Weekly Brief: Russian traffic alert!

Weekly Brief: Russian traffic alert!

In this week’s Brief: Audi, INRIX, cdcom, Yandex, KitLocate, Pango, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), GE, Volvo, Swedish Transport Administration, Norwegian Public Roads Administration, Denso, Saab, Cadillac and Coyote.

Tensions may be high between Russia and Ukraine, and, by extension, between Russia and the West, but it hasn’t put a damper on connected car activity in Russia, at least not yet.

Last week, Audi and INRIX made headlines when INRIX launched Russia's first comprehensive traffic information and driver services platform, and Audi became the first automaker to take the platform live on all new and existing Audi models fitted with 3G+ and Audi connect.

INRIX XD Traffic for Russia was developed through an exclusive partnership with Russian navigation services provider cdcom, and it covers traffic and incident information across 55 cities on every major road type and class – from highways, ramps and interchanges to arterials, city streets and other secondary roads.

"In recent years, the car market in Russia has been growing faster than the road infrastructure," says Elena Smirnova, head of Audi Russia. "This is a factor behind Moscow's rating as one of the world's cities most affected by traffic jams. We are delighted that our customers will be the first in Russia to experience INRIX's real-time traffic service."

INRIX also launched its real-time parking navigation and fuel price services in Russia last week. Russian search giant Yandex, meanwhile, purchased Israeli startup KitLocate, whose geolocation technology allows app developers to easily add location awareness to their apps while minimizing requests for geographic coordinates via GPS or GLONASS – a battery-consuming process.

Municipal parking apps such as Pango use KitLocate to determine when spots open up and, by harnessing motion detection and geo-fencing, exactly how long a particular car was parked, allowing drivers to pay for an exact period of time. Yandex plans to drive location-specific ads through its new acquisition.

In other news, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced the launch of HubCab, a transportation tool that aims to track 150 million taxi trips in New York City over the course of the coming year. The goal is to leverage Big Data to identify commuter travel patterns and develop a more efficient car-sharing system — one that MIT believes could lower vehicle emissions, reduce congestion and decrease the total number of trips by up to 40%. MIT’s SENSEable City Laboratory will chair the research with support from Audi and GE.

Sticking on the Big Data front, Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration have initiated a field test of a Cloud-based vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) system that alerts cars to the danger of icy roads. When a car detects an icy or otherwise slippery patch of road, it transmits the information to Volvo’s database via a mobile phone network, and the database in turn transmits an instant warning to other vehicles approaching the area. The information is also sent to the road administrator.

Volvo also announced a drowsiness detection technology that can tell if a driver is inattentive or sleepy. On the surface of it, the technology, which uses a combination of infrared sensors to monitor eye movement, sounds similar to other drowsiness detection solutions we’ve seen from the likes of Denso or facial recognition software from Saab. But Volvo says its solution will be built into a full assistance system that can engage other ADAS features. Testing on the technology has already begun in Volvo cars.

In infotainment news, Cadillac says it’s ready to double down on it’s in-car technologies. Starting with the 2015 model year, Cadillacs will include both OnStar 4G LTE and the Cadillac CUE Collection, a new in-car app marketplace that brings a broader array of apps to CUE infotainment. Expected initial apps include iHeartRadio, The Weather Channel, NPR and Slacker Radio. For 2015, CUE also includes a new text-to-voice feature for smartphone users. Cadillac CUE Collection will launch later this year on the 2015 ATS coupe.

Finally, on the PND front, French company Coyote unveiled its first device to include real-time, turn-by-turn GPS navigation. Coyote has made its name with solutions that bypass navigation in favor of real-time updates on speed camera locations, or “danger zones” as they’re dubbed in France. Coyote says it plans to keep this as the primary focus of the new navigation system, since 89% of Coyote customers currently engage with their Coyote products every single day, whereas the average navigation user only engages his navigation 1.5 times a month.

Time will tell if the new integration maintains the focus (and a price point) that customers find satisfactory. The device will retail for €199, plus a monthly fee of €12.

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 contributor to TU.

For all the latest telematics trends, check out Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany, Insurance Telematics Europe 2014 on May 6-7 in London, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan, Insurance Telematics USA 2014 on Sept. 3-4 in Chicago, and Telematics Munich 2014 on Nov. 10-11 in Munich, Germany.

For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Insurance Telematics Report 2014Connected Fleet Report 2014The Automotive HMI Report 2013 and Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013.

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