(Source: Paramount Pictures)
Joy riding at the owners's expense may be a thing of the past thanks to Chevy's new "Valet Mode" security feature

UK high performance automotive supplier Cosworth has teamed with General Motors Comp. (GM) to provide a new black-box style technology available as an option on the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette.  

I. PDR Sets Chevy's New Stingray a Cut Above

The 2015 Corvette Z06 already has been turning heads with its seventh generation platform design.  In development since 2007, GM didn't rush this one.  Originally slated for a 2011 model year launch, the C7 moseyed out in 2013, with the introduction of the 2014 Corvette.  

The 2015 model year bumps the performance Corvette Z06 model to this new platform and includes further improvements/tweaks to the base model.  For those who don't closely follow Chevy, with the C7 platform it has resurrected the "Stingray" name last used in 1976.  The terms "Stingray" and "Corvette" are now be synonymous, much as they were in the 1970s.

2015 Chevy Corvette
[Image Source: Chevrolet]

The 2014 model year Corvette and Corvette Z06 (C6 platform) had a basic valet mode, which offered security features including:
  • Locking the glovebox
  • Locking the storage bin behind the center stack
  • Disabling the radio and infotainment system
The "Performance Data Recorder" (PDR) takes things a step further.
Bundled with the new 2015 Corvette and 2015 Corvette Z06's Navigation Package, the PDR plugs into the controller area network (CAN) bus and interfaces with a special secondary GPS sensor.  Unlike the primary GPS sensor that operates at a relatively leisurely 1 Hz (1 location record per second), the secondary GPS operates at 5 Hz, fast enough to capture corner traces and other split-second travel route information.

2015 Chevy
[Image Source: Chevrolet]

The system is also augmented with video and audio capabilities.  The new Stingrays have a front-facing camera mounted ahead of the mirror, capable of recording HD (1,280 x 720 pixel) video and audio via a cabin microphone.  It also records a variety of driving metrics, including speed, rpm, gear choice, and g-forces.

When the owner is behind the wheel, the PDR acts as a powerful tool that serves both to capture and share favorite driving moments, but also to analyze driving performance and learn how to drive in a more aggressive, but safe manner.  The PDR has four normal modes Track Mode, Sport Mode, Touring Mode, and Performance Mode.

The PDR is perfect for tuning your racing reflexes. [Image Source: GM]

Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer, describes:

The Performance Data Recorder combines the ability to record and share drive videos with the power of a professional-level motorsports telemetry system.  Drivers can easily record and share their experiences driving down the Tail of the Dragon or lapping Road Atlanta. In addition, with the included software users can analyze their laps in incredible detail, and find opportunities to improve their driving and lap times.

Cosworth's CEO, Hal Reisiger, plugs the powerful add-on, describing:

Drivers want professional-quality information and analysis.  They want to improve their driving performance with state-of-the-art tools, and they want to share that information with their social networks.  Quality data, personalized, from your own dashboard. Driving has joined the social revolution.

The most basic mode is the Touring mode, which just records video and audio, when active.  Sport mode adds in g-force and speed data, appropriate for basic analysis of street driving.  Track mode adds additional data including rpm and lap times.  Cosworth and Chevy have partnered with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) who is providing Bing satellite data overlays for certain tracks.  Performance Mode allows you to practice and record key metrics such as 0 to 60 mph acceleration times, quarter-mile speed and time, and 0-100-0 mph acceleration/deceleration timing.
With the system the driver can record 13 hours and 20 minutes of video/audio on a 32 GB SD card in the glove box (or roughly 3 hours and 20 minutes on a 8 GB card).  Drivers can view video on the 8-inch touchscreen that is included with the Navigation package on the 2015 model year Corvettes.
II. Peace of Mind -- a High Tech Convenience
While the purpose of the PDR is framed primarily in an autosports context, it comes with a powerful added bonus; the PDR can double as an accountability tool to prevent abuse at the hands of valets, teens, or other secondary drivers.

To access the security mode -- Valet Mode -- the driver punches in a four digit pin number which tells the car to monitor the behavior of its stand in driver.  Harlan Charles, Corvette product manager, explains:

Think of it as a baby monitor for your car.  Anyone who has felt apprehension about handing over their keys will appreciate the peace of mind of knowing exactly what happened while their baby was out of sight.

Performance Data Recorder was initially designed as a tool for track days, allowing drivers to record their laps and improve their driving skills,.  We soon realized the system could have many more applications, such as recording a scenic drive up Highway 101, or recording when the Valet Mode is activated.

When in Valet Mode, the recording vehicle resists interference as the SD card is safely stowed in the locked glovebox and the recording can't be disabled without entering a pin to unlock the infotainment system.

PDR valet mode
The Valet Mode is protected by a pin lock code. [Image Source: Chevy]

The system gives worrywarts a way to know if their valet does anything like this or like this:

Pricing has not been announced, but the new feature is not expected to significantly increase the price of the Navigation Package, which was $1,795 USD last model year.  Cost will be important, but as they say, it's hard to put a price on peace of mind.

Sources: Chevy Media, Chevy on YouTube, Cosworth

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