Connected Car ADAS changes to 5-Star Safety Ratings proposed

5STARSAFEY4futureThee U.S. Department of Transportation proposes high-tech changes to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Ratings for new vehicles. The update rates ADAS features for crash avoidance, pedestrian safety, an front angel crash test, new data-centric test dummies, rear passenger safety and the ability to change specifications to keep up with new technology. The public can comment on the changes for two months. NHTSA will look at the comments and make a final decision by the end of 2016. The new ratings are expect to be ready for 2016 Model Year vehicles.

The planned changes to the 5-Star Safety Ratings system include:

  • A new 5-Star Safety Ratings system, which will, for the first time, encompass assessment of crash-avoidance and advanced technologies as well as pedestrian protection.
  • New tests to assess how well vehicles protect pedestrians from head, leg and pelvic injuries that occur when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle.
  • A new frontal oblique crash test that measures how well vehicles protect occupants in an angled frontal crash.
  • An improved full frontal barrier crash test to drive safety improvements for rear seat occupants.
  • New crash test dummies, including the Test device for Human Occupant Restraint, (THOR) and WorldSID, that will provide vastly improved data on the effects a crash is likely to have on the human body.
  • An assessment of additional crash-avoidance and advanced technologies that offer drivers the most potential for avoiding or mitigating crashes.
  • Use of half-star increments to provide consumers more discriminating information about vehicle safety performance.
  • The ability to dynamically update the program more swiftly as new safety technologies emerge.

The agency plans launch an intense consumer awareness effort to help vehicle shoppers understand how the new ratings can guide their new-car buying decisions, as well as briefings for industry and safety stakeholders.

The news release stated that the “proposed changes will give consumers even better information to help them choose a safe vehicle, and will encourage manufacturers to produce vehicles with better crash protection and new technology innovations that will save lives.

The 5-Star Safety Ratings, also known as the New Car Assessment Program, crash-tests new vehicles every year and currently rates them on how well they protect occupants in frontal, side and rollover crashes. Results from these tests are compiled into a rating of 1 to 5 stars, with more stars indicating a safer car. The vehicle safety ratings appear on window stickers of new cars, and searchable ratings are available on NHTSA’s website. The current program also includes a checklist of recommended advanced technology features such as rear-visibility cameras, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.

Top Reason Kids & Parents should go to the Petersen Museum: Pixar’s Cars’ Mechanical Institute

Photo by David Zaitz.
Life Size Lightning McQueen / Photo by David Zaitz.

The Petersen Museum, in Los Angeles, is dedicated to cars in all their glory and history. The museum has been remodeled to reflect the latest advances in design and technology, with a new exterior of curved steel ribbons and led lights over a hot rod red building that shines like car exteriors.

An entire floor of the museum demonstrates automotive design and technology, showing how cars are modified for speed and efficiency. Visitors learn what is like to work in the car industry and watch automotive design students as they design the next generation of transportation. The technology at the museum doesn’t just show car design but allows visitors use technology to learn the mechanics of cars at the Cars Mechanical Institute.

Based on characters from the Pixar Cars movie, the Cars Mechanical Institute offers interactive ways for visitors to understand the mechanics of car technology through interactive displays and other fun means.
“At the Cars Mechanical Institute kids can learn about how a car actually works, but not how a car works but the cars they love from the film Cars,” said Jay Ward, Cars Creative Director at Pixar AnimCARSpad2ation Studios.

Vistors can checkout “CARSpad” tablets in the Cars Mechanical Institute. Users are guided by Cars‘ characters through a race car design experience. The interactive CARSPad app takes users through the process of designing a race car, picking body designs, engines, drive trains and bio fuel to design a car of their very own. The characters in the app were animated by Pixar and voiced by the original voice actors.

Photo by David Zaitz.
Classroom in the museum where Art Center students design cars.

Each one the characters that helps you build the car are characters that know intrinsically how a car works. Luigi tells about tires and suspension, Flo teaches about style and design. Sally teaches about aerodynamics. Fillmore talks about fuel, and Ramon teaches about customizing. The Cars characters teach what they know best says Ward.

The CARSPad tablet works as a magic windshield. The user places the iPad camera over a symbol in the museum and the characters show features of the car design process allowing the user makes his/her own choices in the app. Users are introduced to the augmented reality experience by TowCARSpad1 Mater the tow truck.

Symbols are located throughout the floor, the user is asked to pick a race car body type by Flo, in front of a design studio where students from Art Center are designing cars. The app is designed to help teach aerodynamics and drag co-efficent of vehicles. At the alternative fuels area, the CARSpad guides users through how bio fuels are made by Fillmore the Volkswagen bus.

After designing a car of their own, the users can see their very-own car on a pedestal just like the cars in the museum. They can take their car on a drive on an animated racetrack to see how their design works.

The Cars Mechanical Institute
The Cars Mechanical Institute

At the gallery of the Cars Mechanical Institute, Lightning McQueen’s inner workings are on display in clear cases with large touchscreens that light up different part of the engine, drivetrain, brakes or suspension.

One interactive exhibit shows how a car starts with each button on the screen corresponding to a part of the engine system. At the drivetrain station visitors can spin a flywheel up and select different gears on a digital transmission to see how gear ratios affect wheel speed. At the suspension station visitors can hold a throttle button to spin up a brake rotor and then press and hold a caliper button to actuate the brakes.

At the Cars Mechanical Institute’s paint and body table, visitors can digitally paint and apply decals to a car of their choosing, trace cars at the tracing station, or color their car by hand any way they like at the open table. At the racetrack station, kids of all ages can play with Cars toy models. Everyone can pose for a photo op or a selfie with a life-size Lightning McQueen.

