Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is indeed placing more of its focus into in-car technology as evidenced by its decision not to unveil any new production vehicle or show car at the Detroit Auto Show as well as by its intention to demonstrate a concept version of its planned Google Android-based infotainment system at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Essentially, the UConnect connect vehicle system to be shown at the CES 2017 isn’t the final version yet. The demonstration aims to show the seamless integration of Google’s Android operating software and FCA’s UConnect infotainment system. This means that via the demo, FCA and Google want to show that the new UConnect still has the easy-to-use interface and functionality of the current system but now comes loaded with several elements that are only found in Android-powered devices.
As part of the hands-on concept demo at the CES 2017 (scheduled from January 5 to 8, 2017), FCA and Google will showcase a Chrysler 300 unit. Its current 8.4-inch UConnect software has been replaced with a prototype UConnect system that is based on Google’s Android 7.0 (Android Nougat) operating system.
The hands-on one-on-one demo will include the presentation of core infotainment features like radio as well as climate controls. It will also show the compatibility of popular Android-based programs (applications) with the new U-Connect infotainment system. In addition, the demo would show that the new UConnect infotainment system also works smoothly with Android apps like Google Maps and Google Assistant as well as Spotify, Pandora, Pocket Casts and NPR One.
While many infotainment systems currently available on existing vehicles are compatible with Android Auto, these technologies could only access Google features through the vehicle’s display when a suitable Android-based smartphone is connected. Once the infotainment system is disconnected from the smartphone, it loses the ability to use the features of the Android device. However, with the UConnect now being powered by Android Nougat, the infotainment system could access Android-based features even without connecting to a smartphone.
Chris Barman, Head of Electrical Engineering at FCA, remarked that the partnership between the carmaker and Google provides both companies with the opportunity to explore how in-vehicle infotainment and connectivity technology would further evolve and to determine what is needed to continually cater to the increasing demand from consumers for more in-vehicle information but with less distraction.
Patrick Brady, Director of Android Engineering at Google, quipped that the partnership between the two companies combines the Android operating system and the industry standard for connected car systems to create infotainment systems suitable for the digital age.
For those who want to take part in the demo, they could visit FCA’s booth at exhibit 6306 at the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.