Feb 042019
 

Autonomous VehiclesWhile fully self-driving vehicles aren’t quite part of today’s reality just yet, many new cars feature assisted and partial automation already.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders predicts the technology being developed for connected and autonomous vehicles will have prevented 25,000 accidents by 2030.

Warranty Direct looks at some of the key self-driving technologies making today’s vehicles safer and more efficient.

Ultrasonic sensors

 Most drivers will be familiar with ultrasonic sensors, with many vehicles already adopting the technology to help with reversing into tight parking spaces and more.

Ultrasonic sensors send out sound waves to detect surrounding objects. When the waves hit an object, it gives the car an accurate measurement of how close they are, to avoid collisions.

Blind-spot information system

Blind spot monitoring technology uses radar systems or rear-facing digital cameras, to sense vehicles which appear in a car’s blind spot. If this happens, a warning light shows in either the door mirror or within the A-pillar to alert the driver and make them aware of a potential hazard.

It’s become particularly useful when a motorist wishes to change lanes, as the technology offers an audible or haptic message if there is another vehicle in a car’s blind spot.

While it should reduce the number of collisions caused from changing lanes, drivers still need to check their blind spots and mirrors regularly and not become dependent on this technology alone.

IoT connectivity

Utilising IoT connectivity gives vehicles the ability to access wider data, like real-time traffic and weather updates, to ensure the safest and smoothest drive possible.

Connecting to a world of internet devices poses its problems, though. Privacy and safety are the biggest issue, with automated cars open to hacking, and the threat of information theft from connected devices like mobile phones.

Lane-keeping alert and automatic steering assist

By using a forward-looking camera, this technology has been developed to recognise when drivers are drifting out of a lane. Most vehicles will give either a visual or audible warning, but some higher-end motors now have automatic systems to divert a car safely back into the correct lane.

At the moment the technology is most effective on dry motorways and in a smooth flow of traffic, but there are developments being made to make it more precise and better suited to other situations such as driving on rural roads.

Traffic sign recognition

This uses a camera to scan road signs, then communicates this information back to either the dashboard or infotainment section of a vehicle.

All drivers should be well-versed on the Highway Code, which provides information on all the relevant road signs. However, this technology has been designed more as “extra driving assistance”, to help people when on unfamiliar roads or if they may have missed a change in the speed limit.

What’s next…?

Automation is measured in five stages; with the final, most advanced stage being a fully autonomous system. This is when a vehicle’s performance is equal to that of a human driver.

The majority of vehicles are currently at stage two, which is what the systems listed earlier like park assist and lane-keeping alert are currently rated.

But what are some of the technologies the motoring industry has in the pipeline to take us to stage five?

Car-to-x

Mercedes-Benz is currently working on a new technology – car-to-x – which will allow drivers to see ‘into the future’ – past multiple bends and maybe even further.

The sophisticated technology establishes networked links among and between vehicles and traffic infrastructure, so you can adjust your driving behaviour and defuse potentially dangerous situations.

The new GPS

Fully self-driving cars will rely on GPS devices to locate their position, helping to establish a route, know when to turn and more.

The worry is GPS devices can sometimes be off by a few metres, which would be extremely dangerous for a travelling vehicle. However, by connecting to other built-in sensors and cameras, vehicles can pinpoint an exact location.

Jan 072019
 

Motoring Trends 2019While the auto industry is undoubtedly looking ahead to driverless cars and automation, drivers are also focusing on the here and now and looking to enhance both their cars and the overall driving experience.

With this in mind, Warranty Direct looks at the car trends set to hit the auto industry next year…

Stay connected

The number of connected cars has increased in recent years but it looks set to rise even more in 2019.

In simple terms, these vehicles use mobile internet technology to control the main car functions remotely via a tablet device, smartphone, computer or smartwatch.

Not only does this enhance the driver’s experience, but it could also reduce accidents and ease traffic.

Vehicle speed and the distance to other vehicles can be adjusted to reflect conditions on the road, marking a major breakthrough that could reach beyond the auto industry.

She’s electric

Electric cars will see a significant growth in 2019, following 2018, which saw a record high in sales. This surge reflects growing consumer interest in both hybrid and electric cars.

With the UK government confirming plans to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars, there will be an increase in manufacturers expanding their electric and hybrid roster.

In-car payments

Most motorists will know using your mobile phone behind the wheel is illegal, however, some may not know using your phone for contactless payments at a drive-through could land you in trouble with the law.

Luckily for us, car manufacturers are creating built-in in-car payment systems to combat this issue. Jaguar was the first to introduce this technology, after launching the world’s first in-car payment system in association with Shell.

At the moment, it can only be used when paying for petrol at Shell garages; however, future cashless tech research from Jaguar includes parking and drive-through restaurants.

