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July 28, 2017

Driverless Cars | Latest News about Technology & Features

Connecting Cars

Connected cars were big news at this year’s CeBIT tradeshow, with driverless cars and products to communicate with the vehicles’ onboard computers on display. But cooler apps are needed for the sector to take off. The first step on the connected car journey is getting cars hooked up to the internet. While manufacturers have begun integrating 4G mobile broadband, it will take a long time before the majority of cars have Integrated mobile-broadband connections.

For people who can’t or don’t want to use their smart phone as a hotspot, Vodafone Germany has launched an LTE/Wi-Fi hotspot powered by a car’s cigarette lighter. The operator has begun testing in Berlin, where selected taxi drivers are using the product.

Gathering information

At CeBIT, Deutsche Telekom presented a retrofit kit for cars that transmits vehicle status information to the driver’s smart phone as well as to their car dealer. An adaptor is plugged into the onboard diagnostics system to access data such as mileage, battery voltage and brake status, which is then sent via Bluetooth to an app on the driver’s smart phone.

picture of driverless car

The app also sends the data to servers hosted by Deutsche Telekom, which analyses the info and transmits relevant results to dealers. They can, in turn, use the app’s message function to send tailored offerings. It isn’t just big car manufacturers and telecom operators that are interesting in this burgeoning sector. German Augmentation Industries participated in the Code_n startup contest at Cebit, where the company showed its Mobile Assisted Driving (MAD) system, which aims to take advantage of data from onboard computers.

The company has also developed a unit that can be plugged into the onboard diagnostics system to collect information. The information is sent to a back-end system or an app on a smart phone, CEO and founder Alexander Marten said.

The system would be a good fit for fleet management, used by leasing companies and logistics companies to keep track of cars. For the ordinary car owner it becomes easier to keep track of the car’s status, thanks to the app’s ability to translate complex error codes into something that’s easy to understand. Next year Augmentation Industries aims to add the ability to make eCalls, which are intended to bring rapid help to cars anywhere in the EU following an accident. The system comprises open APIs and an SDK that will allow developers to use data from the car in their apps. Just like popular apps have helped sell hundreds of millions of smart phones, Marten hopes developers will do the same for connected cars. The product will ship in June, with the companion app available for iOS and Android. In time a 3G version will also be available.

Driverless cars

These days every tradeshow needs a demonstration of a driverless car. At the CeBIT opening ceremony, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn demonstrated a prototype dubbed James 2025. The demonstration showed how the driver can take part in a video conference while traveling on a smart highway. The driver hands over control to the car by simultaneously pushing two buttons on the steering wheel. Getting driverless cars on the road is a big technical and marketing challenge.

A new survey commissioned by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the reveals that 56 percent of those polled don’t want to relinquish the controls of their car; just 20 percent said they would. The survey found that older people were the most sceptical – only 13 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds backed the idea of driverless cars, compared to 31 percent of people aged 25- to 34 years old. Manufacturers must also convince car buyers that they and their partners won’t invade customer privacy. Winterkorn expressed his concerns, saying that manufacturers need to be as responsible about the use of personal data as they are about driver- and passenger safety. Winterkorn called for self-regulation based on common standards on data privacy used by all manufacturers.

Courtesy of PC Advisor

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