Google’s Cute-As-A-Bug Electric Buggy Released In California Part II

blind-driver-google-prius

 

Google ultimately may try supplying its software and maps to the mainstream auto industry, but car-sharing could offer the company and its technology a more direct route to the marketplace.

“All along, we’ve all been speculating about Google,” said consultant Richard Bishop, who led the U.S. Department of Transportation’s vehicle automation program in the 1990s. “We’ve known they’re building very capable technology, but the question has been: What are they going to do with it? Here’s a concrete use case — the autonomous taxi — that has significant potential, whether Google is the one who does it or not.”

To prepare its autonomous cars to handle all sorts of urban driving scenarios, Google has commissioned a fleet of about 100 custom-built prototypes, which Urmson said will appear on California’s public roads by year end.

Though current testing regulations require that a driver sit behind the wheel, Google’s vision — as depicted in its publicity materials — is for the cars eventually to have no steering wheel or pedals.

Automakers such as Daimler AG and Volvo also are aggressively pursuing autonomous vehicles to make cars safer, improve mobility for blind and elderly people and make traffic jams and commutes less tiresome. However, none of those automakers envisions eliminating the role of the driver altogether.

Google does. It says it isn’t confident enough about the handoff of controls to maintain a role for the driver in a self-driving car. Human factors research suggests that once people gave up control of a vehicle, they would be too trusting, Urmson said, and wouldn’t be prepared to retake the controls quickly when they were needed. Rather than taking a shot at “debugging the human,” Google decided to go for a fully autonomous car, makes sense.

Google’s Cute-As-A-Bug Electric Buggy Released In California Part I

blind-driver-google-prius

Google, after 700,000 miles of testing, has released its first true driverless vehicle to be driven on surface streets and not highways just yet. The body they put it into was an electric buggy, I’m sure as time goes on that there will be at least a few choices of body types, but for now, we have this cute as a bug buggy.

Everything about the new test program that Google co-founder Sergey Brin revealed last week, from the design of its two-seat prototypes to the decision to test them on city streets instead of highways, points toward a personal transportation system that directly challenges the driver-centered, ownership-based business model the auto industry has relied on for a century.

“If you look at a vehicle purchase today, it’s the second largest purchase most people in America make, and it’s a resource that basically sits idle for 95 percent of the time,” Christopher Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving cars project, told reporters. “It’s kind of a poor capital investment, in some senses.”

Google’s idea of this app, is not a more accurate map or sensor to assist the driver but rather a vehicle that targets a pressing need for urban mobility without the need for a driver or driving at all. It envisions a network of self-guided, battery-powered vehicles standing ready in urban areas, able to be summoned with a tap on a smartphone and capable of taking their passengers to any destination.

Last year, Google led a $258 million investment in the on-demand taxi service through its Google Ventures capital arm.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick acknowledged the connection at a conference last week in California. “When there’s no other dude in the car,” the blog TechCrunch quoted him as saying, in reference to the driver, “the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.”

Study Done By NHTSA Says Car Crashes Impact On US Reaches $871 Billion Part III

crashes

The economic cost of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. is the equivalent of 1.9 percent of the $14.96 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. Factors contributing to the price tag include productivity losses, property damage, medical and rehabilitation costs, congestion costs, legal and court costs, emergency services, insurance administration costs and the costs to employers, among others. Overall, nearly 75 percent of these costs are paid through taxes, insurance premiums and congestion-related costs such as travel delay, excess fuel consumption and increased environmental impacts. These costs, borne by society rather than individual crash victims, exceeded $200 billion.

This information was found in a Body Shop Business newsletter and is meant to open the eyes of society as a whole. For you, the PDR Technician, this information shows how not only is there plenty of work to be done but that the collision repair industry is safe from extinction.  As long as there are vehicles that don’t use intuitive software to avoid collisions, there will be plenty of work to be done. It would be great if we could cut down on the loss of life and it’s a horrible impact on all concerned and please, never think that what I am saying is that their vehicle damage is your ticket or gain. It’s simply a fact, if vehicles in accidents of any kind need repair, that’s what you do.

Actively seek new work on a daily basis, find ways to stay at the pulse of the collision industry, keep your ear to the ground and you will find success. These type of vehicles will be insured so you will want to stay in touch with or establish a relationship with insurance companies in your area. However, be warned that not all insurance companies are created equal. Pay close attention to what they want to pay and what you need to make in profit. Insurance companies tend to blur the lines.