Tech wins

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are set to dominate in 2019, making the apps you use on your smartphone available every time you get behind the wheel.

Not only that, wireless charging is appearing in more and more new cars as the number of smartphone handsets with this capability increases.

Both of these features are designed to boost the driver’s experience, creating seamless and easy-to-use features that will take the stress out of driving.

Buy, finance or rent?

With consumers going crazy for subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify, it looks like the car industry is following suit.

2019 will see a sharp rise in websites looking to disrupt Britain’s car industry, offering customers a chance to rent a car online. Some services will see drivers pay a monthly subscription fee which covers the car and other aspects like insurance and servicing.

If you’re purchasing a used car this year make sure you look into obtaining warranty cover for protection against unexpected mechanical or electrical breakdowns.

Launching ‘new classics’

Motoring experts predict we’ll see revivals of old nameplates, refreshed and redesigned with modern twists and enhanced versions of current vehicles which have historically performed well.

Revamped classics set to be big in the new year include the Audi A3, Peugeot 208, BMW 1 Series, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Corsa, Renault Clio and SEAT Leon.


Policies underwritten by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Arranged and administered by Warranty Direct. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Oct 152018
 

Autonomous Vehicles
The ‘future’ is finally here as self-driving cars aren’t a ‘what if?’ but rather a ‘why not’? Just a few years ago it was largely uncharted territory but now, every major car manufacturer is pursuing the technology and some autonomous vehicles are already on the road in Paris, Singapore and several states in the US.

What Car Manufacturers Are Involved?

GM tops the list with Daimler-Bosch (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz), Ford, Volkswagen and BMW not far behind. What’s more, whole manufacturers are working together, with Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi having formed an alliance while Volvo, Autoliv, Ericsson and Zenuity have formed a separate alliance.

With GM having promised the release of driverless taxis in large cities by 2019, it’s about time we all figured out how they work.

How Do Self-Driving Cars Work?

In short: self-driving cars create and maintain an internal map of their surroundings using lasers, sensors, radars and even sonar. Every system is different and technologies (unsurprisingly) continue to evolve. The ‘map’ is then continually processed by the cars software and a path is plotted. The car is able to accelerate, brake and steer through actuators while algorithms, codes and predictive modelling help the car follow the rules of the road and avoid hitting people and other objects.

Machine Learning and AI

The most important feature of these man-less machines is Machine Learning. This AI (artificial intelligence) tool trains computers to detect pedestrians and differentiate between a bicycle and a motorcycle. Because it’s impossible to write a rule (those algorithms we talked about above) for every situation in this complex world, the cars have to be trained to learn and navigate on their own.

The Future

There are currently several levels of autonomy and researchers have created a scale from 0-5.

Most of us are currently driving either a Level 0 or a Level 1, with Level 0 being a car completely controlled by the human and Level 1 being a car that has features like cruise control. Level 2 offers several systems, like automatic acceleration and braking, but it still requires a human for operation. Moving up to Level 3, the car can – for all intents and purposes – drive on its own, but a human can be alerted to take over under certain circumstances. Level 4 is a fully autonomous car in most situations while Level 5 is fully autonomous and self-drives in every situation.

With Level 5’s driving around several cities in the world on their own, we should expect to see them in the UK sooner than any of us could have expected.

 

Sep 042018
 

Essential Driving AppsBeing able to drive is one of life’s luxuries, but, it can also bring with it a host of frustrations. There’s parking, fuel costs and car maintenance to consider (as well as the initial stress of selecting the right vehicle for you at the start.)

However, with the rise of driving apps, motorists can now enjoy additional car add-ons, without the hefty price tags.

Here, Warranty Direct shares some of the best apps to take some of the stress out of your daily drive.

Triumph over traffic

There’s nothing worse than having your morning commute to work ruined by stand-still traffic.

This is where your trusty sat-nav can come in useful, as it helps plan the best and quickest route to your chosen destination. It can also work out the best alternative route, if you find yourself stuck in a bit of a jam.

There are apps available to assist too, such as Waze. All you need to do is log the journey and destination before you start driving and, voila, a less time-consuming travel experience should await!

You can use maps on your iPhone or Android to stay up-to-date with the latest traffic conditions as well, but make sure your phone is set up as hands-free, to avoid any safety issues on the roads.

Stay on track

As most drivers know only too well, keeping a car on the road can be costly. There’s car maintenance, fuel costs, insurance and tax to think about.

There’s a lot to consider, but luckily car management apps can help put you on the right course. Drivvo is designed to help you manage the cost of fuel consumption, car maintenance expenses and service costs.

It also has an innovative feature which allows you to check fuel prices at stations nearby.

