MUNICH A new telematics platform rolled out by Volkswagen and Infineon Technologies AG seeks to provide a scalable platform for in-car communications and other telematics features at the same price as a standard telephony platform.
The partners said at this week's International Automotive Electronics Congress that the new platform's low price could help speed acceptance of telematics by car makers by deploying the technology beyond high-end vehicles.
The new platform, dubbed "Basis-Telematik-Einheit" (basic telematics unit), will be promoted to device manufacturers, automotive OEMs and tier-one suppliers. The adoption of a standard telematics platform, especially in high-volume, mid-range car models, could significantly reduce the cost of the car networks, the companies said.
Since platform functionality varies by software configuration, different manufacturer could generate unique features under the proposed telematics scheme.
Basic functions would include a Bluetooth connection between the driver's cell phone and the platform. Hence, the integrated device could also make use of speech recognition for dialing, transmit car error messages to the manufacturer or a repair shop and provide location-based services using a built-in GPS module.
The platform is built around a 32-bit controller based on Infineon's Tricore familiy. It also includes a GSM mobile radio module, Infineon's SingleStone Bluetooth module and a GPS navigation chip set also developed by Infineon, based here.
The controller runs under embedded Linux, but any available operating system could be ported to other systems used by OEMs, said Marcus Venmann, marketing manager for Infineon's infotainment product unit.
Beyond the operating system, Volkswagen developed all the software. The modular architecture stresses reusability and open interfaces. Another major criteria was eliminating the use of proprietary software, a VW spokesman said.
The new telematics platform will compete against the one jointly introduced by Microsoft and Italian car maker Fiat in July. In comparison to the Fiat-Microsoft platform, the VW-Infineon system is more autonomous since it does not rely on existing automotive electronics.
The "Microsoft [and Fiat platform] uses more external resources," Venman said. Also, the use of open standards and Linux makes the Infineon-VW platform look more like an open system.
Volkswagen will test the unit internally, beginning later this fall. The first systems won't hit the road for another one or two years, the partners said, since OEMs will have to complete additional software development and integration before the telematics system is deployed.