Spintires Removed From Steam

Ever felt like going off-road and bringing that large truck of yours into the wilderness to enjoy the outdoors? Spintires looked to do just that giving you the ability to enjoy an off-road driving experience based in Russia. The game may be no more though as it has now been pulled from Steam, with issues between the creator and the publisher, causing more than a few little bumps in its development.

The creator, Pavel Zagrebelnyj, came out last week and stated that he was still owed money by the publisher, the UK-based publisher company Oovee. Oovee state that while they are late their accounts are still filed, meaning that Zagrebelnyj would soon receive his money.

That may not be enough though as the game has experienced a recent slew of bugs and malfunctions. These have in fact been due to timebombs, certain pieces of code that go off after certain amounts of time or set dates. The time bombs were supposedly created by Zagrebelnyj, but have since been patched by a user with unofficial fixes.

Oovees are keen to deny any speculation that it may have been due to international sabotage, claiming to have been working with Pavel since the bugs were discovered.

With no option to buy the game on Steam, users may be disappointed as the signs point to development ending on this game and a sour relationship between the creator and publisher for what could have been an interesting game.

TF-X Flying Car to Hit Roads (and Skies) by 2018

Terrafugia, a US-based small aircraft manufacturer, is building its first flying car, and has revealed that it hopes to begin testing it as soon as 2018. The TF-X is a hybrid electric flying car, which can carry four people, has unfolding wings with twin-mounted electric motors on either sides to propel the vehicle in the air, and is capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL). The TF-X can fly at speeds of 200mph for up to 500 miles.

The driver of the TF-X won’t need a pilot’s licence – just a standard driver’s licence – since the vehicle is semi-autonomous; you only need to tell the TF-X to take off and land at a designated spot. Prospective buyers need only take a weekend-long training course to operate the craft.

“The TF-X is the practical realization of the dream of countless visions of the future; it is designed to be the flying car for all of us,” according to the Terrafugia website. “In order to achieve this long-sought-after vision, Terrafugia will focus the TF-X program with clear goals that enhance the safety, simplicity, and convenience of personal transportation.  We believe these goals are achievable today.”

Following rigorous testing from 2018 onwards, Terrafugia hopes to make the TF-X available for sale by 2025. The Federal Aviation Administration has already given Terrafugia approval to test the TF-X within the US.

Ford Test Autonomous Car in Snow

Autonomous cars have come a long way in recent times, with some even being considered safer than human drivers. But now Ford have decided to try out their autonomous car in snow, which can even cause trouble for experienced human drivers.

Ford’s self-driving car makes use of a technology they have termed “snowtonomy”, which integrates high definition maps to allow the car to fill in the gaps that its sensors cannot see due to the adverse weather.

The car employs the standard array of laser-imagine LIDAR sensors that it is equipped with in order to build the most accurate picture of the current location as possible. It then matches this 3D image against the stored maps in order to maintain the car’s position on the road. According to Ford, this system is accurate enough for the car to be able to stay in lane, even when road markings are obscured by snow.

The testing ground for this technology has been Mcity, an artificial city created by the University of Michigan, specifically for testing autonomous cars. This has allowed Ford to gain a lot of experience with self-driving cars in adverse conditions such as rain and snow.

Technologies like Ford’s “snowtonomy” really show that companies out there are bringing their self-driving systems to the next level. Driving in straight lines in perfect conditions is hardly a challenge for today’s self-driving technology, but for autonomous cars to truly displace the human driver, they will have to be able to adapt to all conditions, be it visibility impairing or a lack of grip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vShi-xx6ze8

Uber Lowers Prices In US And Canada Due To Low Demand

Uber gets in the news a lot. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has called it out for being breaking the law, three cities in Germany no longer have the service and French Uber drivers even created a rival app. Amongst all of this Uber can’t be having too good a time, even though popularity and usage of the app are growing? Not in the U.S it would seem as Uber lowers their prices to help pick up usage in the new year.

It’s a new year, it’s still cold and we still have to get around. Seems like people aren’t using Uber as much as they expected as Uber posted explaining that people staying indoors to keep warm and save money means that this time of year, people tend not to use the service. In order to get usage of the service up, in over 100 cities in the US and Canada, the service will cut prices for riders and stating that they are “guaranteeing earnings for drivers to ensure that no one is disadvantaged”.

