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Sabtu, 15 Oktober 2011

Google adds EV charging locations to Google Maps

EV charging station locations near Mountain View CA.

One of the big advantages of driving fossil fuel-powered vehicles is that it's easy to find a place to fill up. In the more than a century since the world's first purpose-built gas station was built in St. Louis, Missouri in 1905, a massive worldwide infrastructure has emerged to keep our vehicles running. As automakers make the move to electric vehicles, early adopters are faced with a lack of infrastructure to keep batteries charged, however, the number of public EV charging stations is steadily growing and Google is now doing its bit to help make tracking them down easier by adding EV charging station location information to Google Maps.

Using data primarily from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DoE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), users can now search a database of nearly 7,000 alternative fueling stations in the U.S., including 600 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) locations and have the results displayed within Google Maps. For example, searching on Google Maps for "ev charging station near los angeles ca" returns a map of the area with nearby stations highlighted.

EV charging station locations near Los Angeles CA.

To help develop a more detailed and accurate database of EV charging stations and ensure the database stays up to date, the NREL has launched the GeoEVSE (Geo Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) Forum. The forum was formed by the DoE's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center (AFDC) to provide EVSE manufacturers, distributors, installers and other stakeholders with a central, recognized repository for public EVSE location data.

As information is added to the NREL – and other – databases, Google will add the charging station locations to Google Maps.

Cobra SL3 GPS finds traffic cameras, is blind to radar

At first glance the Cobra SL3 looks like a normal radar detector, but it’s really a GPS-enabled speed camera locator. The SL3 features a built-in, updateable database of speed camera and red-light camera locations. Its LED indicators and alert tones warn you when you approach a camera location so you have time to slow down.

The Cobra SL3 does not detect police radar; it is a camera locator only. The SL3 uses a GPS receiver to determine when you approach one of the camera locations stored in its AURA database. In addition to speed cameras and red-light cameras, the AURA database also includes driving hazards such as dangerous intersections and as many as 1000 user-defined locations.

Cobra says the AURA database is updated every 12 hours and customers can access updates 24/7. Simply connect your SL3 to your PC using a USB connection and download the latest location information.

Speed trap databases are nothing new. Many navigation GPSs offer this feature, and point-of-interest (POI) packages of camera locations can be downloaded from the Web. There are even combination GPS/radar detectors on the market. On the other hand, radar detectors are illegal in some jurisdictions whereas the Cobra unit is legal. So is the Cobra SL3 for you? It depends on how many gadgets you already have on your dashboard, but for US$99 the SL3 may be worth a look.

Read the full press release or visit the Cobra website (but tread carefully as we've had some warnings about malware on the site).

Escort integrates GPS and radar technology in one device

Escort has integrated ticket avoidance technology and GPS navigation into one unit, the Passport IQ

Automotive radar and laser detector manufacturer Escort has announced the release of Passport IQ, which combines GPS navigation and radar detection technology in one handy unit. As well as getting you safely from A to B, the new driving accessory is said to be the first that also protects you from annoying and costly tickets by providing information on red light and fixed position speed cameras, known speed traps, speed limit information and more.

Based on Escort's Passport 9500ix GPS-enabled radar and laser detector, the Passport IQ sports a 5-inch, 480 x 272 resolution touchscreen color display. The navigation software provides voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, lane assist and visual 3D mapping powered by Navteq or detector mode. In either mode, the device is said to offer drivers protection from ticketing threats by overlaying red light and speed camera notifications, speed limit information and high risk speed trap warnings on the navigation screen.

The radar screens of the Passport IQ

The device benefits from Superheterodyne, Varactor-Tuned VCO, Scanning Frequency Discriminator and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) radar and Quantum Limited Video Receiver and Multiple Laser Sensor Diodes laser detection. It operates on all radar bands, including X, K, Superwide Ka, Ku, and instant-on Pop modes. Multiple front and rear laser sensors are said to offer 360-degree protection, and an AutoLearn feature "automatically learns and rejects false radar sources based on exact location and frequency."

