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Toyota Teams up with University of Michigan to Accelerate Artificial Intelligence Hunt

Smart cars = safer cars.

by on Aug.10, 2016

Toyota is already working with U-Mich at MCity, an autonomous vehicle test track.

Toyota is expanding its effort to develop advanced artificial intelligence, robotics and autonomous driving technologies by teaming up with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The $22 million project is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts Toyota has launched since setting up its own Toyota Research Institute a year ago. The Japanese maker, reversing a long-standing reluctance to develop autonomous vehicles, has also established close ties with Silicon Valley’s Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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“We look forward to collaborating with U-M’s research faculty and students to develop new intelligent technologies that will help drivers travel more safely, securely and efficiently,” said Gill Pratt, the head of the Toyota research program. “We will also focus on expanding the benefit of mobility technology to in-home support of older persons and those with special needs.” (more…)

Most American Motorists Wary of Self-Driving Cars

Concerns grow even as autonomous vehicles come closer to production.

by on May.23, 2016

An autonomous Ford Fusion prototype recently began testing on public roads in California.

Every week brings a flurry of new reports about the coming wave of autonomous vehicles, but a new study finds that only a small minority of American motorists actually want to buy a self-driving vehicle.

Motorists are a bit more open to semi-autonomous technologies that still require a driver to keep their hands on the wheel, but nearly half said they wanted no self-driving technologies at all, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI. And more than a third said they would be “very concerned about riding in a completely self-driving vehicle.”

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The results of the UMTRI could raise some serious concerns among industry planners. Global automakers are spending billions of dollars to develop self-driving vehicles, with the first semi-autonomous products just starting to come to market. Several makers have announced plans to have fully autonomous models on the road by 2020.

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Millennials Aren’t the Only Ones Skipping Their Drivers Licenses

Even Baby Boomers are giving up their car keys.

by on Jan.19, 2016

Fewer and fewer Millennials are getting licensed.

It’s become conventional wisdom that Millennials are uninterested in driving, and a new study says fewer young adults are getting a driver’s license than at any time in the last three decades. But they aren’t alone. The number of those eligible to hold a license among older generations has also dropped sharply in recent years.

A variety of factors appear to be at work, according to a new study by the University of Michigan, from the increasing cost of owning and operating a vehicle to the availability of new ride and car-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

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Among those aged 20 to 24, only slightly more than three out of four held a driver’s license in 2014, reports the University of Michigan Transportation Institute. Back in 1983, the figure was more than nine in 10.

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Low Gas Prices Causing Average MPG to Fall

Less efficient truck, SUV sales on the rise.

by on Jan.15, 2016

As sales of full-size trucks, like the F-150, continue to tick upwards, fuel efficiency averages for new vehicles slides downward.

The price of gasoline is now sitting at its lowest point in the better part of a decade even as new crises ripple through the key oil producing regions of the Middle East

Gas prices continue to drop to multi-year lows, with average price of $1.93 per gallon representing the cheapest average price at the pump since March 23, 2009, according to surveys by AAA.

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They have fallen for 55 of the past 66 days for a total savings of 26 cents per gallon and should remain relatively low because there is more than enough oil and gasoline around the world to meet demand.  (more…)

Low Gas Prices Cutting Fuel Economy Gains

Crossover, pickup and SUV sales continue gaining momentum.

by on Sep.11, 2015

The growing popularity of crossovers, like the Chevy Traverse, is helping to drive down the average fuel economy of new vehicles in the U.S.

With gasoline prices sliding toward $2 per gallon and the oil glut showing no signs of abating, the average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased in the U.S. declined in August.

Sales of crossover vehicles and pickup trucks remain strong as a result of the pricing, and that appears to be the reason for the dip in the overall gas mileage rating of new vehicles sold in the U.S. slightly last month, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

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Continued expansion of the offerings within the crossover utility and pickup truck segments are helping to sustain the strong demand trend, added Christopher Hopson, IHS director of light vehicle forecasting. (more…)

American Motorists Cutting Back on Daily Trips

Online shopping, social networking likely a key factor.

by on Sep.03, 2015

More time online appears to translate into less time behind the wheel, finds new study.

