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HAWAII SAYS TO PEDESTRIANS: LOOK WHERE YOU ARE WALKING

Posted on Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 at 2:52 pm    

According to an article in the USA Today, Honolulu just passed a new law to ban looking at your cell phone while crossing the street.

The new law appears to be controversial with residents of Honolulu. Many question whether or not the law can really be enforced and whether or not it will have any impact on pedestrian behavior when the fines start at $15.00.

One tourist who was currently living in Australia, noted that in Australia it is illegal to text in the car and that “nobody even changes the music there. You just don’t do that in Australia, they’re very strict on it.” Others responded by stating that they were far more concerned about driving cruising through an intersection while checking their Facebook or texting.

The reporter of the USA Today article noted that while the law bans looking at your cell phone when crossing a street, it does not prohibit talking on your phone while engaged in the same activity.

On the other hand, perhaps we just need to think how often we bump in to people on busy streets who are looking at their phones rather than watching where they are walking. There is little doubt that walking while looking at your cell phone is a bad idea.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on August 5, 2017 entitled “Would a Fine Stop You From Looking at Your Phone?” by Jefferson Graham.

FIAT CHRYSLER RECALLS ALMOST ONE HALF MILLION RAM TRUCKS FOR FIRE HAZARD

Posted on Thursday, October 19th, 2017 at 1:36 pm    

According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, Fiat Chrysler is recalling almost a half million RAM pick-up trucks because of a water pump issue that could potentially cause a fire.

The recall will include 2013 through 2017 RAM 2500 and 3500 pick-ups and RAM chassis cab models 3500; 4500; and 5500. Fiat Chrysler notes that the recall is limited to trucks with 6.7-liter engines. Fiat Chrysler says that it is not aware of any injuries or accidents related to the issue and that it is no longer equipping any vehicles with the defective water pumps.

According to a spokesman for Fiat Chrysler, the recall was prompted by customer feedback which lead to the discovery that certain RAM trucks were equipped with a water pump bearing that under certain conditions could overheat and cause an engine fire. A release by the company noted that “compromised water-pump function may activate a warning light in an affects vehicle’s instrument cluster. Customers are urged to consult their dealers whenever they observe warning lights.” The article also reports the Fiat Chrysler stated that affected customers will be advised when service is available and the water pumps will be inspected and replaced if necessary.

For additional information regarding the recall, customers can call FCA U.S. Recall Information Center at (800) 853-1403.

Source: An article from the Detroit Free Press appearing in usatoday.com on September 20, 2017 entitled “494,000 RAM Trucks Recalled for Fire Hazard” by Eric D. Lawrence.

TECHNOLOGY TO ADDRESS SLEEPY DRIVERS

Posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 at 1:56 pm    

Most drivers probably experience feeling drowsy while driving. There is a term to describe this phenomenon called microsleep which describes the brief state of drowsy unconsciousness that can happen even if your eyes remain open. According to statistic from NHTSA, drowsy driving resulted in 824 deaths in 2015.

Currently, some automobile companies such as Audi, Mercedes and Volvo offer drowsy detection systems which monitor the vehicles movements and can detect when a driver is experiencing drowsiness. When these systems detect the driver has become drowsy, they typically warn the driver with sound and a coffee cup icon appears on the dash.

However, many car companies and suppliers are working on more advanced systems for addressing driver drowsiness. One system uses sensors placed in the seat that monitor changes in the heart rate of the driver to detect drowsiness.

Bosch is working on a camera based system that will monitor head and eye movements, heart rate and body temperature to detect drowsiness. Some companies are experimenting with coupling such a system with autonomous driving vehicles so that the autonomous driving system would take over once drowsiness is detected and possibly pull the vehicle over to the side of the road and stopping. Another system being developed by Nvidia is an artificial intelligence tool that can learn the normal behavior patterns of a driver and recognize when the driver is operating outside the norms. The system will use these deviations to warn the driver so the driver can take appropriate steps.

