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TECHNOLOGY NEWS

DANG DOOHICKEYS

We’ve all looked at a complex piece of technology and thought, “I’ll get around to setting that up one day,” but do we ever? According to a new study from J.D. Power, the answer, when it comes to new features in vehicles, is typically never. The influx of onboard features like more complex entertainment, camera and driver-assistance systems have no doubt caused the price and value of the vehicles we drive to rise. However, analysts from J.D. Power say that a certain amount of that cost is being wasted on drivers with no intention of learning about their vehicle’s many functions. “New-vehicle prices are at an all-time high, partly as a result of an increased level of content,” said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of the human-machine interface at J.D.Power. “This is fine if owners are getting value for their money, but some features seem like a waste to many owners.” The study found that 61 percent of owners say they have never used the in-vehicle digital technology, with 51 percent of those saying they have no need for it.

SLIP ON YOUR ADAS

A new study from AAA shows that most cars can’t see much better in the rain than you can, as vehicle safety systems are reported to falter in inclement weather. During closed-course testing, AAA simulated rainfall and found the test vehicle equipped with automatic emergency braking (AEB) travelling at 35 mph (~56 km/h) collided with a stopped vehicle 33 percent of the time. Lane-keeping assistance test vehicles departed their lane 69 percent of the time. The results lead AAA to believe testing standards should incorporate real-world conditions rather than ideal operating conditions, which is how ADAS features are typically tested, the report said. “Vehicle safety systems rely on sensors and cameras to see road markings, other cars, pedestrians and roadway obstacles. So naturally, they are more vulnerable to environmental factors like rain,” said Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations at AAA.

ROBOTIC RESULTS

BMW is testing new robotically-applied paint technology on some M4 Coupes, but wants to reassure all the flesh-based refinishers out there that the work can still be repaired by puny humans. This new technology from BMW allows the application of several colours and designs to its cars’ bodywork without stencils or masking, but can still be touched up using regular masking techniques when the need arises. Spawned from a collaboration with engineering firm Dürr, BMW’s new paint technology made its way onto 19 M4s at the OEM’s Dingolfing, Germany facility. “The paint is applied using an orifice plate that enables high edge definition with a variable paint thickness of between 1 and appr. 50 millimetres,” BMW said. “This requires maximum precision from both the robot and application technology. It also means two different colours of paint can be used, e.g. for a contrasting roof, and stripes and other designs applied—for instance, on the bonnet. The focus of technology and material development was on achieving the maximum range of applications. It will now be possible to paint every exterior component – offering customers virtually limitless options for individualization.”

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