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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Takata to plead guilty, pay $1B in criminal penalties for airbag scheme; 3 Takata execs indicted

January 14, 2017

Tokyo-based Takata Corporation, one of the world’s largest suppliers of automotive safety-related equipment, agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and pay a total of $1 billion in criminal penalties stemming from the company’s fraudulent conduct in relation to sales of defective airbag inflators. An indictment was also unsealed charging three Takata executives with wire fraud and conspiracy in relation to the same conduct.

According to the company’s admissions, in the late 1990s, Takata began developing airbag inflators that relied upon ammonium nitrate as their primary propellant. From at least in or around 2000, Takata knew that certain ammonium nitrate-based inflators were not performing to the specifications required by the auto manufacturers. Takata also knew that certain inflators had sustained failures, including ruptures, during testing.

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Eighth generation Toyota Camry makes its debut in Detroit

January 09, 2017

Toyota unveiled the eighth-generation Camry in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). Sold in more than 100 countries, the Toyota Camry is the most popular mid-size sedan in the world and is the segment leader in many global markets where it is available. Introduced in Japan in 1982, the Camry was Toyota’s first mass-produced vehicle with a transverse engine layout.

The new Gen8 Camry utilizes TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) which represents a completely new strategy to the way the company designs, engineers, and packages its vehicles. TNGA retains all of Toyota’s traditional values of superlative build quality and safety while injecting a fun driving experience that plays on all the senses. The physical manifestation is the usage of a new engine, transmission and GA-K platform.

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Study finds hands-free just as distracting as handheld mobile phone use behind the wheel

December 28, 2016

Talking hands-free on a mobile phone while driving is just as distracting as a conversation using a hand-held phone, according to a recent study by researchers at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.

Dr. Shimul (Md Mazharul) Haque, from QUT’s School of Civil Engineering and Built Environment and Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland ( ), presented the findings at a Driving Distraction Seminar held at QUT. The study is published in Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.

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Toyota reports Intelligent Clearance Sonar has significantly reduced pedal misapplication & vehicle reversing accidents

December 26, 2016

Toyota Motor Corporation conducted a survey of accidents occurring in parking lots involving three models in Japan (the Alphard, the Vellfire, and the Prius) equipped with the Intelligent Clearance Sonar (ICS) system—a system which helps to prevent or mitigate collision damage in parking spaces.

According to the survey of data—conducted from January 2015 to June 2016—from approximately 2,500 accidents from insurance companies that cover the policies for about 60,000 of these above mentioned vehicles, pedal misapplication accidents fell by approximately 70%, and accidents related to reversing have been reduced by approximately 40%.

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Euro NCAP 2016: Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq and VW Tiguan best in class

December 21, 2016

In 2016, Euro NCAP tested 18 new passenger cars and four heavy quadricycles; three cars were awarded “Best in Class”: the Toyota Prius in the Large Family Car category; the Hyundai Ioniq in the Small Family Car category; and the VW Tiguan in the Small Off-Roader category.

To define the Best in Class, a calculation is made of the weighted sum of the scores in each of the four areas of assessment: Adult Occupant, Child Occupant, Pedestrian and Safety Assist. This sum is used as the basis for comparison of the vehicles. Cars qualify for Best in Class based only on their rating with standard safety equipment. Additional ratings based on optional equipment are excluded.

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NHTSA proposes guidelines to address driver distraction caused by mobile devices in vehicles

November 23, 2016

The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed guidelines to help address driver distraction caused by mobile and other electronic devices in vehicles. The release marks the second phase of voluntary guidelines to address driver distraction on US roads; the first phase, released in 2013, focused on devices or systems built into the vehicle at the time of manufacture. (Earlier post.)

Currently, no safety guidelines exist for portable device technologies (e.g., smartphones, tablets, and navigation devices) and aftermarket devices (i.e., devices installed in the vehicle after manufacture) when they are used during a driving task. The proposed proposed, voluntary guidelines encourage manufacturers to implement features such as pairing, in which a portable device is linked to a vehicle’s infotainment system, as well as Driver Mode—a simplified user interface.

