The Top Car Tech Of 2011 Page 3

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Google's Self-Driving Toyota Prius

Google's Self-Driving Toyota Prius

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Google's car can drive itself. Earlier this year, Google revealed that it had been testing a self-driving car on public roads—albeit with people as backup pilots. The news left legislators and law-enforcement personnel scrambling, wondering how they might deal with the idea of a driverless vehicle. Was it legal? Who would be accountable in an accident? And how reliable or accurate is such a vehicle? These are all questions that Google is likely still seeking answers to—as of yet, it's a tech teaser in many respects—but for now the headline is simply that such a car exists.

Powermat wireless charge pad in Chevrolet Volt

Powermat wireless charge pad in Chevrolet Volt

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Wireless charging mats charge your smartphone—and might just charge your vehicle. Away with the wires! Earlier in the year, we reported that GM had struck an agreement to feature Powermat inductive charging devices in the automaker's vehicles—allowing wireless charging of smartphones or other mobile devices in about the same time as with a conventional wired charger. The next step is taking it up to vehicle scale; several automakers, including Nissan (Leaf), are working on the idea of an inductive wireless charging mat, and it could just be a couple of years away.

Audi A8 MMI Navigation with Google functionality

Audi A8 MMI Navigation with Google functionality

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Audi takes navigation to the cloud(s). Audi has already made most in-car navigation systems look obsolete with its beautiful new version of MMI, which incorporated not only an innovative scratch pad, called MMI Touch, that let you trace out an address or name's individual letters, one at a time, but also 3D Google Earth satellite images—made possible through dedicated LTE mobile Internet connectivity and overlaid with map data. Now Audi is adding Google Street View functionality to the system so that—when you're still a few blocks away, perhaps—you can keep an eye out for the awning of a particular storefront. With the potential speed from the LTE connection (more than six times faster than 3G), we anticipate that the integrated Internet radio connectivity being added this year is only the start of a whole suite of interactive features.

 
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