Victoria’s leading transport advocate, RACV, along with the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) have launched the My Car My Data campaign and website to help inform motorists of the emergence of ‘connected’ cars and the potential benefits and risks associated with them.

RACV Public Policy General Manager Brian Negus said connected cars offer many consumer benefits such as being able to communicate with the world around them and helping drivers to be aware of and avoid traffic snarls or dangers on the road.

However technology advances could mean that when Australian consumers buy their next new car, it will be a car that is capable of gathering information about the vehicle and the driver and sending it to the car maker minute by minute.

“Transmission of this data can help drivers reach their destination more quickly, more safely and more fuel-efficiently. In the event of an incident or a crash, a connected car can alert emergency services and your service network bring help more quickly,” Negus said.

“But the control of the data generated by these vehicles and of the security codes to access maintence and repair activities – and the emerging debate surrounding who gets to access it – is set to pose potential privacy risks and possibly drive up running and repair costs due to impaired competition.

The experience in Europe has been that drivers of connected cars have only been able to share vehicle data with the relevant car maker. Many industry observers believe that if this situation is replicated in Australia, car owners may be left with little choice but to take their car to a branded repairer, rather than an independent repairer of their choice, which will affect competition and cost.

In addition to the potential for extra cost, there are also potential privacy concerns, as connected car technology opens up the opportunity for car makers to pass on or sell personal information to third parties, such as insurers or marketers. This is significant when you consider an investigation conducted last year on behalf of Europe’s car clubs showed that highly personal information synced from mobile phones can be captured and transmitted back to the manufacturer.

Negus said: “None of this is sinister in itself, but it is important that Australians are told what information car makers collect about the car and them and what it’s used for before this technology becomes widespread in Australia. It’s also important that our politicians consider the need for regulation to protect the consumer rights of Australian motorists.”

Prior to establishing the My Car My Data website, 24 vehicle manufacturers that sell vehicles in Australia were invited to make their data management policies publicly available on the site. To date, eight of the 24 have responded.

“RACV hopes that over time, more vehicle manufacturers will make their policies available via the My Car My Data website,” Negus said.

The ACCC is currently conducting a market study into the new car retailing industry including whether consumers and businesses could be affected by any restrictions on access to vehicle data. RACV looks forward to the outcomes of this review.

ARRB, the nation’s leading authority in road research and technology, has given Australians a glimpse of modern motoring as driverless cars hit Australian roads for the very first time in Adelaide. ARRB Group Managing Director, Gerard Waldron, described the milestone demonstration as a major turning point for the evolution of driverless car technology in Australia, and said the organisation is proud to be spearheading the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative.

“This demonstration marks the first of a series of research and field trials nationally to identify and assess what needs to be done to make driverless cars appropriate in an Australian context, with particular emphasis on those human factors that are often encountered behind the wheel,” he said. The demonstrations were the first to have occurred anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere, and were successfully conducted on a closed, controlled section of Adelaide’s Southern Expressway.

“We brought together a range of industry, government and academic partners from around the world and closer to home, and particularly appreciate the efforts and involvement of the South Australian Government and Volvo to make this happen,” Waldron said. Ministers and media from across Australia were among a handful of people to be the first to travel in a driverless Volvo XC90, which demonstrated automatic lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, and active queue assist under the supervision of a trained Volvo operator.

The vehicles travelled at speeds of up to 70km/h and the addition of a ‘pace car’ (standard vehicle) to simulate traffic showed first-hand how the driverless vehicle technology interacts with other road users and adapts to changing conditions. South Australian Premier, Jay Weatherill, said South Australia was taking the lead nationally and internationally by embracing driverless car technology.

“We are encouraging the development of a new technology which not only promises to improve safety and lower emissions, but also offers countless opportunities for the South Australian economy,” he said. “This industry has the potential to revolutionise transport in Australia. We want to be at the forefront of this paradigm shift towards an industry which is anticipated to be worth more than $90 billion globally by 2030."

Volvo Car Australia Managing Director, Kevin McCann, said “As a global leader in the development of autonomous drive technologies Volvo Cars is pleased to be part of the first trial in Australia. Volvo’s aim is to make this technology available for real customers in production cars in the near future.”

“The demonstration marks the beginning of a long and important process”, continued Waldron. “With European researchers having a roadmap for the introduction of driverless vehicles by 2020, Australia needs to keep pace. Legislation urgently needs to be amended, like it has been in South Australia. It’s also vitally important we educate Australian road users on the benefits driverless technology will bring to their lifestyles, to their safety, and in relieving congestion issues on our roads,” he said.

The Initiative is supported by a number of leaders in the field including the South Australian Government, Volvo and Telstra.

Swedish car maker Volvo Cars plans to develop technology that can detect kangaroos to avoid collisions moves a step closer with local testing involving real kangaroos to begin in the Australian Capital Territory. A team of Volvo Cars safety engineers arrived from Sweden to study and film the roadside behaviour of kangaroos in their natural setting. The data Volvo Cars collects will be used to develop Australia’s first kangaroo detection and collision avoidance software. According to the National Roads and Members Association (NRMA) each year there are over 20,000 kangaroo strikes on Australian roads which cost over $75 million in claims. The human cost of serious injuries and fatalities from animal collisions is incalculable.

To help address this, Volvo Cars is developing a unique system that uses radar and camera technology to detect kangaroos and automatically apply the brakes if an accident is imminent.

“Whereas Volvo Cars’ Pedestrian Detection technology is geared towards city driving, animal detection is designed to work at highway speeds,” said Volvo Cars’ Senior Safety Engineer, Martin Magnusson. “Kangaroos are very unpredictable animals and difficult to avoid, but we are confident we can refine our animal detection technology to detect them and avoid collisions on the highway.”

