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Google I/O 2014 - Google has just announced what we've all been waiting for, Android Auto. Android Auto has seen Google "redesign the Android platform for automotive". Android Auto does pretty much everything, with navigation, communication and music being "front and center".
Android Auto is "contextually aware" and is of course, voice-enabled. An Android-powered smartphone can "cast" up onto the Android Auto screen, and is also compatible with steering wheel buttons, dials, and more. Android Auto features five tabs, from left-to-right we have: navigation, phone, Home, Music and an as-yet unidentified tab.
The University of South Florida is setting up a drone rental scheme that will allow students to borrow a UAV from their college.
Two DJI Phantom 2 Vision drones will be available for students to borrow, and the University expects they will be popular for a variety of reasons. For example, those studying architecture will be able to aerially check out buildings instead of having to use more traditional methods. "I see us working with all kinds of departments," director of academic services, Nancy Cunningham, said.
Any prospective pilots will have to take a course in safely operating the drones, and each time they are used staff will be on hand to make sure things go smoothly. The scheme will run from Fall 2014 at the Tampa campus library. It's the latest technological upgrade to the university, which installed a smart lab at the library in 2013.
When it comes to autonomous vehicles that can drive themselves, Google is the name that many think of. Google isn't the only major company working in the autonomous car market though. A company called Cruise is now taking pre-orders for a product called the RP-1 that will turn two Audi car models into self-driving cars. The RP-1 product works with the Audi A4 and S4 cars.
Cruise will begin to put the RP-1 on cars early next year with pre-orders underway right now for the first 50 RP-1 units. Cruise is working on making its self-driving tech compatible with other cars, with the product dubbed a highway autopilot.
Once the driver is in a lane on the highway, they can press a button and the RP-1 system will take over control of the accelerator, brake pedals, and steering. The system can be turned off easily if the driver takes over the steering wheel or taps the throttle pedal. The Cruise RP-1 accessory costs $10,000 and straps to the roof of the car.
Computex 2014 - Analogix is a company you might not have heard of, which is something we're going to dive into in the coming weeks. For now, you might have heard about their SlimPort technology, which is an incredibly powerful piece of kit that sits in some of the best smartphones and tablets on the market.
We stopped by the Analogix suite in the Grand Hyatt here in Taipei today, taking a look at their SlimPort Automotive Console technology. SlimPort Automotive Console is capable of plugging into the microUSB port on your smartphone or tablet, and turning the display on your in-car screen (if you have one) to a display that you can control your smartphone with.
The way this works, is that you plug your SlimPort-capable smartphone or tablet in, and then you can use your phone to control the in-car display, or vica versa. It's an incredible technology to see in-person, especially considering it's all being done over a tiny little microUSB port, and not some proprietary connection.
No matter whether you want them or not, driverless cars are coming, and they're coming quick. Ernest Moniz, the current Energy Secretary, is unleashing a $16 billion package from the Department of Energy that will push for driverless vehicles.
Moniz was in Detroit meeting with auto suppliers, where he said in an interview: "there was discussion about advanced traffic-management systems (and) autonomous driving". Moniz said that companies are looking into driverless cars, with the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan being a massive incentive.
This is thanks to the Department of Energy upgrading the criteria in which auto companies quality for loans, where it now includes driverless carmakers. With a bunch of money left in the DoE's loan guarantee program, there's much to go around to these companies to get driverless cars on the road. The last time we saw money handed out like this was when the government wanted to see automakers manufacturing fuel efficient, or hybrid vehicles - Tesla Motors being the example here, which borrowed $500 million, paying it off in full recently.
Google and other automakers have been testing autonomous vehicles around the country in an effort to get the tech ready for mainstream use in the coming years. While several states already have rules in place to allow the testing of autonomous vehicles on the road, California didn't, at least not until recently.
The California DMV has announced new rules that will allow the use of autonomous vehicles on the road. The new rules go into effect on September 16, 2014. The new rules say that a manufacturer that wants to test an autonomous vehicle has to apply for a testing permit.
Google has been working on self-driving cars for years now and it looks like the company is close to making the tech commercially viable. Google has been demonstrating the cars in California and the founder of Google X has said that it is "very actively" working on the technology with a major goal in sight.
Google wants the tech to be available for drivers in the next three years. Sergey Brin has said in the past that the tech for driverless cars could be available by 2017. One of the goals behind the autonomous car tech Google is working on is to make the cars safer for everyone on the road.
The current fastest train in the world is the Shanghai Maglev Train, which is capable of hitting speeds of 260 miles per hour (430 kmph), making it the world's fastest passenger-carrying train. But this could all change with the "Super-Maglev".
Chinese researchers at the Applied Superconductivity Laboratory of Southwest Jiaotong University claim that they have a new concept train that is based on magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology, which could transport passengers at three times the speed of a passenger airplane. The new "Super-Maglev" is a new concept train that is encased in a vacuum tube, which removes the speed limitations that air resistance puts on the regular Maglev trains.
If the project ends up being successful, a working prototype will be created as the new standard for the future evacuation tube transportation (ETT). Dr. Deng Zigang, who has been developing this technology for the last few years said: "ETT systems might allow HTS Maglev trains to attain speeds in a new order of magnitude, such as super-high 3,000 km (1,800 miles) per hour, which could be applied to some military or space launch systems". This new system could eventually link China with the United States, Canada and Russia - which would truly change the world.
Self-driving cars are the future of automotive transportation, and today one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world has announced that it's self-driving car program has entered the public road testing phase. Volvo announced this morning that it has begun road-testing its self-driving cars on public roads, and is happy to report that the cars can now handle most of the roadway duties autonomously.
"The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves," said Erik Coelingh, a technical specialist at Volvo. "This is an important step towards our aim that the final 'Drive Me' cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode."
PAPAGO! has mostly been known for its GoSafe Dash Camera line, but the company is looking to branch out into new territory with its latest product. The all new GoSafe Tire Pressure Monitoring System has been design to give users real-time data feedback on the air-pressure levels in their vehicles tires right onto the screen of their smartphone or tablet.
The GoSafe TPMS is designed to be user installed thanks to its innovative tire pressure monitors that screw right onto the valve stem easily and effortlessly. Users can then download the GoSafe TPMS app and connect it with the TPMS control box and see the tire pressure in real-time right on their smartphone.
"With the PAPAGO! GoSafe TPMS 500BT you now have the power to check your tire pressure as much as you would like, or every two weeks like you are supposed to. Easy to install, this device will ensure that you are driving your car with optimal tire pressure and keeping you safer on the road," PAPAGO said in a release. "Simply take out your smart mobile device open the APP, GoSafe TPMS, that comes with the device and inspect the accurate status of your tire pressure."