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US legislation to limit in-car technology

Date: 09 May 2014   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Legislation from the US is set to hamper the introduction of in-car technology and make it more difficult for manufacturers to implement modern entertainment and practicality features. 

Speaking to BusinessCar, Javier Verastegui, infotainment services and app development project manager at Volkswagen AG, said increasingly stringent legislation was set to strangle in-car technology. 

"There are various sets of international regulations and we also have to make some special adaptations for the Japanese market.

"The NTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - an influential American body with a strong road safety influence] has new guidelines coming in and they have more restrictions. It's going to be quite problematic for all companies."

He continued: "The most important thing with these regulations is the time it takes for you to perform a certain task and the time it takes to look at the display. It even covers font sizes, screen contrast, etc." 

This follows BusinessCar's June 2013 report on driver distraction and how the NTSA's proposals for legislation could see the likes of photos, scrolling text and social media displays banned from the driver's line of sight. Photorealistic Google Streetview satnav systems are also under threat, as are the volume levels of stereos.

Legislative impacts resulting from the US organisation's proposals are likely to make their way to the UK, and vehicle manufacturers will have to develop their vehicles to comply with the American market in the first instance.  

Despite the threat, VW has debuted its new Mirrorlink system on the new Polo, which allows drivers to exactly replicate the screen and functions of their smartphone (providing it is compatible) on the vehicle's infotainment screen. 

A series of apps have been developed to complement the system, and Verastegui said future versions would be targeted at the fleet community, particularly for the next-generation Passat that is due later this year: "We've been in deep contact with VW Financial Services to look into [fleet apps].

"I don't foresee any product launch this year but I imagine it will be coming soon." 

He added that the app system also had relevance to commercial vehicles, and that a smartphone app could potentially replace handheld PDAs' delivery and collection services: "For CVs, it could be used for deliveries.

"[You would] connect your phone to the vehicle then it would automatically transmit your next destination to the navigation system.

"We don't need to have this software integrated into the dash - it's just in the smartphone."