Escort says that its intelligent system can "determine which threats are real and automatically locks out those that are false, including automatic door openers, motion sensors, and other sources that cause competitor radar detectors to constantly false alert when no real threats actually exist." The Passport IQ unit can also be connected to the Internet for updates from the company's Defender Database, which users can subscribe to for the latest safety camera and speed trap locations.

As well as giving turn-by-turn navigation instructions, the Passport IQ also indicates the current speed limit, location of known speed traps and points out where speed cameras are situated

The Passport IQ radar/laser detector with GPS navigation is available now for US$649.95, which includes a free 90-day subscription to the Defender Database.

Escort has also revealed plans to bring Bluetooth and live traffic information to the Passport IQ platform in a version of the device which will allow drivers to connect to a mobile phone for hands-free calling.

The display shows a known speed trap, the current speed limit

Wikitude Drive AR navigation system keeps your eyes on the road

The Wikitude Drive augmented reality navigation app overlays directional markers on real-time video of the road in front of you

Although many of us don't know how we ever managed without our car navigation systems, they are not without their flaws. For one thing, when that voice says "Turn left in 100 meters," you may find yourself looking out the windshield and wondering "Does that mean this left turn, or the one just past it?" The Wikitude Drive augmented reality navigation app is designed to address these problems, by overlaying directional arrows on real-time video of the road in front of you.

Drive works on select Android smartphones, that have sufficiently capable GPS sensors. Once it is loaded onto such a device, the phone is mounted horizontally on the inside of the windshield. Users have to supply their own suction cup windshield mount.

The phone's camera provides live video of the road, upon which three-dimensional route markers are superimposed - their transparency can be adjusted. In this way, even when drivers are looking at the screen, they're still seeing the traffic and pedestrians in front of them. There's also no ambiguity as to where they should turn. It is possible that the app could give drivers a false sense of safety, however, in that they might forget how little peripheral vision the phone's camera offers.

Upon leaving the car, drivers can switch to Pedestrian Mode, and continue to use the app to find their way on foot. Because there may be some situations in a which a conventional 3D map-only view is preferable, that mode can also be selected.

Wikitude Drive can be downloaded through the company website, which also has a list of compatible smartphones. So far, the app is only to users in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, France, Italy and the UK.

Blaupunkt's Travelpilot navigation system is quite similar, although it is available only as a complete device, not an app.

The video below shows Wikitude Drive in use.

New Garmin sat nav app aims to cut down rail crossing incidents in the UK

The UK's Network Rail and Garmin have developed a special sat nav app that causes the navigation device to sound a train-like whistle when the driver approaches a level crossing

The UK's Highway Code advises the use of care when approaching a level crossing, and to only drive onto a crossing if the exit is clear on the other side. After all, finding yourself blocked on the track when a train is coming is probably not a great position to be in (unless you can depend on Hancock to stop the train before it hits). While such things may seem like common sense, that doesn't appear to prevent drivers from taking stupid risks. Now, Network Rail and Garmin have teamed up to create a special sat nav app which will sound a train-like whistle when a driver approaches a level crossing.

The free LX app will work with Garmin's nüvi or nüLink sat navs and is available as one of Garmin's In-car Extras. It is hoped that the toot-toot sound, together with a large "X" to mark the spot of the approaching level crossing, will help improve driver awareness and so reduce the number of incidents that cause damage to vehicles or trains.

Further developments in the technology will offer drivers routes which avoid level crossings altogether or alter the route if barriers have been down for a good length of time, if the alternative is quicker than waiting.

The initiative follows a scheme where high-visibility British Transport Police vans equipped with license plate recognition cameras were positioned near crossings. During the first three months of operation, 1,131 drivers have been caught and prosecuted - which gives some indication of the problem. Between January and April this year, there have also been 31 cases of vehicles narrowly avoiding collision with trains, 58 collisions with barriers, a couple of vehicles being struck by trains and even a death.

