Panasonic Automotive to build Android Automotive In-Vehicle Infotainment System into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
Feature Image: Uconnect Access on FCA Vehicles
While most of us are intimately familiar with Google’s Android on smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and televisions, few are aware of what Google has been doing for the automotive market.
To illustrate this point, ask yourself the following question: What is the difference between Android Auto and Android Automotive? Android Auto is a system that allows you to connect your phone to your car dashboard display to use certain useful applications, such as Maps, Music, or voice access. On the other hand, Android Automotive is an actual Android-based operating system designed for vehicles. Android Automotive is much more tightly integrated with the features of your car – depending on the set-up, it can even control various sensors and switches in the vehicle.
I can’t fault you for now knowing the difference – Google does not really advertise these two (and especially not the latter) as these two derivatives of Android are not really meant to be sold to the end user. Rather, Google has been making behind-the-scenes deals with automobile manufacturers to incorporate Android Auto – and now Android Automotive – into their latest vehicles. But we don’t really hear much about these deals throughout the year – that is, until we arrive at big trade shows where companies love to announce new partnerships.
Hence at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Panasonic Automotive has announced a partnership with Qualcomm and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. (FCA US) to build in-vehicle infotainment systems based on Android Automotive.
Fiat Chrysler Vehicles Meet Android Automotive
The string of partnerships involved in this announcement is complex as each company involved has released press details of their own to show off their work, so let’s break it down some. First of all, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. is responsible for shipping FCA made cars within the U.S. They have partnered with Panasonic Automotive who will be the supplier of FCA vehicles’ in-vehicle infotainment systems. Panasonic Automotive is creating their infotainment system based on Google’s Android Automotive operating system, and the infotainment system is powered by a Qualcomm processor designed for vehicles.
Two days ago, FCA revealed that they would be showcasing a seamless integration of Android into their 8.4″ Uconnect infotainment system in a partnership with Google. The integration would be demonstrated on a Chrysler 300 sedan, and FCA states that the system was running on Android 7.0 Nougat. In essence, this is full Android Automotive – not Android Auto. This system integrates deeply (and presumably securely) with the vehicle, while still providing auto makers access to Google’s wide selection of applications in the Android ecosystem.
Further details of this infotainment system were later revealed today when Panasonic Automotive revealed that they are the supplier partner for FCA’s Uconnect 8.4″ infotainment system. Panasonic Automotive is building infotainment systems that are customized to each auto manufacturer’s preference. They revealed that companies seeking a rich entertainment experience for their end users can initially design infotainment solutions using Qualcomm’s Automotive Development Platforms, and later seed production development and manufacturing to Panasonic Automotive.
Panasonic Automotive is utilizing chips provided by Qualcomm Technologies, as announced in a separate press release. In particular, the infotainment system will be powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820Am processor based on its custom Kryo CPUs. The SoC features an X12 LTE modem, integrated location services, a Hexagon 680 DSP, and an Adreno 530 GPU. Furthermore, Qualcomm has also worked to better incorporate Android 7.0 Nougat features into a vehicle-based UI. These infotainment system will feature an adaptive UI design that can accommodate different applications, screen sizes, and resolutions.
Interestingly, Panasonic Automotive has also announced that they partnered with IBM to feature natural language voice interaction services with their in-vehicle infotainment system. IBM is providing the technology behind Watson to incorporate an eCommerce transaction system, allowing users to perform actions such as placing a restaurant order while on the road.
Android Automotive has flown under the radar this past year, but behind the scenes Google has made major strides in promoting the fledgling derivative operating system. We’re excited to see how far Google’s Android can penetrate the car market, and if they can continue striking deals such as this one, they are bound to succeed.
Source: FCA North America Source: Panasonic Automotive Source: Qualcomm