Pasted image at 2015_09_03 03_43 PM

Volkswagen Dieselgate Sheds Light On Software, Auto App Developers Still Frustrated, And Connected Car Tech On Track To Make Billions

The Volkswagen Dieselgate saga is still dominating the automotive news world, with more VWs being swept into the scandal and other automakers beginning to get on the defensive. If you’re looking for some great reads, check out the Economist‘s piece for some background and solid analysis and learn more about the researchers that discovered it at the Guardian.

But the real story is about software.

Cars these days are reaching biological levels of complexity.

– Chris Gerdes, professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University.

The New York Times delves into the history of software in the car and how it’s reshaped both the industry and provided new ways for automakers to continue a longstanding tradition of cheating on emissions tests.

The call to begin open-sourcing the software that runs cars has been ongoing, but Dieselgate might give it the mainstream push it deserves. Both NetworkWorld and Forbes contributor Theo Priestley make the case. Again.

And if you’re wonder if an Automatic adapter can do anything to rectify the issues, check out our response in Community.

The biggest issue for app developers hoping to make inroads into cars is the ridiculous number of platforms they have to support. That’s easy for a massive outfit like Pandora, but as Automotive News points out, it’s completely untenable for the smaller players that might create the next great in-car app.

We’ve seen plenty of reports about how much business potential there is in the connected car space, but Business Insider’s Intelligence program puts a figure on it: $152 billion by 2020. Most early estimates were around $40 billion, but the pace of investment and innovation could make both those numbers look soft.


6 Technologies Paving the Way for the Autonomous Car

Let’s be clear: autonomous cars are still a ways off. At the very earliest, we’re a decade away from being able to take a nap during a one-person road-trip. But don’t let that get you down. Some of the amazing tech that will enable autonomous cars is already here, however…

The good news: A raft of new technologies are going to make traveling safer well before we reach self-driving nirvana.

The bad news: We’re not all going to get this stuff at the same time.

Technology starts at the top and works its way down. High-end, luxury car owners will get laser headlights, hands-free highway cruising, and futuristic heads-up displays (HUDs) before the rest of us peons. But that’s how these things work. The first anti-lock braking systems were developed for cars in the ‘60s, and were available on high-end models in the ‘70s. Eventually, ABS became standard on all cars, and now it’s required on any new car sold in the U.S. Same with traction control and soon, back-up cameras.

So let’s pretend we’re all glass-half-full people and look at the positive side. We’re all going to be living in the future really, really soon, and this is the technology paving the way.

Continue reading…

Pasted image at 2015_09_03 03_43 PM

Google And Apple Loom Large Over Frankfurt, White House Launches “Smart Cities” Initiative, and VW Gets In The Security Game

Shockingly enough, there is more news out of the auto industry than Volkswagen’s Dieselgate scandal. The Frankfurt Auto Show wrapped up last week and the Germans went suitably nuts on their home turf. There’s a lot to see, and Autoblog has you covered on the cars, but the shadow of Google, Apple, and other tech companies vying for a slice of the mobility pie loomed large in Germany.

The White House announced its new “Smart Cities” initiative, doling out over $160 million in research grants to leverage 25 new technology programs that will tackle everything from traffic congestion to climate change. It also includes testing regimens for IoT applications to tap into driving data, connected devices, and smart sensors. It’s a bold program that’s been years in the works.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has put together a series of best practices to secure “cyber physical systems” (read: connected devices), and is opening up the floor to public comment. Cars are a large part of the program and the NIST knows all too well that setting standards for these systems is not only in the public’s best interest, but has massive safety and security implications.

If you’re looking for some light reading, McKinsey put out a 40+ page report on how connectivity and automation is transforming the car industry. The major takeaway: people are more interested in connected car and advanced driver assistant systems, and more importantly, they’re content with data collection as long as safeguards are put in place. If you’re not ready to commit the time to the white paper, Reuters has a quick breakdown.

Ford announced the ability for developers to push in-vehicle notifications through the display and audio system through the new Sync 3 platform and AppLink. But as always, it’s having a hard time getting developers to take app creation for the car seriously when there are so many platforms and no consistency.

And to bring it all the way back to VW, the automaker has started an anti-hacking consortium with the help of insurance company Allianz SE, Bayer AG, and BASF SE to create [deep breath] DCSO Deutsche Cyber-Sicherheitsorganisation GmbH. Phew.

Pasted image at 2015_09_03 03_43 PM

FBI Worried About IoT, Intel Gets Into Auto Security, And How Science Fiction Has Failed Us

The FBI has officially put the Internet of Things on its watch list, citing security concerns about connected devices and how “cybercriminals” could exploit them. Included in the list of devices are lighting and HVAC systems, security cameras, medical devices, wearables, and smart appliances. The one thing missing? Cars. Is that a blindspot for the FBI or does the agency believe transportation security concerns deserve their own category? We’re guessing the latter.

