Connected Cars: A Look at the Future of Driving (and Society)

0-Connected Cars: A Look at the Future of Driving (and Society)
1-Sync In-Car Connectivity
2-Connecting to Cars Remotely
3-'So Connected, You're Free'
4-BMW ConnectedDrive
5-Built-In AT&T 4G LTE
6-Nissan Autonomous Drive Technology
7-No Deaths in a Volvo
8-Volvo's Self-Driving Cars
9-Communicating Vehicles and Safety
10-Google's Driverless Cars
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Connected Cars: A Look at the Future of Driving (and Society)

By Michelle Maisto

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Sync In-Car Connectivity

Ford Sync, developed with Microsoft, was an early answer to offering in-vehicle connectivity. Sync extends a smartphone's connectivity to the car, enabling a driver to take advantage of features such as voice-activated navigation, calling, radio-tuning and music searching. Earlier this year, Ford extended the technology to cars in India.

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Connecting to Cars Remotely

Apps have acquainted drivers with other early connectivity features, like the ability to unlock your car from your smartphone or warm it up before you leave a store on a frigid day.

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'So Connected, You're Free'

On Oct. 24, BMW launched a ConnectedDrive campaign with the tag line: "So connected, you're free." The idea is that, with all the in-car conveniences drivers have access to, people will have more time in their lives for the things that matter most to them. Pictured are some of the apps in the BMW app store. Eventually, each car maker will have its own store for apps designed specifically for their cars.

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BMW ConnectedDrive

BMW ConnectedDrive features include the ability for a car to parallel park itself; "active cruise control," which slows the car down from cruising speed in response to vehicles ahead; and the ability to dictate emails.

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Built-In AT&T 4G LTE

In February, at the Consumer Electronics Show, GM announced that its 2015 line of vehicles—Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs—for the United States and Canada will have in-vehicle LTE connectivity from AT&T. AT&T has also announced deals with BMW, Ford, Nissan and Tesla. (Shown here is the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe in Crystal Claret.)

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Nissan Autonomous Drive Technology

On Aug. 27, Nissan announced that it will have commercially viable Autonomous Drive vehicles in 2020. "Autonomous Drive ... means less input from the driver; U.S. drivers average 48 minutes per day on the road—hundreds of hours a year could be used more productively," Nissan said in its statement. Other manufacturers have emphasized that, when using self-driving technology, a driver should be ready to take the wheel at any moment.

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No Deaths in a Volvo

Because autonomous car technologies eliminate human input (and so human error), they're expected to dramatically reduce crashes and car-related deaths. Volvo announced Oct. 7 that its "vision" is that by 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo. This image is from a video demonstration of a Volvo driving itself.

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Volvo's Self-Driving Cars

Autonomous car technologies rely on radar or sensors to create a constantly evolving, real-time map of everything around a car, including jaywalkers. Sensors will also enable cars to communicate with things like traffic lights, emergency vehicles and other cars around them, in the name of safety and greater efficiencies. (No more sitting at a red light with not another car in sight.)

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Communicating Vehicles and Safety

Sensors and connectivity in cars provide tremendous opportunities—your car could tell you you're not going to make it to the airport on time and book you a ticket on the next flight. But they also present security concerns. The Information Security Forum (ISF) has warned members about the potential for threats to valuable shipments being transported by road and high-value targets.

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Google's Driverless Cars

Google's driverless cars—about two dozen Lexus RX450h vehicles—have already driven 500,000-plus miles and haven't caused a single accident (though one was rear-ended by an actual driver). Google points out that more than 1.2 million people are killed in traffic accidents each year. "Our main goal is to improve people's lives by making driving safer, more enjoyable and more efficient," a Google spokesperson told eWEEK.

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