How to Track Your Routine Car Maintenance With Dash

Your car needs a lot of routine maintenance, from changing your oil to rotating your tires, and a bunch of things in between that you forget about until they start to break. Fortunately, Dash makes it easier to keep track of when you need to perform basic maintenance. Here’s how to set it up.

We’ve mentioned Dash before as a handy way to keep track of basic information about your car, like your license plate, VIN, and odometer read out. Dash can also remind you when you need to do regular maintenance. If you use an OBD-II adapter to pair your phone with your car, Dash can even track your mileage and remind you when it’s been 5,000 miles since your last oil change, for example. We’ll assume you’ve already added cars to your garage in Dash, but if you haven’t, check out our guide here. You can also download the app for Android and iOS here.

To set up notifications from Dash, open the app and click the car icon in the bottom left corner of the screen.

Next, tap on the car you want to get notifications for in the list of cars you’ve previously added on Dash.

Tap the Maintenance tab underneath the…

How to Use Amazon Garage to Find the Right Parts For Your Car

When you need to find a part for your car online, you need to be exact to make sure you get the right thing. Amazon Garage lets you add information about your car and then search only for the parts that fit your car. So, the next time you need brake pads or headlight bulbs, you don’t have to look up part numbers to find what you need.

Amazon Garage lets you save information about the various cars in your household. While it can’t hold identifiable information like your VIN or license plate number (for that, we recommend an app like Dash), it can store the make, model, and year of your car. It can also identify or save more detailed information like your engine size, trim style, and transmission type. Once you’ve entered your info, you can search Amazon Garage for parts and you’ll only see results that match your car.

To get started, you’ll need to add a car to your garage. Head to Amazon Garage here, then click “Add your first vehicle.”

Enter your vehicle type, year, make, and model into the box that pops up. Click Add when you’re done.

If you just want to enter basic car information, you’re done. However, when…

Self-Driving Cars Alleviate Traffic Flow

This week New York became the fifth state after Nevada, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California to begin accepting applications for self-driving cars. Autonomous cars are close to becoming reality and researchers have begun testing their effect on reducing traffic jams and congestion within population dense cities. What will be interesting to observe is how autonomous cars perform in New York City, which has the highest population density in the US.

Now, a new study out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign finds that autonomous vehicles on the road can also reduce the effects of phantom traffic jams. These instances occur when a car within a steady flow of traffic uses its brakes causing a ripple effect of stop-and-go traffic all the way down the line. Due to intelligent speed control, autonomous vehicles can reduce the amount of speed deviation of all cars in a phantom traffic jam by 50%. In turn, this reduces the amount of braking down the traffic line and can reduce fuel consumption by 40% through reduced braking and acceleration, which will save money and be good for the environment.

 What’s so intriguing is this study only included a single autonomous vehicle within a 20 car file. The car used for this study was also not as advanced as Waymo or the industry standards most companies are trying to achieve. The car was actually equipped with simple cruise control features, already available in most luxury cars.

Companies, such as Google, Tesla, Apple, and Uber are expected to start marketing their autonomous rides and test driving them in the empire state. Fans of these companies are already getting excited. Applications and the trial period will end April, 2018, but may be extended for an additional year barring any mishaps before then. Testing is prohibited near school zones and a $5 million insurance policy must be taken out on all autonomous vehicles.

In the rise of regulatory scrutiny, California is actually one of the states attempting to rewrite its autonomous vehicle laws. Cities like San Francisco, home to Uber and Lyft, and other smart cities across the California have benefited tremendously from ride sharing programs to alleviate traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions.

This study comes after news that Mercedes was scrapping regulatory approval for the development of consumer diesel vehicles. While touted as more fuel efficient than standard gas powered cars, less than 1% of American car sales include diesel vehicles.

Globally, electric vehicle (EV) sales rose 42% during Q1 of 2016, signifying a sharp rise in consumer demand for hybrid cars. Ford, the maker of the Mustang and a long line of hemi trucks is the top manufacturer of ecoboost engines and within the top three car manufacturers in EVs/hybrids. Increased consumer demand for EVs comes in congruence with the increased demand for autonomous vehicles despite all of the doomsday paranoia and safety concerns.