Volvo has offered an advanced detection system for almost a decade called Driver Alert. The system studies the behavior of the car rather than the driver and uses such factors as the ability of the car to stay in its lane to determine drowsiness. Volvo claims the system detects drowsiness with 97% accuracy.

Mark Rosekind, the former head of NHTSA and expert on human fatigue states that “Until autonomous vehicles are a reality, drowsiness is something that everyone needs to worry about, our tendency is to say we are wide-awake when in reality we can fall asleep in a second.” Because sleep is a biological need, the best solution for drowsiness is still a low tech one: Pull over and take a nap.

Source: An article appearing in the New York Times on March 17, 2017 entitled “Your Car May Soon Know When You Are Too Sleepy to Drive” by Eric A. Taub.

MORE NEWS ON THE TESLA AUTOPILOT CRASH

Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 at 2:06 pm    

The NTSB recently announced new information regarding its investigation in to the crash of a Tesla Model S car while on autopilot that resulted in the death of Ohio resident, Joshua Brown. Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla crashed at a high speed into a semi-tractor trailer truck making a left turn in front of him. The NTSB concluded that both drivers had at least 10 seconds to spot each other, but there was “no evidence of any evasive action taken by either driver before the collision.”

While concluding that the Tesla’s autopilot functioned as designed, it also noted that no vehicle currently on the roads are capable of monitoring and responding to cross traffic like the truck that crossed in front of Brown’s vehicle. Thus, Robert Sumwalt, chairman on the NTSB stated that Tesla’s “operations limitations played a major role in this collision.”

As a result of the investigation, the NTSB recommended that auto makers limit the use of partially self-driving technology by insuring that drivers are engaged at all times. Finally, the board concluded that Tesla’s method of requiring that the driver’s hands are periodically on the steering wheel is not sufficient to ensure that drivers are engaged at all times. And, suggest that other solutions such as a camera that tracks eye movement disengages the self-driving system if the camera detects the driver is not paying attention. This is a method that is being developed by several other auto makers including General Motors.

The NTSB report notes that at the time of the collision the driver was traveling at 74 miles per hour, but the posted speed limit was only 65 miles per hour. The report also stated that the driver used Tesla’s self-driving system for 37.5 minutes of the 41-minute trip and during that time he had his hands on the wheel for a total of approximately 30 seconds.The NTSB report also stated that the driver received seven visual warnings on the instrument panel which blared “Hold Steering Wheel” followed by 6 audible warnings before the crash.

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, recently stated that technological advances implemented in to Tesla autopilot system several months after the crash probably would have prevented it.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on September 12, 2017 entitled “Tesla Autopilot Crash: Feds Want to Force Drivers to Watch Road” by Nathan Bomey

NEVER RIDE WITH YOUR FEET ON THE DASH OF YOUR CAR

Posted on Thursday, September 14th, 2017 at 2:14 pm    

Propping one’s feet up on the passenger side dashboard is something that many of us are guilty of doing. However, it is a very bad idea! A recent article appearing in USA Today reminds us of exactly why this is such a bad idea. Air bags deploy at speeds between 100 and 220 miles per hour, and the impact from your knees, etc., striking your face or body could cause significant injuries.

According to the article appearing at usatoday.com, Audra Tatum of Georgia had just such an experience approximately 2 years ago. Audra had her legs crossed with one foot on the dashboard when she was involved in a crash which caused her air bag to deploy and send her foot into her face. Audra, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time, said that as a result, she suffered a broken nose, broken ankle, femur and arm. And she stated that she still walks with a limp and cannot stand for more than 4 hours at a time. Audra hopes that her story will encourage others to think twice before putting their feet up on the dash.

If you are driving a car and your passenger puts their feet up on the dash, tell them about Audra’s story and politely suggest they don’t put their feet on the dash.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on August 15, 2017 entitled “Why You Should Never Ride With Your Feet on the Dash of the Car” by Ashley May.

REGULATORS STRUGGLING TO STAY AHEAD OF SELF DRIVING CARS

Posted on Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at 2:54 pm    

Although self-driving cars are just starting to appear on our nation’s highways, USA Today reports that regulators are struggling to catch up with this new technology.

