Weekly Brief: All the news from TU-Automotive Detroit 2015

In this week’s Brief: TU-Automotive Detroit, Batmobile, Covisint, Cisco, BMW, INRIX, QNX, Maserati, Jeep, Intel, NNG, Hortonworks, HARMAN, FotoNation, Autonet, CarVi, OpenCar, Nuance, Autonet Mobile, Elektrobit, Rightware, Subaru, Volvo, Apple Watch and Android Wear.

Nearly 3,000 senior attendees from the telematics and auto mobility space descended on Detroit for the annual TU-Automotive Detroit conference. It was the biggest conference yet and a reflection of the auto industry’s increasing focus on the connected car and the technology sector’s increasing appetite for automotive software.

There was a little bit of everything this year, including the original Batmobile on display at the Covisint and Cisco joint booth. Fifty years after its creation, the Batmobile, said Covisint, stands as one of the original connected cars, from the Batphone (phoning from the car) to the Mobile Batcomputer (in trunk) to the Remote Bat Computer Switch and the Voice Control Batmobile Relay Unit. If nothing else, it made for fun viewing.

A host of new products and services were on display as well. As it did at CES 2015, BMW made a splash on the parking front. In Las Vegas, the focus was on self-parking. In Detroit, it was on how to make finding street parking as easy as possible. BMW had a BMW i3 on hand sporting a research prototype of its Dynamic Parking Prediction research project with INRIX. The technology isable to predict parking availability using movement data from vehicle fleets and displays the recommendations on the dashboard in up-to-date digital maps.

QNX displayed a couple fancy technology concept cars — a souped-up Maserati Quattroporte GTS and Jeep Wrangler. The company was featuring the latest upgrades to its QNX CAR Platform for Infotainment, including a completely redesigned user interface, running on Intel Atom processors.

On that note, Intel announced that it’s collaborating with QNX to advance in-vehicle technologies that deliver new driving experiences. The effort will focus on new innovation for dashboard functionality within cars, including infotainment systems, digital instrument clusters and advanced driver assistance systems.

NNG unveiled the NavFusion Platform, a fully customisable, car manufacturer-controlled platform that integrates in-car infotainment, smartphones, navigation, and connectivity. The goal is to keep the in-car experience under the umbrella of automotive companies while combining static and dynamic connected content, navigation, ADAS, in-car map updates, personalised infotainment, predictive maintenance, and more.

Data specialist Hortonworks announced that it has partnered with HARMAN to help carmakers make sense of all the data that streams from cars today. HARMAN will integrate the Hortonworks Data Platform (HDP) into its cloud-based offerings, allowing vehicle manufacturers to analyse streaming data from connected cars for fault monitoring, predictive analytics on component failure and recommendations for preventative maintenance to minimise warranty expense and the risk of costly recalls. It also will help with data discovery for product improvements.

Autonet and CarVi demonstrated some new joint next-generation driver assistance features, including lane departure and front collision warnings. The CarVi camera and sensor platform is wirelessly connected to Autonet’s 4G Telematics Control Unit (TCU) in a vehicle. Autonet’s TCU transmits the warnings over 4G network and users are able to receive alerts through Autonet’s telematics applications and view the driving condition through Carvi’s camera placed in the vehicle.

OpenCar announced a partnership with Nuance aimed at building cloud-based apps and services solutions for the connected car. By applying Nuance’s Dragon Drive Link technology, the OpenCar platform will enable a seamless connection between a user’s smartphone and the HMI, including user authentication for in-car apps and over-the-air updates to ensure in-car systems always have the latest versions of popular apps and services.

Computational imaging specialist FotoNation made its debut in the automotive market with a new driver monitoring system. Harnessing FotoNation's FacePower technology, the system identifies the driver, detects driver drowsiness and distraction, and allows manufacturers to provide their customers an enhanced and safer driving experience.

Autonet Mobile debuted a new, over-the-air (OTA) software update system that provides reliable and secure updates to electronic control units in a vehicle. Autonet had a demo on hand in which an Autonet OTA Policy Manager initiated a live update of an instrument cluster created with this year's TU-Automotive winner of the Best Safety or ADAS Solution award Elektrobit’s HMI software. Autonet says the goal is to allow carmakers, dealers, Tier 1 OEM suppliers, and consumers to efficiently maintain and update the software and firmware in any connected car.

Rightware released and demoed its Kanzi Performance Analyzer, a performance measurement solution that enables carmakers, Tier 1s, semiconductor companies and software vendors to rigorously test, measure and future-proof their automotive software and hardware platforms. By running a set of demanding tests based on realistic automotive use cases, users receive detailed reports that allow carmakers to make informed decisions about their digital interfaces.

Brian Simmermon, vice-president and CIO of Subaru of America, announced it plans to deliver its first connected vehicles in the next four weeks. He said, Subaru spent a lot of effort on business process engineering adding: "We don't have a dedicated group in IT or the business that is just doing telematics. Everybody is doing telematics."

Finally, what would a connected car conference be these days without an Apple Watch announcement? Volvo said an updated version of its Volvo On Call app that makes it compatible with Apple Watch is imminent. The app allows Volvo drivers to remotely set cabin temperatures, lock/unlock their cars, check gas mileage and locate their cars. The app will also pair with Android Wear, Google’s smart watch platform.

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.

For a round-up of all the conference highlights see More tech, more informatrion and much more debate and A broader approach but mobility and autonomy dominate debate

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