Study Done By NHTSA Says Car Crashes Impact On US Reaches $871 Billion Part II

crashes

Speeding: Crashes involving a speeding vehicle traveling faster than the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions accounted for 21 percent of the total economic loss and cost the nation $59 billion in 2010, an average cost of $191 for every person in the U.S. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $210 billion or 24 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

Distraction: Crashes involving a distracted driver accounted for 17 percent of the total economic loss and cost the nation $46 billion in 2010, an average cost of $148 for every person in the U.S. Including lost quality of life, and these crashes were responsible for $129 billion or 15 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

Pedestrians and Bicyclists: Crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 7 percent of the total economic loss and cost the nation $19 billion in 2010. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $90 billion or 10 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

Seat-belts: Seat-belt use prevented $69 billion in medical care, lost productivity and other injury- related costs. Conversely, preventable fatalities and injuries to unbelted occupants accounted for 5 percent of the total economic loss and cost the nation $14 billion in 2010. Including lost quality of life, failure to wear seat-belts caused $72 billion or 8 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

“We want Americans to live long and productive lives, but vehicle crashes all too often make that impossible,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “This new report underscores the importance of our safety mission and why our efforts and those of our partners to tackle these important behavioral issues and make vehicles safer are essential to our quality of life and our economy.”

Study Done By NHTSA Says Car Crashes Impact On US Reaches $871 Billion Part I

crashes

As a PDR Technician, you should be interested in these facts. For one, collision repair statistics and studies are paramount to the success of your business. Knowing what the statistics are provides you a greater understanding that the incorrect rumors that say ‘Collision Repair is being phased out’ is as far from the truth. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released this new study that serves to underscore the high economic toll and societal impact of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S.

This $871 billion includes economic costs ringing in at $277 billion, nearly $900 for each person living in the U.S. based on 2010 data, and $594 billion in harm from the loss of life, pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries.

The U.S. Secretary Anthony Foxx says “No amount of money can replace the life of a loved one, or stem the suffering associated with motor vehicle crashes,” and that  “While the economic and societal costs of crashes are staggering, today’s report clearly demonstrates that investments in safety are worth every penny used to reduce the frequency and severity of these tragic events.”

NHTSA’s new study, The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2010, cites several behavioral factors as contributing to the huge price tag of roadway crashes based on the 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries and 24 million damaged vehicles that took place in 2010. Key findings include:

Drunk Driving: Crashes caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol accounted for 18 percent of the total economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes and cost the nation $49 billion, an average cost of $158 for every person in the U.S. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $199 billion or 23 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes. More than 90 percent of these costs occurred in crashes involving a drunk driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Do You Know How Paint Material Caps Apply To You, In Your State? Part II

Paint material invoice pic

 

Case in point, Missouri, there is a fair claims section (20CSR100-1.050 Section (20) (d) which reads that an insurer “cannot prepare an estimate unless the amount is such that the person can reasonably be expected to have the care repaired for the estimated amount.” If you only look at the word reasonable, you will see that this is a nightmare. Reasonable to who? Your idea of reasonable may be completely different than mine so it’s open to interpretation and a set up for the repairers locked into a head butt with the insurers. Repairers are forced to use other words to collect their cost on paint and materials and find themselves having to prove their need for any additional paint material allowances. It’s a nightmare.

So then, what does paint and materials really mean? Does it include body fillers, special bonding agents, etc. or would you consider these things to be body supplies? Then, if they’re not, why isn’t there a line item for these items? Are they simply a part of the overhead? If so, how can you effectively raise your prices in other things so that the shop or personal business doesn’t fail in the end? For most, this cost is too absorbent and a shutdown is sure to follow.

It is thought that throwing out the Paint & Materials line item or referencing it as “Only estimated Paint & Materials-actual cost to be billed on invoice amount.” This would be a simple solution and would be the easiest and most financially responsible method for all concerned.

Without some sort of true definition of paint and materials and the method of calculating/billing is changed, there will always be some sort of conflict on every level ways to lose weight quickly. In the meantime, while waiting for the impossible, try the method above and stay connected to the changes that will hopefully come.




Do You Know How Paint Material Caps Apply To You, In Your State? Part I

Paint material invoice pic

Insurance companies put paint material caps on estimates, is there a law regarding this? And how does this apply to you and your estimates? Is this happening in your state, and if so what does it mean?

These are questions being asked throughout the industry. It’s not as if this is new information, it’s been going on for a good long time, but it gets more and more frustrating when the insurance companies have made a career out of interpreting the information in thousands of ways. One day there is a cap and the next there isn’t. The states that do have statutes are Virginia, Connecticut, New York and Kansas.

The states, as mentioned above, have their own statutes and should be read carefully so that there is as much understanding as there can be. The overall wording can be quite confusing and I almost believe that this cause of confusion is intentional. The main problem that surrounds these statutes is the interpretation so what the repairer thinks they understand and what the insurance companies are sure of what they understand put the two in the center of conflict and bad feelings sprout from this.

It would be great if there were some common understanding that could end this ongoing feud, but as of yet, that hasn’t happen. These statutes seem to fall in a gray area and there is no hope in sight. Additionally, the states that do have the statutes are also indecisive on what the meaning is and some take a dimmer view than others. The issue, in all of its confusion, isn’t even made into a true state-by-state list. In most cases, the repairers have learned how to get around the issues and deal with them on a case-by-case basis. I suppose it has a lot more to do with which insurance company’s they are dealing with.

