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Automakers are embracing technology in vehicles, while creating lucrative partnerships with tech companies in Silicon Valley. Companies are interested in manufacturing smarter vehicles, and traditional auto companies don't want to be caught out in the emerging trend.
Software reportedly accounts for up to 25 percent of vehicle manufacturing now, according to the IHS Automotive industry researcher - and automakers are adding connected features at a fast pace.
"What happened with the mobile industry with the smartphone is about to happen with the car," said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of NVIDIA. "Your car is going to be one delightful computer rolling down the street."
Tesla is going to unveil a new product line on April 30, and it won't be a new car. Earlier in the year, Tesla CTO JB Straubel promised an upcoming event that would likely focus on a battery able to power a home or business. Straubel also said the product would likely be in production within six months.
Musk outlined details of the event via Twitter:
Major new Tesla product line -- not a car -- will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2015
Valeo, a well-known French automotive parts manufacturer, is utilizing technology from defense contractor Safran, in an effort to provide self-driving vehicle software technology by 2020. Valeo wants to provide carmakers with applications in the next three years, as autonomous vehicles are on the horizon.
Both companies fitted a Volkswagen CC for a live demonstration, and the vehicle was equipped with radar, lidar and camera systems - able to adapt to slow-moving and stopped vehicles, live traffic lights, and posted speed limits.
"We realized very quickly that we had much more in common than we'd expected," said Guillaume Devauchelle, innovation chief for Valeo, in a statement to Reuters. "It turns out than an autonomous vehicle is really a terrestrial drone."
Autonomous vehicles appear to be on the horizon in the United States, but one-third of drivers say they would never purchase a self-driving car, according to a recent Harris Poll.
In addition, more than one third of respondents believe autonomous vehicles might actually be the future of driving, and one quarter think the self-driving cars mimic something out of the Jetsons. Drivers can't seem to agree how safe autonomous vehicles are, with 52 percent revealing they think they are dangerous, while 48 percent believe it's safe for vehicle occupants.
Looking ahead, automakers will be able to sell autonomous vehicles when they work out the "bugs" involved, though one-third of drivers said they would never consider purchasing a self-driving car.
The newest version of the Ford S-Max vehicle has an intelligent speed limiter that is able to read traffic signs and adjust the throttle. Using a custom traffic sign recognition system, the brake pedal doesn't need to be used to slow down the vehicle - with electronic signals sent to control engine torque.
The Ford S-Max will be available this August, and should be implemented in Ford vehicles worldwide. Drivers can adjust the system so they are able to drive up to 5 mph over the speed limit.
"There's a plan for speed restrictions to be beamed to your car's computer systems and controlled from there, rather than requiring street sign visual recognition systems," said Paul Newton, automotive industry analyst at IHS, in a statement published by BBC. "This would be part of an extension of the networks that will connect vehicles, allowing cars to warn those behind them if they are slowing down, which is all part of a move toward autonomous vehicles that drive themselves."
The next generation of mass-market electric cars will have at least double the driving range of today's vehicles, aiming for at least 200 miles between charges. Tesla is currently the front runner, but Ford, Nissan, Volkswagen and General Motors all want to race past 200 miles on a single charge.
The $81,000 Tesla Model S can reach 265 miles on a single charge, but the $81,000 vehicle is clearly out of range for most drivers. Competing vehicles can get anywhere from 75 to 85 miles on a single charge, and it looks like auto buyers suffer from range anxiety. Just 0.4 percent of new vehicles sold in 2014 were electric vehicles, amounting to 67,700 of the 16.5 million new cars and trucks.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes the "sweet spot" for range threshold is somewhere around 250 to 350 miles, and 200 miles is still the minimum threshold.
The Model S might be getting the headlines lately, but the super-secret Model X has been spotted out on a highway in Palo Alto, California. You can see the blurry, and very quick video of this below.
The design is unfinished, so we're looking at a prototype that is probably closer to the consumer model than we've seen previously. The next-gen doors look great, reminding me of the DeLorean from Back to the Future. Elon Musk, the real-life Tony Stark, has said that the Model X will be unveiled later this year, and released to consumers in 2016.
More than 86 percent of vehicles will have Internet connectivity by 2017, according to the IHS research group. The trend will only continue in the future, as it's predicted that every vehicle sold in the U.S. will be connected by 2021.
General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Nissan, BMW, and other automakers offer a variety of different connected features, ranging from infotainment systems to streaming radio. In addition, it's becoming easier to sync smartphones and other mobile devices, so hands-free calls, navigation, and other apps can be utilized.
"It's a sign of the times we live in where personal wireless connectivity is kind of a part of life," said Richard Wallace, director at the Transportation System Analysis of the Center for Automotive Research, in a statement to CBS News. "We just want to be able to get such data out of the cloud wherever we are and whenever we want it."
Delphi plans to show off the true potential of autonomous vehicle technology when its driverless car begins a cross-country trip later today, leaving California and heading to New York. A driver will be present to take over in case of an emergency.
The 3,500-mile journey will be used so engineers are able to collect valuable live data that can further enhance the self-driving car technology. The vehicle is able to accurately navigate a 4-way stop, safely pass cyclists, and merge and exit highways on its own.
"Delphi had great success testing its car in California and on the streets of Las Vegas," said Jeff Owens, chief technology officer of Delphi. "now it's time to put our vehicle to the ultimate test by broadening the range of driving conditions. This drive will help us collect invaluable data in our quest to deliver the best automotive grade technologies on the market."
Fully autonomous vehicles could be on the road by 2020, and the technology is developing rapidly, although some researchers note that self-driving vehicles aren't as safe as human drivers just yet.
"It's a highly disruptive technology that's coming on a lot faster than people expect," said Barrie Kirk, exezcutive director of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence group, in a statement to CBC. "Humans, generally, are poor drivers."
However, researcher Steve Shladover, from the Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH) program at the University of California, believes it's only a matter of time before a major accident occurs: "Think about things like mobile phones and laptop computers... they don't run nearly that long without failures... but we're expecting a car to now operate that long without a failure in a very complicated environment?"