Network Rail has produced the following short video demonstration of the new app:


Speaking, interactive dashboard avatar could replace owner's manuals

The Avatar-based Virtual Co-driver System is designed to replace a vehicle's owner's manual with an interactive video avatar

At one time not all that long ago, cars had a warning light on the dashboard that simply said "ENGINE." That's pretty vague. Really, it might just as well have said "CAR." Some newer automobiles now have codes that appear on the console, which the driver must then look up in an index in the vehicle's owner's manual. Working with Audi, Germany's Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) Institute of Business Informatics is now working on taking things a step farther, with the development of an on-screen avatar that will talk to drivers, and even understand their spoken questions.

The experimental Avatar-based Virtual Co-driver System (AviCoS) is designed to work with the monitor of the Audi Mulitmedia Interface, which already comes standard on all of the automaker's vehicles.
The system uses artificial intelligence to understand drivers' spoken questions about their car, and responds verbally. Descriptive images and videos also appear on-screen, with the animated avatar character pointing out relevant details. In Touch and Tell mode, drivers can also receive explanations of various vehicle functions by touching the appropriate areas of the screen.

As with many such driver assistance technologies, there is the possibility that AviCoS could distract drivers from paying attention to the road. The designers have somewhat addressed that problem, by suppressing first the image of the avatar, and then all of the graphics, as the vehicle's speed increases. Drivers remain able to converse with the avatar, however, which could still be distracting.

Down the road, the TUM researchers would like to see the system being able to identify the driver's state of mind, by analyzing their tone of voice and speech rhythm. If AviCoS determined that the driver was getting stressed out, it could lessen their sensory overload by suppressing its video output. Working with the car's other systems, it could also do things such as instructing the navigation system to provide directions earlier, and more often.

EV Profiler compares your driving needs to an EV's capabilities

The EV Profiler is a driving data recorder, that lets users know how specific electric vehicles would be able to meet their present driving needs

You may have heard people saying that most electric vehicles have plenty of range for an average driver's daily needs, but ... how does that apply to you? It would definitely be disappointing to purchase an EV, only to discover that your driving habits are significantly more taxing that what is considered "average." What would be good is if there was some sort of device that you could attach to your existing car, that would observe your driving habits, then tell you how a certain make and model of EV would stand up to those demands. That device, it turns out, exists in the form of the EV Profiler driving data recorder.
Instead of having to buy a Profiler, the idea is that prospective buyers of electric cars will rent one either from the EV Profiler company itself, or from a local auto dealer.

The gadget itself mounts with a suction cup to the inside of the windshield, and plugs into the vehicle's power port. Utilizing a variety of internal sensors, it then proceeds to log how far you drive, how fast you accelerate and cruise, the amount of time you spend going up- and downhill, how much you stop-and-go, and other factors that would influence the range of an EV. It actually started out as an app, but it was found that the sensors in smartphones were insufficient for its purposes.

The Profiler uploads the logged information to the company's servers every night, where an online profile is maintained for each user. Along with daily reports, at the end of a predetermined test period (typically about a week), you will receive an emailed final report outlining how the EV of your choice would be able to handle your driving needs.

Not only would that report tell you much juice the battery would have left after your daily drive, but you could also use it to determine how often you would need to charge the battery, what strength of charger you would require, how varying factors such as traffic might affect your range, how much money you would save on fuel, and how other models of EV would compare.

Ca-Fi: Android-based car infotainment system

Innotrends has unveiled its Ca-Fi Android 2.3-based infotainment multimedia system powered by 1.2GHz Cortex A8 CPU

Hong-Kong-based Innotrends has unveiled its Ca-Fi Android 2.3-based infotainment system for in-car use. Tailored for 2-DIN dashboards and running on a 1.2GHz Cortex A8 CPU and 512MB of RAM, Ca-Fi features 6.2-inch 800 x 480 (resistive) touchscreen, a 3G modem to surf the web, GPS to handle in-car navigation apps, Bluetooth support for hands-free calling and 4x45W audio output.

Ca-Fi infotainment system features a custom graphical user interface (GUI)

Featuring a custom graphical user interface (GUI), the unit comes with 8GB of built-in storage, music streaming capability, two SD card slots and USB input, DVD playback availability and an FM radio. Ca-Fi can be operated via controls on the steering wheel.
Most new cars these days come with specifically tailored multimedia equipment but some car owners might be tempted by an Android unit, as long as their vehicles' dashboards come equipped with a 2-DIN connection. Here's Innotrends' list of compatible vehicles.


