Posts Tagged ‘Toyota’

23 December, 2014

1418404932209.jpgFord says SYNC® 3, its new communications and entertainment system, features faster performance; more conversational voice recognition; a more intuitive, smartphone-like touch screen and an easier-to-understand graphical interface.

It promises seamless integration of AppLink™ to control smartphone apps, Siri Eyes-Free for iPhone users, over-the-air software updates and subscription-free emergency calling with 911 Assist®.

Then there’s more conversational voice recognition, a more smartphone-like touch screen and easy-to-read graphics.

SYNC 3 will debut on model year 2016 vehicles in 2015 and be fully deployed in North America by the end of calendar year 2016.

“SYNC 3 is another step forward in delivering connectivity features customers most want, and they tell us this kind of technology is an important part of their decision to buy our vehicles,” said Raj Nair, Ford chief technical officer and group vice president, Global Product Development.

The new system should benefit from some 22,000 customer comments and suggestions, plus insights from research clinics, market surveys and tech industry benchmarking.

Ford says a new touch screen for SYNC 3 provides an experience similar to a smartphone or tablet, though the system has been optimized for hands-free use. It’s said to respond more quickly to touch as well as to voice commands; also to gestures like pinch-to-zoom and swipe.

“We considered all the modern smartphones and mobile operating systems and created something familiar but unique,” said Parrish Hanna, Ford global director of Human Machine Interface.

Wow Factors
“While it carries with it some new features over its predecessor, SYNC 3 is not going to become a new benchmark for flashy wow-factors,” said Mark Boyadjis, Senior Analyst & Manager, Infotainment & HMI, IHS Automotive.

“This might not win over an Audi owner, but then again, Ford is most interested in taking share from Toyota, Honda, and Chevrolet. Those buyers are less impressed with glitzy name-brand chipsets and find more value in something they can understand the minute they take the keys from the dealer.”

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29 September, 2014

Shortly after I began to write about automotive electronics, a decade or so ago, I attended the SAE Convergence conference. I had been to many electronics industry events in the course of my career but this was my first in-depth exposure to chips, circuits and software for cars.

The industry has changed dramatically between then and now and I’m looking forward to seeing the latest in Detroit (Cobo Center) October 21-22.

Among the sessions that look especially interesting is an Executive Visionaries Panel at 8am on Wednesday. It was organized by Tim Callard from Chrysler and will be moderated by John McElroy from Blue Sky Productions. The panelists include Alan Amici, Chrysler; James Buczkowski, Ford; Harald Kroeger, Daimler; Wayne Powell, Toyota, and Matthew Schroeder, General Motors. You may recognize some or all of those names.

At 10am on Tuesday, Dr. Steve Underwood, University of Michigan – Dearborn, will present a “Roadmap to Vehicle Automation” that includes findings from an ongoing forecast on connected, automated, and electric vehicles. Can technology spur creative uses of the legacy infrastructure in ways that strengthen communities, increase worker productivity, improve safety, and ensure sustainable mobility in the United States?

Another good session starts at 10am on Wednesday and will focus on the “Future of Technology Delivery” Organized by Anthony Cooprider, Ford, and moderated by Philip Ross, IEEE, the panel will address pervasive development problems and how engineers can be prepared to address them. Panel members include Bret Greenstein, IBM; Stefan Jockusch, Siemens PLM Software; Sharafat Khan, Deloitte Consulting, and Janaki Kumar, SAP America.

At 3:30pm on Wednesday Bill Mattingly, ESG Automotive, will speak on the challenge of automotive electronics in the U.S.A. His presentation will be followed by a panel ready to forecast the next 40 years. Panel members include Hans Adlkofer, Infineon; Nigel J. Francis, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Partha P. Goswami, General Motors; Norimasa Kishi, Nissan; Monika Minarcin; Marc Rosenmayr, Hella, and James R. Sayer, UMTRI. Scott Craig from Infineon will serve as moderator.

