Just when we thought in-car connectivity couldn’t get any better, Volkswagen proved us wrong. When the manufacturer revealed that it was combining the Alexa Voice Service with Car-Net functions back in January, there was plenty of excitement around how the development will help move cars even further into the 21st century.
It gets better too, as this new technology can also help drivers become safer behind the wheel — a fact that has been underlined even more recently following a few significant changes in UK road laws.
VW dealership Vindis explores why the new VW in-car connectivity system could be a safer way to drive:
What is Volkswagen Car-Net?
First of all, let’s establish what Car-Net actually is: Car-Net involves everything that is related to the in-car internet connectivity that is found on Volkswagen vehicles. So, whether it is hi-tech maps to help you get from A to B, streamed music to make every journey a lot more entertaining, or even innovative means of monitoring what’s going on between back seat passengers – this is all covered within Car-Net.
The main features of Volkswagen Car-Net system are as follows:
Guide & Inform
You can sometimes feel disconnected from everything happening away from the car when you are behind the wheel – however, it doesn’t have to be that way.
One part of the Car-Net system is the Guide & Inform services, which works to keep you better informed with the stuff that matters to you whenever you’re driving. Compatible with the German manufacturer’s Discover Navigation infotainment system, features include…
- News — You select the news feeds that interest you and then the latest stories are imported from the customer portal to your Volkswagen as the headlines break.
- Weather — You can receive the latest weather conditions for both your current location and the destination you have in mind (with expected time of arrival also considered). No more needing to listen to what the weather is like on the other side of the country!
- Online traffic information — Just like with the weather, you can keep informed about the current traffic situation, both on the road you’re on and others you’re likely to venture onto.
- Fuel information — It can be worrying seeing the low fuel light flick on when you’re not familiar with an area. Fortunately, the ‘Fuel Info’ search function will let you know of all nearby filling stations, when they are open and how much the fuel prices are.
- Parking information — Wave goodbye to driving around a city looking for what feels like the last available parking spot by using the ‘Parking Info’ feature. It will inform you of all free parking spaces in your vicinity, as well as opening times and prices.
Security & Service
Put your mind at ease knowing Volkswagen’s Car-Net Security and Services feature is there for your safety, as it includes all of the following…
- Emergency Call Service — You don’t want to think about a serious incident but with Emergency Call Service, at least rest assured that your vehicle will automatically call for help in a situation where the driver may be unable to.
- Breakdown Call — One press of a button and Volkswagen will make a call for breakdown assistance to the Volkswagen Roadside Assistance service. No need to know where you are, have a phone reception or even memorise a phone number!
- Vehicle Health Report — This presents you with any existing warning messages or service events before you begin driving, avoiding unwanted surprises during a journey.
How does Alexa Voice Service combine with Car-Net?
Picture this scenario: Part way through a journey alone, you suddenly remember something that you need to do once you reach your destination. Obviously, writing when driving is dangerous, and there is nowhere for you to stop to jot down a reminder – and no-one there to write down your task. You decide that the best course of action is to keep the errand in your mind until you stop driving. However, a few distractions are encountered throughout the remainder of your drive and by the time you’ve parked up, you’ve completely forgotten what the task was.
Thankfully, to every driver’s happiness, in future, this very common annoyance can be avoided, as the driver will be able to schedule appointments and plan errands by informing the system simply through the power of their voice.
The combined system will even be able to be controlled away from your vehicle. For example, you can program a voice command such as “Alexa, ask Volkswagen the way to the nearest flower shop” when you’re at home and then hear the message come through when you’re next behind the wheel.
It’s clear to see that the connected home is branching out in a very effective manner.
How does the new in-car connectivity provide a safer way of driving?
In-car connectivity advancements couldn’t have come at a better time, following new laws for harsher punishments for those using their handheld devices at the wheel. As of March 1st 2017, the Government doubled the penalty for getting caught to six points on your driving licence and a £200 fine. You are at risk of getting caught any time you pick up a mobile phone and operate it while driving (that includes waiting in traffic or at traffic lights).
The latest advancements in in-car connectivity should help to keep your hands off your phone, especially as recent research has suggested that many drivers are still not abiding to the law, despite the increased penalties. For instance, a survey of over 1,000 motorists carried out by price comparison site MyCarNeedsA.com revealed that 20 per cent admitted to making calls when driving, six per cent checked social media and two per cent texted.
The RAC Foundation’s director Steve Gooding commented: “Driving is a safety-critical activity that requires our full attention. Hands need to be on the wheel and eyes looking out of the windscreen, not down at the phone screen.”
Hopefully, the continuous advancements of in-car connectivity show light at the end of the tunnel for hands-free driving.