HAL IN THE CAR
HAL – the Heuristically-programmed Algorithm computer in Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece 2001 A Space Odyssey – may be finding its way into our cars. Less disastrously we’d hope…
I commented in the last issue on reports from CES on the emerging technologies that will soon, no doubt, be widespread motoring realities. Self-driving, or the autonomous car, was all the rage at the show while further commentary and predictions encompassed some of the awe-inspiring technologies that will merge computers, smart devices, the Cloud and aspects of intelligent vehicles.
Three companies provided interesting keynote addresses regarding the connected vehicle and some of the future (and we mean near future) technologies that we’ll be adopting. The three companies were Audi, Volvo and Inrix.
Anupam Malhotra Senior Manager Connected Vehicles and Infotainment, Audi America spoke about a number of features already available in its cars while also giving a glimpse of next-gen model technologies.
“Through Audi connect, we have been providing comprehensive infotainment systems in our cars for some years now and we’ve evolved Cloud-based services and intelligence in the vehicle. This year the company brings out MID2 which takes in-vehicle infotainment one step further. Like map updates with a two-way communication mode where when an over-theair map update becomes available, a pop-up on the screen allows you to select the update then or come back to it later. Smartphone innovation Apple Car Play, Android Auto – this is a new world that gives customers a choice of using the more familiar interface of the smartphone to operate various functions including navigation, messaging, telephoning, or advance to the more integrated and content rich systems that the OEMs developed that access self-piloted functions, access data in the vehicle, etc.
“There are also opportunities for app developers to develop relevant apps. Another thing we’re looking at is the idea of having more than one touchscreen, like dedicated screens to control various functions in addition to the infotainment touchscreen. Get rid of the buttons by a proliferation of pixels – larger screens with button feedback.”
Another important presentation was that of Klas Bendrik CIO & Vice President Volvo Car Corporation where he spoke about autonomous technologies and the company’s gradual rollout of autonomous vehicles in Gothenburg by 2017.
Volvo calls it the DriveMe project, which by 2017 will see a large number of autonomous vehicles actually owned by end users and being ‘driven’, day to day, on normal Gothenburg roads with sophisticated ‘car to infrastructure’ and ‘car to car’ communication systems. Volvo has obtained the collaboration of local government authorities and the project may result in the development of world leading laws and legislation to deal with autonomous car traffic.
Similarly, Bryan Mistele CEO, Inrix talked about his company’s crowd-sourced traffic data which is obtained by over 185 million cars and devices to provide data to car manufacturers, public sector agencies, fleet and commercial carriers and media companies which use that info in their products. The company is also developing dynamic information to aid parking, on fuel prices, etc. Inrix sees the automobile as a moving mobile device no much different to your tablet, smartphone or computer. The data is making cities smarter and helps control infrastructure, manage traffic and public transport, improves safety while optimising toll roads in terms of pricing, and many more possible uses are on the drawing board.
Very interestingly, visual computing technology giant Nvidia stated indisputably that the needs of the automotive environment will become the most significant factor influencing innovation in the processing chip industry and that’s what’s driving their innovation. They look at the automobile as being the most significant mobile computing platform for entertainment, information, etc.
Interesting times ahead…now open the car door HAL!