The 2015 Corvette: A valet's worst nightmare
The new Performance Data Recorder (PDR) is a boon to buyers of 2015 Chevrolet Corvettes – unless you earn your scratch by parking other people's cars. Aside from locking down the glove box and the infotainment system's 8in display, the PDR's new Valet Mode automatically activates an outside high-definition video camera, triggers the in-cabin microphone and monitors vehicle speed, engine RPM, gear position and even g-forces. Basically it's a buzz-kill for valets who might otherwise re-create the Ferrari-flogging in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The video and recorded driving data is available for instant review once the Valet Mode is unlocked, or can be downloaded later to a computer. What Valet Mode cannot do is prevent parking attendants from posting a few photos of said Corvette to their social media accounts, along with a few white lies.
Volvo scales up
Four years in the making – and a lynchpin of an $11bn transformation – Volvo's new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) has debuted on the all-new XC90 crossover. The Swedish carmaker says the SPA platform allows for the broadest range of powertrains, electrical systems and new technologies to be brought to bear on its products in coming years – an objective shared by Volkswagen Group, which is also pursuing a modular-platform strategy. Volvo's new modular chassis will allow more interior room for the XC90, its seven-passenger urban trekker, and will accelerate design processes across the model range.
US moves closer to vehicle-to-vehicle communication
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the US vehicle safety regulatory department, said it would move ahead for proposed rules for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. At the core of the regulations are the Left Turn Assist (LTA) and Intersection Movement Assist (IMA) technologies. The former will use sensors and V2V data to warn drivers if there's a chance their vehicle could hit an oncoming car while making a left turn. IMA warns drivers if the system determines there is a high probability of a collision in an upcoming intersection. NHTSA says these two systems could prevent 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year in the US.
Cars’ hackability exposed
This month at the annual BlackHat security conference, researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek released a 92-page document outlining a list of vehicles they deem most vulnerable to hackers. Vehicles were assed on three criteria: how accessible the point of entry was (via wireless connections such as wi-fi, Bluetooth, tire pressure monitoring systems, etc.); if those systems allowed access to more important functions such as steering and braking; and if those steering and braking systems had a high level of automation. The researchers’ conclusion? The 2014 Jeep Cherokee and Infiniti Q50, as well as the 2015 Cadillac Escalade, are the most exposed cars currently on sale – though it is worth noting no real-world tests were performed. For those looking for the least hackable car, the authors pointed toward the Audi A8.
Testing Google's real-world autonomous car ambitions, online
The digital juggernaut’s march towards self-driving cars is anything but news, but this month The Guardian tracked down additional info on the company's ambitions through a Freedom of Information request. What the news organisation discovered was a virtual world of California's road system, built by Google for its self-driving cars. Google wants the state to recognise the more than 4m miles of virtual testing logged in company simulators as a valid controlled trial, though California's Department of Motor Vehicles does not view the virtual testing as a substitute for tires-on-the-pavement driving.