They’re Alive! They’re Alive!

A few years ago, Autonomous Vehicles, or Self-driving cars became more than just a pipe-dream. With Google’s self-driving cars showing great potential, these controversial vehicles are getting smoother and smarter all the time.

Last month, a self-driving Nissan Leaf was trialed in London, on motorways, streets and in varying levels of traffic. This was partly due to England’s relative flexibility with AVs; allowing one insurance policy to cover both an autonomous and conventional driver.

In the States, Uber has resumed its AV road tests, after one of their AVs was involved in an accident. Another vehicle (driven by a human) failed to give way to the self-driving car, which caused the collision. If Uber continues with their AV fleet, customers may see cheaper and safer journeys in the future – perhaps another advantage over their Taxi competitors.

Closer to home, an Australian company has received a $2.2 million government grant to test their AV radar technology in South Adelaide’s CBD. Their radar could be of great benefit to autonomous vehicles, allowing them to ‘see’ around corners and is unaffected by adverse weather conditions.

With an estimated 23,000 traffic fatalities per week due to human error, self-driving cars seem like an excellent way to dramatically reduce accidents.

However, concerns about hacking and insurance are common.
These cars, like most modern cars rely on a lot of new tech and connections to various internet sources. This leaves the cars open to hijacking from remote hackers, able to cause accidents or deaths without leaving a trace. Though this is a worry for self-driving cars, any modern car with high-tech functioning is potentially at risk and so security measures need to be in place, whether the car is self-driving or not.

Another point is that although these vehicles will be less likely to cause an incident due to error, there will inevitably be some accidents caused. If both vehicles are in self-driving mode when the collision occurs, the question lies in who is to blame – the company or the owner of the vehicle at fault?

So, with rising interest in Autonomous Vehicles, what do you think? Are they a great invention to keep us safe? another danger due to technology? or perhaps an unsavoury addition to the 9-5 grind – why shouldn’t you work while your car drives for you?

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Big News for Electric Vehicles!

For those keen on electric vehicles, but put off by the lack of charge stations, we have some good news!

After teaming up with ChargeNet, Z is installing 3 new fast chargers at their stations in Warkworth, Turangi and Taupo.  In 25 minutes, these chargers provide 120km worth of travel. ChargeNet is looking to provide New Zealanders with charge points between every 40-80kms. Reducing the range limitations that can affect EVs.

They look set to achieve this target due to a joint venture with BMW to install 100 rapid chargers across the country, to create an “electric highway”.

The Ministry of Transport is keen to see more Kiwis go green with electric vehicles, providing further funding to increase uptake of EVs, showcasing their viability for the everyday New Zealander. So far, businesses have been quick on the uptake, with electric postal vehicles, waste disposal trucks and even buses making their way onto New Zealand roads.

Last year, over 2500 new electric vehicles were registered, with over 500 registered this year, according to the Ministry of Transport.

With more EV models on the market than ever, with increased range and more charging spots around the nation, the cheaper to run and maintain vehicles may become the household staple in the not to distant future.

Those wanting to enjoy the cost-saving benefits of commuting with an Electric Vehicle, but worried about getting stranded may soon be in luck – especially if the Ministry of Transport allows EVs to use priority lanes!

Wet and Wild Weather, Drive Safe!

Lights on, wipers on full. It has not been the most summery of summers by far and it looks like more stormy weather to come. Just the other day, while driving home the torrential rain struck and I found myself asking the question – as rain pelted my windscreen so I could not see far ahead – should I pull over?

I continued on, craning my neck, heaters blasting the windscreen, wipers in a frenzy. Surface water brought everything to a slow drool with lanes indistinguishable, thankfully, everyone was careful to take it easy on the road.

We all want to get home quickly and sometimes we cannot wait for the rain to ease up as it just doesn’t. It looks like this weather is here to stay, so remember to drive safe:

  • Check your brakes and tread – Coming to a quick stop is hard in the rain, harder still if your tyres and breaks are worn!
  • Check those wiper blades – If they are leaving streaky smears or making that awful scratchy sound, it is time to replace them. Don’t put up with maddening noises and poor visibility!
  • Check your lights – Ever spot that silver car in the heavy rain without its lights on? It is pretty tricky. Give your rear and headlights a once over and make sure you are as visible as possible!
  • Keep away – Give a good amount of space between you and the car behind you. No one wants to be stuck in the rain waiting for a tow truck.

And remember your umbrella!