What vehicle “innovation” looks like …

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So I noted in this space yesterday that some believe a “golden age of innovation” where light vehicles are concerned is now near at hand. Yet one is left to wonder what such “innovation” might deliver for the real world.

Visteon Corp. provides one example in terms of its vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology – systems it collectively calls “V2X.” Those technologies not only enable vehicles to “talk” to one another but also converse with traffic lights, buildings, even potentially roadways themselves to help prevent vehicle collisions, provide better driver alerts for hazardous road conditions and curve speeds, plus provide more real-time traffic flow information.

Here’s another interesting “innovation” to ponder, courtesy of a partnership between INRIX and BMW to provide what’s called “intermodal navigation” on the car maker’s i3 and i8 electric vehicles.

Showed off at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, this now in-car technology integrates local public transport connections into what INRIX calls “journey planning,” meaning it monitors real-time traffic conditions so as to alert drivers to faster alternative modes of transportation when major delays occur along their routes. 

Thus, if using the subway or light rail system would provide faster transport, INRIX’s navigation package provides turn-by-turn navigation to the nearest public transport station in time for the next departure.

"In an increasingly urban, time-compressed and socially-conscious marketplace, the future of the automobile depends on our ability to market mobility as much as it depends on horsepower, styling, or fuel economy," noted Rafay Khan, senior VP-sales and product at INRIX. "It's our shared goal with BMW to meet drivers' demands for greater mobility and sustainability in the connected car." 

INRIX’s offering works through BMW’s ConnectedDrive service and extends beyond navigation to energy management for the car maker’s electric vehicles. For example, INRIX EV Services helps drivers determine available range from their current location as well as identify and route to available charging locations, noted Andreas Hecht, the company’s VP and GM of automotive.

Other features of INRIX’s EV and intermodal navigation package include:

  • Determining available range from the driver's current location to their destination based on traffic congestion, current charge, topography, and other variables navigating them to an available EV charging station as needed along the way.
  • Providing individually and continuously verified information on location, operating hours, number of connectors, supported plug types and voltage as well as availability of re-charging locations
  • Recommending the fastest mode of transportation by comparing public transit schedules with expected vehicle travel times in traffic. The INRIX public transport database includes locations and departure schedules for bus and train stations in 17 countries

Here’s one more example of vehicle “innovation” to contemplate as well and though it’s for cars, not trucks, I expect to find such technology offered in Class 8 truck cabs sooner rather than later.

At the CES show this year, Kia Motors America (KMA) showed off some derivations of its “Your Voice” or UVO “infotainment” system that the OEM says “serves as the catalyst for connectivity between driver and car.”

“With UVO, we’ve has a strong base to build from in the advancement of telematics and infotainment technology, pushing the boundaries of connectivity and convenience while maintaining safety as a top priority," noted Henry Bzeih, chief technology strategist at KMA. "We  are constantly looking for new and better ways to strengthen the relationship between driver and car.”

One offshoot of that particular “innovation” thread is what Kia calls the user-centered driver concept or “UCD” that focuses on safety and provides what Bzeih termed an “intuitive interface with an innovative multi-sensory” design.

“Keeping the driver's eyes on the road and hands on the wheel is central to Kia's approach to in-vehicle technology, as evidenced by the UVO system,” he explained. “The UCD concept remains true to this principle while enhancing functionality, providing a widescreen, 18-inch heads-up display (HUD), which offers drivers an augmented-reality snapshot of vital information such as speed, navigation and traffic information. Additionally, the 12.3-inch TFT-LCD cluster presents a 3D view of vital vehicle information, utilizing eye-tracking technology to maintain a clear view from various angles.”

Developed to allow full use of the vehicle's navigation services and other driver-controlled operations without sacrificing safety, the UCD concept also includes a hand-gesture controller, Bzeih added.

“Thanks to advanced infrared light and camera sensors, users can quickly access radio and navigation options with simple hand or finger movements without taking their eyes from the road,” he said. “The UCD concept also includes a mobile device wireless charging system.  The system's power is delivered through magnetic induction, which allows the driver to simply set the device on the charging pad without the inconvenience of charging cords.”

Then there’s Kia’s new in-vehicle infotainment concept or IVI and while it’s ostensibly designed for music programming, there’s a vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication connection thru IVI as well.

“Visual and auditory alerts of drive-route hazards and real-time warnings1 for potential danger such as a frontal collision and lane departure, as well as current intersection conditions, provide peace of mind for driver and passengers,” Kia’s Bzeih pointed out.

“Dynamic HD wireless or ‘WiHD’ technology enables and optimizes connectivity of these various components, including front-seat display and two independently functioning rear-seat entertainment units,” he added. “This ‘mirroring’ technology allows passengers to enjoy their own music and video experiences while vital information, such as pre-programmed smartphone navigation notifications, is simultaneously provided to the driver.”

Finally, there’s UVO VR for “voice recognition” technology that will enable users to easily and efficiently perform functions such as dictating messages, selecting their favorite music or asking for directions, all while keeping their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, Bzeih said.

Definitely some pretty innovative stuff if you ask me.

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