When the 2009 Audi Q5 "compact crossover vehicle" debuts this fall, it will feature an additional kind of powerful engine: Driving the car's audio/visual interface control panel will be an Nvidia GPU. The Q5 will include the latest generation of Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI), manufactured for Audi by Harman/Becker. Harman/Becker refers to the MMI as a "3G infotainment system":
"The Harman/Audi platform sets new benchmarks for automotive navigation, communication and wide-screen entertainment. A high-performance NVIDIA graphics processor ensures that navigation map images transition smoothly, even when the vehicle quickly changes direction. Driver orientation is enhanced by a three-dimensional landscape view that reproduces true-to-scale terrain. Photorealistic depiction of points of interest allows visual matching of key landmarks to the in-car display, and identification of commercial points of interest is enhanced with well-known brand logos. The display offers a bird's-eye view of more-distant destinations and features automatic close-up zoom at intersections."
"Available map media cover 43 European countries, the United States and Canada. Precise audio route instructions and voice commands for audio, telephone, address book and navigation functions are supported in eight languages. The system supports connection of external devices such as USB storage media or an Apple iPod; a jukebox function allows for creation of personal music playlists. The digital radio accepts both European Digital Audio Broadcast signals and U.S. satellite services. An integral four-band GSM cell phone supports Bluetooth connection and accepts a SIM card from a driver's personal phone."
There was a very brief mention of this on Nvidia's SLI Zone blog, which accidentally stated that an Nvidia GPU would be featured in "the new Audio [sic] Q5." Oops. There has been no mention yet of what specific GPU will be used. The blog went on to say:
"I'm not saying you can play ETQW in your car quite yet (wait for the hacks!) but this is really cool integration of powerful visual computing GPU that will revolutionize car navigation with full 3D acceleration."
We applaud the potential integration of current computer technology into automobile designs that purport to improve the driving experience. On the other hand, we're not sure the additional distractions for the driver are necessarily such a good idea; and we're leery of introducing yet another, potentially overly-complex technology with a temperamental history into our vehicles. We'd hate to have our car stuck in the shop so that its firmware can be updated and new drivers installed. Then again, playing a MMOG while stuck in traffic doesn't sound so bad.