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Transportation Technology

The Future of In-Car Computing 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-up-with-the-hasselhoffs dept.
Barence writes "PC Pro is running a collection of articles looking at the future of in-car computing technology. They discuss how smartphones will become the primary means of in-car entertainment, how satnavs will be integrated into fighter-jet style heads-up displays, and how cars will create wireless mesh networks that warn each other of upcoming delays and collisions. The also explore the issue of integrating driverless cars onto the roads. 'It's one thing having smart cars that can talk to each other and react accordingly, but if half of the cars are dumb, it's another issue.'"
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The Future of In-Car Computing

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    So they are building in a "collision detection system" that I can hack and get the car next to me to drive off the road. Cool.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      So they are building in a "collision detection system" that I can hack and get the car next to me to drive off the road. Cool.

      Indeed. Anything that relies on other cars telling your 'smart car' where they are is a disaster waiting to happen. Not to mention those little details like bikes, pedestrians and moose in the roads, none of which are likely to be part of the glorious 'mesh'.

      The collision and delay reporting mechanism will be cool too, because we'll be able to feed fake reports into the system and ensure we get to work on empty roads.

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        Not to mention those little details like bikes, pedestrians and moose in the roads

        In a world of automated cars, do you think any of those things would exist?

        • Yes. Because it's cheaper to buy a moose than an automated car.

          • Where can I buy a smart moose with GPS and bluetooth?
            • Well, here in Canada, you just go to the corner moose lot.

            • Here in Finland we have mooses with GPS, but they usually don't have bluetooth connections. They communicate via EDGE/3G and some mooses still like to use obsolete technology like SMS.
              • Here in Finland we have mooses with GPS, but they usually don't have bluetooth connections. They communicate via EDGE/3G and some mooses still like to use obsolete technology like SMS.

                Have you got an optical moose?

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          In a world of automated cars, do you think any of those things would exist?

          No. Because the automated cars would run them all over within a week.

        • by berashith (222128)

          The first act by this intelligent car network will be to eradicate all forms of life that may interfere with the efficient operation of the roads. Who knew skynet really only started as a means to get to work on time?

      • by fudoniten (918077)

        Indeed, any car autopilot that only took into account other smart cars would be a horrible disaster waiting to happen. Obviously.

        The only way cars could use this sort of communication is as mistrusted advice, which it could use to strengthen it's own observations. The same way you treat another car's turn signals, basically.

        • by Dr Max (1696200)
          I'm sure the cops would like to interrogate it when ever they went past check if you ever went over the speed limit, and if you have been to any suspicious areas lately. Personally i think active radar and sensors are the way to go. If your worried about legal claims for the inevitable errors (even if its a hundred times safer than humans accidents will still happen), build any litigation costs into the cost of the product. No reason the robots can't have insurance too.
      • The collision and delay reporting mechanism will be cool too, because we'll be able to feed fake reports into the system and ensure we get to work on empty roads.

        This was the first thing I thought when I read the summary as well.

      • i suppose you would also enjoy rigging traffic lights, you sociopath.
      • Not to mention those little details like bikes, pedestrians and moose in the roads, none of which are likely to be part of the glorious 'mesh'.

        A Møøse once bit my sister ...

    • if they can make the collision detection multiple access I think this may be the start of something big.

    • by fudoniten (918077) on Monday April 25, 2011 @05:33PM (#35934968)

      They have that now. The collision detection system is the human who's driving. You can hack it by driving up beside them, and then pulling abruptly towards them. They're very likely to swerve right off the road!

      The implicit question here is: you can already be a vicious asshole and try to kill people, but you don't. Why would you do so if their car happened to be computer-driven?

      Also, frankly, give the computer driver a few generations, and it's responses will probably be much safer and more reasonable than a panicky human driver.