Park your troubles

Research on the cost of parking in the UK found the average motorist spends almost £2000 a year on parking. Thankfully, apps such as JustPark help motorists find a solution to this costly problem.

From work journeys to weekend trips, JustPark can provide you with directions to car parks and on-street spaces, plus information on availability and restrictions.

It also offers 20,000+ reservable locations, so you can book parking in advance too.

With the average Brit spending an estimated four days every year looking for parking spaces, this app could bring an end to hours of parking woes.

In a dash

According to a recent AA study, dashcam usage has rocketed from 1 to 15% in just four years.

One of the reasons behind this boom is because these small cameras (usually mounted on the dashboard or windscreen of your car) document crucial evidence that could protect you in the event of a car accident.

Not only does dashcam footage help in the event of an accident, but some insurers are offering motorists discounts on their car insurance premiums if they have a dashcam installed.

While the reliability of dashcam apps greatly depends on the quality of your smartphone, they can give drivers additional peace of mind.

Breaking it down

Sometimes it’s hard to know what condition the internal components of your car are in. Unless a fault happens, you won’t know and if it happens suddenly, it could take away your control over your vehicle.

Warranty Direct recently teamed up with Engie to help put control back in your hands with its diagnostic device.

By connecting its Bluetooth device to a car’s computer via the OBD2 port, it can transfer data such as daily vehicle diagnosis, journey data and more to the accompanying smart phone app.

In the event of a malfunction or an upcoming vehicle service, the Engie app can also help aggregate real time quotes from nearby mechanics as well; helping you save money during your vehicle ownership.

We believe the Engie device and app brings more control to vehicle owners and allows them to talk directly to their cars. As such, we’re offering an Engie device to new and renewing customers for FREE*.

*Subject to Warranty Direct and Engie terms and conditions. See warrantydirect.co.uk for further information.


Policies underwritten by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Arranged and administered by Warranty Direct. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Jun 222018
 

 

With environmental concerns at the forefront of news stories, documentaries and media campaigns, it’s not surprising many people are now considering whether to ‘go green’ with their next vehicle.

However, if you have your eye on a certain non-eco model or are in the market for a higher performance vehicle, there are still ways you can be economical and as environmentally friendly as possible. Once you have a shortlist, make sure you check out the Reliability Index to compare models.

Here are Warranty Direct’s tips on how to make sure you’re efficient, without sacrificing the enjoyment of driving a performance vehicle.

What are you looking for?

Whether price, fuel efficiency, practicality or enjoyment is your priority when buying a car, you need to weigh up your options and see which vehicle matches your lifestyle.

If you are mainly going to be using the car for city driving, which doesn’t require high speeds or fast acceleration, look at smaller vehicles with an engine size of around 1L. This will not only be a practical size for urban driving, it should work out to be more economical than a larger engine.

If a small engine is constantly used at high speed, it’ll need to work much harder than a large engine to keep the car moving at 70mph. This will increase fuel consumption and could lead to greater long-term wear and tear as the engine’s components are put under strain.

So, if you do a lot of long distance or motorway driving, choose a car with a larger engine, which provides a good mpg.

Eco-driving

If you can’t help but go for a high-performance or sports car, there are still ways you can limit your fuel consumption to save money and cut pollution.

Get your car serviced regularly to make sure it’s running well and always use the right specification of engine oil, which you will find in your handbook. Check your tyre pressures at least once a month and before any long journeys, as under-inflated tyres will cause your car to use more fuel to overcome the added resistance.

Driving smoothly, accelerating gently and reading the road ahead to avoid breaking unnecessarily will all reduce fuel consumption. Stick to the speed limit, as not only is speeding dangerous it also uses more fuel.

Technological advances

Due to advances in engine technology, some of today’s smaller engines are able to produce more power than some bigger, older engines due to turbocharging. When looking at buying a new car, research into models such as Suzuki’s BoosterJet or Ford’s EcoBoost, where there is little or no sacrifice in power or style.

Some manufacturers now include a ‘sports’ mode or a ‘4WD’ mode in their cars. This means you can have all the fun of a high-performance car when you want it, but the practicality of a more economic drive for everyday use.

It’s all about the extras

Many cars now incorporate eco features, so you can get the style of car you want, but with the benefits of efficiency too. For instance, some modern cars now have LED head-lights and can even incorporate emissions sensors to help keep our air clean.

Extras which aim to improve your in-car experience can also help to improve driving economy. Many cars – even on the more affordable end – now come with cruise control and using this will not only give you a more comfortable ride, it could even save you up to six percent in fuel costs during motorway driving.

For extra savings, adaptive cruise control will speed up or slow down based on the position of cars in front. It uses either a radar or camera system to track the vehicles ahead and adjusts speed accordingly, alleviating the need for sharp braking and accelerating.

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