Android Automotive remains something of an obscurity, but companies are still happy to tout their latest progress with the platform (or something like it), especially on a stage as large as CES 2018. Before we get to that, it's probably worthwhile to distinguish between Android Automotive and Android Auto: Android Automotive is a standalone, in-vehicle infotainment and control system running Android — basically Android OS for your car. This is a more appealing proposition than the rather laggy experience that is Android Auto, which just projects what's on your phone to an interface that sits in your car.

In case it's not clear from the distinction above, Android Automotive is the more compelling future, one that's not tethered to your phone. Panasonic, Cinemo, and Visteon are among the companies that want you to know they're riding that wave early. Here's what they showed off at CES:

Panasonic Automotive

At last year's CES, Panasonic Automotive announced a partnership with Qualcomm to work on an in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) system based on Android 7.0 Nougat. Panasonic's main Android Automotive-related announcement at this year's CES was mostly iterative: an Android 8.1 Oreo update for its IVI platform.

The company emphasizes the integration of Google Assistant and drivers' ability to simply say "Hey Google" to control navigation, media, and vehicle functions like climate settings, all without your phone. Panasonic mentions that this "pure Android experience" IVI system runs native on a vehicle's head unit and is built on its "SkipGen" platform, which is a fancy way of saying it will support future Android OS releases even after sale. If realized, that's a boon for consumers.

Panasonic also announced something nice for those who use Amazon's Alexa assistant (about 10% of you): It's working with Amazon on Alexa integration.

Press Release

Panasonic Announces Android 8.0-Powered In-Vehicle Infotainment Systems

Built on Panasonic Skip Generation Android IVI, auto makers can offer drivers the latest Android OS. Panasonic is also demonstrating embedded Google services like the Google Assistant and Google Maps

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Panasonic announced today that the Panasonic Skip Generation (SkipGen) IVI Platform highlighted last year at CES has been upgraded to the latest Android™ operating system (OS) – Android 8.1 Oreo. The platform combination of Panasonic's market leading IVI with the very latest Android OS will give drivers access to standard Android Automotive Applications, and demonstrate embedded Google content and services like streaming media, navigation, as well as vehicle functions like climate settings, which are all controllable with the Google Assistant.

As part of the demonstration, Panasonic will showcase a fully embedded and Android-enabled IVI that runs natively in the vehicle with no mobile device required. The IVI is built on the SkipGen platform, which supports the latest Android OS and will update with subsequent OS releases.

In this demonstration, Google Assistant and Google Maps™ run natively on Android-powered IVI, showcasing these popular services when directly integrated into vehicle. By simply saying "Hey Google", drivers can easily and quickly ask Google Assistant for help on various tasks such as navigating to a destination with Google Maps, playing music, or controlling vehicle functions such as HVAC – even when you leave your phone behind.

"The pace of change in the mobility and connected vehicle industries signifies that the market demands deeper technology-enabled experiences from OEMs," said Tom Gebhardt, Chairman & CEO, Panasonic Corporation of North America. "In just the past year alone, our SkipGen IVI platform has gone from concept to two OEM production awards, from demonstration to industry award-winning, and from Android 7.0 to 8.1, allowing us to now quickly iterate on the software and address future market needs at a faster pace than many consumer electronics. With potential integrations such as the Google Assistant and Google Maps™, we are accelerating this innovation to revolutionize the next generation in-vehicle experience."

"As we continue to evolve Android as a platform for consumers and across industries, leveraging the expertise from a partner like Panasonic allows us to deliver automotive-grade in-vehicle experiences," said Patrick Brady, Vice President of Android Engineering, Google. "Enabling instant access to Google services from the IVI provides new experiences for OEMs to deliver as they continue to seek new ways to connect drivers."

This IVI integration is the latest in a Panasonic and Google partnership history where Panasonic has successfully applied Android-based products to create new connected experiences in areas from consumer to avionic and automobile solutions.

The new Panasonic Automotive IVI system will be available by invitation only at LVCC throughout the duration of CES2018.