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Volvo Cars’ 90 Series cars receive powertrain, safety and connectivity updates including Android Auto

Volvo Cars is updating its 90 series cars with new powertrain, safety and connectivity updates. The new Drive-E powertrain variants include a D3 4-cylinder diesel engine coupled to a new manual 6-speed transmission; estimated fuel economy is 4.3 l/100 km (54.7 mpg US) NEDC in the S90 with emissions down to 114 g/km CO2.

A new automatic 6-speed transmission coupled to the D3 will deliver 114 g/km CO2 and 4.3 l/100 km. The D3 will also now be available with All-Wheel Drive.

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NHTSA sets Quiet Car safety standard for new HEVs and EVs to protect pedestrians

November 15, 2016

The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is adding a sound requirement for all newly manufactured hybrid and electric light-duty vehicles to help protect pedestrians. The new standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, responds to Congress’ mandate in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 (PSEA) that hybrid and electric vehicles meet minimum sound requirements to provide an audible alert for blind and visually-impaired pedestrians.

The new federal safety standard will help pedestrians who are blind, have low vision, and other pedestrians detect the presence, direction and location of these vehicles when they are traveling at low speeds, which will help prevent about 2,400 pedestrian injuries each year once all hybrids in the fleet are properly equipped.

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GM demos 8 connected vehicle safety applications in Shanghai

November 03, 2016

General Motors demonstrated eight safety applications for its latest intelligent and connected vehicle (ICV) technology for the first time in China at the National Intelligent and Connected Vehicle Pilot Zone in Shanghai, which opened in June.

GM has been supporting the development of connected vehicle technologies for more than a decade in the US. The company highlighted six vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) safety applications, including Intersection Movement Assist, and Electronic Emergency Brake Light and Control Loss Warning enabled by V2V technology. It also introduced two newly developed vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) safety applications: Red Light Violation Warning and Reduced Speed Zone Warning.

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NHTSA issues Federal guidance to the automotive industry for improving motor vehicle cybersecurity

October 25, 2016

The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released proposed guidance for improving motor vehicle cybersecurity.

The proposed cybersecurity guidance focuses on layered solutions to ensure vehicle systems are designed to take appropriate and safe actions, even when an attack is successful. The guidance recommends risk-based prioritized identification and protection of critical vehicle controls and consumers’ personal data. Further, it recommends that companies should consider the full life-cycle of their vehicles and facilitate rapid response and recovery from cybersecurity incidents.

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German alliance develops new active matrix LED headlights; 1,024 individually controllable light points

October 09, 2016

A German research alliance has developed the basis for smart, high-resolution active matrix LED headlights, which takes adaptive forward lighting to a new dimension.

A demonstration model was developed by overall project manager Osram in collaboration with the project partners Daimler, Fraunhofer, Hella and Infineon. Both headlights contain three LED light sources, each with 1,024 individually controllable light points. This means that the headlight can be adapted very precisely to suit the respective traffic situation to ensure optimum light conditions at all times without dazzling other drivers.

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Volvo Trucks introduces Volvo Active Driver Assist; combining radar and camera for emergency braking

October 04, 2016

Volvo Trucks North America introduced Volvo Active Driver Assist (VADA), a comprehensive collision mitigation system that combines both radar and camera capabilities to provide emergency braking and help drivers maintain a safe following distance through alerts and interventions.

Volvo currently is the only OEM to fully integrate the system into its Driver Information Display, so no additional display units or prep kits are needed. Volvo made the announcement during the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference & Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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USDOT proposes speed limiters for large commercial vehicles; potential savings up to ~$1B in fuel each year depending on limit

August 26, 2016

The US Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are proposing equipping heavy-duty vehicles with devices that limit their speeds on US roadways, and requiring those devices be set to a maximum speed, a safety measure that could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.

Specifically, NHTSA is proposing to establish a new Federal motor vehicle safety standard (FMVSS) requiring that each new multipurpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus and school bus with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 11,793.4 kilograms (26,000 pounds) be equipped with a speed limiting device.

