Electric Driverless Cars

Three of the biggest car manufacturers in the world are involved in the development of ‘intelligent cars’.

Electric Driverless CarsThis includes vehicles that can incredibly drive themselves to ones that allow a driver to use apps from a smartphone via the dashboard.

Big car brands, Volkswagen Group’s Audi, the Toyota Motor Group and Nissan Motor Company are all working with a variety of companies, including search engine giant Google, and microchip specialist Infineon to test ‘self-driving technology’.

French bank Exane BNP Paribas has estimated that the new intelligent cars market could be worth around £30billion.

French engineering firm AKKA Technologies has already developed a prototype of its electrical driverless car and say ‘the technology is ready but it just a question of regulation at this point’.

Google is working on its own prototypes of fully autonomous vehicles and analysts suggest that investors may be looking to invest more money in telecom and micro-chip maker firms over car manufacturers in this area due to their technological expertise.

As it is, Google announced at its annual developer conference that it expects the first cars to be running its new voice-enabled systems which allow drivers to navigate maps and send messages while driving by the end of 2014. The software, called Android Auto, has been designed to minimise distraction so drivers can stay focused on the road.

With an easy-to-use interface, the steering wheel controls are integrated and includes new voice actions with useful information. Drivers will be able to connect their smartphones and access music, maps, contacts and messages but keep their eyes on the road. German manufacturer Audi and British luxury automaker Bentley have both reportedly expressed an interest in installing Android Auto in future models.

Apple are also working on their own system, Car Play, which uses voice assistant Siri to connect the iPhone to a car’s audio system. Announced at the Geneva International Motor Show earlier this year, Car Play will connect to iPhones using the Lighting Connector in the same way that cars fitted with existing iPod or iPhone connections do.

Music can be accessed through the car’s system including iTunes, found manually or by spoken request via Siri. Drivers can find messages and have them read out aloud and reply to them by voice. They can also find all their contacts, make telephone calls and the navigation system will also be able to use Apple Maps.

Ferrari, Mercedes Benz and Volvo have all said that Car Play would be fitted to new cars this year while no less than 15 other car manufacturers including BMW, Ford, Vauxhall, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota are working on integrating it into future vehicles.

Microsoft has a system called Microsoft Sync which enables drives to connect their smartphones to in-car entertainment and the dashboard but the voice control functionality is limited. It can, however, access contacts and can manage calls and messages and is available in several Ford vehicles, such as the Focus and Fiesta, now.

British consulting company Machina Research says only 10 per cent of vehicles have built-in connectivity today but that it could rise to more than 90 per cent by 2020.

It could mean that cars without smartphone integration may look in the future to sell their cars online to such companies as as drivers becoming more and more reliant on their smartphones for communication and information.