by Cedric Hughes, Barrister & Solicitor with regular weekly contributions from Leslie McGuffin, LL.B.   

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New Frontiers in Vehicle Technology

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The Consumer Technology Association’s ‘CES 2017’ ended January 8th in Las Vegas, a four-day extravaganza showcasing consumer technology offerings from every major global industry.  The 50th anniversary, billed as “the largest global gathering of innovation and connectivity,” a highlight was the connectivity features displayed by the many participating auto manufacturers including Honda, Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Ford.

Connectivity and cars is hardly futuristic now.  For quite a few years now Bluetooth technology has enabled the legally permissible, hands-free, voice-activated, in-car phone usage (often addressed by Road Rules in our many distracted driving articles).  This, it seems, is now merely the baseline for car connectivity.

Get ready for your car to connect you to …well the sky is the limit. You will be connected to the road system so that you can route plan based on traffic levels and traffic signal patterns.  You will be connected to all the other vehicles surrounding your car to which you will be able to sync your speed and vehicle-distance-cushion accordingly.  You will be connected to your car manufacturer for monitoring of your car’s maintenance and software upgrading needs; and in the event of an emergency this connection will identify the extent of the problem and initiate delivery of any assistance you need automatically.

You will also be able to control the various appliances and devices in your home and office remotely from your car.  And, finally—for now anyway—you will even be able to connect your car to your own internal body rhythms and systems so that in the event you become unfit to drive, your car will switch automatically to autopilot mode.

Small steps towards this marvelous future, however.  For example, by spring 2018, in Europe, every new Honda will be equipped with eCall, an emergency service that automatically dials 112, the European 911, in the event of a crash.  Since this requires telematics communications, Honda will rollout MyHonda in 2017, described by Honda Europe’s general manager, Jean-Marc Streng as follows: “The dongle (required by the eCall system) will give us many more applications for [our] customers. … This will include vehicle information, data streamed from the car and the ability to call directly into dealerships in the event of an emergency so we will be able to understand exactly what has happened to the vehicle. This will also allow us to communicate with the customer in terms of maintenance.”

Another example is Audi’s Traffic Light Information (TLI) feature, North America’s first vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) system launched coincident with the show whereby traffic light data was transferred from the city’s municipal traffic management centre to Audi’s communications supplier, Traffic Technology Services and, in turn, via Audi’s 4G network, to Audi A4 and Q7 onboard computers for display on the company’s latest ‘Virtual Cockpit’ ensuring real time delivery to drivers.

Reports describe the Audi system as “basic,” “just the beginning of the “Internet of cars” age,” and “just the tip of the iceberg, as V2I systems will soon be recommending alternate routing based on green lights.

Cedric Hughes

huges & company law corporation vancouver


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