There’s much more, as you might imagine, including exhibits and manifold networking opportunities. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

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15 July, 2014

The EV (Electric Vehicle) Roadmap 7 conference is coming up next Thursday and Friday (July 24-25) at the World Trade Center in Portland, Oregon.

If you’re in the area, or can get there, visit to register. Mentor Graphics is an enthusiastic supporter of the conference, so use the promotional code MENTOR0214 and get $50 off the regular registration price.

EV Roadmap 7 is organized by Drive Oregon ( in collaboration with Portland General Electric and Portland State University. It’s billed as the premier electric vehicle gathering in the Pacific Northwest and one of the leading electric vehicle conferences in the U.S.

Drive Oregon describes the conference as a “graduate course” in electric vehicle deployment that brings Oregon-based early adopters together with industry, government, and utility representatives share best practices and emerging trends. Ford, General Motors, BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, ITS America, the IEEE Intelligent Transportation Systems Society, and Mentor Graphics are among those representing the auto industry.

The theme for this year’s conference, “Making Connections,” refers to both the collaboration necessary to make electric vehicles succeed and to the increasing connections between those vehicles, the infrastructure, the power grid, and all else.

At 1:00p.m. on Thursday I’ll moderate a panel session, “Operating Systems for Cars.” Panel members scheduled to participate are:

• Toshiro Muramatsu, Director, Vehicle Information Technology Division Silicon Valley, Nissan Motor Company
• Walton Fehr, Transportation Specialist, US Department of Transportation
• Matt Jones, Senior Technical Specialist – Infotainment, Jaguar Land Rover
• Pat Shelly, Solutions Architect, Embedded Systems Division – Mentor Graphics

Cars are increasingly coming to resemble computers with wheels. The panel will discuss emerging trends and products, infotainment systems, the driving experience, and new apps we’re likely to see in the relatively near future.

A preview event on Wednesday morning will feature some of those same panel members. The session, “Vehicle Operating Systems,” will focus on the business opportunities created by increased demand for vehicle connectivity.

I hope to see you at the conference.

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4 March, 2014

Good news from Apple this week for those with Lightning-enabled iPhones (iPhone 5s, 5c and 5) who are planning to buy a new car later this year.

The company says its CarPlay in-vehicle infotainment alternative “gives iPhone users an incredibly intuitive way to make calls, use Maps, listen to music and access messages with just a word or a touch.”

Automakers expected to offer CarPlay include BMW Group, Ferrari, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota, and Volvo.

Apple says users can control CarPlay from their car’s native interface, or push-and-hold the voice control button on the steering wheel to activate Siri.® Once the phone is connected,  Siri can help a driver  access contacts, make calls, return missed calls, listen to voicemails, and record and send messages.

“iPhone users always want their content at their fingertips and CarPlay lets drivers use their iPhone in the car with minimized distraction,” says Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of iPhone and iOS Product Marketing.

Frost & Sullivan analyst Krishna Jayaraman notes that Apple’s new offering competes directly with MirrorLink-type phone integration solution, though it’s focused on iPhones.

Earlier this year Audi, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai and NVIDIA formed the Open Automotive Alliance, a coalition dedicated to bringing the Android platform to cars. Apparently GM, Honda, and Hyundai see no conflict between Apple and Android and will make both interfaces available to their customers. Volvo says its own Volvo Cars content and Apple content will co-exist simultaneously on a Volvo’s portrait screen, thus eliminating the need to switch between a dedicated car screen and an iPhone screen.

I understand the automakers’ thinking: Prospective buyers want to be able to use their smartphones in their cars, so the automakers can either make it easy for owners to do so or drivers will use their phones anyway, potentially putting themselves and their passengers in danger. Most will be careful; some won’t. Dictating text messages requires some attention, but so does driving.

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20 August, 2013

Last month AT&T announced an agreement with SiriusXM Radio to provide mobile connectivity for a suite of security and additional services for Nissan automobiles in North America.

