Can Augmented Dashboards Become a Thing?

Augmented Reality dashboards (AR) are an extremely far off form of technology, however when the auto industry finally masters this concept I feel that it could be incredibly beneficial to the safety of drivers, and it’s also a crazy cool idea.

This article throws out the idea of a having a dashboard or windshield that can basically tell the driver things they may not notice. It would be able to identify things in front of a driver, getting too close to a car, traffic up ahead, etc. The driver can see what is happening but the AR would give more information that the driver may not know. The example the article gives is if you are coming up on a far too fast, a red box would appear around the car with arrows pointing you to get in the next lane to pass them instead of colliding. It could highlight the lane you need to be in and show you where you need to go without taking your eyes off the road to look at a GPS. Also being researched is the possible idea that engineers could wear AR glasses to look at an engine and it would show them what needed to be fixed and how to fix it step by step.

This technology is a long way from being installed but the concept seems to be very useful. Honestly, this would also be so cool because it’s like something out of a movie. I feel like this could be a great investment when it comes to safety. The technology isn’t “in charge” so I think people would be very open to this. On the other hand some people may not want to be told how to drive by the car itself, it could annoy them. It would be like a backseat driver and no one likes those.


Google Self-Driving Cars

Self-driving cars are an idea that confuses and scares most people. How do we know the car won’t crash? How do we know if we’ll get to the right place? In California and Nevada, Google has been test driving these cars on public highways and other roads. The car is supposed to record images on the road, their internal technology is supposed to be able to see road signs and stop lights before a person can, and find alternative ways to get where you are going. It uses a combination of radars, lasers, and cameras to analyze its surroundings faster than a person can.

A plus side to this self-driving car, according to this article, is the possible decrease in traffic and accidents. Self-driving cars would be able to “platoon”, a group of cars drive fairly close together and drive as one. The cars could communicate to one another and react at the same times.

In my opinion, this technology seems absolutely crazy. I hate the idea of a car driving me on its own. Technology fails all the time. My IPhone is amazing and I love it, however it messes up constantly. It has glitches, it freezes up, sometimes it can be very slow, and putting yourself in a car that “drives” itself doesn’t seem like a safe decision at all. I use Google maps continually on my phone and there have been countless times that it doesn’t take me to where I actually need to go. It’s extremely frustrating when it cannot find the address I type in or it doesn’t find a specific place; when I know that it’s there I just don’t know how to get there! The majority of the time when I am using this app it will freeze in the middle and re-route and it takes a few seconds to get back on track. With all of this in mind, how the hell can someone want to put themselves in a car that is completely driven by technology?Image

Senate committee votes to keep driver black box data private

The Senate Commerce Committee has approved legislation that will protect the information on automotive Event Data Recorders, also know as black boxes. Senators Amy Klobuchar (MN) and John Hoeven (ND) proposed these rules last year. The legislation states the information in the black boxes is that of the owner, and therefore they are the only person entitled to that data.

There are a few exceptions to the rule though: the information can still be accessed if authorized by a court or with the consent of the owner. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can collect data from the black boxes for issues related to recalls, but they cannot disclose personal information in the process. And lastly, law enforcement may use the data if needed following a crash.

Black boxes track data like speed, braking, airbag deployment and location, and over 90 percent of vehicles have them installed.

This is likely welcome news to many Americans who feel like their privacy has been compromised over the years, especially in light of the leaks concerning the NSA monitoring data. Not everyone thinks that the benefits that could come from these black boxes is an equal trade-off for the intrusion that they provide. Hopefully this decision to make the car owner (or lessee) the owner of the information in the black box, will put people at ease.

In a statement on his website, Senator Hoeven commented that, “EDRs can serve a useful function by helping to make cars and streets safer, but access to the data should be treated as personal except under very specific circumstances.” The alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents several companies including Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and Volkswagen, has given support the committee’s decision. It appears that everyone involved, both car owners and manufacturers, agree on the importance of an individual’s privacy in this situation.

New Normal For Recall Numbers?

Already in 2014 there have been around 11 million cars recalled in the United States.  General Motors alone has recalled 6 million cars, and only 2 million for their faulty ignition switches, leaving another 4 million of GM’s cars having some other fault.  To compare, last year alone there were 22 million cars recalled, leaving 2014 already halfway to last years total number.  However in 2004 there was a record 30.8 million cars recalled, and hopefully that record will stand.  GM is not the only major car company to have recalls on their vehicles this year.  Jeep, Nissan, Honda, and Ford are also in the mix adding to more US cars being recalled every day.

Is it just becoming a norm to have cars recalled?  The article talked about how these numbers are becoming the new normal for recalls.  It is outrageous that 11 million cars in not even 4 months can be recalled for any reason, safety or paint flaw.  The article alludes to the fact that automakers are becoming “more willing to do recalls today than five years ago because of the fear of the wrath of federal regulators.”  It shouldn’t be that they have fear of federal regulators, they need to have fear of the customer!  If a car is unsafe or has a flaw, don’t fix it because the government told you to, fix it for the safety and satisfaction of the customer!

