America News: OnStar launches Stolen Vehicle Slowdown

America News:  OnStar launches Stolen Vehicle Slowdown

General Motors (GM) and OnStar have demonstrated a prototype technology that enables a stolen vehicle to be slowed down via a remote signal.

This new technology, known as Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, is the latest enhancement to OnStar’s Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance service. It will allow OnStar advisors working with law enforcement to send a signal to a subscriber’s stolen vehicle to reduce engine power to gradually slow down the vehicle.

Powered by OnStar’s newest generation of hardware (Generation 8), GM will make Stolen Vehicle Slowdown available on nearly 1.7 million 2009 model year vehicles, with Chevrolet accounting for more than 60% of the total.

Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance uses GPS technology to pinpoint the location of a vehicle that has been reported stolen. OnStar provides the location to law enforcement to assist with the vehicle’s recovery.

Once the law enforcement authorities have established a clear line of sight of the stolen vehicle, they may request OnStar to slow it down remotely.

OnStar then sends a remote signal to the vehicle that interacts with the powertrain system to reduce engine power, which will gradually slow the vehicle down. Safeguards will be in place to ensure that the correct vehicle is slowed down.

OnStar says that 95% of subscribers want the Stolen Vehicle Slowdown service.

Elsewhere in the world, remote interference with a stolen car is illegal. The controversy revolves around safety issues, and the arguments for and against disabling stolen vehicles were published in a feature article in a recent edition of the Telematics Update magazine.

However, in America, the benefits are seen to outweigh the debatable risks. OnStar expects the technology will not only assist in the safe recovery of subscribers’ stolen vehicles, but will also reduce fatalities resulting from police chases. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, about 30,000 police chases occur every year, resulting in approximately 300 deaths.

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