Press Release

Panasonic Automotive Partners with Titans in the Technology and Automotive Industries to Transform the Future Driving Experience at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

- Google Assistant embedded with the latest Panasonic Automotive skip-generation in-vehicle infotainment system

- Panasonic announces new Alexa integration for automobiles; introduces select offline capabilities for Alexa

- Jaguar Range Rover Velar to feature a world-first debut of Panasonic Automotive's latest infotainment innovations with Touch Pro Duo

- Debuts a single brain cockpit domain controller solution called SPYDR to drive multiple functional domains within a vehicle

- Development of a scalable ePowertrain platform for electric vehicles to support future mobility

- Introduction to the three next-generation cockpit and cabin system concepts that extend through Level 5, fully autonomous vehicles

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 8, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, today announced it has aligned with Google to debut groundbreaking Next Generation IVX systems that transform the consumer experience, both inside and outside of the vehicle, and deliver new design flexibility and freedom to automakers.

Panasonic announced that that the Panasonic Skip Generation (Skip Gen) In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) Platform announced last year at CES has been upgraded to the latest Android™ operating system (OS) – Android 8.1 Oreo. The platform will give drivers access to Android Automotive Applications, and demonstrate embedded Google Content and Services like streaming media, navigation, traffic and weather, as well as vehicle functions like climate settings, which are all controllable with the Google Assistant. This latest IVI runs native on the head unit and can be accessed without a phone. This collaboration enables a pure Android experience without locking vehicle manufacturers into a proprietary derivative, giving consumers the ability to have the latest, upgradeable Android experience even after sale.

Panasonic announced today that it is working with Amazon to offer next generation in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems with Alexa voice natively embedded. The integration will change the experience OEMs can offer to in-car users, allowing them to interact with the voice service from the vehicle, and for the first time, offer certain select Alexa capabilities without an Internet connection. Built on the Panasonic Skip Gen IVI Platform, drivers can use the familiar "Alexa" wake word to interact with the intelligent voice service for a variety of in-vehicle functions such as car controls like HVAC, media, communication and navigation. As part of the integration, Panasonic and Amazon are delivering the IVI functionality using Amazon's Alexa Onboard technology, making certain Alexa capabilities available as built-in services and giving in-car users access to these Alexa features regardless of network connection.

In collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Panasonic's innovative display technology implemented in InControl Touch Pro Duo, leads the showcase of advanced infotainment systems on the new Range Rover Velar. The twin-screen interface is seamlessly integrated into the minimalist interior of the Velar with world-first technology that joins a host of innovations in a pioneering global model. Clear, adaptable and intuitive, Touch Pro Duo allows the driver to focus on whatever terrain comes ahead, mixing stylish secret-until-lit surfaces with simple to understand displays, paired perfectly to Velar's design. Alongside Touch Pro Duo, Panasonic Automotive integrated Nanoe™ air purification technology in the Velar to remove unwanted odors and particles from the cabin, reducing harmful pollens and bacteria for a healthier, cleaner cabin environment.

In addition, Panasonic Automotive introduced SPYDR, a single brain cockpit domain controller solution directing multiple functions within the vehicle, including an infotainment center stack display, digital instrument cluster, and head-up display (HUD). SPYDR has an open architecture, with the ability to run multiple operating systems, such as Linux for Instrument Cluster, Android O for Infotainment, and RTOS for functional safety. The domain controller within SPYDR is a proprietary Panasonic design and uses hypervisor virtual machines to create a secure barrier between the safety and non-safety critical systems and functions, helping to prevent system interference. To accelerate time to market, Panasonic Automotive has collaborated with Rightware, a leader in automotive user interface (UI) creation software, to enable high-performance graphics for the digital cluster. Rightware's Kanzi® UI software delivers fast startup time, high frame rate, robust applications, and state-of-the-art design capabilities. With SPYDR, major vehicle manufacturers will experience scalability, flexibility, openness, and speed, without being locked into a single platform.

For the effective development of small electric vehicles (EVs), Panasonic Automotive has developed a scalable ePowertrain platform – an integrated system for use with major global automakers. Usage for the ePowertrain platform expands further to be utilized in bikes and micro-EVs. It is an energy-efficient, powertrain that features integrated compactness, high efficiency, and flexible scalability for the future of mobility.

Furthermore, Panasonic Automotive debuted an exhibit featuring three next-generation cockpit and cabin system concepts, including: Smart Design Cockpit, Smart Vision Cockpit, and Living Space Autonomous Cabin. The exhibit walks consumers through autonomous driving Levels 3, 4 and 5 to meet vehicle advances expected over the next decade in line with the evolution of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These system concepts are achieved by combining the Panasonic global extensive consumer electronics technologies with in-vehicle technologies refined in the course of developing infotainment equipment. Through these designs, Panasonic Automotive is enhancing the inside of the cabin, right down to each individual seating zone. As ride- and car-sharing become more commonplace, passengers will be able to have their own individual, customized experience.