      Remote hacking and viruses are a potential problem; preferably the car's autopilot will be entirely isolated from any network connection. You could still walk up, stick an ethernet plug in, bypass the security system, and upload malicious code. Or, you could cut the breaks.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      For one, I'd imagine that if these made it in cars, they'd be sealed boxes with felonies for modifying them. Additionally, as "cute" as you might be in hiding your identity for your illegal mods, I'm guess that they'd still be trackable. And, you are presuming that a single signal from a single car will result in a crash in another car. That's not the operational mode I've seen described. My sister drive head-on into a solid concrete wall to avoid getting sideswiped. I've pointed out that such a decisi
      • by vlm (69642)

        Rather than modifying the one in the car, it would be way the heck more fun to create your own out of junkyard parts plus "some other things".

        Personally, I'd give my car a virtual, invisible police car escort...

        I'm curious how this thing would handle road hazards... water puddles on the road vs 6 foot deep water...

        Who will be the first bleeding heart to sue the manufacturer when the car decides to run over a squirrel instead of (theoretically possibly) headon a concrete truck?

      • by u38cg (607297)
        Actually, the safest kind of accident to have in a car is a head on collision. A sideswipe can be followed by a catastrophic loss of control, which can mean almost anything at speed.
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Are you trolling? A sideswipe will not hurt anyone, so long as you don't purposefully drive off the road afterward. Just like a rear end bump when both are near the same speed. I'd much prefer a sideswipe than a head-on. I've been sideswiped twice (both times the other driver was cited by an officer), and it was a complete non-event. So I'm curious how incompetent of a driver you are that you think that a tap from the side will leave you catastrophically out of control.
      • by berashith (222128)

        This brings up an interesting point. My sister was in a wreck where someone drove head on into her. She knew that she had no place to swerve off of the road to do the design of the road. She was thankfully in a much larger vehicle, and one of her worst injuries was a broken heel from hitting the brakes so hard ( go go adrenalin ). I told her that her best option would have been hitting the gas, that creating more inertia would have been the safest option for her ( the other drivers car folded like an accord

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Hitting the gas? That's the worst option. That adds energy to the crash. Just examine the edge cases for proof. If she was stopped and the other guy was half the size and going 30, then it would be like she crashed into a wall at 10 or so. If she's going 90 and he's going 30, then it's like she crashed into a wall at 50 or so. Which would you rather have her do? And if she was going 5000 and he's going 30, then, assuming her car was built like a tank, she'd have just had a collision and still be goin
          • by berashith (222128)

            yes, vindictive drivers like me, who prefer that other drivers a) maintain their lane, and b) not drive while drunk and on so many pills that they forget to pay attention to the line in the middle of the road. This guy was basically committing suicide at someone else's hands, and nearly killed many someones in the process.

            A 60 mph head on crash is never going to come out pretty , but she did have the advantage of size, weight, and height, and reducing her speed only gave her more chance of the car being br

            • by AK Marc (707885)

              yes, vindictive drivers like me, who ...

              would prefer to kill others than give up any safety of their own at all.

              That's all you had to say. You said it before, but you keep trying to justify it to yourself so you don't sound so sociopathic.

              Continuing forward and then dealing with the next smaller crash would be best in the circumstances of who actually screwed up to cause the situation, and the given size differences in play.

              You are wrong about the physics. Her increased speed would result in a greater deceleration of the grey matter for the initial impact and an increase in chance of a secondary impact. The worst of both cases.

              I am advocating the survival of people not responsible for causing the situation

              Which is irrelevant to the point you initially made (regarding two computer guided cars interacting).

    • Such hacks are easily defeated by proper architecture. Most likely, automatic cars will have several levels of functions with firewalls between them. For example:
      1) Low level - engine control.
      2) Situational awareness - do not accelerate into pedestrians.
      3) Global awareness - traffic patterns and navigation.

      So hackers will only be able to influence the last level of the hierarchy. So they can route your car into an incorrect location, but they won't be able to drive it off the road.

