Auto News for June 17

A black Pontiac used on the TV show “Knight Rider” is going to be auctioned off by a California firm. The 1982 black Trans Am could sell for up to $300,000 according to Julien’s Auctions, the so called “Auction House to the Stars.”

A British television and radio star, Chris Evans, has been named to replace Jeremy Clarkson as host of “Top Gear.” He must be a car buff since reports say he owns a LaFerrari. There are reports that a female co-host will be named and the betting is that it will be ex-model Jodie Kidd. And virtually everyone expects Clarkson, Hammond and May to continue their work for some company other than the BBC.  Stay tuned.

When the “Check Engine” lights goes on drivers in Washington, D.C. paid the most to have a defect fixed. Residents of Wyoming paid the least, according to a study from CarMD. It said D.C. drivers shelled out $467.11 on average with Delaware, New Jersey, California and Connecticut rounding out the top five most expensive states. Wyoming operators paid $308.76 on average.

Eight of ten drivers report they recorded fuel economy that was higher than the combined city/highway numbers issued by the EPA, according to a AAA survey. One in three does not believe the EPA rating accurately reflects the fuel economy they are experiencing. The auto club said driver behaviors and environmental conditions, rather than vehicle shortcomings, are likely responsible for most variances. Owners of diesel powered vehicles reported 20 percent higher economy than predicted by EPA.

Jaguar Land Rover is doing some very interesting research these days using advanced technology to monitor a driver’s heart rate, respiration and levels of brain activity to identify stress, fatigue, and lack of concentration. Researchers say if brain activity indicates a daydream or poor concentration, then the steering wheel or pedals could vibrate to raise driver awareness. It would monitor brainwaves through the hands via sensors embedded in the steering wheel, a method used by NASA to develop a pilot’s concentration skills.

It is also working on technologies that increase the speed and efficiency of the interaction between the driver and infotainment screen. To reduce the time a driver’s eyes are off the road, the system would use cameras to predict which button the driver intends to press allowing the selection to take place in mid-air. This reduces button selection by 22 percent, the company said.

And catch this – A “mid-air touch” could provide the driver with a tap of a finger or a tingling of the fingertips to indicate the desired button has been selected.

“We believe some of the technologies currently being used in aerospace and medicine could help improve road safety and enhance the driving experience,” said Dr. Wolfgang Epple, Jaguar Land Rover Director of Research and Technology. Interesting stuff, huh?

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