In-Car Tech

Stop using your E-Z Pass and buy an Audi instead

Audi has pioneered new toll collection technology specifically for the North American market.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Thanks to COVID-19 and the national coin shortage, the days of throwing a few coins in a toll booth collection bin may have finally passed us by. But don't think that the thruway and bridge authorities are going to stop trying to get into your wallet.

According to Audi, the U.S. toll road system is comprised of five major tolling hardware and software protocols, 90 tolling agencies, 12 interoperable groups, and 20 tolling brands.

Audi Integrated Toll Module technology The system can work with most every toll collection system in the county.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

More and more people are using electric toll collection (ETC) systems, which allow them to prepay for their tolls then use a toll tag within their vehicle to transmit to an overhead antenna at a toll station, which reads the toll tag and accesses the associated account for funds. In some states, such as Texas, instead of using a transmission device, the ETC system simply reads your vehicle's license plate then charges the person responsible for the registration of the vehicle.

Audi's new MIB 3 system is taking this a step further. The company's cars are now available with an Integrated Toll Module (ITM), which allows the car to serve as a transponder to various toll collection services rather than having a series of gaudy transponders attached to your vehicle.

The technology used vehicle-to-infrastructure technology. ITM was created by Gentex, a company that is a longtime supplier to the automotive and aerospace industries. They also make auto-dimming rearview mirrors, integrated HomeLink garage door openers, and dimmable windows for aircrafts.

Gentex first floated the idea at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Shortly thereafter, Audi went all-in, with help from partner Payvaim. The result is a new consumer-based tolling technology adapted from the commercial trucking industry that utilizes greatly downsized hardware for automotive applications.

The technology is integrated into the vehicle meaning unattractive toll tags are a thing of the past.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

There were several issues to consider in the creation of the technology. Windshields also collect heat from outside the car and multiply the temperatures within the mirror housing. Additionally, the components also had to adhere to U.S. Federal Communications Commission guidelines regarding radio frequencies and limits on interference.

ITM's primary purpose would be to serve North American customers. ITM is the only factory-integrated, multi-protocol tolling device that allows access to all U.S. toll roads with one account.

The first Audi with the technology was the E-Tron SUV. ITM is now available in most of the 2021 lineup.

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New driver assist technology is coming to the Lexus lineup later this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

New Lexus Teammate driver assistance technology will debut on the 2022 Lexus LS 500h later this year. Its availability is constrained to all-wheel drive models.

The technology was developed based on the Mobility Teammate Concept. This automated driving concept is unique to Toyota sough to enhance communication between drivers and cars, "enabling them to reach out to each other for mutual assistance". The concept sees cars and humans interacting and partnering rather than having automation take over for drivers. This approach allows drivers to enjoy the experience of driving but allowing the vehicle to take over some functions of driver's duties at times. In this way, the tech works as both guardian and chauffeur.

2022 Lexus The company's flagship sedan will get the technology first.Photo courtesy of Lexus

2022 Lexus LS 500h

On the 2022 Lexus 500h, Lexus Teammate will offer two functions: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.

Advanced Drive is design to "accurately detect driving conditions to plan and execute acceleration, braking, and steering commands to maintain the vehicle within the lane, follow other vehicles, change lanes, navigate certain interchanges and traffic jams and overtake slower vehicles." It's a Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation".

This description makes it sound a lot like the suite of lane keeping, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control technology that Hyundai offers rather than true Level 3 technology that General Motors's Super Cruise delivers.

Lexus will show operation of the technology on a screen with information displayed like this.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park operates similar to how the Genesis GV80's hands-free parking assist technology works. The Lexus tech automatically controls steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes with parallel parking or backing into a parking space. It uses a combination of 360-degree sensing technologies and a bird's eye view display to perform the task while allowing the driver to monitor progress.

"We are very proud of Lexus Teammate, which is the culmination of five years of close collaboration between our technical centers in Japan and the US. We conducted simultaneous development and rigorous testing in both markets with the goal of achieving industry-leading advanced driver assistance functionality," says Derek Caveney, executive engineer at Toyota Motor North America's Integrated Vehicle Systems team.

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2022 Hyundai Kona N revealed, but the automaker isn't telling all just yet.

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai is giving its highest performance Kona the same transmission that you'll find in the Veloster N. For enthusiasts, that's a very good thing.

The compact crossover is more and more being seen as the American successor to the hot hatch. The Mazda CX-30 Turbo recently piqued enthusiasm among true drivers who can't afford supercars and need something more practical to hoon around in.

Now, the Kona N is poised to deliver similar driving dynamics and performance. Hyundai has slowly been leaking out details about the 2022 Hyundai Kona N over the last year and the revelation that it will have an eight-speed wet-type dual-clutch transmission, known as N DCT, is just the latest tidbit to come to light.

2022 Hyundai Kona Hyundai has upgraded its wet DCT mechanics in recent years making it hard-wearing.Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

2022 Hyundai Kona

The Kona N DCT is based on a modified version of its in-house-developed 8DCT. It's had enhancements in recent years that have made it more durable and ready to handle the demands of high-performance vehicles. The N DCT will be standard on the Kona.

Hyundai will pair the N DCT with a 276-horsepower, 2.0-liter direct-injected engine that has been tuned especially for the model. The transmission control unit is calibrated for N enthusiasts.

The wet-type DCT is structurally similar to a manual transmission but, instead of the typical dry-type gearbox, it uses two electric oil pumps that are designed to reduce friction between the moving parts, cooling the clutch, and allowing greater torque.

Other features of the N DCT include N Grin Shift, N Power Shift and N Track Sense Shift functionality. These settings have dedicated shift-logic management. N Power Shift engages when the car accelerates with more than 90-percent throttle. N Grin Shift maximizes engine and DCT performance for 20 seconds, providing a boost. N Track Sense optimized adaptive shift for the race track.

The N Grin Control System has five different drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, N and Custom. Unlike with a traditional automatic transmission vehicle, in Hyundai vehicles with N DCT, the driver can choose to turn off the creep function. When the creep function is turned "off" and the car is in gear D, the car does not automatically roll forward when the brake pedal is released.

Drivers can switch to manual mode for more control over shift points, utilizing the paddle shifters or gear knob. In manual mode, the downshift memory logic will avoid downshifting during high RPM operation. Memory functionality remembers the command and executes only when the acceptable RPM is reached.

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