The Rydeen GCOM701 tablet/GPS navigation hybrid device

Although manufacturers of dedicated car navigation systems have been hit hard by the surge in popularity of apps that give a smartphone all the navigational bells and whistles like turn-by-turn directions and voice guidance, dedicated systems still have their advantages – most obviously a larger screen size. But even that advantage could now be under fire from tablet computers that boast equal or larger screen sizes, along with wider functionality such as multimedia and Internet browsing capabilities. Recognizing this, car navigation systems company, Rydeen Mobile Electronics has teamed up with Marvell to produce the Rydeen GCOM701 – an Android powered 7-inch tablet that is being marketed as a tablet/GPS navigation device hybrid.

The GCOM701 features built-in Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, a front-facing camera and an internal microphone and speaker, enabling the use of Internet-based communications services such as Skype. Users can surf the web, read e-books and view photos or videos on the device’s 7-inch, 800 x 480 resolution TFT touch panel then, for navigation duties on the road the unit is preloaded with four million points of interest courtesy of Navteq.

"Consumers today expect their personal mobile connected devices to combine seamless connectivity, broad business functionality, a diverse communications suite and an enthralling multimedia experience in a convenient and elegant form factor," said Weili Dai, Marvell's Co-founder and Vice President and General Manager of the Consumer and Computing Business Unit of Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. "By integrating Marvell's ARMADA application processor technology into Rydeen's new portable navigation device, we are now able to create a compelling navigational experience unmatched in the industry" said Phil Maeda, President of Rydeen.

The GCOM701 will be available from November and will feature two color options, black or white. The price is yet to be announced.

Technical Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 205.04 x 110.92 x13mm

  • CPU/Operating System: Marvell ARMADA 166- 800MHz; Android OS

  • Screen: 7-inch TFT resistive-type touch panel; 800x480 pixel resolution

  • Memory: Internal: 2Gbit DDR2 SDRAM, External: MicroSD (removable) up to 32GB

  • Connectivity: GPS: High-Sensitivity GPS Receiver (NXP GNS7560) Bluetooth: Marvell 8688

  • WiFi: 802.11 b/g (Marvell 8688)

  • Playback Sources: Audio: MIDI, MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, PCM

  • Video: H.264, H.263, MPEG-4, RM, RMVB, AVI, FIV

  • Photo: JPG, TIFF, PNG Flash: Adobe Flash Lite 4

  • Power: 7.4V 2400mAh Li battery (internal) providing up to six hours of operation at full power mode and up to eight hours under normal usage conditions

  • Ports: Audio: 3.5mm Stereo Headphone Jack

  • Data: USB and Mini USB (2.0)

  • TomTom GPS navigator for bikers

    TomTom's navigation solution for motorbikes features a ruggedized waterproof housing, a 3.5" touchscreen with large, "glove friendly" icons, a secure universal mounting system and comes bundled with a Cardo scala-rider® Bluetooth® headset for in-helmet spoken instructions and hands-free phone calls.

    The Rider 2 includes access to the company's online map update and personalization service (TomTom Map Share™), pre-installed Tele Atlas maps of Western & Eastern Europe, a safety ‘Help Me’ menu that gives access to emergency services and roadside assistance, itinerary planning, plus trip statistics such as maximum speeds per journey, total miles travelled and distance from home. The rechargeable Lithium-ion battery is good for around five hours or can be wired into a 12 volt motorcycle battery. there's also an optional car mount kit for when you decide to swap two wheels for four.

    Specifications: 3.5” 320 x 240 full TFT colour LCD touchscreen (64k colors)
    High sensitivity GPS chipset
    Waterproof: IPX7
    SD card with maps of Europe pre-loaded
    Operating Temperature: -10° to + 55 °C
    Bluetooth® for hands-free calling and data connection
    Internal lithium-ion battery (5 hours operation)
    Power source: 12V DC battery, 110V AC charger
    Dimensions: 113.2mm x 96.2mm x 52.9mm
    Weight: 310 grams
    Price (Europe Edition): GBP 399.99


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