Cadillac takes its Super Cruise autonomous driving solution into the pilot phase, as Crashboxx Telematics releases a new prediction software tool
In this week’s Brief: Cadillac, Google, GMC, Lexus, TomTom, TripAdvisor, Lexus, Coyote, TomTom, J.D. Power, BMW, Singapore Nanyang Technological University, and Crashboxx Telematics
First Google. Then Audi. Now Cadillac has stepped into the autonomous driving arena. This week Cadillac’s semi-automated driving system “Super Cruise,” which lends the driver a helping hand with braking, speed control, and lane following, entered the real-world trial stage.
In the coming years, researchers will log hundreds of thousands of miles of test driving the system in a range of driving conditions—day, night, blue sky, rain, traffic, open road—with the goal of making the system production ready within the decade.
Super Cruise is specifically geared for highway driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic or on long road trips and still requires attention by the driver when lane markings and data are not available, in which case the driver is prompted to take back over.
It’s thus a less idyllic vision than the one Google has promoted—with drivers reading books or gazing out at vistas while their cars whisk them around hands-free—but it’s a step in the direction of autonomous driving nonetheless, made all the more significant by the fact that it’s a major car manufacturer pursuing it.
GMC also made news on the advanced driver assistance front this week when it announced that the 2014 GMC Sierra (out this summer) will communicate collision alerts and lane departure warnings to drivers by way of their rumps.
Specifically, the car has an optional Safety Alert Seat whose right bolster vibrates when the car is encroaching on the right lane divider (if there’s no turning signal on) and whose left bolster vibrates when it’s encroaching on the left divider. The whole seat vibrates when a potential collision is imminent.
In further ADAS news, Lexus revealed that the 2014 Lexus IS will come with an optional Premium Package that provides the driver with Blind Spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alerts. The Package will cost roughly $3500.
All drivers of the vehicle will get a remote touch human machine interface in the dashboard, which will control the car’s in-vehicle infotainment. Real-time traffic and weather info will come free of charge.
Elsewhere, last week we mentioned that TomTom plans to enter the French market with a new speed-cam warning app. This week, the dominant player in the French speed-cam warning market, Coyote, responded with a new speed-cam warning aftermarket device called “OYO.”
The device sits on the dash and works off a pay-per-use model in which drivers can pay for service day-by-day (€2), by the weekend (€5), by the week (€10), or by the month (€20). The device itself costs €69.
TomTom made news of its own this week when TripAdvisor agreed to license TomTom’s Global Geocoder Services. Moving forward, TripAdvisor will integrate TomTom’s location-based intelligence into its websites and applications, thus providing TripAdvisor's 200 million unique monthly visitors with pinpoint location data for every hotel or restaurant when posting or reading reviews.
TomTom also announced that it has launched TomTom Traffic in Russia. Given how congested Moscow is, a number of traffic data services already vie for market share in the crowded Russian traffic service space. TomTom will attempt to distinguish itself by providing, in addition to the standard tracking of traffic, forecasting features that indicate whether a jam is growing or dispersing and estimates as for how long the delays will last.
TomTom Traffic is now deployed in 32 countries and five continents—South America (and Antarctica) still await their first deployments.
A new study from J.D. Power found that drivers have a growing appetite for connected solutions in their cars, especially when it comes to technologies that allow them to communicate more easily and seamlessly and those that can save them money with fuel. The most coveted solutions include smartphone integration, a fuel economy indicator, and (go figure) active shutter grille vents.
The 2013 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study found that 82 percent of vehicle owners with smartphones cite pre-purchase interest in an in-vehicle device or application link that would connect their smartphone to their vehicle’s infotainment system, compared with 78 percent in 2012.
On the Asian front, BMW launched a new research facility to study trends in the future of mobility in Asia, with a specific focus on electric vehicles, human-machine interfaces, and mobility patterns and concepts.
The Future Mobility Research Lab will be based in Singapore, where it will be jointly run with Singapore Nanyang Technological University (NTU). BMW already has group labs with a number of universities around the world, including MIT in the U.S. and the Technical University of Munich in Germany.
Finally in insurance telematics news, Crashboxx Telematics released a new prediction software that forecasts the material damage of accidents in a matter of minutes, allowing insurers to estimate costs during an initial call with a policyholder. The goal is to give insurers an accurate indication of whether or not a car is totaled before it arrives at a body shop, where the insurer will ultimately end up paying that bodyshop an estimating fee.
Crashboxx DENT (Damage Estimates in Near Real Time) can be adapted for insurance telematics applications, where data from the onboard black box can be input automatically, generating preliminary cost estimates in real time.
“The new DENT application is an expert systems tool permitting insurers to perform triage much more accurately on their vehicles, lowering cost by sending total loss vehicles directly to the salvage auction, and shortening the claims process overall,” says Greg Bayley, Crashboxx CTO.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.
For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry Insight: Telematics and Apps 
Coming up in 2013: Insurance Telematics Europe 2013  on May 7-8 in London and TU Detroit  on June 5-6 in Detroit.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report , Human Machine Interface Technologies  and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics .