GM Super Cruise: The Future of Hands-Free Driving

One of the first things we are taught in driver’s education is how to properly hold a steering wheel. However, as technology progresses, our vehicles are increasingly gaining the ability to drive themselves. It seems that the future of driving is hands-free.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, General Motors made an exciting announcement during the Intelligent Transportation Society’s annual conference in Detroit. GM revealed that their newest hands-free technology, known as the Super Cruise, will be implemented in their entire line of Cadillac vehicles as soon as 2020. Super Cruise is already available in the 2018 Cadillac CT6 Sedan, and after 2020, it will be introduced into other GM models, including GMC and Chevrolet. This innovative feature is described as, “the world’s first true hands-free driving system for the freeway.” It should be noted that “hands-free” driving only applies to simple cruising, and that manual control is necessary when changing lanes and merging or exiting the highway.

According to Cadillac, Super Cruise relies on LiDar mapping, short for Light Detection and Ranging, to allow hands-free driving across 130,000 miles of limited-access freeway stretching the US and Canada. Along with LiDar, GPS informs the system of upcoming curves and hills for the vehicle to adjust accordingly.  Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), another element of Super Cruise, accelerates the vehicle and actives the brakes when necessary.

Another main component of Super Cruise is the embedded Driver Attention System. While the emphasis is on hands-free driving, that does not mean attention free driving! Cadillac’s exclusive head tracking software certifies that drivers have their eyes on the road. If the system notices a lack of attention, it will send a series of alerts to inform the driver to either pay attention, or re-engage their hands on the steering wheel. Additional cameras and sensors work to maintain the vehicle within the proper lane markings as a part of the Lane Keep Assist feature.

It is important to keep in mind that while this technology is cutting-edge, it has not yet been perfected. There are many limitations that drivers should be aware of to avoid an unintended distracted driving car accident. As mentioned earlier, full attention is required by the driver while using Super Cruise. This means that any handheld devices, particularly cell phones, should be kept out of sight. It can be tempting to rely on this innovative technology to do the driving while the occupants of the vehicle watch TV or text, but in doing so, the distracted driver puts themselves at risk of a car accident injury. A fast reaction time may be vital in preventing a car crash, if a traffic obstacle requires the driver to manually take control of the vehicle.

While important, it is not enough to simply pay attention to the road when Super Cruise is activated. The vehicle must be regularly taken in for scheduled maintenance to ensure that all cameras and sensors are working properly. Additionally, for the technology to work as intended, road lane markings must be able to be detected by the vehicle. Because poor weather conditions may impact detection, Super Cruise is best used in good weather.

As stated by Steve Carlisle, Senior Vice President of GM and President of Cadillac, “Cadillac is proud to be the leader for the company’s [General Motors] innovation.” Super Cruise is an impressive, realistic step towards fully autonomous driving. The ultimate goal of autonomous vehicles is to eliminate human error, making driving safer and easier. But for the time being, the technology necessary to make this goal a reality is still developing. While the concept of Super Cruise is hands-free, the driver’s hands should still be nearby, and their eyes should stay on the road ahead.


No matter which vehicle make you are driving, and no matter if it has Super Cruise or not, the driver's full attention to the road is essential. All it takes is a few seconds for a car accident to occur. If you or someone you know has been involved in a distracted driving car accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.

A Healthy Economy Can Cause Traffic Accident Deaths

The Detroit Free Press reported that traffic accident deaths have decreased last year after a 2-year spike in deaths. They do caution however, that it's not time for celebration just yet. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated that 40,100 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2017, which is down just under 1% from the 2016 total of 40,327. The NSC also said that it’s too early to tell if the decline in traffic deaths will continue to decrease, because the previous two years saw spikes in traffic accident deaths. Between 2014 and 2015, traffic accidents increased by 7%, making it the steepest increase in fatalities in the last 50 years. Before 2016, yearly traffic deaths had not yet reached 40,000. So, why the sudden increase in traffic deaths?