    • by izomiac (815208)
      You could also carry a gun and shoot the driver of the other vehicle, which would presumably cause it to drive off the road. Why would any non-sociopath wish to do so?

      IOW, in using the common road system you place yourself at the mercy of your fellow man, and making this system 100% impenetrable to external attack is kind of a waste of time. There are a great many easier ways to inflict harm upon another driver, and many of them are equally clandestine.
    • by cyberfin (1454265)
      You just gave someone in Hollywood an idea for their next craptastic movie... Nice going...
  • I rather like the idea of "dumb cars" being a factor now, because it means that when the "smart cars" or their users fail to be quite so smart, the cars around them can react without being able to communicate with them. It would be quite dangerous if they all operated on the assumption that every vehicle on the road was talking to them.

  • That was my sarcastic heading for the thought that immediately came to mind.
    A Slashdot article on the first multi-lane triple-digit pileup involving emergency organ transplant couriers, a schoolbus full of nuns and orphaned AIDS children, an emergency response vehicle going in the opposite direction and a dozen container cargoes of inflatable Jesus sex dolls, all caused by a conflict between the rights infringement seeking subroutines of the vehicles' in-car computing technologies.

    Then someone will try to

  • They discuss how smartphones will become the primary means of in-car entertainment, how satnavs will be integrated into fighter-jet style heads-up displays, and how cars will create wireless mesh networks that warn each other of upcoming delays and collisions.

    I think smartphones will be a stop-gap entertainment-wise. Really, if the new cars will have wifi anyway they will just talk to your home network (when parked) and just download the entertainment to the onboard HDD. The heads-up satnav will be pretty cool, although I suspect that the mesh networking will require multiple driver inputs of a collision and the like instead of relying on sensors alone.

    • Why would a collision require user input to sense? a number of cars saying that they're not moving in the same location without traffic lights would generally indicate a problem in the road.
  • After just having seen what information the iPhone stores without the users knowledge I don't want to know how much more information the future smartcar wants to store and give away to different companies and lawenforcement agencies. No thanks.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      That's when they put the magnetic sensors under the road surface to check your RFID and if you get from place A to place B faster than the speed limit would allow, you'll get a pop up on your HUD with

      Greetings Law Breaker

      The State has determined you have exceeded the posted speed by an average of 25 KPH over the course of the past 6 blocks.

      Do you wish to dispute this?

      Yes No

      You have selected "dispute this claim." Are you sure?

      Yes No

      You have confirmed that you are sure. Your vehicle will stop in 20 seconds

    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      Look up what OnStar does already
  • My '03 Pontiac has a heads-up display that shows my speed, and radio station briefly when I change stations. I went looking at new cars last year and didn't find a lot of models with the heads-up display. It's a great idea, and the technology has been available for at least 8 years, why isn't it as common as cruise control and interval wipers?
    • by ethanms (319039)

      ...HUD adds cost/complexity to build and repairs, but isn't necessarily perceived by the general public as that great of a feature (maybe just because not enough people have experienced it?) ...When it really comes down to it, how often does the average driver actually look at their speedometer (when they haven't just passed a cop)? ...showing the current radio station is nice, but with the proliferation of HD radio, satellite, CD text, iPods, etc, suddenly that's an awful lot of data to be putting into the

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        You're missing the point. The driver is going to be viewing that data anyway. Doesn't it make more sense to put that data in the driver's field of view, and at a focal length that makes it less disruptive to use? Maybe if people had their speed readily available in their field of view, they could more reliably maintain speed on the highway. Of course maybe if people just used their cruise control, that wouldn't be a problem either.
        • by scdeimos (632778)

          Of course maybe if people just used their cruise control, that wouldn't be a problem either.

          In my experience cruise control is quite variable. I've driven a number of CC-equipped vehicles over the years and they're all great on the straight-and-level roads but get to a corner or a hill and a lot of them can't cope.