With them continuing on to say that the percentage cut to prices will be different from city to city, and no exact figures on what each location will receive or even what the  guaranteed earnings for drivers will be users may be skeptical. If you’re in the US or Canada though, now might the right time to pop out and do that little bit of shopping you’ve been putting off so far.

Gran Turismo Sport Concept Art Leaked

Gran Turismo revolutionized the racing genre on consoles due to the enticing career mode, superb car selection and advanced physics model. Sadly, in recent years, the series has floundered and struggled to compete with Forza’s yearly release cycle. Additionally, Gran Turismo 5 was a major disappointment and I didn’t really find Gran Turismo 6 enjoyable either. Strangely enough, Gran Turismo 6 doesn’t pose any challenge in terms of the license events, or competition from the AI. In an ideal world, Polyphony Digital should have released Gran Turismo 7 as a PlayStation 4 launch title, but this didn’t happen and their projects usually take a long time to complete.

Thankfully, Gran Turismo Sport was announced some time ago during the Paris Games Week although we don’t know what this will actually entail. Apparently, it’s not a small demo of Gran Turismo 7 like earlier concept titles and should provide a fulfilling experience. According to Website GTPlanet, the Gran Turismo offices contained concept art on the wall during the Christmas period of the upcoming game! Super GT drivers Kohei Hirate and Satoshi Motoyama, and Toyota’s Masashi Honda publicly unveiled the images which are listed below:

There is still some speculation regarding the authenticity of some of the images, as they look photo-realistic. I’m pretty sceptical about the snapshot with trees in the background but perhaps the studio has found a way to implement satellite images into the render. However, this is very unlikely and wishful thinking. Whatever the case, I cannot wait to see Gran Turismo Sport and hope it provides the stopgap needed to please racing fans before the release of Gran Turismo 7.

The Humble Codemasters Bundle is Awesome!

Humble Bundle often discounts a number of enticing games and allows you to choose what percentage of the money goes to charity. Recently, the company expanded the amount of charities you can donate to which helps funds a cause close to your heart. The latest bundle incorporates a huge amount of Codemasters games at rock bottom prices. The $1 or more tier includes Grid 2 + Drift Pack, DIRT Showdown, Overlord, Operation Flashpoint Complete, Hospital Tycoon and Colin McRae Rally. Sadly, GRID 2 is a poor sequel and doesn’t live up to its iconic predecessor. Additionally, DIRT Showdown tries to emulate Flatout and just ends up being very annoying, and rather lackluster.

On another note, Colin McRae Rally is a mobile port and doesn’t really honor the original series. However, the Operating Flashpoint games are surprisingly good and very difficult. If you beat the average, it also comes with GRID Autosport, Overlord II, Overlord Raising Hell, GRID 2 Spa-Francorchamps Track Pack and more! GRID Autosport is miles better than GRID 2 in terms of physics and career mode but it’s still not as good as the original title.

Finally, if you pay more than $15, the pack includes GRID Autoport Season Pass, Dirt 3 Complete Edition and GRID 2 DLC pack. This is certainly worth the extra for DIRT 3 Complete given the huge selection of vehicles, tracks and superb handling model. The game was originally criticized for its horrible DLC model, but at least all of the extra content is included and you no longer have to deal with Games For Windows Live!

What Happens to an iPhone in a Car Accident?

At some point, we can all probably admit picking up our phones while behind the wheel of the car, even if it’s just to get it out of your pocket because the vibration is annoying. Even worse than that, a small percentage of drivers go further and actually use the phone while driving. We all know the legal and most safety consequences of doing this, but what about the airbags in the event of a crash?

The people over at EverythingApplePro has gone and tested this for us in a very Mythbusters style by pitting multiple iPhone 6S phones against airbags in different scenarios.

For those that do not have a stable internet connection, the testing pretty much shows multiple iPhones getting destroyed.

I can safely say that it is scary what happened to the device. I know that in most cases there are never two airbags directed at each other, but in some newer cars there are airbags very close to each other to protect front and side impacts. Imagine if they caught your hand while holding the device?

This channel previously tested whether an iPhone would be a viable alternative to conventional brake pads, I can tell you that they’re not.

Image Courtesy of TechTimes

Elon Musk Says Not Having a Self-Driving Car Will be Like Owning a Horse

Elon Musk, the pioneering CEO of electric car company Tesla Motors, has gone all-in on driverless cars, predicting a future in which driving your own car is archaic. Musk told the Wall Street Journal that, in twenty years’ time, any motorist that does not own a self-driving car will be purely out of sentimentality, equating it to still “owning a horse”.

