BMW and Motorola have jointly unveiled a new telematics system they claim will allow drivers to safely use advanced communications services.
Safety is one of the key issues facing telecoms providers and automotive companies as they try to make digital cellular, satellite and web-based technologies available inside cars.
The telematics market is forecast by some analysts to be worth as much as $47bn by 2010. But the possibility of legislation to control the way drivers receive communications is already openly being discussed, especially in the US where a growing number of accidents are being blamed on distracted drivers.
The BMW/Motorola system, which the two companies are displaying at the current New York Auto Show, uses specially- designed software to allow a Motorola Timeport digital mobile phone to interface with the vehicle’s own electronics system.
The integrated system allows drivers to start and end calls by pressing a button on the steering wheel, make voice commands, and view call information on the car’s instrument panel.
BMW is pre-wiring most of its models for the telematics system.
The rest of the car industry is also acutely aware of safety issues. Ford recently announced it would spend $10m building a simulator to measure how much drivers are distracted by mobile phones, internet access and other communications.