"For more than 65 years, Panasonic Automotive has delivered compelling solutions to major car manufacturers all over the world. In recent years, these systems have evolved considerably, playing an ever-increasing role in the comfort, connectivity, and safety of the driver and passengers," said Scott Kirchner, President, Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America. "This year's Consumer Electronics Show showcases some of the most advanced technology and future mobility solutions in our company's history, and I am incredibly proud of that."

This next-generation technology will be on display at the Panasonic booth presence in Central Hall (#12908) during the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) or within an invite-only private display room in Central Hall.

Cinemo

Cinemo is a German company that specializes in infotainment solutions for automakers and component suppliers. In addition to standard-fare self-promotion, Cinemo joined with German auto systems manufacturer Robert Bosch Car Multimedia at CES 2018 to present an Android-based head unit outfitted with its Unified Media Player, which features Android Auto.

It's a bit unclear whether Cinemo is distinguishing between Android Auto and Android Automotive, but there you have it.

Press Release

Cinemo Empowering Next Generation Android Automotive Platforms at CES 2018 in Las Vegas

Game-changing technology enhancing Android Automotive as Cinemo propels infotainment to centre stage in the car

KARLSRUHE, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cinemo, a global leader in high performance and automotive grade multimedia playback, streaming, media management, connectivity and cloud access middleware, today announced that they will be showcasing a wealth of content distribution and mobility solutions that inspire the imagination on the Android in-car platform at the 2018 CES® show in Las Vegas (Hollywood Suite 2986, Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino).

Cinemo’s multi-faceted framework delivers on all fronts offering an impressive array of personal media control that energises front and rear seat screens for dazzling picture and sound quality. Distribution of content for local playback and synchronized streaming, device access and cloud services can be enabled to provide a distinctive environment for on the move indulgence.

Advanced playback, connectivity, projection and media management also form a secure backbone with Cinemo affording the same performance, robustness, feature set, and quality that is consistent on other platforms, and enabling the next generation infotainment systems based on Android.

As well as active presentations at the private Cinemo CES suite, Robert Bosch Car Multimedia, will demonstrate a dedicated Android based next generation head unit with Cinemo’s Unified Media PlayerTM, including multimedia playback, ultra-fast content indexing, connectivity as well as Android Auto. To learn more about this demo, please visit Bosch Car Multimedia at Las Vegas Convention Center, Central Hall, Stand 14028.

“Creating a cross-platform, fast and vibrant Infotainment solution that engages consumers and allows cohesive interaction has been fundamental to Cinemo, so we are delighted to continuously extend the multimedia experience on Android based platforms,” said Elif Ede, Vice President Sales of Cinemo.

Visteon

Visteon is a Michigan-based company specializing in cockpit electronics and connected-car solutions. While most of its CES announcements were hardware-related (including more than 40 displays), it also showed off its infotainment solutions. Among these is a two-display system based on Android Automotive and featuring Google Assistant.

The company also discussed its latest SmartCore cockpit domain controller, which is a high-tech dashboard running on a single chip — Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820Am processor in this case. The second-gen version of the cockpit domain controller implements Android 8.0 Oreo.

Press Release

Visteon Showcases New Technology for the Digital Cockpit on the Road to Autonomous Driving

Global automotive electronics leader presents latest technology at CES® 2018 -from digital instrument clusters, displays and infotainment to cockpit controller and self-driving platform

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Visteon Corporation (Nasdaq: VC) is showcasing technology at CES® 2018 aimed at accelerating the transition to all-digital vehicle cockpits and speeding development and commercialization of autonomous driving solutions. This is Visteon's 19th year at CES – one of the longest participation levels of any automotive technology company.

From fully reconfigurable instrument clusters and advanced digital display technologies to driver monitoring, ADAS integration and the industry's first cockpit domain controller, Visteon is displaying products that will underpin the epic shift toward connected cars and autonomous vehicles. Headlining Visteon's exhibit (CP-20) is the introduction of its DriveCoreTM autonomous driving controller, a hardware/software platform that enables automakers to build autonomous driving solutions quickly in an open collaboration model.

"CES is the ideal venue to showcase how Visteon is leading the shift toward the all-digital cockpit, which is an essential step on the path to autonomous driving," said Visteon President and CEO Sachin Lawande. "As the only Tier 1 automotive supplier focused exclusively on vehicle cockpit electronics, Visteon will demonstrate solutions addressing industry trends such as digitization of the cockpit, consolidation of cockpit electronics components, and the transition to autonomous vehicles."