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NTSB issues preliminary report for investigation into Tesla Autopilot fatal crash

July 27, 2016

The US National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report for the investigation of the fatal 7 May 2016, highway crash in Florida involving the Tesla Model S and Autopilot. The preliminary report does not contain any analysis of data and does not state probable cause for the crash.

The preliminary report details the collision involving a 53-foot semitrailer in combination with a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia truck tractor and the 2015 Tesla Model S. According to system performance data downloaded from the car, the indicated vehicle speed was 74 mph (119 km/h) just prior to impact; the posted speed limit was 65 mph (105 km/h).

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CMU study: even partially-automated crash avoidance delivers financial and safety benefits

July 19, 2016

A new cost-benefit analysis by researchers at Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering shows that the public could derive economic and social benefits today if partially-automated collision avoidance features were deployed in all cars.

In a paper published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, they evaluated the benefits and costs of fleet-wide deployment of three such technologies: blind spot monitoring; lane departure warning; and forward collision warning crash avoidance systems within the US light-duty vehicle fleet.

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Consumer Reports calls on Tesla to disable and update auto steering function, remove “Autopilot” name

July 14, 2016

Consumer Reports is calling on Tesla to disable the automatic steering function in the Autopilot driving-assist system available in its Model S vehicles until the company updates the function to confirm that the driver’s hands remain on the steering wheel at all times.

The consumer organization, which has owned and tested three Teslas (2013 Model S 85, 2014 Model S P85D, and 2016 Model X 90D), said that Tesla should also change the name of the Autopilot feature because it promotes a potentially dangerous assumption that the Model S is capable of driving on its own.

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CDC: US has highest motor vehicle crash death rate among high-income countries; could be cut in half with proven strategies

July 07, 2016

About 90 people die each day from motor vehicle crashes in the United States, resulting in the highest death rate among 19 high-income comparison countries, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were more than 32,000 crash deaths in the US in 2013, with more than $380 million in direct medical costs.

Athough the US has made progress in road safety—reducing crash deaths by 31% from 2000 to 2013—other high-income countries reduced crash deaths by an average of 56% during the same period. Lower death rates in comparison countries, as well as the high prevalence of risk factors in the US, suggest that more progress can be made in saving lives, according to the CDC. Compared with other high-income countries, the US had the:

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NHTSA projects 7.7% increase in US traffic fatalities for 2015 year-on-year; significant increase in motorcyclist and non-occupant deaths

July 02, 2016

A just-released National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistical projection of traffic fatalities for 2015 estimates that 35,200 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes—an increase of about 7.7% as compared to the 32,675 fatalities reported in 2014. If the 35,200 figure turns out to be accurate, this will mark the highest level of fatalities since 2008, which saw 37,423 fatalities.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) preliminary data shows that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2015 increased by about 107.2 billion miles—about a 3.5% increase. The fatality rate for 2015 increased to 1.12 fatalities per 100 million VMT, up from 1.08 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2014—about a 3.7% increase. Fourth quarter of 2015 represents the fifth consecutive quarter with year-to-year increases in fatalities as well as the fatality rate.

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BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye partner on open platform to bring fully autonomous driving to market by 2021

July 01, 2016

BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye are collaborating to bring solutions for highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021. The three are creating an a standards-based open platform—from door locks to the datacenter—for the next generation of cars.

The goal of the collaboration is to develop future-proofed solutions that enable drivers to not only take their hands off the steering wheel, but reach the “eyes off” (level 3) and ultimately the “mind off” (level 4) level transforming the driver’s in-car time into leisure or work time.

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NHTSA begins preliminary evaluation of Tesla Model S Autopilot fatality

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has begun a preliminary evaluation of a fatal highway crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S operating with Autopilot activated. ODI is opening the preliminary evaluation (PE16007) to examine the design and performance of any automated driving systems in use at the time of the crash.

In a blog post, Tesla Motors was quick to point out that this is the first known fatality in more than 130 million miles driven with Autopilot activated. Tesla also pointed out that among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles; worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles.

