As well as helping to move cars further into the 21st century, Volkswagen’s announcement to combine the Alexa Voice Service with its Car-Net system has the potential to make drivers safer behind the wheel. VW dealership Vindis looks at how this could be the case…
Just what is Volkswagen Car-Net?
Every aspect of in-car internet connectivity in Volkswagen vehicles falls into the German manufacturer’s Car-Net system. So, whether it’s 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.
There are two main aspects of VW Car-Net. They are as follows:
Guide & Inform
Volkswagen Car-Net’s Guide & Inform services are designed so that you can be better informed with things that matter to you when you’re driving; you shouldn’t be disconnected with what’s going on away from your car just because you’re behind the wheel. 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 (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 drive on.
- Fuel information — It can be worrying to see 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
Take the stress out of driving with the Security & Service aspects of Volkswagen Car-Net. The features include all of the following:
- Emergency Call Service — You don’t want to think about a serious incident but with Emergency Call Service, you can 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 will Alexa Voice Service match up with VW Car-Net?
Imagine the scenario — one that you’re likely to be familiar with if you’re a business person. 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 is 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.
By combining its Car-Net system with the Alexa Voice Service, drivers of Volkswagen vehicles will have the opportunity to use their voice to quickly plan errands and make appointments.
You can even access these types of functions when you’re away from your car. 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.
The case for the technology making for safer drivers
March 1st 2017 saw the government increase the penalty for getting caught driving while using a handheld mobile phone to a £200 fine and six points on your driving licence. 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).
Advancements surrounding in-car connectivity, such as the combination of the Alexa Voice System and Volkswagen Car-Net, should help drivers to keep their hands off their devices when they are behind the wheel. This is particularly welcoming, as recent research has suggested that many drivers are still not abiding to the law, despite the increased penalties.
Following a survey of over 1,000 motorists, for instance, price comparison site MyCarNeedsA.com found that one in five admitted to making calls when driving, while six per cent checked social media and two per cent texted.
The research, which can be analysed in detail on FleetNews, went on to reveal that 66 per cent of drivers texted, 37 per cent check social media and 18 per cent make calls once they find themselves caught in traffic.
The problem doesn’t get much better once figures gathered by the Press Association and reported on by The Independent are factored in. The stats reveal that close to 6,000 drivers have been caught illegally using their mobile phones in the four weeks since March 1st — one motorist every seven minutes.
Steve Gooding, the RAC Foundation’s director, was keen to point out: 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.”