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Google Android Interface For the Chevy Volt 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the search-engine-for-the-quarters-under-my-floot-mat dept.
jerryjamesstone writes "Earlier this month, General Motors hinted at a partnership with a major tech company to fully overhaul its telematics system, OnStar. While OnStar CEO Chris Preuss was tight-lipped about who that partner was, Motor Trend recently reported that it's Google. If the rumor's true, GM will make the Chevy Volt the first Android-based vehicle to hit the road. The Motor Trend article suggests 'Google would sell its Android operating system for in-car use,' while the Wall Street Journal has a slightly different take: 'The pairing would likely involve a way for users of Android-based smartphones to use OnStar features from their phone while not in their car. ... For instance, a person could find out information about their vehicle's maintenance needs through the Android phone. In the case of the Volt, GM's coming electric car, an owner may be able to keep track of the car's battery charge without being in the car.'"
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Google Android Interface For the Chevy Volt

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  • Beta (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @12:28PM (#32228004)

    That's exactly what I want, beta software on my car while I'm driving at 100mph! I will make sure to submit bug reports!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheKidWho (705796)

      The CPU which actually runs the car won't be running android... Most likely it will be some RTOS.

      • by ZosX (517789)

        Its not about the software the runs the car....its the software that gives you directions. google navigate is very much in beta right now. I mean it came out not all that long ago and has beta written all over it. (literally)

    • by longacre (1090157)
      Don't worry, Google will know exactly where you land after you fly off a cliff.
    • Running on an Alpha CPU maybe?

    • Don't think the Chevy Volt will be capable of 100mph. Anyway, everything Google makes is BETA for years without problem. I think its just their way of saying, "don't blame us if anything ever goes wrong"...like with Gmail.
      • by cynyr (703126)
        Ohh i bet the Volt will do 100, not much over that, but i bet you can make it hit 100, and if it is electric drive, i bet the 0-60 times are 4's, or low 5's.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sorin25 (1488115)

      Steps to reproduce:
      1 - accelerate to 120mp/h
      2 - turn hard left while applying hand brake
      3 - check email

      Expected result: list of new emails should be displayed
      Actual results: big warning sign covers emails list

      Reproducible: sometimes

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by russotto (537200)

      That's exactly what I want, beta software on my car while I'm driving at 100mph! I will make sure to submit bug reports!

      So which would you rather have... Google Car Beta, or Microsoft Car 1.0?

    • by ZosX (517789)

      This was exactly my thoughts as well. Compared to solutions that cost actual money like real gps units, google navigate still has a long way to go. The funny thing is that there is a traffic layer, but it still isn't smart enough to incorporate that into its routing in real time. I'm sure it would get the job done in most cases, but for example I was playing with it the other day and it said that the place I was going to was at 1327 E Main St. (which is the correct address) I arrived at my destination (by f

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Compared to solutions that cost actual money like real gps units, google navigate still has a long way to go.

        The article says the Volt's travel data interface will be running Android. It doesn't say it's going to run Google Apps.

        The way I understand it, Android is the OS (or more precisely, the software stack). I'm betting there will be special apps written by a contractor for Chevrolet that will actually do the GPS-ing.

        Do I have that right?

    • by BatGnat (1568391)
      it might fix the Prius' problems...
  • Wow, those 'features' all sound very useless. What use does it have to check all those stuff when you're not in your car? It's not as if you plan to do maintenance on your vehicle when you're 1000 miles away, or that there is a use to track your car's battery charge when you're not in it. Anyhows, good to see some other uses of the Android OS, though I could have thought of better ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gavinchappell (784065)

      Given the recharge times on electric vehicles it might be very useful to know if it's running out on, say, a Friday morning just after you've left for work via other means and forgotten to check it. That way you have the opportunity to ask someone at home to charge it and prepare for weekend plans. The maintenance thing is probably less useful, but I don't know how good the average American is at following manufacturers service schedules without a little reminder nudge.

