The NHTSA goes big on V2V communication as Octo Telematics sells for $405 million. Andrew Tolve reports.
In this week’s Brief: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Renova, Octo Telematics, Volvo, Mediamobile, European Commission, European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services, Bosch, Samsung, Tata, Hyundai and Renault.
The push-backs are over, and the answer is finally in: vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication will become mandatory in consumer vehicles in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that its two-year pilot of V2V technology in Ann Arbor, Michigan, proved that the transmission of basic safety data between cars, such as speed and position, improves the safety of all vehicles on the road.
The NHTSA emphasized several points in its announcement that will interest automakers.
First, the organization abstained from publishing a timetable for V2V integration in hopes that automakers will take the lead on their own, thus avoiding embarrassing delays à la eCall in Europe. Second, the NHTSA’s mandate relates only to V2V technologies that can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash scenarios. It does not relate to safety applications that automatically operate vehicle functions, like automatic braking. The NHTSA says it is putting off any decisions about active safety technologies that rely on on-board sensors for the time being.
"Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we've already seen with safety belts and airbags," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry."
In other news, Russian business group Renova made an Olympic-sized gambit with the $405 million acquisition of Octo Telematics, ending a year-long sale push by the Italian usage-based insurance giant. Renova suggested that little will change with Octo’s global insurance telematics platform — current management will stay in place, and Octo will maintain its relationships with eight out of the world’s largest car insurers as clients. Octo will make a major push in Russia, however, where Renova believes the company is uniquely situated to penetrate the market and work in synergy with the Russian satellite navigation system GLONASS.
Elsewhere, Volvo was busy on the traffic services front as it penned a deal with Mediamobile that will see the integration of the V-Traffic information system into Volvo cars as a factory-installed lifetime service. V-Traffic offers drivers high-quality, local traffic information for no charge, even when crossing national boundaries. Volvo says it will roll out the package this year in 13 European countries.
European law enforcement may be in for a telematics upgrade as the European Commission rolled out a new research project called the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS). The €600,000 project will examine a bevy of advanced technologies — from automatic license plate recognition and vehicle stopping technologies to open source intelligence — that will make it easier for law enforcement to track and remotely stop criminals. The goal is a new standard for law enforcement cars entering the European market by 2020.
Finally, it was an important week for the auto industry in India as the Delhi Auto Show got underway amidst market turmoil. The Indian economy has slowed, and auto sales have slumped for the first time in a decade, a combination of factors that appears to have led to the suicide of the managing director of Tata, the country’s largest automaker, in late January. Local media reported that the usual pomp and bright lights of the auto show seemed muted this year, but, nonetheless, three interesting announcements came to light on the telematics front.
First, Bosch unveiled a new Research and Technology Center in Bangalore, which will focus on all things connected car, from the Internet of Things and services to automotive computer vision and smart-networking of devices like smartphones and tablets. The research center will also look at autonomous driving and automated safety and assistance functions. Bosch will invest €14 million in 2014.
Second, Samsung announced an infotainment deal with Tata. Starting next year, the South Korea-based electronics giant will supply Tata with its Drive Link app, which will run through Tata’s MirrorLink system and enable features like navigation, Bluetooth, Internet connectivity and radio, all through a driver’s smartphone or tablet. Samsung also announced a deal with Hyundai in South Korea, where Samsung will provide automotive chip solutions that focus on navigation and entertainment systems.
Last, Renault showcased a concept car that features a personal “Flying Companion.” What is a personal flying companion, you ask? Why of course, a drone that flies above your car and provides you with useful information about upcoming traffic and potential dangerous obstacles. Sounds far-fetched? The KWID concept car begs to differ. Here’s a video for how it would work.
The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.
Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.
For all the latest telematics trends, check out Telematics for Fleet Management Europe 2014 on March 12-13 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Content and Apps for Automotive Europe 2014 on April 8-9 in Munich, Germany, Insurance Telematics Europe 2014 on May 6-7 in London, Telematics India and South Asia 2014 on May 28-29 in Bangalore, India, Insurance Telematics Canada 2014 on May 28-29 in Toronto, Telematics Detroit 2014 on June 4-5 in Novi, Michigan, and Advanced Automotive Safety USA 2014 on July 8-9 in Novi, Michigan.
For exclusive telematics business analysis and insight, check out TU’s reports: Telematics Connectivity Strategies Report 2013, The Automotive HMI Report 2013, Insurance Telematics Report 2013 and Fleet & Asset Management Report 2012.
March 2014, The Mövenpick Hotel, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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