Showing posts with label Auto drive cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Auto drive cars. Show all posts

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Top 5 tech cars of the 2014 New York International Auto Show

NYIAS 2014 - Kia reception, Sir Nightclub, 508 W 37th, New York, NYTechnology is front and center at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. Sometimes it’s offbeat tech, such as a flying car, but this year the focus is more on driver assistance and infotainment services coming to a wider array of cars. Even small carsare loading up on driver tech, such as forward collision warning and lane departure warning, because the technology is cheaper. They’re also in demand from boomers downsizing into the same cars Millennials buy; the older drivers don’t want to give up the tech they had on their big car or SUV.
The 2014 NYIAS also features quick redesigns of cars only a year or two old, such as theToyota Camry and Honda Civic. Automakers are getting quicker at fixing what focus groups and reviewers tell them. Most new cars have upgraded infotainment systems; several are showing Apple’s CarPlay. More have LCD displays standard even with no navigation, to better display infotainment and to provide backup cameras in advance of the federal mandate, now set for 2018.
The show runs, as it does each year, for 10 days starting the Friday before Easter at New York City’s Javits Convention Center. Here are techoblog’s picks for the best cars, based on their technology.
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Kia Sedona: New UVO, business-class rear seating

A minivan is among our top tech cars because the 2015 Kia Sedona brings in the latest round of the excellent Kia UVO (your voice) infotainment / telematics system. This edition of UVO adds these self-explaining features: geo-fencing, speed alert, curfew alert, and driver score. As if a teen already mortified to be driving a minivan would want to drive about more and farther than necessary. No matter, this is actually a “midsize multi-purpose vehicle.” Right.
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The dashboard buttons are big and well lettered. There is Audi-level driver tech: adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, surround view monitor. A smart tailgate as on the Hyundai Genesis opens when you walk up with the key on your person. The Kia UVO eServices can grab Pandora, iHeart Radio, Siri Eyes Free, and Google Local Search from the Google Play and iTunes stores for your smartphone and control by the head unit.
A minivan is the most comfortable way to haul seven or eight. Second-row Slide-n-Stow seats slide all the way forward against the front seats to maximize cargo. Now the Sedona may also be the best way to carry four adults. Opt for the middle row lounge seats with leg rests that pop out, just like seats at the front of the plane.

Nissan Rogue boasts camera-based rear view mirror

140417_0924_nyiasThe redesigned 2014 Nissan Rogue blew away the competition, and as a result sales are up 75%. The competition is so far back in the rear view mirror that Nissan needed a better way to see them. Enter the Smart Rear Vew Mirror. It’s a camera mounted high up in the rear window of this compact SUV. It displays the view on a LCD screen built into the full width of the 4:1 aspect ratio inside rear mirror. Don’t like the view? Flip a switch on the back side and it reverts to a dumb old glass mirror.
For now, it’s a prototype, likely on future Nissans. It doesn’t take the place of the backup camera (mounted low). Pierre Loing, Nissan’s North American VP for product planning, mused on the possibility that it could be paired with rear-facing side cameras to provide a wrap-around view that leaves no blind spots. If there’s a single gee-whiz technology of the New York auto show, Nissan has it. Surprisingly this was on the Rogue rather than the swoopier, newer Nissan Murano midsize SUV (photo) launched at the show.

Hyundai Sonata: more tech for the roomiest midsize

A couple weeks after launching the amazing upscale Hyundai Genesis, Hyundai laid down the standard for tech and spaciousness — just not sales volume — in the midsize class with the 2015 Hyundai Sonata. Some of it comes down from the Genesis: that trunk that pops up when you walk up to it and all manner of driver aids. This will be the first Hyundai with CarPlay, which rolls the Apple experience directly to your car’s LCD screen: music, texting (as spoken messages), navigation. The same thing with Google phones should follow.
2015 Hyundai Sonata - IAC Building NYC
Hyundai leads the charge in bringing costly European car tech and features to the masses. Some other midsize cars have adaptive cruise control that cuts out at 20 mph. Hyundai will have stop-and-go adaptive cruise contorl. The back seat is big and the car is actually rated as a full-size. The back seats can be had with integrated sunshades. As with the previous version, the engine compartment was designed only for four-cylinder engines, one without, one with a turbocharger.
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Ford Focus keys on efficiency

Small changes to the world’s best-selling nameplate are significant. The reworked 2015 Ford Focus compact sedan now offers a 1.0 liter, three-cylinder Ecoboost (turbocharged) engine. That’s for efficiency and the Focus will “raise the bar,” Ford says, but hasn’t announced mpg. Need more? Ford also is offering a revised Ford Focus Electric for 2015 (photo). Need performance? Add the SE Sport Package with a more sharply tuned suspension (read: make sure your partner goes along for the test ride), dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and paddle shifters.
Ford leads in putting big car features on cheap small cars. The Focus can be had with blinde spot detection and lane keep assist that nudges the car back into the lane. Every car gets a rear view camera and at least a 4.2-inch LCD. Ford MyKey will be standard on all Focuses. MyKey limits what a teen driver can do in terms of radio volume, speed, and things that he or she might not do in a parent was in the car. Then there’s Sync, much criticized but still a cheap way to get Bluetooth, a USB key, voice input. Just spend time reading the manual.
Some of these changes are for the China market that accounts for a third of Focus sales worldwide.
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Subaru Outback a little sleeker, safer

The redesigned Subaru Outback is better in many small ways. It’s a little sleeker overall. Both four- and six-cylinder engines improve on already good fuel economy. Even the base model now includes a rear camera and color display. The A-pillars at the front of the car are a little thinner for better vision without compromising safety.
Like its bigger sibling, the Editors’ Choice Subaru Outback (for small SUV), the wagon-like Outback offers EyeSight, the dual camera system that provides adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking. Compared to EyeSight on previous year models, the price is down $500, to $1895 in a package with onboard navigation.

