In-Car Tech

Apple WWDC: Phone-as-key coming to BMW 5 Series, other ​brands likely to follow

Apple has introduced a number of technologies and refreshed our notion of others as part of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Photo courtesy of BMW

UPDATE: This article was updated at 4:15 pm. ET on June 22, 2020 to include additional information supplied by the automaker.

During their keynote address at the Worldwide Developers Conference today, Apple revealed that the BMW 5 Series will be getting phone-as-key technology, called CarKey, for the 2021 model year. Additionally, BMW has said that the tech will be available on a board range of models that are manufacturers after July 1, 2020: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, X5, X6, X7, X5M, X6M and Z4. The system will be compatible with iPhone XR, iPhone XS or newer, and Apple Watch Series 5 or newer models.

According to Apple, the technology uses near field communication (NFC) to open the car. Then, drivers will place their phone in the charging pad in order to start the vehicle.

Apple WWDC 14 BMW CarKey To use, drivers place their phone near the door handle.Photo courtesy of BMW

The digital key is stored in the Secure Element of the phone. It can be disabled via iCloud if a phone is lost and keys can be shared via iMessage.

Apple stresses that the company is working with industry groups to ensure that the technology is able to be universal for vehicles as well as secure.

The news came as Apple unveiled a variety of features as part of iOS 14. The phone-as-key functionality will be available on iOS 14 and Apple will be updating iOS 13 to make it available to users of that system as well.

This is a big step for Apple. Until iOS 14, the company had locked its NFC chip making phone-as-key functionality unusable to all but Tesla owners because Tesla uses Bluetooth technology to connect phone with vehicle. In the Tesla app, users do not have the ability to disable their phone-as-key functionality, instead having to contact Tesla Support to assistance.

Car owners can also share access to their car with up to five people via the car's operating system or Apple Wallet. Additionally, owners may set specific parameters for teen drivers including restrictions of top speed, horsepower, and maximum radio volume,

Lincoln and Hyundai are among the automakers using NFC technology in their vehicles giving owners the ability to forego a traditional key fob. Hyundai showed this technology off in its "Smaht Pahk" commercial during the Super Bowl this year and a subsequent follow-up spot where an owner passes a digital key to their parent so the parents can drive their car.

Apple WWDC 14 BMW CarKey Proximity plays a role in phone-as-key technology as the tech components have to be able to "read" each other's signals.Photo courtesy of BMW

CarKey can operate for up to five hours after an iPhone's batter is depleted to the point where the phone automatically turns off. The system is Apple Watch compatible.

The redesigned 2021 BMW 5 Series comes in seven variants. The revisions to the model bring it fully up to date without going so far as to give the 5 Series the same bucktoothed aesthetics that BMW put into the new 4 Series.

In addition to its new 5 Series, BMW recently showed off the new, next-gen plug-in hybrid variant of the SUV, the 2021 BMW xDrive45e. That new SUV comes with increased all-electric driving range, a significant horsepower bump, and a 7,200-pound towing capacity.

The 2021 BMW 5 Series will arrive on dealership lots in July.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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