Autonomous car researchers at the University of Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation and private companies, have created an entirely artificial town that sprawls 32 acres, providing a controlled and highly malleable environment for testing driverless cars. Officially named “Mcity”, the fake town features moveable facades that can easily be arranged in all sorts of road conditions from blind corners to odd intersections, providing an ideal “simulated urban and suburban environment” for testing.
What Brands Should Do
Mcity is back with million-dollar investments from auto companies like Nissan, Toyota, Ford, GM, and Honda, who all have direct stakes in the development of autonomous vehicles. Yet, brands from other industry verticals like State Farm, Verizon, and Xerox are also invested in this fake town, presumably for their interest in this field. Although not immediately actionable for most brands, this artificial city nevertheless signals the acceleration of developing driverless cars and the impact it will have on adjacent industries such as car insurance and in-car communications, as well as the steps some companies are taking to get ahead of competitors.
Header image courtesy of U-M’s Michigan News
You’ve heard about Quantified Self, but what about the Quantified car. A new mobile app from Dash Labs is expected to track over 300 data points generated from your automobile from total passengers, to your destination, even identifying if you’re at home, at work or at the library. The data can be leveraged for driver insurance, enhanced navigation and even targeted ads based on driving history.
As part of Google’s “Art, Copy, Code” initiative to re-imagine advertising, the tech giant is developing the Smileage project in partnership with Volkswagen. The campaign leverages a social app that aims to make driving more fun by tracking your route, making driving suggestions and socializing activity while you’re in the car. The entire experience is powered by Google Plus and while it doesn’t have the capability at the moment, Smileage could benefit from bringing in interesting data points like speed and fuel levels to deepen their story.
I have a lot of doubts that we could get to a standard UI for cars anytime in the next few decades, but if there was a way to at least standardize around a couple key buttons that could be added to every steering wheel it would go a long way. It’s not impossible – all steering wheels already have one standard button in common (the horn).
It’s been a big month for Waze, the crowdsourcing mobile traffic app that already has over 30 million Wazers. After being tapped by FEMA and The White House to identify gas stations in need of fuel in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the startup also just launched its advertising platform showing the most relevant local merchants and big brand stores along your route. The self service platform is already being deployed by Dunkin’ Donuts, Circle K, and Jamba Juice. We’re big fans of the Waze’s technology which illustrates the power of knowing not only your audience’s demographic, but where they are and where they’re headed on the road.
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Kinect In The Car? It’s Coming
Americans more than ever are heading online to get purchase critical â€œinformation.â€Â Given the tough economic times, the value of every spare dollar means that people have to be more thoughtful about how they spend it.
As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reveals, auto purchases are no exception.Â Not only is general information about a car important but finding/affiliating with like consumers is spawning a growth in â€œnicheâ€ online sites.Â Even as U.S. auto sales have fallen by about 30% this year from a year earlier, more than 100 new auto-related Web sites have been launched, says research group Hitwise. Continue reading “Consumers turn online for car purchases”