Convergence Talks Future Of High-Tech Autos
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A future where constant Internet access talks to cars and drivers was laid out Tuesday in the opening keynote of the SAE Convergence 2010 automotive electronics conference at Cobo Center in Detroit.
Derrick Kuzak, group vice president for global product development at Ford Motor Co., said he’s “looking for a lot of people who don’t know what can’t be done” with cars and technology.
He said that with increasing network speeds and more widespread broadband wireless access, “there is a real opportunity to harness the power of the Internet while at speed.”
For example, he imagined an app called Driver’s Ed 2.0 that gathers accident data while you drive and gives you a warning of particularly dangerous intersections.
Overall, Kuzak said Ford seeks a seamless transition between the infotainment technology in your home to the infotainment technology in your car. “We’d like our vehicles to be seen as a second home on wheels,” Kuzak said.
He also said Ford wants to boost fuel economy and cut CO2 emissions to leadership levels across the board, and use more renewable and recycled materials, while also achieving top safety ratings.
Technologies like the EcoBoost engine, a six-speed automatic transmission and electronic power steering all help, as does the next generation My Ford Touch version of its Sync wireless command system.
In introducing Kuzak, John Fikany, vice president for the U.S. Commercial Sector at Microsoft Corp., touted three of his company’s technologies: the new Windows 7 phone; Kinect for the Xbox 360, which mirrors your body movements in gaming, like Wii without controllers; and Microsoft Hohm, a free Web-based app that helps you save energy and more.
In other news from Convergence:
* Farmington Hills-based Robert Bosch LLC, the U.S. arm of the German auto supplier, showed off a variety of new technologies, including the world’s smallest inetial sensor module for vehicle dynamics control. The sensor measures three directions of vehicle movement, which previously required two separate sensors.
* San Jose, Calif.-based circuit maker Atmel Corp. introduced a new system-in-package product for automotive controllers like buttons, sliders and wheels. The product includes a transceiver, a voltage regulator and 32k of Flash memory, with improved energy efficiency, electromagnetic compatibility and electronic static discharge performance. Atmel also rolled out a new radio frequency transceiver and RF receiver with improved performance in sensitivity and power consumption. The multiband devices are intended for remote keyless entry, remote start, passive entry go and tire pressure monitoring systems.
* Austin, Texas-based Freescale Semiconductor Inc. made several product introductions: new i.MX53 processors for in-car multimedia applications like in-dash driver information systems, which allows new apps and larger displays; two additions to its Xtrinsic line of airbag sensors to enhance passenger safety, both with higher data transfer rates; new window lift sensors that combine separate control and mixed signal chips in a single package; and new 16-bit microcontrollers for HVAC, seating controllers, lighting modules, door modules occupant detection and more.
* Hella, the German auto supplier with its U.S. headquarters in Plymouth,
exhibited improved battery sensors, electric wastegate actuators, voltage stabilizers and DC/DC converters.
* Ottawa, Ontario-based QNX Software Systems demonstrated its mobile connectivity technologies in a new concept car. A new multimedia head unit demonstrates how in-car infotainment systems can access the latest applications on mobile devices, such as maps for finding restaurants and other points of interest, geosocial applications for locating nearby friends, and services for finding the closest available parking spot. Other demo features include Pandora streaming audio, Webkit browsing, and a reskinnable interface based on Adobe Flash. Also, a dynamically reconfigurable digital instrument cluster features both a driving mode (tachometer and speedometer) and an information mode (weather, navigation information, album art, etc.). Also, a terminal mode replicates the smartphone screen on the vehicle’s infotainment system, allowing steering wheel buttons, touchscreens, and other in-car user inputs to control the phone. QNX is a subsidiary of Research In Motion Ltd., developers of the BlackBerry.
* Denso, the Japanese auto supplier, announced that its vice president of wireless technologies, Roger Berg, would present a paper on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication at Convergence. For one thing, it might mean a world where your car can make that red light turn green if there’s nobody coming the other way. In the next few months, Denso’s demonstration vehicles equipped with the technology will be able to communicate with all the traffic signals on a six-mile stretch of Telegraph Road outside Denso’s North American regional headquarters in Southfield.
* Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of Windows Embedded Automotive 7 to select car makers and suppliers in the automotive industry. Designed to support the development of new infotainment systems, Windows Embedded Automotive 7 is a platform providing integrated services for communication, entertainment, navigation and information for the mass market. The new software includes Silverlight graphics software, Tellme speech technology, and more system tools.
* Hillsboro, Ore.-based TriQuint Semiconductor announced its 77 GHz gallium arsenide chipset for motion detection and adaptive cruise control applications, like the ones now used by Delphi.
* The San Jose, Calif.-based programmable logic device maker Xilinx Inc. announced three new targeted design platforms that allow auto system designers to use field programmable gate array technology for driver assistance, information and infotainment systems. They’re intended for systems requiring high-bandwidth connectivity, high-speed image processing, and high-resolution display performance.
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