Next-generation autos go for global connectivity

Jan 14, 2010 by Veronique Dupont
Bryan Nesbitt, Cadillac General Manager, introduces the new Cadillac XTS Platinum concept vehicle to the media at the General Motors exhibit at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Touch navigational screens, Internet, communications systems: Automakers are ramping up an array of connectivity gizmos to lure consumers into buying next-generation vehicles.

Touch navigational screens, Internet, communications systems: Automakers are ramping up an array of connectivity gizmos to lure consumers into buying next-generation vehicles.

Some of the whistles and bells on display at the annual North American Internation Auto Show underway in Detroit were purely cosmetic.

GM's Cadillac presented a prototype of its new XTS sedan that sported a dashboard minus buttons or dials. The black screen illuminates once the engine starts and the door handles light up for a few seconds when the stops.

But most of the innovations put a premium on connectivity.

Paul Haelterman, vice president of research firm CSM Worldwide, predicted that five years from now 45 percent of the new vehicles sold in North America would be connected to the Internet, and nearly all of the luxury models.

"Having the car connected with the exterior world is a necessity," said Henning Schlieker, a technology marketing executive at BMW North America, told AFP.

The German luxury already has begun to equip all its BMW 5 Series, 6 Series and 7 Series cars sold in the United States with BMW Assist, a feature launched a year and a half ago.

The BMW Assist allows drivers to locate gasoline stations and their current prices, check weather forecasts and traffic conditions, access navigational tools such as Maps and Mapquest, and keep tabs on financial data.

The Cadillac XTS offers two separate back-seat screens, each outfitted with its own Internet connection and DVD reader.

Ford is launching its MyFord Touch system, which will be introduced first in the upscale Lincoln nameplate under the name "MyLincoln Touch" and then integrated into the Ford Focus in 2012.

With the Ford system, drivers will be able to listen to their favorite websites, including an audio version of the fast-streaming Twitter microblogs and music from the Pandora Radio.

The screens on next-generation vehicles function with touch commands when the vehicle is stopped, allowing drivers to change their selections without interfering with their driving.

Automakers assure that these new functions and Web access in vehicles pose no danger.

"We're in the business of safe transportation," Allan Mulally, the chief executive of Ford, said Tuesday at the Detroit show.

"You're best driving if you keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel," he added.

To avoid distracting the driver, the interactive functions are all operated by voice or by buttons located at the steering wheel.

At BMW the screens close to the driver only change when they are changed intentionally and there are no animated graphics or advertising windows that could divert attention, Schlieker said.

But in case of an accident, BMW also offers emergency system ACN, or automatic collision notification, which alerts authorities and emergency aid workers, pinpoints the location of the vehicle and provides an assessment of the gravity of the incident.

The auto show, which opened Monday in Detroit, the home of the Big Three US automakers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, is scheduled to close January 24.

Explore further: Bringing history and the future to life with augmented reality

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ford adding tweets to its Sync in-car technology

Jan 07, 2010

(AP) -- Ford Motor Co. is adding Twitter messages and Internet radio to its in-car entertainment and communication service, known as Sync, and suggests that the voice-activated system is safer for drivers ...

Auto show looking more like CES than not

Jan 21, 2009

As I toured the convention hall this past week, I had to keep reminding myself that this was Detroit and the North American International Auto Show, not Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show.

Asian carmakers scope deeper inroads in US market

Jan 13, 2010

Asian carmakers, which have left US rivals in the dust on their home turf, signaled at this week's Detroit auto show they have set their sights on still bigger shares of the massive market.

Using your car key as a credit card?

Oct 22, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- BMW Group Research and Technology and NXP Semiconductors, the independent semiconductor company founded by Philips, have unveiled a prototype of the world’s first multifunctional car key. The prototype ...

Recommended for you

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Neuroscientist's idea wins new-toy award

Apr 15, 2014

When he was a child, Robijanto Soetedjo used to play with his electrically powered toys for a while and then, when he got bored, take them apart - much to the consternation of his parents.

Land Rover demos invisible bonnet / car hood (w/ video)

Apr 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —Land Rover has released a video demonstrating a part of its Discover Vision Concept—the invisible "bonnet" or as it's known in the U.S. the "hood" of the car. It's a concept the automaker ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...