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Consumers Demanding New Safety and Autonomous Driving Features

Google takes the lead in autonomous driving.

by on Nov.12, 2015

A new Google car negotiates traffic.

While traditional attributes, like good fuel economy, remain important to American auto shoppers, the focus is shifting. Buyers are putting more and more emphasis on high-tech safety features and looking forward to a wave of new autonomous technologies coming to market in the near future, according to a new study.

Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and General Motors all have announced plans to begin rolling out semi-autonomous features, starting in 2016, and Tesla just began remotely updating its Model S sedans to use its AutoPilot system, which permits hands-free driving on well-marked, limited-access highways. But a second study says it’s a new entrant to the automotive world, tech giant Google, that has taken the lead in self-driving technology.

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“No other company has as much relevant technology to advance autonomous driving software,” says Egil Juliussen, PhD., senior research director at IHS Automotive and author of one of the new reports. “Google is in a unique position to provide the software and map infrastructure to allow mobility services to anyone — via fleets of driverless cars — within a decade or less.”

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Nissan Won’t Wait for 2020 to Begin Rolling Out Autonomous Technologies, Says Ghosn

New study forecasts annual sales of 95 mil self-driving cars by 2035.

by on Jul.17, 2014

A prototype Nissan Leaf autonomous vehicle negotiates traffic at a simulated urban intersection.

Betting on huge demand from motorists in the world’s increasingly crowded mega-cities, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has laid out an aggressive timetable for bringing the maker’s autonomous vehicles to market.

Even before the first of those self-driving cars goes on sale in 2020, said Ghosn, Nissan will launch new technologies, such as automated lane controls and highway traffic management systems that will begin to supplement the driver behind the wheel.

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We're Not on Autopilot!

Nissan is aiming to take the lead in the development of autonomous technologies but is likely to face a battle as other automakers enter the field – as well as tech giant Google which will begin launching field tests this year of a new prototype self-driving vehicle it has developed. The race could find a willing public, according to a new study by Navigant Research forecasting annual sales of autonomous vehicles could reach 95 million by 2035.

“By the end of 2016, Nissan will make available the next two technologies under its autonomous drive strategy,” said Mr. Ghosn.

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Self-Driving Vehicles Face Plenty of Obstacles

Even mainstream vehicles are becoming more autonomous.

by on Jun.03, 2014

A production version of Google's autonomous vehicle prototype could be on the road by 2020 - maybe.

Google has announced plans to build 100 autonomous vehicles, with a goal of getting the technology into production by 2020, about the same time Nissan hopes to have its own self-driving cars on the road.

But not everyone is so upbeat, and some experts caution it could take another two decades before such vehicles can overcome the cultural and technical challenges that loom ahead for autonomous motoring.

Beyond the Headlines!

Art Wheaton, an automotive industry expert and senior lecturer at Cornell University, said the announcement by Google for their autonomous vehicle may be “a trend for the near future,” but he cautioned that “I highly doubt individual car owners will give up their freedom to drive anywhere, anytime for the Google car.”

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Autobrake Systems Earn 8 Models Top Safety Ratings

Collision warning technology showing marked improvement.

by on May.29, 2014

The 2014 Chevrolet Impala is one of four GM models on the IIHS list, and the only mainstream vehicle.

While autonomous vehicles may still be years away from production, one of the key technologies that will allow vehicles to drive on their own already has begun to find their way into today’s production vehicles, helping eight 2014 models earn top ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The group includes seven luxury vehicles and one large mainstream model. Notably, a full half of the vehicles that earned the IIHS Superior rating are built by General Motors, a company that has been struggling to salvage its reputation in the wake of an ignition switch scandal and the recall of nearly 14 million vehicles since January, more than in any single year in its history.

We'll Keep You Safe!

All eight of the top-rated models share at least one critical technology: forward collision warning with auto-braking. That is a step up from earlier models that could detect a potential crash and warn the driver. The newer systems also can apply the brakes if a driver doesn’t respond quickly enough.

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IIHS Names America’s Safest Cars

Unexpected absences as the list shrinks from 130 vehicles to just 39.

by on Dec.19, 2013

The number of vehicles that qualified for this year's picks fell by more than 75%.

The old adage that “safety doesn’t sell” certainly doesn’t apply today.  It has become just as critical a factor in the buying decision for most American motorists as fuel economy.

So, there could be a lot of attention paid to the latest list of America’s safest cars, at least according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A total of 22 vehicles made the trade group’s most prestigious list, those given a Top Safety Pick+ rating, while another 17 got the still significant Top Safety Pick imprimatur.

There were a number of surprises delivered by the IIHS, however, including the absence of the new Toyota Corolla from the list. Only four products from the Japanese maker – and not a single one of its Lexus models – made this year’s safest cars list.  Indeed, while there were a whopping 130 different models that made the cut for 2013, only a total of 39 are on the list this year.

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A Safe Bet!

On the other hand, there were eight models built by Honda and its luxury Acura brand, more than any other manufacturer.

“We’ve made it more difficult for manufacturers this year,” says Adrian Lund, president of the IIHS, which has been awarding Top Safety Picks since 2006, adding the Top Safety Pick+ category in 2012.

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Caddy XTS Lets You Drive by the Seat of Your Pants

Safety Alert Seat warns of pending problems.

by on Mar.28, 2012

Cadillac's latest safety technologies include graphics on the gauge cluster that indicate when an object has been detected in the path of the vehicle.

It’s something a good race car driver is expected to do, using the subtle cues a car gives while racing around the track to push to the limits.  But now, even an average driver will be able to drive by the seat of their pants in Cadillac’s new flagship luxury sedan.

The General Motors luxury division is introducing a suite of new safety features for the new 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, which is slated to go into production this spring, including an industry first using the driver’s seat to alert a motorist to threats while driving or parking.

Your Inside Source!

The patented Cadillac Safety Alert Seat generates vibrating pulse patterns in the lower bolster to alert the driver to potential dangers, such as drifting from a traffic lane or toward nearby objects while parking.  Threats from the front and rear trigger pulses on both sides of the seat, while the seat, while the seat can vibrate on the left or right to signal the direction of a problem, GM engineers said as they demonstrated the new equipment at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan.

“It’s akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention,” said GM Active Safety Technical Fellow Raymond Kiefer. “Using the tactile sense to communicate crash threat direction provides an effective and intuitive way to cut through the clutter of visual and auditory sensory information that drivers routinely experience.”

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