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Once all problems with hacking and technology being able to make rational decisions on the road and safety is perfected we will eventually have self driving cars passing by on the highway.

The age of the driverless car will probably arrive eventually, but today the reality still falls far short of the promise. In the short time since Tesla released a software update for the Model S that enables their Auto Pilot feature, several owners have posted videos online of the system steering the car either into oncoming traffic or toward roadside barriers. After a week, driving the new 2016 Volvo XC90, it too demonstrated the limitations of even some of the most capable driver assist systems currently available.

Safety has been an integral part of Volvo’s brand DNA for decades and even under the ownership of China’s Geely Group, the Swedish brand has been allowed to remain true to itself. Volvo has a long-standing goal of no fatalities or serious injuries in its vehicles by 2020. Early this year, Volvo announced its Drive Me program for 2017 which will put a fleet of 100 semi-autonomous XC90s into consumer hands in a real-world test program around its home base of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The engineers developing those vehicles will have their work cut out for them because the technology available on the road today is not robust enough to take over from the driver in many real-world conditions.

Radar-based adaptive cruise control and camera-based lane keeping assist systems are becoming increasingly commonplace on even mainstream models like the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200 so it’s no surprise to find both functions on the XC90. Volvo’s big crossover goes a step further this year with a feature called pilot assist.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – You can change a set of tires, upgrade the rims or even a fender but now the software is open for owners to change too.

Car owners and computer security researchers can modify automobile software without incurring some U.S. copyright liability, according to new guidelines issued this month that had been opposed by the auto industry.

The Library of Congress, which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, agreed with fair use advocates who argued that vehicle owners are entitled to modify their cars, which often involves altering software.

Automakers including General Motors, and other companies such as John Deere, opposed the rules. They said vehicle owners could visit authorized repair shops for changes they may need to undertake.

However, U.S. copyright officials decided that altering computer programs for vehicle repair or modification might not infringe a manufacturer’s software copyright.

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It is a race to see which cars bring out electric versions with plug in options and which will sell well and will interest car buyers across the country.

It plans to offer a plug-in version of all cars in its vehicle line up, build smaller vehicles, and offer a pure electric vehicle by 2019.

Key to the plan will be its upcoming line of 40-series vehicles built on the Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), which has been designed from the start with electrification in mind. This new architecture should make it easier for the brand to develop a range of body styles that meet consumer needs, from compact wagons, hatchbacks or crossovers, depending on its market, and with a variety of powertrains. The new architecture should enable Volvo to accommodate conventional engines, electric motors or plug-in hybrids, and likely without compromising interior or cargo space.

Volvo currently offers a gasoline plug-in hybrid XC90 T8 SUV in the U.S., and a plug-in XC60 variant should show up in the near future. The manufacturer currently sells a plug-in diesel hybrid version of its V60 wagon in the EU, which for obvious reasons will not make it to the US shores.

Volvo has recently been caught up in the diesel emissions row, after several of its diesel-powered vehicles were found to produce more emissions than previously reported. The electrification strategy seems to mark a shifting of the winds towards batteries and away from the once favored diesel engines.

“We have come to a point where the cost versus benefit calculation for electrification is now almost positive,” said Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President for Research and Development in a news statement. “Battery technology has improved, costs are going down, and public acceptance of electrification is no longer a question.”

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How often do you use your voice command to talk to Siri or answer a text, and send an email while stuck in traffic or driving to work? Well know studies have shown that it can be dangerous to use voice commands also with distracted cdriving. Drivers can remain distracted for up to 27 seconds after using voice commands on their phones or in-vehicle infotainment systems, research conducted for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found.

In a study released today, researchers tested voice-activated systems in ten 2015 model year vehicles on 257 drivers and three smartphone systems on 65 drivers. They found that each one increased mental distractions and can have residual effects for seconds after the driver has stopped talking.

Of the vehicles tested, the Chevrolet Equinox performed the best while the Mazda6 was found to be the most distracting.

“Hands-free isn’t risk-free,” said Jake Nelson, director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “That’s been our message for years.”

Each hands-free system was rated on a mental distraction scale between 1 and 5, with 5 being the most dangerous. AAA said Category 1 distractions are at the same level as listening to the radio, while Category 5 is equal to taking a challenging test while driving. A rating at or above Category 2, which is the equivalent of talking on the phone, is considered potentially dangerous by AAA.

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PALO ALTO, Calif. – With the day that Back To The Future was based upon finally arriving technology is compared to how we thought it would be, and some are trying to catch up .

Despite the wishful thinking of the 1989 science-fiction film “Back to the Future Part II,” in which scientist Dr. Emmett Brown and all-American teenager Marty McFly ride a time-traveling DeLorean DMC-12 forward by 30 years to Oct. 21, 2015, those futuristic gadgets still haven’t become a reality. (No matter what Lexus says.)

But on Tuesday, on the eve of what has become known as “Back to the Future Day,” Stanford University researchers unveiled a self-driving DeLorean that can burn rubber under robot control, suggesting the future might not be so dismal after all.

The car, nicknamed Marty after Michael J. Fox’s character in the film, does doughnuts with near-flawless precision. The researchers ultimately want Marty to drift around corners better than any human race car driver, because if self-driving cars are able to function at the limits of grip, they may be able to avoid crashes in extreme scenarios.

“We aren’t literally envisioning roads full of automated vehicles that can produce clouds of white tire smoke,” said Chris Gerdes, the Stanford professor who led the project, “though that would be cool.”