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Forbes.com reported that 2009-2012 were the worst 5 years of the US economy since the Great Depression. In December of 2012, the number of people employed declined by 3 million people. That means that between those 5 years, 3 million fewer people were working and fewer people were driving on the roads to and from work. Having fewer people driving on the road caused the number of traffic deaths to decrease to the lowest deaths per year. Supporting this is NSC data which shows that the lowest traffic accident deaths per year occurred in 2011 with 32,000 deaths. 

Following 2012, the economy started to get better and more people were employed. While a rise in employment is great news for the economy and the employed individuals, more people began driving more miles, which caused the spike in traffic accident deaths. As the economy recovered people began driving more often by going out on weekends, driving down unfamiliar roads, and driving longer distances, and while driving engaged in distracted driving behaviors.

The recovering economy explains why there are more people on the roads, which also explains the increase in traffic deaths. The more people driving the more risk of car accidents. So what is the explanation for distracted driving being a factor in traffic deaths? Fortune.com called distracted driving a new “epidemic.” One cause for the distracted driving epidemic is cell phones. Fortune mentions that in a survey of 2,300 people about their driving habits, 56% of people admitted to using their cell phones while driving. They also reported that for every 11 miles driven, the average person is on their phone for 0.4 miles of the drive. It doesn’t seem like a lot of distance or that it could be very dangerous, but using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. Looking away from the road for any amount of time may lead to a distracted driving car accident. 

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Touch screens inside car interiors are also a new driving distraction. A majority of new cars come with a touch screens instead of button and knobs. While the touch screen is a technological upgrade, it also requires users to look at the screen to select options, which makes it a big distraction. Although volume knobs and scanner buttons are also encourage distracted driving among other driving problems, they are a lesser evil because many people can reach out for these button without looking away from the road. In cases of a touch screen though, it's always safer to have passengers change settings in the car or to use voice activated commands, if a newer car has them. And if a vehicle has voice commands, it likely has Bluetooth, which helps avoid having to use cell phones to text or make calls, while driving. So, there are some new car technologies can prevent drivers from getting into distracted driving car crashes. Hopefully, these advancements along with a hopefully healthy economy will allow 2018 to continue the decline in traffic deaths!


As much as everyone loves staying home and ordering everything they need on Amazon with 2 day shipping, we can't avoid driving because of the risk of getting in a car accident. Instead, we should do our best to minimize the risk of car accidents by not engaging in distracted driving behaviors like using cell phones while driving. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC to speak to an experienced car accident attorney. For a free legal consulataion, dial 844.4MI.FIRM. 

Hyundai Launches Online Car Shopping Program

Between Amazon Prime, Postmates, and a number of other online retailers with quick delivery times, almost anything can be purchased online and arrive at your doorstep in as little as an hour. Now Hyundai is trying to get in on the massive online retail business by introducing a car shopping program that allows drivers to purchase a car online just like they order home goods from Target or food from Blue Apron.

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According to Edmunds, the Hyundai Shopper Assistance Program is a retail program in the U.S. that allows drivers to online shop for vehicles. Launched on October 10, 2017, the program claims to offer transparent pricing, flexible test drives, a streamlined purchase process, and a three day money-back guarantee. The program is currently only available in Miami, Orlando, Dallas, and Houston, but the company plans on making it available nationwide by early 2018.

As part of the program, participating dealer websites will post vehicle specific pricing so customers know the exact price of the make and model they are interested in. Hyundai says this “not only makes it easier to shop and compare” but will allow the driver to make “faster better-informed decisions.” They can then schedule a test drive on their phone, either online or through an app. The test drive can even begin at their home, with a representative from the dealer bringing the vehicle to the driver’s house. The car manufacturer says that “this can be especially convenient for parents at home with children, as well as those who would prefer their test drive on familiar roads.”

Hyundai is the first mass-market car brand to enter the world of online shopping. The brand says they know “buying a new car hasn't always been as smooth a process as we'd all like. We hear you. So we're happy to introduce Hyundai Shopper Assurance.” Consumer Reports notes that Hyundai knows people don’t like going to the dealership, so they’re trying to eliminate that aspect of the car buying experience.

