Autonomous Vehicles: The Data Problem

Recent developments in the area of Artificial Intelligence (AI), specifically the advancement of deep learning and increased computing power, have made autonomous driving feasible for the first time. This blog describes the transition from code-centric algorithms into data-centric algorithms that are necessary for deep learning. Though the results achieved by these new methods are significant, they require large amounts of training data and raise problems around the storing and transmission of data from the autonomous vehicles.

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The Evolution of In-Car Navigation: From Dashboard to Smartphone, and Back Again

As long as cars have existed, drivers have needed help getting from place to place (even if some folks are sometimes too proud to admit it). From bulky street maps that never seemed to fold back in the way they folded out, to thick Thomas Guide books that left many a passenger frantically flipping pages and plotting coordinates, navigation has always been a crucial part of the automotive experience.

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Frank Gonzalez
Writing Secure Automotive C++ Software Using MISRA Guidelines

With the rapid increase in software components and lines of code that go into modern automotive systems, there is a corresponding rise in the risk of introducing critical bugs. Competitive pressure and the drive to get new features to market faster also leave less time to test and improve software.  As vehicles become more and more connected, these circumstances combine to leave automotive systems more vulnerable to hacking than ever before.   

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Frank Gonzalez
Is Car Ownership Headed Toward the Junkyard?

People love to own cars. We give them names, write songs about them, and parade them slowly and lovingly through the center of town. We devote endless hours to polishing, tinkering, repairing and detailing them. Over time, cars can transition from mere possessions into treasured keepsakes that tell the stories of our lives and families, housing memories, milestones and experiences that mark the passage of time as well as miles.

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Frank Gonzalez
Embedded Modem or Smartphone: What is the Best Way to Bring the Internet to the Car?

More and more automakers are putting modems in their vehicles to essentially turn the car into a smartphone on wheels. An embedded modem is “always on” even when the car is not, opening the door to features like remote vehicle start, locking/unlocking, remote car diagnosis and vehicle tracking. The car owner can then easily manage these functions through a smartphone companion app provided by the automaker.

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Frank Gonzalez
2018 Brings Important Updates to Amazon Alexa APIs for In-Vehicle Use

Our two-part blog post published at the end of 2017 explored the Amazon Alexa APIs and their applicability for in-vehicle use. At CES 2018, Amazon announced Alexa extensions specifically for vehicles. This blog provides an overview of the newly announced features, based on information provided at the Alexa CES conference and through subsequent public statements.

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Frank Gonzalez
Automotive Technology Slides into the Driver’s Seat at CES 2018

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas has become one of the biggest and most influential trade shows in the world. Companies of all sizes from across the technology spectrum make their way to the Nevada desert every year to show off their latest innovations, network with potential partners, generate brand buzz and maybe drop a dollar or two in the casino after dinner.

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Frank Gonzalez
Understanding the Amazon Alexa APIs for In-Vehicle Use: Part II

This two-part blog post explores the Amazon Alexa APIs and their applicability for in-vehicle use.

Part I of the series provided an overview of Alexa and its current uses in an automotive context. Part II describes specific Alexa functions and how they can be used in automotive systems, and then provides a possible implementation architecture with a focus on using Alexa in the vehicle.

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Frank Gonzalez
Understanding the Amazon Alexa APIs for In-Vehicle Use: Part I

This two-part blog post will explore Amazon Alexa APIs and their applicability for in-vehicle use.

Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa is currently the dominant voice recognition technology for in-home devices. Thanks to an open development ecosystem, users can choose from Amazon’s own devices (such as Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, etc.) as well as various third-party products including smart speakers, smart TVs, in-vehicle assistants, etc. Through its Skills APIs, Amazon has opened a powerful ecosystem for many third-party devices and services, dramatically extending Alexa’s capabilities.

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Frank Gonzalez
Smartphone Gateway Connectivity via USB

An earlier post about over the air updates via the smartphone discussed the need for in-vehicle systems to open a secure connection to the cloud, via the smartphone, to verify the integrity and authenticity of software updates. This post examines how to achieve the same result with a USB connection, describes the standard USB connectivity options between smartphone and in-vehicle head-units, and discusses the difficulties of obtaining internet connectivity out of the box with those approaches.