“They will be a factor of 10 safer than a person [at the wheel] in a six-year time frame,” Musk told the Wall Street Journal, echoing statements he made during a recent Tesla earnings conference call that the future of the company will be exclusively autonomous.

“Well, I’m actually on record saying that I think that all cars will go fully autonomous in the long-term,” Musk said. “I think it will be quite unusual to see cars that don’t have full autonomy, let’s say, in 15-20 years. And for Tesla, it will be a lot sooner than that.”

Musk branded any future car without autonomous features as having “negative value,” adding that “in 20 years, if you have a car that isn’t autonomous, it will be like owning a horse. You’re really just owning it for sentimental reasons.”

Tesla has already introduced fledgling autonomy to its Model S electric car with its Autopilot software, which allows drivers to shave and eat while driving.

The Tesla Autopilot System is Surreal

Tesla is certainly a pioneer of vehicle technology and continues to innovate in this market. The concept of autonomous cars is becoming more widely accepted and provides a glimpse into the future. Recently, Tesla’s Autopilot system was showcased in a real world scenario. The software is capable of detecting the speed and behaviour in densely populated areas.

As a result, the system automatically steers, swaps between lanes and adjusts speed. Additionally, it can navigate to a parking area and perform parallel parking. At first this appears bizarre and almost frightening given our distrust towards technology and familiarity with manual driving. Once that initial hurdle is over, the driving is quite serene and less stressful than the typical daily commute.

Despite this, there are still some safety concerns in regards to pedestrians and unexpected events. Clearly, the Autopilot system requires a great deal of further testing and first-hand experience before consumers feel confident using it. Its potential though is nothing short of revolutionary. While some car enthusiasts love driving, others find it to be a daily annoyance. This is usually caused by aggressive drivers.

Would you feel comfortable in an automated vehicle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Need For Speed Will Not Implement Microtransactions or Paid DLC

EA’s reputation among the gaming community is fairly atrocious due to launch day DLC, microtransactions, and killing off revered series such as Sim City. As a result, it’s expected to see these features implemented in any modern EA title. Rather surprisingly, the FAQ page for the upcoming Need for Speed game directly addresses people’s concerns and states:

“We plan to release a series of free content updates for Need for Speed. We currently have no plans for any paid DLC.”

“There will be no micro transactions.”

Could this really be the beginning of a new consumer-friendly strategy from EA? It’s far too early to tell, but I’m pleased to see this level of transparency from a leading AAA publisher. However, it’s important to remember that the latest Need for Speed game requires an internet connection. The concept behind this is to merge the single player and online portion into one experience. I’d personally like EA to consider an offline mode, so the game isn’t rendered useless when the servers are switched off in the future.

Putting these issues aside, I have to applaud EA as the retail release should be updated on a regular basis without the need for an expensive Season Pass. Of course, EA’s plans could change in the future, but this announcement makes Need for Speed a much more attractive proposition. Unfortunately, PC gamers will have to wait until Spring 2016 which is a significant delay compared to the console versions; perhaps this is to properly optimize the netcode or overall performance.

Do you think this is the start of a new EA?

Need For Speed PC Version Delayed Until Spring 2016

The latest Need for Speed game merges the single player and online aspects into a constantly-evolving, social experience, but this requires an always-online connection to EA’s servers. Therefore, it’s perfectly plausible for the game to be rendered useless in a few years time when EA switches off the servers. As a result, consumers have a skeptical attitude towards this particular title and worried about the always-online DRM. Furthermore, the developer, Ghost Games has just announced in a post that the PC version will be delayed until 2016. The company said in a statement:

“At Ghost, we’re united by one common passion… to deliver the best Need for Speed experience possible. And at every step of the development process we’re guided by our community. Whether that’s reading your comments on Facebook or Twitter, watching your videos on YouTube, or joining in with the discussion on Reddit, the conversation we’ve been having as fans of Need for Speed is enormously important and we’re working to reflect it in the game we’re building.”

“Part of the conversation includes hearing from our PC community that an unlocked frame rate in Need for Speed is a massive priority for you, and we fully agree. To deliver this, we’ve made the decision to move the PC release date to Spring 2016. Our PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release dates will remain the same, starting November 3, 2015 in North America and November 5 worldwide.”

“This decision on PC gives us the necessary development time to increase the visuals that we can deliver on PC. We will also include content updates that will have been released on console up to that time, making them available to all PC players from day one.”

