Big Names Joining Auto in 2017

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New Car Tech Coming in 2017

 

By Chris Jagielski

 

We’ve seen a lot of awesome new car tech in 2016, from autonomy to infotainment systems, with an increased participation from big companies like Nvidia, Google, and Apple. 2017 is bringing more  big names – AT&T, Amazon, and even NASA. Yes, NASA.

 

AT&T will be working with Ford to help cars communicate with each other over their LTE network. They will be developing a new V2X platform (vehicle-to-anything), which will update drivers on poor weather or driving conditions. This will become a big part in the autonomous future, which BMW states will be here in five years. The main reason AT&T is developing this platform is for the safety of drivers once autonomy becomes the norm. Cars will need to communicate with each other if this new future is going to be viable.

 

The next and my least favorite tech coming in 2017, will be Amazon’s Echo in our vehicles – Ford to be the first. While in your car you will be able to resume your audio books, order from Amazon, and search locations (GPS). When you’re in your house, you’ll be able to remote start, unlock/lock your doors, and set the temperature (okay, that’s pretty cool). But, can I be honest for a second? Why would you need to order something while in your car? I think one of the biggest safety issues now-a-days is distractions in the vehicle. Phones were huge distractions but now we’re getting 8-inch screens on our dash that aren’t going to distract us? Yeah, all right.

 

I’ve caught myself plenty of times staring at the screen on the highway while trying to find a song I want to listen to. “Why don’t you just use the voice control?” Voice-control? Companies still haven’t even mastered that. “Play, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.” Half the time the voice-command doesn’t recognize that. But hey, it could be the growl of my v8 is too loud….or just the wind – who knows. Most companies these days are going with quantity over quality. They’ll finish a project and sell it, even though it isn’t perfected (or even completed).

 

The coolest tech (in my opinion) that we’ll see this year will be Nissan using NASA’s Mars rover system, Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM). This system will be implemented into Nissan’s autonomous fleet. Yes, the current autonomous navigation tech is intelligent, but SAM is mainly going to be used for out-of-the-ordinary obstacles – for instance, police using hand signals to tell you where to move, parking at a sporting event, etc.

(image courtesy of TheVerge)

NASA Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM)

SAM will have a “mobility manager” overseeing issues – a supervisor position. The supervisor will be able to see obstacles real-time on a screen and “paint” a new route for the vehicle to traverse. What’s great is that after the new route is painted, the cars will share this information with each other vehicle in the fleet.

 

2017 will be an interesting year for car tech. Part of me loves it, part of me hates it. I’m just worried about distractions playing an even bigger role in car accidents now, especially since autonomous isn’t the norm yet. We’re going to be seeing a lot of new teen drivers staring at their screens while driving.

 

Personally, I’m also losing a bit of interest in the infotainment systems. In my Mustang, I rarely even use the screen since my phone itself is quicker for browsing music, and I have all the nobs for adjusting volume/temperature – so what’s the point? Take me back to the days of rolling your window up and down, a simple dashboard, and parking without a camera. When did we become so lazy and reliant on technology? We’re losing most of the “human instinct” we developed over the years – and it’s disappointing.