      • The Volt has a gas engine generator in it. If you forget, or are unable, to recharge the onboard batteries, that just means the gas engine starts immediately, and you won't get the 40 mile battery-only range.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WCguru42 (1268530)

      Wow, those 'features' all sound very useless..., or that there is a use to track your car's battery charge when you're not in it.

      Imagine this, you're at work on a Friday, it's 2pm and you want to know if you've got enough juice in your car to get home or if you should wait till three to start that early weekend.

      • by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @12:52PM (#32228142)

        Imagine this, you're at work on a Friday, it's 2pm and you want to know if you've got enough juice in your car to get home or if you should wait till three to start that early weekend.

        The Volt can 'charge' at any gas pump, so it's pretty much irrelevant.

        Am I the only one who doesn't want people having remote access to my car?

        • No, you are not alone. Any form of remote access to a vehicle is an absolute deal-breaker for me - I don't want OnStar (am I the only one who finds their ads creepy? Especially the "stolen car" ad?), I don't want remote diagnostics, and I WILL NOT buy a car with them. They can get all the diagnostics information they need from the OBD-II connector in the car, which requires them to be IN the car, and presumably with my permission.

          And I *won't* tolerate having anybody GPS track my car "for road taxation" pur

          • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Hate to break it to you, but long term, you won't really have an economical option as the population that appreciates having OnStar and its brethren vastly outnumbers those worried by remote diagnostics. It is quite useful to let OnStar monitor oil life for instance - the 3 month/3000 miles is a "bad conditions" rule needed for back in the days where we couldn't monitor the condition of the oil. The ability to contact/be contacted by emergency services in a crash is also very appealing (of course this ass

          • by 517714 (762276)

            Let's see, how hard would it be to read the VIN number on the dash, determine the key codes for the car, cut a key, spoof the access number electronically, and gain access to the OBD-II connector? Physical access and a few minutes is all it takes.

            You may suffer from paranoid delusions that you are important enough to keep track of, or simple delusions that you are important enough to be tracked but are not already being tracked.

            As for road taxes, you will endure whatever legislation your state comes up wit

            • [blockquote]Let's see, how hard would it be to read the VIN number on the dash, determine the key codes for the car, cut a key, spoof the access number electronically, and gain access to the OBD-II connector?[/blockquote]

              Probably about 10,000,000 times harder than sitting in your chair clicking a mouse to get access. But I'm pretty sure that's a gross underestimation. Also, you left out step one: Find car.

              There's a lot more things you can do when something is ridiculously simple and involves almost no tim

          • ...am I the only one who finds their ads creepy? Especially the "stolen car" ad?...

            I thought so too, and I'm still pulling the OnStar fuse in my Camaro, but it was a relief to hear a story about another Camaro-owner in a nearby town. He outran the cops, but OnStar would not activate the vehicle slowdown because the car wasn't stolen. So at least the OnStar people don't turn in their clients like ISPs do, at least this time.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Am I the only one who DOES want remote access to my car?

          I'm not afraid of new things just because they may or may not be vulnerable to some ethereal idea of vulnerability.

          You know, the INTERNET allows people to have remote access too.

          I am willing to let someone try and impress me on the idea of having an intelligent, useful OS in my car. I wonder if I could program anything useful?

          It is the ability to ask that question that matters.

        • I'd rather not use gas to drive home if by waiting 30 minutes I could do it on electricity alone.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          Am I the only one who doesn't want people having remote access to my car?

          Yes, you are. The rest of us think it would be pretty neat to have remote access to your car. ;^)

    • by longacre (1090157) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @12:49PM (#32228130) Homepage
      Note that the photos accompanying the article show the Chevrolet Volt OnStar Mobile app, which has nothing to do with this rumored GM/Google deal. (There is an Android version of the app, as well as iPhone and Blackberry).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by schon (31600)

      Wow, those 'features' all sound very useless. What use does it have to check all those stuff when you're not in your car?