The learning experience at the Petersen Automotive Museum and the Cars Mechanical Institute can be beneficial for years to come.

“When the kids grow up they will know a lot more, and maybe not be taken by a mechanic, which is a good thing,” commented Ward.

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Heads up for new connected car HUD for everyone: Carloudy for iPhone & Android

carloudy2Cognitive AI Technologies Inc., is launching Carloudy, a wireless, voice-controlled, automotive head-up display (HUD). The Carloudy shows information on the windshield through a new patented technology. HUD displays on new luxury cars are usually only available in packages that cost a thousand dollars or more, this device is priced comparable to the price of a smartphone or GPS unit.

Carloudy connects to smartphones (Android or iPhone) to display directions, shopping, weather, speed, speed limit and maintenance alerts. Carloudy has a working prototype and is ready for full production. Their PR team will be in San Francisco next week giving demos to tech reporters.

The lightweight  Carloudy device weigh less than nine ounces and is about the size of greeting card (approx.: 6.5” x 5” x 0.4”). It rests on a driver’s dashboard.

Through voice commands, drivers interact with Carloudy through their smartphones and have key data displayed on any car’s windshield. Carloudy’s patent-pending design uses the reflective nature of its 6” electronic paper display (EPD) to harvest energy from external light sources – providing a clear, semi-transparent display on the windshield in all conditions (direct sunlight to darkness) without quickly depleting a battery or overheating. Competing products rely on a fan-cooled, energy-intensive projector to show images on a screen than can suck up power and also use the much needed charging port.

Carloudy is controlled by voice commands via Bluetooth on steering wheels—hands and fingers never have to leave the wheel.

“Carloudy fully integrates the driver with his or her car and the outside world by wirelessly connecting Carloudy to a smartphone and to the car’s computer with a Bluetooth OBDII adapter,” explained Javy Kong, Ph.D., founder of Cognitive AI Technologies Inc. “We designed Carloudy so drivers can safely interact with their smartphones and our system while driving. For example, we opted against gesture controls to eliminate distractions and accidental commands. As experts in cognitive science, we focused on the most useful information drivers need, using simple icons and images.”

Carloudy does not enable email, Twitter or texting, which Dr. Kong believes are distractions that put drivers and pedestrians at risk. Other Carloudy features include:

  • Use with both iOS (4S or later model iPhones) and Android smartphones.
  • Turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Works with Bluetooth-enabled audio controls and after-market Bluetooth controllers.
  • Speed and speed limit; parking and traffic information; gas station and restaurant searches.
  • Completely silent, with no moving parts.
  • Battery lasting weeks on a single charge.
  • One-year warranty and online customer support.
  • Designed with safety in mind by a Ph.D.-level expert in cognitive artificial intelligence.

HUD systems have been used in military aircraft, and high-performance and luxury cars. But Carloudy makes a HUD system available for any vehicle for an introductory, preorder price of $179 – nearly 40 percent less than several top competing products. Carloudy expects to deliver pre-orders by mid to late February 2016.

This device should not be confused with Navdy which has not been shipped to buyers since its launch announcement in August 2014.

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Apple CarPlay update available for Volvo XC90

VolvoCarPlayVolvo has made available updates to Apple CarPlay for the all Volvo XC90 currently being sold. Volvo Car Group announced in March that the all new 2016 Volvo XC90 will offer Apple CarPlay which they call the smarter, safer, more fun way to use iPhones in the car.

Update 12/2/2015 – Jim Nichols from Volvo stated in an email “Apple CarPlay is available to all retailers. All trim levels of the 2016 XC90 are eligible for an update and drivers can schedule a service appointment with their retailer for installation.”

Volvo drivers connect their iPhone in the car with the Lightning connector and Volvo’s on-board touch screen display allows them to intuitively access the iPhone apps they want to use in the car, such as Phone, Maps, Music and Messages, all seamlessly integrated and instantly available.

Volvo’s Sensus Connnect has a large 9″ touchscreen in the center stack that allows for use with gloves.

“Volvo has deeply integrated Apple Car Play in a way that allows drivers to still use most of the vehicles’ infotainment functions while benefiting from the Car Play environment. Applications can be accessed via Siri and drivers can choose to use either the car’s navigation system or maps via Car Play. In addition to the Car Play update, a Pandora application is also available on the XC90, which will allow drivers to use that service directly on the car’s large touchscreen,” said Jim Nichols, technology and product communiation manager, Volvo North America.

CarPlay takes up the bottom half of the screen while the Sensus Connect controls remain available on the top. Siri voice control can be accessed through the voice button on the steering wheel.

Volvo Cars’ infotainment system Sensus, received the ‘Most Innovative HMI System’ at the 2015 Car HMI Concept & Systems conference in Berlin.

Volvo Cars will offer an updated Volvo On Call smart app that can be controlled with an Apple Watch, Android Wear smartwatch, iPad or Windows Phone.

Volvo owners will automatically receive a 4-year subscription to Sirius Traffic and weather information with new Model Year 2015 Volvos with Sensus Connect.

AT&T and Volvo partnered for connected cars in the U.S. and Canada for wireless connectivity.

We have updated our Android Auto and Apple CarPlay chart to show the update from Volvo. Volvo, previously announced that Android Auto would be available, too. We will keep you posted as to when the update is available.

Recently, we were taken for a ride in a Volvo XC90, where, Jim Nichols, technology and product communications manager at Volvo showed how the system works while driving.