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In addition to pricing and scheduling test drives being available online, the program also offers the ability to apply for financing, get credit approval, figure out payment plans, and value trade-ins online as well. The hope is that consumers will be more likely to purchase a vehicle if they don’t have to spend large amounts of time at the dealership. The program also allows customers to return their vehicles within three days of purchase (as long as it has less than 300 miles and passes a dealer inspection). According to Dean Evans, chief marketing officer for Hyundai Motor America, “for nearly a decade, the word 'Assurance' has been synonymous with Hyundai and represents our efforts in redefining the car ownership experience. Shopper Assurance is the next step in that tradition and is car buying made simple.”

Online shopping is clearly a very popular means of making a purchase, and car dealerships are largely unpopular. Hyundai is smart for realizing this, and allowing their customers the ability to purchase a vehicle from the comfort of their own home. As the program rolls out into more and more cities, we will see if customers like online car shopping, or if they miss being able to see all of the dealer’s vehicles in the flesh. If the program is popular, it is likely we’ll be seeing more and more automobile manufacturers offering online shopping programs too.  


Car accidents can still happen no matter how much time and effort you put into researching and purchasing a vehicle. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney today. 

Driverless Shuttles Expected To Launch at U-M This Fall

Come Fall 2017, students at the University of Michigan (U-M) will be riding to class via self-driving shuttles! Nicknamed Arma, two fully automated and electric, 15-passenger shuttles will launch on U-M’s North Campus, transporting students, faculty, and staff between the engineering campus and the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Road. The Detroit Free Press emphasizes that the shuttles will be used to study how passengers react to regular vehicles on the road, as a way of gaining perspective on consumer acceptance of autonomous technology.

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The shuttles can travel up to 35 mph and are powered by a 33 kilowatt per hour battery pack that takes 5-8 hours to charge. They have seating capacity for nine people, but can fit more if passengers hold onto hand rails. The Arma shuttles use an advanced global positioning system to track information from up to 17 satellites and are accurate to the inch on roads, even proven to be reliable in light rain and snow that characterize much of Michigan’s weather. The driver-less vehicles will drive themselves on University of Michigan roadways, alongside regular cars driven by the public, on a 2 mile circular route, every 10 minutes.

The shuttles have been developed by Mcity, the University of Michigan’s public-private partnership for mobility research, and were manufactured by French firm Navya. Mcity is funded by the university, federal grants, and about 65 automakers and other companies. 

Huei Peng, the director of Mcity and a professor of mechanical engineering at U-M, said to the Detroit Free Press, “This first-ever automated shuttle service on campus is a critical research project that will help us understand the challenges and opportunities presented by this type of mobility service and how people interact with it.” 

Peng commented that the shuttles are just the latest innovation from Mcity. “The university has a record of innovation in virtually every aspect of mobility...That breadth and depth are some of the reasons why we were so well-positioned to create Mcity and provide a safe, controlled environment for vehicle testing.” Mcity's website also explains to the public how autonomous vehicles operate, discussing radar, light direction, and cameras to gather data and utilize sensors for efficient and safe driving. 

Navya Technologies on the other hand, is a 2-year-old company based in Lyon, France. In June, the firm announced its plans to build the Arma shuttles at a new plant in Ann Arbor. Navya is aiming to build 20 vehicles by the end of this year and hopes to sell them to commercial buyers. 

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Henri Coron, Navya’s vice president for sales, said, “To create a market, we need a vision and a strong partner. The important thing is to create this market in the US.” It should be noted that Arma shuttles are already driven on roads around the world, having been designed for theme parks and large campus-like environments such as the University of Michigan. 

The autonomous shuttles will start by running on U-M roads during business hours. The main goal of testing the new shuttles is to monitor consumer interest and acceptance, at no cost to riders. There will be a safety monitor person in the vehicle at all times, along with emergency stop buttons for passengers to use if needed. 