SiriusXM referred to its in-vehicle telematics solution, which will provide Nissan owners 24/7 emergency support for accidents, stolen vehicle tracking and roadside assistance, along with a host of additional services.

“As a Connected Vehicle services provider for Nissan, we are excited to work with AT&T to deliver a world-class telematics service to Nissan vehicles,” said Enrique Rodriguez, SiriusXM Executive Vice President, Operations and Products, at last month’s announcement.

“By adding fast, reliable and built-in mobile internet for SiriusXM’s forthcoming in-car experience, we are powering a connected experience inside Nissan automobiles for both drivers and passengers,” added Glenn Lurie, president of AT&T Emerging Enterprises and Partnerships Organization.

We didn’t heretofore think of SiriusXM as a telematics service provider (TSP) although they were in fact providing weather and traffic as well as entertainment. The AT&T agreement was a good-sized step toward TSP status – and now there’s more.

SiriusXM said this week that it will acquire Agero, Inc.’s connected vehicle services division for $530 million in cash. That leaves Agero to focus on its roadside assistance business, which is significant.

But with the Agero acquisition, SiriusXM will provide connected vehicle services to automotive manufacturers including Acura, BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan and Toyota – more manufacturers, it said, than any other telematics provider. Its services are available in more than 50 million vehicles.

“The transaction accelerates SiriusXM’s development in architecture supporting connected vehicle services, as well as the ability to provide services over both satellite and cellular networks,” said SiriusXM chief executive officer Jim Meyer.

“Connected vehicle services have become increasingly focused on integration and infotainment, and we believe that SiriusXM is perfectly positioned to take these capabilities forward in this changing market,” added Agero CEO Dave Ferrick.

So SiriusXM gives us something to look for – more telematics developments – as well as listen to.

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20 February, 2013

You might think that a wireless phone company would be well-equipped to create exciting new ways for customers to use their smartphones in cars, but that’s not the direction Verizon and its wholly owned subsidiary Hughes Telematics are taking.

“The smartphone has a place, but the driver will have a better, richer experience with systems embedded in the vehicle,” says Thom Russell, associate director, Telematics Marketing and Business Development for Verizon.

“The best driver experience is ‘hands on the wheel and eyes on the road,’” Russell says. “There are things that can be done with a smartphone but also a number of things that shouldn’t be done – that are better done by integrating with the head unit to provide a seamless connected experience with safe operation of the vehicle.”

Russell notes that texting while driving is a huge social issue for both the automotive and the wireless industry says it’s an issue that Verizon is addressing. “We are not going to create new solutions on smartphones to replace what should be done by the automaker with an embedded system – especially anything having to do with interacting with a mobile device. Hughes’ expertise puts us in a position to develop well-thought-out embedded apps.”

Hughes is the developer of Mercedes-Benz mbrace telematics system. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, Verizon and Hughes touted mbrace 2, introduced at CES last year. The revised system features a new control module; 3G network connectivity; Internet apps such as Facebook, Google, and Yelp!; remote access capabilities including Route2Benz and Remote Horn & Lights; Family Driver Monitoring (Driving Journal, Travel Zones and Speed Alert), and over-the-air updating. It also leverages Delphi’s cloud-based Vehicle Diagnostics connectivity service, which lets consumers monitor their vehicles from a smartphone or browser.

To those telematics chops Verizon adds its own experience with GM’s OnStar and interaction with BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Toyota in the 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars it formed last summer, plus its global reach to more than 200 countries. “Hughes offers a generic telematics service that can be customized. Verizon adds device management, billing and other services that automakers can manage, or we can manage for them,” Russell says.

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7 November, 2012

It might seem as if it’s taken MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport), the automotive multimedia and infotainment standard, a long time to catch on, and there are some who suggest that it’s time has already passed, now that Ethernet is the Next Big Thing in automotive networking. But that’s relative if not downright wrong, according to Henry Muyshondt, Technical Liaison of the MOST Cooperation.