          Good CC systems (eg: Mercedes, Honda CRVs) can power up a hill, or through a corner, and back off appropriately as they crest or exit. Bad CC systems (eg: VW Jetta) apply the power too late and then surge over the crest or exiting the corner.

          Cruise control is a relatively simple subsyste

          • by wagnerrp (1305589)

            In my experience cruise control is quite variable. I've driven a number of CC-equipped vehicles over the years and they're all great on the straight-and-level roads but get to a corner or a hill and a lot of them can't cope.

            That's really baffling. Any Industrial Engineer worth their degree is going to know their way around tuning PID controllers. A half hour of effort, or some automated algorithms, should get easily manage constants good enough for a couple miles per hour. Half a day should get you a pretty good system. I do agree that some CC implementations are downright pathetic, and I just don't understand why they even bother. I had an underpowered Focus as a loner car once, and on an sharp uphill on-ramp near work,

          • I've driven a number of CC-equipped vehicles over the years and they're all great on the straight-and-level roads but get to a corner or a hill and a lot of them can't cope.

            You're turning corners while under cruise control?

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I think we need more like the Cadillac HUD that showed IR via HUD for nightime driving. Some high-powered IR spotlights pointed ahead that won't blind people and you can get a black-and-white image that greatly exceeds what you can get from visual light. Process that and put that up overlaid across the windshield. Or just have alerts pop up when an object is detected via IR/radar that is outside visual range. Or just have glasses that process visual light in full color and IR as a black-and-white overla
    • by wagnerrp (1305589)
      I have an '03 Grand Prix and often wonder the same thing.
    • by Thelasko (1196535)
      Pontiacs have had HUD units since 1988. [wikipedia.org] I had a friend that had a hand-me-down Bonneville in 1997 with HUD for vehicle speed.

      In 2000 Cadillac [wikipedia.org] had a night vision system that was displayed via HUD.

      For some reason they just didn't catch on.
  • My car has a standard 1/8" plug for an external player to use the stereo but my wife's car came with an ipod socket which is useless as we don't have any ithings. I imagine the pressure on the car makers to include car stereos locking in to one or another proprietary format (probably the ipod type; I think I was lucky) and the consumer being really stuck.

    • by Nerdfest (867930)
      I've mentioned here before that I know someone who didn't buy a card because it had an iPod connector. He bought one that had a USB connector instead. It would be acceptable to have both, but at least the non-proprietary connector should be supported. I'd prefer they didn't support the non-proprietary connectors at all as it just encourages those companies to continue their lock-in.
      • by c6gunner (950153)

        That's just retarded. You can buy a new deck for $100 these days, or get a fancier model and have it installed for $300. That's the first thing I did after buying my last vehicle - the stock decks are usually shit anyway. You don't make a $30,000 purchasing decision based on the availability of a $300 part. Or,at least, a rational person doesn't. If you have any sense, you'll select the vehicle that best suits you needs based on fuel efficiency, cabin/cargo room, power/handling, reliability metrics and

        • by BKX (5066)

          This. Seriously.

          Why do people insist on spending an extra $5000 for leather, power seats, an underpowered "premium" soundsystem, heated seats, etc.? I will never understand this. Those things are anti-features for me. Leather is uncomfortable in the summer, and freezing in the winter. Heated seats make my butt sweat. Soundsystems ten times better sounding than anything Toyota makes are dime a dozen. Brush your mirrors off when you brush your windows, for pit's sake. And learn how to shift a gear, and save s

          • It's good that you know what you want in a car, but why do you insist that others share your taste?

