Beware, says Los Angeles personal injury attorney Michael Ehline. Google has announced the Open Automotive Alliance, which is a group of automotive and technology companies. These groups include General Motors, Audi, Honda, Hyundai, and Nvida (NVDA) chipmaker. They have come together and want to customize Google’s mobile operating system for vehicles. This will mean that automakers will have the opportunity to modernize vehicles, while technology companies will have their software in millions of motor vehicles. In the past few weeks, we have already seen politicians and cops chomping at the bit to tax and fine drivers who wear Google Glass. Looks like it is only going to get worse, says attorney Ehline.
Although this seems like a win-win situation for everyone, could it actually benefit driver safety, or will it add to collisions caused by distracted drivers? These type of motor vehicle crashes often result in vehicle occupants being seriously hurt. The announcement was made prior to the opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas. At the show Audi, GM and Volkswagen were promoting the growth of car related exhibits.
In the past carmakers have not taken advantage of the latest technology and remained with using proven technology that was stable for safety and reliability concerns. This traditional outlook by automakers has come under pressure with the rapid advances of smartphones and tablets. The free mapping services that are free with smartphones compelled automakers to find an alternative, which was the expensive built-in navigation systems that come with some models. The other thing that was done is to add DVD backseat screens, but now parents can give children preloaded tablets or phones that have movies, games and apps. Many states have established laws to ensure that driver’s can be penalized if they have these types of screens in their view, since it results in distracted driving that lead to collisions.
Ford is one of the automakers, who have begun taking advantage of the latest technology when they collaborated with Microsoft on the MyFordTouch, which ties cars to mobile devices and allows voice commands. There are other carmakers who are using ONX software for BlackBerry, other software or variants of the Linux operating system to compete with rivals. This is both time consuming and expensive for automakers, since it requires software companies to write different applications for each of the carmakers.
This resulted in GM, BMW, Intel and others attempting a partnership named Genivi Alliance in 2009 in collaboration involving the Linux operating system and supporting software. The android variant of Linux has an advantage over other types of software, since it is dominant in the mobile device industry. BMW, Audi, Kia and Toyota already are using Google technology for maps, search and other functions. But as a daily driver in LA, Ehline sees any types of distraction as a potential chain collision. “Under ordinary negligence principles, paying attention to devices and phones instead of watching the road is a violation of your duty to act with ordinary care”, says Ehline.
The car makers seem to be less concerned about it however. Tesla Motors is one of the cutting edge automakers who has made the idea of a computer in vehicles a reality with their all electric Model S sedan that is loaded with a 17 inch touch screen that is able to access things like Google Maps and streaming radio with a few touches of the screen with a split screen is possible. There are other companies that are new in Silicon Valley, such as CloudCar that are attempting to combine technology with automobiles. This is a company that has developed a small computing device that is able to be plugged into a car to provide a modern infotainment system. Then with the use of this an upgrade by automakers as a small unit could provide new features in their autos like control software to have a customized speedometer.
The Downside of Auto Technology
The downside that new technology can be distracted driving, whether it is the use of a cell phone system or a split 17 inch screen that gives drivers other things to do while behind the wheel than to pay attention to the road. The rate of distracted driving accidents have been on the rise and the more accessories vehicles have the easier it will be for any driver to become distracted and even though these technology advances may seem impressive or helpful, at the same time they can be responsible for collisions with serious injury.
The only thing that advanced technology will do, is stop drivers from using handheld cell phones, which has lead to many collisions, but it gives the driver not only the option of talking on a cell phone, but in some cases it will give them a screen to look at instead of looking at the roadway. So, the debate will continue with the advancement of technology in vehicles, will it be an advantage or will it cause the rate of distracted driving accidents in crowded cities like Los Angeles, to increase rapidly?
LA Auto Show 2013: Are ‘smart’ cars driving us to distraction? http://www.scpr.org/blogs/economy/2013/11/22/15254/la-auto-show-2013-are-smart-cars-driving-us-to-dis/
Google Teams Up With Car Makers: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-01-06/google-teams-with-gm-honda-and-audi-to-bring-android-to-cars
Are smarter cars driving us to distraction?: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131210-cars-driving-us-to-distraction