GM and Consortium Becoming More Optimistic about Connected Cars

Connected car - Intel

While omi­nous, depress­ing sta­tis­tics have been released on 2012 see­ing higher teen dri­ver fatal­i­ties from dis­tracted dri­ving, experts say there is hope on the hori­zon. Indus­try experts say that con­nected car tech­nolo­gies are being put to work reduc­ing the num­ber of acci­dents, injuries, and death on America’s roadways.

One of these tech­nolo­gies has been dis­cussed by recently by Gen­eral Motors, dur­ing a mobile com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­fer­ence in Spain. GM will be equip­ping most of its US vehi­cles with 4G broad­band capa­bil­i­ties, start­ing with the 2014 model year. Pas­sen­gers will be able to tap into an onboard WiFi hot spot that could serve up to eight dif­fer­ence cell phones, table and lap­top com­put­ers, and other devices.

GM says that its OnStar ser­vice will also fea­ture addi­tional safety and secu­rity ser­vices that will take its vehi­cles up to another level. It’s been part of GM vehi­cles since 1995 and can pro­vide ser­vices such as auto­mat­i­cally call­ing for help if the vehi­cle is involved in a seri­ous acci­dent. Through GM’s part­ner­ship with AT&T, the ser­vice is being upgraded as the vehi­cle is being remotely mon­i­tored and if nec­es­sary, its onboard soft­ware can be updated if the engine isn’t run­ning up to par.

Another move for­ward in vehi­cle safety comes from a con­sor­tium of automak­ers and sup­pli­ers that are work­ing with the US Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan. The con­sor­tium has begun test­ing a vari­ety of sys­tems that could allow future vehi­cles to talk to road­side com­mu­ni­ca­tions infra­struc­ture, and even to other cars on the road.

The test project is try­ing out send­ing alerts to motorists about upcom­ing traf­fic and weather prob­lems. Or if the car is approach­ing an inter­sec­tion where another car is likely to run a red light. The test­ing of dri­ver­less cars in Nevada and else­where is also being fac­tored into improved safety per­for­mance through new tech­nolo­gies. Automak­ers are tak­ing on ambi­tious goals, but they see that the tech­nol­ogy and com­mu­ni­ca­tions infra­struc­ture is mak­ing all of it possible.