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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."
The super-powered Model X SUV has been delayed, with Tesla Motors expecting it to first hit the bitumen last year, with a delay to 2014, and then another delay to early 2015, but now we're hearing it won't be arriving until Q3 2015.
Tesla Motors has said that it won't start sales of the Model X until the electric vehicle is ready to "delight customers". Tesla Motors' founder, Elon Musk, added: "Doing so negatively affects the short term, but positively affects the long term". Working these issues out, according to Musk, will allow the electric car maker to make more Model X vehicles than it could make Model S vehicles back in 2012.
During the investors call, Musk said: "Making one of something is quite easy. We need to make a bunch to know it's [a problem] there". It seems that testing and validation are two of the big reasons behind the delay, but when you're talking about a vehicle that costs much more than what most people make in a year, you want as much testing as possible, right?
The increase of keyless entry and ignition is leading to criminal groups spoofing keys that can unlock doors and turn vehicles on. The United States and United Kingdom have both seen a rise in auto theft for these newer vehicles, as criminals are able to bypass the keyless security. Automakers are working diligently with insurance companies and law enforcement to find new methods to ensure these tactics can be limited - and keep the equipment in the hands of licensed mechanics.
"The criminal act of stealing vehicles through the re-programming of remote-entry keys is an on-going industry-wide problem," said Jaguar Land Rover. "Our lineup continues to meet the insurance industry requirements as tested and agreed with relevant insurance bodies. Nevertheless we are taking this issue very seriously and our engineering teams are actively working in collaboration with insurance bodies and police forces to solve this continuously evolving problem."
Although this most recent report was based in the UK, the US National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) also found a similar "spike" in stolen vehicles in the United States.
After Tesla was banned from selling vehicles in Michigan, there has been growing amazement why the company continues to focus on direct sales instead of working with car dealerships. It doesn't appear the automaker is interested in working with existing franchise owners, or bother working with new dealership owners, and wants to sell its luxury vehicles directly to customers - entirely cutting out the middleman.
"I think Elon wants to have full control of having the cars retailed through a system has total say over," said Karl Brauer, Kelley Blue Book analyst. "And, two, I think he enjoys the concept of upsetting the apple cart; he enjoys knowing that he's breaking existing conventions on every level."
Musk wants his company to have complete control of sales, rather than handing over control to dealerships, allowing the company to handle customer service problems quickly and efficiently. This ensures potential customers don't have a sour experience trying to work with a dealership looking to potentially strong-arm car buyers.
As expected, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed a controversial bill that will ban the sale of Tesla vehicles in the state. Michigan isn't a major target for Tesla at the moment, but the company has ambitious nationwide growth plans through 2020, providing less potential future customers.
"This bill does not, as some have claimed, prevent auto manufacturers from selling automobiles directly to consumers at retail in Michigan - because this is already prohibited under Michigan law," Snyder said to lawmakers.
Not surprisingly, GM was in favor of the anti-Tesla bill, as Michigan joins Texas and North Carolina, shutting Tesla out in the cold. Due to the state's current laws, along with major influence from Michigan automakers, it seems unlikely that the bill would be overturned anytime soon.