Weekly Brief: New connected car coalition spans from Detroit to Silicon Valley

Weekly Brief: New connected car coalition spans from Detroit to Silicon Valley

In this week’s Brief: Smart Transportation Innovation Coalition, Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of Global Automakers, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the Intelligent Car Coalition, eCall, European Parliament, Pioneer, Ericsson, Mobile World Congress, Eindhoven University of Technology, LoJack, Intuit QuickBase, Nokia, HERE, Microsoft, BMW, Ford, Baidu, Bing, Hyundai, and the International Space Station.

Life to date in the connected car era has been like the Wild Wild West: lots of pioneers, lots of innovation and adventure, with little federal oversight meddling in people’s affairs.

 

But as self-driving cars rush toward reality, and as more new cars feature advanced infotainment and 4G data connections, federal awareness and regulation have begun to grow. So too has the need for a unified body to convey the benefits of the connected car to policymakers through one consistent voice. Enter the Smart Transportation Innovation Coalition.

 

The founding members span from Detroit's big auto players to Silicon Valley's big tech firms. The official list is the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of Global Automakers, the National Automobile Dealers Association, the Information Technology Industry Council (which comprises Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft and some 50 other technology firms), Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, Intelligent Transportation Society of America, and the Intelligent Car Coalition.

The association kicked off its lobbying with an open letter to U.S. Congress, in which it highlighted the many safety benefits of the connected car, from assisted braking to blind-spot monitoring to road-side transmitters that alert cars to dangerous road conditions ahead.

“This Congress has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the deployment of existing and next-generation technologies to save lives, reduce traffic congestion, reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, improve personal mobility and meet our nation’s current and future infrastructure, environmental and economic challenges,” wrote the coalition’s founding presidents in their letter to Congress. You can read the full letter here.

In other news, after a decade of debating and delays, eCall will come to a final vote before European Parliament. The date has been set for April 27 in Strasbourg. If the current legislation passes, all carmakers would have to implement telematics technology capable of the eCall protocol by October 2017.

Apple released a beta version of its new iOS update (version 8.3), which features wireless CarPlay support. The update will allow those users who have an aftermarket solution (like Pioneer) or an embedded infotainment unit that supports CarPlay to connect to the unit wirelessly, rather than using a lightning cable. The update preceding version 8.3 still hasn’t been released, so wireless CarPlay isn’t imminent. Within the year, however, is realistic.

Remember that Connected Traffic Cloud platform that Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson unveiled back at Mobile World Congress? Well, now the platform has its first pilot vehicle, a solar-powered connected car built in partnership between Ericsson and Eindhoven University of Technology. The EV is racing in the World Solar Challenge 2015, a 3000km race between Darwin and Adelaide, Australia. The platform will process data generated by the the car, the weather, and the road to help optimize the vehicle’s performance. Down the line, Ericsson envisions the Connected Traffic Cloud platform helping traffic authorities keep traffic flowing more efficiently and safely.

Nokia confirmed rumors that it’s considering divesting from its HERE mapping operations. Nokia didn’t offer much of an explanation, although the HERE sale would continue the Finnish company’s recent downsizing trend (recall that Nokia sold its mobile device division to Microsoft last year). One would imagine that the division wouldn’t remain on the auction block long, as HERE powers mapping content for major carmakers like BMW and Ford as well as mapping heavyweights like Baidu and Bing. It’s also a popular consumer-facing navigation app. Nokia says it’s still reviewing its options.

 

In fleet news, fleet tracking and management provider LoJack took to the Cloud with a new partnership with Intuit QuickBase. The QuickBase integration allows data to flow from the LoJack fleet management solution into other cloud-based applications on the QuickBase development platform, which businesses use to optimize revenue streams and measure operations against key metrics. QuickBase functionality is available to existing customers straight away.

Finally, talk about some cool vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Last week a girl used a fleet of a dozen Hyundai Genesis sedans to carve a gargantuan message into the desert sands of Nevada. “Steph ’s you,” the message read. Its recipient? Steph’s dad, an astronaut at the International Space Station. Hyundai and Stephanie set a Guiness World Record for the largest tire track image and used some pretty fancy inter-vehicle communication to pull the stunt off. Check out the video here.

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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