Google announced today the formation of the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) coalition which General Motors, Audi, Hyundai, and Honda are part of. In addition Nvidia, a graphics card manufacturer for computers, is also joining forces with Google and the OAA. What is the goal? To bring Google's mobile Android operating system to vehicles.
To date there have been over 1 billion mobile devices activated on Android. While those numbers are impressive Google is hoping to extend the Android devices even further and into cars, a mobile platform too, by forming the OAA and building up this industry alliance. Audi, GM, Google, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia are committed to bring the Android platform to cars starting this year, 2014.
The idea it to have a common and open source platform which makes it easy and intuitive for all automakers, parts suppliers, and 3rd parties to build technology and software for cars of the future. This open source model of Android, which utilizes the Linux kernel, should especially allow software developers to deliver powerful experiences for drivers and passengers in a safe, scalable, and secure way.
“Working toward a common ecosystems benefits driver safety above all.” said Ricky Hudi, Head of Electrics/Electronics Development at Audi.
“Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it everyday… The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road.” commented Sundar Pichai, SVP of Android, Chrome & Apps at Google. “
“The Honda team is looking forward to collaborating with Google and all OAA members to help advance the safety, value and ease of use of connected-car technologies.” said Yoshiharu Yamamoto, president, CEO and director of Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
“By introducing the latest IT technologies safely and securely throughout our full range of vehicles, we continually strive to provide the highest levels of convenience and enhance the in-vehicle experience.” said Dr. Woong-Chul Yang, Vice Chairman of R&D, Hyundai Motor Group.
“The car is the ultimate mobile computer. With onboard supercomputing chips, futuristic cars of our dreams will no longer be science fiction,” said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and chief executive officer, Nvidia.
It's pretty clear the companies behind Open Automotive Alliance share a vision for the connected car which has been talked about for years in the tech and automotive press. Up until now it really seemed more of a pipe dream than something that was doable since most automakers have their own infotainment systems and software which is proprietary and only for that automaker.
In addition to connected cars it seem the OAA has the goal to make safer cars too. The OAA has been in contact with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) but it is not clear what their collaboration could bring or how it will improve vehicle safety at this point.
We can expect to see Android integrated cars by the end of the year and Open Automotive Alliance is actively looking for other automakers and technology companies to join the coalition. I assume a lot of other automakers will.
My Take on the Open Automotive Alliance
Highly ambitious but highly doable with Google's resources and their weight in the market. Since the company has already been working on self-driving cars for years this seems a logical step in their goal for connected and safer cars. Probably much to the dismay of some gearheads but it seems like Google could pull off putting self-driving cars on the road quicker than anyone thought. That depends on how many automakers join the Open Automotive Alliance.
In addition this should make it easier for Audi, General Motors, Honda, and Hyundai to build and scale their infotainment systems. Each automaker can learn from each other about what works and doesn't with implementing Android into their vehicles. That is if they want to share and are willing to share what they know.
This allows software developers who already build for Android to consider getting into the vehicle market too, which could be quite profitable for some Android developers.
The only people who are fretting about this news is likely are Apple and Microsoft. They already have partnerships with automakers to integrate their software into vehicles. Some auto manufacturers might be able to resist the siren call of Google depending on how powerful the Open Automotive Alliance becomes. We will have to wait and see how the software wars for cars plays out.