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Audi meets Android in Silicon Valley

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“Autos morph into iPhones as buyers want WiFi with wheels”, the headline of an article published by the Telegram said after the recent Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Since then, closer to home, and only a few weeks ago, the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit displayed a number of new cars with WiFi capability from several automakers.

People carry their cell phone wherever they go, and they are no longer satisfied with having a basic AM/FM radio in their new vehicle; they want to be connected with their friends through their smartphone, their iPad; they want to continue their digital life on wheels, not only on foot.

Horsepower was the ‘driving force’ for many motorists -this one included- when selecting their new car in times past; today the majority (39 %) of car-shoppers go for in-vehicle technology. I heard my daughter say, “Siri, when is my next appointment”? And over “Tiggy’s” speakers came the answer.

‘Digital natives’ prefer vehicles which connect them with the world around them, visually and audible. Vehicles will show the driver the way to a destination, communicate with other vehicles and traffic infrastructure, and prevent harm by keeping their wheels between the lines and away from other cars. Most new cars have a screen built into the dashboard to assist with these functions.

It will not be long, before a driver can access his/her home security system, manipulate the appliances, and get their emails from the home computer to their car.

In addition to power, torque, range, and towing capacity, automakers will soon list apps and bandwidth. There will soon be an app for finding and reserving a parking spot, ordering take-out food and calculation the new time of arrival altered by an obstruction.

It is said that before the end of this decade automakers will earn money from e-commerce transactions made from a vehicle. Imagine the time-savings if you can already order the goods while you are still on your way to a store.
Major manufacturers are joining forces with Microsoft, Apple, Google, Panasonic, and others.

In less than a decade, new cars will be able to take over from the driver and drive themselves, either in an emergency situation or by command, just like airplanes already flies on ‘auto-pilot’.

To connect with the headline, Volkswagen-Audi have established an Electronic Research Laboratory (ERL) in Silicon Valley. They are the first manufacturer to be licensed to drive driver-less cars on public roads, and have already proven this capability in DARPA competitions in previous years.

Your car - your smartphone on wheels; will there be an app for that? — For sure!

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