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BMW and Tesla both want to create new in-vehicle technologies that can be controlled using smartwatches, with unique features available to auto buyers. The BMW i3 would allow drivers to essentially park a vehicle using a smartwatch, using a mobile app paired with the Remote Valet Parking Assistant feature in the BMW. The app is able to guide vehicles into a parking spot on its own.
The BMW Remote Valet Parking Assistant uses active laser sensors that scan the immediate vicinity to verify the vehicle won't accidentally run into anything. However, there is a "possibility of entirely collision-free driving," indicating the system still isn't exactly full-proof.
Tesla's Model S already has built-in self-driving features so vehicles can park themselves, and incorporating these features in a smartwatch could prove extremely valuable.
The 2016 Cadillac CT6 will include a custom rearview mirror that provides high-resolution streaming video, so drivers can have an enhanced rearward vision. The camera will be located on the CT6's rear bumper and will be able to stream directly to the mirror, increasing the driver field of vision up to four times over just a regular rearview mirror, researchers say.
General Motors partnered with Gentex Corp for the mirror and Sharp for the HD camera and video processing technology. New vehicles have a large focus on infotainment and navigation features, but safety features are a major push forward for connected vehicles.
"The closest comparison to this kind of rear vision would be driving a convertible with the top down," said Travis Hester, Cadillac CT6 executive chief engineer, in a press statement.
Google wants to see its Android mobile operating system built directly into connected cars, hoping drivers and passengers are able to enjoy connectivity even before connecting their smartphones. If this occurs in 2015, it would be a major step beyond just the Google Android Auto software - and the first wave of vehicles should be available sometime in 2015.
Despite increased interest in connected vehicles, Google still has remained relatively quiet about its long-term Android plans in vehicles. However, Android M should have a major role in providing connected features to drivers. If everything goes according to Google's plan, Android will evolve into the major platform used to power infotainment and navigation for connected cars.
"It provides a much stronger foothold for Google to really be part of the vehicle rather than being an add-on," said Thilo Koslowski, VP and Automotive Practice Leader of Gartner, in a statement published by Reuters.
Automaker Ford recently introduced the Sync 3 communications and infotainment system for its newer vehicles. Microsoft's Windows Embedded helped create the software backbone for earlier generations of Sync, but Ford has chosen BlackBerry and its QNX operating system for the new Sync 3. Drivers and passengers of Ford vehicles released in 2015, starting with 2016 models, should notice better performance while using the Sync 3 system.
"Our focus on the Sync 3 system was to provide the best infotainment solution to the customer," said Alan Hall, Ford spokesperson, in a statement to the E-Commerce Times. "We listened to customers to meet their expectations and that's what led to these technology choices."
As newer vehicles begin to adopt more interactive infotainment systems, Ford - and other automakers - have been able to boost sales, as drivers blend newer features with smartphones, tablets, and built-in technologies.
German researchers are working on something called the Alcohol Language Corpus, which is a database that contains drunk speech patterns, which is the first of its kind.
In the United States, some states use the Ignition Interlock Device, but the Alcohol Language Corpus could add to the IID, amplifying its protection against drunk people getting into their cars, and driving them. The ALC technology would prevent a driver from driving their car if they sounded drunk.
Before the ALC can be pushed out for use in the real-world, there needs to be more languages built into its database. As it stands, it is filled with speech tidbits from 162 German-speaking males and females.
Audi is developing an electric vehicle that will be able to hold five passengers and travel up to 280 miles on a single charge, as the automaker takes aim at Tesla. It's unknown if the new EV will be based on current Audi models, or be a unique model designed specifically for the unique engine and battery. The vehicle is scheduled for release in 2017.
"Such a car is under development," confirmed Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Audi head of technical development. "I was able to engineer the R8 e-tron project and technology with the team and we are on the way to a range of 450 kilometers. Let's say that technology will also be carried over and is a trailer for another car with long range."
The Tesla S has a range up to 300 miles, easily outpacing other current electric vehicles, but Audi's efforts will give the San Francisco Bay Area automaker a true rival.
Toyota will begin testing its autonomous vehicles on open roads starting in December, using a system compromised of six laser radar devices mixed with higher-accuracy map data. The vehicle is able pass through electronic toll collection gates and main roads, while safely maintain its lane location.
"We will actively continue the development of autonomous driving technologies, but we are considering commercializing autonomous driving technologies that do not change the sovereignty of the driver," said Moritaka Yoshida, Toyota Chief Safety Technology Officer. "For Toyota, advanced driving assist technologies are for safety and realizing zero traffic deaths."
Last year, Toyota publicly showed its automated highway driving assist (AHDA) technology, with the ability for the car to automatically control gas and steering.
The United States military and automakers are stepping up their security protocols to ensure connected vehicles are safe from hackers - and even terrorism - as newer vehicles increase Internet connectivity. As the federal government wants vehicles to be able to send one another alerts of road hazards and traffic problems, trying to keep vehicles secure remains difficult.
No public reports have been released that hackers have been able to hack connected vehicles among public owners yet - but private tests have indicated there are major loopholes. For example, a group of cybersecurity researchers revealed they can create a solution that can unlock a vehicle's networks to be exploited.
As more American drivers purchase and drive vehicles with Internet functionality, the effort to ensure vehicles remain secure from outside influence will be a major effort for years to come.
Automakers are pushing ahead with self-driving, autonomous vehicles, but 65 percent of drivers believe these vehicles are "a dangerous idea," according to a Harris poll conducted for AutoTrader.com. However, drivers are interested in automatic collision avoidance, parking assistance, and other features, with 61 percent saying they would consider buying cars with these features.
Despite public concern - and growing interaction with US lawmakers - automakers will continue to push ahead with autonomous vehicles. It will take some time before these types of self-driving cars will be available to the general public, and swarm the open road, but it appears that is the next step in the coming years.
There will be a continued blend of technology inside vehicles, with in-dash video, GPS, smartphone-enabled features, and similar perks being integrated into new vehicles.
Toyota will jump into the emissions-free, hydrogen-powered vehicle market with the launch of Mirai next month in Japan. The vehicle will debut in the United States and Europe and while the $57,600 price tag will scare many potential buyers away, there will only be several hundred released in Japan, as Toyota tests the waters.
The Japanese automaker hopes Mirai is the first successful step to help bring fuel cells to the mainstream - and prices will drop as technological breakthroughs occur - as interest in next-generation vehicles continues to increase.
"In time, the fuel cell vehicle will become mainstream. We wanted to take the first step," said Mitsuhisa Kato, Toyota executive vice president, in a recent statement. "We want to beat the leading edge."