We’re still quite a way from being able to read a book while the car reliably drives itself, experts say (Picture iStock/metamotorworks)
Safety experts have warned drivers that car makers could be lulling them into a false sense of security. One of the country’s foremost car safety experts believes motor manufacturers are overusing the word ‘autonomous’. As a consequence, drivers are getting the wrong idea about their cars’ capabilities.
Thatcham Research, an independent automotive safety specialist, and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) want car firms to be clearer about what the assisted driving systems on their cars can actually do.
What is the problem?
Confused? You might well be by car tech symbols (Picture iStock/FYMStudio)
The best labels should explain instantly what something is or does. Yet with a lot of in-car technology, drivers don’t know what the dashboard symbols mean. And in some cases they think the buttons operate a different function altogether.
That was the outcome of research conducted by online car seller Buyacar.co.uk. It asked 1000 drivers to identify six common dashboard symbols. Much of this kit now features as standard, even on mid-range family cars such as the Ford Focus. And some of it is important for road safety. Yet many of the symbols chosen by car makers aren’t descriptive enough for drivers, leaving them flummoxed. Do you know what the following six symbols signify?
Don’t reach a dead-end. Updating maps on a sat nav is straightforward
Portable sat nav units may no longer be the big-selling gadgets they were back in the noughties. But millions of drivers still rely on them to get from A to B in Britain and further afield.
Since the rise of the smartphone, more motorists now choose to use free apps, such as maps from Apple, Bing or Google, or pay for dedicated navigation apps.
Whichever drivers use, it can be annoying, time wasting and even dangerous if mapping is out of date and sends you down closed or unsuitable roads. Happily, it is possible to update the maps of dedicated navigation units. Here’s how to do it and what you can expect to pay.
Do you need to update your maps?
In the Hollywood blockbuster X-Men franchise, Patrick Stewart plays Professor Charles Xavier, who can read minds to help defeat the bad guys. Now one car maker claims to have developed real mind-reading technology that could help drivers to avoid accidents.
Nissan says it has developed brain-reading technology that not only works but could be fitted to cars within the next five to 10 years. It revealed the innovation at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.
It means people may one day be able to ‘drive’ their car using little more than their thoughts. Pull on your thinking cap and find out all about ‘brain-to-vehicle’ technology.
What does Nissan know that we don’t?
If your car is registered after 2012, it will probably be fitted with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). But I have concerns that drivers are relying too much on the technology and not performing regular tyre checks themselves.
My fears are that drivers could be putting themselves in danger by thinking TPMS is doing a job it is neither designed for nor capable of. Here’s how TPMS may not be the all-encompassing safety net many drivers think it is.
TPMS MOT failures rise dramatically
At this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, there was a glimmer of hope for anyone who thinks flying cars represent the future of personal transport. A company called AeroMobil, based in Slovakia, displayed its latest vision of a winged wonder. The good news is, thanks to advances in technology, it stands a healthy chance of reaching the runway.
Then there’s the news that this week, Dubai completed a test flight of the world’s first pilotless flying taxi, developed by Volocopter. Meanwhile Uber, the technology company that has disrupted the taxi industry, has signed deals with five companies that are developing air taxis and momentum is building.
The AeroMobil might be eye-wateringly expensive, but the market is surprisingly competitive and some big names from worldwide industry are joining the race, meaning costs are likely to fall. Here we look at how the flying car is spreading its wings, with four of the most promising models from around the world.
It’s a fact that the average age of a car in the UK is almost eight-years old. Given that millions more motors will be older still, many drivers are singing along to car sound systems that pre-date music streaming using Bluetooth. Plenty more are driving cars from a time when an apple was something you ate.
If that sounds familiar, there is some good news: it’s possible to upgrade an old car’s sound system. This means you’ll be able to play your latest digital music collection, or even use music streaming services, such as Spotify.
A wide range of clever accessories is available, and upgrades start from as little as £10. You might be keeping an old car going to get maximum value for money from it. Or you may own a classic car that’s from a time before iTunes. Whatever’s the case, you can use modern technology to upgrade your car’s sounds. Here’s how to put an end to the days of doing the time warp.
How do you play music from a smartphone with a cassette player?
Taking a test drive is one of the most exciting things about buying a car. But most drivers will agree that waiting months for a new model to arrive in showrooms, and having to go from one car dealer to another, invariably giving up their Saturday or Sunday in the process, is a chore they could do without.
That could soon become a thing of the past. New technology is bringing the car to the customer. Without even leaving home, it is now possible to conduct a test drive from the comfort of a favourite armchair – thanks to advances in virtual reality.
Car makers including Audi, Ford, Mazda, Peugeot and Volvo are experimenting with virtual reality as they look for new ways to entice car buyers. Here’s why it could play a part when you buy your next car. Continue reading
Car firms can now fit even the most modest motors with an astonishing array of safety equipment. It’s kit that’s designed to assist drivers and prevent crashes happening. But according to a study by What Car?, four times as many drivers prioritise connectivity, fancy audio units, navigation systems and alloy wheels over advanced systems that can help keep them, their passengers and other road users safe.
Many road safety experts believe this is because drivers don’t fully understand what the systems do, and how they can help. Here we investigate some of the most significant safety systems available on used and new cars.
Automatic braking systems
Tesla has updated the software of its Model S to help resist hacking attempts (Picture © Tesla)
As an acknowledged leader in the field of electric self-driving cars, California-based Tesla is the golden boy of the Golden State. But over the last couple of weeks, dazzling-white smiles have been thin on the ground at the American car maker. Hackers have revealed they could take over a Tesla’s brakes, open the boot and unlock doors, operate the indicators and even move the electrically adjusted seats.
The cyber attack was carried out remotely by Chinese hackers. Tesla has confirmed that it was informed of the vulnerability in its software and systems several weeks ago, and has subsequently issued updated software as a free download to all affected customers.
The American electric car manufacturer worked with Keen Security Lab, which approached Tesla after discovering the weak areas that led to the hack. Keen Security Lab is part of Tencent, one of the giants of China’s booming technology and communications industry.
How was the Tesla Model S ‘hacked’?