Mar 18, 2021

GM, Honda and Audi Teaming Up with Google in Android Cars


Los Angeles car accident scene.
A woman in a car crash in Los Angeles talks on a cell phone.

Beware, says Los Angeles personal injury attorney Michael Ehline. Google has announced the Open Automotive Alliance, which is a group of automotive and technology companies. These groups include General Motors, Audi, Honda, Hyundai, and Nvida (NVIDA) chipmaker. They have come together and want to customize Google’s mobile operating system for vehicles.

This will mean that automakers will have the opportunity to modernize vehicles, while technology companies will have their software in millions of automobiles. In the past few weeks, we have already seen politicians and cops chomping at the bit to tax and excellent drivers who wear Google Glass. It looks like it is only going to get worse, says attorney Ehline.

Although this seems like a win-win situation for everyone, could it actually benefit driver safety, or will it add to collisions caused by distracted drivers? These type of motor vehicle crashes often result in vehicle occupants being seriously hurt.

The announcement was made before the opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas. At the show, Audi, GM, and Volkswagen were promoting the growth of car-related exhibits. In the past, car-makers have not taken advantage of the latest technology. So they used proven technology that was stable for safety and reliability concerns. This traditional outlook by automakers has come under pressure with the rapid advances of smartphones and tablets.

Pressure

  • The free mapping services free with smartphones compelled automakers to find an alternative to holding a phone.
  • These were the expensive built-in navigation systems that come with some models.
  • The other thing that was done is to add DVD backseat screens.
  • Parents can now give children pre-loaded tablets or phones that have movies, games, and apps.

Many states have established laws to ensure that drivers can be penalized if they have these types of screens in their view. After all, it results in distracted driving. And that leads to collisions. Ford is one of the automakers taking advantage of the latest technology. So they collaborated with Microsoft on the MyFordTouch, which ties cars to mobile devices and allows voice commands.

Other carmakers use ONX software for BlackBerry, other software, or variants of the Linux operating system to compete with rivals. This is both time-consuming and expensive for automakers since it requires software companies to write different carmakers' applications.

Partnerships

This resulted in GM, BMW, Intel, and others attempting a partnership named Genivi Alliance in 2009 in collaboration with Linux operating systems and supporting software. The Android variant of Linux has an advantage over other software types since it is dominant in the mobile device industry. BMW, Audi, Kia, and Toyota are already using Google technology for maps, searches, and other functions.

But as a daily driver in LA, Ehline sees any distraction as a potential chain collision. "Under ordinary negligence principles, paying attention to devices and phones instead of watching the road is a violation of your duty to act with ordinary care," says Ehline.

The carmakers seem to be less concerned about it, however. Tesla Motors is one of the cutting edge automakers who has made the idea of a computer in vehicles a reality with their all-electric Model S sedan loaded with a 17-inch touch-screen.

That device can access things like Google Maps and streaming radio with a few touches of the screen. Also, a split-screen is possible. Other companies are new in Silicon Valley. One is Cloud Car. They are attempting to combine technology with automobiles.

This company has developed a small computing device that can be plugged into a car to provide a modern infotainment system. With this, an upgrade by automakers as a small unit could deliver new features to their autos like control software to have a customized speedometer.

What is the Downside of Auto Technology?

The downside that new technology can be distracted driving. This remains true, whether using a cell phone system or a split 17-inch screen. These things give drivers other things to do while behind the wheel than paying attention to the road.

The rate of distracted driving accidents has been on the rise. And the more accessories vehicles have, the easier it will be for any driver to become distracted. Also, even though these technological advances may seem impressive or helpful, they can cause collisions with serious injuries.

The only thing that advanced technology will do is to stop drivers from using handheld cell phones. After all, this has led to many collisions. But it gives the driver the option of talking on a cell phone and, in some cases, it will provide them with a screen to look at. So they do that instead of looking at the roadway. So, the debate will continue with the advancement of technology in vehicles. Will it be an advantage, or will it cause the rate of distracted driving accidents in crowded cities like Los Angeles to increase rapidly?

Resources:

LA Auto Show 2013: Are 'smart' cars driving us to distraction? https://www.scpr.org/blogs/economy/2013/11/22/15254/la-auto-show-2013-are-smart-cars-driving-us-to-dis/

Google Teams Up With Car Makers: https://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-06/google-teams-with-gm-honda-and-audi-to-bring-android-to-cars

Are smarter cars driving us to distraction?: https://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131210-cars-driving-us-to-distraction

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