Thursday, 10 November 2011

New Technology Promises To Change Driving Experience

Experts Predict All New Cars Will Be Internet-Ready In 3 To 5 Years

New technology is coming to your car, and companies promise it will change your driving experience.

Experts predict a huge explosion in the next few years in the number of vehicles in our area that will be connected to the Internet.

The world's newest Internet onramp is already installed in the Audi A7 sedan.

"In essence, your car is a moving mobile Wi-Fi spot," said Kevin Koa, tech guru at Miramar Audi.

The new technology allows a driver to use a small SIM card to connect to a wireless network -- similar to how SIM cards work in smartphones.

Once connected, drivers can check on real-time gas prices. Passengers can watch streaming movies and browse news headlines on tablets, and drivers will get more direction. Combined with satellite radio, maps are updated and traffic updates are live.

The connected car remains rare, as about five percent of cars are logged on. However, some industry experts recently predicted 100 percent of new cars will be Internet-ready within three to five years.

Cadillac just launched its connected car feature at a recent convention in San Diego.

When it comes to traffic, the live updates will soon be more accurate.

"There's a lot of potential in the project," said Samuel Johnson, chief technology officer at SANDAG.

Regional leaders say a bevy of road sensors are one part of an $8.7 million federal grant for Interstate 15 that could give connected cars improved traffic data and drive times.

"The better information we can get to folks, the better choices they can make about when and where to drive," added Johnson.

Better traffic updates won't be the only Internet feature of the future. Cars will eventually be able to contact dealers about problems and even schedule service appointments.

In Europe, some Audi models already combine cameras, road sign recognition and Internet data on real-time speeds to guide vehicle speeds.

"The vehicles will actually react before humans can react," said Koa.

The monthly charge for the Audi wireless connection is about $30.

Ford is introducing a Wi-Fi feature in its 2012 Focus in Europe.

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