updated 10:35 am EST, Mon January 6, 2014
Alliance creating single platform for Android-based in-car systems
Google is pushing to bring Android to cars, confirming recent rumors, though not as a partnership with a single car manufacturer as first thought. The Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), made up of Google, Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai, and Nvidia, has been formed to create a single common platform for in-car systems, one which it hopes will improve the experience of the driver and passengers on the road.
The platform will in theory allow drivers to access various functions usually reserved for smartphones, such as maps, music, and phone calls, though without necessarily requiring a mobile device to be connected. The vehicle's dashboard display could potentially show maps and a route, updated in real-time based on traffic reports collected from the Internet, or music apps could temporarily take over the dash display and accepting hands-free input, instead of forcing the driver to move their attention from the road and to the car radio.
An earlier in-car system developed by Nvidia and Audi
"The worlds of consumer and automotive technologies have never been more closely aligned, and this alliance will only pave the way for faster innovation," said Ricky Hudi, head of Electrics/Electronics Development at Audi AG. "Working toward a common ecosystem benefits driver safety above all." Nvidia president and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang claims "The car is the ultimate mobile computer," something the graphics company took to heart by announcing a version of its new Tegra K1 mobile processor destined for use in vehicles.
The OAA hopes to bring the first cars using Android to market sometime before the end of 2014, though it does not mention which of the group will do so first. Audi could certainly be a good candidate for this, considering its appearance in the recent rumor, as well as having previously worked with Nvidia on in-car systems.
Despite the relative importance of the deal to the motor industry, it is not the first to bring smartphone-style controls or integration to vehicles. A system from Apple called iOS in the Car allows for drivers to take advantage of Siri and other iOS systems while driving, though unlike the OAA's efforts, it does require a connection to an iOS device in order to operate. So far, Honda, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Chevrolet, Lexus, Kia, Volvo, and Jaguar have all announced they would be adding iOS in the Car to their vehicles.