Toyota and Ford are both showcasing connected car technologies at CES in Las Vegas

Connected cars are becoming an increasingly important opportunity for mobile operators and auto manufacturers Toyota and Ford will be showcasing new technologies at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.

Toyota is set to demo its autonomous driving technologies at the show, through its high-end Lexus brand. Group vice president and general manager Mark Templin will discuss the North America-based programme as well as showcase the new 2013 Lexus LS model, which Toyota claims is equipped with the world’s most advanced pre-collision safety system.

The technology, which is designed to explore the use of autonomous technologies and high-level driver assistance systems, is part of Toyota’s Integrated Safety Management Concept. Templin will also discuss the current state of Toyota’s research and development in this field, which includes vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications technology.

Sheridan Nye, senior analyst in the enterprise verticals practice of Informa Telecoms & Media, said that while it is encouraging to see car manufacturers demonstrating autonomous driving technologies, it will be a long time before we see vehicles using such technologies on our roads, as the reasons to commercially launch them are not yet compelling enough.

“It is great to see such strides being made, but vehicle-to-infrastructure technology involves a lot of investment by both car OEMs and governments, so there needs to be a convincing business model,” she said. “The improvement in safety alone is not enough to generate a business model.”

She added that there may soon be scope however, to integrate certain elements of driverless technologies in hire cars or delivery and freight vehicles.

Meanwhile, US car maker Ford will showcase its in-car integration of the Android app Kaliki at the show. Kaliki curates the top news stories from major newspapers and magazines and provides an audio version for on-demand playback in the vehicle.

“With people’s lives getting busier and busier, there is unfortunately less time to sit down with your favorite newspaper or magazine and read, so Kaliki reads it to you,” said Bruce Hopkins, VP sales and business development for Kaliki.

He added that the service’s unique selling point is the fact the firm employs professionals to read every story.

“This makes the content pleasing to the ear, just like listening to your favourite news radio station or podcast,” he said.

Web giant Google became the first company in the world to obtain a licence for driverless cars, after the US state of Nevada passed a law in June 2011 to allow the operation of driverless cars in the state. And machine-to-machine (M2M) communication services are set to play a huge role in the role of transport according the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The institute anticipates that by the year 2040, driverless cars — operated using M2M technology will account for up to 75 per cent of cars on the road worldwide.

In December last year, Swedish car manufacturer Volvo announced it will use local infrastructure vendor Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Cloud solution in order to allow drivers, passengers and the car to connect to services available in the cloud.

“We clearly see that cars in the near future will integrate the same level of digital services that consumers today are used to having in their homes or at work,” said Lex Kerssemakers, senior VP for product strategy and vehicle line management at Volvo. “This is a strategically important part of Volvo’s investments for the future where we intend to take a leading position

And in August last year, Andrei Iordache, product management specialist at the European division of Korean car maker Kia, told Telecoms.com that input from the communications industry, and mobile carriers in particular, will be key in the development of connected cars.

“Partners are very important, as not just Kia but most of the OEMs are stepping into the less explored telematics territory. An OEM without the collaboration of major players from the communications industry cannot reinvent the wheel and build telematics from scratch,” he said.

For an in-depth look at the opportunities and progress made in the connected car space read our MCI feature: Driving lessons.

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