This is a significant delay for the PC platform and bound to disappointment racing fans. Although, if the extended period is used to optimize the game properly, or significantly enhance the visuals, then it might be worth the wait. Ideally, I’d like to see an offline single-player mode included to evoke a sense of confidence in the game’s future.

Forza Motorsport 6 Has Gone Gold! Demo Coming September 1st

Forza Motorsport 6 is speeding into the homes of Xbox One racing enthusiasts extremely soon and heralded as the “best racing game” during Gamescom 2015. In two weeks, Forza Motosport 6 will be available to download for owners of the Ultimate Edition and consumers opting for the standard version will gain access 5 days later. Turn 10 Studios has scheduled a demo for September 1st to whet your appetite and revolves around the iconic Ford GT. Rather surprisingly, downloading the demo allows you to keep this vehicle and use it in the full game for free.

As an authentic racing simulator, it’s imperative to hone the physics system, and create a smooth, realistic experience. Forza Motorsport 6 runs at a native resolution of 1920×1080 and 60fps. As a result, the driving is extremely fluid whilst emphasizing the Xbox One’s visual capabilities. In total, there are 460 cars to choose from and the latest additions include:

2015 Mercedes-AMG GT S
1979 BMW #6 BMW Motorsport M1 Procar
2015 Volvo S60 Polestar
2014 Audi #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports R8 LMS ultra
2014 BMW #5 Ebay Motors 125i M Sport
2014 Chevrolet #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R
2015 Jaguar XKR-S GT
1976 Lotus #5 Team Lotus 77
1969 Lola #10 Simoniz Special T163
2014 Ferrari California T

The full 460 car list is available via Forzamotorsport.net and there’s bound to be something to suit even the most die-hard motorsport aficionados. Personally, I was fairly disappointed with the complete lack of content in Forza Motorsport 5 and hope this was due to time constraints surrounding the Xbox One’s launch. Over the years, Forza has established itself as a superb racing game and not just a clone of Gran Turismo. In fact, Forza’s physics model, interior renders and engine noises are vastly superior to Gran Turismo’s latest efforts.

New Car Hopes To Stop Drink Driving

It’s the weekend and you’ve gone for a small drink with your friends. Suddenly one turns into two, and two into three. You go to start your car, put the key in the ignition and then suddenly from nowhere, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that”. No your not losing your mind or experiencing the start of a robotic revolution,  instead a new system that could be in your cars soon has detected your blood alcohol level and refuses to start for you. Taxi tonight it is.

DADSS (Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety) is a new system that could potentially be installed in cars in the near future. At the moment, two prototypes are in testing, first up is the good old fashion breathalyser method, with a sensor in the steering wheel or driver side door. The alternative is a touch sensor on the gear shift or ignition button, that would ‘scan’ your blood alcohol level. If either of these pickups read higher than the legal limit and your car won’t start.

While not designed as a required feature for new cars, the makers, the national highway traffic safety agency (NHTSA) means parents could pay that little extra to ensure that no one makes a decision to just pop down the shops for a little extra drink after a few during a party. A demonstration of the system can be seen in the video below.

https://youtu.be/yykyT4YRw4A

While it’s getting safer to drive, anyone who has been impacted by drunk driving can tell you that figures don’t matter. One mistake is all it takes, and with systems like DADSS being created to help curve away those single mistakes the roads can only get safer.

Thank you Ars Technica for the information.

Image courtesy of Love cars.

Nissan Self-Driving Cars Will Hit the Road by 2020

Japanese motorcar company Nissan will have cars with autonomous driving technology by 2020, according to the company’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn. He added that the availability of Nissan’s self-driving cars will depend on regulations particular to each country.

“Starting from late next year, we plan to offer what internally we are calling the ‘Traffic Jam Pilot,’ a feature that allows the car to drive autonomously and safely in heavy, stop-and-go traffic,” Ghosn wrote on his LinkedIn profile. “This eventually will be offered across a wide range of our Nissan, Infiniti and Renault vehicles.”

Ghosn subsequently told reporters at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama that, “Our cars will be ready. That is the car of the future […] But the consumer is more conservative. That makes us cautious.”

It is expected that Nissan will release its first car sporting the technology – which will grant the vehicle the ability “to autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes” – in 2018, while by 2020 it hopes to introduce cars that can drive with full autonomy in “nearly all situations, including complex city driving.”

