Friday, March 15, 2013

Atlanta International Auto Show Displays Latest And Greatest

The annual Atlanta International Auto Show is in full swing at the downtown Georgia World Congress Center, with hundreds of vehicles on full display for the general public.
One of the key trends in the automotive industry in recent years has been the emergence of technology, especially that which enables greater connectivity between the driver and information and entertainment options.
At this year's show, that technology will be on full display among many of the vehicles.

Here's a quick glance at what some automakers have been tinkering with:

The Chrysler Uconnect system offers drivers Internet access, in-dash apps, a smartphone app, emergency assistance and cloud-based voice recognition systems.

With Sprint's Velocity for Vehicle Manufacturers system, the 2013 Dodge Ram truck can serve as a mobile hot-spot. The system can connect with other WiFi spots in the area, so if the truck is parked near, say, a Starbucks, Panera Bread or public library, the driver can use the Internet in the car for free. If the driver has no access to free Internet, customers can select a monthly data plan or an on-demand pay-per-use option.

That offers access to 911 and roadside assistance via the press of a button on the rearview mirror (much like General Motors' OnStar system), SiriusXM satellite radio, voice recognition, hands-free text messaging and access to digital music through an SD card slot and USB ports.

An upgraded version, UconnectR4, offers all features of the lower priced version plus a "full feature" navigation system with 3-D city maps and digital terrain modeling that gives you a picture of what your route looks like. A smartphone app available for both systems also provides remote locking and unlocking of the doors and starting the vehicle.

With its voice recognition system, Ford's MyFord is easy to use. You can tell it to make calls hands-free or find and play your favorite music. With SYNC Services, you can receive turn-by-turn directions and vehicle health reports.

GM is touting its Cadillac User Experience in its luxury brand. It allows touch access to maps, music, temperature controls and more, functioning like an iPad.

Buick's Intellilink high-definition color touch screen gives infotainment and navigation options, including intuitive voice command, Bluetooth3 connectivity, smartphone integration, and Pandora and Stitcher streaming Internet radio. You can also select LaCrosse’s rear seat entertainment system.

Many cars are coming to market equipped with technologies like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, electric power steering and advanced GPS. Each advancement in this area moves us closer to self-driving cars.

It's already been proven that cars can pilot themselves with existing technology. Now it comes down to the nearer-term applications for autonomous operation.

Audi recently demonstrated an A7 model with a self-parking feature.

The car can be stopped at a parking facility and it moves itself inside with the tap of a smartphone app. The car can search for a spot and park itself. The driver is notified on his or her phone once the car is safely parked. And when the driver returns to the parking facility, he or she can get the car using the same app.

Audi says the system requires some infrastructure outside of the car, like sensors on parking spots.

And even a non-automotive company, technology giant Google, is getting into the act.
With video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to "see," the company has for years been working on an automated car that can steer through traffic and use detailed maps to navigate the road.

Google has said it thinks this technology can create the "trains of tomorrow," which will drastically decrease the number of deaths on the road while improving efficiency by trimming the average 52 minutes the average person spends commutes each day.

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