The self-driving vehicle industry is fast-growing, and Michigan is continuing to prove that we are a step ahead of the pack. While the future of autonomous is very near, in the current driving environment, drivers must continue to pay attention to traffic rules and take safety precautions when riding in vehicles, including the Arma shuttle. The last thing anyone wants is to be injured in an automobile accident. Staying informed of new car technology developments, including the latest self-driving technology, can offer a better road experience for everyone, now and in the future. 


The University of Michigan is preparing to take another leap into the world of self-driving cars with the launch of autonomous shuttles on campus this fall. However, student safety as well as the safety of other drivers on the road, will remain of utmost importance. If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle crash, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Chrysler Portal: A Concept Vehicle Made With Millennials In Mind

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They've popularized the selfie, revolutionized the uses for social media, and thrive off of constant action. Who are they? They are millennials of course!

Also known as Generation Y, millennials  are the youngest generation of adults, made up of people born from 1980-2000, who are currently coming in to their own in today's world. While most associations to millennials seem to be negative, for example, one big stereotype is that millennials are lazy and narcissistic, they are the future of the world and of the economy. Recently, however millennials have been labeled as “ruining the American economy,” since statistics have shown that millennials commute by car less than any other generation, thus raising concerns for the multi-billion dollar auto industry. 

To address this lack of millennial car consumer demand, Chrysler unveiled its all-electric Portal concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, 2017. Fiat Chrysler, CNN News reports, is said to have spent 20 years conducting research on these potential customers, understanding their behavior and greatest vehicle desires. There is little surprise that technology was found to be the main requirement millennials were looking for in their cars. With the constant connections and multi-tasking young people do nowadays, both at home and in the workplace, automakers are developing new products with a different crowd in mind.

Chrysler Portal Concept Car

Chrysler Portal's Millennial Inspired Vehicle Features

  1. Portal’s most touted feature involves something as millennial as it gets: selfies. The car is able to take a photo of all six passengers, and then send the image to everyone’s mobile device so it can be shared on social media, connected via plug-in ports.
  2. Another important aspect of Portal is its music, a valuable part of the driving experience for potential millennial customers. The car allows everyone in the vehicle to combine their songs and videos into one shared playlist to listen to while on the road. Portal’s stereo also has “zoned audio” that lets passengers listen to different audio in different parts of the car, without wearing headphones. This technology also can amplify certain external sounds for the driver, like the sound of sirens from an approaching ambulance.
  3. A display screen on the car’s ceiling lets the vehicle’s occupants access a shared playlist from the passengers’ mobile devices, along with putting together things like a drive-thru dinner order. Portal can even pay for the dinner order by linking payment information with the feature.
  4. Portal also has a fully customizable interior. Indoor LED accent lighting can be changed to any color, and car sears may be moved back and forth along tracks and even removed completely to create more storage space. 
  5. All-electric, Chrysler's proposed vehicle can drive up to 250 miles on a full charge. In fact, just 20 minutes of charging allows vehicle operators to drive 150 miles. Not only is this convenient, but it caters to millennials' environmentally friendly mindset. 
  6. While Portal still has a steering wheel and pedals, its limited self-driving capabilities keep the product current with autonomous car technology. The steering wheel is able to fold into the dashboard when not in use. 
  7. Perhaps most importantly to the busy, career driven young person, Chrysler’s millennial-focused vehicle uses cameras with facial recognition software mounted on the outside of the car to recognize people approaching the vehicle. That allows for custom interior and entertainment features to automatically be set up for the passengers before they even enter the vehicle. Portal sounds like it has everything a millennial could ever dream for!
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While automakers are busy working to develop new vehicles with millennial customers in mind, cities on the other hand, are continuing to expand public transportation and other alternative forms of getting around. This recent growth in alternative transportation including city bike share programs, like Detroit's own MoGo, is why Citylab predicts that millennials will rely less and less on cars. Additionally, people who have more money tend to drive more, and millennials just aren’t making much income right now.  Also, this age group cares more about their environmental impact than other generations, choosing other forms of transportation to get around in order to keep the planet clean.  