The article also mentions how Toyota has agreed this year to pay a $1.2 billion dollar fine to settle a four year federal investigation because they didn’t tell regulators about safety complaints of sudden random acceleration in their cars, as well as another $66 million for not recalling their vehicles properly.  It is unbelievable that a company can get away with such negligence that they basically ignore laws and safety features.  What has happened to the responsibility of companies?  Today companies, especially car manufactures are creating unsafe products because they know they can get away with slipping and nothing will happen more than a fine.  Something needs to happen to show that negligence such as GM, Toyota, and other manufacturers cannot and will not be tolerated by the consumer or the government.,0,7939088.story#axzz2ysA0rwt6

Percentage of Americans without personal automobiles close to 10%


In an article by the Detroit Bureau, the number of Americans with vehicles has been estimated to be close to 10% in 2012. This estimation matters to us as a class in what it can possible tell us. Over 20 years ago in 1991, that number stood close to 5.7%. In roughly two decades, it has doubled. The article speculates on the relation between this growing trend and the market shortcomings in the 2000’s.

One of the main possibilities of the future of the automobile involves car sharing or a better version of mass transit. An argument against that is that we, as Americans, simply like having our own cars. This data shows to us that perhaps we were overstating this fact. If people are driving and owning personal vehicles less and less, then the door is open for an alternative. Take Zip Car for example. If people are open to not owning a car, then they still have to find a way to get around. This would mean they would be more accepting of car services that work around this fact. Should that be the case, then perhaps the future will not involve a better type of car, but rather a better way to access these cars. If this is true, it almost creates a market demand for a good, safe alternative.

Either way, there are many different possible outcomes from the lessening of personal vehicles. If this trend continues, then the future of the automobile could be completely different than we first believed.




Carbon Fiber’s Future in Cars

Until very recently, carbon fiber has been a material reserved for military vehicles, sporting equipment, and hypercars like Koenigsegg. BMW aims to change that. Having recently partnered with SGL, a carbon fiber manufacturer, BMW has plans to open their own plant to produce this strong, light material in the state of Washington. With a move that hearkens back to the days when Ford Motor Company made their own steel, BMW estimates they will be able to acquire carbon fiber at a third of the market price.

Carbon fiber is a material made up of a variety of tiny threads pressed together and heated. It is incredibly sturdy and resilient, and at the same time weighs half as much as steel. The material is expected to become the car material of the future. Some have postulated that it will have a drastic effect on the insurance world, as collisions will be less likely to even damage cars as technology progresses.

BMW will be releasing the i3, an electric vehicle, and the i8, a hybrid, as the first widely available almost fully carbon fiber car. The i3 is predicted to have a new price of $33,000. This marks the first time carbon fiber can be within the price range of middle class families. Not only that, the lost weight on the i3 increases its effective range to 100 miles. The i3 will lose 550 pounds from its overall weight.

As carbon fiber advances it will, hopefully, become cheaper to produce. While it may be the single best material to make cars out of, it is costly and time consuming to make. BMW has found a way to lower that cost and this may mark the beginning of a new era in car manufacturing. This recent progress bodes well for the future of this wonder material in the automobile world.

Land Rover and their “Invisible Car” Technology

“Revealed at the 2014 New York auto show, Land Rover presents its transparent bonnet virtual imaging concept. The system will provide new level of driver awareness with a ‘see-through’ augmented reality view of the terrain ahead, making the front of the car virtually invisible from inside the cabin. The technology provides full visibility of what is underneath and in front of the car, with total clarity of otherwise hidden obstacles” (Design Boom).

Cameras placed inside of the hood of the car create a “see-through” view of the road through the hood of the car. The ‘transparent bonnet’ enables a driver climbing a steep incline or maneuvering in a confined space to see an augmented reality view capturing the terrain in front of the car, but also the angle and position of the front wheels.

“As our vehicles become more capable and offer increasing autonomy off-road, we will ensure the driver has the confidence to progress over any terrain,” says Dr. Wolfgang Epple, Land Rover’s director of R&D. “We are developing new technologies including the Transparent Hood to give drivers an augmented view of reality to help them tackle anything from the toughest off-road route to the tight confines of urban parking.” (Watch The New Land Rover Discovery Make Itself Invisible). It appears that Land Rover wants to debut this technology as a way to make “off-roading” easier and more convenient, but to me it seems like customers will be more likely to use it while trying to park in the mall parking lot.

I do not know whether this new technology will be successful or not. I know that I, as a consumer, would not want to spend the money on something like this. To me, it seems like an unnecessary luxury, and I feel as though I could put my money towards much more useful and practical things.