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How music and passion fuels your driving

Listening to music, and a passion for driving, are two factors that make South Africans better drivers, according to an international emotion-tracking study conducted by Shell and Goldsmiths, a college at the University of London.

Shell South Africa and Goldsmiths announced the results of its new ground-breaking emotion tracking research at the recent Shell V-Power SEFAC Experience Day at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit north of Johannesburg.

Observing diverse driving conditions from three continents across the globe, the study used a combination of the latest wearable emotion tracking devices with chatbot technology, GPS, as well as weather and traffic information and personality questionnaires, to give the most complete picture of what drivers are experiencing on the road. Nearly 3 000 drivers are participating in the study across 10 countries.

In South Africa, the findings revealed that despite intense traffic conditions across the country, it’s not all doom and gloom. Journey times of those studied in South Africa proved to be shorter than motorists in Europe and Asia, averaging 27 minutes per trip verses up to 40 minutes in the Netherlands and 60 minutes in the Philippines. South African motorists in the study saved more time on the road than motorists in Asia at an average speed of 35km/h, compared with just 14km/h in Malaysia and 18km/h in the Philippines.

The study uncovered the tactics that South African motorists are using to remain focused and calm on the roads, and an overall high-performance mindset amongst the nation’s drivers:

Move to the music: drivers who listen to music achieved the strongest driver performance scores. Similarly, drivers who made a conscious effort to relax while driving listening music and other mindfulness techniques performed best behind the wheel.

Always look on the bright side: drivers that displayed a high-performance, optimistic mindset and are full of life achieved the highest driving performance and smoothest journeys.

Family comes first: who we drive with determines how we drive. Drivers who reported to have children, family members or friends in the car used less harsh driving techniques and achieved higher smooth trip scores.

Rural vs urban drivers: motorists in rural areas had the highest performance and smooth scores compared with city slickers.

Passion pays off: drivers who reported a passion or enjoyment of driving paid more attention to their performance on the road, and achieved higher performance scores.

Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London, said: “The nature of this study allows us to observe not only the impact of external factors such as weather and traffic on drivers whilst on the road, but also the internal factors that we as drivers have more control over.”

“Looking at drivers in South Africa, we can see that the highest performing drivers displayed an overall sense of positivity and optimism, making a conscious effort to relax and stay chilled behind the wheel by listening to music.”

Brand, Fuels and Customer Experience Manager at Shell SA Frans Maluleke said: “This experiment was an interesting and valuable insight for us about our valuable customers and the South African market in general.”

“We understand that drivers face many challenges on their daily commutes. Our aim is to utilise the findings of the research to enhance the customer experience and design offers that cater for their needs”, said Maluleke, “We are confident this is a step forward to our journey of becoming South Africa’s favourite forecourt retailer and to making customers life’s journeys better.”

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Two-thirds of adults ready for cars that drive themselves

The latest Looking Further with Ford Trends Report reveals that behaviour is changing across key areas of our lives

Self-driving cars are a hot topic today, but if you had to choose, would you rather your children ride in an autonomous vehicle or drive with a stranger? You may be surprised to learn that 67 per cent of adults globally would opt for the self-driving car.

That insight is one of many revealed in the 2019 Looking Further with Ford Trend Report, released last week. The report takes a deep look into the drivers of behavioural change, specifically uncovering the dynamic relationships consumers have with the shifting landscape of technology.

Change is not always easy, particularly when it is driven by forces beyond our control. In a global survey of 14 countries, Ford’s research revealed that 87 per cent of adults believe technology is the biggest driver of change. And while 79 per cent of adults maintain that technology is a force for good, there are large segments of the population that have significant concerns. Some are afraid of artificial intelligence (AI). Others fear the impact of technology on our emotional wellbeing.

“Individually and collectively, these behavioural changes can take us from feeling helpless to feeling empowered, and unleash a world of wonder, hope and progress,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “At Ford we are deeply focused on human-centric design and are committed to finding mobility solutions that help improve the lives of consumers and their communities. In the context of change, we have to protect what we consider most valuable – having a trusted relationship with our customers. So, we are always deliberate and thoughtful about how we navigate change.”

