Honda adopts Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, for 2016 Accord

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Honda Debuts 2016 Accord, Shows Off Sensor Research.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Honda is joining other big automakers such as Ford and BMW in shoring up its research and development beachhead in Silicon Valley.

In a hotly contested market where any difference counts towards the competitive edge, Honda is trying to eek out a lead by throwing more tech and better styling at the Honda Accord. Although an unusual place to introduce Honda’s 2016 version of the mild-mannered family sedan, California’s best-selling car last year, the announcement symbolized the region’s growing importance for auto industry innovation.

Not a new car line, we should clarify—just the 2016 Accord that Honda executives describe as “the most hi-tech Accord in history.” Appropriate, given the Silicon Valley tie-in. Honda Xcelerator will provide funding and know-how to developers working on auto-related tech. “Silicon Valley is the hub, it’s the bleeding edge, and we want to be working in a fully collaborative mode with entrepreneurs and other companies with visions that share our own,” says Frank Paluch, president of Honda R&D Americas. Earlier this month, new Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo, signaled that he was putting advances in technology ahead of aggressive sales targets, the Journal reported. Although Honda has staffed engineers in the area since 2000, the new facility will allow the team to grow as automotive manufacturers increasingly pack their wares with technology.

The Tokyo-based company led Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan Motor Co. in U.S. sales for the first half by less than 0.2 percentage point of market share, 753,001 to 736,483, according to researcher Autodata Corp. “The real value is reducing collisions and fatalities,” he told reporters. “We hope to cut in half the number of collisions involving our vehicles by 2030 and to completely eliminate collisions by 2050.” Honda couldn’t resist waiting for an Auto show to announce that although Toyota refuses to add in Apple Car Play, Honda will (point for Honda.) Same thing goes for Android Auto. The new Accord will be Honda’s first vehicle, and one of the first in the industry, to offer both Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto through partnerships with the two nearby tech giants. Today’s rededication of sorts—in an expanded R&D facility—symbolizes Honda’s renewed interest toward integrating some of the best aspects of today’s technological landscape into its increasingly sensor-friendly (and sophisticated) vehicles. “Much of the fundamental technological progress we all hope to achieve requires both a strong cooperative and competitive spirit. Mr Hachigo had said that Honda will develop technologies on its own as much as possible but is open to considering cooperation with other auto makers if there are benefits.

Apple fans can now use Phone, Messages, Maps and Music as well as other apps right off the 7-inch touch screen display and Android users can enjoy all the most popular Google apps as well. Eventually, both systems will roll out to the entire Honda line-up, allowing seamless iPhone and Android smartphone integration with an in-dash infotainment system.

It’s not just Palo Alto electric car pioneer Tesla and the engineers designing Google’s robot cars who are turning Silicon Valley into an innovation hub for automotive technology. Honda didn’t unveil any pricing or timelines for the new 2016 Accord, but it will be the very first Honda vehicle to support both Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. To do that, Honda has launched a new open innovation program called Xcelerator which will offer funding, engineering support and resources to entrepreneurs to help them develop prototypes.

Other features that are new to Accord – which continues its longtime duel with Toyota Camry for best-selling sedan honors, racking up sales of 380,000 in 2014 – include aggressive 19-inch wheels and a sleek new front fascia. While Google is singularly focused on building fully autonomous vehicles, other companies are working on self-driving technology that could help human drivers rather than fully taking over. That includes the full suite of Honda Sensing capabilities, like Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a Collision Mitigation Braking System—to name a few features.

Such tech is part of a growing suite of driver-assist technology from a range of automakers that are a bridge between current vehicles and fully autonomous cars. A few weeks ago American Honda Finance agreed to pay a $25 million fine after federal officials charged the lending institution with charging minorities higher rates for auto loans.

Other big companies with a local engineering presence are Hyundai, BMV, Volkswagen, Toyota and General Motors, along with parts suppliers such as Delphi Automotive, which is one of several companies permitted to test self-driving cars on California streets. By performing various gestures overtop a Leap Motion sensor, a driver could select a device—like a side mirror—and change its position by moving a hand around in mid-air. Apple is also taking an interest in automotive technology, unleashing image-mapping vehicles across U.S. and European cities this summer and reportedly plucking top engineering executives from Mercedes-Benz and Fiat Chrysler. “Honda recognizes we’re not alone in this space.

Pointing to a nearby fan and twirling a finger also let a driver or passenger adjust its speed. (Insert your own Minority Report joke here.) Honda also ran live demonstrations of its work on pedestrian-sensing technologies. The issue of driver safety and connected cars was cast in a stark light this week when a Wired magazine article detailed how two security experts were able to successfully take control of the magazine’s vehicle by hacking into its infotainment system. He said the increasing attention is a “tremendous opportunity” for competition and collaboration that improves safety and driver experiences with new technology, “be it from Honda, Ford, Tesla or Apple, or some young inventor no one’s ever heard of.” Some 60% of cars are expected to have connected features by 2016. “We’re all going to share information, because while we remain in competition (for consumers) the key to security issues is collaboration,” says Schostek.

In the parking lot of the new Honda’s R&D center, which isn’t far from autonomous-car pioneers Google, were a series of demos showcasing more auto-related tech. Another demo showcased prototype technology designed by Honda and Qualcomm that alerts car drivers and distracted pedestrians simultaneously of each other’s whereabouts.

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