The MOST Cooperation, which is responsible for refining and standardizing the technology, includes 16 automakers and 65 suppliers. German automakers pioneered the technology, and the Volkswagen Group now plans to deploy MOST across all of its brands, but Muyshondt says MOST is becoming ubiquitous, currently deployed in more than 120 vehicle models. Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, and GM are among its supporters. Toyota was instrumental in developing the MOST50 (50 megabits/second) electrical physical layer, and GM is using MOST in the Cadillac ATS and XTS. “MOST is growing steadily, and relatively fast,” Muyshondt says, adding that hundreds of millions of MOST nodes are on the road, ranging from two or three in lower-end vehicles and 15 or more in luxury cars.

As cars gain more electronics content an efficient, cost-effective network becomes increasingly important for tying all of the vehicle’s electronic functions and devices together and MOST was designed from the ground up for just that purpose. It uses bandwidth efficiently and has low processing overhead.

The latest generation of MOST, MOST150 (150 megabits/second) , includes a dedicated Ethernet channel that operates like an IEEE 802.x network to support connected services and general Internet access.

Muyshondt notes that Internet protocol is in widespread use and says there are times when it’s beneficial for use in cars, but he adds, “It has no guaranteed form of delivery, isn’t deterministic, and is not acceptable for control applications. And latency can be high. That’s not a problem for email, or loading a web page, but for streaming audio or video – continuous flow between two points that are well-defined and in close proximity, it’s better to use a different mechanism.” Like MOST, which uses all of its bandwidth for data transfer. “Data just flows without addressing information in a defined timeframe, with short latency and high determinism.”

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10 July, 2012

At Mentor Graphics IESF in Detroit last month Paul Hansen, editor and publisher of The Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics ( told attendees that automotive cloud computing “will bring about an upheaval in automotive electronics” over the next decade or two.

“No longer do carmakers have to rely only on the computing power and memory they can afford to embed in the vehicle; they can go to the Web to get whatever they need, as long as the vehicle has a reliable broadband connection to the Internet,” Hansen said. “A connection to the cloud puts the vehicle in touch not only with enormously powerful off-board computers but also with everything else in the world that is connected to the Internet—other devices, other vehicles, other machines. The potential is vast.”

Hansen noted that BMW, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Toyota are joining Verizon as initial members of the 4G Venture Forum for Connected Cars to accelerate the pace of innovation across the telematics 4G LTE ecosystem.

Multiple frequencies (700 MHz, and the Advanced Wireless Service bands, 1.7 GHz and 2.1 GHz) must be accommodated in order to improve the functionality of LTE in North America and multiple-in multiple-out functionality is needed for the LTE bands to enhance efficiency.

“That means that both the base station and the car will have multiple cell phone antennas, whereas before we had just one.” Hansen reported that Laird Technologies is already working on LTE antennas, and added, “Carmakers are looking to put this into production in the 2015 model year.”

Hansen told IESF attendees, “Ideally, LTE will provide cars with super-fast, always-on, Internet Protocol data communications equal to what many people have in their home. Verizon Wireless expects LTE’s average data rates will be five to 12 megabits per second on the downlink and two to five megabits on the uplink in real-world, loaded-network environments. That’s about five-times faster than 3G. The air latency of LTE will be roughly half that of 3G; 27 milliseconds compared with 55 to 60 milliseconds.

“Not only will the auto industry be able to advance its traditional safety, security and diagnostics services, but LTE connectivity will help to enrich infotainment, convenience and even driver assistance systems.”

This is a trend well worth watching.

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19 June, 2012

That question about the difficulties involved in integrating development tools from different suppliers was asked rhetorically during a presentation at IESF Detroit by Paul Hansen, editor and publisher of The Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics (

“Why the lack of integrated tool solutions?” Hansen asked Mentor Graphics VP Serge Leef. It’s because there are no standards, Serge replied. Mentor could produce different tools for different automakers, but that’s not a good direction for a tools vendor.