Chrysler seems to be on the right track in gearing their new motor vehicle concepts towards millennials. However, it is important to remember to focus on the road at all times, as fancy selfie features and multitasking audio systems may increase the chances of a car crash due to distracted driving. Millennials can call themselves the “cool” generation all they want, but new cars like the Portal must promote safety as well as tech savvy, because nothing is cool about causing a car crash.


By designing a vehicle tailored to millennial preferences and driving style, Chrysler's concept vehicle could become a hit among America's biggest generation. However, with the introduction of even more technology in the car, millennial drivers must remember to always keep their eyes on the road, no matter what angle the in-car selfie is snapping a photo from. If you or someone you know has been involved in a distracted driving car accident, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.

Virtual Reality Tools Could Help Design Future Cars

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CNN has just brought to light an important tool in developing future automobiles and making them safer on the roadways. The article makes mention of a London-based design firm, Seymourpowell, which is working with cutting edge technology to design and edit car plans in virtual reality, wearing VR headsets and working with a new 3D sketching program. It has been reported that the new VR software speeds up the process of designing vehicles, as opposed to traditional programs like Photoshop.

Here's where the new software steps in. Put on the VR headset and you are transported to a 3D workspace where the view adjusts to your head movements. The left control stick lets you sketch lines, which can be twisted, moved and manipulated with the right one. Then, you can then jump around your digital surroundings with the press of a button.


With so few functions to worry about -- and because you can see the two controllers as if they were your own virtual hands -- the process is surprisingly intuitive.

Automakers are working with this new software too. CNN reports that Ford and Jaguar Land Rover are already using similar VR software for vehicle design and that more car manufacturers are interested in working with this technology as well.

As car manufacturers begin to streamline their design and development processes by taking advantage of emerging virtual reality technologies, it's conceivable that more attention could be provided to auto safety and ensuring that the risk of drivers and occupants sustaining serious injury in auto accidents is further minimized.  


The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC is a civil litigation firm in Birmingham, Michigan, handling cases throughout Michigan. Our law office regularly files car accident lawsuits and seeks compensation for victims who were injured in auto accidents. Contact us for a free legal consultation at 844.464.3476. Speak to an experienced injury lawyer today.

Autonomous Semi-Trucks Drive on Michigan Highway For First Time

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For the first time ever, four autonomous semi-trucks were tested on Interstate 69 in Lapeer and St. Clair Counties in Michigan in July, 2016. The test was done by the U.S Army Tank Automotive Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) alongside the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). 

Paul Rogers, director of TARDEC, told MLive that the testing, which included tracking the response of the vehicles to commands, represented “an opportunity for the U.S Army to leverage the technology and capability within this state.” The testing is also helping set federal standards and expectations while government leaders continue to craft legislation to make the possibility of driverless cars a reality on the roadways.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder called the event “the intersection of two wonderful initiatives we have going in the state to really talk the strengths of our state and the opportunities how we can help our country and the world...We’re moving forward on how we can deploy this is a safe fashion on our public roadways and bring this technology to bear to make Michigan a true leader,” Snyder said. Snyder also pointed out the progress being made at the University of Michigan’s MCity and the upcoming “Planet M” campaign. The growth of the driverless car industry will impact the Michigan economy as well. According to Lt. Governor Brian Calley the initiatives will employ approximately 100,000 residents and will allow Michigan to become a leader in the mobility industry outside of the auto industry. 

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Janice Karcher, Vice President of Economic Development for the Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce, is excited about the possibilities of drawing the industry to the state. “We see opportunities for more research and development teams to be on the ground supporting that kind of activity,” Karcher said.

The obvious potential impact with the growth of driverless cars is increased safety. Kirk Steudle, Director of MDOT, said that autonomous technology can help cut down traffic deaths by 80%. MDOT has a goal of 350 miles worth of fiber optic lines being put in place by 2018, making Michigan the largest test bed in the United States for mobility research. 


While driverless cars may cut down on traffic accidents in the future, they are still too frequent on the road today. Injuries as minor as a few scratches or as severe as a closed head injury can change your day-to-day routine and your way of life. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will identify the help you are entitled too and will not rest until your case has been resolved. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

U.S. Safety Regulators Pumping the Brakes on Self-Driving Technology

There a few speed bumps that innovators and manufacturers of self-driving cars are going to face before they become mainstream, and it appears one of those will be the government. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx said that he would like to see government regulators and the auto industry work closely together to vigorously test the safety standards of autonomous vehicles before people entrust their safety in the car. 