While the number of cars on U.S. highways continues to grow, with congestion worsening in most metropolitan areas, Americans seem to be cutting back or combining daily errands, reducing the time they spend behind the wheel.

On average, American motorists spent about 10% less time in their cars to handle daily activities than they did a decade ago, according to a new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI.

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UMTRI researcher Michael Sivak, in one of a series of reports that examines recent motorization trends in the U.S., said that the average time spent traveling per day for all activities dropped from 1.23 hours in 2004 to 1.11 hours in 2014.

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Fuel Economy Hasn’t Much Changed Since 1923

Or has it? Federal data leaves some big gaps open.

by on Aug.20, 2015

New study suggests that today's auto fleet isn't getting much better mileage than it did 90 years ago.

Federal guidelines are calling for some big increases in fuel economy over the next decade, with the average vehicle required to deliver 54.5 mpg by 2025.

But a new study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, adds a cautionary note to that push, noting that from 1923 to 2013, the average mileage of the American automotive fleet rose a meager 3.6 miles per gallon, to just 17.6 mpg.

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In fact, fuel economy actually tumbled for a number of years, only starting to rebound in 1974, in the wake of the first Mideast oil shock as Washington enacted the first Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standard.

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Automakers Wrestling with Qualcomm for Wireless Space

Tech company wants use of "auto" only bandwidth.

by on Jul.08, 2015

Automakers are asking the FCC to deny a request by Qualcomm for space on the wireless spectrum dedicated to automakers.

In a preview of the car wars of the future, an alliance of automakers is asking the Federal Communications Commission to reject a proposal from Qualcomm, Inc. allowing certain unlicensed wireless devices to operate in the portion of the wireless spectrum that has been set aside for vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

The automakers, speaking through Crash Avoidance Metrics Partners (CAMP) of Farmington Hills, Michigan, said the change would cause harmful interference with the soon-to-be-released V2V vehicle safety technology. Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Nissan, Toyota, Subaru, VW, Audi and Volvo Truck all participate in CAMP.

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In a letter to the FCC, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the automakers asked the FCC not to allow the change. The dispute illustrates the growing competition between automakers and tech companies over the control of key systems in future vehicles. (more…)

New Vehicle Fuel Economy Slides in June

Rising sales of large vehicles cuts fuel efficiency average.

by on Jul.07, 2015

New vehicle buyers are favoring trucks and utility vehicles, which is cutting the average fuel economy rating for new vehicles.

Courtesy of low gas prices, U.S. consumers continue to plunk down cash for trucks and utility vehicles in increasing numbers over more fuel efficient small cars, and in the process, drive down the average fuel economy of vehicles in this country.

The gas mileage rating of new vehicles purchased by American consumers slipped last month, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). The average fuel economy printed on the window stickers of cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs purchased in June was 25.4 mpg, down from 25.5 mpg in May, the U-M researchers said.

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“The decline likely reflects the increased sales of light trucks and SUVs in June,” according to Michael Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI. (more…)

Summer Travel Likely to Rise as Gas Prices Fall

Pump price expected to drop as oil stabilizes.

by on Jun.05, 2015

Gas prices are their high-water mark for 2015, but are expected to fall as crude oil prices stabilize.

The national average price of gasoline is $2.75 per gallon, which is the highest average of the year, according to the latest survey by AAA.

However, there is a good chance that average U.S. gas prices will drop soon due to stabilizing crude oil costs and as refineries complete seasonal maintenance, which would result in the cheapest summertime gas prices since 2009, the company suggested.

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At the same time, the average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the U.S. continues to improve, according to a new survey from the University of Michigan. (more…)