The US skies will be filled with drones in the coming decade (or less at this rate) but it looks like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks that privacy concerns should be pushed to the side. During a radio interview last week, Mayor Bloomberg essentially said that drones are an inevitable part of our future, comparing them to the thousands of cameras around Manhattan already in place. He said:
What's the difference whether the drone is up in the air or on the building? We're going into a different world, uncharted... you can't keep the tide from coming in.
Bloomberg continued, saying that our future will see more visibility and less privacy for citizens. Face recognition will be integrated into drone surveillance, where he wondered if a drone is that much more invasive than someone standing outside of your house. Bloomberg did tack on that legislation is needed, but warned against hasty action, saying "these are long-term, serious problems."
Recently I reported on Ford teaming up with Spotify to offer in-car hands-free music streaming, and it seems that Volvo is now jumping on that same bandwagon. The company announced today that it has teamed up with Spotify to bring forth a hands-free in-car music system.
Dubbed Sensus Connected Touch, the system will allow users to stream music via a 3G/4G connection and control everything with simple voice commands or a dash mounted touch screen. The system is powered by Android - Volvo promises to keep it updated regularly.
Other apps reported to work on the system are: Google Maps, iGO-Powered GPS and TuneIn Radio. The Sensus Connected Touch will be sold as a dealer option and will be available for the V40, V40 Cross Country, S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and S80 car models.
OnStar is a great service and, at times such as accidents and crashes, it can be a life saver. Unfortunately you need to own a GM vehicle manufactured in the last decade to be able to use the service. A new device dubbed Splitsecnd has changed that.
Splitsecnd is a dongle that plugs into your cars cigarette lighter and just sits there and waits to be triggered by a crash. Upon being triggered, the device uploads your location to emergency services and, much like OnStar, a company rep will contact you to check if you are safe, seriously injured, or unconscious and will relay the information to authorities.
SplitSecnd also comes with an emergency button that lets you dial 911 in the event of a medical emergency, or something like a attempted car jacking. The unit retails for about $200 and includes a $15 monthly service fee. My question is, why do we not have a similar system in every car manufactured today? Such a simple and cheap addition could save thousands of lives annually.
Spotify, everyone's favorite music streaming service, has finally made it's way into Ford vehicles with out the aid of pesky wires. The new in-car app will allow users to control Spotify through the car's dashboard using simple voice commands.
To take advantage of this new service, users must first be subscribers to Spotify Premium on their smartphone, and have a compatible Ford vehicle. Voice commands can be used to adjust the volume and access things like top playlists, your music library, similar music, starred songs and radio stations.
Since the music is actually streamed from your phone, you might want to take advantage of the offline playlist feature if driving in tunnels, or remote locations where cellular service is hard to acquire. Furthermore, the adoption of an unlimited data plan may be beneficial as well, as constant streaming of music chews through data rations.
It looks like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are looking to give their fighter jets yet another injection of supremacy with 150kW lasers that will be capable of taking missiles out of the sky.
The new weapons being attached to fighter jets are part of the defense agency's High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System and are reportedly being slapped onto jets as a defensive measure, specifically looking to take projectiles out of the sky - for example, surface-to-air missiles or any large projectile (incoming meteorites?). DARPA hope to have the new laser weapon attached to jets by 2014, with their first round of extreme tests before actual use.
This news is also coming directly from the US Pentagon and is being developed for the US Navy and Air Force, not only would future jets feature a laser, the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GS-ASI) would be building another laser system which would be in addition to the current laser system.
Google are working with self-driving cars, but they are not alone in their conquest for Johnny Cabs driving us anywhere we want while we update our Facebook status. Nissan have joined the self-driving ranks, opening up a new advanced research center in California.
The new R&D center will specialize in self-driving and connected cars, and when speaking to Bloomberg, Nissan's Senior VP for North America R&D, Carla Bailo, said that the new R&D facility will house over 60 engineers and technicians over the next three or so years, and that the move from Japan to the United States is about shifting Nissan's work "to the heart of the industry".
Nissan won't be alone, as they'll be facing competition in Silicon Valley with Toyota and Volkswagon - and just a little self-drive away in Mountain View, Google. Nissan will also enjoy the resources that Stanford University's automotive labs has, as well as the University of California's Berkeley and Davis campuses.
New York Times reviewer John Broder is in some serious hot water after his review of Tesla'a latest electric car review, the Model S, has been found with a bunch of holes. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has come out, saying that Broder was prejudiced against electric cars right form the start, and did everything in his power to make the Model S electric car look bad for the road.
