by Laurence Harrison, Digital Radio UK and Chair, Automotive Working Group, WorldDAB
Digital radio in the car has come a long way over the past year, with a number of exciting developments taking place both internally – within WorldDAB and the WorldDAB Automotive Working Group – as well externally, on a pan-European level. As digital radio becomes increasingly popular both in and out of the car, we continue to push the limits of digital radio in the connected, autonomous vehicle, ensuring the DAB experience is as good as possible.
Within the WorldDAB Automotive Group, we have continued our schedule of meetings with the leading OEMs and have listened to what they’ve said about developing digital radio in the car. In February, we launched a new version of the Digital Radio User Experience Guidelines which included feedback we’d received from OEMs. The new guidelines also provide clearer direction towards hybrid radio as providing the best UX, and the launch of new Audi models with hybrid radio have provided a great demonstration of this.
The research done within the task force on Receiver Performance has been shared with OEMs in our meetings, and has instigated useful collaborative work with broadcasters on improving performance. These discussions on performance have led to calls from OEMs for DAB test routes to be made available through WorldDAB, and this has been done. The test routes are in different European markets to help any company producing vehicles, antennas and equipment to test their products and services on a route which shows different conditions for DAB.
OEMs also asked for a managed system to alert the industry to DAB network issues. RadioDNS and WorldDAB are now planning a project that could deliver this and we aim to consult with members in the near future.
The WorldDAB Aftermarket Group started their work on what a device in the aftermarket should contain, and further work in this area is ongoing. The group is focusing on bringing together examples of what each market is doing in terms of the aftermarket; devices, specifications and installer/self-install schemes and marketing of these schemes.
The WorldDAB UX Group has initiated work on the future use cases for radio in connected autonomous cars. OEMs have been clear that they are focusing on development in this area, and the UX Group is collecting and collating future use-cases from broadcasters and OEMs. Thinking beyond what is possible now and focusing on the opportunities for radio in cars with IP connectivity, artificial intelligence, voice, larger screens, and – further into the future – autonomous driving, is the aim. We will then identify where collaboration is required between broadcasters and OEMs to deliver each use case and take action.
There is no doubt that the introduction of the European Electronic Communication Code (EECC) mandating DAB digital radio in all new cars in Europe is a hugely important step that will help safeguard digital radio’s future in the connected car. WorldDAB has played an important role in helping our OEM partners understand the regulation to ensure they comply, and to help foster a fruitful and successful collaboration between broadcasters and OEMs. My thanks to all of those who have helped and contributed to the work of the Group and its Task Forces.