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The Australian commercial radio industry has joined a global working group of broadcasters, carmakers and tech experts collaborating on the innovation of radio in Android Automotive, Google’s infotainment operating system being built into new connected cars.

Industry body Commercial Radio Australia is part of the working group, led by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) in the US, investigating the use of a combination of broadcast radio, internet and voice technology to optimise the radio experience in-car.

“The connected car will transform the in-car entertainment experience, and Australian broadcasters are pleased to be part of this exciting global working group providing input on how to deliver the best radio experience possible,” said Joan Warner, chief executive officer of CRA.

Android Automotive is an open-source operating platform that has an interface designed for the car screen and features Google Assistant voice commands to control a range of car functions, so users can ask for a radio station to start playing.

Carmakers are able to customise Android Automotive and several, including Ford and Volvo, have already announced they will adopt it. ABI Research has forecast that 36m new vehicles will be shipped with Android infotainment systems in 2030.

Warner said it was important that broadcast technology remains the foundation of delivering radio in the connected car because of its reliability, with internet providing enhanced features such as richer content, images such as album artwork and interactivity.

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“Eighty-four percent of Australians listen to radio in the car, so it’s vital that radio remains prominent and listeners can find their favourite stations easily.

“This is a dynamic space and broadcasters need to participate in global efforts and work with car manufacturers to ensure radio is in the new car app ecosystems as connected cars roll out.”

CRA joined the NAB PILOT initiative following its work with Google in Australia and globally to make 400 Australian radio stations available via voice command on Google Nest speakers and displays.

Other participants in the NAB initiative include the BBC, iHeartMedia, New York Public Radio, Bauer Media, Ford and Volkswagen/Audi plus tech developer Xperi.