      Exactly - when I'm scheduling maintenance for my car, I have to be sitting inside it! I don't do it from my office, where I can see my own calendar to know when I have time to take it in or anything.

    • Fleet managers! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by webweave (94683) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:18PM (#32228344)

      This would be great for people who have to manage a large number of vehicles. Not only do you know where all of your fleet is at any one time but you know who and how the miles are being put on them. Could save millions.

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Not really. Those systems exist, and have existed for years [heavydutytrucking.com]. I don't think you'll find a major without one of these setups. Perhaps for very tiny 'fleets' there may be a use, but, again, when you get that small, there are better ways to track your vehicles. Like calling your drivers, your receivers, etc. Personal touch and all that nonsense.

        • by webweave (94683)

          So competition is a bad thing?

          Fleet of large expensive vehicles have these already, expensive proprietary systems too I bet. This could be cheap enough for small vehicles (like the volt) or even smaller like a fork lift or lawn maintenance equipment.

          • by gmhowell (26755)

            Competition is fine. I'm just saying it's already out there, so they'd have to offer something besides replicating existing functionality. I can see where my reply can be interpreted as a bit shitty, but I didn't mean it.

      • Then let those fleet managers choose to buy/integrate/use those systems. Such tracking systems already exist from other providers and can be integrated with existing vehicles (and they're not tied to one specific vehicle manufacturer). Let the other millions of regular owners decide whether they want the technology or not.

        On the other hand, most typical consumers don't think like your typical slashdotter and will blindly buy whatever is available to them and not care about privacy or anything else. Only
        • by webweave (94683)

          I try to not judge what everyone else wants by what I want, but to each his own.

          I guess you don't have a car equipped with an air bag? You know the airbag computer in every car is programmed to save data related to the deployment of its airbag. That means that every new car and those built for years have a system to monitor and record your activities.

          I don't know how those GPS I see on the dash boards of every mini van and commuter car work but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that they already call home

          • Well, I don't know about the OP, but my car doesn't have an airbag, GPS, or just about any other unnecessarily electronics. My car is 21 years old, and I have no plans to replace it. If I hit your car, I will crush your car, and I might scratch the paint on mine.
    • by Shark (78448)

      I can see a potential use: Ford getting their act together on SYNC. Microsoft wouldn't want google showing them the right way to do things again, would they?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Redlazer (786403)
      Well, just because it isn't immediately apparent doesn't mean it won't eventually become good. The path of least resistance tends to be developed the most, and with the ubiquity of an OS like Android, we have an even playing field in tons of unrelated fields.

      More freedom, more power, more control, are all good things. Don't like a feature?

      Don't use it. Have a better idea?

      Well, now you can develop your idea on:

      Phones, tablets, set-top boxes, and cars.

      I agree, I struggle to think of a good use for s

  • Best use-case? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by onefriedrice (1171917) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @12:47PM (#32228110)

    For instance, a person could find out information about their vehicle's maintenance needs through the Android phone.

    Is that really the best use-case you can come up with? The only time I care about my car's maintenance needs are when I'm actually driving it. The 'check engine' light is annoying enough, I certainly don't want it to push notifications to my phone!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Totenglocke (1291680)

      The only time I care about my car's maintenance needs are when I'm actually driving it.

      And I think that's a big part of why Americans aren't too on top of keeping their car maintained and only have anything done after something breaks. Despite being a car enthusiast, I know I don't do a good job of keeping track of preventative maintenance beyond oil changes. If you could have an app on your phone that could say "Hey, you've driven X thousand miles since these tires were installed and they're only good for X+5,000 miles, so you should get new tires soon" or "Hey, you're coming up on 75,000

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BlueBoxSW.com (745855)

        It could have an OBD reader, too, so instead of "Check Engine" it could say "Faulty Oxygen Sensor, service soon".

