Chrysler says it will be the first auto manufacturer to provide in-car internet access—and plan to offer a system by the end of this year.
Frank Klegon, Chrysler’s product development chief noted: “we want to make the radio itself a WiFi port.” In order for the service to work, it would have to utilize a broadband connection from cellphone towers.
Chrysler will initiate the effort by offering an off-road navigation system for its Jeep Wrangler. Chrysler will be forced to pick one cellular carrier for the backhaul, although which one isn’t certain.
Chrysler earlier said it is working aggressively to develop an advanced, in-vehicle wireless communications systems that go beyond current systems.
Chrysler envisions future GPS systems with satellite imagery downloaded from the Internet as well as automatic wireless map updates, real time weather information. Downloads to in-car entertainment centers can also include service reminders, Internet search, e-mail access, and online shopping
The following features will be coming to Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles over the next few years:
- Turn-by-turn navigation combined with satellite imagery to provide more realistic maps
- Automatic wireless map updates, to ensure that drivers will always have the most up-to-date map information. Real-time weather and hazard information will also be available
- Electronic service reminders, delivered directly to the vehicle
- Internet search
- E-mail access, to include access to e-mail accounts, read-out of messages using text-to-text speech, and sending messages via voice command
- The ability to make on-line purchases, view streaming movies and download music
- Remote vehicle computer updating – Wirelessly download software updates for any electronic module
- Wireless audio and video file transfer from home computer to car
AutoNet Mobile provides CDMA EV-DO Rev. A backhaul to connect autos. Their TRU mobile IP platform, costs $595 with a $39 monthly charge. It works with Novatel’s Expedite E725 Express Mini Cad Module and is used by Avis car rentals. AutoNet is also working with auto electronics supplier Delphi to develop telematics and in-car entertainment products.
PePWave’s CarFi continuously scans and connects to the nearest citywide Wi-Fi transmitter. Instead of trying to establish a direct connection from a laptop device to the Wi-Fi transmitter, the PePWave CarFi acts as a high power signal repeater that connects to a citywide Wi-Fi transmitter and creates a stable local AP for laptop connectivity. It allows low powered devices, such as a PDAs or Apple’s iPhone, to maintain fast and steady connection, without scouting for a signal.
In related news, Greyhound’s BoltBus service provides a WiFi-enabled bus along the popular New York-Boston corridor and will also add service between New York and Philadelphia. BoltBus daily service features low fares and AC outlets by seats. On the left coast, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency unveiled a yearlong pilot program, called the Connected Bus (pdf), which is a single bus outfitted with wireless Internet capabilities. The bus will be moved around to different lines throughout the year.
At CES this January, Intel’s Julie Coppernoll gave a Mobile WiMax tour of Las Vegas using Motorola basestations with Clearwire spectrum – a clone of the Hillsboro trial setup in Oregon. The 3 sector base stations connected to Motorola Wi4 Diversity access points (pdf) plugged into Wi-Fi access points inside the vehicles.