Mainstreaming the Intelligent Car Weekly Brief—5.20.2013

Mainstreaming the Intelligent Car Weekly Brief—5.20.2013

In this week’s Brief: AT&T, Hughes Telematics, Intel, the Association for Competitive Technology, Verizon, Microsoft, Facebook, Waze, Mitsubishi, Pioneer, Garmin, INRIX, ORBCOMM, and DENSO

If autonomous vehicles are to become mainstream reality—which the likes of Google, Audi, Volvo, and all the other players hard at work on autonomous driving technologies today would make us believe—a massive amount of regulation and public policy will need to be hashed out first. To that end, leaders of the telecommunications industry came together this week to announce the “Intelligent Car Coalition,” a new non-profit that will aim to provide industry insight on public policy and engage federal policymakers in constructive conversations about the intelligent vehicle sector.

The Coalition includes AT&T, Hughes Telematics, Intel, the Association for Competitive Technology, and Verizon, among others. Societal benefits as well as concerns, such as distracted driving, data privacy, and liability, will all be key topics of exploration.

“As these intelligent vehicle technologies enter a new era, so must our nation’s public policy discussions,” says Catherine McCullough, the Coalition’s executive director. “We in the technology industry are focused on a forward-looking policy agenda for this fast-growing sector of the USA economy.”

Microsoft jumped into the conversation about intelligent vehicles itself this week. The company says that rather than focus on in-dash offerings that provide drivers with solutions—such as streamed music, navigation, etc.—they plan to focus on creating updatable technology that responds specifically to those drivers’ needs.

How they plan to do this moving forward remains a little fuzzy, although Microsoft says it will focus on making the car capable of being automatically updated in much the same way as smartphones automatically update when you activate them. It will also focus on combining big data and machine learning.

Rumors swirled that Facebook is in final negotiations to purchase Waze, the crowdsourced maps and navigation company. The same rumors got going back in August of 2012. When that fell through, Apple was then said to be in negotiations with Waze in January of this year.

Now we’re back to Facebook, which is said to be offering in the ballpark of 1 billion for the Israel-based navigation co., which would make Waze its largest acquisition to date. Acquiring Waze would allow Facebook to add maps to Facebook Home and expand its mobile expertise and ad revenue stream.

More concrete news on the navigation front came from Mitsubishi and Pioneer. Mitsubishi announced that it will invest roughly $10 million in Pioneer. The electric giant wants to strengthen its car navigation platforms with future multimedia technologies and views Pioneer as the ideal partner to help them secure this advantage.

Pioneer displayed one such car navigation platform this week dubbed CYBER NAVI, which integrates augmented reality into the dashboard thanks to a “Smart Loop Eye” image sharing service based on on-board cameras.

On the aftermarket front, Garmin came out with a new portable navigation device in the U.K. whose claim to fame is the first PND in Europe with a digital radio modem.

The modem comes courtesy of INRIX and allows the PND to provide real-time traffic with larger data volumes at about 80 times the bandwidth of traditional traffic message channel receivers. The device costs £300.

ORBCOMM meanwhile launched a self-powered M2M tracking and monitoring device called the GT 1100. The self-powered title comes from solar re-charging technology that allows for lower power consumption.

The GT 1100 also includes a software application, CargoWatch, that delivers near-real-time alerts on asset status, location, history, and arrival/departure, providing complete visibility for fleet and operations managers. The device is targeted for transportation and logistics, heavy equipment and oil and gas.

Finally, DENSO released a laser radar that helps vehicles avoid low-speed collisions. To consolidate space, the laser radar features a simpler laser beam generation mechanism than previous versions. Additionally, DENSO was able to reduce the overall size of the radar by using a smaller lens. DENSO says this results in a more cost-effective solution.

“As automakers have been accelerating efforts to develop systems to avoid collisions and reduce impact when a collision cannot be avoided, sensors for these technologies must be balanced in terms of performance, size and cost for respective vehicle models and systems,” says Hiroyuki Wakabayashi, executive director responsible for DENSO’s Information & Safety Systems Business Group. “We were able to reduce the overall size of our new radar to allow it to be easily adaptable across vehicle models and systems.”

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.”

For exclusive business analysis and insight about telematics applications, see Industry Insight: Telematics and Apps

Coming up in 2013: Content and Apps for Automotiev Europe 2013 on 18-19 June in Munich and TU Detroit June 5-6 in Detroit.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports on In-Vehicle Smartphone Integration Report, Human Machine Interface Technologies and Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics.

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