        • by gmhowell (26755)

          Problems arise when the sensor parameters are incorrect. For example, the O2 sensor on my car is indicated as f'ed up and in need of replacement if it is out by about half a std. deviation. The engine management and exhaust emissions are spot on, but it fails emissions inspections due to the stupid light and idiotic programming of said light.

          • Wouldn't that be fixed with a new sensor?

            • by gmhowell (26755)

              Possibly. From what I've read, the odds are about 50-50. I just reset the check engine light and let it go for a week or three until it comes back on.

      • Tires need to be inspected, you can't go by mileage. Ditto hoses and belts. Tire usage varies greatly by how it's driven, what might last you 75,000 miles might only last me 30,000. Hoses and belts are the same, 10,000 miles driven mostly on interstates takes a lot less time and wears the belts a lot less than 10,000 miles in stop-and-go on city streets.

        There are a few things that it could warn you about, but there's not much reason it would need to remind you on the phone when it can just remind you when

      • BMWs (and I'm sure other German cars) already have an app in the dashboard of the car that says things like "hey, you're going to need an oil change in 1200 miles", or "hey, you're going to need a minor inspection in 2300 miles". This shows up every time you start the car - no phone required.

        Tires can't really be measured that way, since so much depends on driving style (my tires are rated for 50,000 miles.... I only wish they'd last more than 20K); also, the front and rear tires wear at significantly di
      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Tires don't wear out magically at some preset mileage. Better to do a penny test than to look at the odometer.

    • by mike260 (224212)

      Yep, the actual use-cases are pretty weak. But if you're buying a Volt then the chances are you like gadgets, and find value in this kind of thing.

      A certain Mr. Carmack [armadilloaerospace.com] summed it up best, I think, when he wrote:
      "Telneting into your rocket is sort of fundamentally cool."

    • The 'check engine' light is annoying enough, I certainly don't want it to push notifications to my phone!

      That's OK, if this is what bothers you, there will be a switch in the preferences allowing you to redirect it to Twitter instead.

  • Brings a whole new meaning to "my car crashed"...
  • by jacks smirking reven (909048) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:00PM (#32228212)
    Take it from us. This could end badly...
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:00PM (#32228216)
    The fact of the matter is they could have some really cool stuff in cars but they chose not to because they want to sell you crap. Every car should have a USB port in the dash. I should be able to get all my cars info on a laptop or upload songs to the audio system. Or even plug in a cellular modem or wifi card. All of this would be cheap and easy for any automaker to implement and the fact that it doesn't exist just shows how they continue to be out of touch with what their consumers want. Onstar is what's stopping real automotive computing systems from coming forward because GM sees it as a way to milk more money from you rather than an included feature that simply makes the car more desirable. Imagine if they charged a monthly fee for using the heated seats. It's just that stupid.
    • Well, do you want to pay 50% more up front for your car instead? The car industry currently sells new cars at break even or at a loss, and instead attempt to make money on the after market. Right now, it's business suicide to use open and accessible standards and interfaces. And it's business suicide to outprice your competitors on new cars. Your move: they're stuck.
    • The last thing I want to do while I'm driving down the highway lost is to flip open my laptop and try to get directions. And yes, I have done exactly that with onstar, gotten directions and was on my way in about 60 seconds. The not lame thing about onstar is you connect to a real person that speaks real english and can answer real questions. Sync & google are going to be voice recognition. Which is great. "I'm sorry I don't understand your question, please try again" Onstar is expensive for 2 reasons.
    • by sootman (158191)

      "... the fact that it doesn't exist just shows how they continue to be out of touch with what their consumers want."

      No, it's proof that they don't give a shit want we want and that they don't care enough about us to make things easy for us. Believe me, they've got tons of smart and talented engineers who want all the same things we want.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Modded Insightful?

      The fact of the matter is they could have some really cool stuff in cars but they chose not to because they want to sell you crap. Every car should have a USB port in the dash.

      Most GM cars now do - actually mine is in the center console. Chrysler's also have them.

