UR:BAN developments Weekly Brief—10.1.2012

UR:BAN developments Weekly Brief—10.1.2012

In this week’s Brief: BMW, Mazda, TomTom, Fiat Group, Nissan North America, SiriusXM, Opera Software, NNG, MIT’s AgeLab, and the New England University Transportation Center

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) stole the lead in telematics news this week as BMW launched an ambitious research initiative called the UR:BAN project, which aims to develop new driver assistance and traffic management systems for the cities of tomorrow.

The project will split into three research groups, one to pursue high-resolution sensor systems that help drivers detect pedestrians and cyclists in a busy urban environment; a second to optimize traffic efficiency in urban environments; and a third to ensure that drivers enjoy the benefits of fast-responding technical systems while maintaining control of the driving experience.

Thirty partners comprising automotive manufacturers and suppliers, communication technology and software companies, universities, research institutes and cities, have already committed to the project. The UR:BAN partners’ total budget over the four-year lifetime of the project will be 80 million euros.

“UR:BAN will not only make a significant contribution to increased urban road safety,” says Susanne Breitenberger, UR:BAN Project Manager at BMW AG. “Through the deployment of an intelligent infrastructure and its integration with intelligent vehicles, it will also optimize traffic efficiency.”

Staying on the ADAS front, Mazda reported that it will incorporate technologies from its ADAS project "i-ACTIVSENSE"  into the Mazda6 when it launches later this year.

i-ACTIVSENSE is a series of Mazda's advanced safety technologies designed to aid the driver in recognizing hazards, avoiding collisions and reducing the severity of accidents when they cannot be avoided. The technologies make use of detection devices such as milliwave radars and cameras.   

The Mazda6 was the focus of more telematics news this week, as TomTom announced that it will provide TomTom navigation for the vehicle across Europe, expanding on its existing relationship with the OEM.

TomTom also announced a rollout of its navigation services to Abarth, the sports car brand of the Fiat Group, and unveiled a new delivery technology that enables further integration of its real-time traffic product, TomTom HD Traffic, in navigation solutions developed by other Tier 1s.

Nissan North America selected SiriusXM as the exclusive provider of a comprehensive suite of premium telematics services for Nissan branded vehicles.

Several of SiriusXM's offerings are firsts for the Nissan brand, including 24/7 emergency support for accidents, stolen vehicle tracking, and roadside assistance.

The partnership will provide owners with a consolidated bill for their audio entertainment and a central site to manage subscriptions.

Opera Software, makers of the Opera mobile web browser, which has more than 187 million users worldwide, announced the release of the Pioneer CarBrowser App powered by Opera Mini.

The CarBrowser is available on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S and compatible with Pioneer’s AppRadio and AppRadio Mode featured in-car stereo systems. The goal of the CarBrowser is to provide complete in-vehicle access to the Internet that is easily viewable and optimized for the in-car environment.

“It is exciting to turn the mobile web browser into the automobile web browser,” says Frode Hernes, the company’s vice president of products for connected devices.

Despite the waning market for PNDs, PND manufacturer NNG realized an increase in year on year gross margin of 44 percent in 2011, and forecasts a 60 percent increase in gross margin for 2012. The company has maintained its legacy revenues from consumer markets, with a strong focus on emerging markets.

Still, the company now earns 80 percent of its revenue from the embedded automotive market, with seven of the top 10 auto brands having selected the NNG “Navigation Engine” for their infotainment systems.

Certain typefaces on an in-dash HMI can mitigate driver distraction, according to an exploratory study conducted by MIT’s AgeLab and the New England University Transportation Center. Initial results show that certain type styles can reduce glance time — the time away from watching the road when driving while interacting with in-vehicle displays.

Among the men in one study, a humanist style typeface resulted in a 12.2 percent improvement on glance time as compared to a square grotesque typeface. Increasing contrast also led to improvement. “This difference in glance time represents approximately 50 feet in distance when traveling at U.S. highway speed,” says David Gould, director of product marketing at Monotype and part of the AgeLab research team.

“Although we've only scratched the surface and more typeface studies need to be done, we see this as a call to action for auto manufacturers, their suppliers and safety standards bodies to recognize that typeface style can represent a critical element of the driving experience.”

For exclusive business analysis and insight about automotive apps, read Telematics and the future of automotive apps.

For all the latest trends in telematics, check out Telematics Munich 2012 on October 29-30.

For exclusive insurance telematics business analysis and insight, read TU’s Smart Vehicle Technology: The Future of Insurance Telematics report.


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