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Posts Tagged ‘infotainment’

Automakers Struggle to Keep Hackers Out of Increasingly Automated Vehicles

Chrysler recall not likely to end the problem.

by on Jul.27, 2015

A Wired journalist winds up in a ditch after hackers took control of this 2014 Jeep Cherokee.

Sometime next month, if all goes well, California battery carmaker Tesla Motors plans to ask a select group of owners to begin testing its latest vehicle operating system. Dubbed version 7.0, it will include a beta version of Tesla’s new Pilot system which will offer the ability to drive on the highway hands-free.

As with previous updates for the Model S sedan, Tesla will upload the software wirelessly, rather than requiring owners to visit its showrooms. It’s an approach many other automakers are expected to adopt in the coming years. But it also raises some serious concerns among industry observers who question whether such an approach might make it easy for hackers to shift their focus from computers to cars.

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The risk was highlighted this past week when a pair of professional hackers gained access to a 2014 Jeep Cherokee driven by a reporter working for Wired magazine. They turned on the Jeep’s windshield wipers, shut the engine down while it was being driven down the highway, took control of the steering wheel and then disabled its brakes, sending it into a ditch.

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Cherokee Hack Forces Fiat Chrysler to Recall 1.4 Million Vehicles

Maker volunteers to safeguard against future incursions.

by on Jul.24, 2015

Odds are if you have Fiat Chrysler model with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, that vehicle is subject to the maker's latest recall.

Just days after hackers were able to take control of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee and run it into a ditch, Fiat Chrysler is recalling 1.4 million vehicles to upgrade vulnerable software to reduce the risk of it happening again.

The maker will send owners a USB device that will automatically download the necessary updates to protect the vehicles.

High-Tech News!

“Further, FCA US has applied network-level security measures to prevent the type of remote manipulation demonstrated in a recent media report,” the company said in a statement. “These measures – which required no customer or dealer actions – block remote access to certain vehicle systems and were fully tested and implemented within the cellular network on July 23, 2015.” (more…)

Jeep Owners Urged to Act to Lock Out Hackers

Hackers take control of Jeep Cherokee, crash it into ditch.

by on Jul.22, 2015

A journalist crashes into ditch after hackers take control of his 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Image courtesy of Wired.

Fiat Chrysler has released an urgent update for the software on a number of its connected vehicles after learning that two hackers were able to take control of a Jeep Cherokee and crash it into a ditch.

The news comes amidst growing concern that hackers are beginning to target automobiles as they have computers and cellphones. But in this case, there’s more than just private information at stake. Experts fear that such cyberattacks could pose the actual risk of death or injury, as well as major chaos on the highways.

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The possibility that hackers could gain access to hundreds of thousands of FCA vehicles was revealed in a story in Wired magazine. The potential was demonstrated by two professional hackers, including one who previously worked for the National Security Agency. They plan to reveal at least some of their tricks during a so-called Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next month.

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Toyota Teaming up With Ford on Smartphone AppLink Technology

Partners looking to develop open-source version of Ford AppLink.

by on Jun.03, 2015

Ford integrates AppLink into most new models, and an updated version will power Sync 3.

In another sign of the strange bedfellow relationships reshaping the auto industry, Toyota is teaming up with Ford to develop an open-source version of Ford’s AppLink connected-car infotainment system.

The concept, which will be central to the completely updated Sync 3 infotainment system Ford will launch over the summer, is similar to the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems many automakers are planning to adapt. Toyota would apparently use it to update or replace its own Entune infotainment technology.

We'll Keep You Connected!

Where automakers long took price in doing their own R&D, they are increasingly turning either to outside suppliers or, in a growing number of instances, partnering with each other.

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Ford to Launch Updated Sync 3 This Summer

System said to be faster, more intuitive, offer online updates.

by on Jun.02, 2015

The new Sync 3 home screen is broken into three distinct zones for Audio, Phone and Navi.

Hoping to hold its lead against increasingly aggressive rivals, Ford Motor Co. will launch its completely redesigned Sync 3 infotainment system this summer on the 2016 Ford Escape and Fiesta models.

Launched in 2007, and among the first to offer such features as voice and touch control, smartphone app integration and other communications and navigation services, the original Sync helped draw a generation of tech-savvy buyers to Ford. But it also earned the maker plenty of criticism for the system’s failures and weaknesses.

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One surprise: Ford’s latest version of Sync will not – at least for now – include the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems. But Sync 3 does improve on the earlier AppLink technology that can integrate a variety of smartphone apps, as well as Sire Eyes-Free which can tap into an iPhone’s voice-operated personal assistant.

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Ford Opens Silicon Valley Research Center

The lines blur between tech and auto worlds.

by on Jan.23, 2015

Ford expects to employ 125 at its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto.

