safety

This is VW’s plan for semi-autonomous, smartphone-friendly driving

This is VW’s plan for semi-autonomous, smartphone-friendly driving

Volkswagen is embracing CarPlay and Android Auto, revamping its whole infotainment line-up while injecting some smart semi-autonomous tech to its 2016 cars. I spent some time with VW's new Driver Assist semi-autonomous features, along with the Discover Pro on the e-Golf SEL Premium, the top-spec MIB-II model in VW's new range. It's a noticeable improvement over the old infotainment platform, pairing a sizable 8-inch capacitive touchscreen with easily stabbed and grabbed shortcut buttons and knobs.

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Record $105m fine for Fiat Chrysler over recalls

Record $105m fine for Fiat Chrysler over recalls

Fiat-Chrysler will buy back as many as 500,000 trucks in a hugely costly settlement with the NHTSA that also includes a penalty that could reach $105m. News of the buy-back comes after the beleaguered manufacturer agreed to recall a whopping 1.5m cars, SUVs, and trucks late last week, with today's record fine coming after the firm failed to convince the US safety regulator that it handled a total of 23 recalls affecting in excess of 11m vehicles effectively over the past few years.

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Walmart’s new smart infant car seat combats heat stroke deaths

Walmart’s new smart infant car seat combats heat stroke deaths

Walmart has decided to tackle the very tragic problem of infant heat stroke deaths that result when a baby is forgotten in the car. Unfortunately, the summer months bring high heat in many states and that heat results in cars that get very, very hot in a short period of time. Routine changes, quiet naps and more have resulted in drivers forgetting they have a child in the back seat, and, tragically, this is often a fatal mistake. Walmart's newly developed car seat combats this using a mixture of sensors, wireless technology, and an audible alarm.

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Here’s what Honda’s new R&D hub in the Valley is working on

Here’s what Honda’s new R&D hub in the Valley is working on

You're nobody in automotive these days without a flashy R&D center in Silicon Valley, and Honda is stepping up its game as it cooks up new semi-autonomous driving, green engine, and smart car technologies. While it's not Honda's first footprint in the Valley - that happened back in 2000 - it's certainly the biggest play from the firm, with the new facility the company's largest research & development site outside of Japan. The fruits of the new center will eventually trickle down to production cars, but Honda gave us a sneak peek of what it's been working on.

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Ferrari’s having its own Takata airbag troubles

Ferrari’s having its own Takata airbag troubles

The Takata airbags issue has affected several auto makers, and has unfortunately claimed lives. Millions of cars are the subject of recalls as a result, and though the problem has been going on for a while now, it shows no signs of slowing down. Ferrari is the latest auto maker to be affected by Takata airbags, but not for the reason you think. Rather than the current airbag issue, the auto maker discovered a separate problem with some airbags supplied by Takata that deploy incorrectly and could, as a result, cause injury.

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Ford’s new headlights detect people in the dark, widen at intersections

Ford’s new headlights detect people in the dark, widen at intersections

Ford has just debuted its new prototype headlight technology that can detect and warn drivers of people, animals, or other hazards on the sides of roads at night. The system uses infra-red cameras to identify things such as people walking their pets or cycling, and then adjust the direction of the lights so they are easier to see. In addition, the lights will widen their beams automatically when the system detects intersections or other hazardous turns, improving drivers' visibility.

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Google offers inside look into driverless car collision with human driver

Google offers inside look into driverless car collision with human driver

While news reports about minor collisions involving Google's self-driving cars are getting more common, the company has for some time now tried to explain that nearly all the accidents are the result of human error, and not caused by software or other technical glitches. Chris Urmson, the head of Google's driverless car program, has written a new blog post on Medium that offers a detailed, inside look at a recent collision, and how the self-driving Lexus performed exactly as it should have.

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Land Rover software bug causes doors to open on their own

Land Rover software bug causes doors to open on their own

You're driving along and all is well until you turn and your door swings open -- a door you're sure was firmly shut when you got in the car. Such is a potential problem some Range Rover owners are facing due to a software bug that may cause the doors unlatch on their own. A door opening without warning could distract the driver and cause a wreck, could result in property damage, or could on the extreme end of things cause a passenger who isn't wearing a seat belt to fall out of the vehicle.

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Automakers hoarding driver data as Apple and Google circle

Automakers hoarding driver data as Apple and Google circle

Unable to ignore Apple and Google's efforts to infiltrate the dashboard, car makers are picking different routes to collaborate and compete, with driver data the prize. Platforms like Android Auto and CarPlay - which allow smartphone users to plug their device into a car, see a subset of apps and services more safely displayed on the vehicle's own systems, and control them both by voice and physical buttons - are increasingly being expected by new car buyers. Tensions around what data sharing is required has slowed the spread, however, as manufacturers wrestle with the pros and cons of allowing Apple and Google into their dashboards.

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Selfie sticks blamed for death caused by lightning

Selfie sticks blamed for death caused by lightning

Selfie stick users beware. It isn't just Disney and museums who have vendettas against the contraption. It seems Mother Nature as well has taken issue with the monopods. Or at least the Brecon Beacons mountain range in Powys, Mid Wales has a beef with the stick. In two separate events around the same mountain, two men died after being struck by lightning. One of them was allegedly using a selfie stick at the time, giving rise to theories that this accessory could be an effective but lethal lightning rod.

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