Group prepares Android platform for cars

January 08, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Carmakers Audi of Germany, General Motors of the US, Honda of Japan and Hyundai of Korea have created an alliance dedicated to transplanting the Android ecosystem to cars. The group also includes graphics chip maker Nvidia and IT giant Google.

The Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), as the group calls itself, plans to extend the success of the Android ecosystem in the mobile devices markets to the automotive market - a logical step, since the car is regarded today by many users and engineers as "the largest mobile device available", as one insider put it. And since Android is already almost ubiquitous and the Android ecosystem spans more or less the entire universe of mobile electronics, it won't take a long time until the platform to be created by the OAA will be available at least for developers: Already in 2014 the roll-out will begin, the group announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The move aims at bridging the gap between the divergent design cycles of cars and consumer electronics - while new smartphones and the associated software hit the markets almost in a monthly rhythm, cars still take some five to seven years to develop and test before they can be sold to customers. Since electronics make up an increasing share of the vehicles, carmakers get under pressure - by the time they present a new vehicle generation to the markets and the customers, the electronic systems in that car are almost outdated.

The OAA now aims at accelerating the pace of automotive innovation. In addition, the group hopes to transplant the principle of openness that made consumer electronics so successful and dynamic to their world. The open development model associated with the Android ecosystem and the common platform to be created will allow carmakers to more easily bring leading-edge technology to their customers. At the same time, the new paradigm will offer new opportunities for developers by providing software and apps that enable a host of additional functionality in the vehicles.

"The worlds of consumers and automotive technologies never have been more closely aligned", said Audi's electronics development top manager, Rick Hudi, during the introduction