The move follows a recent announcement from Google that it intends to launch its self-driving cars in California this Summer. “Each prototype’s speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and during this next phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed,” Google wrote on its official blog.

Thank you International Business Times for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Digital Trends.

US Pushing For Car-to-Car Communication

The US Department of Transport is very keen on introducing car-to-car communication technology to America’s highways, with DoT Secretary Anthony Foxx revealing legislation that will make vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications compulsory in new cars, accelerating the previously planned timetable. Foxx made the announcement during a speech at Beyond Traffic 2015, in partnership with Delphi Automotive.

V2V technology is designed to reduce road traffic accidents by ensuring that vehicles are constantly in contact with each other, pre-emptively warning of close proximities, and even giving the vehicle some automated control to take evasive action.

Foxx outlined the following plans for V2V:

First, I have directed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to accelerate the timetable for its proposal to require vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology in new vehicles.

Second, we’re committing to rapid testing that would ensure life-saving V2V transmissions aren’t obstructed by radio interference. We stand ready to complete this testing, which many in Congress, the FCC, and industry are eager to complete within 12 months of receiving production-ready devices to test.  Combined, these two commitments will accelerate the introduction of V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems, which are key components of the connected, automated future. 

Third, I’ve asked NHTSA to begin work aimed at ensuring our regulatory framework encourages the deployment of innovations demonstrated to increase traffic safety.

Delphi Automotive tested the technology back in April, during a 3,400 mile journey from California to New York that took place entirely in fully automated mode. A Delphi spokesperson said, “Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication are key to achieving Delphi’s vision of zero fatalities, zero accidents and zero injuries on the world’s roadways.”

Thank you United States Department of Transportation for providing us with this information.

Google’s Bubble Car to Hit the Road this Summer

We follow autonomous cars quite closely, especially seeing that this could be the future of driving. Following our recent article on the safety record of Google’s other self-driving fleet, Google is now ready to unleash the little bubble car on the world; well the streets of California in the Mountain View area this Summer.

Since last September, Google has let a fleet Lexus RX450h roam the streets of California; equipped with the same self-driving technology. Together, they have clocked up near 1 million autonomous miles on the public highway, nearly 10,000 a week. The total amount of autonomously logged data is comparable to the experience of “75 years of typical American adult driving”.

The cool thing about autonomous driving, all of the data logged by the previous cars can be instantly uploaded to the new cars, with certain parameters changed such as vehicle size to give better spatial awareness. If that isn’t enough to calm you, then each car will have a human occupant with the control to override the system if needs be.

Following the recent news and criticism of Google’s self-driving cars, namely the Lexus models; Google has made statements to set the record straight. “Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel,” wrote Google’s Chris Urmson in a recent post on Medium, “and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” a Google representative said.

Apart from the awful looks of the car, would you be willing to let one drive you around? What about actually owning one when the are released? Let us know in the comments

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

Almost 10,000 UK Driving License Details Leaked Online

It looks like the NSA or other government agencies might not be the only ones that have access to your personal details. Everyone with Internet access could have seen your address, name, email and photo just by navigating to a website. This is the case of a private parking ticket company by the name of PaymyPCN.net, who allegedly published one of their clients’ database online. It is said that a security flaw on the private parking firm’s website allowed public access to around 10,000 motorists.

“[The] breach at PaymyPCN.net demonstrates that even with basic IT security measures in place, perimeters are still permeable.” said Sol Cates, CSO at security vendor Vormetic. “In this case, it appears that, while motorists’ data and fine payments were encrypted once inputted into the PaymyPCN.net website, a backdoor link left the computer database wide open – providing access to private information provided to PaymyPCN.net by the DVLA. Although the information was encrypted, just as important is the control of access to the encrypted information – and this is where PaymyPCN.net appears to have failed,” he added.

Michael Green, a consumer activist, is said to be the one who uncovered the flaw after it had been “sent to a motorist in error”. The site is said to have been taken offline by PaymyPCN.net immediately after the breach, but it has since returned. PaymyPCN.net activities involve the collection of parking charge notices, acting as an agent of both private and public sector parking operators.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

Watch: People’s Insane Reactions to Tesla’s ‘Insane Mode’

The Tesla Model S P85D has a special feature that gives it incredible acceleration. Now while you’d expect that to be called something like Sport Mode, with Tesla, like all things Tesla, it isn’t. Instead it’s called ‘Insane Mode’.