          • by berashith (222128)

            leather ... i have kids, who spill stuff... an leather wipes clean easily ,as opposed to cloth which smells like fermenting yogurt for months
            heated seats... because they are leather, and I only heat them when they are cold. Once they are warm, i use the handy "off" feature
            sound ... mine is an amplified Bose system, not great, but good enough. Some cars come with horribly altered radio housings that can fit aftermarket heads
            Air conditioning .. well, i live in Atlanta, there are very few people who think AC i

    • by afidel (530433)
      Bluetooth and A2DP are the best for this, my dad's phones sync to his car and he can voice dial them with the integrated audio stuff and steering wheel controls, the 2012 Equinox is supposed to have a full A2DP stack so you should be able to control things like Pandora using the wheel controls. This is one of the reasons I'm waiting till this fall to replace my current car (along with waiting to see if BMW brings the x1 diesel, if Ford brings the Vertrek concept as the next Escape, and whether Mazda will br
      • by colinnwn (677715)
        If you want great Bluetooth support, don't hold your breath on a Mazda CX-7. Parents bought a CX-9 recently, it is a great car, but the Bluetooth support is beyond terrible. It doesn't support phone book sync or more than 1 connected phone at the same time. It frequently drops connections or forgets to autoconnect to a phone if the other person's phone was in it last. This is with 2 old Motorola dumb phones that have excellent Bluetooth support in every other use we've tried with them.

        If you want to be
    • by DCstewieG (824956)

      While I think they should have both, consider this a failing of all other manufacturers not standardizing on a common port to compete with the iPod dock. The fact that I plug one wire into my iPod in the car and get audio, power, and control is a beautiful thing. Maybe there's a chance now with Micro USB becoming standard. The iPod dock and the consistency it provides accessory manufacturers is a huge advantage for Apple.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        They did, it is called USB. You ipod dock cable even supports that.

        • by magarity (164372)

          They did, it is called USB. You ipod dock cable even supports that.

          But USB is just a protocol for sending data, not how the data is structured. So a player plugged into a USB from a stereo just becomes a storage device that could be used by the dash player. This creates a number of difficulties by itself as the dash player has to navigate any given player's file structure, etc, and provide a unified way to present what it finds to the operator for selection. At least the ipod cable eliminates this because the dash player just takes the input or uses the ithings protocols.

          • by mspohr (589790)
            I just bought a car with a USB port. Works great. You can plug in an iPad/pod/phone etc and play your music. You can also plug in a generic USB memory stick (or any device that looks like a USB memory stick) and it will play your music, playlists, play by type of music, etc. Also has a round jack for stereo input.
    • Any design feature of a car began on the drawing board minimum 3 years prior to showroom release. Once spec'd it is difficult to inject changes. When these cars were designed the iPod/Phone was the vast market leader. Expect more choice/generic in the near future.
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Hmm...the socket is proprietary but the electronics are identical: surely there must be an aftermarket connector that would let you hook up a normal MP3 player.
  • Well someone had to do it. Suppose a segfault would be just as bad.
    • by TD-Linux (1295697)
      You do realize that your car is already driven by a computer? That there is nothing but a CAN bus between the accelerator and the fuel injection nowadays? That various valves and operating parameters are adjusted by control loops running thousands of times per second?

      Admittedly, an autopilot of sorts would be much more complicated. However, there's no reason to believe that it wouldn't be written well enough to not crash. And it would certainly not impede manual control of the car, which would probably b
  • I have a "smart" phone that has internet, GPS, and map data, and an SD card filled with music. Why can't I piggyback off my phone? My phone is designed with touch interfaces in mind, just like modern cars. However, two years from now, I can replace my phone with one twice as powerful, faster, and more features... and i'll be stuck with a car that uses slower, more outdated technology. This is similar to television sets becoming computers.. except computers that are locked in time and are only as good as whe
  • Without a complete re-engineering, car MPG isn't going to be increasing. Nor, with traffic as congested as it is, does horsepower mattered as it used to.