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The Detroit News reported that Foxx told about 1,200 people at a self-driving convention in San Francisco that robotic controls need to be reviewed more to make sure the DOT and manufacturers are “in sync” before the vehicles hit the road. “This could help assure consumers that the vehicles that they are getting into are stress tested." Foxx also warned automakers to assume drivers will be tempted to take foolish risks while on the road when they activate the autonomous features in a car, which makes it extremely important to design vehicles that minimize the opportunity for disaster. “Sometimes the coolness of technology may drive people to try to push the limits of what the manufacturers intended,” Foxx explained. 

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Self-Driving technology has come under some pressure as of late. Three weeks prior to Foxx’s remarks, Joshua Brown of Canton, Ohio died in May after his Tesla crashed into a truck while using a semi-autonomous feature called “Autopilot.” Brown died after neither he nor the Autopilot feature braked for a truck which was making a left turn near a highway, according to Tesla and federal investigators. Many are pointing to Brown’s death as a prime example of why self-driving cars are simply not ready to go out on the streets. “Autopilot’s failure is a poster child for why enforceable safety standards are needed, not useless voluntary guidelines,” Joan Claybrook of Consumer Watchdog wrote in a letter to Tesla. 

Tesla has consistently defended it’s self-driving features, citing that Brown’s crash was the first death in more than 130 million miles of driving with the Autopilot feature activated. Even with more testing, Foxx is doubtful that self-driving cars will eliminate all accidents. The goal, he stated, is an 80% reduction in the frequency of accidents, which are mostly caused by human error or negligence. Foxx has said that he plans to propose federal government guidelines for self-driving vehicles later this summer, and self-driving cars are still being tested in several states. 


Self-Driving cars aren't predicted to be the norm on the roads for another decade or two, so it's important that drivers are always aware and paying attention to the road. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an accident caused by distracted driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will work with you to identify the help you need as they work towards settling your case. If a settlement can't be reached, our team is ready to take your case to court. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Department of Transportation to Beef Up Cybersecurity Efforts

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A set of guidelines will be released soon which will aim to beef up cybersecurity efforts in the automotive industry, according to U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. In July, Foxx made the announcement at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Detroit, where automakers and cyber security experts discussed the importance of better cybersecurity measures to prevent cars from getting hacked. 

“There is no one company that can do on its own what all companies can accomplish together,” Foxx reasoned. Foxx told The Detroit Free Press that the government’s guidelines will encourage the industry to collaborate and share information about how to design software and also learn from other industries. “For better or worse, government has a reputation for moving slowly...but we hope that our guidance, when it is released, will break new ground. 

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The Detroit Free Press says that the issue of cybersecurity has been rapidly gaining traction in the auto industry. Due to the nature of today’s technology inside of vehicles, including assisted navigation and Bluetooth capabilities, it has become easier for connections to be made from outside of the vehicle. This issue will only continue to grow, as the innovation of self-driving cars will rely heavily on connected technology that will allow vehicles to communicate with each other. “We cannot underestimate the risk,” Mark Reuss, GM’s Executive Vice President of Global Product Development, said. Reuss added that auto companies are working alongside the U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop the new guidelines. 

Casey Ellis, who is the CEO of Bugcrowd, has said that the automotive industry deserves credit for making a lot of progress in a short amount of time. Bugcrowd is a firm which hires hackers to try and find security weaknesses for their clients. “Automakers are very focused on the security of their products,” Ellis said. 


With advancements in hacking capabilities, car owners should take precautionary steps like not leaving valuable items such as their wallets, purses, or laptops in the vehicle overnight. Any suspicious activity should also be reported to the police immediately. Hackers are also capable of remotely hijacking vehicles while they are being driven, which could cause drivers to lose control of their cars. If you or somebody you know has been injured in an auto accident caused by a technological error, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys will work alongside you to get you the help you deserve. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.  

