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Automakers may talk a big game about preventing distracted driving and improving safety, but at the same time they continue to provide distracting infotainment systems.
Unveiled at the CTIA Wireless Association’s Enterprise and Applications conference in Sand Diego, Cadillac‘s new CUE system promises to be the most advanced in-car telematics interface. Rivaling system’s like MyFordTouch, it’s also designed to be easy to use and understand, even for novices.
With a big 8-inch high-def screen (optional 12.3-inch) CUE has numerous unique features to the segment, even using multi-touch hand gestures, much like the iPad, with different motions (tap, flick, swipe and spread) all executing different functions on the screen. Plus it even offers “haptic feedback” with the screen pulsing where pressed to give the operator and idea of what button they are on – allowing you to keep your eyes on the road. In addition, Cadillac says CUE will allow for fewer and simpler voice controls, while also reading texts and sending pre-recorded messages in return.
CUE stands for Cadillac User Experience and Cadillac aims to make that experience as user-friendly as possible, reducing the usual 20 or so buttons used to control in car features to just four, with a display screen that features large icons and a big storage area behind to place your smartphone.
“CUE doesn’t replace your smartphone or your iPod,” said Micky Bly, executive director, Global Electric Systems, Infotainment and Electrification. “Rather it allows consumers to securely store those mobile devices while channeling the information on those devices, along with your navigation tools, weather maps with Doppler radar, AM/FM and XM radio, instant messages and emails, through a central portal in your Cadillac, keeping hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Developed based on driving habits, CUE’s LCD screen puts the driver’s five most frequently used functions at the top of the screen with up to 60 other customizable options available at the bottom of the screen. Also a part of the package are two five-way controllers, with the one in the right of the steering wheel that allows operation of display, the volume and with buttons to scroll through the favorites. On the left side is a controller to operate cruise control, voice recognition, Bluetooth and the heated steering wheel. And of course GM’s OnStar system is a part of CUE with many OnStar functions available on the screen.
The first models to offer the CUE telematics system are the upcoming ATS (Caddy’s BMW 3 Series fighter) as well as the XTS flagship luxury sedan and the SRX crossover.
GALLERY: Cadillac CUE
The companies signed a memorandum of understanding, and will do further research and studies regarding the project. The new system is said to be rear-drive based, and uses different technology than both Ford and Toyota’s current hybrid systems.
Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s head of global product development, stated that the two companies would not be sharing platforms, but rather sharing costs developing hybrid and telematics systems, which would be implemented into brand-specific vehicles. Takeshi Uchiyamada, Executive Vice President of Toyota, also stressed the importance of developing new telematics technology, though Ford’s own SYNC system, developed with Microsoft, has been criticized for being too complex and unreliable.
Following on from a demonstration back in February, at the DistribuTECH conference in San Diego, General Motors, in conjunction with OnStar, is in the process of launching a real world Smart Grid program for electric vehicles, beginning with a pilot project, set to debut later this year.
The project will see numerous utility employees driving leased Chevrolet Volts as every day vehicles, with the objective of accurately monitoring (and managing) the actual amount of energy consumed by each vehicle a utility operates, via OnStar’s Advanced Telematics Operations Management System (ATOMS).
From the data gathered, utilities will then be able to decide on the optimum times for charging EVs on the grid, the idea being, that charging them is done during off-peak periods.
Essentially, it works like this. The Smart Grid system actually incorporates two elements, the first of which records the current charging level of each car, as well as its charging history, via time and location information.
The second allows the utility in question to actively manage vehicle charging, by providing discounts or other incentives to motorists in an effort to encourage them to charge their vehicles during off peak times, such as the early morning hours, reducing the amount of strain on the grid and thus with it, the chance of brownouts and other supply issues.
“OnStar is the only telematics provider that can create a wireless bridge between electric vehicles and the grid, building on our learning from the Chevrolet Volts on the road today,” said Nick Pudar, the company’s vice president of planning and business development in a recent statement.
It’ll be interesting to see how this new Smart Grid system fares during the trial period and whether from the results gathered, it can truly provide a worthy solution to one of the biggest on-going problems concerning EVs.
At first glance, the pairing of Toyota and Microsoft might make some a little uneasy. The prospect of unintended acceleration and “the blue screen of death” that appears on Windows computers might be the most terrifying technological catastrophe known to man.
Nevertheless, the two companies will be collaborating, but only as far as telematics. Ford and Microsoft already have their SYNC system to control things like in-car entertainment systems. The Toyota system will go beyond this facet, and is supposed to include some kind of “cloud-computing” platform, but with the partnership just forged, there are no real details pertaining to the program.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
Hyundai is taking a bold step into the world of in-car telematics with their BlueLink system. Much like GM’s OnStar, BlueLink can provide directions, schedule servicing, remotely lock or unlock the car doors, notify emergency services in case of a crash and remotely start the car, with the ability to pre-heat or cool the vehicle based on your preferences.
Other cool (and slightly spooky) features include an automatic slowdown feature in case your vehicle is reported stolen and being pursued by the police, and a feature known as “geofencing” that sends the driver a text message of the vehicle strays outside of a demarcated area. Looks like breaking curfew will be a thing of the past for children of Hyundai owners.
BlueLink will initially roll out on the Sonata and a “youth-focused model” (aka the Veloster) this summer, but will extend to the entire Hyundai range by 2013.
Press release after the jump
Toyota will release a new in-car telematics system, dubbed Entune, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week. Taking a page from Ford’s SYNC and MyFordTouch systems, Entune will oversee navigation, entertainment and smartphone connectivity services.
Entune will also support apps like Bing, Movietickets.com, Pandora. Toyota will only approve apps if they are confident that they won’t cause distracted driving, but any sort of screen that features multimedia connectivity is a hazard if you ask us. Of course, voice activation will be standard, as will satellite and HD radio receivers.
The full list of supported smartphones wasn’t available immediately, but with an Entune app available via iTunes, BlackBerry AppWorld and Android Market, Toyota looks to have all the major bases covered. Toyota’s Jon Bucci touted the fact that Entune can work with older smartphones and won’t require constant upgrades that would be impossible to run on anything but the newest handsets. The software upgrades would be available via wireless internet connection, and customers could avoid having to reflash the software at a dealership.
Using Google Maps to plot your route is a major convenience on a home computer, but there’s no good solution on taking them with you. Printing them is cumbersome, and inputing them onto a smartphone or PDA is just another level of distraction.
Now, Ford and Google have teamed up to let you send your Google Maps data right to your car via Sync. Combined with a mobile phone (used for downloading the Google Maps Data), the route information can be sent directly to the GPS system in a Sync equipped vehicle, and drivers can get real-time traffic updates thanks to a tie-in with Sync’s Traffic, Directions and Information system. The service will launch later this month, with a Mapquest based system coming later in 2010.
Hit the jump for the official press release
GM and Google are reportedly working on a deal that would see the integration of Google’s Android mobile phone operating system and GM’s Onstar telematics system.
Potentially scenarios being discussed involve Android phone users being able to use OnStar features outside of their car, while GM vehicle owners can use Android to keep track of service intervals, or in the case of the Chevrolet Volt, data regarding vehicle range and battery charging.
A GM/Google partnership would represent a significant challenge to Ford and Microsoft’s SYNC system, which is primarily an in-car entertainment system, albeit with significant voice activated functions designed to minimize driver distractions.
[Source: Automotive News]