MyGuide’s Eco Navigator, Stanford University’s autonomous car, and more…

MyGuide’s Eco Navigator, Stanford University’s autonomous car, and more…

The device, the Eco Navigator, is the first to show drivers in real time their fuel consumption and carbon emissions and to provide advice on how to improve mileage and reduce emissions. Additionally, the transmitting device suggests the most fuel-efficient route to a destination.

“While many will understand that higher fuel consumption may lead to higher emissions, the visual impact of the real-time data display will change driving habits,” says Randy Kemps, vice president of sales and marketing at MyGuide Americas. “That is the true goal of this product. There is no other device on the market today with this functionality, global maps, and wireless access at a competitive price.” The Eco Navigator will be released in North America in December and in Europe in January 2010. MyGuide Americas is in discussions with partners in India, Russia, and Australia and hopes to launch in all three by spring 2010. The global communications provider Telenor Connexion will supply the product with global wireless access. “Telenor Connexion has a strong service and a total commitment to the telematics industry with a presence in every major world market, not only in North America and Europe but also in the growing economies of the world, such as India,” says Karin Karlung, PR and marketing communications, Telenor Connexion. “The ability to deal in these world markets through one global partner and one global SIM makes Telenor Connexion a very valuable resource in global market expansion.”

Qualcomm is on track to release a standard in-vehicle emergency call service throughout Europe in 2010. The service, “eCall,” will automatically alert emergency assistance in case of an accident. Hughes Telematics will help deliver the product uniformly across commercial wireless networks. Qualcomm and Hughes successfully demonstrated an eCall at the 12th Safety Forum Plenary meeting in October in Brussels, Belgium.

Valvoline announced a partnership with tiwi to provide fleets with better fuel mileage. The program, dubbed the “Fuel Proof Guarantee,” assures drivers that if they use Valvoline’s Premium Blue Extreme 5W-40 engine oil and Syn Gard FE 75W-90 gear oil in conjunction with tiwi’s driver monitoring system, which tracks speed, braking, acceleration, and more, they will conserve up to 4 percent of fuel per gallon—guaranteed.

GPS maker TomTom announced a new car kit for the iPod Touch. The kit provides drivers with secure docking for their iPhones, a built-in GPS receiver, and clear voice instructions. It also swivels and charges the iPhone. The Touch-specific car kit costs $99.95.

Gameloft, a major mobile games company, announced it would significantly reduce its investment in Google Android apps, stating that Google has failed to “entice customers to actually buy products.” While many app developers agree (iPhone apps still significantly outnumber Droid apps) some developers foresee 2010 as the year the Droid catches up. Whitepages announced a new app for the platform this week, and their VP of mobile came out with an editorial on why the Droid is due for a big year starting in January. Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Lab, in conjunction with the Volkswagen Electronic Research Laboratory, is designing a car that can steer around sharp turns at high speeds and negotiate spin-out and sudden braking—without a driver. The car is called the Autonomous Audi TTS and uses a combination of high-tech sensors, computer gadgetry loaded into the trunk, and a $100,000 GPS system that pilots the car like a virtual racecar driver. “We want to learn from rally car drivers and basically design equipment that mimics what they do,” says Krisada Kritayakirana, a third-year PhD student in mechanical engineering at Stanford. “And hopefully what we learn from this project we can apply to driver assistance systems. For example, if you’re about to spin out in a car, then the car will help prevent you from spinning out, similar to the racecar driver.”

The Stanford team named its Autonomous Audi TTS “Shelly” after the French rally car driver Michele Mouton. In 1985 Mouton became the first female rally car driver to win the Pikes Peak rally in Colorado. The Stanford team has its eyes set on a similar goal. Last summer it tested the car in the Bonnevile Salt Flats in Utah. In 2010 it plans to take the car to the Pikes Peak track where, if things go according to plan, the car will autonomously and quickly maneuver the track’s 12.4-mile, 156-turn climb to 14,000 feet. Kritayakirana says the ultimate goal of such a trial is not to make cars drive autonomously; that’s a question for artificial intelligence and computer science gurus to tackle. Instead, the Stanford team envisions incorporating their technologies into a vehicle assistance program that can take over or offer suggestions when a car is pushed to its limits. “For example,” says Kritayakirana, “if the driver turns too much or puts too much brake or throttle, then an assistance system could say, ‘This is too much steering or too much brake and this is what you should be doing instead.’ That’s what we are interested in.”

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