Laptops Are Being Used To Hack, Start, and Steal Vehicles

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Car thieves are now going hi-tech it appears. Police and car insurance companies say that thieves are now using laptop computers to hack into new cars’ electronic ignitions to steal the vehicles. The issue came to light after a recent incident in Houston in which two thieves were caught on security cameras using a laptop to start a 2010 Jeep Wrangler and drive it out of its owner’s driveway. Local police added that this method has been used on four additional late-model Wranglers and Cherokees in the city, and none of which have been recovered yet. 

“If you are going to hotwire a car, you don’t bring along a laptop. We don’t know what he is exactly doing with the laptop, but my guess is he is tapping into the car’s computer and marrying it with a key he may already have with him so he can start the car,” Houston Senior Officer James Woods told The Wall Street Journal. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has said it recently has begun to see police reports that tie thefts of newer-model cars to “mystery” electronic devices. “We think it is becoming the new way of stealing cars. The public, law enforcement and the manufacturers need to be aware,” NICB Vice President Roger Morris said. 

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Fiat Chrysler stated it “takes the safety and security of its customers seriously and incorporates security features in its vehicles that help to reduce the risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems and wireless communications.” Titus Melnyk, Senior Manager of Security Architecture, believes an individual with access to a dealer website may have sold the information to a thief. From there, a thief will enter the vehicle identification number on the site and receive a code which is entered into the car’s computer triggering the acceptance of the new key. 

Car manufacturers are starting to get involved with cyber protections for cars as the threat of car hackers continues to grow. “What we now need is multiple layers of protection to make the efforts of carrying out a cyber attack very costly and deter hackers from spending the time and effort,” Yoni Heilbronn, Vice President of Marketing for Argus Cyber Security Ltd. said. San Francisco-based Voyomotive LLC is currently developing an application that can prevent hackers from starting a vehicle, as well as repeatedly lock a car’s doors if they are triggered by a hacker. 


As hackers continue to innovate and find new ways to to get into vehicles, it's best if personal belongings and valuables aren't kept inside your car. Additionally, if you notice any suspicious activity taking place outside near your car or a neighbor's car, call your local police immediately. If you or somebody you know has been injured because of a car malfunction of any kind, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. You can work with an accident lawyer who will identify the help you need and will not rest until a settlement is reached. Call our experienced legal team today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Top 5 Obstacles for Self-Driving Cars

While there are many safety benefits, autonomous vehicles have not yet been perfected. Sure they don’t drive drunk or send text messages while driving on the expressway, but they still have their shortcomings. Neal Boudette of The New York Times recently reviewed the Top 5 things that are giving self-driving cars issues while they continue to develop:

1) Unpredictable Human Error Accidents

While self-driving cars use computer algorithms in order to obey the rules of the road and other basic driving functions, they have no control over how other drivers behave. What is a self-driving car to do when a manually driven car goes 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or is barreling down a one-way street going the wrong direction? Boudette writes, “One solution is to equip cars with transponders that communicate their position, speed and direction to other vehicles. This is known as vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and it is similar to how airplanes avoid each other in the air.” 

2) Bad Weather Accidents

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Self-driving cars can easily navigate Michigan roads during the summer months, but what happens when snow, ice and fog start to factor into dangerous road conditions? Autonomous vehicles utilize cameras that track lines on the pavement in order to keep the vehicle in its lane, but that becomes a problem when snow is covering the ground. As Boudette points out, a large puddle cased by a heavy rainstorm may look like blacktop to the car’s sensors. “In reports that Google and others have filed with California authorities about their on-road tests of autonomous cars, weather was a prime cause of system failures after which human drivers had to take back control,” Boudette reports. 

 

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3) Detour Auto Accidents

 As road conditions and road repairs develop, maps can become out of date quickly. This can become an obstacle for self-driving vehicles such as Google’s cars which “rely heavily on highly detailed three-dimensional maps- far more detailed than those in Google maps- that communicate the location of intersections, stop signs, on-ramps and building with the cars’ computer systems.”