The onboard logs showing what charge the Model S had during the reviewers journey, as well as his recharge habits, point toward Broder taking the car off the power connection earlier than he stated in his review. Musk says:
The final leg of his trip was 61 miles and yet he disconnected the charge cable when the range display stated 32 miles. He did so expressly against the advice of Tesla personnel and in obvious violation of common sense.
The UK military are using tiny helicopters, and by tiny, I'm talking just 4-inch by 1-inch in size. They're using them to grab information on conflict activity in Afghanistan.
The tiny helicopters sport even tinier cameras which take pictures and record video, blasting them back down to handlers on the ground. The helicopters are perfect for hovering around a corner or over a wall to spot targets that would otherwise not be seen. Britain is the first country to deploy these drones into conflict situations.
While they may be tiny, they have a very big name - "The Black Hornet", yeah. Seargent Christopher Petherbridge of the UK's Brigade Reconnaissance Force said that The Black Hornet definitely "adds value, especially considering the light weight nature of it". He elaborated with Sky News:
We used it to look for insurgent fire points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing. It is very easy to operate and offers amazing capability to the guys on the ground.
Last summer Apple announced that it was working with car manufacturers on a new "Eyes Free" mode for Siri. The new feature would integrate with voice command buttons that are increasingly being found in new car models.
"Eyes Free" would allow users to interact with Siri without ever touching or looking at the device screen. At the time Apple said it was working with BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda on the initiative. Today it looks like Honda is the first to bring the new feature to market.
From Honda's press release:
American Honda today announced it will integrate support for Siri, the intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking, into its 2013 Honda Accord and Acura RDX and ILX models as a dealer installed option. Later this year, owners with a compatible iPhone running iOS 6 can direct Siri to perform a number of specific tasks while they safely keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. Using Eyes Free mode, Siri takes hands-free functionality even further and minimizes distractions even more by keeping your iOS device's screen from lighting up.
NEDRA dons the Tesla Model S as the 'world's quickest production electronic vehicle', can run a 1/4 mile in 12 seconds
It looks like the Tesla Model S car is a little faster than most had expected, after it completed a quarter mile sprint in just 12.371 seconds. The trial took place at the Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida.
After the race, the National Electric Drag Racing Association awarded the Tesla Model S with their badge for "the quickest production vehicle" in quarter mile tests. The vehicle managed to reach a 12-second average after multiple spins around the track from its 416HP electric engine.
That's not bad at all for an electric car, and even better considering a single charge will give you 350 miles of driving.
Chevrolet's new Corvette C7 Stingray is making headlines across the net, and now we get a glimpse at the sports car's high-tech 8-inch customizable instrument cluster. In the video below, Autoblog gives us a quick overview of the new dash cluster.
Behind the bright red super car's steering wheel is a high resolution screen that can display three different layouts: sport, touring and race. Sport mode locates the tachometer to the center, while touring slides it to the side to make room for navigation, and race mode morphs the tachometer into a vibrant ascending bar graph.
The modes can be configured to display many different details ranging from g-force to lap times. Dash displays like this have been shown off before, but this new display is certainly something all other high-end sports car makers are sure to be envious of.
Delphi, a company most known for its vehicle based electronics has teamed up with Verizon and released a new device that lets you remotely monitor, track and control your car.
The Bluetooth-enabled "Car Connect" device plugs into your car's OBD2 port. Once drivers install the device, they can then connect to it on their smart phone via a custom app.
The app is available on both Android and iOS allows them to monitor their vehicle's fuel levels, engine temperature, and other vital signs. The app will also notify drivers of any error codes that may prompt them to check their engines. An onboard GPS chip will allow real time vehicle tracking if the car is stolen. The app is also able to unlock and lock the car as well as remotely starting the vehicle from afar.
Kia, the Korean car manufacturer is said to teaming up with Google to offer its Google Maps and Places on the companies UVO eServices in car electronics system.
The new setup will debut in the 2013 Sorento CUV model, which will be arriving in late Q1 of this year. The updated UVO system will allow users to sync up directions and locations from their smart phones, PCs, or the web.
The car will also be able to find you interesting things to visit using Google Places. Existing music management, hands free features, and improved voice recognition will also be taking stage in the improved UVO system.
Nissan Leaf owners just got a huge Christmas present from Nissan. The company has modified its warranty clause for Leave Electric Vehicles, promising to restore battery capacity for any cars that fall below a certain threshold within five years or 60,000 miles.
Executive Vice President Andy Palmer announced the new policy Thursday, telling Leaf owners that Nissan would "repair or replace" any lithium-ion battery that drops below nine out of the 12 available bars - about 70 percent of its original capacity.
The new warranty is set to go into effect in the spring of 2013 and would apply to the 2011, 1012, and 2013 models. At first the coverage will only be available to US markets, but Nissan plans to extend coverage to other markets soon.
Governments and the military use unmanned aerial drones all the time, but there's going to come a day very, very soon where the normal person will be able to hire out one of these drones for use.
Of course, it all starts in Japan with Secom to soon lease out surveillance drones to clients in 2014. The drones will be dispatches out the second a break-in or other similar crimes are detected, where it will jump into the skies and patrol the area. The drone will have a much better chance of getting footage of the event, compared to traditional fixed-place cameras.
The drone will track motion through it's built-in laser, and they should hit rental abilities by April 2014 for around $58 a month. Not too bad at all, if you ask me.
South Korean automaker Hyundai are looking to jump right into the future with some NFC-powered technology for their new vehicles over the coming years. Hyundai's new Connectivity Concept will let drivers control various features in their car through an NFC-powered smartphone.
Allan Rushforth, SVP and COO of Hyundai Motor Europe has said:
Hyundai's Connectivity Concept showcases the brand's philosophy of making tomorrow's technology accessible to a wide range of customers. With this technology, Hyundai is able to harness the all-in-one functionality of existing smartphone technology and integrating it into everyday driving in a seamless fashion. As the technology continually develops there will be capabilities to store driver's seating positions and exterior mirror settings, providing customers with a comfortable and individual driving environment.
If you're someone who likes your privacy, this news won't be good for you. Federal regulators are proposing that all new automobiles sold in the US after September 2014 to come featured with a black box.
These black boxes, or as they're called "event data recorders", record everything a driver does. From the speed the car is going, the number of people in the car, and the location of the car itself at all times. You do have a chance to have your voice heard, where on February 11, the National Transportation Safety Agency will hear your comments on its proposal that will see them pushed into all vehicles.
Congress has donned the agency with the power to set the motor safety rules. The regulators' intentions are for safety - but they can be used for much worse things - such as data collection. During "events", such as a car accident, the black box would record all of the last-minute happenings such as sudden breaking, acceleration, swerving or anything else that might lead up to, or cause an accident.
Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies, but I've never been a big fan of Lego. Well, it looks like Lego have announced Back to the Future merchandise, some thirty years since the movie's release.
Lego have officially approved and will provide the above Back to the Future Delorean set which they've taken to their own Kickstarter-like page, Lego Cuusoo.
On Lego Cuusoo, fans have the ability to design and create Legos and once 10,000 other fans endorse it, it officially goes up to the Lego review board. Lego have announced that the BTTF design has been approved, and will see a 2013 release.
Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed that auto manufacturers be required to install "black box" data recorders into all new cars and light trucks beginning on September 1, 2014. However, this proposal isn't fully needed as most manufacturers already include these in some form.
The real issue is the protections of this data. If the government is requiring logging of all this data, there needs to be protections put in place, argue some. The information gathered usually only consists of the last 5 to 10 seconds before a crash and includes information such as speed, whether the brake was applied, steering inputs and a variety of other metrics.
The information can be used to help design safer vehicles as well as determine fault in an accident. However, these black boxes don't tell the full story because they don't record what's going on outside, such as weather, animals, or other potentially dangerous events.
"Basically your car is a computer now, so it can record all kinds of information," said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers. "It's a lot of the same issues you have about your computer or your smartphone and whether Google or someone else has access to the data."
Technology in vehicles truly is "the next iPhone" in terms of helping us with our day-to-day lives... but Volvo have some grand plans for the future. The automaker is already one of the safest car producers in the world, but their latest statements should build excitement for a lot of people.
Volvo would like to keep this reputation, by introducing technology into their vehicles that would avoid passenger injuries on their own by 2020 - yes, by the end of this decade, just over eight years from now.
The head of development for the program has said that the driver-less cars are the future and that Volvo will be the first one there. Volvo's herbs and spices to reach this lofty goal is wireless Internet, which enables the cars to be assigned a certain point on the road, and give different vehicles the ability to interact with one another.
Volvo are to release a bunch of autonomous vehicles in 2014, which will be capable of speeds of up to 31 miles per hour.
Japan unveils prototype that will offer 311mph train that floats above its track, powered by magnets
Last week, the Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) unveiled a new prototype that is capable of delivering the fastest train service to Japan. The Series Lo prototype is powered by magnetic levitation (maglev), where the train will float above the tracks thanks to the power of magnets.
The new train will run from Tokyo to Nagoya and will reach speeds of 500kmph, or 311mph. The sad thing is, maglev-powered transportation has been around for over 100 years, with the first relevant patent issued all the way back in 1905.
There are currently two commercial systems in service today, the first of which began operation in Shanghai in 2004, which was followed by a Japanese system dubbed Linimo in 2005. Linimo is capable of just 60mph, just 20% of the speed of the proposed new maglev-powered train from JR Tokai.