    So, what is left is making the ride more comfortable and safer. Because smaller modes of transportation are becoming more common (motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, pedicabs), vehicles that have the ability to warn about stuff in blind spots are becoming more important, especially modern cars where visibility is impaired by the pillars airbags are stashed in.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I also foresee when cars will link to the one in front like a train. That will form a direct connection for communication, turning it into a longer car. Why that? Because the economy will improve with the proximity of the cars and the carrying capacity of the road will increase dramatically. As long as they get the linking to be a safe thing, safety should be improved because the chains will "think" as one and when it's your turn to get off, you disconnect and exit, back to regular car mode. And the ot
  • ...16-year-old girls everywhere driving around with Facebook on the heads-up display. You might as well install a keg in the trunk with the tap in the dash for all this will do to teen accident rates.

  • Talking on cell phones while driving

    Texting while driving

    Watching vids while driving

    Yes, that means you. And if the car is turned on and in a roadway, that counts, no matter what your excuse is.

    • by Nethead (1563)

      Now if they could learn RCW 46.61.100. [wa.gov]

    • by supersat (639745)

      Err, you're mistaken. [wa.gov] The law states that: "Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person operating a moving motor vehicle while holding a wireless communications device to his or her ear is guilty of a traffic infraction."

      Talking on the phone is fine if you don't hold the phone to your ear. So is talking on the phone if the car isn't moving. And there's a bunch of other exemptions.

      Distracted driving is still illegal, though.

  • the future of high roaming fees if tied to a phone and lot's of lock in and don't even think of going to canada or mexico with a us data plan.

  • Please no.
    1. Fighter Pilots are trained to read their HUDs, and also trained (presumably) in how to ignore them when appropriate.
    2. Fighter jets usually don't fly in super-tight formations (Blue Angels being the exception). Especially not in tight formations of hundreds or thousands.

    SatNav should be restricted to passenger or vehicle-stopped usage.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I want HUD really bad. Halo:Reach actually presents a really nice view of what I would like it to do in cars. The primary purpose is to outline things that I the driver need to be aware of. Sensors could detect and outline pedestrians, other vehicles, and those things in between (like bicyclists) in poor-visibility conditions. Streets can be labeled with their names regardless of whether the sign has been stolen or not. Looking down at the dash for car status is eliminated, because anything important will p

  • by AugstWest (79042) on Monday April 25, 2011 @08:38PM (#35936860)

    "smartphones will become the primary means of in-car entertainment" ...and soon they will run on gas, and have steering wheels.

    It's always nice when pundits predict stuff that's been happening for at least 5 years already.

  • Instead of spending all the time, effort, and high risk should there be a failure, on an auto-pilot to handles real world situations perfectly, why not focus on the easy wins. Over long highways and busy cities, build HOV like lanes designed just for auto-pilot cars. If the car has the technology, it communicates with a gate that allows the car to enter the physically separate lane. When you get to the end of the special lane (or to your exit), you take control of the car before it lets you exit back on

  • Check out Tesla's new Model S interface. It's pretty cool. Coincidentally, I interviewed with them today to work on the project. They shot me down like a bad of bricks. Tough cookies, those ones.
  • What is really going on is the automobile makers are announcing they have begun filing patents.

    This is a continuation of the industrial patent game that has been played since the beginning of the auto industry.

    The patent game is a game played between the auto companies. The payout of the game is membership and position in the global auto manufacturing hierarchy.

    What kind of innovation, what software, what interface? Well the patent game allows only a spotty blend of best of breed and second best solutions.

    P

  • I don't think we understand what the OP is trying to explain to us. Perhaps if they could break it down into some kind of analogy that the community as a whole would understand...
  • .. to share my car's data with everyone. Radar detector, geiger counters, WiFi scanners, everything. Everyone else can have direct access to this information, streaming, live, while they mesh with me on the road. I would love to be able to do that. Send them slip statistics pulled from ABS or traction-control triggering, how fast my windshield wipers are going, or just plain water collector sensors, airspeed (for crosswind detection in winter,) the whole kit.

    I would love to be able to build a reputation sys

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