GM's New Software Wants To Connect Cars To Everything

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It can even activate the coffee machine while you drive home.

General Motors recently announced its all-new Ultifi end-to-end software platform. It's the next step in evolving the connected car, with GM aiming to deliver frequent and seamless over-the-air updates, apps, and services to its customers.

According to GM, Ultifi has the "potential for more cloud-based services, faster software development, and new opportunities to increase customer loyalty."

Ultifi is the next step up from GM's existing hacker-proof Vehicle Intelligence Platform, also known as VIP. It's used in high-end vehicles to provide over-the-air updates. GM says VIP has plenty of bandwidth, robust cybersecurity, and fast processing power. The two systems will be kept separate, however. Ultifi will provide accelerated development of software and apps, but without causing problems for the existing software in charge of the vehicle's hardware.

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"GM has decades of experience writing vehicle software, creating a solid foundation to build on," said Mark Reuss, GM president. "Now, with Ultifi, we will be able to improve our software continuously and deliver new features and apps to customers in a fraction of the time."

This idea is similar to what is offered in the smartphone industry. Customers can choose between various software updates, apps, and customization options. Like a smartphone, a customer's preferences can be saved via an authenticated account. If, for example, they buy a new GM product, these preferences can be downloaded to the new vehicle.

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GM also mentions that this cloud-based connectivity will allow integration into a customer's digital life. An owner could start the car using facial recognition like modern phones use the same technology to unlock and grant access. GM's famous Teen Driver feature can also keep an even closer eye on a new driver. The owner can set the car to be more cautious in certain areas. A connected vehicle can also alert a related house that the owner is nearly home, so it can deactivate the security, set the temperature, and cue the music.

Ultifi can also be used in the future once the entire world is connected. GM makes an interesting point about the car being connected to other vehicles and perhaps even a city's infrastructure. This communication between various entities can warn drives about hazards and reroute them along a route with less traffic, but a step beyond that is also possible.

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What if the car could communicate with the traffic light system? It could give the driver the exact speed they need to maintain to hit green lights all the way home. In short, it could ease congestion.

"Increased flexibility and faster software development are two major benefits of this new technology," said Scott Miller, GM vice president Software-Defined Vehicle. "Our in-house developers are designing Ultifi to maximize software reuse, which frees up more time to create value-adding features and services for our customers."

GM used Linux to develop Ultifi, and it has been designed with third-party developers in mind. Pretty soon, you'll be able to play Candy Crush on the touchscreen.

The hardware that runs Ultifi will be built into next-generation GM products, starting in 2023. It will be available to both internal combustion and EV models. It could make its debut in the upcoming Cadillac Lyriq or Hummer EV. GM is expected to start production of the latter in 2023.

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