Connected car sector boosted by initiatives from VW, LG, Alibaba and Europe

The connected car industry has entered a phase of accelerated activity following announcements from VW and LG, Alibaba and a consortium of European trade associations.

In classic European style it has been decided that the best way to promote connected cars in the continent is for a bunch of organisations to get together and form an even bigger one. ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association), CLEPA (European Association of Automotive Suppliers), ETNO (European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association), ECTA (European Competitive Telecommunications Association) and the GSMA all contributed to a joint press release.

Inevitably the European Commission has also got involved, with European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society Gunther Oettinger hosting the big reveal. “The main objective is to strengthen Europe’s leadership in connected and automated driving, by accelerating the EU-wide deployment of related key technologies,” said the announcement.

While no actual work will commence until next year, the roadmap does include some exotic sounding concepts such as high density platooning (autonomous vehicles driving very close to each other), cooperative collision avoidance and remote control parking. Phase one will focus on 4G as the communications technology while phase two, which will commence in 2019, will start to embrace 5G.

A genuinely useful feature of embarking on a pan-European collaboration will be trials that focus on addressing cross-border challenges such as the lack of harmonised spectrum, seamless network handover of vehicles at borders and open road infrastructure data. The release doesn’t say whether or not the UK will be involved.

Elsewhere Volkswagen and LG have decided to collaborate on the development of VW’s connected car service platform called Cross-Over-Platform. As you might expect from LG’s involvement this collaboration will also look beyond just the car, at other environments that drivers might want to remotely interact with, including smart home and location-based services such as context-sensitive notifications.

“Volkswagen is pressing on with the digitalisation of its brands. Our focus in doing so is always on our customers,” said Thomas Form, Head of Electronics and Vehicle Research at VW. For them, comfort, safety and energy efficiency play a central role. LG is a strong, reliable partner in the implementation of new features and one of the drivers of innovation in the networked household. We look forward to working with LG and to developing in future simple, easy-to-use smart home solutions for our customers integrated into our vehicle systems.”

“LG Electronics and Volkswagen are teaming up to develop the next generation of connected car platform that allows wide integration with smart home services and adoption of open IoT connectivity technologies,” said Richard Choi, Head of LG Cloud Center. “We think LG’s expertise in smart technology together with Volkswagen’s leadership in the automotive sector will revolutionise the way drivers interact with their vehicles.”

Lastly Chinese internet giant Alibaba has joined forces with car company SAIC Motor to launch the OS’Car RX5, and SUV that runs on a software platform called YunOS, which is also used by other Alibaba connected devices. They are calling is an internet car to indicate an order of magnitude greater level of connectivity and infotainment capability, and claim it’s the first mass-produced smart vehicle, with prices starting at RMB 148,800.

“Humans have made machines more intelligent in the past few decades,” said Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma, who can be seen getting a lift in the car in the video below. “What we hope to achieve in the coming decades is to inject machines with human wisdom. Just as software programs have made the phone smarter today, YunOS will make cars an even more indispensable part of human life in the future society. Today marks the dawn of that new era. We feel proud and privileged to be playing a part in driving that change.”

“Our vision is to enable Internet-connected cars to become the largest open platform capable of incorporating all kind of services, both from YunOS or third-party developers,” said Zhang Chunhui, president of YunOS. “In the future, we hope Internet-connected cars to be a solid foundation for the development of smarter transportation and smarter cities.”

This flurry of connected car news comes just days after BMW and Intel also announced a connected car partnership. With the broader IoT sector starting to crystallise and look a commercialising its massive potential it looks like connected cars have also moved beyond the planning phase and the industry is moving to make them a market reality.

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