Residents in this Florida city will soon let their cars do the talking

Bosch V2V

Representatives of 14 transportation agencies from across the country will soon convene in Tampa, Florida, for a first-hand look at how connected vehicle technologies work in real life. Futuristic yet realistic, these state-of-the-art smart city solutions promise to save lives, make the traffic flow smoother, help public transportation run on time and reduce pollution.

The demonstration will focus on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems. Already deployed in some cars, like the latest Mercedes-Benz E-Class, this technology lets internet-connected cars wirelessly “talk” to each other and to infrastructure. For example, a car can tell vehicles traveling around it that it has slowed down or stopped. In turn, drivers will receive a real-time message to tell them they’re approaching a collision or a traffic jam. The technology can also warn motorists when a car is traveling the wrong way, or when there’s a pedestrian crossing the street.

The demonstration will coincide with the launch of a large-scale pilot program. Tampa stands out as one of three sites across the nation selected by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) as a test venue, but it’s the only city whose pilot program will include local residents. The other sites are New York City and a stretch of I-80 in Wyoming. The USDOT is investing $42 million to make connected vehicle technologies a reality.

Tampa has started the process of recruiting the 1,600 volunteer drivers it needs to participate in the pilot program. Interested motorists can take a pre-screening questionnaire online to check whether they’re eligible. They notably need to be at least 18 years old, drive regularly in downtown Tampa, and have a 1996 or newer car. Sorry, sun lovers, but it can’t be a convertible because participants need to install a roof-mounted antenna. If selected, motorists will receive an internet-enabled rearview mirror to install in their car. It will emit visual and audible alerts while allowing the car to communicate with other vehicles on the road, including buses and street cars, and traffic signals.

As a trade-off, Tampa will give participants a 30-percent rebate on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway’s reversible express lanes. Officials estimate the discount can save participants up to $550.

Pedestrians can get involved, too. Tampa officials will release a smartphone application that will activate crosswalk signals on Meridian Avenue. The app will also warn users of oncoming buses or streetcars in some areas. However, the project’s website notes the app only works on Android-powered devices. A spokesperson for the Tampa Expressway told Digital Trends the app won’t be compatible with Apple devices during the pilot project.

The demonstration will take place on April 12 on the downtown end of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, according to a statement published by Tampa officials. Part of the road will be closed to traffic during the event. Plan accordingly if you’re traveling in the area.

Update: added information from Tampa officials about Apple availability, car compatibility.


Vivint’s Car Guard keeps tabs on your vehicle when you’re not in it

A simple plug-in that you can place in just about any vehicle, Vivint's new Car Guard will automatically detect if your car is bumped, towed, or stolen and will alert you about it.

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.

Nvidia’s new simulator brings virtual learning to autonomous vehicle developers

Nvidia introduced a simulator for testing autonomous vehicle technologies. Drive Constellation is a cloud-based platform technology vendors can use to validate systems efficiently, safely, and much faster than with vehicles on real roads.

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.

This modified Land Rover Discovery is heading to Africa to help fight malaria

A Land Rover Discovery will be used by the Mobile Malaria Project for a 3,900-mile trek across Africa to study malaria. The SUV is equipped with a mobile gene-sequencing laboratory, as well as everything necessary for serious off-roading.
Product Review

The Ferrari Portofino is the super stallion you’ll want to drive every day

With the introduction of the Portofino, Ferrari addresses the California T’s stylistic shortcomings while improving comfort, convenience, and performance. There’s little “entry-level” about this super stallion.

Volvo wants to use speed limiters, in-car cameras, and data to reduce crashes

Volvo believes new tech is the best way to improve car safety. The Swedish automaker will let owners set speed limits when loaning out their cars, install cameras to monitor drivers, and use data to design better safety features.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe teased way ahead of its November debut

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is coming to the United States, eventually. The new compact BMW won't be unveiled until the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The Gran Coupe will be based on a front-wheel drive platform.

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi group uses Microsoft cloud platform for connected cars

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is launching a new cloud platform for its cars. Based on Microsoft Azure, the Alliance Intelligent Cloud will enable features like connected services and over-the-air updates.

The 2019 Toyota C-HR gains a popular tech feature as its price comes down

Toyota has updated the C-HR, its entry-level crossover, by adding an entry-level trim level to the lineup. Every model regardless of price also comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen compatible with Apple CarPlay.
Product Review

2019 Volkswagen Jetta offers German refinement and tech at an affordable price

With enough tech to make villains jealous, the Volkswagen Jetta punches above its class as a forward-thinking sedan. Spacious, comfortable, and efficient, the Jetta is a refined offering. German refinement comes with a serious attitude.