      I should be able to get all my cars info on a laptop

      What info? OnStar emails your cars status every month. Are you looking for live data? You just need to buy a ODBII interface. The USB interface is to the audio system, not the ECM. You want manufactures to allow anybody to plug into the ECM? Come on - Remember this is America, Land of the Free and home of the Lawyer.

      or upload songs to the audio system.

      I can on my GM car, 10GB of storage. While not huge, it beats having an MPS player

  • Hope that Google includes the "stealing wi-fi feature" with the Chevy OS for some free internet on the ride!!

  • 1 lost sale (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mr Stubby (1122233)
    I was quite interested in the car as initial impressions and details looked rather positive, It's enough I have Google tracking my every move online, but the line needs to be drawn somewhere.
    • by sponga (739683)

      Line was already drawn and it is under 'Privacy Settings/ Uncheck 'Use My Location'
      Oh yeah, and you weren't gonna really purchase a brand new car were you. You were just looking for mod points, it's cool though but at least be truthful.

      • Except theres more to it than unchecking an option, but since it seems you know everything about me personally, im not sure why I have to be the one to wise you up on this, just read my mind again, you were so bang on first time round.
  • by yyxx (1812612) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:14PM (#32228310)
    • iPhone -- goes up to 150 mph (but doesn't really matter on US highways), refuses to take you to stores selling PCs and porn theaters, trunk is there but permanently locked; range is somewhat limited, and if there's any kind of mechanical problem, you buy a new one
    • Android -- if you try to drive 90 mph, sometimes inexplicably drops to 70 mph; otherwise, fairly easy to live with
    • Windows Mobile -- goes up to 110 mph, but the accelerator is a button behind the rear visor, it has two hand brakes and no brake pedal, and you never can find out how to put it in reverse
    • Windows Mobile 7 -- same as Windows Mobile, but in stylish colors, and the trunk is locked, just like the iPhone, because that's less confusing; like Apple, Microsoft will happily take care of all your shipping needs... for a fee
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bodero (136806)

      Blackberry - goes to 90mph, drives comfortably, reliably, and 45% of the nation drives one, but no one talks about theirs. However, it looks like a 1986 Taurus.

    • A correction:

      iPhone: goes up to 150 mph but only destination it will take you to is the App Store. From there you can tool around in the kiddie go-cart rides in the walled garden.

  • For instance, a person could find out information about their vehicle's maintenance needs through the Android phone. In the case of the Volt, GM's coming electric car, an owner may be able to keep track of the car's battery charge without being in the car.

    This sounds like a built-in driving auditing system that Big Brother can quietly use to track our comings and goings. And, considering Google's cozy relationship with the Feds, I suspect that's exactly what it is.

    • Tracking all our cars is one of the long-term goals of the government. The way this will be achieved is by using electric cars and alternative fuels. Because of the lack of taxes on those fuels, legislation will be pushed for a per mile road tax. This will then be enforced via GPS, which will then mission-creep to a full blown tracking system. The solution to this problem is the New Zealand system, which is that non-gas cars get an odometer check and then you pay a fee based on that odometer.

      Anyway, cars
      • by 517714 (762276)
        It "won't work" in the US. Each state has different tax rates so how does one allocate the revenues? This will "force" the federal government to track the cars. It will be painted as a states rights issue and therefore be pushed by the Republicans.
    • Hmmm...I've noticed that any criticism of Google gets you modded down.

  • by Lars T. (470328)
    where your Chevy is.
  • Hmmm, let's see (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fustakrakich (1673220)

    Your car - Android - Google - maps - street view - "accidental" data harvesting...

    I'll take two!

    Sorry, only one per customer

  • by Posting=!Working (197779) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:50PM (#32228578)

    When I look at all of OnStar's "Features", it's just about the worst option you can have on a car. I would never own a car that had a remote disabling system built in. OnStar is not unhackable. Once it's hacked, you just became an easy carjacking victim, they can follow you without needing to see you and stop you whenever they want.