Now why insane? Because of just how crazy fast the car can get up to 60 miles per hour. In the video bellow, you see one very proud Tesla owner unleashing this mode on some unsuspecting passengers. Some of them enjoy it immensely, others feel the need to spew expletives and one elderly woman looks visibly shaken by the vehicle’s ridiculous accelerating abilities.

Source: YouTube

Cadillac Video Rearview Mirrors Standard from 2016

From 2016 the Cadillac CT6 will feature video rearview mirrors as standard. The vehicle will be the first car to feature such technology on all models.

The camera will be of “high dynamic range” allowing drivers to see in all weathers delivering a “video feed [that] reduces glare and allows a crisper image in low-light situations, versus a traditional glass electrochromatic, or auto-dimming, rearview mirror.” The small display delivers quite a high resolution for its size and purpose, 1280 x 240 to be exact and it promises to bring a filed of view up to 4 times higher than standard mirrors. The company isn’t completely giving up on traditional mirrors however, drivers will still be able switch to a conventional mirror with handy little button.

Although this example is the first, this is something we can expect to see more often now since the US Government made it mandatory for all new cars to feature rearview cameras after 2018.

Source: The Verge Image: General Motors

Iowa Creating App For Digital Driving Licenses

The state of Iowa in the US is developing a smartphone app that will allow citizens to display their driving license on their devices.

The new app is intended to make it easier for drivers to carry their license, as many people simply don’t bother carrying it anyway. Besides driving, the app will also come in useful for other times ID is required, such as at airports and for purchasing age restricted items. Residents will still of course be allowed to carry their conventional license, as the app is not seen as a complete replacement.

Governor Terry Branstand told the Des Moines Register, “We are really moving forward on this”, with the app currently under development and with a pilot program to take place next year. The app will use a pin number and biometric scanner for verification.

Source: BBC News

 

Driverless Cars to Be Tested in Four UK Cities

Driverless cars will be tested in 4 UK cities starting 1st January. Coventry, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Greenwich in south-east London will be the first to see the vehicles hit public roads.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne announced the plans during today’s Autumn Statement in Parliament. The initiative was launched back in July, but plans are now starting to take shape. Mr Osbourne also announced an extra £9 million of government funding for the project, adding to the earlier £10 million.

The project is formed of a number of schemes backed by different companies and organisations. In London there will be the Gateway scheme which is being organised by the Transport Research Laboratory consultancy, in Bristol there will be the Venturer consortium, which is backed by insurance company Axa, while Coventry and Milton Keynes will see the UK Autodrive programme, which is being backed by Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Arup.

The individual schemes will test and experiment with different issues facing the introduction of driverless vehicles, such as insurance implications and the effect of the vehicles on reducing traffic congestion.

Source: BBC News

Apple Defends CarPlay Safety

Apple has defended its CarPlay product, after a University of Utah study suggested that Siri was the most distracting of all speech recognition systems when used in the car.

Apple said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that the study only tested Siri alone, not the company’s in-car product CarPlay, which includes Siri Eyes Free.

“CarPlay and Siri Eyes Free intuitively use your vehicle’s native controls so you don’t need to pick-up and look at your phone while driving. These experiences are tailored so you only have access to iPhone apps that are optimized for the car and make sense for an in-vehicle experience.”

The study compared multiple in-car systems, as well as Apple’s Siri. However, it must be said that the researchers didn’t make it clear that they only used the standard version of Siri included with iPhones and iPads, not Apple’s CarPlay, which is tailored for driving.

Source: 9to5Mac

In-Car HUD Lets You Respond to Text with Voice and Motion Controls

Texting while driving is one of the dumbest things you can do behind the wheel, looking at your phone instead of looking at the road is never a good idea and now there may be one solution, heads up displays. Navdy projects car stats, navigation and notifications onto your windscreen, which is nothing new in terms of technology apart from the fact that Navdy also allows you to interact with them with simple hand gestures or speech.

Simply swipe your finger to respond or dismiss an alert such as a call or message, or use the voice commands system which was built around those found in iOS and Android to operate iTunes, navigate on Google Maps etc.