Customers have to embrace AUTOSAR

“The flows and methodologies in the automotive design world are based on a patchwork of disintegrated solutions from a variety of smallish, service-oriented vendors, and home grown solutions,” Serge Leef told Hansen. “Step one, customers have to embrace AUTOSAR.”

A prerequisite for creating a comprehensive and integrated set of tools is a solid foundation of standards that have broad acceptance by customers, and that has only recently become plausible with AUTOSAR.

AUTOSAR momentum is building, slowly

Hansen told IESF attendees that since rollouts of AUTOSAR began in 2008, only a very small fraction of ECUs made worldwide – 2% in 2011 – have AUTOSAR software inside. Many of those ECUs are not fully compliant but only contain elements of AUTOSAR.

“By 2016, I am told, roughly 20% to 25% of all the ECUs produced worldwide will have AUTOSAR. That is only counting implementation by the core AUTOSAR partners – BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, PSA, Toyota, and Volkswagen. But other carmakers including Hyundai, Fiat and SAIC have begun AUTOSAR projects. AUTOSAR momentum is building, slowly.”

Hansen said tier one companies can spend as much as €20 million per-year on engineers whose job it is to keep software development tools interoperable, and suppliers use as many as 80 different tools.  Engineers benefit from having a smooth transition from one tool to the next. Also, there is a need to simplify the exchange of data between tools. This is an essential requirement of the functional safety standard ISO 26262.

“Ralph Mueller, a director for the Eclipse Foundation, told me, ‘The data must be exchanged from the requirements tools to the development tools, to the testing tools. You need to prove that yes, all requirements have test cases. You can only do this properly, in an automated way, if you have appropriate connections between the tools for different artifacts.’”

Hansen told the IESF audience that ISO 26262 is already being taken seriously by carmakers worldwide. “Not only is ISO 26262 stimulating interest in software tools integration around Eclipse, it is also pushing the adoption of standard procedures to implement the interconnection of tools, such as those defined by the Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration. OSLC is a community of software developers and organizations working to standardize the way software lifecycle tools can share data with one another.”

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12 June, 2012

The big news at Telematics Update Detroit, if it were being held this week, might have been Apple’s aside that nine automakers plan to implement Siri in their vehicles within a year. Instead, since the conference was last week, the big news was Verizon’s acquisition of Hughes Telematics.

Little has been said publicly about Apple’s Siri and “eyes free” telematics but we should hear more relatively soon from Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Honda, General Motors, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, or Toyota, if not all of them, as well as from Apple. It makes sense, since we hear so much about consumers wanting to use their personal electronic devices in their cars.

Little was also said about Verizon’s agreement to acquire Hughes, the developer of Mercedes’ mbrace telematics system, for approximately $612 million. The firms said the deal will expand Verizon’s capabilities in automotive and fleet telematics, but also in healthcare, home automation, and other markets with potential for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.

Verizon said Hughes will play a key role in Verizon’s plan to offer platform-based solutions tailored to specific industries.  Verizon recently launched a new practice focused on developing telematics solutions that leverage the company’s cloud and information technology, security, global IP network and communications, and mobility and M2M technology platforms.

Most automakers offer a telematics platform or have one in development, but plenty of opportunities remain for the dozens of vendors exhibiting at or attending Telematics Update. Applications and systems will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future.


Conference sponsors announced telematics industry award winners on the eve of the event’s opening. OnStar’s FMV was chosen as the best aftermarket device or solution, Airbiquity took the award for best automotive application, and the best navigation solution or product award went to Telenav Inc.

Tunein Radio was honored as the best telematics content aggregator, Mobileye and OnStar shared the best telematics safety & security award, and Networkfleet was selected as the best telematics service or solution for commercial vehicles.

Hughes Telematics was selected as the best telematics service provider, Audi of America won the global OEM infotainment solution award, and UIEvolution was named the industry newcomer for 2011-2012.

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