Posts Tagged ‘high-tech cars’

Mercedes Taking New “User Experience” to CES

Automakers struggle to add more high-tech content – and make it easier to use.

by on Dec.12, 2017

The interior of the next Mercedes-Benz A-Class shows off its expansive display technology.

The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has become a showcase for the auto industry, as much as it traditional was for computer, TV and smartphone manufacturers. A number of intriguing products, such as the Volkswagen BUDD-e van and Chevrolet Bolt EV have debuted there in recent years, but Mercedes-Benz is taking a different tack next month, using CES to reveal a completely new infotainment system.

Dubbed the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, it is designed to replace the German marque’s now-familiar COMAND system. Using artificial intelligence and what Mercedes calls “an intuitive operating system,” the goal appears to be finding a way to add even more technology into tomorrow’s luxury products without confounding owners.

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That’s a major challenge. Today’s cars are loaded with as many as 100 different microprocessors operating such things as a vehicle’s engine and safety gear. But manufacturers are also loading up with lots of new infotainment technologies and in many cases, they can turn out to be “nightmares” to operate, Renee Stephens, vice president at J.D. Power and Associates noted when unveiling the research firm’s latest APEAL study earlier this year.


Will You Even Recognize Your Car in the Near Future?

Plenty of “disrupters” about to transform what we drive.

by on Sep.18, 2015

Poster courtesy United Artists.

In the 1973 film, “Sleeper,” Woody Allen is revived after being frozen following a botched operation. To escape the inept police state trying to terminate him, he steals a car that looks like a bubble, with frosted windows and no steering wheel. He simply tells it where to go.

The comedy was supposed to take place 200 years from now but, at least when it comes to the car, it could just as well happen in little more than a decade from now. A recent concept vehicle from Mercedes-Benz, the F 015, can black out its windows, use voice commands to safely drive automatically to a destination, and passengers can swivel their seats to turn the big sedan into a mobile living room.

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At least, that’s the grand vision – but it’s creating nightmares for an auto industry facing tough new mileage, emissions and safety regulations and the need to invest tens of billions of dollars in new and largely untested technologies. And traditional automakers face the threat of new and well-funded challengers, such as Tesla, Google and Apple.


Automakers Adding High-Tech Features Consumers Often Do Not Want

Millennials prove surprisingly tech-resistant.

by on Aug.26, 2015

Even Millennials seem to find little appeal in such high-tech features such as the new Apple CarPlay.

Virtually every Chevy that will roll off the assembly line next year will feature a built-in 4G LTE connectivity that can provide anyone in the car access to a mobile WiFi hotspot. General Motors’ OnStar unit, meanwhile, offers many of its customers access to a mobile concierge service – as do a number of competitors.

But a surprising number of owners don’t bother to use either of those features – which are among the most underutilized among a raft of high technology features and services automakers are building into their latest vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

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The 2015 Drive Report finds that 20% of recent new car buyers have not yet used half of the high-tech additions to their vehicles during the first three months of ownership.

But what may be the biggest surprise in the Drive Report is that supposedly tech-centric Millennials are proving particularly slow to embrace all the new features supposedly designed to attract them to today’s newest, highest-tech vehicles.


Audi Goes Plug-n-Play

Maker’s new infotainment system will be upgradeable.

by on Mar.21, 2014

Audi developed a high-tech interior for its new A3.

As millions of early OnStar users discovered, in-car technology can quickly go out of date. They found their systems shut off when the maker switched from analog to digital a few years back.

Unlike plug-n-play desktop and laptop computers, today’s in-car systems usually can’t be updated as new technology comes out.  You either buy a new car or suffer with a slow user interface or an outdated display.

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But Audi is about to shift directions in a bid to deliver in-car technology that can keep pace with the rapid changes of consumer electronics.  The new 2015 Audi A3, for example, will have a more computer-like graphic display system from NVIDIA, one of the top suppliers for desktop and laptop manufacturers.  A couple years from now, a motorist would be able to simply swap out the original video display card for a newer, presumably faster and higher-resolution one.


Ford Serving up “Video Snacks”

Maker hopes to improve owner satisfaction with latest high-tech features.

by on Apr.15, 2013

A Ford customer checks out some video "snacks."

If you’ve bought a new car over the last several years, chances are it’s been a challenge trying to learn all the new features, whether pairing a cellphone, using voice commands to program in a destination or setting up one of the new safety systems such as active cruise control.

Now, add the fact that dealers often have a hard time explaining the latest technology and you can understand why high-tech features have become the single-biggest source of complaints about today’s new vehicles, according to surveys by J.D. Power and Associates and other third-party researchers.

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That’s prompted Ford Motor Co. to launch a new service designed to help familiarize customers with the numerous features on their vehicles – something the maker has dubbed “video snacks.”  The idea is to give a new owner a place to go to check out short, online videos that allow them to review or learn about such features as MyFordTouch, remote start or blind-spot mirrors.


Hackers Use Smartphone to Steal Subaru Outback

With more tech onboard are cars becoming easy prey?

by on Aug.09, 2011

Hackers break into a Subaru Outback using nothing but a smartphone.

Today’s cars are loaded with digital technology, from the engine controllers that maximize mileage while reducing emissions, to their increasingly popular multi-function infotainment systems.  But have these silicon-based devices also made our cars increasingly vulnerable to high-tech thieves?

That’s the chilling message delivered by two researchers who appeared at the Black Hat Conference, an annual gathering of hackers and security pros in Las Vegas, this last week.  Using nothing but an Android smartphone and some creative programming, they were able to not only unlock a Subaru Outback but start up its engine.

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“I could care less if I could unlock a car door. It’s cool. It’s sexy,” Don Bailey, a senior security consultant with iSEC Partners and one of the pros who hacked the car, told CNN. “But the same system is used to control phone, power, traffic systems. I think that’s the real threat.”