New Connected Car Guidelines

2/20/2012


Cars are becoming more connected every day, but at the same time the government is trying to ensure these new technologies are safe for drivers to use. Can both sides come together in agreement? Only time will tell, but for now new guidelines aim to influence how technology is integrated into a vehicle.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Admin., www.nhtsa.gov, recently announced new proposed guidelines for limiting in-vehicle distraction due to technology installed in the car. Right now, the guidelines are for factory-installed systems, though the administration said it may still issue future guidelines relating to aftermarket products.

The guidelines are voluntary, and they apply to devices in the vehicle that require visual or manual operation by the driver. So hands-free, voice-activated systems are not being targeted right now, but the administration said these could also be considered in the future.


The guidelines include recommendations such as limiting device operation to one hand only, so the driver’s other hand can remain on the wheel. They also advise manufacturers to limit individual off-road glances for device operation to no more than two seconds.

The guidelines also recommend that a number of visual or manual functions be disabled while driving, unless the devices are intended for use by passengers, or the vehicle is parked. These functions include texting, Internet browsing, and entering addresses into a navigation system.

For their part, automakers are also concerned with limiting distracted driving, while also integrating technology features consumers crave. Ford, www.ford.com, recently announced a demonstration of its OpenXC research platform in India.

OpenXC is an open-source hardware and software platform developed by Ford Research and Innovation and Bug Labs, www.buglabs.com. It’s designed to allow for open-source application development, essentially making the car available for app creation in the same way as smartphones.

Ford says India is a good research market for the platform because the company can tap into local trends. Additionally, the OpenXC beta toolkits have recently started shipping to universities such as the University of Michigan, MIT, and Stanford, according to Ford.

Undoubtedly the need to design technology with an eye to how it will work to keep drivers from becoming distracted will be on developers’ minds.

Connected cars are the future, and Connected World magazine’s Connected Car of the Year awards aim to help readers understand these vehicles. The awards will showcase the best connected cars in four categories: small, mid-size, luxury, and ultra-luxury, and they can be found in the March/April issue of Connected World.





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