Smarten your car with downloadable software

flickrFirefox prompts you for updates every 15 minutes. Why can’t your car be more like that?

…[A]n automotive software architecture [is being] developed by European researchers to keep vehicles up to date with the latest technology.

Developed over two and a half years by a consortium of research institutes, software companies, vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers, the architecture represents a fundamental building block for an intelligent car able to reconfigure and update itself autonomously, as well as communicate with other devices, such as the driver’s mobile phone or PDA.

Much as the software on a personal computer connects to the internet to download and install updates, the DySCAS architecture allows automotive software to automatically download patches and improvements whenever the vehicle is in range of an accessible wireless hotspot – in the owner’s garage, for example, or even in a public parking lot. It could then download new maps for the navigation system, update the entertainment system to play new music formats, or even adjust engine timing based on more fuel efficient settings supplied by the manufacturer.

A little better fuel efficiency — well, a lot better — and we’ll be good to go. In a few years, the researchers say.

[Image: FlickrMobile by Leo Reynolds]