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What do we need to have happen first? Have more people buy electric vehicles, or provide charging stations for EV drivers to plug into? Two researchers believe the government could stimulate the electric-car market by building more chargers. It might be even more worthwhile than offering tax credits.

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Ford is getting serious about developing more sophisticated technology for its models, and to make things even better, the automaker is opening the new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto in Silicon Valley. With a former Apple engineer as the center's technical head, the lab is focusing on five areas: connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

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Next up on the hot-button list of things that can kill you behind the wheel: "highway hypnosis." That's the zombie-like, autopilot phase you get into on a long highway drive when there isn't much to distract you, like curves or traffic. Digging further into what it is and how to combat it, Hyundai-Kia engineers and the University of Michigan are commencing a study that will measure brainwave activity in order to track the body's slide into highway hypnosis.

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Don't tell Ray LaHood, but a study from Carnegie Mellon University and the London School of Economics has said "Hold the Phone!" to the argument that talking on a mobile phone while driving raises the risk of a crash. Said one of the study's two authors, "Using a cell phone while driving may be distracting, but it does not lead to higher crash risk in the setting we examined."

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Who would have ever guessed that an insect could drive a car? Well, sort of.

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Turns out, the good folks at Audi aren't nihilists. The German automaker has joined up with Columbia University researchers to make predictions about city life in 2050, when 7 billion people will be urban dwellers. The result is five potential future scenarios, and none of them involve world destruction. Or even replicants.

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So much for all those systems that allow you to convert your voice to text messages. Reuters reports that a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M has found the technology to be no safer to use while driving than employing a traditional handheld device. The study found that drivers took around twice as long to react to situations on the road as they did while they weren't texting and that eye contact with the road decreased as well.

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Stash this one in the "we don't see a downside to this" department.

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A new study has revealed red cars attract more bird droppings than any other color. The research, conducted by online retailer Halfords, revealed red vehicles made up 18 percent of cars marked by birds, while blue followed along in second place at 14 percent. Green vehicles got off the easiest, making up just one percent of those in the study. The sample included 1,140 cars in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol, though there's no indication as to the total number of each car color

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A new study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group indicates Americans are driving less than they were a few years ago. That drop is largely thanks to young people. Those between the ages of 16 and 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 2001. While it's tempting to attribute the decline to the recession, the study suggests the decline may continue even after the economy picks up pace. Factors like steeper fuel prices, more readily available public transportation and a shift

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A new study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group indicates Americans are driving less than they were a few years ago. That drop is largely thanks to young people. Those between the ages of 16 and 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 2001. While it's tempting to attribute the decline to the recession, the study suggests the decline may continue even after the economy picks up pace. Factors like steeper fuel prices, more readily available public transportation and a shift

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Even tires considered basic are the results of massive engineering and financial investments – a single tire can include up to 20 different kinds of rubber compounds and their constructions and build techniques are so mysterious that it's easier to get a tour of the White House than a tire factory. A new tire being worked on by a team of German engineers at the University of Leipzig, however, would be a Buck Rodgers-like leap in tire tech by incorporating changeable elements to alter the s

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Any device or system that draws a driver's attention away from the road is inherently distracting, but some navigation systems are better than others. Now, AT&T Labs is said to be hard at work developing a steering wheel with haptic feedback that may allow more drivers to keep their eyes off of the center console screen. According to MIT's Technology Review, the system uses 20 small actuators to to create a pattern of vibrations in the wheel. When the wheel buzzes clockwise, the driver is me

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Canadian researchers have discovered smoking marijuana three hours before driving can more than double a driver's chance of being involved in a serious crash. The study examined data collected from 49,111 victims who had been seriously injured or died in an accident. Researchers specifically looked at cases where tetrahydrocannabionol, the active compound in marijuana, was found in the victims' blood stream but where other drugs and alcohol were absent. The study also evaluated instances where t

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A new study from the water-is-still-wet research department has found that teens may have been the victims of peer pressure just before a crash. The studies were crafted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm. The first study surveyed 198 teens and found that those who were more likely to have friends pile into a vehicle with them were also apt to call themselves "thrill seekers." Those teens also said they didn't want their parents to set rules or keep an eye on their comings

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U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu estimates that plug-in vehicle battery costs will have dropped 70 percent between 2008 and 2015 and will fall another 58 percent between 2015 and 2020, giving hope to electric-drive vehicle advocates that the price premium for plug-ins relative to conventional vehicles will narrow during the next few years. Chu also said that the U.S. Energy Department is opening a research center dedicated to improve battery and energy-storage technologies for the transportation

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There's a long press release and a video after the jump with scads of information, but it distills to this: controlling machines with your brain. José del R. Millán, a researcher at Switzerland's EPFL, has been developing the technology both for communication and mechanical-control purposes, and Nissan Europe has partnered with the lab with an eye on taking such technology to cars.

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Sad news if you were hoping to see fender skirts return to the automotive design mainstream; according to Automotive News, General Motors has already spent a fair chunk of time and money investigating whether or not adding the aero pieces could lead to increased fuel economy.

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According to a new study, children who ride with their grandparents are half as likely to be injured in an accident as those who ride with their parents. The news comes from research organized by Dr. Fred Henretig, an emergency medicine specialist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Henretig and his team poured through the State Farm data from insurance claims between 2003 and 2007 across 15 states. The research included information on over 12,000 children below the age of 15, and the st

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As per usual whenever there's great change afoot, finding the shelter of reality among competing storms of He Said/She Said isn't easy – it will probably take us another ten years to find out what's really true right now. J.D. Power and Associates has added more data to the mix with its report, "Drive Green 2020: More Hope than Reality." The one-sentence summary is that, according to J.D. Power's research, there might be more hype than substance to hybrid and battery demand, but that China

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Anyone who's sat at a red light for minutes on end in the middle of the night when there's no cross traffic can cheer on science for proving what we already knew: lights that adapt to the flow of traffic, instead of dictating the flow of traffic, can improve the flow of traffic. A team of researchers discovered that if you let lights locally decide how to time their signals based on how much traffic they're dealing with, and then communicate that with nearby lights, you get closer to the "green

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