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TRAVTEK DRIVERS LIKE SYSTEM; PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP A SUCCESS

 ORLANDO, Fla., March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Throughout its one-year test which just ended, close to 3,000 drivers have rented TravTek vehicles and driven more than a million miles in a 1,200-square-mile area of Central Florida.
 Preliminary results reveal drivers are very positive in their ratings of TravTek's visual and auditory route guidance system. Drivers perceive the system as helping them save time, drive more safely to their destinations and pay more attention to their driving. In addition, renters also feel the system is easy to use and understand.
 TravTek, short for travel technology, is the most advanced Intelligent Vehicle/Highway System (IVHS) field test in the country. It includes navigation and route selection assistance, up-to-date traffic information and services information.
 TravTek's partners -- General Motors (GM), the American Automobile Association (AAA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the City of Orlando -- shared the cost of the $12 million project.
 In addition to its technical sophistication, TravTek serves as a model for public/private partnerships and cooperation. According to Norman Van Ness, director of the FHWA Office of Traffic Management and IVHS, "TravTek provided a tremendous opportunity to strengthen the relationship between government and industry and work toward common transportation and mobility goals. The project, which concluded March 31, was successful in all respects."
 Dr. Richard A. Moreau, executive director of engineering sciences at GM's Research and Development Center, said, "We'd like to thank the TravTek drivers who participated in the field study and `test drove the future.' We at General Motors will listen carefully to what you told us about TravTek in hopes of designing a system which will exceed the needs of our customers when we offer a TravTek-like system in GM vehicles.
 "AAA's participation in TravTek was very beneficial since it confirmed expectations that both business and leisure travelers are highly interested in getting up-to-date detailed information on hotels, restaurants and attractions while they are traveling," said Kent Taylor, director of Advanced Traveler Information Products for AAA. "AAA will continue to explore new ways to deliver travel information electronically."
 "We're very pleased to have been part of an important transportation management prototype," Orlando Mayor Glenda E. Hood said. "We will continue to use leading-edge technology to provide our residents and visitors with the most efficient and safest roads system possible."
 George Gilhooley, Traffic Operations Engineer for District Five in Orlando, said, "The program was great. We learned a lot about the technology and that public agencies and private concerns can work together to develop successful programs like TravTek."
 Detailed evaluation results of the TravTek project will be released throughout the next 12 months as analysis is completed.
 /CONTACT: Mary Roznowski of General Motors, 313-986-5717; Jerry Cheske of AAA, 407-444-8000; Zeborah English of FHWA, 202-366-0660; Dick Kane of FDOT, 904-488-3111; or Joe Mittiga of the City of Orlando, 407-246-2221/
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 WHERE AM I? TRAVTEK VOICE TELLS DRIVERS
 The voice has perhaps been the most talked about feature of the TravTek system since its introduction last March. Although talking cars may be controversial, evaluations show nearly all drivers strongly agreed the TravTek voice guidance feature was useful.
 "In the past, talking cars have not been well received for several reasons. Sometimes the voice was seen as a gimmick, it wasn't always the most appropriate way to provide information, drivers had no control over the voice and it only spoke to tell drivers they had done something wrong. No one wants a car that nags," said Dr. Linda G. Means, from the General Motors Research and Development Center.
 "GM's top priority in designing the TravTek voice system was to achieve user acceptance. We wanted drivers to welcome the voice feature and find it helpful. Based on the data we've examined so far, it appears we've succeeded," Means said.
 TravTek drivers had the freedom to turn the voice features on and off, however, voice guidance was left on most of the time. In addition, the route map and guidance displays were rated significantly higher with voice than without the accompanying auditory guidance.
 TravTek's spoken messages include: route guidance, navigation assistance and traffic information. The computer's speech is generated by a voice synthesizer, which offers the benefit of a large variety of messages.