Key insights from Ford’s 7th annual Trends Report:

Almost half of people around the world believe that fear drives change
Seven in 10 say that they are energised by change
87 per cent agree that technology is the biggest driver of today’s change
Eight in 10 citizens believe that technology is a force for good
45 per cent of adults globally report that they envy people who can disconnect from their devices
Seven out of 10 consumers agree that we should have a mandatory time-out from our devices

Click here to read more about the seven trends for 2019.

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At last, cars talk to traffic lights to catch ‘green wave’

By ANDRE HAINZLMAIER, head of development of apps, connected services and smart city at Audi.

Stop-and-go traffic in cities is annoying. By contrast, we are pleased when we have a “green wave” – but we catch them far too seldom, unfortunately. With the Traffic Light Information function, drivers are more in control. They drive more efficiently and are more relaxed because they know 250 meters ahead of a traffic light whether they will catch it on green. In the future, anonymized data from our cars can help to switch traffic lights in cities to better phases and to optimise the traffic flow.

In the USA, Audi customers have been using the “Time-to-Green” function for two years: if the driver will reach the lights on red, a countdown in the Audi virtual cockpit or head-up display counts the seconds to the next green phase. This service is now available at more than 5,000 intersections in the USA, for example in cities like Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland and Washington D.C. In the US capital alone, about 1,000 intersections are linked to the Traffic Light Information function.

Since February, Audi has offered a further function in North America. The purpose of this is especially to enable driving on the “green wave”. “Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory” (GLOSA) shows to the driver in the ideal speed for reaching the next traffic light on green.

Both Time-to-Green and GLOSA will be activated for the start of operation in Ingolstadt in selected Audi models. These include all Audi e-tron models and the A4, A6, A7, A8, Q3, Q7 and Q8 to be produced from mid-July (“model year 2020”). The prerequisite is the “Audi connect Navigation & Infotainment” package and the optional “camera-based traffic sign recognition”.

Why is this function becoming available in Europe two years later than in the USA? 

The challenges for the serial introduction of the service are much greater here than, for example, in the USA, where urban traffic light systems were planned over a large area and uniformly. In Europe, by contrast, the traffic infrastructure has developed more locally and decentrally – with a great variety of traffic technology. How quickly other cities are connected to this technology depends above all on whether data standards and interfaces get established and cities digitalise their traffic lights.

On this project, Audi is working with Traffic Technology Services (TTS). TTS prepares the raw data from city traffic management centres and transmits them to the Audi servers. From here, the information reaches the car via a fast Internet connection.

Audi is working to offer Traffic Light Information in further cities in Germany, Europe, Canada and the USA in the coming years. In the large east Chinese city of Wuxi, Audi and partners are testing networks between cars and traffic light systems in the context of a development project.

In future, Audi customers may be able to benefit from additional functions, for example when “green waves” are incorporated into the ideal route planning. It is also conceivable that Audi e-tron models, when cruising up to a red traffic light, will make increased used of braking energy in order to charge their batteries. Coupled with predictive adaptive cruise control (pACC), the cars could even brake automatically at red lights.

In the long term, urban traffic will benefit. When cars send anonymised data to the city, for example, traffic signals could operate more flexibly. Every driver knows the following situation: in the evening you wait at a red light – while no other car is to be seen far and wide. Networked traffic lights would then react according to demand. Drivers of other automotive brands will also profit from the development work that Audi is carrying out with Traffic Light Information – good news for cities, which are dependent on the anonymised data of large fleets to achieve the most efficient traffic management.

In future, V2I technologies like Traffic Light Information will facilitate automated driving. 

A city is one of the most complex environments for an autonomous car. Nevertheless, the vehicle has to be able to handle the situation, even in rain and snow. Data exchange with the traffic infrastructure can be highly relevant here. 

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