Ford has GM’s OnStar service in their sights after introducing a software upgrade to the Ford-Microsoft Sync system that automatically calls 911 in the event of a crash, reports Wired.
Dubbed 911 Assist, the program was first announced in 2008 but is now appearing on brand new Ford vehicles equipped with Sync. The program uses a Bluetooth-enabled phone to automatically dial 911 after an airbag deployment or fuel shutoff. Should the driver be unable to communicate, 911 Assist automatically plays a recorded message that tells the emergency operator a crash has occured.
While it sounds like an efficient system, it’s missing a few key ingredients of OnStar such as GPS location and advanced crash recognition. We also doubt the commercials could be as dramatic as OnStar’s, whose crash-scene replays are the stuff of nightmares.
Ford is positioning 911 Assist as a direct competitor to OnStar and similar systems. It’s not a bad option for those who would rather a Lincoln than a Cadillac, don’t want to pay the $18.95 monthly fee for OnStar service, or are afraid of potential privacy intrusions.
If your phone doesn’t have built-in GPS, emergency responders will have to rely on the not-always-accurate strategy of cell phone signal triangulation to locate your Mercury Milan and the tree it’s wrapped around. With 911 Assist, you’re also out of luck if the airbags don’t go off or if the fuel shutoff doesn’t work. OnStar’s Advanced Automatic Crash Response, for example, can tell when any crash has occured.
All 2010 Ford vehicles will offer Sync as an option, but not all existing Sync-equipped Fords have 911 Assist. Ford says that owners of any 2008 or early-2009 vehicle without the 911 Assist should be eligible for an upgrade, though installation fees may apply.
Telematics Update has the latest bling:
- New Ford SYNC services with turn-by-turn navigation by DeCarta and TeleNav with a TellMe interface.
- Microsoft Mobile 3.0 as a viable alternative to QNX and the “Open Infotainment” platform from the WindRiver, Intel and BMW.
- Toyota Telematics will battle mano a mano with GM’s OnStar using its G-Book Alpha system that lets you request directions to the nearest shopping mall.
- New traffic services are expected from the newly formed North American Traffic Working Group under the sponsorship of the ITS-America, with the mission to make traffic advisories better.
Related DailyWireless stories on transit connectivity include; In-Vehicle Infotainment: Death Race, CradlePoint: Mobile WiFi/WiMAX Hot Spots, Mercedes myCOMAND, BMW iDrive Gets Makeover, Handheld Intelligent Transportation, Chrysler Offers Internet Access , Chrysler Rolls Out U-connect , Ford Sync, Google Transit Maps + WiFi, Chrysler: Wi-Fi Car This Year, The Connected Bus, Hotspot for Bedouins, Chrysler Getting WiMAXed, Verizon Traffic Mapping , PePWave Mobility: Connectivity for Vehicles, Civic Booster and Microsoft Vrs OnStar.