Proponents of the new technology are increasingly concerned about the development of regulations by states which proponents of self-driving cars believe could lead to conflicting regulations and thus slow the development of self-driving cars in the U.S. Many proponents believe the Federal government needs to step in and create national standards relating to testing, crash liability and design requirements for self-driving cars.

So far, 22 states have either passed legislation related to self-driving cars or adopted regulations through government executive orders. Pennsylvania is among this list of states.

While the proponents of self-driving vehicles argue that Federal standards are necessary for uniformity and to make it possible to build vehicles that can be effectively sold across the country, the states say that it is important that they take steps to ensure that this technology is safe.

Tesla introduced guidelines on self-driving vehicle developments in 2016. Recently, U.S. Transportation Secretary, Elain Chao said that the Trump Administration will unveil revised self-driving guidelines within the next few months to replace the existing guidelines.

USA Today notes that competition between key players in the development of self-driving technology, has also lead to issues with respect to the adoption of regulations. For example, General Motors has actively pursued legislation in several states that would prevent non-automakers from providing rides in self-driving vehicles. This sort of competition can lead to problems in developing uniform regulations among the states.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on June 25, 2017 entitled “Regulators Scramble to Stay Ahead of Self-Driving Cars” by Nathan Bomey and Thomas Zambito.

FORD LEADS THE PACK IN SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE ARENA

Posted on Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 at 5:40 pm    

According to a recent study completed by Navigant Research, Ford Motor Company is in the lead in the development of an autonomous vehicle. Navigant Research is a company which sells its in-depth surveys of energy and transportation markets to suppliers, policy makers and other industry stakeholders.

Navigant Research stated that GM was close behind Ford Motor Company followed by Renault-Nissan and Daimier. It should be noted that Navigant’s survey did not include technology companies such as Apple. However, Waymo, a new name for Google’s long running car project, came in 7th.

Ford has been testing a fleet of Ford Fusions in real world situations including night testing in Arizona and snow testing in Michigan. Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technology officer, stated that Ford still plans to roll out autonomous vehicles in 2021. And Ford autonomous vehicles would be at the FAE level 4 which is one step down from full autonomy. Such vehicles can operate autonomously in fully mapped areas, but need human input in unmapped locations and extreme weather.

According to the USA Today article, the most often mentioned road block to the rapid development of self-driving vehicles is the murky regulatory environment which currently exists. Additional factors that are effecting the rapid development of self-driving vehicles also include concerns about reliability, hacking and questions concerning liability in the inevitable event of an autonomous vehicle crash resulting in human injuries.

Source: an article appearing at usatoday.com on April 3, 2017 entitled “Ford Leads Self-Driving Tech Pack, Outpacing Waymo, Tesla, Uber: Study” by Marco Della Cava.

WILL SELF-DRIVING ELECTRIC CARS MAKE CAR OWNERSHIP DISAPPEAR

Posted on Tuesday, July 25th, 2017 at 3:27 pm    

There is a lot of debate by experts and in the media about the future of self-driving cars in America. One company, RethinkX, an independent think tank focusing on technology’s impact on transportation, energy, finance and healthcare, believes that the self-driving automobile will soon become so culturally ubiquitous that it will lead to the abandonment of car ownership. And RethinkX says this will result in a one trillion-dollar boost in disposable income and a catastrophic shift for the oil industry and driver economy.

Unlike many experts,that believe that it could still be decades before self-driving cars take over, RethinkX thinks that the transition is just around the corner and expects self-driving autonomous cars to cause a major disruption in transportation in the next decade. RethinkX notes that tech companies such as Alphabet and automaker, Ford, have all been targeting around 2020 for the first commercial roll out of self-driving cars. RethinkX is predicting that such an event will be virtually an overnight sensation that will be no less transformative to the introduction to the model T. RethinkX predicts that by 2030:

• 95% of U.S. passenger miles will be via economist electric vehicles owned by companies providing transportation as a service.

