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Automobiles and Fleets That Talk

Your vehicle is speaking to you. Do you hear it? Today’s connected rides have advanced features that can communicate everything from changes in driver behavior to external conditions on the road such as traffic, helping motorists safely reach their destination. Case in point: Realtime traffic alerts. Using satellite traffic information, vehicles can communicate changes in traffic incidents, determine average traffic speed, and estimate travel time along a route—all while on the road. One example of a car manufacturer providing this connected capability is Acura, www.acura.com. The company’s AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic alerts drivers to scheduled road construction and closures, plus unscheduled incidents like collisions and disabled vehicles. The next generation of AcuraLink will debut in early 2013 on the 2014 Acura RLX luxury sedan. The new service includes surface-street traffic to go along with freeway and highway-traffic information, giving drivers a clear picture of road conditions. Aeris Communications,www.aeris.com, partnered with Acura, supplying the cellular connectivity including messaging, data streaming, and on-demand voice connectivity. Aeris also provided assistance for the development and testing of the new AcuraLink solutions. Going beyond traffic and road conditions, vehicles can also tell drivers a little bit about driving style and performance—and even provide coaching on the road. Targeted at businesses, workers can receive audible instructions if braking or accelerating too harshly. Why does this make a difference? This instant information allows a driver to have an overview of driving style and how it contributes to the amount of fuel consumed. Masternaut, www.masternaut.com, a provider of telematics products and services in the U.K. and Europe, is launching a new feature for its in-vehicle mobile communication centre, which provides drivers with feedback on performance and driving style combined with real-time audible coaching. The system combines vehicle tracking, GPS satellite navigation, realtime job scheduling, and messaging in a single unit. When a driver makes a small improvement to driving style, the payback for a business can be significant. Early deployments of the technology from Masternaut show a 20% reduction in fuel when combined with the company’s driver-education programs. If you think your car or fleet of vehicles is connected now, just wait. The next generation of vehicles will have even more capabilities for safety and security, infotainment, and convenience. In the Feb/March edition of Connected World magazine, you can learn more about the top connected cars on the market when the second annual Connected Car of the Year award winners will be announced.