Take GM’s purchase of Cruise Automation and Ford’s purchase of Argo AI as evidence that the future of automotive manufacturing is in autonomous vehicles. Simply pumping out more steel and concrete from a factory to fill the roads with standard cars is not a viable option.

There are currently 263 AI startups in the autonomous vehicle vertical alone. The race for the first and best autonomous vehicle to market has resulted in an intense legal battle between Google and Uber. Despite this, Google has announced it will be allowing hundreds of families in Arizona to test drive the Waymo. Google is also increasing the number of autonomous Chrysler Pacific Hybrids on the road to 600.

Mercedes has promised self-driving taxis in three years and Ford has promised self-driving cars by 2021. GM is even testing out an app for ordering the autonomous taxis. Seeing how each car will enlist different technologies and advanced features will be truly exciting. Uber is expanding its research of self-driving cars outside the US and Toyota has enlisted Nvidia’s Xavier processor for its intelligent vehicles. The future of autonomous vehicles is inevitable, but how state policy and our social concerns will interact with this awesome technology will dictate the how big of an effect autonomous vehicles will have in solving our city’s traffic issues.

The Best Apps to Use With Automatic Pro

Automatic Pro is a powerful app and OBD-II adapter that lets you monitor your car from afar, log your trips, and even get assistance in an accident. Best of all, you can expand its capabilities by connecting it to third-party apps and services designed to enhance what Automatic Pro already does. Some of them are pretty niche, but these are the ones that are probably worth your time.

Ask Alexa About Your Car

Automatic Pro has its own Amazon Echo skill that lets you find out information about your car from any Alexa-enabled product in your home. The Alexa skill isn’t super robust, but it offers a few key voice commands that are handy from inside your home:

  • Say “Alexa, ask Automatic where my car is,” to find out where your car is currently located. This is particularly handy if you’ve installed Automatic Pro in your kids’ car to monitor their driving.
  • Say ““Alexa, ask Automatic how much gas I have,” to find out if you’ll need to fill up the next time you leave the house.
  • Say ““Alexa, ask Automatic how far I drove last week,” to get a brief report on how much time you’ve spent in your car recently. You can also ask for how much you drove in the last month or year.

If you have an Amazon Echo in your home, this is the essential app to set up. You can enable the Automatic Pro Alexa skill here, or find it in the Automatic Pro app gallery.

Get Your Home’s Temperature Ready With Nest

Your Nest can already detect when you’re away from home and turn itself off automatically, but out of the box it can only tell when it needs to turn back on once you’re already home. It could learn your habits over time, or you could just tell it when you’re leaving work directly. Automatic Pro’s Nest app can help with this. Automatic’s Nest app has a special feature that allows you to precondition your house on the drive home so it’s ready by the time you get there, using your location at work and traffic data to gauge how long it will take you to get home.

The Automatic Nest app also has some special tools that give you a bit more control than the regular Nest app. For example, you can schedule your Nest to start warming up the house when you leave work between 4PM and 8PM. This means that when you leave the office at noon to get lunch, Nest won’t assume you’re on your way home and turn on the air conditioner. You can connect to the Nest app for Automatic Pro here.

Use IFTTT and Stringify to Connect Your Car to the Rest of Your Digital Life


Prepare Yourself for the Sweet, Sweet Luxury of Riding in a Robocar

As electric and autonomous driving tech evolves, vehicles like Tesla’s Model X offer new visions of life inside the car.

The driver’s seat may be on the left side, but it has long rested at the center of the way cars are designed. The basic interior setup derives from that of the horse-drawn carriage, with ready access to acceleration, steering, and braking systems, 360-degree visibility, and the necessary sightlines over the power source in front.

The forces reshaping the nature of transportation are conspiring to shift that focus away from the driver—first toward the rear row, and eventually toward a kind of vehicle that defies conventions like front and back seats.

As traffic increases and commute times extend, consumers with money to spend (especially in China) are hiring chauffeurs and retiring to the back seat. Look, for example, at the introduction into the American market of long-wheelbase, rear-seat biased vehicles like the BMW 5-Series GranTurismo or the Volvo S60 Inscription, originally developed for Chinese buyers.