The company hit Kickstarter, for those who committed within the first 30 days you can pick up a unit for $299, compared to the final price of $499 when it ships in early 2015. Personally I think that’s pretty expensive, but I guess it’ll have to be put through extensive testing by consumers to see if its a hit or a flop.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/pKL4PJICS40[/youtube]

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Jaguar Working on Self-Learning Smart Car Personal Assistant

There have been a lot of talks about smart cars and their ability to make driving a lot safer suing self-driving technologies in order to eliminate human distractions and error from roads. There will even be a time where drivers can even send text messages, video call and browse the internet, but that time is still far away. Until then, Jaguar seems to have designed a piece of tech of its own for the Land Rover to make driving a lot safer, namely the Smart Assistant.

It is said that the Smart Assistant is able to identify the driver of the car based on a smartphone and learns his or her driving style and in-vehicle habits. The information is then ran through an algorithm which keeps track of background information, such as your calendar, traffic conditions and current weather, in order to predict and handle a variety of non-essential tasks. The Smart Assistant even starts before the driver enters the car, adjusting the seat, mirrors and steering wheel based on the individual’s likings.

Once the Smart Assistant learns the driver’s behavior behind the wheel, it can then handle tasks and perform small vehicle adjustments. For example, if a person calls his or her boss each morning, the Smart Assistant is said to ask you if it can initiate a call with your boss. The same goes when running late for work, having the Personal Assistant prompting if you would like to send a text message and notify about you being late.

There are a variety of activities which Jaguar’s Personal Assistant could help you behind the wheel, though the company states that the technology is currently in the works with no known release date planned. An interesting and unique feature present in the Personal Assistant’s design plans is the fact that Jaguar intends to make the tech cloud-based, meaning that if you want to rent a Jaguar when abroad on a business trip, it will still have your personal preferences available and in effect as soon as the car is available to drive.

Thank you Gizmag for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gizmag

FBI Warns Autonomous Cars Could Be Used As Bombs

Self driving cars are a thing for the future and most people are looking forward to them. Even the United Kingdom stated that it will introduce some sort of taxi pods a while back, having them operational by 2017. However, are autonomous vehicles really that safe? The Federal Bureau of Investigation tends to disagree.

The FBI has apparently given a warning that criminals could use these driverless vehicles in a variety of ways, from evading law enforcement officers, to shooting cops from the back of the vehicle. An internal report obtained by The Guardian states that in a section by the name of “multitasking”, autonomous vehicles fall in the description of ‘tools’ which can be used to “conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today”.

In addition to the above, driverless vehicles can also be used as a ‘bomb on wheels’, being able to program it to drive itself to the target. All in all, it seems that although self driving vehicles are a great futuristic way of transportation, they can also pose a great risk for safety and security.

The report is said to be made by the Strategic Issues Group within the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence and it does not describe only negative points of view about the new technology. It is said that driverless vehicles could be used to as a surveillance tool, keeping a lock on targets while remaining undetected. Though it is unfortunate to see advances in consumer technology becoming a benefit for criminals, impeding further advancements due to the fear of it being used as a weapon.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge

Google Glass To Be Banned When Driving, Says ‘looking at little computers’ Endangers You

It seems that it was not enough having a woman fined while driving with her Google Glass on, or a man arrested while wearing Glass in a cinema. We now hear that a ‘lawmaker’ from Wyoming wants to ban Google’s gadget.

Recent news reads that a Wyoming state senator has become the latest legislator to introduce a bill that would effectively ban Google Glass while driving. A bill has been issued and is currently voted upon when the state’s legislature reconvenes next month. The bill can be viewed here.

“No person shall operate a motor vehicle on a public street or highway while using a wearable computer with head mounted display, or while using a handheld electronic wireless communication device to write, send or read a text-based communication.” a paragraph from the bill states.

It also appears that the “while using a wearable computer with head mounted display, or” fragment has been underlined and written in red. Is Google Glass such a threat? Or maybe law enforcement officers don’t want to be filmed when pulling over their ‘victims’. Either way, what’s next? The ban of bluetooth earpiece or other hands free gadgets?

“Common sense would tell you that you really don’t need to look at a little computer while driving, that it endangers you, your passengers and other drivers,” Sen. Floyd Esquibel (D) told Reuters on Wednesday.

Mr. Esquibel’s statement does make sense, up to the point where a ‘little computer’ and ‘looking at a screen’ becomes confusing. Does this mean we are committing a felony by using GPS navigational systems, either mounted or integrated in the car’s dash-board? That can also be considered a ‘little computer’ which we require in order to navigate to our destination. Even more, Google Glass could have helped drivers look straight ahead while having the GPS in their sight at all times. Wouldn’t that make more sense? Apparently not.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information