“In Sweden we have done research involving larger, slower moving animals like elk, reindeer and cows which are a serious threat on our roads. Kangaroos are smaller than these animals and their behaviour is more erratic. This is why it’s important that we test and calibrate our technology on real kangaroos in their natural environment. Volvo Cars’ City Safety truly is state of the art technology, because the brakes can be primed in milliseconds, much faster than a human,” Magnusson said. “We are only at the beginning of what is possible.”

Volvo Car Australia Managing Director Kevin McCann said kangaroo research is the latest focus area to help realise Volvo Cars’ vision that no one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.

“This type of technology is not designed to take responsibility away from drivers. If the driver is inattentive the car will warm her and eventually make a hard braking to avoid a collision.” he said. Volvo Cars is conducting its kangaroo detection research at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra. Canberra is one of the nation’s hot spots for kangaroo collisions.

DJR Team Penske has confirmed it will field two V8 Supercars for 2016, with Fabian Coulthard and Scott Pye to drive for the team. Coulthard – who currently competes with Brad Jones Racing and sits fifth in the Championship – will join Pye, who has taken over as lead driver since the Tasmania round this year. Coulthard confirmed recently he would be departing BJR and his new home has been confirmed. While there have been questions of whether the team would expand, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric explained that was a key part of the team’s plans.

“Expanding to two cars has always been a priority of ours, and with Fabian on board, gives us the opportunity to add another car capable of running at the front,” Cindric said. Coulthard has long been the favourite to clinch a seat with DJR Team Penske for 2016 and is thrilled to race for two motorsport greats. “I’m excited about 2016 and coming aboard at DJR Team Penske,” said Coulthard. “The chance to race for two motorsport legends like Dick Johnson and Roger Penske is just a special opportunity. I’m looking forward to next season and helping the team grow and race at the front of the field.”

Pye – who took control early this season and has proven his ability to progress the team up the grid – is pleased to continue with the team. While a devastating crash took him out of Sunday’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, he has been cleared of any broken bones and will look to recover for the Castrol Gold Coast 600 in less than a fortnight’s time.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to continue racing for Dick and Roger again in 2016,” Pye said. “This year has had some ups and downs, but we have been moving in the right direction. Expanding to two cars with Fabian is incredibly exciting. He’s a hard-nosed racer and together we want to build DJR Team Penske into a contender.”

The final piece of the puzzle has been Marcos Ambrose and while his comments do not reveal his plans for 2016, he backs the decision the team has made. “I fully support the team with the exciting announcements here today,” Ambrose said. “My number one priority since stepping out of the car full time was helping the team with that transition and in Fabian and Scotty, the team has a great future ahead for 2016 and beyond.”

The team will conduct a teleconference at 1pm AEST to confirm further details for the future.

BMW has set a course for the future in GT racing with the presentation of the newly developed BMW M6 GT3 at the 66th IAA Cars 2015 in Frankfurt am Main (DE). The racing version of the BMW M6 Coupe will be sent into action by numerous private teams from the 2016 season in a host of championships and renowned race events around the world as part of the BMW Sports Trophy.

BMW Motorsport has channelled its vast well of experience amassed since 2010 with the BMW M6 GT3’s successful predecessor, the BMW Z4 GT3, into the development of the new car. Indeed, the new GT3 racer boasts a raft of improvements, particularly in the areas of drivability and economy. One example is the use of a series-produced engine with M TwinPower Turbo technology, which develops higher output and an increase in torque. Moreover, with its centrallypositioned driver’s seat and long wheelbase, the BMW M6 GT3 offers a driving feeling unparalleled on the racing scene. The net price of the car is 379,000 Euros.

The BMW M6 GT3 weighs less than 1,300 kilograms, and the transaxle drive concept, sequential six-speed racing gearbox and body aerodynamics optimised in the BMW wind tunnel also highlight the imminent arrival of a full-blooded racer from BMW Motorsport in 2016. The reliability, efficiency and ease of maintenance of the BMW M6 GT3 will likewise be tuned to master the demands of endurance racing, and its longer wheelbase promises to deliver significantly improved handling characteristics compared with the BMW Z4 GT3. As well as the car itself, BMW M6 GT3 customers will also benefit from the service laid on by BMW Motorsport support engineers and a trackside supply of parts.

In May 2015, ahead of the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit in Germany, BMW Motorsport customers from around the world were treated to an exclusive first glimpse of the BMW M6 GT3 – not to mention a detailed presentation of the car by drivers and engineers – at a “closed room” event at the BMW M Testcenter Nürburg. The GT racing car was subsequently introduced to fans of “the most powerful letter in the world” at the traditional M Night event on the Friday before the classic endurance race in the “Green Hell”. Customer teams in North America were able to feast their eyes on the BMW M6 GT3 for the first time at the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) in Watkins Glen (US), where the racing car was given its first public appearance on the other side of the Atlantic in late June.The BMW M6 GT3 was then revealed to teams, drivers and fans at the Spa-Francorchamps 24-hour race in Belgium – the most important GT race in the world. And now, the car has appeared in BMW Motorsport racing livery for the first time at the IAA.

The BMW M6 GT3 has undergone an extensive programme of testing on a variety of circuits over the course of 2015. This has allowed the experienced BMW works drivers to amass many valuable kilometres at the wheel of the BMW M6 GT3 and to carry out important work on the baseline set-up of the new GT and endurance racing challenger. This new poster car for customer racing is now undergoing a final round of fine-tuning prior to its race debut in the coming year.

General Motors is recalling 2.7 million U.S. cars and trucks for problems ranging from flawed brake lights and windshield wipers to braking problems.