• 60% of vehicles on the road will be dedicated to that service.

• The average household will pocket around $5600 a year by switching from car ownership to using autonomous self-driving vehicle services

Among the biggest disruptions that will occur will be to the oil industry and to the millions of Americans that drive for a living.
RethinkX also believes that car dealerships and auto part stores will face a major impact as car manufacturers pivot to becoming manufacturers of autonomous electric vehicles that are owned by ride hailing service companies.

What could possibly disrupt RethinkX’s view of the future? RethinkX thinks that perhaps the biggest potential road block is government regulators or lobbyist push back on laying out a clear plan for autonomous vehicles.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.com on May 4, 2017 entitled “Self-Driving Vehicles to Make Car Ownership Vanish” by Marco Della Cava.

MORE ON VEHICLE TO VEHCILE COMMUNICATIONS

Posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2017 at 1:54 pm    

In a recent blog article, I noted that the federal government recently announced new regulations aimed at requiring all new cars and light trucks be able to communicate wirelessly between one another within about 5 years. One of the big reasons for the Federal government’s push to have vehicles able to communicate with one another is that it is estimated that up to 80% of the crashes not atributable to driver impairment could be eliminated or eradicated by V2V devices. And, accordingly to a recent New York Times article, NHTSA plans to require future cars and light trucks include the hardware required for dedicated short range communication between vehicles.

General Motors recently announced that starting in March 2017, their 2017 Cadillac CTS models will be equipped to use a short-range radio frequency based communication system for V2V communications. However, since the only other vehicles equipped with the same system will be other Cadillac CTS automobiles, for the time being, the communication will be limited to Cadillac CTSs. And, while many manufactures seem to be pushing for the use of short range radio frequencies, other manufactures such as BMW and Mercedes Benz are working on systems which will not use such technology, but rather rely on existing cellular phone networks to transmit alerts.

The systems relying on cellular telephone networks are designed to operate on the 5G system which is in the works. However, the system is not expected to be available in a significant way until 2022 or 2023. BMW and Mercedes argue that a cellular phone based system offers a significant advantage in that the system will allow vehicles to not only communicate with other vehicles but to communicate with other non-vehicle traffic devices such as traffic lights, poles and other transportation infrastructure.

Others involved in the design of such systems note that in many rural areas, cellular services are nonexistent and even where cellular service is available such a system would not be as fast as the short-range radio frequency system. And some argue that the carrier based system would not be as reliable since the cellular network is a multipurpose network and not limited to safety communications from one vehicle to the other. In the end, some experts expect that it will take some combination of both systems in order to make vehicle to vehicle connections work reliably.

Source: Article appearing on NYP.com March 9, 2017 “Cars Will Talk to One Another. Exactly How is Less Certain” John R. Quain

TECHNOLOGY TO HELP KEEP TEEN DRIVERS SAFE

Posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2017 at 1:58 pm    

A new report from the CDC once again confirms that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the USA. And the latest data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that teen drivers are three times more likely to be in a deadly crash than an adult driver.

The good news is that there is a slew of new teen tech driving tools out there to help. Here are a few of the most notable:

1. MYKEY: This technology offered by FORD on its cars has a number of custom setting to help keep your teen focused. For example there e are settings to limit the radio’s maximum volume, a speed limit setting, a seat belt choice and mutes the radio until the driver buckles up.

2. Chevrolet’s TEEN DRIVER TECHNOLOGY: this system works like a virtual coach that lives in the car. It also has settings similar to MyKey.

3. Apple’s DO NOT DISTURB WHILE DRIVING: This is a new feature soon to be available on iPhones. If it detects that the the phone user is in a car it silences texts, phone cals etc.

4. ACEABLE : is a new online VR drivers ed stimulator. It is a great teaching toolbar learning basic driving skills.

Source: An article appearing at usatoday.copm on june 25.2017 entitled ” Got a teen driver? Here is tech to help keep them safe” by Jennifer Jolly