IHS Automotive is out with a new report espousing the virtues of the connected car, noting the ability for over-the-air updates as a huge boon for automakers looking to push fixes and squash bugs in a more timely manner. The problem, as always, is implementation, with updates to core ECU software difficult for automakers to push out to vehicles on the road. Only a few automakers have integrated data connections in a small smattering of their vehicles, so they still have to rely on physical access to the car to update the software. Thankfully, that’s set to change, negating the need for dealers to install software themselves, and in the process, it could save automakers up to $35 billion by 2022.

Intel is establishing its own Automotive Security Review Board (ASRB) to research and collaborate with automakers and the suppliers they work with to keep vehicle computers on lock. The group, composed of researchers from around the world, is set to establish best practices and design recommendations for automotive systems, and unlike many other companies working the space, Intel plans to publish its findings publicly.

The town of Bethel, Alaska is an unlikely testbed for a car-free world. Of the 6,000 residents, very few own cars, instead opting for taxis and a flailing public transportation system. The reason? No roads lead in to or out of the city. The Atlantic has the story.

Alex Roy, the man who made an (unofficial) record-setting run across the country back in 2006 doesn’t believe in the Automotive Singularity. Instead, he posits the idea of the Autonomotive Singularity, where humans – the weakest link in the transportation chain – are finally removed from the equation. “It is Uber meets Skynet,” Roy writes at Jalopnik. The piece meanders all over the place, but it’s a worthy read. Who would have thought that KITT was the most modern incarnation of our driving future?

Pasted image at 2015_09_03 03_43 PM

BMW Gets More Connected, Samsung Takes On Android Auto, And How To Build A Smartphone-Controlled Garage Door Opener

Welcome to Digest, your regular dose of connected car news, updates, and opinions.

BMW rolled into Berlin’s IFA show with a new suite of ConnectedDrive apps and integrations. At Europe’s largest technology expo, the automaker showed off its new Apps for Automotive interface (A4A) that promises timely OTA software updates and more potential for third party apps. That includes a partnership with Deutsche Telekom’s Smart Home automation system that can control everything from room temperatures to SmartThings IoT devices. BMW also showed off a new i Remote app for the just-released Samsung Galaxy Gear S2 smartwatch, a streaming version of Germany’s n-tv news service, and further integration of GoPro cameras into the ConnectedDrive system to record video or take photos remotely.

At the same show, Samsung debuted its new Car Mode for Galaxy, which connects with MirrorLink-equipped cars to display navigation, music, and messaging services on the car’s built-in display. However, unlike Android Auto, there are no third party apps available, and at launch, it’s only available on Volkswagens equipped with the Car-Net E-Remote app.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a new breed of laser technology that will reduce the size, weight, and cost of visualization systems used on autonomous cars. The massive spinning LIDAR units mounted atop Google, Delphi, and other self-driving cars costs upwards of $80,000. This new technology would bring that price down considerably, and make it as small as a smartphone.

Twenty-five years ago, you could pick up something new and fun for nothing. Today, that’s next to impossible. Jack Baruth over at Road & Track has a great piece lamenting the lack of entry-level rides for young people, despite a plethora of used options.

If you want to get rid of your clunky garage opener, Make has an awesome how-to on using Blynk – a cloud platform that connects with DIY development boards – that allows you to control your garage door using an iOS or Android device. It doesn’t require much in the way of hardware and coding, and shouldn’t take longer than a few hours to build and install over a weekend.

6 Essential Back-To-School Travel Apps

Between books and classes and roommates and replenishing your ramen stash, you’ve got more than enough on your mind. You shouldn’t have to worry about getting around, getting up to date, and getting that gas cash back from your friend that’s always asking for a ride. We’re here to help with six of the most indispensable apps for your trek back to campus.

Continue reading…

tax tips for cars 2016

4 Surprising Auto-Related Tax Deductions

Unpopular opinion: your car doesn’t have to be a financial burden. There, we said it.

In fact, your car could save you a ton of money come tax season, especially if you use it as part of your job. Most people know about standard mileage rate and mileage deduction. What about the rest of those money-saving gems hidden in the unfriendly confines of tax law?

Don’t you wish you had advice from a professional? We’ve got you covered. Enter CPAs Lisa Green-Lewis and Stephen Krieger. Lisa is a Tax Expert for TurboTax, one of the most popular income tax preparation software packages. Stephen heads up his own tax practice in St. Louis. They shared the most important things to think about when you look for deductions, and here’s some of their advice.

Continue reading…