At an event Tuesday evening hosted by special effects guru Jamie Hyneman, co-host of the Discovery Channel TV show “MythBusters,” Stanford released a video of Marty filmed at Thunderhill Raceway Park north of San Francisco.

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There are about 3200 deaths due to car accidents every day. Car companies have been trying to lower this number with strict safety requirements, but so far this has proven impossible.

Today’s cars are safer than they’ve ever been, with increasing numbers of models delivering top scores in what have become stricter crash tests, and offering an array of the latest safety features. We now have airbags in the front, rear and sides of a vehicle, with some even at knee height, mounted between the front seats and incorporated into the rear shoulder belts. There’s backup cameras, lane departure and blind spot warning systems and forward auto-braking systems now being offered on all but the smallest and cheapest models.

And yet, nearly 19,000 lives were lost in traffic accidents over the first six months of 2015, according to preliminary statistics just released by the National Safety Council (NSC). That’s a sizeable 14% increase in fatalities over the same period in 2014.

What’s more, over 2.2 million people were seriously injured, which represents a staggering 30% increase. The NSC warns that this year could wind up as the deadliest for motorists and passengers since 2007.

Previously, vehicle-related fatalities had dropped from a peak of 43,510 in 2005 to 32,719 in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was largely attributed to improved vehicle engineering in accordance with stricter state DUI, seatbelt use and teen-driving laws.

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Whom better to improve our cars and the drive home than entrepreneurs tired of certain things while driving?

A veteran computer scientist hates sitting in his car at stoplights, so he creates software that makes the experience less annoying. A former engineering professor wants to double the range of today’s electric vehicles. And an aeronautics expert believes flying cars shouldn’t be science fiction.

It’s no secret that technology is changing the car industry. The major automakers, as well as tech giants such as Google and possibly Apple, are laying the groundwork for the first driverless cars.

Meanwhile, a number of engineers and entrepreneurs have started their own companies to tackle other automotive challenges. Here are six startups that want to change the way you drive:


Traffic lights bring order to intersections, but have their inconveniences: They turn red when you’re in a hurry; they take forever to change green. And then your mind wanders while you wait — until the guy behind you starts leaning on his horn.

Entrepreneur and computer scientist Matt Ginsberg hates red lights. So he started Connected Signals, based in Eugene, Oregon, to collect real-time data from cities that synchronize their traffic signals. The company’s smartphone app tells motorists if an upcoming signal is about to change color. It shows drivers how long they’ll have to wait if a light is red — and chimes a warning just before it turns green.

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When was the last time you read your drivers manual and re-tested the knowledge you learned when you turned 16?

Many drivers have this tendency to forget the basics.

While most of us probably aced the written driving test back in high school, odds are that few could score anywhere near as well decades later. The longer you drive, the more you forget.

It’s not because our memories are failing – did I already say that? – but rather that we slide into habits, good and bad.

If police conducted pop quizzes on the rules of the road, many of us would be taking a bus home.

To illustrate this, I recently enriched my life by leafing through the Ontario transport ministry’s drivers’ handbook and discovered things that I have either forgotten or never knew.

The first thing that jumped out was a passage on making left turns at a controlled intersection, a move I thought I had mastered so well I considered putting it on my résumé. “When waiting to make a left turn, keep your front wheels straight,” the book said.

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Within the past decade or so electric cars have become more popular everyday, and more drivers convert from gas to electric.

The vast majority of electric vehicle owners will not go back to traditional gas-powered cars, according to a survey commissioned by Ford Motor

A full 92 percent of battery electric vehicle (BEV) drivers will stay with electric when they buy another vehicle, according to the survey.  This news was first reported by, Clean Technica (via Green Car Reports).   The report noted that the percentage for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owners is even higher: 94 percent.

The survey polled 10,000 electric vehicle owners, Ford said.

Of the 92 percent of BEV drivers who said they would buy another EV, the primary choice was another BEV, according to the report. Ford cited upsides such as “instant power” as well as “an appreciation of clean technology.”  And PHEV owners were “more inclined” to switch to BEV for their next electric car.

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Driving a car that has a tape deck? You’re not alone.

The average vehicle in the U.S. is now a record 11.5 years old, according to consulting firm IHS Automotive, a sign of the increased reliability of today’s vehicles and the lingering impact of the sharp drop in new car sales during the recession.

Drivers behind the wheel of older cars aren’t enjoying some of the latest advanced safety features or infotainment systems that effectively turn cars into cellphones on wheels. Then again, they don’t have to worry about hackers finding their way in to the car’s computer network through the cassette or CD player.

IHS said U.S. registrations grew to a record 257.9 million cars and trucks, up 2 percent from a year earlier.

The average age of vehicles has been climbing steadily since IHS began tracking the number in 2002. As quality and reliability have improved, people have been holding on to their cars and trucks for longer. The average length of ownership for a new vehicle is now almost 6.5 years, IHS said. For a used vehicle, it’s five years.

Cars and trucks now have the same average age, says Mark Seng, IHS Automotive’s global aftermarket practice leader. For many years, cars had shorter lifespans than trucks, but their quality has now caught up.

Experts say there’s no rule for how long to hold on to an old car or truck. A car with good reliability can go for 200,000 miles or more, which can easily last a decade for some motorists, says Doug Love, a spokesman for Consumer Reports.

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