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September 26, 2016updated 25 Oct 2016 1:41pm

Connected cars – how the tech and auto industry integration is accelerating

From Google Cars to Apple and McLaren to Daimler Benz and in-car voice activated Microsoft office to specially designed safety chips – the journey is only starting

By Ellie Burns

The ever tightening integration of the car industry and the digital tech industry appears to be accelerating if the number of deals, technology announcements and rumours is anything to go by.

Cars and digital technology are suddenly everywhere. In the period of just a couple of days.

Apple to buy a British supercar maker reported the FT.

This was denied by McLaren, the UK sports car manufacturer and owner of McLaren F1 racing team. But it didn’t stop the spread of comment about why this would be logical.

In another breaking news story, the electric car maker Tesla is reportedly being sued for being low on horsepower.

A group of Norwegians is has filed a lawsuit claiming that Tesla’s Model S P85D only reached horsepower of 469 and not 700 as had been marketed as an ‘insane’ mode. Tesla rejected the claims. The case is due to begin in Oslo in December. In China Tesla is facing a lawsuit which centres around its autopilot function following a fatal crash.

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Over in Germany, Daimler Benz said it would extend its deal with T-Systems, the business arm of Deutsche Telekom which included its connected car platform. T-Systems connects over two million Daimler vehicles across the globe via Daimler’s proprietary connected car platform, and it will continue to operate the existing “Mercedes me connect” services for the next generation of vehicles as well. The services include live traffic information, safety functions such as emergency call, convenience services such as remote control, and infotainment apps like Internet radio and hotel/parking search functions.

Microsoft this week said in a blog that it was working with Daimler and other auto makers to bring voice activated Office365 to the car.

Microsoft

MS365 will soon be available in Mercedes Benz cars

It said: “Many of us love our cars, but we don’t necessarily love spending time in them during the work week if it means inching forward on the freeway or being stuck in stop-and-go traffic. When we’re behind the wheel during those long commutes, we often end up behind the curve by the time we get to work.”

“To help make time in the car more productive, Microsoft is working with auto companies to bring to the car the same Office 365 communication and collaboration services you’ve come to rely on at work. Office 365 in the car includes Microsoft Exchange support, which integrates your work calendar, to-do list and contacts, with all of them using your car’s voice and navigation systems.”

Daimler AG recently announced it will start using what it calls, “In Car Office” in some of its Mercedes models beginning in mid-2017.

“Microsoft is working with auto companies to make time spent in vehicles more efficient and connected to people’s daily lives,” said Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president of Business Development at Microsoft. “This collaboration with Daimler represents a new emphasis on consumer productivity within the car as we look forward to autonomous driving in the future.”

The system, “knows about your next phone conferences and dials you in automatically while you’re in the car,” said Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, speaking at IFA 2016 in Berlin earlier this month.

The service can also tap into your calendar data and auto-populate your car’s navigation unit with driving directions for an upcoming meeting. In the future, when autonomous vehicles become a reality, the service will become a platform for more extensive tasks like Skype video chats.

Here the in the UK and deep down at the technology level ARM Holdings, announced a ‘safety’ chip for autonomous vehicles.

ARM has a specially designed chip for autonomous vehicles

ARM has a specially designed chip for autonomous vehicles

ARM has launched a new real-time processor with advanced safety features for autonomous vehicles and medical and industrial robots. The ARM Cortex-R52 was designed to address functional safety in systems that must comply with ISO 26262 ASIL D and IEC 61508 SIL 3, the most stringent safety standards in the automotive and industrial markets

STMicroelectronics is the first ARM partner to announce it has licensed the high performance processor to enable it to create highly integrated SoCs for the automotive market.

The Cortex-R52 is the first processor built on the ARMv8-R architecture and it was designed from the ground up to address functional safety,” said James McNiven, general manager for CPU and media processing groups, ARM. “We are helping partners to meet particular market opportunities, especially in fully autonomous vehicles and robotics systems where specific functionality is required for safety-critical tasks. By documenting the strict development process, fault modelling and supporting software isolation, ARM is enabling a faster route to market for partners addressing these applications

The Cortex-R52 offers hardware-enforced separation of software tasks to ensure safety-critical code is fully isolated. This allows the hardware to be managed by a software hypervisor policing the execution and resourcing of tasks. By enabling the precise and robust separation of software, the Cortex-R52 decreases the amount of code that must be safety-certified, so speeding up development as software integration, maintenance and validation is easier. The processor also deals with increased software complexity while delivering the determinism and fast context switching that real-time systems demand

The Cortex-R52 supports our Smart Driving vision by enabling a new range of high-performance, power-efficient SoCs for any in-vehicle application demanding real-time operation and the highest levels of functional safety, including powertrain, chassis and ADAS,” said Fabio Marchiò, Automotive & Discrete Group Vice President and GM at the Automotive Digital Division, STM Microelectronics. The ability to compartmentalise software provides our users with the best solution for safety without loss of determinism. Its virtualisation support simplifies the consolidation of applications and functions into a single processor, delivering a shorter integration time. DENSO, a leading global supplier of advanced automotive technology, systems and components is supporting the launch.

ARM was sold to Japan’s Softbank back in July. Read Why did Softbank buy ARM

So it appears that whatever else you will be doing in your car in the future, you won’t be driving it!

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