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Frank Gonzalez
The Role of Smart Devices in the Modern Automotive Experience

Like virtually every other industry in the world, the automotive sector has been profoundly affected by the explosion of smart devices. Today, smartphones let millions of people enjoy the convenience of ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft or car-sharing services like Zipcar or car2go. Smartphones can also extend the capabilities of the car itself with over-the-air updates, customization, internet connectivity and more.

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Frank Gonzalez
The Path to the Future of Connected Cars: Over the Air and Through the Phone

Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones, connected consumer electronics devices and cloud-based software, consumers have come to expect automatic, seamless over-the-air (OTA) updates that don’t disrupt their device usage. As today’s cars become more and more technologically advanced, rolling off the line with up to 100 computers and millions of lines of code, it is now possible to update vehicles the same way we update our phones. For car makers, the ability to push out OTA updates to their customers decreases maintenance, saves money by reducing recalls and increases customer satisfaction. Despite these advantages, most cars on the road today don’t yet have this capability, and drivers who want to update their automotive software have to either bring their vehicle into the dealership or download software to a thumb drive. The high-end models (led by Tesla) that do come with OTA capabilities use built-in modems, adding hardware and on-going cellular data expense to the vehicle. While it may seem that the majority of drivers on the road will miss out on seamless OTA updates in the short-term unless they upgrade to the latest and greatest luxury sedan, there is in fact a simple and elegant solution that doesn’t require a built-in device, a solution that every driver already carries around in their hand everyday: the ubiquitous and versatile smartphone.

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Frank Gonzalez
Is Software Finally "Eating" the Car?

In 2011, Silicon Valley luminary Marc Andreesen famously wrote that “software is eating the world,” a sentiment one would have been hard-pressed to argue against even six years ago. We may say “cloud computing” instead of simply “software” these days, but there is no denying the effects of technological transformation, as once-strong brick and mortar mainstays like Blockbuster, Borders, and the neighborhood record store have fallen like so many bowling pins to the onslaught of digital bulwarks Amazon, Netflix, Apple et al.

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Frank Gonzalez
Radio Revolution

For over 50 years, the radio experience in cars has remained virtually unchanged. The simple thrill of turning a dial to a set frequency and magically receiving audio through the cabin speakers was thoroughly satisfying for generations of drivers. But this is a new era, and smartphones and internet radio have transformed listener expectations. It should come as no surprise that the once static in-car radio experience is being transformed by new apps that provide a richer UI with album art, metadata, and the ability to filter and search for specific stations or genres.

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Frank Gonzalez
Driverless Cars: When Will the Rubber Really Hit the Road?

In a relatively short period, driverless cars have gone from science fiction to everyday fact. Companies like Waymo have already logged millions of miles successfully testing autonomous vehicles on the road, while Tesla, Uber, Apple and major car manufacturers are all vying to become the first to bring self-driving vehicles to market. In fact, conventional wisdom now seems to be that it’s no longer a question of “if” but rather “when” autonomous vehicles will become a permanent part of the mainstream transportation experience.

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Frank Gonzalez
Electric Vehicle Range Estimation using Maps

As any electric car owner knows, it is important for every electric vehicle (EV) to properly and accurately display remaining driving range based on the current battery charge. The number of EV charge stations is growing, but until they are as ubiquitous as gas stations, drivers will experience “range anxiety” and EV dynamic range estimation will remain important.

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Frank Gonzalez
Vehicle Data and the Connected Driver

Initially connecting the phone to the car has been about displaying content from phone into vehicle. With Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android focused on extending mobile content to the car, they are missing the real value of connecting the car and smartphone: Driver Centric Data.

With the growth of vehicle centric APIs providing greater access to the vehicle data, the number of possible solutions expands to include vehicle health, diagnostics, roadside assistance, automatic crash notification, etc. combining the best of both vehicle and the smartphone services. By combining both open vehicle APIs with the personalization of the smartphone, connected drivers can enjoy a personalized experience with remote climate control, smart radio and dynamic media.

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Frank Gonzalez