Google teams with GM, Honda and Audi to bring Android to cars
Adopting Android will make it easier for car companies to offer navigation, messaging and other features while increasing driver safety. (Kzenon/shutterstock.com)
Published Monday, January 6, 2014 12:28PM EST
Google has joined forces with Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai plus chipmaker Nvidia to form Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), which aims to bring the Android smartphone operating system and its apps to car dashboards.
By adopting Android, car companies will find it easier to bring new connected car innovations to their customers and, because it is already the world's most popular smartphone and tablet operating system, they will be able to do so in a way that is easy to use and to understand.
"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 ecosystems benefits driver safety above all."
Driver safety is a huge and growing issue, especially where electronic devices are concerned. A Virginia Tech study published on January 1 highlights that the average US driver is distracted by other activities 10 percent of the time that they are behind the wheel. And, that of those distractions, the cell phone is the one that causes the greatest risk to safety.
The study, which used video footage from cameras installed inside 150 cars, found that even experienced drivers were more than twice as likely to crash or have a close call when dialing a cell phone
Experienced adults were more than twice as likely to crash or nearly crash when dialing a cell phone as when they did not dial and drive, but did not have an increased risk while engaging in other tasks secondary to driving, while novice drivers were four times more likely to crash or nearly crash while texting.
If a phone's functions are integrated into a vehicle and can be accessed via voice commands or a touch screen, many of these risks will be mitigated, especially if the way of accessing the features is intuitive and doesn't require car owners to dig out the user manual every time they want to accept or decline a call or pull up a map.
"Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it every day," said Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps at Google. "The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road."
As well as core smartphone functions, by creating an automotive version of Android, app developers will also be able to build versions of their apps that are suitable for in-car use, whether for navigation, scheduling or even social networking.
"Through the OAA, our customers using Android devices will soon be able to enjoy the continuous user experience in their Hyundai and Kia vehicles," said Dr. Woong-Chul Yang, Vice Chairman of R&D, Hyundai Motor Group. "By introducing the latest IT technologies safely and securely throughout our full range of vehicles, we continually strive to provide the highest levels of convenience and enhance the in-vehicle experience."
The first cars with integrated Android will be hitting the streets later this year. The OAA hopes that Android's open-source nature and its scalability, plus the wealth of developers already building apps for it will attract more car companies to sign up to the alliance.