The booming ridehailing industry brings the same backseat luxury to the masses, and so automakers are creating vehicles with users other than the driver in mind. New vehicles developed for that new use, from Nissan’s NV200 “Taxi of Tomorrow” to Faraday Future’s FF91, deliver outrageous rear legroom for their size.

“Consumers are spending more time in their vehicles, and they’re traveling on roads that are more congested,” says Michael Harley, analyst for industry research firm Kelley Blue Book. “We are sitting idle, expecting to be pampered, informed, and entertained.”

The changes won’t stop there. The rise of electric propulsion will let more and more designers rethink how they shape their vehicles, without a bulky engine up front or a transmission tunnel running through the car’s center. They can move the passenger compartment forward toward the front wheels and extend it backward toward the rears. In effect, they can make small cars feel bigger. The all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, for example, is a compact car that easily accommodates six-foot-tall adults in its backseat.

Some design conventions will persist—like a smartphone camera’s ersatz shutter…

Why Intel believes 5G wireless will make autonomous cars smarter

Above: An artist’s illustration was part of the “When Cars Can Talk: Readying the Network for 5G and the Autonomous Driving Era” presentation at Intel’s one-day autonomous driving workshop.

The Internet of Things is expected to grow quickly to tens of billions of connected devices, from smart refrigerators to smart showers to smart cruise ships. And pretty soon, it’s going to extend to smart cars, Intel demonstrated at its recent autonomous cars event in San Jose, Calif.

But Intel knows that we’ll have to get data in and out of those cars at rates that are much faster than today’s LTE mobile networks can handle. And that’s why Rob Topol, general manager of Intel’s 5G business and technology, believes that 5G wireless networking will be like the “oxygen” for self-driving cars.

Intel is making 5G modem chips to transfer data at gigabits a second over wireless networks in the future, perhaps as early as 2020. Topol believes this wireless networking will enable self-driving cars to communicate with connected infrastructure. That infrastructure will help the cars process sensor, safety, and information for the car and return the results quickly to the cars.

“What we were showing with that demonstration is a capability called V-to-X – vehicle to infrastructure, vehicle to pedestrian, or vehicle to vehicle,” Topol said. “You’re utilizing the other objects and using a network to give the car vision beyond things it can’t see through the mechanisms in the car itself. Something that’s happening around the corner or further ahead.”

We talked about 5G and its connection to autonomous driving in a recent interview. Here’s an edited transcript of our talk.

Above: Rob Topol, general manager of the 5G business at Intel.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

VB: Where are we on the timeline for 5G?

Rob Topol: As you’ve seen, there’s been lot of work going on in 5G over about the last year and a half. It started with developing the air interface, how it works between the device and the core access network. It starts with the trial specifications we’ve been doing, where you try out different things like modulation or channel coding, essentially building this new radio.

The timeline is that you do many of those trial specifications over about a year to two years. All that work you do in the field, testing with partners and building a recipe, you take them to the standards bodies and submit them as contributions. Intel and other companies will submit their ideas and say, “This is what we think the standard should be based on.” The voting happens in 3GPP from a cellular standpoint, with the first round later this year. In December, the New Radio, or NR specification, will be set, and the full release for 5G happens in Q3 of 2018.

Once the NR spec is set, that’s when you’ll start to see development around the modems, around the networking equipment to support that. Full release 15 is at greenlight. That’s when you see the Capex orders come in from network operators to the infrastructure companies. Intel puts its chipset designs into production. You start to see some operators roll out networks as early as 2019. You’ll probably see most do them around 2020. Typically, once the full release is done, it’s about 18 months until you start to see the networks deployed in a broader way.

VB: How do you help people get an appreciation for how important this is? What’s at stake? What will people get out of it?

Topol: We focus on the things that 5G is about that 4G was not, if that makes sense. 4G was the era of the smartphone — data proliferation, access to media, mobility in general, with something in your pocket. 5G is an era beyond the smartphone. Over the next five to 10 years, we have billions of connected things coming up all around us. As we make everything from a refrigerator to a car to a home to an enterprise network smarter, the compute that’s happening—more data is sent through a network, whether to help improve the service model or the user experience of those things, or to harvest that data for machine learning and data analytics, any sort of behavior or artificial intelligence work.

