Android Auto: Google Takes AI For a Ride With Volvo and More From I/O ’18

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Google Android Auto Volvo demo / May 2018 / Google I/O

Google wants to personalize and enhance the driving experience more than ever via its Android Automotive embedded operating system, and a big part of the excitement at its Google I/O 2018 developers’ conference this week is around its plans for the connected car, particularly around AI and voice-powered experiences.

Enhanced Dashboard

Previewing what’s next for Android Auto, Google executives talked up visual templates for car dashboards that feature “a fresh new design [that] enables media apps to make their content more accessible,” as announced at I/O. The goal is to make browsable content visible as soon as an app is opened on the car dashboard.

As demonstrated at I/O, Android Auto also will support group chats and improved music search capabilities, allowing “drivers to quickly discover tracks that are related to what they’re currently listening to, such as a song’s live version, or a song with the same name from a different artist.”

Google’s Auto Brand Partners

Android Automotive will be available in select Volvo and Audi models next year. Google also detailed how it is working with Volvo to bring the Play Store and Google Assistant directly into its next-generation cars, along with AI-enhanced mapping features. Apps available on the automotive-centric Google Play store will include iHeartRadio, Pandora, Spotify, WhatsApp and others.

“Android Automotive will be a formidable developer in the automotive space,” said Colin Bird, an analyst for IHS Markit, which predict more than 90 million vehicles will be equipped with Android OS by 2023, with more than 2.6 million being the Google-sanctioned Android Automotive OS platform.

Waymo Takes the Wheel

Waymo is also featured at Google I/O, highlighting the evolution of Google’s self-driving car project that began in 2009. Today, it has the world’s only fleet of fully self-driving cars on public roads, passing 6 million miles driven to date. As the video below shows, members of the public in Phoenix, Arizona have already started to experience these fully self-driving rides. Self-driving taxis will hit the roads this year in Phoenix, Arizona.

At the I/O developer conference, Waymo CEO John John Krafcik (the former head of Hyundai Motor America) highlighted how machine learning lets Waymo vehicles navigate nuanced and difficult situations. For example, Krafcik noted, AI helps Waymo smoothly navigate traffic challenges such as maneuvering construction zones, yielding to emergency vehicles, driving in heavy rain or snow, and giving room to cars that are parallel parking.

Find out more about what’s next for the Waymo self-driving experience in Krafcik’s I/O keynote address below:

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