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4) It Might Be a Puddle. Or Not. 

Self-Driving cars struggle to differentiate between obstacles in the road such as puddles, potholes or an oil spot. Using their radar, lasers and HD cameras to scan the roads, the vehicle can only scan what is on the road surface, not what’s below. Boudette recalled a recent ride he took in a self-driving car when the vehicle unexpectedly slowed down because it was confused by a dark area on the road which turned out to just be a shadow from an overpass. 

“Google and other companies hope more precise laser-based sensors, known as lidar, and other technology will make it easier for driverless cars to spot potholes-as opposed to shadows-and avoid them. Another possible solution: smart roadways that communicate with automated vehicles and warn them of hazards ahead like traffic accidents and potholes,” Boudette explained. 

 

Pedestrian Crash Lawyer

5) Making Tough Decisions 

Perhaps the most complicated of them all, self-driving vehicles may be forced to make tough and complicated ethical driving decisions. Boudette gives an example: “In the midst of busy traffic, a ball bounces into the road, pursued by two running children. If a self-driving car’s only options are to hit the children or veer right and strike a telephone pole, potentially injuring or killing the car’s occupants, what does it do?” For now, there is no concrete answer to this dilemma. 


While we wait for self-driving cars to work out the kinks, we still need to pay attention to human drivers who struggle to make the right decisions while on the road. If you or somebody you know has been involved in a car accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Work with a lawyer who is experienced in handing accidents of all sizes.  Our legal team will work alongside you to identify your area of needs and get you the appropriate help. Call us today at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation. 

Hands Free Technology in Cars Makes Driving Safer

Could driving while using your smartphone make the roads safer? Well, we are about to soon find out, as automotive companies are partnering up with Android and iOS operating systems, allowing consumers to start seeing some added technology to their driving experience. As people become more connected, so will the things around them, especially as a part of the "auto industry's strategy and new product development," says Project Manager Andrew Brenner from Google's Android Auto.

In January, in Detroit, Michigan, Brenner spoke at the Automotive News World Congress and said, "Consumers are finally starting to shop for cars with the expectation that the vehicles operate with the technology, design and pace of innovation that they are used to with their mobile phones."

 

Texting and Driving Car Accident

Digital technology is vastly changing the driving experience from “connecting” to being “connected.” Consumers, under the strain of trying to use their phones in the safest way possible while driving and being under the radar from law enforcement, can now gain better piece of mind that their mobile device will have full functionally on their dash.

Android Auto, for example, which launched back in 2015, already offers user many apps including Pandora, iHeartRadio and Skype. The platform, which has 60 partners as of January, 2016, and has plans of increasing by 20 more according to Benner, was designed “with safety in mind.” With future plans of adding Google Maps with voice-guided navigation, live traffic information, lane guidance, on-demand Google Play Music, and voice calling in addition to messaging abilities, Android Auto could potentially provide users with a better and safer driving experience.

"Anything we can do to reduce distraction for people in their cars-whether they have an Android or iPhone-I think is a huge benefit," says Brenner.

Like its competitor, Apple Carplay offers similar apps although with a slightly different interface. iPhone users can also expect to gain more connectivity and options in their motor vehicles in the years to come.

With more hands free access, lawmakers may have to adjusts the rules for driving while using a cellular device.

But the bigger debate may not be which platform is better for drivers, but whether this new technology will have an effect on smartphone related automobile accidents. The National Safety Council, a nonprofit organization that stands on advocating safety for over 100 years, seems to think so. Back in 2012, the organization published a study titled “Understanding the Distracted Brain: Why Driving While Using Hands-Free Cell Phones is Risky Behavior,” indicating that cognitive use is a form of “distracted driving,” pointing at hands-free phones as the risky behavior. It’s no secret distracted driving incidents inflate lawsuits, injuries, and deaths. Subsequently, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and the automotive industry should get ready as cognitive distraction may become a hot topic in the coming future.

If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident involving a distracted driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are highly experienced in handling all types of car crashes. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.