Google’s in-car platform hasn’t changed much since it was originally unveiled, but in the past year or so it has seen some big changes. Last year at I/O, we saw Android Automotive’s debut, a phone-less version of Android Auto for specific cars, and now, we’re getting more details on that, as well as a slight revamp for Android Auto itself.
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In-car infotainment systems have long been pretty bad. As touchscreens entered the game, things only got worse, especially in the way of applications. Google and Apple both have ways to fix that, but they don’t provide functionality that the car’s system has, such as climate controls.
With the option to build Android into manufacturers own systems, Google is making it easier for car makers to integrate options like Google Assistant and Android apps into vehicles, and at I/O 2017, we’ve gone hands on.
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Google may be planning to equip driverless cars with external airbags, protecting pedestrians
While Google’s driverless cars have notched-up over 700,000 miles without causing a single crash (one car was rear-ended and another crashed while being driven manually), it seems Google plans to cover all the bases. It has today been granted a patent on external cushioning to protect pedestrians in a collision.
External airbags are not a new invention–as Quartz notes, Volvo already has these on some vehicles. Google’s patent takes the idea a stage further, combining bumper-mounted airbags with foam bumpers behind them. The idea is to ensure that after the airbag has deployed, pedestrians aren’t then bounced off the car body.
A system for protecting a pedestrian during impact with a vehicle, the system having a bumper adapted for attachment to an end of the vehicle, wherein the bumper is comprised of a plurality of air sacs, wherein the bumper has a horizontal thickness extends from the end of the vehicle, wherein at least some of the plurality of air sacs stretch and then burst during impact between the bumper and a pedestrian causing deceleration along the horizontal width of the bumper during the impact, wherein the bumper undergoes plastic deformation during impact with the pedestrian as the at least some of the air sacs burst during impact, and wherein the bursting of some of the plurality of air sacs reduces spring back of the bumper on the pedestrian.
Given likely nervousness about the idea of driverless cars, Google may also be thinking about ways to reassure both the public and regulatory authorities.
Google isn’t the only tech giant exploring autonomous cars: Apple is believed to be working on its own version too.
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Back in January Google announced a new Open Automotive Alliance that would see the company work with automakers to bring Android-based entertainment systems to vehicles. We’ve seen hints of those partnerships start to trickle out and the latest comes from Mercedes. Following a job listing from Mercedes last week looking for a software engineer to work on a “Google Projected Mode” that would integrate content from Android devices into an in-car system, the company has once again mentioned using Android in a press release today.
While announcing that Apple’s just announced CarPlay feature for iOS would be demoed on a new Mercedes-Benz C-Class at the Geneva Motor Show, the company also said it would offer Android support as “as soon as Google brings its own in-car infotainment system to market.” expand full story