    If you're in a car crash and the airbags deploy in a remote area, the car sends a signal to OnStar, and they can send help. Unless you didn't pay your $19.95/month, then they ignore the signal that they recieved and you can die, for all they care. Sell all the other OnStar services, charge whatever a month for then, shut them off when no payment is recieved, that's fine. The crash notification system should never be shut off. Yes, I know there's an expense involved, but it's not that expensive to pass on the information since the entire system is in place, it's just hiring a few more employees to deal with the slight increase in volume of OnStar calls. You could even automate it to send emails to whichever local jurisdiction is closest to the accident. Doing nothing should be criminal, in my opinion.

    Their advertisements are horrible, especially the one with a woman imitating a child's voice who's Mom's heart medicine's not working. Scaremongering assholes.

    • It's bad OnStar exists. But then when they won't want to give it to you for free, that's even worse!

      Things do cost money you know? If you think you shouldn't have to pay for the monitoring separately, then lobby your government to take it over. You'll still pay for it, but then you won't have to worry about it being taken away.

      I dunno about OnStar being hackable and neither do you. I'm sure you could socially engineer it. Valet has its risks too, they can steal your car or even copy your key and come steal

      • Yes, I know things cost money. That's why I mentioned it in my post, and why what I proposed is of negligible expense.

        I won't have OnStar in my vehicle, that doesn't change the fact they're still assholes for ignoring the crash signal in those that do have it.

        The only assumption I've made is that GM did not build the world's first totally secure completely unhackable wireless connection created and maintained by perfectly trustworthy employees who can neither be bribed nor blackmailed. I would say that, y

        • You didn't even read my post.

          They can copy your car key. They can clone your garage door opener. And they have your address from your NAV system.

          They could perform a home invasion on you, which is at least as bad as being carjacked.

          And you're going to identify them? In order to do that you'd have to see them again, which isn't possible if the person just showed up to rip you off and was only impersonating a valet.

          You can identify one type of unlikely situation where you can get in trouble but ignore another

          • No, I read and understood your post, you just fail to see the difference between physically handing someone your keys and remote wireless access to your cars functions. Also, there's a couple of easy steps to take to prevent your scenario. Also, it's flawed even in concept.

            First, not everyone has a garage. Not all garages are attached. The ones that are have an interior door with a lock.

            Someone impersonating a valet would've just stolen your car if they could get away with it. How long do you think you

    • OnStar will not be notified. When you stop paying for it, they don't pay verizon or whoever they use for your "phone" for onstar to connect. Your car will maybe try to call, but the line will be dead.

      I'm not thrilled with their commercials either. I'd concentrate on the directions part if I was them. I've used it lots of times and it is plain nice.

      • That may be right, but it shouldn't be that way. If you have a cell phone and cancel the service, you can still use it to call 911 in emergencies. Why shouldn't OnStar be handled the same way?

  • "Android-based vehicle"? That's too much of a statement.
  • Car networks need a firewall between the entertainment and display systems and the vehicle control systems. You shouldn't be able to send anything from the entertainment bus and ports to brake, engine, and steering control.

    This is going to get worse before it gets better. Vehicles with active roll control (a big win on top-heavy SUVs) have accelerometers and rate gyros tied into a complex algorithm with inputs into the engine and braking systems. Advanced cruise control systems have a radar tied in.

    • There most certainly *is* a firewall between the entertainment systems and the vehicle control systems, assuming that the former is in the cabin and the latter is located in the engine compartment. Oh, you meant a software firewall! ;-)

      • by gmhowell (26755)

        Amazing the ignorance of the kids today. That isn't even particularly advanced etymology.

  • It will be fantastic! Imagine the curves you can do just with your fingertip in the windshield... And the moutitouch feature will allow you to zoom in and out the view of the road!

    I can't wait!

  • Just don't try to watch a flash video in the car or you may crash and die (as displayed on Youtube with Androids tablet).
  • The application com.Chevy.Volt.brake has stopped responding. Force Close?

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