Industry Changes Are Coming, Will You Be Okay?

F-150

It’s true that there has been a great deal of information surrounding the topic of Ford’s upcoming release of the 2015 F150 and its military-grade aluminum alloy body and high-strength steel frame.

The Collision Industry has been rocked out of its comfort zone. Some in the industry have been reduced to sheer panic while others are completely ignoring the entire process and feel that it will soon turn around and go back to ‘business as usual’. For the latter, i’m sorry to say, that is not going to happen. In fact, I think that the industry should be continuously on their toes and anticipate that there will be many changes coming down the pipeline. Embracing the future can be exciting and yes scary at the same time. But that’s what is so exhilarating.

At the recent Collision Industry Conference, the buzz was afoot and many were concerned about the fact that in our industry, there are still many that haven’t conquered welding on steel yet. The focus on aluminum is taking away from the technical challenges that are still afoot, such as Carbon Fiber, Collision Avoidance Systems and the new translucent finishes coming from OEMs, even glass has its own set of challenges.

The fact is, until our industry can catch up to the industry changes that have already happened in just the past year itself, it will be difficult to move forward with the additional education needed for working with military-grade aluminum. This, I believe, is the making or breaking point of each individual and shop within the industry and if we don’t seize every opportunity to gain the additional knowledge and experience needed to progress, then I fear there will be many left behind. It comes down to perspective and focus.

There’s no need for panic, but there is need to open your eyes and figure out how you fit into the grand scheme of things. Be positive about the changes and make your move when you feel the time is right. Do keep in mind that automakers are working towards the mandates that CAFE has demanded, meaning that by 2016 automakers must hit the 35.5 miles per gallon and by 2025, 54.5.

 

So Why Are All Of The Big American Car Companies In Detroit? Part II

Old Detroit

In the early years, there was no way to know that Detroit would come to dominate the car industry. There were 69 companies that entered the auto industry between 1895 and 1900 and all were found right there in Detroit. Olds Motor Works became the city’s first major car maker when it relocated from Lansing in 1900. Ransom Olds made a decision that changed the course of the industry; rather than create hundreds of small components in-house for his Curved Dash Runabout, he subcontracted much of the work to companies in Detroit’s manufacturing sector.

What is funny is that those that were in the actual manufacturing of the parts eventually started to think that since they knew how to put a car together that they would launch their own brands. From the Old’s subcontractors came the Briscoe brothers, these helped build Buick, and the machinist, Henry Leland, created Cadillac and Lincoln. The Dodge brothers worked years making parts for Ford and Olds. Ransom Olds left Olds Motor Works to found the REO car company. All of these ventures and more were based out of or near Detroit.

The number of US car makers peaked at 272 in 1909, this includes the major manufacturers in New England and Ohio. In and during the 1910’s, Detroit brands pulled away. In 1915, 13 out of the country’s 15 most popular car brands were in Detroit. Ford invested heavily in research and development, distancing their products from those outside of Detroit.

The industry consolidated in one geographic area, Detroit, followed by parts suppliers and skilled laborers, made it impossible for the competition. So like in past history, they sold out to Detroit.  Clearly, Detroit made the cut in every way possible and that my friends, is how Detroit rules the American car industry. I’m sure you must know that there is a lot more history, I’ll leave that to you. It’s important to know where the industry started. Hope you enjoyed it.

So Why Are All Of The Big American Car Companies In Detroit? Part I

Old Detroit

There must be a deep hard to find secret as to why Detroit is the chosen location for the auto industry from the past and the present. Surely Detroit is shrouded by a deep dark cloak and the secrets were buried back around the turn of the 20th century. What are these secrets and should we invite Geraldo Rivera to uncloak them as he did in 1986 with the unveiling of Al Capone’s Vault? Unfortunately, just as Mr. Rivera discovered, after all of the hoopla, there really isn’t anything all that exciting about why American car companies are gathered in Detroit.

The bottom line is, it was as simple as, Henry Ford lived there.  As it happened, Detroit and its environs had a lot to offer. Iron ore was available from the Mesabi Range in Minnesota, and timber was in abundance in the state of Michigan itself. Remember, early car frames were made of wood so this is why this information would be important. It was easy to ship cars to Chicago and New York because the rail and water routes that were readily available.

Detroit’s popularity probably had more to do with a couple of historical mishaps than any geographical advantage. Fist of all, innovators like Henry Ford and Ransom Olds just happened to live in Michigan, and second, because automotive executives lived in that town, they would regularly switch companies and launch spin-offs and start-ups.  This is how innovative manufacturing and design ideas came to be. The result of cross-pollination would put Detroit solidly in the forefront of all manufacturing throughout the states. Distant competitors would find this type of research and development operations very hard to keep up with and either shut down they operations or sell themselves to Detroit.