We look at 5G as the platform that helps all of those other verticals grow. We see some of the early use case research. We see a lot of promise for 5G in automotive. We see a lot of promise for smart home and enterprise, if you move networks more to a fixed wireless capability. Not just relying on fiber and other LAN connections. We’re also looking at industrial automation. We have a few projects in that space, helping get a lot of that incubation going. What does a connected factory mean? How does it operate? How would a factory benefit in productivity, in the way machines are set up and run and optimized, when the factory is connected? What capability does that bring?

How do we help people with that vision? We show as many of those use cases as early as we can. We go out and showcase with automotive companies, showing them 5G in a car, so they can see the way data comes into the car for the way it functions, for safety, and more important for bandwidth, the way our experience inside the car is going to change when it’s autonomous. When you’re sitting in the back seat of that car, your experience changes. You’re not required to be fully focused on where it’s going and what it’s doing. The bandwidth requirements in the car are going to grow exponentially as our time is freed up inside the vehicle.

We do the same thing in industrial automation. We set up a partnership with GE and Honeywell and Ericsson called the 5G Innovators Initiative. We’re blueprinting what we think the factory of the future could and should look like, how it would operate. We try to give people that vision. We’ll do that for how drones are used. We’ll do it for fixed wireless in home and enterprise. We’ll do it for media and viewing experience. We’re working with media companies to look at the way media is captured and how it’s transmitted and how it’s consumed. That’s another major focus area of that initiative.

Above: Intel is moving fast into autonomous cars.

Image Credit: Intel

VB: I’ve seen different kinds of reports about how big 5G is going to be as a contributor to the global economy. What do you think about that? Is this going to transform society?

Topol: It opens new business models. As you talk about a smarter city, or a more efficient factory, or a vehicle that can run autonomously, it does change our behaviors, our habits, and what we can do with our time. I’d agree that 5G will open up many new business opportunities, primarily because of the data that’s coming off these smart and connected machines all around us. The ability to analyze, compute, and harvest that data is going to make us smarter in the way we lay out cities, set up factories, drive cars, and do other things around us.

There’s a tremendous opportunity. I don’t have a specific study we’ve done yet. Our focus is to deliver the technology baseline and the use cases around it. We’re confident that our partners are going to build great business models around it.

Our strategy from the start, as we said at CES, is end-to-end capability. Intel is the only company that sells hardware solutions from the device all the…

RV Hall of Fame and Museum

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1954 Spartan Mobile Home PunkToad/CC BY SA 2.0
RV/MH Hall of Fame PunkToad/CC BY SA 2.0
Mae West’s RV PunkToad/CC BY SA 2.0
1958 Airstream PunkToad/CC BY SA 2.0

Taking home on the road has long been a popular pastime, and ever since the invention of the automobile Americans have been manufacturing recreational vehicles to do so, formerly called “house cars.” Some of the most important and interesting campers and motorhomes in the history of the industry are on display at this museum in Elkhart, Indiana, the “RV capital of the world.”

Studebaker National Museum
South Bend, Indiana

The RV/MH Heritage Foundation established an RV museum in Elkhart County, where more than 80 percent of RVs are manufactured. (It all started with a man who built a trailer so he could take his family on…

3 reasons we’re not ready for autonomous cars

Many auto manufacturers, tech companies, and legislators predict that by 2021, self-driving cars will take to the roads, further accelerating the future of transportation.

Before that happens, one topic that needs further attention is the evolution and roll-out of self-driving technology. Today, many cars offer some form of self-driving capabilities — all of which require constant driver attention — and in many cases there is a gap between what drivers think the car can do and what the car can actually do.

Here are three things the public needs to consider when it comes to the self-driving conversation.

