Auto briefs: Family input, national parks, coffee orders

Family interaction to test self-driving cars, a donation of several efficient vehicles to the National Park Service, and a feature to order coffee from behind the wheel were among the items promoted by automakers recently.

  • Two families in Gothenburg, Sweden, will help Volvo test its autonomous vehicles. The families have received XC90 premium SUVs, and Volvo engineers will monitor how they use and interact with the vehicle during their commutes to work and other trips. These early participants in the automaker's "Drive Me" project will keep their hands on the wheel and supervise driving, but more advanced self-driving technology will be introduced to future participants. Volvo expects that up to 100 people will be involved in Drive Me over the next four years, and it has set a goal of debuting a commercially available fully autonomous vehicle by 2021.
  • Hyundai has announced that it is donating six 2018 Ioniq Hybrids to the National Park Service. The vehicles were given to the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California, and National Capital Parks (East) in Washington, D.C. The National Park Service expressed its gratitude for the gift, saying the vehicles will improve its staff's ability to care for the sites and help it meet its goals to have all of its vehicles be fuel-efficient.
  • General Motors has introduced a commerce platform called Marketplace for its vehicles' infotainment systems. The automaker says the platform allows drivers to take actions such as requesting a food delivery, ordering and paying for a cup of coffee, making dinner reservations, and finding the closest gas station or hotel. Marketplace also has a "Shop" section allowing drivers to take advantage of offers specific to GM vehicles, such as discounts on oil changes or purchases of Wi-Fi data.

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