Rolling out the real information superhighway

WirelessCar joins Nokia, Ericsson, Volvo and Telia for car-based computing

Predicting that by 2005 every vehicle will be equipped with an Internet address, Nokia has announced the launch of its first-generation telematic units for the second half of the year.

Not to be left in the shade, Ericsson, one of Nokia's biggest rivals, announced Monday the formation of a joint company, WirelessCar.

The telematic units, from Nokia's Smart Traffic Products division, will provide drivers with automatic and manual emergency and breakdown call functions, and traffic information.

Nokia's first generation products concentrate on information and security. The automatic call system causes the telematic unit to automatically send and emergency call to a service centre when an accident occurs, such as when the airbag is activated. Drivers will also be able to manually request assistance by pressing the emergency button.

The telematics unit also features a breakdown call function, where pressing the breakdown key informs the corresponding service centre. It can also help drivers to avoid traffic jams by supplying personalised route-specific traffic information.

"There is an ever increasing need for communication between the vehicle and its environment," stated Kalevi Kaartinen, vice president Nokia Smart Traffic Products, "You will be able to access information and entertainment services whenever you want."

The Geneva Motor Show Monday saw the launch of WirelessCar, a joint company from Ericsson, Volvo and Telia. It will develop and market solutions providing mobile in-car information services. According to Ericsson, these will include roadside and emergency assistance, access to the Internet, vehicle software management and remote diagnostics.

WirelessCar is equally owned by the three companies, which have plans to seek further partners going forward.

Nokia has been working with car manufacturers Mercedes Benz, Audi, Opel and Ford in developing the telematics units and they will initially be integrated into their vehicles.

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