born and has even placed second in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) 2007 Urban Challenge, a race in which an autonomous car must navigate city streets, obey traffic laws, avoid obstructions, and, crucially, drive well among other cars in traffic. The video shown here illustrates Junior’s capabilities as they were back in 2007 when it was attempting to qualify for the Urban Challenge. The folks over at Stanford University came across some problems with Junior, but in the video shown after the jump, the solution to these problems is explained.

Posted on by Alexander + 5
Chevrolet Impala

This is actually a remarkable story. Last week (Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 1:27pm to be exact), State Senator Terry Burton realized that his 2009 Chevrolet Impala had been stolen. Yes, not only did a thug steal a Chevy Impala, but it just so happened to be one owned by a Senator. Not good for Mr. Crook. To make matters worse for Sir Steal-a-Lot, the Impala was armed with On-Star’s Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. Oh yeah. After Senator Burton saw that his car was stolen, he called OnStar and reported it. OnStar then contacted local police, found the vehicle, and, when the vehicle was in a safe position, armed the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. This technology can be remotely activated by an OnStar advisor once the car has been located by their GPS system and when police can see the vehicle and advise the OnStar representative that the car is in a safe position. The only thing left to do is activate it and watch the car slow down.

We can only imagine the look on the thief’s face as he saw the police cruisers gaining on him in the rearview mirror and then feel as the car slowly died to an idle position. Now, sitting in a non-moving car with the officers happily walking over to detain him, the crook’s hopes of getting away come crashing down and evaporating into the air under the hot sun. Not a good day for him, but an excellent day for Mississippi police, OnStar, and Senator Burton.

This story is so perfect, so happily-ever-after, that one has to wonder if this was some sort of promotional setup by OnStar or Chevrolet . We are not saying it is, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

Press release after the jump.

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