Best of the rest at NYIAS

Here are five more cars of note from the 2014 New York International Auto Show.
Ford Mustang: Fifty years old, beloved by millions, now the Ford Mustang is adding technology. There’s Sync in the center stack. There’s finally an independent rear suspension. Even the big engines are economical.
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Ford pulled off the biggest stunt — stunt used in a nice way — by sticking a 50th anniversary 2015 Mustang atop the Empire State building. (How? It was assembled in pieces. No helicopter, no car-sized elevator.)
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BMW i3 Electric: It’s been announced and shown, but the amazing carbon fiber electric car finally made it to the New York Show, where it was announced as the world green car of the year by a panel of 69 auto journalists. It’s a running vehicle and goes on sale shortly, starting at $42,000.
This one gets 80-100 miles per charge, same as most others EVs. BMW says it makes the most sense as an electric-only vehicle. Still, there’s a version coming with a small gasoline engine that could capture a big chunk of sales at least in the US.
Nissan Murano: Midsize SUVs don’t work for adults on long trips. Enter the 2015 Nissan Murano, still curvy on the outside, but with more attention paid to back seat passengers. Most adults will ride quite comfortably in back, where there’s a USB jack along with the 12-volt outlet, recognizing that both rows bring tablets and smartphones.
Toyota Camry: If you could lead the US in car sales for a decade or be an exciting car, which would you produce? Toyota wants both and decided a quick refresh was in order, just two years into the life of the current model. There are 2000 new parts in the car, a lot of them meant to make it look swoopier. There are some tech change, most notably a wireless charging pad in the center stack using Qi technology.
Also offered lane departure and forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. That means no midsize competitor is too far ahead. The most noticeable change is the big grille.
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Alfa Romeo 4C: Here’s one that’s more about sexy cars, less about tech. Alfa Romeo is making a modes comeback to the US market seeing how other Italian brands (Maserati, it of the Super Bowl ad) are doing here. This is a compact sports car with Italian flair inside and out, a cockpit that is more sporting than techcessive, and a four-cylinder 237 hp engine. Before you buy, make sure you see the car from all angles. You may be surprised to see the shape of the cabin after of where the driver and passenger sits.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Volvo designs magnetic roads for cheaper, simpler self-driving cars

Magnetic RoadThere are myriad visions for a future filled with self-driving cars. For example, there’s Google’s experimental driverless car bristling with sensors, as well as more modest systems that would only take over from drivers for short periods. The problem with more ambitious self-driving car technologies is the considerably higher cost, whether in public infrastructure (networked roads) or the smarts built into the vehicles themselves. Volvo thinks it has an idea that could make self-driving cars work with much less hassle. All we need is a bunch of magnets embedded in the road.
Volvo began developing its magnet-based smart car system after looking long and hard at the other proposals on the table. It’s not just the cost of advanced sensors, cameras, GPS, and LIDAR that make self-driving cars tricky, the reliability is also questionable. Electronic solutions are more prone to failure in general, but even more so when inclement weather strikes. A magnet? Well, that’s always a magnet, and it can be paired with other automated technologies to make a fully driverless car.
In order to test the idea of using magnetic roadways, Volvo actually built a 100-meter testtrack in H√§llered, Sweden and raced a specially modified S60 down it at over 90 mph. Engineers lined the road with neodymium magnets (20mm x 10mm) and ferrite magnets(30mm x 5mm) in lines down the edges and middle of the lane. The company tested both embedded and surface installation, finding that magnets on the surface would be effective and easier to install. Although, either option is sure to cause headaches in the case of roadwork.
Magnetic sensors are nothing new, but at the speeds we busy humans often need to drive, existing hardware wasn’t sensitive or fast enough. Volvo engineers calculated a car would require at least 400 magnetic samples per second to remain on the straight and narrow — a regular magnetic sensor can only do about three readings per second, and even then only when it is within a few centimeters of the magnet. So Volvo decided to roll its own magnetic sensor rig with five sensor modules, each with 15 smaller Honeywell magnetic sensor pods. This rig was attached to the bottom of the car and was able to pull in 500 readings per second.
Volvo SenorsThe system was able to monitor the car’s location to within 10 cm at 45 mph when telemetry factors such as speed and acceleration were figured in. You’d probably want the precision to be a little higher before taking your hands off the wheel, but you get a lot for your money here. The advanced sensor package on Google’s self-driving car has about $150,000 worth of sensors, but Volvo estimates its magnetic sensor package will add only $109 to the cost of a car when produced in large quantities. Volvo also claims installing magnets in typical two-lane roadways would cost an average of $24,405 per kilometer. If that sounds like a lot, it’s not actually bad in the context of self-driving technology. Of course, you could only use this system where the magnets had been laid down — Google’s car works almost anywhere right now.
As the technology for self-driving cars becomes a reality, we need to ask ourselves how smart the cars should be. Expensive sensor packages are great for completely controlling a vehicle so you can take a nap, but only in good conditions. A bit of ice or some fog could make things awfully sketchy. If we rely on magnets in the road (or some other passive tech) everything is more reliable, but possibly not as convenient. A networked on-board systemcan respond to traffic dynamically and provide detailed analytics. Magnets — they just keep you on the road. However, it might end up being more important to focus on what’s feasible than what’s clever in the end. Magnets could end up as part of a more advanced system that at least has a basic fallback mode when things go wrong.

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