Weekly Brief: 10 carmakers endorse mandatory automatic emergency braking technology

In this week’s Brief: Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo, NHTSA, IIHS, INRIX, ParkMe, Google, HERE Maps, Daimler, Facebook, Uber, Baidu, Apple, AT&T, Jaguar Land Rover, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Automatic emergency braking technologies just popped a bottle of bubbly.


That’s because 10 major carmakers committed to making automatic emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature on all new vehicles built. These carmakers include Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. No word yet on specific dates for deployment, but the carmakers have pledged to work with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) to create a timeline for making AEB a standard feature.


“We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focused on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx  at the dedication of IIHS’s newly expanded Vehicle Research Center. "But if technologies such as automatic emergency braking are only available as options or on the most expensive models, too few Americans will see the benefits of this new era.”


NHTSA and IIHS are encouraging all other light-vehicle and trucking manufacturers to bring automated vehicle technology to all vehicles on U.S. roadways as soon as possible.


In other news, real-time traffic company INRIX acquired ParkMe for an undisclosed sum. The merger opens the door for INRIX to integrate real-time parking info and reservation services into mainstream navigation platforms. The end result could change the paradigm for how we get around in our cars — navigating to specific parking spots rather than to final destinations. INRIX supplies data to the likes of BMW, Tesla and Google.


HERE Maps says that of the 54 new car models being presented at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show, 49 rely on HERE maps and location services. That’s an impressive majority and a big clue as to why BMW, Audi and Daimler were eager to keep HERE maps out of a tech company’s hands (be it Facebook, Uber or Baidu) back in August, when they purchased HERE for $2.7 billion.


It was a big week for AT&T:


First, it unveiled an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot dubbed ZTE Mobley, which plugs into the on-board diagnostic port and allows up to five devices to connect to the internet and use the hotspot data plan to surf the Web, play games and watch videos. The device is free with a two-year agreement (starting at $10/month data plan).


Second, the wireless provider penned a multi-year deal with Jaguar Land Rover to provide high-speed internet JLR vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. AT&T connectivity will power Jaguar Land Rover’s infotainment features like a Wi-Fi hot spot, connected navigation and a suite of apps.


Apple unveiled a Wireless CarPlay feature on the new iPhone 6S and 6S+. It’ll take some time for carmakers to catch up, but once they do, drivers will no longer have to physically plug their phones into their infotainment units to enable CarPlay. Also, carmakers can now create apps that allow control of in-car features (think AC) without leaving the CarPlay user interface.


Finally, Toyota pledged $50 million in a new collaboration with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology focused on autonomous car technologies. Each institute will receive $25 million piecemeal over the next five years. MIT will research advanced architectures that allow cars to better perceive and navigate their surroundings; Stanford will build recognition technologies that help cars spot objects in the road, predict behaviors of things and people, and make safe and smart driving decisions under diverse conditions.


“We will initially focus on the acceleration of intelligent vehicle technology, with the immediate goal of helping eliminate traffic casualties and the ultimate goal of helping improve quality of life through enhanced mobility and robotics,” says Kiyotaka Ise, head of Toyota’s R&D Group.


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

Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.

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