By Aaron Bragman
GM has announced improvements to its in-cab electronics, which will be rolled out during the next two years. First is an upgrade to the company's OnStar connectivity to 4G LTE, the fastest wireless data connection available in North America, in conjunction with wireless provider AT&T. What does this option do? It enables passengers in GM pickup trucks (and cars) to connect smartphones, tablets, laptops and other WiFi-enabled devices to the vehicle and use the onboard data stream to connect to the internet.
The technology could be most helpful for people who use their trucks for work and need a data connection while on the road or at a job site. Of course, you'll have to purchase a data package through AT&T to get the initial service, however, existing customers, we're told, will have to pay a nominal add-on fee.
The faster connection allows GM to expand the company's AppShop service as well, which operates much in the same way as a smartphone app store, allowing you to download specific apps that appeal to you and they fire up in the vehicle (instead of on your phone) and can be viewed on the available 8-inch nav screen. GM plans to offer a variety of apps from providers like Priceline.com, The Weather Channel, National Public Radio, Cityseeker, Eventseeker, location-tracker Glympse and more. There also will be a vehicle "health" app that allows drivers to monitor a variety of data diagnostics through a tie-in with the vehicle's onboard computer systems.
The 4G LTE system will first appear on the 2015 Chevrolet Volt, Impala, Malibu and Corvette this summer, and will roll out soon after to the Equinox, Silverado, Silverado Heavy Duty, Spark and Spark EV.
Additionally, GM also announced that the all-new 2015 Corvette Stingray would be offering a high-definition data recorder option that can capture and record driving data and display all the collected data in the navigation screen display in real time. The camera is integrated into the rearview mirror and will offerer varying amounts of memory depending on the size of the card--and 8 GB card will record 200 minutes and a 32 GB card will offer more than 13 hours of record time.
The data recorder has obvious implications for new Corvette drivers that want to improve their lap times at their favorite local tracks but this technology goes far beyond an expensive option for a want-to-be racecar driver; more likely, this option could also be used in other vehicles like pickup trucks and have many more real-world and safety-centered applications.
Imagine a such a recording device on the front-mounted camera as your off-road excursion comes upon a dramatic hill-climb or narrow ridge pass. You could put together one of the most amazing year-end videos for the next family gathering or possibly for other family members who weren't able to make the trip. Maybe you are more business minded and want to keep track of the driving routes and fuel economy stats on a particular drivers or fleet truck? Maybe you want a data recorder looking at the fifth-wheel trailer behind your best Class V hauler or maybe you want extra camera and data collected from the trailer itself, especially when part of your normal towing routes seem to be causing damage to your haulling rigs.
Clearly, connecting the vehicles data controls into the visual recording from the on-board camera (or cameras) could help make you and your rig into much safer partners. Like many technologies, this one is starting out in a high-performance sportscar, but it shouldn't take long before it migrates into the vehicles that end up towing those sportscars to the track.
To read the press release on the 4G LTE rollout, click here.
To read the press release on the Corvette data recorder, click here.