Remote-control Bond cars closer to reality than you think

3 Nov 2009

In the spy thriller movie Tomorrow Never Dies, secret agent James Bond employs an Ericsson mobile phone to control his BMW 750iL, outdriving a horde of gun-wielding bad guys in a tire-screeching, heart-pounding car chase.

While actually driving a car with a mobile phone remains the province of cinematic fantasy, using a mobile handset to remotely control some motor-vehicle functions is already a reality, and represents a market set to boom in the coming years, according to iSuppli Corp.

Shipments set to rise

Worldwide shipments of cars equipped with systems capable of remote control via a mobile phone or other device are set to rise to 20.7 million units in 2016, up from 85,000 in 2010. In 2016, more than a quarter of all cars sold worldwide will support some type of remote operation.

“The market for remote operation of car features is set to grow rapidly in the coming years,” noted Egil Juliussen, principal analyst and fellow for iSuppli’s Automotive Practice. “Car OEMs are planning to implement these systems across a wide range of car models as a standard feature, propelling the growth of the market.”

Remote car operation features supported by these systems include door locks, lights, air-conditioning and heater control. Electric vehicles will make particular use of the remote operation of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems to achieve a comfortable temperature in the car while it is still plugged in, which will save the battery for driving.

Who’s done what

Both embedded telematics systems, like General Motors’ OnStar service, and mobile-device systems such as Ford Sync, will be adding remote operation features.

Hyundai recently introduced such a system in South Korea. General Motors has demonstrated such a system as part of OnStar, but hasn’t deployed it yet.

Furthermore, Toyota in Japan is offering a suite of services that provides a range of car-control and safety options via remote control from a mobile phone or PC. Toyota’s G-Security system allows remote viewing of the interior of your car and monitoring of vehicle movement in case it is stolen.

“While 007-style remote car driving isn’t on the drawing board yet, the arrival of mobile-phone car-operation systems represents yet another instance of a James Bond gadget becoming a reality,” Juliussen said.

By John KennedyEricsson remote Photos: Secret agent James Bond can control his car remotely, and more people may be able to do the same soon, as shipments of cars equipped with systems capable of remote control via a mobile phone or other device are set to increase in coming years.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years