 Although TravTek drivers reacted positively to the voice with respect to clarity and understandability, future advancements in speech technology should further improve voice intelligibility.
 The voice functions as a supplement to the visual route guidance displays, which can be used as an independent system.
 /CONTACT: Mary Roznowski of General Motors, 313-986-5717/
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 ORLANDO DRIVERS EXTOL TRAVTEK'S BENEFITS
 At a media briefing last week, four of the 50 Orlando-area drivers who participated in the TravTek field study, which began last March, praised the TravTek vehicles and project.
 To qualify for the study, drivers had to drive an average of 60 miles per day to varied locations. Each participant had the vehicle for eight weeks.
 Following are comments from each:
 REV. JACK DAY, 64, volunteer police chaplain, City of Orlando
 "Each of us in the department has a book of maps but when you're in a hurry it takes a little time to find your place. I attempted on several of the calls to have the car direct me to my destination and it would take me directly there like an eagle to its nest. It saved me 15 to 20 minutes per trip which for me is essential. It was a terrific help for my work. I was spoiled by it."
 "I was running late for a backyard wedding because of another appointment and I realized I had lost my directions to the house. I punched in the address which was about 25 miles away. I was a little nervous about getting there on time but the car got me there 15 minutes early."
 "It made me more alert -- I didn't keep my eyes on the computer -- I listened to the voice."
 "I had a few difficulties with the system but I'd stop and call the help desk and I was on my way in no time."
 BETTY W. BARNES, 71, payment coordinator, Orange County tax collector
 "What's so fantastic about the car is it helps you, especially at night when you can't read the signs -- I just listened to the voice."
 "The car especially would be good for someone who's new in town, there's no way you can get lost. Strangers are always walking up to me asking what's on the back of the car (global positioning satellite receiver). The car blows everybody's mind that sees it."
 "I've loved every minute. Even though you're familiar with the area it's still a help. I'd buy one."
 RICK BROWN, 41, residential security systems salesman
 "I've sold residential security systems for three years. I drive 30,000 miles per year and have lived in Orlando for 13 years. I figured I knew every short cut there was. TravTek gave me routes that I would have said no way to, but I took them and it saved me time. Even now that I don't have the TravTek car, I still use those time-saving routes."
 "It's difficult to read maps in the car at night but I didn't have to worry about that with TravTek. Plus, you don't have to slow down when you're anticipating a turn and become a hazard to those behind you. TravTek tells you where to go and when to turn."
 "The people at the AAA help desk were incredibly efficient, polite and helpful -- an asset to the TravTek program."
 "I left my map book home for the two months I had TravTek."
 "I fell in love with the system -- it's an invaluable time management tool. I already miss it."
 SUSAN CRAMER, 37, real estate agent
 "When I went to pick up my TravTek car last summer my husband dropped me off. I'm not used to the east side of town and I didn't pay attention to how we got there. When I was ready to go home, I realized I not only didn't know where I was, I didn't have any money for the tolls. After a few false starts the car got me home. It's the most wonderful feeling. I felt like one of the astronauts in space, you don't know where you are but you're listening to this voice guide you and you trust it to get you there -- and without tolls!"
 "In my business, you're not only looking at the directions but you're talking to your customers and watching for traffic. With TravTek, I could listen to my clients and the car would alert me when I needed to turn."
 "In my business it's so wonderful to pick up your keys and go without running around looking for a map. It gives you freedom. I can't wait until TravTek is available, it's unbelievable."
 -0- 3/30/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Each of the local drivers has agreed to answer questions at work./
 /CONTACT: Jack Day, 407-423-3172; Betty Barnes, 407-836-2778; Rick Brown, 407-872-3350; or Susan Cramer, 407-352-5800, all of GM/
 (GM)


CO: General Motors; American Automobile Association; Federal Highway
 Administration; Florida Dept. of Transportation; City of Orlando ST: Florida IN: AUT SU: PDT


SM -- NYAFNS4 -- 0818 03/30/93 07:05 EST
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