Google is to bring its Android mobile operating system to the road, partnering with Audi, General Motors, Honda and others to create a universal platform for smart cars.
Announced by Google at the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas, Open Auto Alliance (OAA) aims to bring Android to vehicles this year, creating a common software platform across a range of international manufacturers.
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Google's apps, said: "Millions of people are already familiar with Android and use it everyday. The expansion of the Android platform into automotive will allow our industry partners to more easily integrate mobile technology into cars and offer drivers a familiar, seamless experience so they can focus on the road."
A familiar experience across manufacturers
Until now, car manufacturers have all offered their own, bespoke user interfaces, leading to a lack of familiarity from one make of vehicle to another. By rolling out an Android platform to several manufacturers, drivers will be greeted with a familiar experience across brands.
Developers will also benefit, as their applications will work on a wide range of vehicles without the need for extensive modification.
"The worlds of consumer and automotive technologies have never been more closely aligned, and this alliance will only pave the way for faster innovation," said Ricky Hudi, head of Electronics Development at Audi. "Working toward a common ecosystems benefits driver safety above all."
Audi is also set to be an early adopter of Nvidia's new Tegra K1 'super processor', also announced at CES and intended for use in smart cars and other connected vehicles.
Members of the alliance include Audi, General Motors, Google, Honda, Hyundai and Nvidia.
Honda CEO Yoshiharu Yamamoto said: "We are very pleased to join this alliance with Google as a founding member because Honda is committed to providing the very best connected-car experience to our customers
"The Honda team is looking forward to collaborating with Google and all OAA members to help advance the safety, value and ease of use of connected-car technologies."
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang said the car is "the ultimate mobile computer," and that the Google alliance, together with his company's new Tegra K1 'super chip', will enable the car industry to "bring these amazing cars to market faster."
Google says the first cars with Android integration will arrive before the end of 2014, as the open platform will be rolled out across manufacturers over the coming years.
Although not announced as a partner of the OAA, Ford is currently developing ways to integrate Google Glass with its Sync in-car communication and information system.
The car manufacturer is expected to announce more about its work with Glass as CES this week.