Silicon Valley–Herzliya Team Up to Create Car of Future

A view of the Herzliya industrial area.
A view of the Herzliya industrial area.

When General Motors emerged from bankruptcy as a leaner, more aggressive company, one of the assets it did not shed was its Advanced Technical Center in Herzliya, which has been developing the smart car of the future hand in hand with GM’s Silicon Vally R&D plant.

The definition of “future” in this context is within five years, as existing technologies are being adapted for the automotive industry.

“The technologies that will power autonomous vehicles including smart sensing, vision imaging, human machine interface, WiFi and 4G/LTE communications, and much of that is being done at our Herzliya facility, in conjunction with GM’s other R-and-D facility in Silicon Valley,” ATC director Gil Golan told The Times of Israel.

The watchwords are safety and convenience. Features of these cars could include automatically stopping at red lights and staying within the speed limit. Sensors could alert drivers who are parallel-parking when their tire is going to hit the curb. A video camera could detect when a vehicle gets too close to the one in front and automatically reduce speed to ensure a safe gap.

“People want smartphone-like experiences in their vehicles,” Golan said. “We have studied this in depth, and what customers are asking for are ‘super-smartphones on wheels.’”

For a happier ride, the ATC is developing ways to keep the kids in the back seat entertained. The result was several apps to help kids while away the time, including Otto, an animated character projected over passing scenery that responds to real-time car performance, weather and landscape to help kids learn about the environment.

Another app is Foofu, which allows passengers to create, explore and discover through finger-drawing on window steam.