Software as Antidote: A Fountain of Youth for Your Aging Car

by Alan Hall

Shiny new cars beckon as we drive past car dealerships. But chances are, the car we’re in, as we gaze longingly out the window, is over 10 years old.

Indeed, the average age of cars on the road in the U.S. is 11.4 years, according to new data released by IHS Automotive. And that average is projected to rise over the next five years.

Now, think about your personal technology. In the past 11 years, you’ve probably gone through at least a few laptops and something close to a half dozen mobile phones.

Over the air updates help keep Tesla's Model S fresh long after it's left the factory.
Over the air updates help keep Tesla’s Model S fresh long after it’s left the factory.

This implies that there’s a big opportunity to progressively improve the technology inside the vehicle. No one wants to get stuck listening to CDs in a Bluetooth-streaming world or dealing with clunky, obsolete navigation systems.

To enhance the in-vehicle experience, NVIDIA provides solutions like the Tegra visual computing module (VCM), a modular computer that can easily be slid into place. That means the car’s dashboard and infotainment system can be easily updated – putting it on a different life cycle than the rest of the vehicle. The computing hardware is upgradable and the software updatable, so the user experience in the car can progress over the life of the car.

The big advantage of the Tegra VCM is that it’s programmable. So, software applications can be enhanced or added long after the car has left the dealership. With a fast processor and enhanced graphics capabilities, new downloads of software can enable new features in the vehicle years down the road.

The result: imagine that you can customize the dashboard display in your car on a whim. Want a fresh look for your daily commute? Give your digital dashboard a makeover with a fresh gauge pack.

Or maybe your new significant other likes a different streaming music service than you. So you just download it into your car and keep the relationship rolling.

Or maybe you’ve just moved to a rural area where deer often cross the road. Download the deer-detection profile to add to your pedestrian-detection capability.

We may not be able to spin back the odometer on your car. But these are just some of the things we’re working on in the lab to help make your driving experience feel young again.

Check out this video of how our upgradeable Tegra VCM works with Audi’s modular infotainment platform in the new Audi A3 sedan.