Highlights of Visteon technology at CES include:

Instrument Clusters

The shift toward connected cars and autonomous vehicles is driving a transition from analog and hybrid clusters to all-digital systems. Visteon is displaying digital solutions for all vehicle segments, featuring display sizes ranging from 7 inches to 20.3 inches, with embedded functionality such as camera systems and ambient lighting.

Instrument cluster highlights at CES include:

  • A plastic OLED (organic light-emitting diode) instrument cluster with 1920-by-720 resolution, vivid colors and ultra-thin (5 millimeters) profile
  • A 4K-by-1K instrument cluster with integrated driver monitoring infrared cameras for facial recognition and head and eye-gaze tracking, which will be important to assessing driver readiness to resume control of an automated vehicle. The cluster also features integrated side-view e-mirrors.

Displays

To deliver a connected experience and prepare for an autonomous future in which occupants will need to monitor the status of the vehicle and its surroundings, the car's interior is going digital – with more and larger displays of all types. Visteon is presenting a range of more than 40 displays that are brighter and larger than most conventional displays, with high-resolution, vivid graphics and a wider color space.

Visteon design innovations include selective dimming, curved surfaces, enhanced optics management, narrow borders and thin design. Highlights at CES include center displays with HD haptics; a new interior rearview e-mirror that can electronically transition from pure mirror mode to pure display mode; and a dimmable lens display.

Audio/Infotainment

In-vehicle infotainment is gaining more attention as cars become more connected and as the industry considers how to bring value to occupants of future automated vehicles. Display audio systems, which leverage the smartphone to bring features such as navigation and other connected services, are replacing traditional audio systems. Additionally, automakers want to leverage the global community of app developers to build infotainment apps.

Visteon is showing a range of infotainment solutions, including:

  • Phoenix™ platform of display audio, embedded infotainment and SmartCore™ solutions, capable of adapting the human-machine interaction (HMI) across different screen sizes, resolution and orientation.
  • Phoenix™ InfoCore™ – the in-vehicle middleware that maximizes reuse and enables seamless upgrades
  • Phoenix™ Studio 2.0 – A next-generation, PC-based development tool enabling development of third-party apps that can be written once and run on any infotainment system in the car that runs on InfoCore™ – without adaptation.
  • Android™ infotainment – An open-source system based on Android Automotive, with two independently controllable displays and features such as Google Assistant.*

Head-Up Displays

Head-up displays are fast gaining popularity as a preferred interface for critical information such as vehicle speed, warnings and navigation messages. Visteon is featuring a range of windshield solutions with fields of view from 4 degrees-by-1.2 degrees, to 8 degrees-by-3 degrees, with best-in-class optical systems, tilt and picture-generating unit (PGU) technologies.

Visteon is also displaying an augmented reality solution that provides a digital layer of information to help improve safety, and which can be integrated into different electronic control units.

SmartCore™ Cockpit Domain Controller

As in-vehicle electronics proliferate, the industry recognizes the cost-, space- and power-saving benefits of consolidating electronic control units, or ECUs, across multiple electrical domains. Visteon's SmartCore™ domain controller, launching with a European-based automaker in early 2018, enables the integration of instrument cluster, infotainment and head-up displays into one ECU instead of three.

Visteon is demonstrating integration of its SmartCore™ "Gen2" cockpit electronics software stacks along with Phoenix™ or Android™ infotainment. Technology on display includes:

  • A SmartCore™ domain controller incorporating Visteon's driver information applications and Android™ O-based infotainment, running on Qualcomm's 820 AM Snapdragon processor.
  • SmartCore™ Runtime – the middleware that enables communication between domains and apps to be shown on any display.
  • SmartCore™ Studio – a PC-based configuration tool to generate hypervisor configurations.

V2X and Cybersecurity

Visteon is addressing the U.S. mandate for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology through a low-cost, stand-alone V2X (vehicle-to-everything) platform. To address growing concerns about cybersecurity, Visteon is presenting a multi-layered security approach that adopts the SAE J3061 cybersecurity framework to Visteon's own product development process.

*Android is a trademark of Google LLC.

CES is just the start of what's sure to be a year filled with (hopefully clarifying) Android Automotive updates, so keep checking back for those.