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Coodriver GmbH and Volkswagen sign strategic partnership; using smartphone or GPS transmitters to alert drivers about children

April 22, 2016

Volkswagen has signed a strategic partnership with Coodriver GmbH, a cloud-based application service provider for traffic safety, on the integration of a connected vehicle application into new Volkswagen models that will help motorists to see children on the road in time to avoid dangerous situations.

Coodriver developed the “Schutzranzen” (protection satchel) app that uses smartphone or GPS transmitters to alert drivers in time about hazardous situations visually and/or audibly.

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IIHS: Speed limit increases in US caused 33,000 deaths over 20 years

April 14, 2016

A new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study shows that increases in speed limits over two decades have cost 33,000 lives in the US. In 2013 alone, the increases resulted in 1,900 additional deaths, essentially canceling out the number of lives saved by frontal airbags that year.

Charles Farmer, IIHS vice president for research and statistical services and the author of the study, looked at deaths per billion miles traveled by state and roadway type. Taking into account other factors that affected the fatality rate—including changes in unemployment, the number of potential young drivers (ages 16-24) and per capita alcohol consumption—he found that each 5 mph increase in the maximum speed limit resulted in a 4% increase in fatalities. The increase on interstates and freeways, the roads most affected by state maximums, was 8%.

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RAND: Autonomous vehicles cannot be test-driven enough miles to demonstrate their safety; alternative testing methods needed

April 13, 2016

Autonomous vehicles would have to be driven hundreds of millions of miles and, under some scenarios, hundreds of billions of miles to create enough data to clearly demonstrate their safety, according to a new report from RAND, a non-profit research organization.

Under even the most-aggressive test driving assumptions, it would take existing fleets of autonomous vehicles tens and even hundreds of years to log sufficient miles to adequately assess the safety of the vehicles when compared to human-driven vehicles, according to the analysis.

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Nissan, Savari, UC Berkeley and City of Sunnyvale collaborate on real-world V2X testbed with DSRC

March 29, 2016

Nissan Motor Company, Savari, UC Berkeley Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology (PATH), and the City of Sunnyvale have collaborated on a real-world V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) testbed spanning 4.63 square miles with three public intersections in Sunnyvale, California. The City of Sunnyvale pilot is examining the role of V2X communications and its potential benefits on easing traffic congestion, and enhancing fuel economy and public safety.

Savari is a provider of V2X safety communication technology; its smart city deployments now span 130 square miles of public roadways. Prompted by Nissan’s vision initiative to establish a V2X testbed, PATH deployed Savari StreetWAVE road-side-units (RSUs) and coordinated with the City of Sunnyvale and Nissan on the project, which started in August 2015 and is continuing to provide data.

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Toyota and Lexus making automated braking standard on nearly every model and trim level by end of 2017; 4 years ahead of NHTSA/IIHS target

March 21, 2016

Toyota will begin to include the and Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense packages, anchored by automatic emergency braking (AEB), on almost every new vehicle by the end of 2017—four years before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) 2022 target. (Earlier post.) Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America. made the announcement at the New York Auto Show.

Already available as a low-cost option on a broad range of Lexus and Toyota vehicles, Lexus Safety System+ and Toyota Safety Sense are designed to help address three key areas of driver assistance: preventing or mitigating frontal collisions – including pedestrians; helping keep drivers within their lane; and enhancing road safety during nighttime driving. Technologies include Toyota’s Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams.

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Munich Re America launches transit bus collision avoidance pilot in Washington with Mobileye Shield+ system

March 17, 2016

Munich Reinsurance America, one of the largest reinsurers in the US, in collaboration with the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP), has launched a pilot program equipping transit buses with the award-winning collision avoidance system Mobileye Shield+. Rosco Vision Systems is the official North American provider and driver-interface manufacturer of this system.

