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Cisco Wants Cars Talking to Each Other

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Cisco Wants Cars Talking to Each Other


January 04, 2013

By Joe Rizzo, TMCnet Contributing Writer

As we move closer to that floating car of the future that we all want so badly, more down to earth strives are being made. We already have cars with sensors that can tell you when the car is too close to an object and rear mounted cameras so you can see when you are too close. What would it be like if cars could talk with each other?

Cisco Systems and NXP Semiconductors think that this is the direction to head toward. Cisco (News - Alert) has had the idea of a “connected car” for about three years. According to a spokesperson for Cisco, “We literally have reached out to every car company in the world. What we would really like to do is to help standardize on the underlying networking platform and then allow them to innovate on the top.”

Both of these companies have agreed to help fund an Australian company called Cohda Wireless. Although neither company would disclose exactly how would they would be willing to contribute. Cohda specializes in software to enhance radio reception and the hardware needed to run the applications. Cisco and NXP Semiconductors (News - Alert) executives agree that Cohda is a company that is well positioned to benefit from such “car-to-car” communications. Torsten Lehmann, the GM of Business Line Car Entertainment, at NXP said that both companies “independently came to the conclusion that Cohda’s technology is by far the best.”

Paul Gray, Cohda’s CEO, already has some scenarios in mind where connected cars would benefit. Image that you are driving down a road and approaching an intersection, at the same time a car is approaching from a side road that has a stop sign. What would you do if your car said, “You have the right of way but the other car is moving too fast-it’s not going to stop in time.”

Sensors in both cars could wirelessly exchange information and generate a warning to the drivers to slow down. Possibly further into the future, the cars could potentially apply the brakes automatically. This is just an example of the possible benefits that connected cars could have.

Cisco feels that today’s cars are powered by a collection of digital devices. Door locks, sensors, in-car televisions are just some of the devices that are computer controlled. Currently, the networks that string them together are a hodgepodge of different technologies. Cisco wants to unify all of the different in-car networks in the same way that it unifies corporate networks.

Professor Hongwei Zhang at Wayne State University focuses on the heterogeneous networks needed to support the broadband connectivity required for these connected cars. Connected cars must be able to switch seamlessly and consistently between mobile broadband networks, while maintaining safety and performance. This is where Cisco and NXP Semiconductors put their faith in Cohda Wireless.

News from Detroit is that cars are relying more heavily on electronics. Analysts expect the market for electronic systems will grow from $170 billion in 2011 to $263 billion by 2016. It does take time to make these ideas work, not to mention the cooperation of the various car and component companies. There is a lot of data that is going to be transmitted and it will have to be done correctly and quickly for the “connected car” to be a reality.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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