1. The stages of self-driving are varied

Klashwerks recently conducted a survey that found 74 percent of respondents are familiar with the term “self-driving car.” However, many people don’t realize there are various levels of self-driving cars, ranging from semi-autonomous to a fully autonomous car that won’t require the attention of any driver. For instance, Tesla’s autopilot feature falls into the Level 2 category: It lets the cars accelerate, maintain lane positions, and change lanes without input from the driver — but the human must keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Level 4 cars, on the other hand, are nearly autonomous; many auto manufacturers have their sights set on this, even in the short term.

2. Semi-autonomous isn’t foolproof

While many people want a future that’s autonomous, we need to take a step back and evaluate the progress so far. Early tests of self-driving, driverless, or semi-autonomous vehicles have resulted in some accidents, such as Google’s self-driving crash, Uber’s self-driving cars running red lights or driving in the wrong direction, and Tesla’s autopilot accident that killed its driver. Significant moments…

Two major carmakers just added Android to their cars’ dashboards

Android Auto is coming to even more cars.
Android Auto is coming to even more cars.

Android is coming to your car — and you won’t even need to bring your phone along for the ride.

A year after Google teased the experience, Android-powered car infotainment systems are much closer to reality. Full Android integration is a step beyond Android Auto, where users can project car-specific versions of apps (like Maps) to a dashboard running some other software; now Android powers the entire system.

The first two carmakers to show off Android-powered cars are Audi and Volvo, and at least one of concept vehicle — Audi’s flashy R8 sport — will be on display at this week’s Google I/O developers conference.

The deeper Android integration means more Android’s features — such as Google’s voice-activated Assistant — will run natively on dashboards. Beyond the usual Android Auto fare of Spotify and Google Maps, you could also use voice to control things like…

Exploring the World of Pixar, Holographic Cars, Intelligent AI, and More at GTC 2017

Nvidia’s 2017 GPU Technology Conference was a whirlwind of technological marvels and advancements. The keynote presentation was especially interesting, and just a non-stop barrage of everything Nvidia has in store, from smart cars to a new breed of intelligent A.I. The keynote speaker, Nvidia’s President and CEO Jensen Huang, was full of life and energy as he paced the stage and interacted with industry heads, like Amazon and Microsoft, as well as fellow coworkers speaking from a fully functional holodeck.

Holographic Car

The holodeck presentation faced a few technical issues in the beginning of the presentation, but that did nothing to diminish just how cool it was to see. Christian von Koenigsegg, the creator of the world’s fastest supercar, the Koenigsegg Regera, took the audience on a virtual tour of the vehicle. The holodeck captured an exact 3D replica of the Regera, from its beautiful exterior to the powerful engine.

An x-ray feature of the holodeck offered glances of the inside of the car, including the engine and computer systems. The holodeck could also split the car into every single one of its individual parts. Both of these features are going to revolutionize how mechanics-in-training get to interact with unfamiliar vehicles.

Koenigsegg even showcased how the objects in the holodeck were “solid.” His hands could not pass through the parts of the car, no different than the real world. He even got into the car, started the engine, and was able to grip the steering wheel and drive around. From outside the holodeck, even I could feel the power of the Regera emanating from the hologram. It looked so cool. If that holodeck can feel as amazing as it looks, video game VR might be facing a major upgrade in the near future.

The New Tesla V100

Square Enix Takes the Stage

Square Enix was one of the last companies I expected to see during Huang’s keynote presentation. They showcased what a trailer for their animated film Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive, as well as what their video game character models and environments, would look like with Nvidia’s new Volta GPU. I have never seen graphics that good. For the first 10-15 seconds of the trailer, I honestly could not even tell I was watching CGI. Everything looked so lifelike.

I was able to experience this new engine first-hand on the exhibit floor later that day. I got to play Mass Effect: Andromeda with graphics I had never seen before. I could see individual pieces of code dance across Ryder’s wrist whenever he used his Omnitool. It was stunningly beautiful and I wish I had photos that captured how good it looked. I was way too busy exploring Andromeda and wishing I could play the whole game right then and there. When it comes out, the Volta will be a must for any gamer looking to build a gaming PC.

The End of Our Galaxy

Speaking of Andromeda, did you know that (if the human race is still around by then) that galaxy is going to crash into the Milky…