As modern cars become increasingly dependent on digital technology, whether for safety, emissions or infotainment systems, the lines have been blurring between the rust belt and Silicon Valley. The latest example is a dun-colored office building in Palo Alto not far from such high-tech giants as Apple and Google. But this one will soon be staffed by 125 employees reporting to Ford Motor Co.

Ford was an early pioneer in the world of telematics with its Sync infotainment system. But as the maker – like its competitors – has come to learn, the pace of development in the electronics world operates far faster than in the auto industry. So, Ford’s new Research and Innovation Center will act as an outpost, tapping into the talent and technologies that have made Silicon Valley one of the world’s most important high-tech centers.

High-Tech News!

“The valley here is a marketplace of ideas,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was on hand for this week’s dedication of the Research and Innovation Center. “It’s about being in the right neighborhood because of all the collection of companies. Our folks going to the coffee shops will run into folks from other companies and strike up conversation.”

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Voice Recognition is the #1 Problem for New Car Buyers

“Sorry, I couldn’t understand.”

by on Aug.29, 2014

Programming systems like the Cadillac CUE can be a nightmare due to faulty voice recognition.

Call it a communications breakdown. If you’ve ever tried to use your car’s voice recognition system to dial a phone number only to have it change the radio station to a disco channel, you’re not alone. A new J.D. Power study reports that voice recognition has become the single largest source of complaints about new vehicles.

And problems pairing smartphones to a vehicle’s Bluetooth system is the second most common problem, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study.

Auto Insight!

“Voice recognition and device connectivity are often inherent to the technology design and cannot be fixed at the dealership, creating a high level of angst among new-vehicle owners,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power.

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Automakers Join the Smart Watch Procession

New devices could check your pulse, answer your phone - and find your lost car.

by on Dec.26, 2013

Mercedes will formally reveal its smartwatch at the 2014 CES in Las Vegas next month.

Calling Dick Tracy!

One of the hottest gifts trends this year is the smartwatch, a case of comic book technology coming to life.  The devices are designed to let you quickly check e-mail and even make calls without the hassle of having to pull your smartphone out of your pocket.

With automakers already investing heavily in infotainment systems designed to pair up with your iPhone should it be any surprise that several manufacturers are also looking to launch their own lines of smartwatches?  Nissan recently announced its Dick Tracy-like device and Mercedes-Benz plans to formally introduce its smartwatch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.

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The Nissan and Mercedes timepieces add some appropriately automotive features, as you might expect.

The Japanese maker’s smartwatch is designed for use in its performance NISMO models and, as that might suggest, will provide a wearer with all sorts of performance telemetry, such as  vehicle speed as well as fuel consumption – as well as the driver’s heart rate.

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Ford Produces 10 Millionth Sync-Equipped Vehicle

Technology draws in new buyers – but also creates headaches for Detroit maker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Ford's latest Sync update permits th maker to draw a number of smartphone apps into the vehicle, including the Pandora music service.

Depending upon your point of view about in-car technology, the announcement from Ford could be seen as good news or bad news – or perhaps a little bit of both.

The maker this month produced its 10 millionth vehicle equipped with the Sync infotainment system.  That’s just six years after Ford first rolled out the technology developed in cooperation with tech giant Microsoft.

“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers.”

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Since its introduction, Sync has fostered some major changes in the auto industry and there’s not a brand to be found today that isn’t offering at least a basic in-car infotainment system. But while Ford claims Sync – and the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems – have drawn plenty of young, tech-savvy buyers into the brand’s showrooms, the technology has also created plenty of headaches for owners and for Ford which has seen its quality ratings tumble, in large parts due to problems with its infotainment systems.

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Ford Facing Class Action Over MyFord Touch Problems

High-tech system takes hits for a variety of problems.

by on Jul.18, 2013

Ford has been taking a lot of heat for problems with its touch-based infotainment technology.

Ford has been taking some big hits in consumer surveys for the last several years due to problems with its various infotainment systems, notably the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch technologies. And now those concerns could land it in court.

A federal class action has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Central California demanding “compensatory relief” on behalf of motorists who have been frustrated by the Ford infotainment systems – in particular, with the problems involving their touchscreen interface and generally software programming issues.

“The MyFord Touch problems in Ford vehicles are legion and now well-documented,” says Adam Levitt, a director at Grant & Eisenhofer, a law firm that specializes in consumer class action lawsuits. “Had consumers known about the numerous and widespread issues with the system in Ford’s cars, they would not have purchased or leased these vehicles. We intend to see that they are properly compensated for defective systems, and will call on Ford take affirmative steps to see that customers’ expectations are met.”

Reviews You Can Trust!

Indeed, Ford has taken some sharp criticism in recent years after initially being hailed as a high-tech pioneer.  Five years ago, Ford was among the top mainstream manufacturers on the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey. The IQS released last month found Ford sinking to well below industry average which, according to Power’s automotive research chief Dave Sargent, was almost entirely due to problems with the various Touch systems.

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