Mobileye is a technology leader in the area of software algorithms, system-on-chips and customer applications that are based on processing visual information for the market of driver assistance systems (DAS). Shield+, designed for large vehicles operating in urban environments, enables early detection of cyclists and pedestrians by using an array of strategically placed artificial vision smart cameras.

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New Buick LaCrosse upgrades computing power from 17 to 31 ECUs; new electronic control system

March 16, 2016

The all-new Buick LaCrosse, which launches this week in China, features significant upgrades in computing power and networking to advance connectivity and safety features.

There are 31 ECUs distributed in the all-new Buick LaCrosse—its predecessor utilized only 17. This 82% increase in the number of ECUs helps to optimize calculating efficiency. In order to facilitate the handling of large quantities of data, a specific data bus is arranged to connect ECUs, each of which can process data independently.

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NHTSA proposes updating electrical safety requirements for fuel cell and mild hybrid vehicles; alignment with int’l standards

March 04, 2016

The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to update electrical safety requirements for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and mild hybrid vehicles.

The NPRM proposes adding an optional method for post-crash electrical safety into the standard, FMVSS No. 305, that involves physical barriers to prevent electric shock due to direct or indirect contact of high voltage sources. This proposed optional method affords the same level of electric shock protection as the other methods for electrical safety currently in FMVSS No. 305 and would enable innovative powertrain technologies. The proposed updates to FMVSS No. 305 align the standard with international regulations and the latest version of the voluntary industry standard, SAE J1766, “Recommended Practice for Electric and Hybrid Electric Vehicle Battery Systems Crash Integrity Testing”.

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New algorithm improves speed and accuracy of pedestrian detection; cascade detection + deep learning

February 08, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a pedestrian detection system that performs in near real-time (2-4 frames per second) and with higher accuracy (close to half the error) compared to existing systems. The technology, which incorporates deep learning models, could be used in “smart” vehicles, robotics and image and video search systems.

The new pedestrian detection algorithm developed by Nuno Vasconcelos, electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, and his team combines a traditional computer vision classification architecture—cascade detection—with deep learning models.

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Bosch says its haptic gas pedal can reduce fuel consumption up to 7%; safety warnings via nav and V2X systems

January 25, 2016

The automotive industry has been exploring the use of haptic gas pedal technologies as a way to reduce fuel consumption and increase safety by signaling the driver using a mechanism such as a vibration or a counterforce in the accelerator pedal. Continental announced its Accelerator Force Feedback Pedal in 2010, Frost & Sullivan anticipates wide premium-segment deployment of the active gas pedal technology post-2018 (earlier post); and Mercedes-Benz offers the technology in the C 350 PLUG-IN HYBRID (earlier post).

Bosch now says that its active gas pedal allows drivers to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 7%. This is possible because the gas pedal can be networked with other automotive functions, such as the transmission. Up to now, the only indication drivers have had of the best time to shift gear has been in the form of small arrows on the instrument display. The active gas pedal comes with the option of a palpable indication of the best time to shift gear.

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SAE’s highest technical safety award goes to hydrogen fueling paper

January 21, 2016

At the Awards Ceremony at the SAE 2016 Government/Industry Meeting, SAE International honored the recipients of the Ralph H. Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award, including the lead author, Jesse Schneider, (BMW); along with co-authors Jihyun Shim (Hyundai); Graham Meadows (IMPCO); Steven R. Mathison (Honda); Michael J. Veenstra (Ford); Rainer Immel (Opel); Morten Wistoft-Ibsen (H2 Logic); Manfred Greisel (Wenger Engineering); Spencer Quong (SQI); Timothy McGuire (MB RDNA); and Peter Potzel (Daimler).

The Ralph Isbrandt Award annually recognizes the author(s) delivering the most outstanding paper at an SAE Society or section meeting on the subject of automotive safety engineering. The 2016 Ralph Isbrandt award recognizes the advancement to SAE literature of the recipients’ SAE World Congress Technical Paper on Hydrogen Fueling, “Validation and Sensitivity Studies for SAE J2601, the Light Duty Vehicle Hydrogen Fueling Standard” (SAE 2014-01-1990). (Earlier post.)

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